Saturday, August 14, 2010

Sonoran Estate Winery, Summerland BC

Let me start by saying that genuine hospitality is a dying art form. True, genuine, hospitality where one feels like an old friend coming home rather then a stranger who has walked in the door uninvited...

Sonoran Estate Winery has an atmosphere of genuine hospitality.

My wife (Mrs AstudentofWine) and I were in Summerland, BC last August for a well earned week of r&w (rest and wine - of course) when we almost literally stumbled across Sonoran. A nice looking brown home at the end of a short gravel driveway, one side of the house looks out over Okanagan Lake and the valley. There is shade, and cool tile floors, and someone always behind the counter ready to pour a taster of what-you're-in-the-mood-for.

This visit, I had the distinct pleasure of meeting Adrian, the winemaker. A jovial fellow, we got down to tasting wine in earnest quickly and he whisked me away to the inner workings of Sonoran in the "cellar". There were many treasures hidden there, and Adrian was kind enough to let me sample more then my fair share. I owe a debt of gratitude not only to him for letting me sample such truly excellent craftsmanship - but to my wife as well, for taking over the driving at that point.

2008 Riesling/Gewurztraminer
13.5%, $14

  • nose is moderate++; full of roses & summer floral with a background of grapefruit & young stonefruit (peaches before they reach maturity)

  • moderate++ acids, moderate palate (same as the nose)

  • moderate (to mod-) body, moderate alcohol, moderate+ structure
I find this to be an appealing summer patio wine; inexpensive and good value for the money - it has good balance and structure and drinks easily on its own. Not my choice with food - but if pressed would serve it with lighter food like a shrimp salad croissant or crab salad.

2009 Oraniensteiner
13.0%, $16

  • moderate+ intense nose; hot alcohol, citrus notes (especially grapefruit), and candied banana

  • moderate- (soft) acids, moderate palate starting with ripe stonefruit and finishing with limey terroir

  • full- body (this wine has a big mouth feel without any of the flabbiness), full alcohol (serve it well chilled to keep from overpowering), brilliantly developed structure - drink this wine now!
Great wine - I loved every drop, but would once again warn not to serve it above 14C. Serve with a breast of smoked duck and a spicy apricot compote or relish!

2009 Pinot Gris/Pinot Blanc
60% Pinot Gris, 14%, $18 **EXCELLENT VALUE**
  • moderate+ intense nose of citrus and mild herbaceousness or garrigue
  • full- acids with a fully intense palate of the limey terroir... citrus and herbs come into play and the finish is almost gravelly
  • moderate- body, moderate alcohol (it doesn't feel like 14%), excellent balance and structure
Just a well made wine and that's all there is to it. I could, and have, sipped this on a patio in the mid-afternoon whilst reading a book - or - as the start to a meal on a hot evening when the palate really needs some help to open up. Serve this with BC chevre (goat's cheese) in any dish & prepare yourself for a treat.

2009 Riesling
12.3%, $18 **EXCELLENT VALUE**

  • moderate+ to full- intense bouquet of layers upon layers of honey, apricots, peaches, small yellow flowers

  • moderate acids awash with the limey terroir of the vineyard and a long long long crisp, clean finish

  • moderate body, moderate alcohol, brilliant balance and structure
What a treat. This certainly appealed to my wife, who is a true fan of Gewurztraminer, Muscat, Oraniensteiner and any of the aromatic whites. I loved it because the dry palate balanced the richly sweet nose perfectly. I would love to serve this with cold smoked duck, seared scallops, coconut prawns... the list is truly endless. Fondue!

2008 Gewurztraminer

  • full- intense nose with multi layers of ripe stonefruit, floral upon floral and a ton of honey

  • moderate++ acids (perfect to balance the nose) but I noticed a slightly sour aftertaste to the acids
2009 Riesling Gewurztraminer

  • light nose, very faint and hard to open; lime, stonefruit, floral, gravel

  • moderate++ to full- limey acids

  • moderate+ body, slightly hot alcohol, long finish
Once again, a wine I would ensure was 12C to 14C and no warmer or the alcohol seems quite hot. I thought this was a perfect pairing with any of your fatty meats like pork loin (wrapped in bacon) or a cream based sauce - Coquilles St Jacques perhaps!

2007 Merlot

  • visually starting to show a light cherry/brick rim with dark ruby centre

  • moderate+ intense nose shows leather (26 months in oak!) and the fruit is just making an appearance with plums

  • moderate++ acids, moderate++ tannins all interfere with the palate where, once again, the plummy fruit is just starting to appear

  • Great Structure!
I would give this wine at least another 9-12 months before tasting again.

2007 Malbec

  • (barrel sample)

  • moderate+ intense nose; dark baies rouges or red berries, earthy terroir with a hint of pepper

  • moderate acids, moderate+ slightly chewy tannins, moderate palate; filled with earthy plummy goodness

  • moderate(+) body, moderate+ alcohol, good balance and a long, developed structure
     I have been saying (since the fateful day that I tasted this wine) that, In My Humble Opinion, this wine will change the way that we perceive BC red wine. Not because of the quality - which is excellent... there are quite a few BC wineries producing quite a few excellent quality red wines. Many of which are superior to this one (although I would say the same echelon).

     It is because of the quality versus the price.

     $25 for a BC red of great quality is a rare, rare find. I was truly impressed with the level of workmanship & look forward to sharing many a bottle of this with many of you.

2007 "Forbidden Love" Icewine
11.2%, $30, Pinot Noir & Pinot Blanc blend **Very Good Quality**

  • fully intense bouquet of intense garden floral, honey upon honey & candied almonds

  • moderate++ acids, with the palate mimicking the nose completely
Icewines & Late Harvest wines are not usually my thing. But.
     But this has excellent balance, a lovely contrast between sweet, honey floral nose and crisp almost "pop in your mouth with lime zest" acids. Overall a very good quality product & well worth the money.

2008 Erenfelser Icewine
13.2%, $30, **Excellent Value**
  • moderate++ intense nose, full of notes of dried raisins & reminding me of Olorosa Sherry with the particular nose that the Solera system imparts
  • full- acids, rich developed palate with the usual fruit & floral & honey - but once again the dried raisin flavor stayed on the palate for an incredibly long time
Much more my type of desert wine - I could almost see this paired with foie gras au torchon and a green apple and raisin chutney, some fresh rosemary potato bread & a small wedge of pecorino cheese.

2006 Oraniensteiner Icewine
11.5%, $35 **Very Good Value**
  • fully intense nose rich with all overripe stonefruit: peaches, nectarines, apricots & of course honey
  • moderate+ to full- acids, palate mimicks the nose again but with the same sense of dried raisins and a ton of residual sugar (too much for my personal tastes)
  • moderate++ body, moderate- alcohol, very good structure
      Another well crafted wine - much more to my wife's tastebuds then to mine, but thoroughly enjoyed by both of us.

     So a wonderful way to spend the afternoon in Summerland, BC... sitting up on the side of the hill on a cool patio, sipping at well crafted wines (did you know they have a chef now?). You can have a little something to nosh on and just watch the world pass by.

     A truly hospitable & amenable place to visit. We ended up walking out with almost an entire mixed case of wine - some to cellar (the icewines can last for years) and some to share this summer with friends and family... as it should be.

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