June 8, 2012

SOWF #13: Rustico

Continuing down 97 towards Osoyoos. I'd read a bit about Rustico but we had never visited, so another first. (It's amazing that we've been doing this for years and still haven't covered everything.) This is a themed winery, that of the old west including some of the local history as a mining region. I was afraid that Rustico might be all hat and no cattle, as they say on the ranch. The emphasis on brand and marketing is often compensation for a lack of substance. In this case, the wine was, on the whole, pretty good. Good enough to conclude that this is a legitimate winery that wants you to have some fun.

But the whole experience does make you feel at times like you're being gently hustled, albeit in a folksy way. Every wine has a little story. Our server was Ken, a seasoned horseman from Cochrane, Alberta. Ken is about the last guy you'd expect to see in a tasting room discussing wine, and he admits he is still learning about wine. "I only ever drank beer and whisky before coming here," he told us. He is an authentic cowboy, the real deal, and that adds to the experience. An example of the blend of originality and kitsch at Rustico is the way they pour the wine: into tumblers lined up in a row, pouring up and down the line of glasses like a bartender from Bonanza.

Sorry - no price information either from my notes or the winery website. They are mostly in the $20-30 range if I recall.

  • Isabella's Poke Pinot Gris

Isabella’s Poke Pinot Gris gives off aromas of pear, vanilla and the skin of new peaches. A wine with a light, fruity air, this Pinot Gris pairs well with seafood and light creamy pastas. It was named for an entertainer in Fairview, the turn-of-the century mining town above present-day Oliver.

Dry, refreshing, floral, easy to drink. 88 points.

  • Farmer's Daughter Gewurztraminer

Farmer’s Daughter Dry Gewurztraminer features a tartly citric taste and the scent of lavender and roses. As the story goes, the wine has everything you’d expect from a sassy farmer’s daughter with classic Alsace parentage. The wine is a perfect date with ethnic dishes. It also goes well with free-range chicken or broiled quail with polenta.

A little sweet for me, floral, so-so. 87 points.

  • Saloon Sally Rosé
Made from Cabernet Franc. Dry, crisp, light bodied. 88 points.

  • Doc's Buggy Pinot Noir

Named after Rustico’s own vintage Baynes Carriage, a restored Doctor’s Runabout at the entrance to the winery’s Tasting Saloon, Doc’s Buggy is a well crafted Pinot Noir with nose hints of ripened Okanagan ground fruit, and the subtly sweet smokiness of sautéed strawberries. Doc’s Buggy well complements pan-seared trout, plank-grilled salmon, apple/grape-stuffed pork or gourmet goat cheeseburgers with caramelized onions and field tomatoes.

Fruity, somewhat thin, strawberry. 88 points.

  • Mother Lode Merlot
Miners dream of finding the Mother Lode Merlot, the big one, the strike-it-rich magical gold vein discovery that One-Armed Reid and his cronies at Fairview yearned to yell out loud. Rustico’s barrel-aged big, bold Merlot is richly complex with peppery ripe cherry overtones. Mother Lode goes well with leg of lamb, maple-sugar basted sweet ham or grilled Fraser Valley duckling.

Big up-front spiciness but not much finish. Thought I detected some rhubarb and cherry. 88 points.

  • Last Chance

A blend of old-vine, small-lot Zinfandel, barrel-aged Merlot, first plantings of Chancellor and a hint of Blaufränkisch, Rustico’s Last Chance honours legendary miner, One-Armed Reid and his “last chance” to make the big time. As the story goes, he’s thought to be the first to stake a legitimate mining claim in the Fairview area starting a mini-gold rush. Last Chance with its bold, earthy characteristics and tobacco-saddle leather overtones partners well with thickly cut, well-marbled steaks or, as One-Armed Reid might have bellowed, “with roasted Muley!”

Dark, rich but somewhat of a grape jelly taste. Kind of like a thin port. 88 points. 

  • Bonanza Zinfandel

Rustico’s Bonanza Zinfandel honours those who journeyed across the globe in search of uncovering their own riches in the South Okanagan. This old-vine, small-lot Zinfandel takes its character from Rustico’s vineyard’s flinty rock, and coarse, sandy terrain and Zin aficionados can expect a toast-and-jam fruit nose with a hint of violets, clove and blackberry. With spicy-sauced beef or slowroasted pork back ribs, this Zinfandel is bound to be the hard-to-find Bonanza of the Golden Mile.

Very nice - deep and rich tasting. Chokecherry. 89 points.

  • Threesome Meritage

As good things often come in threes, the Oliver and Osoyoos area of the South Okanagan saw ranching, mining and farming as the big threesome that busted the valley wide open to where it is today. To complete its first portfolio, Rustico is currenty combining three popular varietals – Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot – to create Threesome. A bolder blend, Threesome pairs well with barbecued meats or rib-sticking foods like cassoulet, hunters’ stew or confite.

Good, rich but thin, quite astringent "mouth-puckering". 88 points. 


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