Friday, October 18, 2013

Poplar Grove Viognier

One of the most enjoyable treats on the 2013 BC Wine Appreciation Society's edition of the annual Bus Tour was our visit to Poplar Grove winery. I've written about the Bus Tour already though; so, let's just skip to tonight's bottle - because, if visiting Poplar Grove was a treat in itself, getting a chance to try - and to buy - this wine was an added bonus on top of that treat.

1454.  2012 Poplar Grove Viognier (VQA Okanagan Valley)

While touring and tasting with proprietor, Ian Sutherland, he explained that Poplar Grove (not including the entry level Monster line) makes six core wines. He continued to explain that they like to experiment with small batch wines - wines where they may have access to limited fruit or wines where they incorporate trial production methods that they might have run across while travelling and taking in other wineries around the world.

The 2012 Viognier is a wine that incorporated both concepts. The winery doesn't have a lot of Viognier grapes to work with - only enough to produce 400 cases in 2012. The growing season, that year, delivered fruit with no shortage of structural acidity. As such, the winemaking team decided to borrow a strategy developed by Leeuwin Estates - one of the star producers in Margaret River, Western Australia - for its renowned Artist Series Chardonnay. Leeuwin found that standard batonnage (the practice of stirring the decaying yeast cells in wine as it ages to impart a "creamier" texture and more complex flavour) introduced oxygen into the wine which, in turn, resulted in a reduction of the fruit on the palate. To battle that loss of fruit, Leeuwin started putting its barrels on rollers which allowed a more gentle stirring of the lees - with no introduction of oxygen.

A prime goal of Poplar Grove's in making its whites is to both capture and preserve the "primary fruit flavours." The desire to add some balance to the 2012 vintage's acidity - while preserving the wine's fruit - led to the adoption of the Leeuwin manoeuvre.

The finished wine definitely impressed our BCWAS crowd. Unfortunately, at the time we toured the winery, the Viognier was in such short supply it was supposed to be only available to Wine Club members. I guess this is where Membership (in BCWAS) had its privilege. I managed to score a couple bottles and, tonight, I figured it would match up nicely with some fresh sablefish. It did.

Much to Boo's dismay - and his ever present "No Buy Leash" - I've been chatting to a few other BCWAS members about joining the Poplar Grove Wine Club. If that's what it takes to guarantee further access to more of these small batch wines, I may just need to succumb to the temptation.

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