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 (http://astudentofwine.blogspot.com/2011/03/hainle-vineyards-peachland-okanagan.html). 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 (www.Hainle.com) 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 (www.Demeter.net) 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!!
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~!
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)
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)
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
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