Wild Goose Winery a big winner this spring
Six cheers for our own Wild Geese!
In wine lore, the Wild Geese (sometimes morphed into the Wine Geese) were Irish soldiers and their families who fled the sod in the 1690s and settled elsewhere, quite a few of them in France, where they became involved in various aspects of the wine business.
Where do you think all those Palmers and Lynches, those Bartons, Phelans, and Talbots that identify some of the most legendary Bordeaux came from? Take a look at the label on a Chí¢teau Haut-Brion next time you’ve got a spare $375 to spend on a bottle, and sound it out—that’s O’Brien, francofied.
But all that’s another story. The one today has to do with the Kruger family of winemakers from Wild Goose Winery in the South Okanagan, who were the big winners in the best-of-varietal competition at the Okanagan Spring Wine Festival this month, walking off with no fewer than six best-of-class awards.
Here’s the list. As to where the wines are, you might want to start at the winery, in Okanagan Falls (the tasting room is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily till Halloween; www.wildgoosewinery.com/ ), and see if there’s any left in the backroom. Otherwise, knowledgeable VQA stores and restaurants that are truly in the know might be able to serve you some.
These are the six, all from 2007: God’s Mountain Riesling, Mystic River Pinot Blanc, Autumn Gold (a lovely white blend with a gentle, fresh sweetness), Blanc de Noirs, Gewí¼rztraminer (John Schreiner thinks it may be the best Gewí¼rz in the Valley, certainly in this particular style; no argument from me), and Pinot Gris.
A remarkable achievement, but no real surprise to those of us who’ve been carting Wild Goose wines home by the boxful for years. Only Sumac Ridge came close, with four BoCs (2006 Black Sage Chardonnay, 2004 Steller’s Jay Brut, 2005 Black Sage Cabernet Franc, 2006 Black Sage White Meritage). Then came Jackson-Triggs, with three (2005 Proprietors’ Grand Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon–Shiraz, 2005 SunRock Cabernet Sauvignon, 2005 Proprietors’ Grand Reserve Merlot), and, in the same corporate camp, Inniskillin 2006 Riesling Icewine.
The other bests: Calona 2007 Artist Series Unoaked Chardonnay, See Ya Later Ranch 2005 Pinot Noir and 2006 Ehrenfelser Icewine, Nk’Mip Cellars 2005 Qwam Qwmt (Red) Meritage, Sandhill 2006 Small Lots Syrah, Mission Hill 2006 Reserve Sauvignon Blanc, Gehringer Brothers 2007 Dry Rock Sauvignon Blanc and 2006 Late Harvest Riesling, and Forbidden Fruit 2007 Pomme Desiree Iced Apple.
My count makes that 23 different wines. Do one a week, if you can find them all.
In case you hadn’t noticed, May is WOSA month. The acronym stands for Wines of South Africa, the name of the umbrella organization charged with marketing the big, bold reds and delightful whites of South African wine regions. Special displays and selections in the government stores focus on this baker’s dozen of labels and varieties: Graceland Cabernet, Saxenburg Private Collection Cabernet Sauvignon (a personal fave), Glen Carlou Syrah, Porcupine Ridge Syrah, Graham Beck Brut (a luscious bit of bubble), Simonsig Chenin Blanc, Cathedral Cellars Chardonnay, Beyerskloof Pinotage (the unique South African hybrid; if you’re going to drink Pinotage, might as well go with the best!), KWV Roodeberg (the old standby for thousands of British Columbians), Lindemans Chardonnay, Golden Kaan Shiraz, Excelsior Cabernet Sauvignon, and Oracle Shiraz.
Prices range from $12.88 to $34.99, and the wines can be found in special displays at Signature Stores. Part of the promotion is a draw that will send the winner to South Africa’s wine country for a firsthand look; you can enter on-line at www.winesofsouthafrica.ca/.
Here’s one from the vaults. Every so often, I find a dusty bottle in the back of the cellar and wonder (a) what it’s doing there, and (b) what it would taste like. Last weekend’s case in point: Andrés late harvest Ehrenfelser 1987, in a 375-millilitre bottle, acquired in all likelihood within a couple of months of its release and forgotten behind a big stack of over-the-hill Barolos.
So what happens to a 20-year-old Okanagan late-harvest Ehrenfelser, out of the Nk’Mip Vineyard? For one thing, the cork collapsed halfway through the unscrewing, which never bodes well. But once in the glass and then onto the tongue, it proved to be quite remarkably fresh after all these years despite some cloudiness, with lively acidity and the sugar receding, making way for big, strong fruit—full and deep and rich, and surprisingly unsweet. A vault treasure and a great way to end Sunday-night dinner, in the company of Peter Weis’s pecan pie.
I can’t recall what I paid for it, but I wish I’d bought more. Who knew?
And one for now—See Ya Later Ranch 2006 Pinot 3 has been one of my big treats since it first appeared here a couple of vintages ago. The three are Blanc, Gris, and Noir.
The blend is beautifully fragrant and very rich, a grand harmony of fruit and alcohol and oak (if any; it’s hardly in evidence, but there must be some, surely). There is something apple-y for the palate, and something sage, or marjoram-y, too. No question this is one of the best whites you’ll find anywhere in the Valley. It’s $19.99 at select VQA stores, and occasionally appears on the shelves at the government stores.