Sunday, June 26, 2011

Silk Scarf winery (portfolio tasting), Summerland, Okanagan Valley DVA

   It's become a yearly pilgrimage for me; to visit the Silk Scarf winery in Summerland ( and talk wine for a couple of hours with Roie, the owner and winemaker.

   Roie is a patient man, to be certain... he took the time to talk about his wines with me before I started school, then just after my Sommelier level 1 course, and then again after my Sommelier Level 2... each time taking the time it needed to answer my ever-developing questions and comments. I don't know that I've always had the patience with my customers at the Fox's Reach Liquor Store (where I have been Product Consultant for the past few months).

   This Spring Roie and I sat again, with a multitude of wines, and sipped - and chatted - and sipped some more. I used to think that Roie's wines were world-class, but that was before I went to school for a year and a half... now I know they are.

2010 Ensemble Blanc
$22   **** EXCELLENT VALUE ****

varietals:   Alsatian blending of Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer and Muscat (less then 1%)
  • nose:   clean; fully intense developing bouquet of Bing cherries, honeyed red raspberries, rich summer florals and exotic fruit (some pineapple, guava and papaya)
  • palate:   clean; moderate+ (cranberry/raspberry) acids, moderate+ developing flavors that mimick the nose. Superb balance, excellent structure and medium+ length
  • conclusion:   very well made wine that drinks well now to 2015. Will not develop further in bottle
  • PAIRINGS:   although the exotic floral notes in this wine would play well off of a variety of seafood dishes (paella certainly) - I immediately wanted to play off the dominant cherry notes (and there are layers of cherries in this wine) by serving it with duck; a simple roast duck with savory herbs and potato galette was my initial instinct

2010 Viognier
$22   **** EXCELLENT VALUE ****
gold medal: 2010 All Canadian Wine Championship
  • nose:   clean; fully intense developing bouquet of summer meadow flowers and layer upon layer of ripe stonefruit (apricot, peaches, nectarines, plums)
  • palate:   clean; moderate+ intense (apricot) acids, moderate+ to fully intense developing flavors that mimick the nose with pronounced long cherry notes. Excellent balance and structure, and long, long length on the palate
  • conclusion:   drinks superbly now to 2015. Will not develop further in bottle
  • PAIRINGS:   rich exotic flavors and slight sweetness pair perfectly with traditional Thai and Vietnamese food... especially coconut and Thai basil braised chicken over red curry rice

2010 Riesling Muscat
12.5% ABV
$22   *** Very Good Value ***

varietals:   96% Riesling, 4% Muscat
  • nose:   clean; moderate intensity and youthful aromas of early stonefruit, light minerality, young orchardfruit and cherry blossoms
  • palate:   clean; moderate+ (sour cherry) acids, moderately intense and youthful flavors that mimick the nose. Very good balance and structure, medium length
  • conclusion:  very good wine that drinks well 2012-2018 (and beyond). Will improve with aging until 2015 (and longer)
  • PAIRINGS:   crisp and slightly tart, this wine is a natural for schnitzel, whether it be pork, veal or even chicken... I would prefer a pork schnitzel (for the fat) and finish it with a non-traditional Indian curry sauce

2010 Chardonnay
12% ABV
$22    **** EXCELLENT VALUE ****
only 800 cases produced

maturation:   100% steeltank.
  • nose:   clean; moderate+ intense and youthful aromas of classic (refined) Californian style Chardonnay with it's grilled pineapple, caramels and exotic fruit layering (mango, papaya, lychee)
  • palate:   clean; moderate (crisp and lively apricot marmalade) acids, moderately intense and developing flavors that mimick the nose. Excellent balance and structure, medium+ length
  • conclusion:   drinks well now to 2016(+). May develop slightly over the next couple of years
  • PAIRINGS:   all of these flavors take me back to an Irish chef I used to know who made the best butter braised rabbit on fresh farfalle pasta with wild thyme... the buttery rabbit is going to balance the lively acids and the wild thyme contrasts against the exotic fruit

