Saturday, August 13, 2011

Moon Curser, Border Vines "Bordeaux Blend", BC

Bordeaux blends; a wine by any other name would smell as sweet? Well call the wine a Bordeaux blend, a "Meritage", "Mirage", "Occulus" or "Border Vines"... we're all talking about the same thing (more or less).

   Bordeaux (France) is a winemaking region with a long history of craftsmanship going back to the 2nd century and the Romans. Today the region is perhaps best known for it's blended wines (which comprise more then 80% of all it's production). The red wines, which I'm focusing on today, are divided into two broad categories (which sommeliers will divide further): Right Bank and Left Bank.
   Right Bank blends are generally more supple, drink younger, and can be enjoyed on their own or with food. These blends are always driven by a large portion of Merlot which will be 70% of the blend or more, with a smattering of Cabernet Franc and perhaps a touch of Cabernet Sauvignon.
   Left Bank blends are primarily Cabernet Sauvignon driven blends, also with Merlot and Cabernet Franc, but also Petit Verdot and Malbec. These are the "Bordeaux Blends" that are most common in British Columbia, especially the Okanagan Valley DVA. An almost obscure varietal;  Carménère has been virtually fazed out of the vineyards of Bordeaux and has taken root (forgive the pun) in the Central Valley of Chile to great success.

   And then along comes a Moon Curser. A what? A winery from the Okanagan Valley ( ) which started as Twisted Tree in 2005 and went through a true  renaissance in 2010; it was reborn. The winery's parents Beata and Chris Tolley, who emigrated to our fair valley from the other side of the Rocky Mountains in Calgary, hired Vancouver designer and brand-specialist extraordinaire Bernie Hadley-Beauregard who's pedigree is as impressive as his multi-syllable name (just joking - some of the finest BC wineries to open or re-open in recent years including Blasted Church Vineyards, Dirty Laundry Winery, 8th Generation Winery and more have hired his expertise).

   And what does Moon Curser have that warrants all this conversation?
the view from Moon Curser

   A true Bordeaux blend, the Border Vines:  Cabernet Sauvignon (29%), Carmenere (23%), Malbec (23%), Merlot (20%), Cabernet Franc (4%) and Petit Verdot (1%). The wine is grown in five Osoyoos East Bench vineyards, all within tractor-driving distance from one another.

   We here in BC have many wineries producing Bordeaux blends, yet this is the only one including the rare Carménère . And why would this be? Carménère simply requires a longer summer season for ripening then most wineries have, with the exception of those at the southern end of the province at the northern tip of the Sonoran Desert: Moon Curser (with a few other notable exceptions).

2009 Border Vines bordeaux blend
$25 at the winery
$27   **** EXCELLENT VALUE ****
  • visual:   clear; fully intense royal purple or slightly inky core with slightest cherry rim
  • nose:   clean; moderate+ to fully intense and developing aromas of red raspberry and currant, light cranberry notes, pink peppercorn spice, light star anise and black currants
  • palate:   clean; dry, moderate+ (well integrated red currant) acids, moderate+ (soft and supple) tannins, moderate body, moderate ABV, moderate+ intense and developing flavors that mimick the nose with emphasis on the berry flavors throughout, soft finish of savory herbs with a slightly spicy finish. Excellent balance and structure, medium+ to long length on the palate
  • conclusion:   this wine drinks very well now, and very well for the price~! Enjoy 2011-2014/15 but will not develop appreciably in bottle
  • FOOD PAIRINGS:  great Bordeaux style wine calls for great beef (in my opinion). Serve this with a great grilled ribeye steak with kosher seasalt and extra-virgin olive oil, steamed swiss chard and new potatoes... not the most original food pairing ever, but sometimes we just need to get back to the classics
Moon Curser workers at night

   If you haven't tried these wines before (in either incarnation) you will quickly be listing this as one of your classics... a "go-to" wine that easily expresses BC quality and BC terroir. Well done Moon Curser, and my thanks to John Schreiner ( for his inspired and ever-diligent research.

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

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

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