Even though I just wrote that headline, have been to the winery and tasted the wines, I still can’t quite believe it. To be able to drive less than an hour from my home in New Westminster and taste world class wines — including many grown from grapes on the property — is truly amazing!
But that is what we have with Mt. Lehman winery (www.mtlehmanwinery.ca) in Abbotsford, B.C. Owned and operated by Vern Siemens, it has 16 acres planted to vines that include pinot noir, pinot grigio, chardonnay, merlot and a “smattering of others” (winery quotes). And while they were an eye opener to me, they have obviously caught others’ attention — in 2010 they won 22 awards and, to date in 2011, have won an additional 19!
Mt. Lehman is equally as strong on the whites and reds (and has a killer Rose as well, but more of that later). The whites are grown on-site and range from the 2009 Viognier-Marsanne ($19.90) (hard to believe these finicky Rhone varietals could grow so well here) through two Chablis-style, non-oaked Pinot Gris and Chardonnays, and finally the 2010 Reserve Viognier ($23.90) that just won the Lieutenant Governor’s Award (and it is outstanding, as good a Viognier as I have had in a long time!).
The afore-mentioned 2010 Rose ($14.90) is made from Pinot Noir and gives La Frenz’s wine a run for the money. Deep, deep pink, with super ripe strawberries, medium body and just a touch off dry — like summer in a glass!
Interestingly, the reds just get better! A knockout bargain is the 2010 Cabernet-Foche ($13.90) which — for the price — might be the best value red wine made in BC. The Marechal Foche dominates in this wine, with wonderful meaty, black cherry fruit, medium body and no hard edges (but no oak or jamminess either). The regular 2009 Pinot Noir is also amazing for $15.90 — light in colour and size, but bang on varietally with super ripe cherry fruit and just the right amount of oak.
Kicking it up a notch is the 2009 Syrah ($22.90) which is a serious, French-styled wine. Classic peppery black fruit here, no obvious vanilla or oak (this is no Shiraz) and a long, lip smacking finish. I think it will easily last for 3 – 5 years, although it is hard to resist now.
The final red I tried was also gorgeous — the 2009 Pinot Noir Reserve Platinum Label ($31.90). More Burgundy than California here, with earthy cherry fruit, herbs, a touch of earth and even mushrooms in the medium bodied wine. I am going to watch this one over a couple of years — it could become very, very exciting with some bottle age (not that it isn’t very nice now!).
Price, quality, value, selection — Mt. Lehman seems to have it all going on. The only downside is I have only seen the wines at the winery itself, although for us in the Lower Mainland that isn’t so bad, as it is a nice afternoon drive to taste/buy them.
And if they continue to produce this kind of wine, watch out — we may have a new contender in my top tier of BC wines!