Let me share what I recently got to taste. I sipped through the line-up of wines from a brand new winery in the Okanagan Valley, in BC, Canada.
Called: Play Estate Wines. Prior to this particular tasting I had tried just 2 of the 8 wines they make. I liked them, they were approachable, food friendly and well priced. Simple, done. But there was something missing for me. The story. There is so much more to gain from meeting the winemaker, visiting a winery, learning their story, where the grapes were grown (vineyard, soil, etc) and their intention behind the wines they create. Once I know this, I have a deeper appreciation for wines, as I do now for Play Estate Wines. The wines are made to be enjoyed by everyone, much like theatre – which is why every label depicts theatre and the arts in the picture and/or the name.
I first met Mohamed Awad (the winemaker), just before our first appointment with a retail wine store one morning. I was sitting in Starbucks waiting for him, but I didn’t have a clue what he looked like, so of course I eyed every single man who walked through the door! I wonder what they were thinking?!!
Soon enough, in walks this tall, smiling guy, who for a moment I thought: “he’s energetic and smiling, this guys the winemaker?” ha ha. I would soon learn that this down to earth, gentle, optimist guy was not just a fun human, but a winemaker with intention and integrity. His wines reflect his taste and his character. If this is what he’s creating at a 1-year-old winery, then this is definitely a winery and winemaker to watch ( as Tim Pawsey of the hiredbelly.com once said ). We have to watch the newcomers in the industry as much as the veterans, as they bring fresh ideas, styles and smarts to the art of winemaking.
All the wines are VQA, and here are the wines I got to enjoy:
Syrah 2014 – made in the old world style (Shiraz being a new world style), its lean, classy and even reserved. Dusty, minerals, herbaceous with a lovely acidity that lingers. Age worthy for sure, but drinkable now. The winemaker suggests pairing it with Lamb Ragout
Moscato 2016– you might be saying “that’s sweet, ew no thanks”. But wait! This juicy, off-dry sweetheart pushes towards the dry side rather than the sweet side of things. Think peaches, apricots, flowers with a slight herbal note. Low in alcohol but so nicely balanced between acidity and juicy fruits. It might just make you say “oh? I guess I like Moscato!” 🙂 Pair it with spicy foods or seafood.
Ad Lib 2015 – this is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and a bit of Semillon (which is kept on the skins for a few months). Think fresh light green apple, light citrus notes, very balanced. It’s not searingly acidic which makes it pleasing and approachable. If you are thinking Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand or Loire Valley – try again. These two regions have their own personality which BC Sauvignon Blanc is nothing like.
Viognier 2015 – this is for sure my new summer favourite. With 1/3 aged in new french oak, this wine is aromatic, soft, floral, herbaceous, and super juicy (the acidity). Ahhhh. Don’t miss this gem which blends oaked and un-oaked Viognier together.
Improv 2014 – is a Merlot and Syrah blend with notes of mocha on the nose, the Merlot does very well with american oak which enhances its personality. Think smooth and delicious.
Dramatic White 2015 – is a blend of Pinot Gris (the dominant grape), Chardonnay, Viognier and Muscat. Think a youngster with upbeat personality, its aromatic, juicy and easy to enjoy.
Dramatic Red 2015 – a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Expect some grippy tannins, smoky notes, green peppers, easily decanted or cellar worthy which is surprising for the price!
All these wines are made for everyone to enjoy – so visit the Play Estate Winery and their Bistro that has a beautiful view of Skaha Lake and definitely try their wines.