Sunday, January 17, 2010

Sandhill - 2009 Canadian Winery of the Year

Howard Soon and Sandhill winery recently pulled off what has to be seen as a stunning coup in the Canadian wine industry. Sandhill was not only named the top winery in Canada at the Canadian Wine Awards, but Howard and crew took home the trophies for overall Top Red Wine and overall Top White Wine - not an easy feat considering the tasting panel works their way through over a thousand wines in reaching their choices for awards.

I've made a number of stops at Sandhill previously on this little Wine Odyssey that we've got going here - and I think I've made it clear that Sandhill is one of my local favourites - so I won't go into any real recap of what Mr. Soon and the winery's focus and objectives are. Syrah is definitely one of their strongpoints when it comes to filling my wineglass however.

327. 2006 Sandhill Small Lots Phantom Creek Vineyard Syrah (VQA Okanagan Valley)

It was the 2007 Small Lots Syrah that won the Red Wine of the Year trophy that I mentioned earlier, so I figured it would be a treat to open one of the 2006 bottles since I had a couple handy. It might not have been Red Wine of the Year, but it still won a silver medal at the 2008 Canadian Wine Awards (that year it was Jackson-Triggs that took the gold).

The Small Lots designation is fairly self-explanatory. It is the winery's experimental program where grapes may be sourced from specific blocks in the vineyard or it might be a look at new varietals that the winery feels may have potential or it might simply be that a single barrel or two stand out from all the others in the cellar and Mr. Soon feels that their unique quality merits separate bottling. In any event, there are never a lot of bottles available - as can be seen with this wine, there were only 403 cases of the Small Lots Syrah produced from 2006.

John Schreiner wrote that the spring rains in 2006 were plentiful and encouraged a big fruit set for Sandhill's Syrah plantings. Seeing that Syrah is a naturally vigorous varietal, veteran grower and owner of the Phantom Creek vineyard, Richard Cleave, found it necessary to green harvest (or cut back) 40% of the unripened grapes in order to avoid an overproduction that would result in a less intense wine.

It's debatable whether I'd go so far as to join in with one veteran wine scribe who wrote "there is a vivacious sweetness to the flavours that is downright sexy." However, there was no problem in finishing off this bottle quickly. I'll look forward to trying out the 2007 in due course.

No comments:

Post a Comment