2010 Saignee (rose)
$22    ***** BUY THIS NOW *****

varietals:   65% Syrah, 35% Merlot
  • nose:   clean; light+ to medium intensity youthful aromas of rose petals, cherry blossoms with a distinct mineral backbone
  • palate:   moderate+ (crisp, lively cranberry) acids, moderate+ intense youthful yet incredibly well integrated flavors mimicking the nose with nuances of orange zest and tangerine. Excellent balance and structure with long length
  • conclusion:   drink now. drink often. drinks well now -2015, but will most likely not develop much further in bottle
  • PAIRINGS:   Roie from Silk Scarf enjoys this with smoked salmon, and as he has had it many more times then I have, how can I argue? As for myself, I agree that this pairs well with fattier seafood; I was thinking more along the lines of grilled BC dungeoness crab... this wine will love flavors that come from the grill

2008 Ensemble Red 
12.5% ABV
$38   *** Very Good Value ***

varietals:   Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc
maturation:   18 months in 60% French and 40% American oak (first generation)
  • nose:   clean; fully intense and developing aromas of bold spicy Cab Franc to open followed by rich red berries (raspberry, strawberry), old leather, some dried berries (blueberry) and a slightly herbaceous finish
  • palate:   clean; fully intense (sour cherry) acids, fully intense (grippy) tannins, moderate+ to fully intense and developing flavors that mimick the nose. Very good balance and structure with medium+ length
  • conclusion:   very good wine that's a bit too young to drink well... drinks well 2013-2020++. Will continue to develop in bottle until 2015
  • PAIRINGS:   a natural for baron of roast beef with rosemary and sage au jus and garlic-chevre mashed potato

2008 Shiraz
13.5% ABV
$38   *** Very Good to EXCELLENT Value ****

fermentation:    on 3% Viognier skins (Cote Rotie style)
  • nose:   clean; moderately intense developing aromas of light cocoa and coffee, dark berries (blackberry and saskatoon), finish of dark florals (iris, black roses)
  • palate:   clean; fully intense (sour cherry-cranberry) acids, full- (chewy, silty) tannins, moderate+ intense and developing flavors that mimick the nose. Very good balance, excellent structure and long length
  • conclusion:   still quite young for this wine... drinks well 2013-2020. Will continue to develop in the bottle at least until 2015
  • PAIRINGS:   a natural pairing for venison... save this for the Fall and a braised venison shank with red-wine demi-glace and potato croquette with a rosemary-walnut crust

2008 Cabernet Franc
13.5% ABV
$33    ***** BUY THIS NOW *****
  • nose:   clean; moderate+ intense and developing bouquet of red and black berries, rich earthy-mineral terroir, old worn leather
  • palate:   clean; moderately intense (sour cherry) acids, moderate+ (chewy) tannins, moderate+ intense and developing flavors that mimick the nose. Excellent balance and structure with long, long length
  • conclusion:   already drinking well, this wine will continue to develop in bottle until 2015 and will hold until 2020 (possibly longer)
  • PAIRINGS:   a rich, bold wine that has enough elegance to sit beside a traditional Osso Bucco Milanese complete with the saffron risotto and white truffle shavings

   A really wonderful way to spend part of an afternoon, and Summerland is quite a lovely spot to share some wine at any time of year. Silk Scarf now has food service during the summer months as well; with a menu focused on fresh, local, seasonal components that truly showcase themselves and the wines they are paired with.

   If you still have any doubts as to whether or not you should make the time to stop in and visit Roie or his ever-cheerful wife, just take another look at their website and count the awards they have garnered over the past half-dozen years or recognize some of the restaurants who chose to give Silk Scarf winery a place of honor on their winelists.

As always, I welcome your comments and questions.

CINCIN~!!!     SLAINTE~!!!     CHEERS~!!!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Hainle Vineyards Estate Winery (reds), Peachland Appellation

   So now I'll talk a little about the Hainle Vineyards red wines; not all of them of course, as Walter has an impressive array of wines (in all colors), but the ones I got a chance to try. Mrs AStudentofWine and I ended up spending most of an afternoon back at Hainle ( and had a great conversation with Walter.

