Sunday, January 11, 2015

Summa Quies

As much as I like Luke Smith and his pursuit of fine Pinot, I do get confused with his many changes in labelling and naming. I guess the problem is that I don't know his Howling Bluff wines intimately enough to be able to lead you through all the various incarnations but I know enough to realize that there have been a number of changes to the names, labels and branding in the decade or so since Luke arrived on the Naramata Bench wine scene.

I realize Luke was advised to abandon his old label with the howling wolf because Vancouver's higher end restaurants told him that they couldn't sell it as a premium Pinot Noir because patrons thought the bottle looked like just another "critter" wine.

I think he's now settled on his branding but I'm still a little bewildered.

1843.  2010 Howling Bluff - Summa Quies Three Sisters Pinot Noir (VQA Okanagan Valley)

Case in point. The winery is still called Howling Bluff Estate Winery; yet, that name is nowhere to be found on the front label. The focal point of the label is Summa Quies, the name of Luke's vineyard and Latin for "attaining peace" or "attain perfection." I'm not sure how Summa Quies fits into this equation though seeing as how the grapes used in this Pinot were grown on and purchased from the Three Sisters vineyard a little further down the Bench.

I'm sure, as a former Vancouver businessman, Luke's done his consultation and due diligence. I'll just put it out there that I find the whole Howling Bluff vs. Summa Quies juxtaposition a tad bewildering.

I guess at the end of the day, the most important thing is that the wine in the bottle leaves you wanting more - whether you understand the label or not. I found this glass hits that middle point between New World and Old World - a straddling of the two styles that seems to be one that BC wines are getting very adapt at. There's definite red fruit on the nose and palate but it's more subdued than bold and there's more acidity than earthy notes coming through. I think it's fair to say that this wine will be enjoyed more with food than it would be as a sipper on its own. This isn't the most complex Pinot I've tried from Howling Bluff but let's keep in mind that the bottle was $28 and hardly the price of Willamette Valley, Central Otago or mid-range Burgundy.

If nothing else, I'm certainly sure that I'll continue to follow and open more Howling Bluff wines - regardless of and future direction the label may take.

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