Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Aussies in the House

We've been anticipated their arrival for months now but Merlot Boy and Margarita have finally arrived on our doorstep - and I'm thinking there's going to be a wee bit of booze playing a role in our lives as long as the Two Kangaroos are gracing our Vancouver shores.

Since neither wine nor I was involved in their initial day touring the town, I was lucky enough to arrive home with both dinner and thirsty tourists front and centre when I arrived home from work. Boo had made that most Canadian of dishes for dinner: butter chicken. So, we took advantage of the good weather and our guests and dined al fresco in the garden. A simple luxury that we don't do nearly enough.

I'd been waiting for an opportunity to open a trio of 2012 Orofino Rieslings for some time now - and, yes, that was "trio." John and Virginia Weber of Orofino decided, with their 2012 vintage, that they'd highlight the different terroirs of the three vineyards where their Riesling grapes are grown and take a slightly different approach to the production of each of the three wines.

I pointed out to Merlot Boy (who, despite his name, will drink other types of wine - or beer or vodka or whatever else you're serving) and Margarita (same side note for her drinking habits as well) that three different versions of the same varietal from a boutique, BC producer is extremely rare. Indeed, I can't think of any other similar production.

It also didn't hurt that Orofino is one of my favourite local wineries.

Normally, I'd tell a few tales about the winery and the folks behind it, but I've already added enough Orofino wines to The List that I can just point you to the post I wrote leading up to the 2013 Wine Bloggers Conference. I think it's safe to say that it's as comprehensive as I get in the blog and there's no need in repeating myself here.

1645.  2012 Orofino Home Vineyard Riesling (VQA Similkameen Valley)

1646.  2012 Orofino Scout Vineyard Riesling (VQA Similkameen Valley)

1647.  2012 Orofino Hendesbee Vineyard Riesling (VQA Similkameen Valley)

Regular visitors to the blog know that Riesling and I are the fondest of friends. So, the opportunity to see how a favourite producer ventured to take three different approaches is a godsend. It's the rare occasion where Boo and I open three bottles of wine for one dinner; so, I'll admit that waiting for an occasion such as this was quite the task to hold off on pulling the cork on at least one of the bottles. Thankfully, that occasion arrived with our two antipodeans.

In talking with John at the winery, he emphasized that he's looking more and more to emphasize the single vineyard aspect of his production. Previously, Orofino's Rieslings were blended to make a single wine - and, even then, there wasn't a whole lot of it. John's practice had always been to ferment the different vineyard fruit separately but he found himself short of space with the three Rieslings; so, he aged the home vineyard fruit in used French oak (and one acacia barrel) while the other two Rieslings remained in stainless steel. He found that the three wines were different enough from each other that they warranted separate bottlings - even though that meant there'd only be 300 cases of Hendsbee, 250 cases of Scout and 100 cases of the Home Vineyard wine.

We found those different profiles to be telling as well. I often find that it's hard enough to differentiate between varietal wines from different producers, let alone wines from the same producer, but that wasn't the case here. Each wine had a telltale profile. The Hendsbee jumped out of the glass with its racy acidity, while John had left a bit of residual sugar on the Scout Riesling - not that this was a sweet wine in any sense of the word. Interestingly enough, it was the Home Vineyard that proved to be a slight favourite at the dinner table and that was the wine that saw some barrel ageing. John has talked about this wine seeing a fair bit of lees stirring (lees being the spent yeast cells and the stirring of those lees often resulting in a richer, fuller feel to the wine) and maybe it was that extra note of complexity - that cut the acidity just a touch - that made the difference.

It was no surprise that all three wines disappeared without problem, however - and I can only hope that we sip on a whole whack of other treats while the Aussies are gracing us with their presence.

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