2009 Z3
12.5% ABV
$24.90    *** Very Good Value ***
varietals:   Zweigelt, Baco Noir, Pinot Noir
  • visual:   clear; deep purple/ruby core with the slightest cherry rim
  • nose:   clean; moderate+ intense and youthful aromas; dark perfumed floral notes (irises and roses), cherry blossoms, red currants, stewed plums, red and black raspberries
  • palate:   fully intense (red currant) acids, moderate+ (silky) tannins, moderate+ youthful flavors mimicking the nose with pronounced cocoa finish. Very good balance and structure, medium+ length
  • conclusion:   quite young: cellar this for best results - drink 2015-2020++
  • PAIRINGS:   while I wanted to play this wine off of it's merits from the Pinot Noir, Walter was quick to mention that this had received a silver medal at an Oyster Festival... Zweigelt and oysters? Apparently it's a natural~!

   What is Zweigelt you ask? A natural question as it has only very, very recently come into existance and more recently into the public's eye. This is a cross between Blaufrankish and St Laurent developed in 1922 to bud later then the latter and ripen earlier then the former... with generous yields and a natural resistance to cold - this varietal is quickly catching on in cooler climates like Canada. In Austria it started gaining popularity with Professor Lenz Moser who made large plantings of it, and now Zweigelt is the most planted red-varietal in that country.

   Zweigelt produces wines ranging from easy-drinking blends to single-vineyard that are capable of aging and great development. Austria, of course, has some very old vines already (over 60 years) and some of these wines are being hailed for their depth, nuanced finesse and longevity. In general, Zweigelt has deep pigment, bright acidity and full tannins.

2006 Zweigelt
13% ABV
$40   *** Very Good Value ***
  • visual:   clear; moderate garnet core with cherry rim
  • nose:   clean; fully intense and developing; port-like characteristics of dried berries, figs, aged honey and a distinct savory herb finish
  • palate:   clean; fully intense (cranberry) acids, moderate (slightly grippy) tannins, moderately intense and developing flavors that mimick the nose. Very good balance, EXCELLENT structure, long length
  • conclusion:   just starting to drink well now; drinks 2013-2020+
  • PAIRINGS:   the savory qualities lend themselves naturally to venison, consider a flank steak which sears quickly and thus retains it's moisture and finish with a beurre blanc

2003 Zweigelt reserve
12.6% ABV
$140    **** EXCELLENT VALUE ****

varietals:   60% Zweigelt, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon
  • visual:   clear; light garnet core with medium orange/brick rim
  • nose:   moderate+ intense and developing aromas with port-like and madiera-like qualities (the same dried berries, figs, honey and slight savory herbs) but this also a rich baked-earth and dark cocoa finish
  • palate:   clean; fully intense (well-integrated cranberry) acids, moderate (soft, chewy) tannins, moderate+ intense and youthful flavors mimicking the nose with incredibly rich dark cocoa notes. Excellent balance and structure, long+ length
  • conclusion: this wine is still just a babe; drinks best 2018-2030 and beyond
  • PAIRINGS:   with the finesse on this rich wine I would want to serve it with a beef carpaccio; the richness of beef is a natural for port/madiera flavors and I would want it raw for emphasis. Perhaps I would serve it with grilled bread as well, as the grill flavors will play off the berry notes through contrast

2003 Merlot - Cabernet Sauvignon
13.5% ABV
$60    **** Very Good to EXCELLENT Value ****

varietals:   55% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Cabernet Franc
winner~!!! 3 years in a row: People's Choice Award, Kelowna

  • visual:   clear; moderate+ garnet core with rich orange/brick rim
  • nose:   clean; fully intense and developing bouquetof buttery red raspberries, black raspberries, light cassis, rich savory spices such as clove and allspice
  • palate:   clean; moderate+ (well integrated cranberry and red raspberry) acids, moderate (soft chewy) tannins, moderate+ intense and developing flavors that mimick the nose. Very good balance, excellent structure, long length
  • conclusion:   drinking well soon~! drinks 2015-2025+
  • PAIRINGS:   stunning steak wine ~ with the acids as high as they are I would want a steak with some fat like a ribeye, perhaps with a roast garlic jam to accompany

   On a personal note, I bought a bottle of this wine myself - to keep downstairs for a few years because I honestly don't think that I would be able to buy a wine of this quality - for this price - when  it has matured properly.

