Thursday, November 11, 2010

Twisted Tree Gamay Noir

Although you can actually find a bottle of Twisted Tree on The List already (#182), I didn't really know anything about the winery at that time. I knew it was one of the more recent additions to the world of BC wine and that the winery was located in the Osoyoos area - about as South as you can get in the Okanagan Valley before you hit the American border - but that was about it.

When heading up to Kootenays in the Eastern part of the province to visit Boo's mom at Sparrowhawk, we drove right by Twisted Tree's entrance as we climbed the hill to the East of Osoyoos. Boo was fast asleep as he'd had to work the night before, but I figured I needed to make the stop for a quick visit - and, as it turned out, a quick purchase of some of their wines (the "No Buy Leash" referred to in my last post was considerably slackened back then).

As tonight's dinner could handle a lighter red, we opted to give one those purchases a try.

638. 2008 Twisted Tree Gamay Noir (Okanagan Valley)

If last night's bottle of Mission Hill was an example of drinking with the big guys, we're definitely going the other route tonight. A family designed and run operation, the winery and vineyards were only started in 2004 - after the last cherry crop was harvested from the old "twisted trees" that were planted throughout the property. Total production is still limited to just over 4000 cases.

Since it isn't too realistic to expect to be able to produce decent, commercial wines from vines that are only a year or two old, owners Chris and Beata Tolley actually sourced their grapes for the first couple of vintages from other growers in the valley. Indeed, they still rely on relationships that they developed with those growers for some of the valley's more recognizable varietals. Those relationships have remained important because, one of the first things you notice about Twisted Tree's wines is that they produce varietals that will likely be seen only rarely - if at all - anywhere else in BC. The Tolley's decided to plant varietals that would differentiate them from the other wineries in the valley and, with grapes like Carmenere, Tannat, Tempranillo, Roussanne, Marsanne and Corvino, they definitely succeeded.

Gamay Noir may not be as exotic or uncommon to BC vineyards; however, it still isn't found as regularly as Merlot, Pinot Noir, Syrah or any of the white varietals. The grapes for this wine weren't actually grown on the benchlands where the winery is located. They were sourced from just North of Osoyoos; however, that area is still one of the warmest regions in the valley and the result is a bigger and richer Gamay than might be expected for that varietal.

I doubt that I'm likely to become one of Gamay Noir's biggest fans (whether from Twisted Tree or otherwise), but I am looking forward to trying some of the other bottles that we picked up to see what the future might hold for Twisted Tree's alternative varietals. Until then...

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