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Next Year’s Best Wine

The future of the Okanagan wine is sitting in concrete eggs at the Okanagan Crush Pad.

These are exciting times in the Okanagan. You have Don Triggs’ Culmina Project in Oliver and you have the just-announced One Faith project, which aims to be nothing less than the “Okanagan’s First Growth.” But if I had to pin my hopes on one winery that will hopefully come to typify the direction the Valley needs to go, hands down it’s Okanagan Crush Pad. It’s not just the amazing team that owners Christine Coletta and Steve Lornie have assembled (consultants Alberto Antonini and Pedro Parra, winemaker Matt Dumayne, advisor David Scholefield), it’s that everyone on the team seems so jacked to be working there and figuring out what the terroir of the Okanagan wants to be.

It’s a point that was hammered home last week tasting some of their current releases as well as some tank samples from the not yet released 2014 vintage. There’s a cleanness to the wines that’s amazing. The use of oak runs the narrow gamut from non-existant to minimal, wild yeasts are prevalent and the result is a line-up of wines that taste like what I believe Okanagan wines are meant to taste like: fresh, vibrant, alive. All of which are present in the 2013 Sauvignon Blanc, a wondrous wine that helps salvage the grape for those who are tired of the tangy gooseberry approach used by so many New Zealand wineries: here the bottle is all about sly and subtle richness that delivers it payload of minerality with a deftness that rarely comes in a $23 dollar wine. It’s a hopeful sign that the Okanagan’s place on the Sauvignon Blanc spectrum is naturally closer to the Loire than to Marlborough. The 2014 tank sample? Even better.

At just under $40, the 2012 Canyonview Pinto is the high priced horse in the stable, but given that it’s natural companions are Pinot’s from California’s rugged Sonoma Coast (which start at $55 US if you can get on a wait list) or Burgundy’s Mercury region, I’m ok with the price. What all three wines have in example is a purity of fruit, unhampered by much oak or alcohol. This is not the rich, luxurious Meomi take on Pinot (which I also love on occasion), but if you like the aromatics and delicateness that cool climate Pinot can deliver then you found your choice in the Okanagan.

Next year will see a rare example of Orange Wine with their Free Form experiment, another beautiful Gamay and a Pinot Gris that doesn’t taste like other Pinot Gris. But more than the individual bottles each vintage here comes as a march in what feels like the right direction for the Okanagan and that’s something everyone should want to be part of.

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