Wednesday, July 15, 2015

A Rosy Zweigelt

1955.  2012 Upper Bench Rosé (Okanagan Valley VQA)

When the BC Wine Appreciation Society's annual Fall Bus Tour stopped in at Upper Bench Estate Winery in 2013, Gavin and Shana Miller were finally feeling that they were reaching a point of establishment after their acquisition of the winery and vineyard back in 2011. They'd acquired the old Stonehill winery from the bankruptcy receiver. and Gavin told our assembled crew that he was glad for the opportunity to put all his years in the business - including winemaking stints at heavyweights Poplar Grove and Painted Rock - into his own vision. He added, however, that buying an existing winery means that, in part, you've inherited someone else's dreams and their goals may have been quite different from your own.

One of his early goals was to reduce the number of SKU's that they'd inherited and that was going to involve making some decisions on what to do with certain varieties that had been planted by the old owners - varieties like Zweigelt, not exactly the best-known or most highly marketable grape in the Okanagan Valley.

One use Gavin found for the Zweigelt was 332 cases of Rosé. Seeing as how Upper Bench also produced a varietal Zweigelt red, I'm thinking this Rosé might have been a saignée bleed from the juice pressed to make the red wine. In any event, as you can see, this is a brightly hued Rosé. While the palate wasn't nearly as bold as the colour might indicate, there was still red fruit accompanied by a good dose of acidity.

I'm not sure if the winery will continue to grow Zweigelt. I read in one article that Gavin was going to graft Cab Sauv onto the old Zweigelt vines. I don't know if he kept any of the Austrian grape around or not.

While Zweigelt may not be everyone's cup of tea, serving it up as a Rosé, like this, on a hot summer's day won't likely get you into any trouble (particularly if you happen to have some of Shana's Upper Bench cheeses to go along with it).

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