Thursday, August 7, 2008

Report from ... British Columbia Day 4 - July 25, 2008

For my mother's 70th birthday she wanted to travel the Okanagan tasting wine ... I being the curious wine writer that I am decided that sounded like a really good idea ...

Another ear
ly morning … we were suppose to catch a few zzz’s and not start touring till about 11, but the urge to see Burrowing Owl seemed to be calling out to us. So, in the AM, before the official part of the day began we all decided to make our way to see the Owl. Because Alan McGinty had a slightly different schedule than we did, we drove down the Valley in tandum – getting lost a few times along the way (probably my fault as I was in the lead car).

Burrowing Owl … In the early morning this is a sight to behold as it ri
ses out of the dessert with all the vineyards surrounding it. This is the place where much of the southern Okanagan grapes are grown, as we later learned not all the grapes and vines as far as the eye can see is Burrowing Owl land … but what an expanse of grapes. The Inn looks to be fabulous and yet is remote and quiet – what a great place to stay.

Wines of Note: 2007 Pinot Gris ($20.00), 2006 Cabernet Franc ($33.00), 2
006 Merlot ($30.00)

orn Creek … We manage to make it, and only 10 minutes late – I am told that is a wine writer’s trait, I have it down pat. We meet with Shaun Everest, recently promoted General Manager, who takes us on a tour of the property and explains that a new restaurant it planned to break ground “any day now” for a summer 2009 opening. After tasting a few of the “recommended” places to eat just north in Oliver, I would say a new dining establishment would be very welcome. 3 whites and 3 reds are the focus of Tinhorn and the grounds are beautiful.

Wines of Note: 2007 Pinot Gris ($16.50), 2007 Gewurztraminer ($16.50), 2005 Cabernet Franc ($17.9
9), 2007 Kerner Icewine ($24.99 / 200ml)

Osoyoos LaRose … For details of the wine/winery see my report from February 20, 2008 … we were suppose to meet with Pascal, but unfortunately he got one of “th
ose” calls that pulled him away unexpectedly (his brother had suffered a heart attack back in France), he called us from the airport to make his apologies. We met instead with Catherine Scott-Taggart (Assistant Vineyard and Winery Manager), herself a re-located Ontarian, who is absolutely loving her job. We tasted through the years of Osoyoos-Larose wines from the 2002 to the 2005 Grand Vin, with a sneak peak at the 2007 (the ’06 was not for showing at this moment). We also tried the Petales d’Osoyoos, the second label, from 2004 and 2005.

Wines of Note: 2004 Grand Vin is showing very well right now. 2005 Grand Vin shows great potential for aging. The 2007 is going to be another beauty. The Petales are wonderful and for only $25 are a steal … currently available is the 2005 at the local liquor stores, I got 2.

We part company with Alan as he is heading further south than we are … though we have one last drink with him at a coffee emporium called Cock and Bull, so far the best eating establishment in Oliver – though we did not eat a thing, the c
offee and tea were excellent.

Golden M
ile Cellars … Ever go to a place when you are tired and worn out and think, “How in the world did I get myself into this?” And on your way there you wonder how quickly you can get out of it. But then when you get there you don’t want to leave … welcome to our Golden Mile visit. Mom and I are tired from the 3 days of bombing around from winery to winery, appointment to appointment and just want a moment to ourselves. On the way we wonder if this will ever end and look forward to Saturday when we can plan our own day. We arrive at Golden Mile cellars and meet with Pam, Mick and Michael … their warm hospitality, jovial nature and irreverent sense of humours make us feel at ease right away, and part of the gang. What a welcome change from the sometimes stuffiness of other places we have visited – it’s nice be at a place that takes it’s wines and vines seriously but nothing else. The jokes fly freely, the barbs go back and forth and the wine flows each with a taste that show the meticulous nature the vines are cared for. The name of the game here is respect and fun. Michael Bartier is the winemaker whom everybody respects, Pam Luckhurst is the palate that everyone respects, Mick Luckhurst is the “farmer” with little taste for wine, a passion for his vineyard, and seemingly, no one respects him (that is the on going joke anyway). We unfortunately run out of time on our tour and tasting as we are scheduled for dinner back at Burrowing Owl … but we are coming back for a vineyard tour – gotta learn more about those 40+ year old Chenin Blanc vines.

Wines of Notes: 2006 Riesling ($18.99), 2006 Pinot Noir ($22.99), 2005 Black Arts 5th Element Red ($35.99), 2006 Zinfandel ($29.99)

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