What’s the Deal?
The great estates of Europe invented the idea of crafting a "second wine" to their marquee bottles as a way to let those who might not have the funds to buy, say, Chateau Lafite Rothschild get in on the game. They can buy a wine made by the Chateau, with grapes from the Chateau property, but one that didn't quite make the cut for the big wine. The idea was so successful that even said second wine (Carruades de Lafite) sells for upwards of $400 a bottle. And while the French have mastered the practice, it's been a tougher sell in North America, where consumers have proved wary of buying wines that are explicitly deemed less worthy than others from the same winery.
What's in the Bottle?
So this bottle is not technically a "second wine," but it is a new label that comes from the acclaimed Foxtrot, which is one of the few wineries in BC that has a significant enough reputation (and sell their wine for enough money) to warrant a second label. But in this case it's more of a stylistically different wine than the main Foxtrot Chardonnay. According to Foxtrot President and GM Nathan Todd:
The 2016 Chardonnay came from a vineyard on the Naramata Bench at the base of Campbell Mountain. The wine got 12 hours of skin contact, and this wine saw 25% new oak. We felt that some of the mild oxidative notes in the wine weren't consistent with the desired style for Foxtrot, but there was something about the wine that was captivating in its own right and needed to be showcased.
The slightly oxidative style is something we don't often see in the Okanagan—our Chardonnays tend to either skew rich, oaky and buttery like California or lean and austere like Chablis. This wine has elements of both those styles. The oxidative notes have some echoes of aged White Burgundy, and there's corresponding complexity. But whereas a White Burgundy (or even the Foxtrot Chardonnays I've had) might have a bit more focus (and cost three times as much, or more), this wine meanders a bit in a way that seems like the Russian River Valley. Add on to all of that that the wine is 5 years old, and you have a pretty unique offering that has the potential to charm those looking for a different take on Chardonnay.
Should I Buy?
Well, if you're looking for that different path, then yes. But be warned, if you love Foxtrot, this sin't exactly its little brother. More like a cool second cousin, visiting from France for the summer. That sounds pretty interesting to me.