When a wine(maker) changes style

I was in a VQA store recently and asked the proprietor what was new and good in his store. One of his recommendations, surprisingly, came from one of the “big” BC wineries, based on the fact that it had changed winemakers. (Note: I am not going to “name names” in this blog…it isn’t needed to prove my point).

So I took his advice and bought a bottle to try (it helped that the wine was on sale for less than $20). And, by complete coincidence, I had been given another bottle by the same winery – although a much higher end one, and from a vintage with the old winemaker. So I tried them back to back (one day after another) and – the guy was right!

The older, more expensive wine was way more Bordeaux in style, more herbs and wood than fruit – not bad, just not my style.

But the newer, 2010 model, while cheaper, was…amazing! Super ripe, really fruit forward, I couldn’t believe it was from the winery. It was easily the best wine I had ever had from that winery, and even had lots of fruit left the next day.

This got me thinking of a similar experience from a few years ago now. A different BC winery (again, no names), used to make some of my favourite red wines – Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah. Really California in style, with ripe fruit, they were amazing, and really well priced.

But then ownership changed, and so did the style. Again, way more Bordeaux aromas and flavours, with cedar, herbs, tannin and not a lot of fruit. I was so disappointed, even asking a couple of times “why”? But the tasting staff just shrugged.

This just demonstrates how “style” is so important in wine, and what an influence it can have on the wine itself. In both cases, the grapes were still from the same vineyard. But a deliberate decision had been made to make them into a different style of wine. Why? I don’t know…and probably never will.

My point here isn’t “good vs bad”. Rather, that the approach to winemaking can have such a huge impact on what a wine ends up tasting like.

Most importantly, though, is to know your style and constantly be on the lookout for it. And that means even in wineries – and wines – who you may have previously “written off” because they didn’t make your style of wine.




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