Friday, August 6, 2010

One Big BC Deserves Another

After last night's Lt. Gov.'s Award winning Nk'mip Q2 Meritage, I'd figured there couldn't be any harm in pulling out another wine from one of the most lauded labels in BC - the Sandhill Small Lots series.

Regular readers - and drinking buddies - will know that I'm quite a fan of Sandhill and winemaker, Howard Soon, and that I keep a particularly keen eye open for the Small Lot wines. Each year, Howard takes advantage of particular barrels that have a distinct attribute. The Sandhill website talks of three qualities that may lead to particular grapes being used for this program of limited production.

"The grapes may be from small, specific blocks where new promising varietals are being tested." "They may be from blocks where Howard Soon and the grape grower decide to use innovative and different vineyard techniques as a test, such as lowering yields, different canopy management" or pruning methods. Finally, "they may be small lots, even individual barrels, that Howard decides, because of their unique quality, to treat differently in winemaking and ageing."

Soon's philosophy at Sandhill is that all its wines will be sourced from single vineyards, in order that a truer sense of the land or terroir comes through in the wine. That doesn't preclude a blending of different varietals that are grown at the same vineyard, however. Indeed, by 2001, the third year of the Small Lots program, there were three blends with three different profiles - intriguingly named one, two and three. Which is where we find ourselves tonight.

551. 2001 Sandhill two (VQA Okanagan Valley)

Sandhill two is Soon's reserve Bordeaux or Meritage blend. The 2001 vintage was all sourced from the Burrowing Owl Vineyard (which was later renamed the Sandhill Vineyard to prevent confusion with neighbours, Burrowing Owl, after a joint venture was dissolved in 2002) and is a blend of 50% Merlot, 40% Cab Sauv and 10% Cab Franc. The Small Lots aspect of the production is confirmed in that the bottle itself points out that only 263 cases of the wine was made.

Similar in structure to last night's Nk'mip Meritage, tonight's two didn't have as much vibrancy. I don't know if there was that much difference in the year's growing conditions or whether this bottle just didn't age quite as well. Soon is known somewhat for his restraint in using oak on his wines and, maybe, that's what resulted in a softer wine that didn't tickle my fancy as much as I might have expected. The bottle still disappeared quickly enough, but it wasn't my favourite Sandhill to make it to The List.

There will still be other though. Count on it.

No comments:

Post a Comment