2003 Syrah (unfiltered)
12.7% ABV
$60   **** Very Good to EXCELLENT Value ****
  • visual:   clear with slight sediment; deep garnet core with moderate cherry-brick rim
  • nose:   clean; moderate+ to fully intense and developing aromas with rich port qualities and a truffled mushroom earthiness, baked Saskatoon pie
  • palate:   clean; fully intense (red currant) acids, moderate (soft chewy) tannins, moderate+ intense and developing flavors that mimick the nose with long worn leather nuances and berry compote. Very good to excellent balance, excellent structure and long length
  • conclusion:   drinking well now; will develop to 2017/18, drink 2011-2023+
  • PAIRINGS:   even though the acids were high, this is a refined enough wine that I thought of pairing it with a beef tenderloin with wild thyme and pink peppercorn compound butter... try searing the tenderloin in duck fat if you can find it at your local butcher's

2007 reserve Pinot Noir
12.8% ABV
$80    ***** BUY THIS WHEN AND IF YOU CAN *****

maturation:   40 months in 4th generation French oak (from Opus1)
  • visual:   clear; moderate ruby core with cherry (and the slightest brick) rim
  • nose:   clean; fully intense and developing aromas of rich earthy terroir, nuanced fungal notes (wild mushrooms and white truffle), pink peppercorns, light red berries, distinct herbaceous undertones
  • palate:   clean; moderate+ (superbly integrated cranberry) acids, moderate+ (soft, silty) tannins, moderate+ intense and developing flavors that mimick the nose with nuances of smoked meat, real beef jerky, stewed black raspberries and black cherries. Excellent balance and structure with long, long length on the palate
  • conclusion:   can be enjoyed now to 2030, will continue to develop in the bottle until 2020
  • PAIRINGS:   what goes better with a Burgundian style Pinot Noir then Boeuf Bourguignon???
   It should be noted that even though this Pinot Noir was in oak for 40 months (an unheard-of long length of time), Walter took it to a competition within a month of bottling it... his wine was up against 450 other Pinots from around the world; some of the finest winemakers in the world competing. Guess who got first place? That's right... the German winemaker from Peachland appellation~!

   Walter has told me that he will only sell a few cases a year for the next few years, as he doesn't think it's really ready to enjoy.... rated 99 points, but not quite good enough for Walter because it needs "just a bit more time". So if you want to try it, you'll have to go up to the winery and ask him nicely. Very very nicely.

   Later that afternoon, as a special treat, Walter opened a back-vintage of Icewine. Walter of course knew that my wife was pregnant and not drinking (we had spent two afternoons together by this point), but he insisted on pouring a small glass and handing it to her, saying "for a thousand years women in Germany have been drinking Riesling when they are with child... "

She couldn't refuse, and about five minutes later I heard a little giggle from my wife "Clare likes it~!"

Apparently the littlest sommelier (Clare) has something of a fondness for Hainle Icewine (along with the population of China, where celebrities will appear in his tv ads for free).

1984 Riesling Icewine
12.9% ABV
$900     this wine is an experience
  • visual:   clear; deep umber-amber caramel core moving to watery rim
  • nose:   clean; fully intense (and still developing) bouquet of Solera system, dried raisins, butterscotch, salt water toffee, toasted almonds and a light brine-mineral undertone
  • palate:   clean; fully intense (apricot) acids, fully intense and still developing flavors that mimic well the nose with the additions of apricot compote, tangerine zest, grapefruit marmalade and quince. Stunning balance and structure, ridiculously long length
  • conclusion:   should you be lucky enough to have a bottle of this, it can be enjoyed now but will continue to develop in bottle for decades. Drink 2010-2050 (and possibly longer)
  • PAIRINGS:   Icewine is difficult for some people to pair food with... keep it simple to let the wine showcase: consider a Perigordine ( which is like a walnut-angel food cake... garnish with a slightly tart raspberry coulis
   Quite the list of wines to go through, and I really do feel fortunate to have had so much of Walter's time and patience. I had no idea, before a few months ago, that anyone in British Columbia (or even Canada) was making wines on this level. Now that I know - I'm filled with a confidence that just about anything is possible in our industry.

