Entering The Hatch, Spring 2017

23 05 2017

[These bottles were provided as samples for review purposes.]

IMG_6146Ever since I first saw The Hatch’s avian-Thomas-Crown-Affair primary logo shortly after it opened a couple years ago, I have been sort of transfixed from a distance, finding both the winery and its artistic ethos strangely compelling despite knowing basically nothing about them.  Based out of a rustic-modern “shack from the future” in the heights of West Kelowna and sourcing grapes from across the Okanagan and Similkameen Valleys, The Hatch initially comes across (quite intentionally) more like an artists’ collective than a commercial winery, listing Salman Rushdie on its personnel page and expounding in esoteric wine-code about “Ross O” and B. Yanco” (I’ll give you a second to sort that one out).  They confidently found their visual style from the outset thanks to the remarkable imagery provided by local western Canadian artist Paul Morstad (who is also found on The Hatch’s personnel page, playing a banjo); once people have been drawn in by the graphics, it’s up to winemaker Jason Parkes to keep their attention.  The whole artistic cacophony and the simultaneously grand yet whimsical presentation lends The Hatch a jolt of personality that the generally strait-laced BC wine scene can happily use…but does the buzz extend to what’s in the bottle?  Happily, I got to find out.

FullSizeRender-601The Hatch releases its wines in stylistic series, of which I had the opportunity to experience two:  the mid-tier Hobo Series wines, featuring a panoply of hand-drawn labels of hobos (seriously) that risk making you cry thanks to their sheer beauty (also seriously), and the ambitious Black Swift Vineyards series wines, which collectively form an expansive single-vineyard project focused on the various facets of BC’s glorious dirt.  The wine, like the winery, was never boring. Read the rest of this entry »

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Wine Review: 2010 Mission Hill Martin’s Lane Pinot Noir

22 08 2012

[This bottle was provided as a sample for review purposes.]

As aptly pointed out by my 19 month old son: P!!!

It was with great sadness that I uncorked (OK, unscrewed) the last of the sample bottles that the Okanagan’s Mission Hill winery had sent my way.  When MH sent me their small-batch limited edition Martin’s Lane Riesling a few weeks ago, they included with it the Riesling’s vineyard twin, the inaugural release of the Martin’s Lane Pinot Noir.  This bottle of Pinot was many years in the making (the vineyard was planted in 1995), but MH held back on releasing it as a single-vineyard offering until the vines and the grapes were fully ready to show their stuff.  I laid out the story behind Martin’s Lane in my Riesling review, but to quickly recap, it’s a high-quality, steeply-sloped vineyard located right by Mission Hill’s winery property just outside of Kelowna, and it’s named as a tribute to MH proprietor Anthony von Mandl’s late father Martin.  Only 485 cases of this Pinot were produced, and this is the first bottle I’ve seen in this province, so unless you live near the winery, this bottle is probably hard to come by.  All the more reason to enjoy it if you have it! Read the rest of this entry »





Wine Review: 2010 Mission Hill Martin’s Lane Riesling

6 08 2012

[This bottle was provided as a sample for review purposes.]

R is for Riesling.

Time to issue the first official correction in PnP history.  When I reviewed Mission Hill’s Reserve-level Riesling back in June, I stated that the Reserve (the 2nd lowest of 4 quality levels of MH wines) was Mission Hill’s top-level Riesling, and I openly pined for the winery to put together a high-end single-vineyard Riesling that would really showcase what my favourite grape could do in Okanagan soil.  I said that if MH ever decided to release such a wine, I would be lining up to try it.  Shortly after posting, I received an e-mail from a representative at the winery that said something like:  “Well, actually, we already DO have a Riesling exactly like that…”, and a week later, this bottle showed up at my door.  In my defence, this particular Riesling doesn’t show up in the official portfolio of wines on the MH website, but as a devoted Riesling disciple, I still feel bad about not being aware of it, and I feel particularly bad about suggesting that it didn’t exist in front of an online audience.

Sorry Mission Hill — time to set the record straight. Read the rest of this entry »





Wine Review: 2011 Mission Hill Five Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc

5 07 2012

[This bottle was provided as a sample for review purposes.]

General tip: clear bottle = open soon!

You know it’s officially summer when I can sit outside on my deck and write up a review of a crisp white patio sipper.  The sun is shining, there’s a slight breeze blowing through the trees, and it’s almost-but-not-quite-scorching hot — perfect Sauvignon Blanc weather.  This is the second white I’ve written up recently from the good folks at Mission Hill — I took a look at their Reserve Riesling just over a week ago.   This bottle will be an interesting contrast, because not only are we dealing with a different grape, one with somewhat less of a track record in Canada, but we’re also taking a step down Mission Hill’s quality hierarchy to their introductory level bottlings, which retail for $15ish in Alberta.  The Five Vineyards line of MH wines are sourced from (guess how many) five different estate vineyards scattered across BC’s Okanagan Valley:  Osoyoos and Oliver in the south (just north of the Washington State border), Pinehill and Naramata slightly further north, and the aptly-named Mission Hill Road vineyard surrounding MH’s winery just outside of Kelowna in the northern part of the region.  Each vineyard features differing soils, altitudes and microclimates — Oliver and Osoyoos are near-desert conditions, while the other vineyards along the shoreline of the vast Lake Okanagan, which cools and moderates the growing temperatures — all of which makes it easier to grow grapes with a variety of different characteristics to facilitate the creation of a blended wine that is fairly consistent year over year.  I was surprised to note that the two vineyards that Mission Hill’s website mention specifically for Sauvignon Blanc production are the two hottest ones, Osoyoos and Oliver, although I would guess that some of the grapes in this bottle come from other locations as well. Read the rest of this entry »