New Discoveries

 On today's edition of Wining My Way Through the Okanagan, we travel down South all the way to Oliver to visit two brand new wineries! It started out as a gray day with it raining as I was driving down, but by the time I sat down for my first tasting, the rain clouds went away and I was left with a very pleasant afternoon! For those of you that don't know, Oliver is one of the southmost parts of the Okanagan wine region, with only Osoyoos being farther South. This is one of the parts of the valley where red grapes can really thrive. Oliver and Osoyoos are usually about 4-5 degrees hotter than Kelowna, making it more ideal for those hot climate grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, and Shiraz. I got to visit two very different wineries and neither of them disappointed!

Winery #1: French Door Estate Winery

This is a brand new, family-owned winery! They had a soft open last summer, but ended up selling out of all their wine in about a month so they had to close until this season! After tasting their wines, I can understand why they would sell out. That being said, I wasn't the biggest fan of their white and rose, but their reds are exceptional! What makes French Door so interesting is that all of their wines are minimal intervention, choosing a more natural approach to winemaking. Enough chatting, on to the wine!

1. 2020 Lys

This white blend was named after the owner's daughter and is a blend of Viognier, Semillon, Marsanne, Riesling, and Sauvignon Blanc. It was very nice on the nose with notes of lemon, peach and white blossom. The smell actually made me think it was going to be sweeter than it turned out to be, but I preferred it in the more dry style. All in all it was a very pleasant white wine, but would probably not buy it myself. Now if someone put a glass in front of me I'd be all too happy to drink it!

2. 2020 Rose

The Rose at French Door is what they're predominantly known for. This sold out in 3 weeks last year and so they had to be sure they made a larger batch this year! This is a Provence-style Rose made from Mourvedre and Grenache. The winemakers leave the skins on for only 6 hours and it has a very nice colour to it! This was very light on the nose with notes of grapefruit and flowers. This Rose was more of a citrus-dominant palate with some apple notes as well. 

3. 2020 Fleur

This is where the tasting really started to change for me, as we started getting into the reds! This beautiful wine is a blend of Gamay and Saignee, which is a grape I had never heard of until today! It was a beautiful candy apple red colour and on the nose I got lots of mocha and cherry. It's a nice medium-bodied red with minimal tannins. I mean come on, it's a Gamay, was there ever a chance of me not loving it??

4. 2018 Heritage

This is French Door's Bordeaux-style blend of Merlot, Cabernet France, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot. Once again, we have a candle-worthy wine!! The smell of this wine reminded me of those Brookfield chocolate-covered fruits. Like, that was the first thing that came to mind. This wine was just full of chocolate, blackberry, black currant and black cherry. It was full bodied with velvety tannins and I have to say, this was one of my favourite wines of the day.

5. 2019 Malbec

This wine, as well as the next, is part of their premium tasting. This Malbec was hand harvested and hand-sorted, and spent 14 months on French oak. The smell on this one had lots of cherry and tobacco. I absolutely loved the mouthfeel on this wine, it has nice velvety tannins and a well-balanced acidity. The wine had a nice long finish, but I wish it would've been even longer because I enjoyed the taste so much!

6. 2019 Merlot

Like the Malbec, this wine was hand harvest and hand-sorted, and spent 14 months in oak with 60% of it being new! Ding ding ding another candle smell! This one truly overwhelmed me by how much I got on the nose. There were notes of chocolate, cherry, jam, lots of vanilla and some plum! A beautiful mouthfeel, nice tannins, and another very long finish. I'm very glad I chose to do the Premium add on, because these last two wines were outstanding. 

French Door only has 8 wines available right now, but as they grow they'll be releasing more varietals and I can't wait to see where they go! The prices are a bit steep right now, but that's because it's a new winery and they need to make money in order to stay around! Support new wineries so that they can continue making good wine!

Winery #2: Church and State Winery

Talk about a dark horse! I knew nothing about Church and State going into this tasting, knew nobody who had been there before, and boy was I pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed myself! It was a stand up tasting at the bar, which normally detracts from my experience, but I didn't even notice because I was having such a good time! Church and State was originally established on Vancouver Island in 2004 but has since grown and expanded into the Okanagan! 

1. 2017 Muscat Frizzante

For those of you who don't know, Frizzante is a style of Sparkling Wine quite similar to the Charmat method in that it goes through double fermentation and the carbon dioxide is added during the second fermentation. I was glad when the wine wasn't too sweet, because most Muscats that you try these days can be sickeningly sweet! This was done in a dry style and I loved the Frizzante style because the wine just fizzes right up in your mouth and turns into a creamy mouthfeel. The main notes I got on this wine were pear and honeysuckle! It was a very nice, very subtle wine and would be a perfect patio sipper!

2. 2016 Chardonnay

Wow hello to another Chardonnay I loved! This wine spent 6 months in French oak, so it got to absorb those creamy notes but without totally overwhelming the wine. On the nose there was a lot of ctirus, peach, and some of that creaminess that I mentioned. It had a very nice mouthfeel, everything was so well balanced! Their description of this wine includes the phrase "Truly introducing the best oak has to offer" and I couldn't agree more!

3. 2017 Roussanne

Do you guys know how excited I was when I saw there was a Roussanne on the tasting menu?! Roussanne and Marsanne are two grapes that are typically used in white blends, but more and more often now people are making them into single varietal wines! This Roussanne had lots of chamomile, honey and lemon on the nose. On the plate it was just bursting with flavour! I know this sounds crazy, but in the palate you can actually taste grapes. Not like wine grapes, more like table grapes! This was a really beautiful wine and I absolutely bought a bottle!

4. 2017 Merlot

This was a nice Merlot! It spent 12 months in oak and had a gorgeous, dark colour. On the nose I got lots of chocolate, jammy red and black fruit, and lots of blueberry as well. This Merlot was a lot sharper than I expected, but it didn't detract from the nice flavours! The tannins in this wine are a bit silky, but still very present

5. 2017 Meritage

This was a red blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc and was aged 12 months in oak. On the nose it was a lot more earthy than fruity. On the palate there were firm tannins and it had a lot of black fruit, as well as some spicier notes with some earth and cedar in there as well. This felt like a wine that could be very versatile in what you would pair it with. You could easily put this with a roast chicken or a burger! It all depends on your mood!

6. 2017 Petit Verdot

This wine is a part of the Coyote Bowl Series, meaning it's a single-vineyard wine! I was a bit hesitant with this wine because I don't tend to be a fan of Petit Verdot if it's not in a blend, but I gave it a chance! It wasn't as spicy as I was anticipating and had tons of black fruit in there! It was a little tight, but still had beautiful flavors and velvety tannins! I would say you could definitely age this wine a few years!

I think it's pretty safe to say that I preferred the white wines at Church and State, but whether you like whites or reds I would highly recommend paying this winery a visit! It's a nice location and not too busy so you can have more of a personalized experience!

All in all, I'd have to say my first trip down to Oliver was a great success! Got to visit 2 new and great wineries that I would definitely revisit! Stayed tuned for my next post; Walk-In Wineries: The Sequel!

Whine of the day: I wish more wineries made a single varietal Roussanne. 


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