Sunday, August 14, 2011

An Oldie But Goodie

Lately Red Rooster and winemaker, Karen Gillis, have been up front and centre in the publicity rounds for a number of big wins on the international wine competition circuit. I've already tried their 2009 Chardonnay (#786) which was awarded a Gold Medal and named one of the top ten Chardonnays in the prestigious Chardonnay du Monde and we've also opened the 2009 Pinot Noir (#769) that was named Top New World Pinot Noir at the California-based Jerry Mead International Wine Competition.

Just the other week, Red Rooster's 2008 Meritage was awarded one of the coveted Lieutenant General's Wine Awards of Excellence. We've actually enjoyed a bottle of that vintage already as well (#777) - although the L-G's Award hadn't been announced yet at that time.

Seeing as the winery is on such a roll at the moment, I might as well grab a bottle from Red Rooster's past to see how the old relates to the new.

895. 2002 Red Rooster Meritage (VQA Okanagan Valley)

This vintage relates to the days of Red Rooster when the winery was still under the direction of Beat and Prudence Mahrer and before it had been purchased by Canadian wine juggernaut, Peller Estates. I think this might also be the last vintage to have been made at the old winery at the opposite end of the Naramata Bench. In 2003, the current showcase winery was built and Karen didn't join the fold until the 2007 vintage.

Before all of the changes, Red Rooster was known for its whimsy but also for somewhat inconsistent wines. This was not one of the inconsistent wines. Almost a decade later, we still enjoyed the wine's smooth integration of body and fruit. I'm not even sure what grapes went into this blend but, back in 2002, it was likely just Merlot and the two Cab's - Sauvignon and Franc - if it even consisted of all three. There hadn't been many ventures into the addition of Malbec and/or Petit Verdot in BC Meritages yet.

The Mahrer's were pretty happy with this wine though. When the wineries in the sub-region formed the Naramata Bench Winery Association in 2004 (a brilliant move on their part - one that other sub-regions in BC are still trying to successfully emulate), they marketed a "high-end" Best of the Bench collector's wooden slab case. Each of the ten wineries (hard to believe that the number has almost doubled in only seven years) contributed their top wine. The 2002 Meritage was Red Rooster's contribution.

Back then, there was a whole lot of question as to whether a BC wine could even age for ten years. I think it's becoming common knowledge that the well-made ones certainly can. From my point of view (for what that's worth), this wine is a good example of that fact. This makes me think that I might need to look a little further at the wines being produced by the Mahrer's now at Ruby Tuesday. I know they're out there, but I haven't had more than a sip of their wines.

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