   No one would have believed, even 10 years ago, that a winemaker from BC would make Pinot Noir that could beat the Burgundians at their own game. Well, the times have changed~!

As always, I welcome your comments and questions.

CINCIN~!!!     SLAINTE~!!!     CHEERS~!!!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Hainle Vineyard Estate Winery (whites), Peachland Appellation, BC

   As many of you know, I was recently enamoured with the Hainle (Deep Creek vineyards) 2003 Pinot Blanc... a stunning example that revolutionized the way that I approach BC wines ( Well as fate would have it, Mrs AStudentofWine and I were up in the Peachland area a few weeks ago and so made the time to stop at Hainle and do a portfolio tasting.

   Little did I know the size of the portfolio or I would have delegated more time (lol)~!

   Hainle Vineyard Estate Winery ( is certified organic and partially bio-dynamic. What does this mean to the winemaker? Organic viticulture means the winery farms it's grapes without the use of artificial chemicals (pesticides, fertilizers and the like). Biodynamic viticulture follows the practices of Rudolph Steiner and the Demeter Association ( who advocate a "holistic" approach to grape-farming that believes strongly in a close association (spiritually) with the earth. For more information on bio-dynamic practices, please check out their website.

   So what does this mean for you the consumer? Firstly it means that there is less of an impact on the earth itself during the farming process... chemicals (as we have all discovered) have a way of sticking in the earth until they latch themselves onto our food. From the food the chemicals will of course go into us; even the Romans learned their lesson from using lead-lining for their water aquaducts. When we will as a culture learn that spraying our food (and soon-to-be-drink) with chemicals is not in our best interest?

   But there is more to organic viticulture then just the "chemical-or-organic" issue. What about the actually winemaking process itself, during which the addition of sulphites is neccessary (most would say) to prolong the life of the wine and allow it to mature, rather then age? In organic winemaking, the addition of sulphites is not allowed, meaning that usually organic wines need to be consumed within only a few years of being bottled.

   Hainle Estate wines are different.

   Walter Huber explained to me that he has come to the realization that he should stop releasing his white wines until they are 5 to 7 years old, and his red wines until they are 7 to 10 years old. I will certainly understand if your jaw just hit the floor (as mine certainly did when he told me this). Not only is this exceedingly rare in the organic winemaking world, but just as rare in the world of British Columbia winemaking. But then again, Walter is a rare winemaker.

   Few and far between are the winemakers whose family roots go back in viticulture to the 1100s. Walter even explained to me how he is now reading and re-reading his grandfathers personal journal on viticulture and winemaking that he compiled at the end of his 50 years in the industry. A rare treasure for anyone to have.

   And so here are the white wines that I tasted on my first day at Hainle... as I was having such a great time and enjoying my conversations with Walter so much - I ended up having to return the next day to taste reds!!


2007 Gewurztraminer-Sauvignon Blanc
13.2% ABV, $20    *** Very Good Value ***

fermentation:   stainless steel, extended time sur-lie
  • nose:   clean; fully intense and developing of orchardfruit and stone fruit
  • palate:   clean; fully intense (vibrant chokecherry) acids, fully intense and developing flavors which mimick well the nose. Very good structure and balance with long length
  • conclusion:   far too young to truly enjoy now, I will save this and drink 2014-2020 (and possibly beyond)
  • PAIRINGS:   a natural for pork cutlets ar even cold smoked duck~!

