Western Living Magazine
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It's a rare pandemic upside.
As someone who’s spent the past 15 years visiting and writing about the Okanagan, it’s probably not super surprising that my wine cellar has a disproportionately large selection of home grown bottles. What might be more surprising is that they’re generally the ones I’m stingiest aboutnot wanting to open them, saving them for that “special” occasion, which is like chasing the horizon. And before you think I’ve lost my marbles, hear me out: No, I don’t think that bottle of JoieFarm Riesling from 2006 is a “better” bottle than, say, a bottle of 2000 Chateau Margaux. And yes, the Margaux is exponentially more expensive. But the Joie is more rare. Seriously. If I absolutely need a bottle of 2000 Margaux I can find it tomorrow, see for yourself. It’ll be awful pricey$2,000 and change at Calgary’s Zyn Wine Marketbut I can get it. The JoieFarm? Good luck. I could maybe call Heidi Noble and beg, but who knows if she has any?
All of which underscores the pointaged Okanagan wine is rare. It’s also amazing. I can’t think of a bottle I’ve had in the last year that hasn’t been a pleasure. That includes some wonderful, decades-old bottles of Tantalus Riesling, a JoieFarm Pinot, some killer Pinots from Blue Mountain and some insane aged bubbles from Summerhill.
The problem is where to find them. Very few retailers have the ability to store wine, same with most wineries. So it was with some curiosity that I opened an email back in May from Mission Hill a while back saying they were opening the library for some of their Legacy collection wines. That’s their highest tierOcculus, Quatrain and Compendium, which are, as luck would have it, three of the most age-worthy Okanagan wines. And this wasn’t a special media offer, or even a wine club only thing, but a gift to the general public, offering aged wines at barely above the release price of the new vintages. So I’m here to tell you that the window is closing.
There’s still bottles of the 2012 and 2013 Compendium, and the 2014 Quatrain for those who can click swiftly. They’re priceyranging from $85-$95 but given that the release price for the not yet released 2017’s is $80 you’re essentially getting several years of aging for free. These are the Big Boys the Okanaganbroad-shouldered reds, with sufficient tannins and plenty of backbone that needs the benefit of age to mellow. (for those who want aged bubbles that there’s a pair of 2012 $50 beauties from Blue Mountain available here, or the aforementioned gems from Summerhill here).
Are they better than the Margaux? I’ll leave you to decide that tall orderbut they’re definitely rarer.