Sunday, January 16, 2011

Riesling Out of Nothing

Seems like we're starting the new year off with a batch of BC wines. Tonight's going to add both another BC wine and a new BC winery to The List.

708. 2006 Ex Nihilo Riesling (Okanagan Valley)

Ex Nihilo is a relatively new entrant onto the BC wine scene. The winery was some time in the making and was finally set up in 2008, but this 2006 vintage was an initial foray into the world of winemaking when Jeff and Decoa Harder worked out an arrangement with a neighbouring winery to purchase some grapes and make an initial stab at producing some wine. That first vintage consisted of 100 cases of Merlot and 600 cases of this Riesling.

It's hard to make a big splash when you don't have a physical winery and your total production is 700 cases. It is not, however, difficult to gain instant notoriety when you offer up a wine or two sporting an association with THE Rolling Stones and then follow it up with a Gold medal or two at the prestigious Riesling du Monde competition.

It's almost like something of note can appear "out of nothing." I've used the quotes on "out of nothing" because that's the translation of the Latin phrase "Ex Nihilo." An interesting working on the winery's name.

Now granted, it was the 2007 Riesling that won the first Gold medal and that wine was apparently made in quite a different style than this 2006 (as perhaps Riesling is easily wont to do). The Stones are forever though - and that association garnered the new winery a whole lot of local press. The story goes that Jeff Harder was attending a dinner in L.A. that was related to a Rolling Stones concert and they were served a wine sporting the Stones iconic logo. The light bulb went on and, after four years of intense negotiations, a limited release Okanagan Icewine called Sympathy For The Devil, that prominently displays those well-known lips and tongue, was released and history was made.

There's also a red blend made from Napa Valley grapes that is marketed as Satisfaction, but that's yet another story and I need to get back to the Riesling.

From what I've found on the net, the Riesling seems to bring about some pretty strong reactions - from Gold medals at big competitions to online reviews that offer little, if any, positive feedback. Boo and I fell somewhere in the middle. We were hardly reaching for the Pepcid, but nothing about the wine stood out for me as being extraordinary. I could easily think of more than a couple of other BC Rieslings that I'd reach for before the Ex Nihilo.

That being said, I am a Riesling kind of guy and, if this bottle wasn't that indicative of the winery's current product, it won't take much to get me to open another bottle down the road.

On top of that though, I do want to say that I think Decoa Harder's marketing background really shows through with a stellar label. As much as a wine is ultimately judged by the juice inside the bottle, an intriguing label can coax more than a couple folks to pick up the bottle in the first place. For me at least, this label is a glowing success. We'll see if the next Ex Nihilo wine I try impresses me as much.

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