This weekend, Maxime Legris is drinking two fresh whites, a pale rose, some bubbles and two big reds.
“It’s Father’s Day, after all,” said the winemaker from Lunessence Winery in Summerland.
“These are all wines dad can enjoy, starting with the first sparkling Lunessence has ever made, the 2019 Brut Riesling ($25). It comes in a bottle with a pry-off, crown cap, so it’s less formal and perfect for celebrating dad.”
While sparkling Riesling is common in the grape varietal’s homeland of Germany, it’s seldom seen from Okanagan wineries.
Expect the Valley’s version to have zippy lime, nutty and yeasty aromas and flavours.
The regular 2019 Riesling ($24) from Lunessence is quintessential of the varietal with an apple, orange peel and Jasmine profile.
The Rhone blend 2018 Marsanne Roussanne Viognier ($26) is a lush expression of lemon and honeysuckle.
Lunessence’s two new-release reds, 2018 Merlot ($26) and Bordeaux-blend 2018 Crescendo ($30), are what Legis calls versatile.
“So whether you are barbecuing for dad, or dad has to barbecue himself, these wines will pair nicely with burgers or steak,” he said.
The 2019 Blanc de Noirs Rose ($24), made of Syrah and Merlot, was deliberately left on the skins for only four hours after the grapes were crushed to keep the wine pale, yet flavourful.
Think light salmon colour and mouthwatering pink grapefruit and juicy watermelon.
After stints at CedarCreek in Kelowna and Pentage in Naramata, Legris joined Lunessence in the summer of 2019.
That means he oversaw the harvest and crafting of the estate-series Riesling, sparkling and rose.
The Marsanne Roussanne Viognier and the two reds from the 2018 vintage were made by previous winemaker Michal Mosny, who left to concentrate on his own winery, Winemaker’s Cut in Oliver.
Speaking of Mosny, he now has four labels with different personalities under Winemaker’s Cut.
Cut Estate are wines made of grapes from the winery’s own Deadman Lake Vineyard. They include the 2019 Sauvignon Blanc ($26), 2019 Rose ($26) and 2018 Syrah ($34).
Cut Heritage are a nod to Mosny’s homeland of Slovakia and include 2019 Gruner Veltliner ($26) and 2019 Muscat Canelli ($24).
Bohemian are limited-edition, single-vineyard, Bordeaux-style blends and include Cuvee Rouge 2018 ($36) and Cuvee Blanc 2019 (to be released in the fall).
Boho are informal, approachable blends and include Boho Beat 2019 ($22), a white aromatic made of Riesling, Kerner, Gewurztraminer and Viognier, and Boho Zen 2019 ($26), which is mostly Syrah with a splash of Merlot.
Wine tasting looks and feels different these days.
The reopening of wineries after the COVID-19 pandemic with social distancing means the days of simply dropping by a winery and getting sips at the bar are a thing of the past.
For instance, when my wife, Kerry, and I wanted to sample the new releases of SpearHead in East Kelowna, we made an appointment.
We were rewarded with a table of our own on the sunny patio overlooking vineyards, the city and Okanagan Lake.
SpearHead hospitality manager Jennifer Tocher poured us a white flight of 2018 Pinot Gris ($20), 2019 Riesling ($25), Pinot Noir Rose 2019 ($22), White Pinot Noir 2019 ($22) and 2018 Chardonnay Clone 95 ($30).
We were sated and ready to call it a day when winemaker Grant Stanley happened by and told us what a Pinot Noir freak he is.
“There’s nothing like red Pinot Noir. I’m a purist and like mine straight up, dry and complex, Old-World-Burgundian-style,” says Stanley.
“But I also made the White Pinot Noir (yes, white wine from a red grape) to attract attention and the Pinot Noir Rose because pink is so popular.”
That led to a Discover Pinot Noir flight, which included the 2018 Coyote Pinot Noir ($35), 2018 Saddle Block Pinot Noir ($35), 2018 Golden Retreat ($35) and 2018 Cuvee Pinot Noir ($40).
If there’s room, SpearHead can accommodate drop-in wine lovers socially distanced in the tasting room, at two outdoor stand-up tables and other sit-down tables on the patio.
However, reservations are recommended by going to SpearHeadWinery.com or calling 250-763-7777. Tocher calls it the “new-style, new-normal.”
Actually, I like the new-style, new-normal. While making a reservation may not be as spontaneous and I miss the buzz of a crowd, sit-down and pre-arranged tastings are relaxing and personalized.
That’s why all the wineries in the Mark Anthony Group have re-imagined winery visits and tastings.
Wine lovers who want to visit Mission Hill Family Estate in West Kelowna, CedarCreek in Kelowna, CheckMate in Oliver, Road 13 in Oliver and Liquidity in Okanagan Falls need to make an appointment online.
There’s a choice of guided tours and seated tastings, some with food options.
For instance, you can have charcuterie, lunch or dinner at Mission Hill or CedarCreek.
Road 13 can serve you the traditional charcuterie, but on Tuesdays it veers off course to offer tastings of gourmet organic hotdogs alongside its wines.
The Naramata Bench Winery Association, which represents dozens of members, urges people call ahead to wineries to check on opening times and reservation policies.
In fact, that’s good advice if you want to visit any winery in any region of B.C..
Steve MacNaull is an Okanagan wine lover. Email: email@example.com.