Speed tasting in the South Okanagan
by John Schreiner
What would you say to tasting 50 or 60 wines in 90 minutes?
The South Okanagan Wineries Association came up with a format like that for media tasters during last weekend’s Banée (as they call their spring wine festival).
It certainly is an efficient way of covering a lot of ground in a hurry. Perhaps now we know how Robert Parker Jr. does it.
However, between that “speed” tasting and various other winery tastings, we saw a good many of the new releases from the South Okanagan. And the wines from the 2009 vintage are tasting very good.
It was a challenging vintage. Bud break was a few weeks later than usual, always a concerning beginning. However, the weather was superb for the rest of the season. The vines not only caught up; the grapes ripened earlier than usual during the long warm days of summer and autumn. The harvest began in early September.
Then about October 7, a sharp cold snap in both the Okanagan and the Similkameen froze virtually all the foliage, stopping the ripening process dead in its tracks. Fortunately, nearly all of grapes not yet picked were fully ripe.
Nature had handed the growers a scare at the start of the year and a scare at the end – but near perfect conditions in between. The 2009 wines, whites and reds, are full of flavour and have slightly less acid than the 2008 wines. The wines are a pleasure to taste.
At the speed tasting, each winery has its own table. Each taster was allotted five minutes at a table before being prompted by a bell to move to the next table. While it was a little hard to make considered notes at this breakneck pace, one got a snapshot of the wines in the room and a smattering of information.
Let me share some of wines that impressed me during this tasting and at other tastings over the weekend. For More From Schreiner visit: John Schreiner’s Blog