May 16, 2012

SOWF #4: Seven Stones

I can't remember the last time we visited the Similkameen valley, but it's been a few years. It's seems like a long way to go but it's only 20 minutes west of Osoyoos on highway 3, and not much longer to drive from Keremeos up to Penticton. There are maybe ten wineries out here, including two fruit wineries. Some of the best wines we tasted the entire weekend were from Similkameen, and I suspect they might be growing grapes that are as good or better than the Okanagan. If you've never been out here, or it's been a while, you won't regret taking the extra few minutes drive to check out the wineries in Cawston and Keremeos.

A quick travel note: if you're driving west from Osoyoos, you have to check out Spotted Lake about ten minutes along the Crowsnest. This is a small lake with high concentrations of minerals and salt in the water that somehow form large circles on the surface. It's truly unique and worth a stop for a picture or two.

Seven Stones was the first of our six stops on our loop. There is a whole story about the seven stones of the Similkameen, but the winery website is down right now so I don't have the details. Something about glaciers and native legends. Instead of doing any serious research, I stole a photo from another website of the mural in the Seven Stones wineshop showing the seven stones on a map of the valley. Now then, on to business: the wines we tried here were mostly outstanding. I can't explain why but I got the feeling that the terroir here produces some outstanding fruit. The combination and complexity of flavours here was quite amazing.

  • Pinot Rosé 2010 ($19)
Intense strawberry aromas; a delicate balance of citrus and exotic fruit flavors on the palate along with a pleasing natural acidity and minerality and a soft dry finish. This wine is reminiscent of the Rosés found in the south of France. Perfect for the deck!

88 points. I found this one a bit musty, with some grapefruit in addition to the strawberry.

  • Chardonnay 2009 ($25)
The 2009 vintage is a bit softer and creamier than the 2008 vintage yet it retains the same vivid mouth-feel and delicate balance of citrus and tropical fruit flavors permeated with an earthy minerality that had become the signature of our Chardonnays. Sur-lies aging and barrel fermentation give this wine a luscious toasty and buttery finish.

90 points. If I recall there were two different yeasts involved in the making. I thought I tasted some pineapple. Long, lingering, creamy finish. Beautiful. We brought back this one.

  • Row 128 Merlot 2009 ($25)
Aged for 17 months in French and American oak barrels Row 128 Merlot offers seductive aromas of cherry, mint, olive and leather followed by a soft mouth-feel and flavors of plum, chocolate and blueberry .The finish is smooth and long lasting. 

90 points. Wish we'd bought this one too. A very unique and interesting Merlot. I did indeed taste most of the flavours listed above, including olive.

  • Cabernet Franc 2009 ($28)
The nose features fragrances of plum, black pepper, raspberry and toasty vanilla. Layers of elegant and well structured flavors of  raspberry , chocolate and coffee on the mid-palate are followed by a soft spicy finish.  Aged 17 months in new French oak barrels.

89 points. Feisty, peppery, lively, bold.

  • Meritage 2008 ($32)
This blend consists of 58% Merlot, 37% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot aged 17 months in new and 1 year old French oak barrels. The 2008 Meritage has round juicy flavors, a soft velvety mid-palate and an elegant finish that is prolonged by fine grained tannins and reveals hints of chocolate, espresso and raspberry. 

89 points.

  • Syrah 2009 ($35)
Enticing aromas of smoked meat and white pepper on the nose; layers of ripe blackberry, spicy licorice and bittersweet chocolate on the palate; well integrated tannins and a long smooth finish. 17 months in new French oak barrels. Small lot production 

88 points. Kris liked this more than I did, likely the pepper. I remember it tasting like tart cherry juice.

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