2007 (Zweigelt) Rose
13.5% ABV, $23   *** Very Good Value ***

fermentation:   stainless steel, 7 months sur-lie
  • nose:   clean; medium+ intense and developing with rich red berry notes, rhubarb compote and an earthy (almost mushroom-like) background
  • palate:   clean, fully intense (sharp/aggressive cranberry) acids, medium+ intense and developing flavors that mimick the nose, Good balance, very good structure and long length
  • conclusion:   whilst still young, this wine will drink well 2012-2015 and beyond
  • PAIRINGS:    the delicate structure is a natural for poached white fish, such as poached with mushrooms and fresh tarragon (a French speciality)

2003 Riesling
(Johannesberg clone)
12.5% ABV, $40   **** EXCELLENT Value ****
fermentation:   stainless steel, 7 months sur-lie
  • nose:   clean; fully intense and developed bouquet in an incredibly Germanic style; diesel and plastic notes throughout with and end of slightly burnt honey and a lifted floral background
  • palate:   medium intensity (flawlessly integrated lime) acids, medium intensity and developed flavors that mimick the nose (rich honey notes abound with a strong mineral backbone, varied citrus flavors and faint summer floral). Excellently balance and structure with medium+ to long length on the palate
  • conclusion:   drinking well now, this wine has stunning potential to drink to 2020 and further
  • PAIRINGS:   a natural counterpoint for the richness of raclette, this wine will bring balance to larger oysters as well and would do well with Oysters Rockefeller (oysters poached in cream with steamed spinach and crispy double-smoked bacon)

2007 Sauvignon Blanc
14.4% ABV, $27   *** Very Good Value ***

vines:   planted in 2000
fermentation:   small portion in old French oak, majority in stainless steel
  • nose:   clean; fully intense and very young (developing) fume blanc style; notes of straw, hay, lemongrass and dried apples
  • palate:   fully intense (lemon/lime) acids, medium+ intense and developing flavors mimicking the nose (rich apple flavors balance the citrus with an understated mineral backbone). Good balance, very good structure and long length
  • conclusion:   best if you wait; this wine drinks well 2015-2020
  • PAIRINGS:   the richness of Canadian Whitefish with a cream sauce would play well off the vibrant acids, but let this age and it would be a marvel with roast turkey and white-truffle chestnuts

2004 G2 Gewurztraminer-Riesling
12.5% ABV, $21.50   **** EXCELLENT Value ****

proportions:   55% Gewurztraminer
vines:    Riesling planted 1972, possibly the oldest in North America
fermentation:   stainless steel, 9 months sur-lie
  • nose:   clean; fully intense and developed aromas of Germanic styled Riesling with the expected petrol-diesel-plastic notes and a delicate summer floral end
  • palate:   clean; medium+ intense (lemon zest) acids, medium intense and developing flavors mimicking the nose with rich dried apple and long integrated mineral notes, Very good balance, Excellent structure, Long length on the palate
  • conclusion:   drinking well now and until 2020 (possibly 2025)
  • PAIRINGS:   rich flavors pair well with richly flavored food - I immediately wanted to try this with a grilled Pacific dogfish (which is our local shark) and would have finished it with a sun-dried tomato and organic Italian parsley salsa. Loads of flavors, but this wine has dimension and balance and can handle alot from the food.... heavy grill flavors especially will bring a synergy to the wine

Saturday, June 11, 2011

K1 - Kuitpo Vineyard by Geoff Hardy

Bec Hardy

The first time I met Bec Hardy (daughter of Geoff) I knew it was going to be difficult not to like her... Bec has a gentle strength about her; a calm determination that could seem aggressive if it weren't for the brilliantly warm smile that seems a permanent part of her demeanor.

   Bec and I met as she and her new husband were taking a week's honeymoon to do business with with Opimian society ( Bec was making a whirlwind tour of Canada, with 5 stops in 5 different cities in 7 days (much like a rock-star?). I was fortunate enough to share about an hour with her at the prestigious Teahouse restaurant in Stanley Park, Vancouver (, her last stop before returning home to K1 vineyards in South Australia.

   Bec and I took the opportunity to discuss K1 vineyards' approach to several topics including how and why they choose their varietals, the development of the Asian wine market and the challenges of competitive pricing in a depressed global economy.

