Wednesday, September 4, 2013

A Different Blanc de Noir?

Time to add yet another new BC winery to The List. I'll readily admit that I don't have a great handle on Vancouver Island's wineries. The Island may only be a short cruise over the Georgia Strait but, for the most part, the wineries are fairly small and only a small fraction of their wines tend to make it to Vancouver and the BC mainland. As such, it doesn't surprise me much that I knew nothing about Unsworth Vineyards when I saw this bottle.

1411.  Unsworth Vineyards Allegro (Vancouver Island - BC)

What intrigued me most about this white blend was that the back label states that it incorporates Petit Milo, Pinot Gris and Blanc de Noir. I knew that Petit Milo is one of the Blattner grape varieties that is seeing some introduction on Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands but I wondered what the Blanc de Noir was. Now, even I know that, in winespeak, blanc de noir means white wine from red grapes. However, I was hoping that the manner in which the capitalized "Blanc de Noir" was set out might just be a reference to another, new-fangled grape. Turns out that the Blanc de Noir isn't a new variety but is a reference to the process that the winemaker, Daniel Cosman, had utilized in adding juice from Pinot Noir into his white blend.

So much for my hopes of adding another grape to my Wine Century Club tally. That would have made for a very happy two new grapes in two days result.

Although Blanc de Noir may not have been a new variety, Unsworth has planted a number of the Blattner grapes - two whites and three reds - as they look to "the common thread with these varieties...that they have been developed in the coastal region, for the coastal region. They are disease tolerant and early ripening allowing for an environmentally friendly approach to vineyard management." When Tim and Colleen Turyk purchased the Cowichan Valley vineyard in 2009, there were 6 acres of planted grapes - the Marechal Foch planting being the oldest vines (2007). The Turyk's added the Blattner varieties when they expanded the plantings in the vineyard.

The full potential of those new plantings has yet to be realized and local wine scribe, Terry David Mulligan, has referred to Unsworth as a "work in progress" - even as he lauded their Rosé as maybe the best he'd tasted all year. TDM also pointed out that the Rosé can be found on Vikram Vij's limited, but well-perceived, wine list - quite the accomplishment in itself.

Obviously, I'll have to keep an eye open for the Rosé but that will be for another post. As for the wine at hand, the Allegro has garnered a few fans of its own in that it won a bronze at the 2013 North West Wine Summit - one of the few competitions that I pay some mind to. Boo and I found the wine to have a very intriguing citrus-y - almost sour - finish. I don't know if it was a note particular to the winery's Island location or to the profile of the Petit Milo grape but it was quite distinguishing. It might not have been the note that pushes me to run out and buy another bottle, but it did make for an interesting pairing with our dinner.

It also makes me think that Boo and I need to plan a journey over to the Island and check out some of the wineries in the Cowichan and surrounds.

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