This is the last post of my Wine Bloggers Conference 2013 Preview series, which details a pre-conference scouting trip courtesy of Penticton & Wine Country Tourism. You can read Part One here, Part Two here, and Part Three here.
Near the southern end of the Okanagan Valley, you’ll find a town called Oliver, which bears the slightly dubious, tourism board-designated moniker of “Wine Capital of Canada.” I’m not sure about that, but Oliver is home to Tinhorn Creek, and has been for almost twenty years (which, in the context of BC, is getting up there). If you’re on Twitter and into wine, you may have come across Tinhorn Creek‘s CEO and winemaker Sandra Oldfield, a prolific tweeter and big supporter of BC wine (and the free my grapes movement).
Like most of the wineries we visited in the Okanagan, Tinhorn Creek started as a family run venture, except this time there were two families involved, the Shaunessys and the Oldfields. They’ve grown tremendously since then, and now have 150 acres of vineyards planted with 14 different grape varieties.
We were treated to a fabulous tasting from their extensive portfolio. In addition to their regular estate wines, Sandra Oldfield’s signature wines are bottled in an “Oldfield Series” line. Yet even the higher end wines remain relatively affordable ($22.99 – $29.99 when purchased from the winery).
I appreciated the whites for their balance: the Pinot Gris 2011 with its refreshing acidity and leanness, the Chardonnay 2011 with tropical fruit and just a hint of creaminess, and the Oakfield Two Bench White 2011 blend for its pleasant and not overwhelming perfume.
The 2011 Oldfield Series Rosé, made of 100% Cabernet Franc, was a happy surprise: it had lovely fresh strawberry flavours and an interesting savory character, with some backbone to it as well. They had a cool season that year and decided in June to use a couple blocks of Cabernet Franc for a rosé. The vines were then managed accordingly, by decreasing yields and managing the canopy to allow optimal ripeness to get rid of any green notes.
And then there were the reds. The Pinot Noir 2009 was ripe and concentrated, easy drinking with a bit of spice. The Oldfield Series Pinot Noir 2008 was more earthy and savory, with wet leaves and sage and more complexity. Quite lovely.
I really enjoyed the character-filled Cabernet Franc 2010, which was smooth and spicy, with a definite vegetal side of green pepper and tomato, yet also some floral notes. Definitely interesting. For my tastes, the Merlot was less distinctive: the Merlot 2009 was smooth and berry-laced, while the Oldfield Series Merlot 2008 was more concentrated with rich berry fruit. They also make a Syrah, but the current vintage was sold out.
And for the grand finale, we tried the 2011 Oldfield Series Kerner Icewine, a decadent and complex treat of ripe peaches and crème brûlée.
Tinhorn Creek’s portfolio is a good example of the Okanagan’s diversity: there’s a little something for everyone.