Sep 14, 2012
September doesn't just mean back to school for the kids - it also means back to a serious tasting schedule for WineDiva and other local media.
It's back-to-back events in Vancity - pretty much until December.
Lunches can be dry, they can be too rehearsed and, they can be too long when there's work to be done.
But on a glorious day, late in the summer, Heidi Noble and husband, Michael Dinn (right), proprietors of Joiefarm on the Naramata Bench, chose not only the perfect casual venue but also the perfect caterer.
For the first time ever, I found myself heading not downtown or west but east to a wine lunch. The destination (unknown to me before the invitation arrived), Marche St. George on the corner of St. George and East 28th.
Darling is probably too precious a descriptor for this corner cafe/market so lets try... utterly charming.
Upstairs, guests were greeted to a bright and airy room, a simple yet elegant table and plenty of suitable stemware.
Heidi and Michael brought some friends down with them from Penticton - dynamic catering couple, Cam Smith and Dana Ewart of Joy Road Catering whose simple and delectable wine country menus have mouths watering far beyond their home in the Okanagan Valley.
Former Vancouverites, Heidi and Michael started Joiefarm (initially simply, Joie) nearly a decade ago.
I remember hearing stories of the duo upon returning from several years of living in Toronto and was intrigued by this sommelier and chef/sommelier leaving the big city to begin a new life in wine country.
Their ninth year is now upon them and they've grown by an additional family member as well as a recent acquisition of vineyard on Munson Mountain. "On the backside of Penticton" Noble explained.
The goal of this wine-country-in-the-city lunch was to showcase the new releases of Joiefarm's Reserve series and unveil a couple of brand new wines.
Joiefarm's portfolio has continued to slowly expand, in a very organic way.
Their impressive successes include a white proprietary blend, smartly called A Noble Blend and their benchmark BC Rose, Re-Think Pink. I truly believe, the wonderful, not-on-purpose pink, helped launch the rosé renaissance here in British Columbia.
The timing was nothing short of perfect.
The new unveilings include a 2010 Reserve Gewürztraminer, made from estate fruit.
"The vines were the first we planted," Noble said, "...they're our babies."
It's a luscious style with some decent residual sugar (something that will probably change in upcoming vintages)
that is well balanced with acidity.
After so many disappointing Gewürztraminers I've recently tasted from the 2011 vintage in the Okanagan, I was extremely pleased with this one.
Classic Alsatian aromatics, tropical, floral and exotic spice notes lead to a rounded (this wine sat on its lees to give it texture and concentration), nicely focused and tangy palate.
Sweet churned butter and vibrant lemony notes sprinkled with spice, best describes the lively but chic 2010 Reserve Chardonnay. The sweet Okanagan corn chowder ( a pairing I tirelessly suggest with Chardonnay) and Genovese basil was a perfect partner.
There's nothing that will break your heart faster than Pinot Noir. Judging wines blind, I find Pinot Noir to be (by far) the most difficult. Pinot that is awkward, angular, too green, too over-ripe and fudged with is akin to having someone scratch their nails on a chalkboard - I want to scream and run away.
And I'm by no means a Pinot snob.
I love Pinot Noir from around the world (New Zealand is my secret crush), Oregon, Sonoma Coast and BC as well as Patagonia, Germany and cool climate regions in Australia can produce extraordinary versions,
that don't have to (and why should they?) taste like the classic region...Burgundy.
Noble and Dinn were terrified to produce a 100% Pinot Noir. Why? Because as sommeliers, well-traveled wine lovers and drinkers, they know if you're going to make it - it had better be damn good. Especially when the focus of your winery is to produce wines, which reflect the tradition and varieties of the old world - specifically Alsace and Burgundy.
And it is - damn good, I mean.
The Reserve Pinot Noir 2010 is loaded with juicy red fruit, fine spice, violets and a hint of typical forest floor/earthy notes. There is no angularity on the palate, it is silky and extremely well-knit. At $40 it's in line with most of the premium Pinot Noirs in BC and I'm sure it'll be appearing on restaurant wine lists soon.
Joy Road catering paired the Pinot Noir with perfect foraged roasted mushrooms, layered between organic Okanagan rye pasta sheets. (at right)
The 2010 PTG (Passetoutgrain), a traditional Burgundian blend of Gamay and Pinot Noir has been a hit in Vancouver restaurants due to the fact that it's an incredible food pairing wine. It's higher in acidity, medium-bodied and charming.
I love the white pepper, sweet cherry and raspberry seed notes to this wine in addition to its freshness.
Joiefarm's success in a highly competitive and let's be honest, not exactly lucrative business, is due to their commitment to what they started with. A decision to hold true to tradition, in a very young, new world, winemaking region called the Okanagan Valley.
They've held firm and the results are obvious.
Watch for more complete reviews on the 2010 Reserve Series Pinot Noir, Gewürztraminer and Chardonnay coming soon in my wine reviews.