Sunday, July 12, 2015

An Okanagan Three-Way

Some days just seem to require an extra boost to them - more succour than even a couple glasses of wine can provide. Today was one of those days. As such, Boo and I thought we'd go the route of an Okanagan three-way: a "go to" red wine, a fruit dessert wine and a craft vodka.

1953.  2012 Elephant Island Apricot (Naramata Bench - Okanagan Valley)

Okanagan Spirits Vodka

Grade 1 arithmetic aside, there are times when 1 + 1 can = 3. This might just be one of those occasions. We're long time fans of Elephant Island's Apricot dessert wine. If you're partial to apricots, this wine, on its own, just thrills you with the sweet, ripe apricot flavour heeled with a good brace of acidity. However, I remember - from many years ago - when we bought our first bottle, the last comment from the winery staffer behind the tasting bar was that the Apricot wine makes a great addition to a Vodka martini. Two parts Vodka, one part Apricot wine. Jackpot.

That's where the Okanagan Spirits Vodka comes into play tonight.

OK Spirits has been around for just over a decade now. Originally established in Vernon in 2004, they added a second location in Kelowna at the end of 2011. Having started with Liqueurs and Fruit Brandies, their "harvest-to-flask" philosophy of 100% locally grown fruits and grains has expanded to include Vodka, Gin, Whisky, Grappa, Aquavit and Absinthe. I can attest to the fact that it's difficult to leave their tasting room without a full shopping cart for the bar at home.

Their success at grasping the whole distillery concept is well substantiated as well. Okanagan Spirits was named "Distillery of the Year" at both the 2013 and 2015 World Spirits Awards. 2013 also saw them named "North America's only World Class rated distillery, a distinction [they] still hold proudly today."

Unflavoured Vodka isn't known for flavour, but this OK Spirits version was made from 100% pears and I noted a distinct fruitiness to the base liquor. Paired with the Apricot wine, we were well on our way to getting over the day's toils.

1954.  2008 Sandhill - Small Lots Sandhill Estate Vineyard Block C8 Merlot (Okanagan Valley VQA) 

Merlot may be the most highly planted red grape in the Okanagan but not many wineries or winemakers can work their magic on the grape like Sandhill winemaker, Howard Soon, does with this Small Lots, single vineyard, single block beauty. I first ran across this bottle at the 2011 Vancouver International Wine Festival. It can be hard enough to get your hands on many of Howard's Small Lots wines but, with a production of only 119 cases in 2008, the Festival was likely going to be my only chance to grab me some.

Even with a few year's ageing, it's a big wine with plenty of dark, ripe fruit and a lush nose. This is not a Merlot that Myles from Sideways (you remember him) - or anyone else - should sneer at.

It may have been a rough day but I think our little Okanagan three-way smoothed out some of the edges.

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