Tuesday, December 3, 2013

TNT & A Little Bit of Funk

I was glad to run across tonight's bottle because there isn't much of it to be found - only 150 cases in total - and I'm all over the story behind the wine. Being only the third wine to be made as part of the Okanagan Wine Campus program, I'm totally intrigued to discover the choices made in producing the wine.

The Okanagan Wine Campus was started in 2011 by the folks at Okanagan Crush Pad as a mentorship program where whomever is named Vancouver's Sommelier of the Year at the annual Vancouver International Wine Festival is awarded the opportunity to make around 100 cases of a wine of their choice. Kurtis Kolt, 2010's winner, made a Semillon and he was followed by 2011 champ, Owen Knowlton's, choice of a Cabernet Franc. I was able to get my hands on a bottle of the Kurtis Semillon but, unfortunately, I missed out on the Cab Franc.

1479.  2012 TNT Chardonnay (Black Sage Road - Okanagan Valley)

Simply put, the name, "TNT," acknowledges that the man behind the juice is Terry Nicholas Threlfall. The 2012 winner worked with OCP's resident winemaker, Michael Bartier, with OCP partner David Scholefield and even had the opportunity to discuss the project with "flying winemaker," Alberto Antonini, while he was consulting on various Okanagan projects.

The fruit was sourced from a single vineyard on the Black Sage Road in the Southern part of the Okanagan Valley and Threlfall has been quoted as saying that he was going for a Chablis-like character to his wine. In aiming for that profile, he decided to ferment and age the wine in concrete and steel - as opposed to oak - in an effort to capture a purer sense of fruit, bold acidity and minerality that isn't always a prominent feature (or goal) of BC Chardonnays. It had a definite citrus note but, for me, it was a more stark minerality that stood out.

Tim Pawsey, in his blog Hired Belly, has posted a sound clip from an interview with Threlfall, wherein the former Hawksworth sommelier, states that he was looking for a texture and tension that lends the wine to being food friendly. Threlfall says, "I wanted that salty, mineral vibrancy to the wine - and also a little bit of funk. A little bit of funk is good in wine. I wanted a little bit of an edge to it."

The label (and any number of online comments) declares that the wine "cries out for a plate of freshly shucked BC oysters." We settled for roast chicken but I think the minerality might have paired a little better with the oysters. Note to self: next time, read the label before you plan dinner.

A nice facet of the project sees proceeds from the sale of the wine go to the BC Hospitality Foundation to further build their wine scholarship fund that assists students pursuing higher level wine certification. A healthy $10,000 has gone towards scholarships thus far - helping eleven students further their studies along the way.

Dynamite, eh. (Sorry, but you know I had to end with that.) Next up from the Wine Campus will be 2013 Sommelier of the Year, Samantha Rahn's, effort. As soon as her name was announced at last year's Wine Festival, the smart money was betting that she'd be moving directly to satisfy her penchant for Shiraz and Syrah. I'll be keeping my eye open for that.

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