O’Rourke’s Peak Cellars Gewürztraminer 2019, $15

What’s the Deal? Pinot Noir is nicknamed “The Heartbreak Grape” because it’s so tricky to grow well, but from a consumer’s perspective I half wonder if Gewürztraminer doesn’t deserve the moniker given the grape’s proclivity for disappointing drinkers. Truthfully, off the top of my head I can recall only two Gewurz that I have had great interactions with in the past few years. The first was a bottle of Clos Windhuhl from Alsace’s Domaine Zind Humbrecht that was so revelatory that it more than justifies its $100+ price tag. The second was an out-of-left-field bottle from Culmina that knocked me on my ear two years ago. To be fair, I don’t really seek out the grape, so I have no doubt that there are standout bottles that I’m missing. A few, at least.

So this week, mouthful of a name aside, I was psyched to taste some of the wines from O’Rourke’s Peak Cellars. The project, backed by the Edmonton construction magnate Dennis O’Rourke (who has been a part time resident of Lake Country since the 1970s), has been attracting a ton of attention around Vernon for the past few years. He’s transformed a sloping abandoned orchard and pine-beetle ravaged forest into what looks to be a very serious new winery working with the aromatic white varietals and Pinot Noir that grow well in the cool climate of the North Okanagan. I bought their rosé frequently this summer as it was far and away the best priced Pinot Noir rosé ($17!) on the market€” from any country. And it’s juicy and tart, all rhubarb and cranberries. I should have bought more.

What’s in the Bottle? The Gewurtz was probably the varietal I was least psyched to taste, especially after tasting their absolutely delicious, focussed acidity take on Riesling, which is a gem. But so much for preconceived notions. Here is such a classy and restrained take on the grape that I can’t believe it’s from a new winery. It takes the usual suspects from Gewurtz€”the orange blossom and heavily floral notes€”and gives them a prominent, but secondary role. They then emphasize the spicy elements liked candied ginger, but their sweetness is muted by keeping a proper amount of acidity. 

Should I buy? Yes. 100%. If you already like Gewurtz, then try something with a softer touch. If you don’t, then open yourself to being converted. I was an insane fan of this wine when it was $18…and then they dropped the price $15 for an Easter promotion. This is the single best deal on wine in the Okanagan right now. (The rosé is also now $15, so we’ll call it a tie).