Sep 19, 2012
It's been like a coming out party for "Canada's most visited winery", Summerhill, this past year or so.
Stephen Cipes' son, Ezra is the new face and CEO of Summerhill Pyramid Winery. Alongside him, his brother Gabe, who works in the vineyards (specializing in biodynamic agriculture) and longtime winemaker/viticulturist Eric von Krosigk, who is also one of the 1991 founders of Summerhill.
Although Summerhill has long been associated with organic practices, it was only this summer that they were Demeter certified, biodynamic.
Summerhill has long standing relationships with many grape growers in the Okanagan Valley and with some influence, they have begun to share their passion for organic agriculture. Many of these these growers have transitioned along the same path.
Recently, Ezra and Eric hosted a luncheon and tasting at Vancouver's multi award winning Hawksworth Restaurant in the Hotel Rosewood Georgia.
In what could only be called a gusty move, they placed their premium 1998 Cipes Ariel beside Champagne Krug, in the presence of Vancouver's top wine buyers and media.
I've long thought of Summerhill as a sparkling producer, it's a focus of theirs and they do it very well. I'd love to see more of that, a real concerted effort to make their name synonymous with quality bubbly.
During the lunch we sampled their tasty and extremely crowd-pleasing non-vintage Cipes Gabriel, which is made from 100% Chardonnay. It is a refreshing bubbly with a sweet apple and nutty character, lovely weight and wonderful persistence. $65
The Hawksworth pairing with an almond belini with crème fraiche and dried sweet onions and a Salt Spring Island goat cheese gougere was delicious.
Next up, the Cipes Ariel 1998 (currently in release but get it soon - minimal quantities) shows the amazing complexity that only comes with age. The nose is leesy with plenty of mineral notes, nuts, beeswax/honey and quince/apple compote. The palate is mature with well-integrated flavours of lemon, apricot, ginger and apples. The nutty, leesy aromas translate on the palate and although fresh, it has the obvious oxidative character found in wines of age. It's a blend of 59% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay and 1% Pinot Meunier and was disgorged after 13 years sur lie.
This special wine won a gold medal at the World Wine Awards in 2012 - a real feather in the cap of Eric von Krosigk.
The Hawksworth pairing was sushi rice risotto, mustard greens and lemongrass sprinkled with dulse flakes, bottarga and sweet BC Dungeness crab.
Alongside the Cipes Ariel, Summerhill poured the highly revered Krug Grand Cuvee Brut. This wine is very focused and much toastier than many other Champagnes. It has a concentration, maturity and complexity to swoon over, yet it is also bright and tangy. The finish is lemony and toasty.
Krug is unarguably a stunning Champagne, but the Ariel held up well against this elegant sparkling and deserves to be acknowledged.
Well done, Summerhill and at $250+ per bottle on the Krug, you could celebrate in grand style with the Ariel at a mere, $85.