We know, it’s been a long time. Thanks to everyone for your patience as we went through a period of vanishing off the radar. Here comes the first of many events we’re going to be spending the next while getting our readers caught up on.
Last week was the Vancouver launch of Morning Bay’s new releases – including four wines made from 100% estate grapes grown on their seven-acre vineyard on Pender Island. Owners Keith Watt and Barbara Reid (shown left)have been producing wines since 2002, but until the 2006 release they relied on grapes from the southern Okanagan Valley. “Wines from the Gulf Islands are lighter with more acidity and are hugely aromatic,” Keith says noting consumers are only now coming to realize just how well these wines pair well with food.
First up was the 2006 Estate Bianco ($16.99) a blend of 50% Schonberger, 22.5% Gewürztraminer, 22.5% Pinot Gris, and 5% Riesling. “Clean and coyly off-dry” is how Keith likes to describe this crisp, thirst quencher. Pleasing aromatics and a satisfying mouth feel, but this is one I’d like to have tried with food – I’m sure Frank would have come up with some interesting combinations.
The 2006 Estate Gewürztraminer Riesling ($20.99) was my hands down favourite of the afternoon. Granny Smith apples, a hint of peach, and that lovely petrol undertone – this one is a winner. With only 75 cases made, I made sure to snag a couple of bottles. Good thing too, because a few days later it proved, as expected, to be a perfect match with the spice Thai chicken stir fry that was one of those “oh no, what on earth have we got in the house” impromptu dinners.
Sassy and a bit cheeky, the 2006 Estate Pinot Gris ($22.99) hinted at carmel and coffee spread on a toasty baguette and served on a sunny day by a dashingly good looking Italian waiter – especially somewhere on a Mediterranean piazza. Would probably make a great Christmas turkey dinner wine, but with only 35 cases made, you’ll have a tough time finding it.
The 2006 Estate Chiaretto ($16.99) was the afternoon’s only disappointment. After surreptitiously polling a few of the other people gathered, the consensus was this 100% Pinot Noir rose seemed to have trouble deciding whether it wanted to be red or white and was too thin to work well with food.
We moved to red with the 2004 Merlot ($31.99) made from grapes out of southwest Osoyoos. On the nose, this wine immediately took me back to childhood when I could horrify my mother by climbing the plum tree in our backyard and stuffing myself with the sweet, juicy fruit. A delicious, lingering pepper finish at the back of the mouth.
And finally, Keith shared some of the 2004 Reserve Merlot ($37.99) that recently garnered Morning Bay their first Bronze Award at the 2007 Canadian Wine Awards – a competition where this year no Gold was awarded. Our group was unanimous this wine had softer, more integrated tannins with a hint of chocolate added to the pepper for a pleasing, and lengthy finish.