If you know me or have been following this blog you'll know that I really love BC wines. And one of the BC wineries we represent recently received some outstanding accolades at Wine Access Magazine's Canadian Wine Awards in Ottawa...
On only its third vintage Painted Rock Winery has become one of the hottest boutique cult wineries in the country. With a maximum 5000 case production and following only their 2nd vintage they won two coveted Lieutenant General's Awards for BC wines and now on their 3rd vintage Wine Access has named them the #1 winery in BC and #3 overall in Canada. Incredible progress for a winery that has only been in existence since 2004 and producing wine since 2007! So last week as part of the Ottawa Wine & Food Show, Wine Access hosted an exclusive event where they revealed this year's major award winners and John Skinner the owner of Painted Rock flew in for the fun.
The format was a new one for me, they called it "Speed Dating meets Wine Tasting" which sounded cheesy at first, but turned out to be a great format. In small groups of 10, everybody gets 10 minutes with each of the 8 wineries, tasting their wines, hearing their stories, then when the bell rings you rotate onto the next winery. Because Painted Rock's 2009 'Red Icon' blend won gold, it was the wine we showed that evening.
The blend for the Red Icon changes every year based on the expression of fruit that each vintage provides. The Icon was conceived as a Bordeaux-like blend, but to be distinctively Okanagan. For Painted Rock this development came in consultation with their eonologist Alain Sutre who commented that the Painted Rock estate ripens Malbec and Petite Verdot like no other site he's seen in the world. Therefore they should use Malbec and Petite Verdot as starting componants of the blend, not as touch-up ingredients like in Bordeaux. So instead of starting the blend with a base of Cab Sauv and Merlot, in their first two vintages they started with Malbec and Petite Verdot and built the Cab Sauv, Cab Franc and Merlot around that. Now in its third vintage, because of the expression of fruit they decided to leave Malbec right out of the mix and instead use 1% Syrah to add something completely unique. Adding a Rhone variety to what was a Bordeaux blend is not a faux pas because they are insearch of a distinctly Okanagan wine, not Bordeaux or Meritage blend. With a final blend of 30% Merlot, 29% Cab Franc, 25% Cab Sauv, 15% Petite Verdot and 1% Syrah it looks like it worked out, as Wine Access named the '09 Icon the #3 red wine in Canada!
[caption id="attachment_91" align="aligncenter" width="584" caption="Andrew Rastapkevicius, Lifford Wine Agency & John Skinner, Painted Rock Winery"][/caption]
Unfortunately after a long trip to China immediately followed by two days of presentations and tastings with Ottawa restaurants before the Wine Access event, John lost his voice, needing me to co-pilot and help present his wines. In a hilarious turn of events, Anthony Gismondi suggested John start pounding back red wine to help get his voice back. When a top Canadian wine writer insists you start hammering back your own $90 wine, what can you say? But it worked! By the 4th or 5th group John was back in action presenting his wines.
Overall the event was a great success and Painted Rock was honoured to be recognized as a top producer of Canadian wines so early on. Since I needed to help present the wines, Rene Wallis (fellow blogger and sommelier at Brookstreet Hotel - www.wine-base.com/blog, @ReneWallis) grabbed my camera and snapped all the pictures for this blog. The following are a few shots of some top wineries at the evening with Wine Access.
[caption id="attachment_94" align="aligncenter" width="584" caption="The boys from Tawse Winery in Niagara, winners of #1 Winery in Canada"][/caption]
[caption id="attachment_97" align="alignleft" width="225" caption="Will Roman, Rosewood Estate Winery in Niagara"][/caption]
[caption id="attachment_96" align="alignright" width="218" caption="Anthony Gismondi getting into some 2009 'Red Icon'"][/caption]
[caption id="attachment_90" align="aligncenter" width="584" caption="At the Shore Club sharing a laugh and some 2007 Merlot with John Skinner and Rene Wallis, Brookstreet Hotel Sommelier and wine blogger: www.wine-base.com"][/caption]
The Ottawa restaurant scene has been very supportive of Painted Rock and other top BC wineries. In addition to the Red Icon, Painted Rock also produces a Cab Sauv, Merlot, Syrah and Chardonnay. The following is a list of where you can find Painted Rock wines around town and see what all the hype is about. And for a short time there is a small amount of Painted Rock's 2008 Merlot available in Vintages.
Brookstreet Hotel, The Shore Club, Restaurant E18hteen, Empire Grill, Domus Cafe, Taylor's Genuine Food & Wine, Hy's Steakhouse, Fraser Cafe, Town, Wellington Gastropub and Johnny Farina's