   Geoff Hardy began K1 vineyards ( in the hills above Adelaide in 1987 with 30 acres of what was then considered by some to be "unsuitable land" for viticulture. Geoff was not to be swayed however and though it was untested land, Geoff had been active in the field since earning his diploma in Wine Production in 1977 and knew to trust his instincts. Geoff was certain that this (relatively) high altitude area would give a "cool-climate feel" to his wines.

   Geoff planted Chardonnay, Semillion, Sauvignon Blanc, for the white varietals and Pinot Noir, Merlot, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Temperanillo and Tannat for the reds in the early 1990's. An impressive array of varietals for a winery that produces 8,000 cases per year. Geoff was ambitious however, and though he splits his time between consulting for wineries throughout the world and maintaining his role as General Manager, by the year 2005, Geoff had managed to introduce Viognier, Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Gruner-Vetliner and Arnais.

   Gruner-Vetliner or GruVe is a subject of some passion for Bec Hardy as she talks about the work that her family is doing. GruVe really is a newcomer to the Australian market, with the very first planting happening in 2004 and the Hardy family coming in second in 2005. Native to Austria, where over 30% of all plantings are Gruner, this varietal produces crisp white wines with vibrant acidity and (when made well) a rich and nuanced light floral bouquet. Bec and I agreed that no one in the wine industry would have taken the notion seriously even ten years ago: that someone would plant Austria's most prized varietal in Australia? And that it would turn out so well? And that Australians would go absolutely wacko for it, drinking it faster then anyone can produce it?

   Well everyone is taking it seriously now.

   And what about Pinot Noir, the heart-break grape? Once again, Australia wasn't renown for the finesse of this wine but Geoff Hardy used his accumulated 5 generations of winemaking skill to plant at over 300m, where the cooling breezes from the Gulf of Saint-Vincent moderate daytime temperatures. Bec says that her father is partial to the Pommard varietal which produces a lighter, more elegant style of wine and is best enjoyed at least a year after bottling (but Bec prefers it after 3 to 4 years). True enough, whilst this Pinot can't be compared to the wines of Beaune, Geoff is releasing product that is impressive in it's texture and balance and is a stunning value for the price.

   And what of the emerging wine market that no one believed in 10 or 15 years ago? Asia is insatiable in it's desire for wines of quality these days. Gone are the days when the only thing that sold was Icewine - now winemakers from around the world are sending their best in everything they do. It's important to remember that Asia is still an emerging market however, and are easily swayed by big names...

   Luckily for the Hardy family, they have that legacy. K1 vineyards sells approximately 20% of it's yearly inventory to Canada and all of it through the Opimian society. "Why?" I asked Bec, "Why would you choose to sell to the other side of the world?"

   I think it's because the Hardy's have a fondness for the Canadian market. Because we "get" them. We understand the Hardy's dogged determination to pull something beautiful from the dusty soil... most of us are first or second-generation Canadians and know what it's like to start something from scratch - with grand ambitions and high hopes. It's a struggle. For any farmer anywhere in the world, it's a daily struggle and Canadians are linked closely with the land. We know what the Hardy's must go through to bring such understated elegance to the bottle and for such reasonable pricepoints.

   And isn't it nice to be able to say that? In this day and age, when some winemakers charge exorbitant fees for wines that are hardly worth the price of admission - that a winemaking family now in it's 6th generation is willing to do the math necessary to charge a price based on the costs of production. I love a good Bordeaux vintage as much (or more) then the next man, but when wines reach $1000/bottle I find it hard to believe that the price is based on anything other then greed (and supply vs demand). It's much easier, I imagine, to simply calculate the cost of making a wine one year - and then charge what the market will bear based on that original cost... it's certainly easier, but it means alot to me that K1 is willing to do the math every year.

   And what it means is that every year I will be going back to K1 releases with excitement and anticipation; whether it be to try a "cool-climate" Australian Chardonnay (a brilliant innovation that is bringing life back to Australian Chardonnay sales), or a classic Cab-Shiraz blend from their McLaren Vale property - the Hardy family is proving that in the world of winemaking, family businesses are worth supporting.

As always, I look forward to your questions and comments.

CINCIN~!!!      SLAINTE~!!!     CHEERS~!!!