Western Living Magazine
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DotY 2022: Our Judges for the Maker Category Can’t Wait to See What You’ve Got
Hester Creek brings the juice at a shockingly low price point.
I guess I’m cheap. I never set out to be, but I can’t quell that feeling of elation I experience when I find a wine I’m an admirer of that then turns out to be well-priced. The rare times I get to taste, say, Chateau Margaux, I’m blown away by the complexity and drama of the wine, but I wouldn’t say I’m surprised—for $800 your wine should be amazing.
And as much as I love a bargain, I’m even more impressed when winemakers follow their own path. Conventional wisdom in the Okanagan is that most consumer much prefer the riper, more expressive Pinot Gris, to the more muted, nuanced Pinot Blanc. But a thoughtfully made Pinot Blanc is a thing of restrained beauty—the fruit is more crisp, than ripe, melon, more tart apple skin, than juicy flesh. For years I raved about Blue Mountain's Pinot Blanc, as did almost all of my industry colleagues (see “The Greatest White Wine Value in the Okanagan“). It was wine that combined vision and, at $17.90, thrift.
That wine is still amazing (although the winery isn’t releasing the 2021 due to smoke taint), but after years of everyone telling them their wine is too cheap, they upped the price to $24.90 and it still sold out.
Which brings us to our new pound-for-pound Pinot Blanc champ: Hester Creek. Winemaker Mark Hopley is doing some great things: continuing the tradition with the the cult classic Trebbiano, a really cool Semillon, and even their big-shouldered red (“The Judge”) always impresses for its combo of red-fruit power and reasonable price point.
But today we’re here to talk about the Pinot Blanc. The $17.99 Pinot Blanc that seems to get cleaner each year, shedding some of its more obvious ripe fruit notes for a lighter, defter profile. More lemon zest and pith, less soft peach, all class. And it's $17.99. Folks, we have a winner.