Saturday, October 6, 2012

Just Ducky

Canadian Thanksgiving Long Weekend has arrived.  Like so many other locales, it's going to be a weekend of family, food and wine around here - and, if that's not something to be thankful for, I don't know what is.

That is, even if all that thankfulness does mean that I'm going to have all that more wine to blog about and add to The List (when I'm already too far behind).

First up, though, is one of the bottles that we nabbed on the BC Wine Appreciation Bus Tour we joined with last month.  I thought it would match up nicely with the duck and sautéed peaches we were going to chow down on.

1256.  2011 Blue Mountain Gamay Noir (Okanagan Valley)

Blue Mountain - as local winos will know - is one of the first BC cult wineries. Indeed, I remember my first bottle of Blue Mountain.  It was at a company dinner - back in the early '90's - and one of our gang recognized the name on the wine list.  Now, back in those days, I was just as likely to be drinking u-brew plonk as I was to be trying wine made by a real winery.  Let alone a wine made in BC.  I've come a long way since those days, but Burrowing Owl is still delivering the goods.

The Mavety family has been farming on their original estate since 1971 when they started championing the planting of noble varietals in the region.  Long attracted to Burgundian and Champenoise grapes, the winery exclusively uses estate grown grapes and is probably best known for its Pinot Noir and sparkling wines.  All the same, their Gamay is regularly named as one of the best in the province.

The Gamay vines are now 14 to 21 years old and the Mavety's grow two clones of varietal.  Generally, they aim for a more Beaujolais Cru style of wine - heavier and darker than many of the Beaujolais wines found in the market.  They consider themselves lucky, however, in that their corner of the Okanagan Valley allows their wines to have brilliant fruit and acidity coming through even with the bigger body of the wine.

With a second generation of Mavety's participating fully in winery operations nowadays - including the winemaking - there's been a leaning towards a little more risk taking.  Around 50% of the 2011 Gamay vintage  saw fermentation with wild yeast that is native to the vineyard.  Wild yeasts are known to be volatile and winemakers can be disappointed with unexpected end results but those wild yeasts can also lead to an even grander sense of terroir when they work.  I think everyone on our tour - and the winemakers as well - feel that everything worked out just fine with these wines.  The folks at Blue Mountain feel that this Gamay can age 4 to 6 years.  Guess it's pretty clear that this bottle didn't quite reach point.

A cloudy September morning greeted us and our visit to the winery.  It didn't affect the taste of the wines at all but it did mean that one of the most recognizable views in the BC wine industry wasn't quite as vibrant as it might have been normally.  Guess it just means that we'll have to make another visit to the winery.  Thankfully, on the chance that this next visit might take awhile, we still have a nice selection of wines that Boo and I can enjoy and add to The List.

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