Earlier this spring, the Wineshout team was invited to the Le Vieux Pin New Release Tasting in Vancouver, which provided us with the fantastic opportunity to taste Le Vieux Pin’s lineup for the spring release, including the inaugural release of the hotly anticipated 2008 Syrah.
With the spring release still a few weeks away, we wanted to visit the Okanagan winery and vineyard before writing this article. And what a visit it was! The winery is located in a quiet corner of the south Okanagan Valley, on an arid and serene stretch of Black Sage Road that hugs the hills on the east side of the valley that have an air of Cowboy lore movies to them. Though perhaps this bit of Hollywoodesque sentimentality had something to do with that one lonesome tumbleweed that lazily tumbled across the road on the way there, perhaps the rattlesnake warning a bit further south, or maybe even the fact that the undeveloped areas all around look like they’re right out of a Spaghetti western. The winery itself is like a temple to wine, with architecture hinting at Asian influences blending with an old-world sensibility, sitting in front of row upon row of vines. And aside from the odd passing car, it’s so peaceful and quiet, which makes it worth the trip – but it’s the wines inside that keep you coming back.
After a thorough tour of the winery, along with some comparisons of barrel samples of the same wine in barrels from different coopers, and a very intriguing taste of Syrah before barrel aging, we got down to the business of some more tasting. Previously a Pinot Noir and Merlot focused winery, Le Vieux Pin has put on the silver star and gone the way of the Rhone Rangers with its Rhone valley focused selection, with Syrah leading the way. But with summer upon us, let’s turn our heads to the whites, and come back to that bad boy later.
We started with the 2009 Petit Blanc, a blend of Chardonnary, Pinot Blanc, Viognier, Sauvignon Blanc and Roussanne from various vineyards in the Okanagan Valley. Dry and steely, with a soft nose of tropical fruit, it’s an easy-drinking white for occasions when there’s no need to get too serious.
The 2010 Sauvignon Blanc (287 cases), sourced from three vineyards in the south Okanagan, has a highly aromatic gooseberry, passion fruit nose. It’s soft on the palate and yet nicely acidic.
The 2009 Viognier-Roussanne (360 cases), another move towards the Rhone Valley, is an inaugural release and has made great first impressions. It is an amazing wine with waxy tropical complexity. Lemon rind and orange blossom marry beautifully with honeyed undertones. A splendid accompaniment with herb grilled chicken and roasted asparagus. And it appears we’re not the only ones enthralled by this wine as Icon Scores has given it a glowing review.
The 2010 Vaila Rose (340 cases), with its delicate pink hue, is inviting before even the first sniff. Produced from free run Pinot Noir juice and entirely steel tank aged, it has a fruity, strawberry-rhubarb nose. In the mouth it’s crisp with refreshing grapefruit. This wine screams summer in the way a distinguished lady might – with grace and style yet definitely catching your attention. One of the best roses you’ll taste this summer.
It can’t have been an easy decision at Le Vieux Pin to rip up the Pinot Noirs in favor of planting Rhone Valley varietals such as Syrah, which is rather unique in the South Okanagan. But the winery’s dedication to this varietal sure has been worth it. The 2008 Syrah (487 cases) offers up meaty smokiness and tobacco with hints of brown sugar. According to Le Vieux Pin, it is “comprised of four clones fermented with a few percent Viognier was mostly grown on the Black Sage Bench with a little fruit blended from the Golden Mile.” Having attained all this in its inaugural release, and from very young vines, we’re eagerly looking forward to tasting future generations as the vines mature.
Not only does Le Vieux Pin have a solid lineup of wines that will be very hard to find due to their limited availability, the branding is strong with the classic, faux-handwritten labels that provide a wine lover with more information than we usually get. Having the case count, name of the winemaker and other tidbits of information brings us closer to the wine we are enjoying.
It’s been a pleasure tasting the wines of Le Vieux Pin, and it’s easy to say that they are indeed Brandalicious.