Friday, November 19, 2010

Sumac Ridge

Considering Sumac Ridge is another of the "big" BC wineries, we don't drink an awful lot of their wines at our house. One might think that Boo and I aren't finishing our share of the 100,000 or so cases that the winery produces each year. As may be the case with Mission Hill, I think their wines might suffer from my perception that they'll always be available in the liquor store and I don't need to really buy any to cellar.

That's likely not being fair to Sumac Ridge. But I did find tonight's bottle in amongst the boxes and I figured we'd laid it down long enough to give it a whirl.

645. 2002 Sumac Ridge - Black Sage Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (VQA Okanagan Valley)

Along with being one of the largest producers in the province, Sumac Ridge is also one of the earliest, being one of the first estate wineries to open under the new wine regime that the provincial government set up in 1978. They released their first vintage in 1981 and will celebrate their 30th anniversary this year in 2011.

The winery has been associated with many other firsts in the BC wine industry. It was the first to open a cellar door restaurant. It was among the first to produce an icewine. It was the first to popularize - outside of the US - a Bordeaux blend under the Meritage name. And it was the first to introduce a premium sparkling wine - particularly since it still uses the classical Method Champenoise.

However, the winery first that is particularly germane to this bottle is that Sumac Ridge is based in Summerland, but the home vineyard was originally planted with strictly white varietals for commercial production. In 1992, they purchased a tract of land further South, below Oliver, on the Black Sage Road and embarked on what, at the time, was the largest planting of classic Bordeaux varietals in Canada - and the first in what is now recognized as one of the finest regions for grapes in the province.

The "Black Sage Vineyard" designation has become one of the premium lines for the winery and this bottle was part of the first vintage for a Black Sage Cab Sauv. The '02 vintage, at the time, was the largest vintage ever at Sumac Ridge, but there were still only 1200 cases of the Cab produced.

There's been a lot of "first" mentioned in this particular posting, but I don't know that I'd say that this wine will sit first on our list of "Must Buy" Cab's. It was a solid wine, but it didn't really have enough ooompf to impress as a Cab. The thing to remember is that the vines would have still been young at this point and wouldn't have had a lot of time to start to really deliver the best fruit. Even if this bottle didn't have us ringing bells of joy, I'd pick up a more recent bottle to see how the vineyard's fruit is progressing.

This Cab may be our first from Sumac Ridge to hit The List, but my hunch is that we'll taste some more of the winery's Black Sage Cab before we hit 2001 bottles.

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