Stag’s Hollow Willingness to go Beyond the Pale: British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley Canadian Wine’s Centre of Innovation?

Tempranillo Joven  from Stag’s Hollow now a Dolcetto Rosé. In Piedmont in Italy is where you’ll find Dolcetto except of course in the Okanagan Valley, British Columbia. Dolcetto means “little sweet” and has little acidity making it extremely easy to drink.

This Rosato (Rosé) has a very intense pink colour leaving one with the impression it has some stuffing to it. On the nose raspberry, sweet red cherry and cranberry. On the palate tannins and acids have retreated back to the trenches. Very high toned sweet red cherry predominates with an exciting undertow of alertness and vibrancy. Short finish. A delightful lightweight but not so light it lacks character like so many budget rosés from Provence. It reminds me of a top rate Aegean high altitude Folkiano from Greece. And that brings back a lot of good memories. Perhaps a better description is that this is a delicate rosé. I’ll stretch the translation from “little sweet” to “little sweetheart”. Perhaps a reference to Judy Garland in the Wizard of Oz might be appropriate! A good match with grilled octopus or in season stuffed vegetables.

Stag’s Hollow takes uniqueness even beyond variety as it is fermented in concrete which is not unheard of but rare particularly in Canada. And give me a break Stag’s Hollow seeing that the wine was foot crushed like in the Douro until foot stomping technology made mechanized foot stomping of decreasing relevance.

A mere 87 cases were made. The winery tech sheet says the wine has ageing potential of 5 years. That may be pushing the boundary as I think drink now not to say it won’t last 5 more years in the bottle but will it improve enough to justify 5 years of cellaring space?

Some food pairings I like suggested by the winery are cured meats, beet salad, grilled salmon, grilled meats, grilled seafood and spicy Indian food. But given that is not a white but almost a red wine food matching can be fluid.

(Stag’s Hollow 2020 Dolcetto Rosato, Shuttleworth Creek Vineyard, Okanagan Valley, BC VQA, Stag’s Hollow Winery, Okanagan Falls, British Columbia, $24, 750 mL, 13%, Robert K. Stephen Set The Bar Rating 90/100).

We finish off with a Tempranillo from Stag’s Hollow. In a previous article on Stag’s Hollow’s Tempranillo Joven I had mentioned Tempranillo is a hugely popular grape in Spain but in Canada it’s like finding a four leaf clover. Given the willingness of the Okanagan to push the boundaries seeing it produced there is something I happily take for granted. Happy you say? I am happy because Stag’s Hollow Tempranillo is good. So how does the 2018 rate?

In colour it is black cherry. On aromatics there are suggestions of full throttled red wine. Magnetic black cherry sticks to the nose with lesser notes of blueberry, blueberry pie, raspberry and a bit of almond. The tannins are far less than I thought they would be. On the palate the acids are muted thank goodness. There is that blueberry pie again reminding of a Tempranillo clone, Tinto Fino from Ribera del Duero in Spain. But wait there is more cassis and blackberry in what I am tempted to call a juicy red cherry frame. Not for the weak of heart.

This wine is made for food particularly grilled goat, lamb, ox, beef or pork chops please without a lemon marinade. I would say for vegetarians and mushroom lovers portobello mushrooms marinating in Oyster Sauce and chopped red chili peppers on the grill in a fresh Italian bun with a local tomato and arugula salad perhaps sprinkled with feta cheese and a honey mustard and tarragon dressing.

The wine was from grapes sourced from three vineyards including the Shuttleworth Creek Vineyard and the Stag’s Hollow Vineyard in the Okanagan Falls and the Amalia Vineyard in Osoyoos. As for oak 51% French, 49% American and 11% new Zebra West African oak. Again what isn’t Stag’s Hollow willing to try! Wonder if this wine would suit a Zebra filet?

Ageing potential is over the next ten years says the winery. I can agree with that.

Unfortunately, a mere 344 cases made.

As a closing comment can you tell me where a Canadian might find some Zebra steak?

(Stag’s Hollow 2018 Tempranillo, Okanagan Falls, Okanagan Valley, BC VQA, Stag’s Hollow Winery, Okanagan Falls, British Columbia, $28, 750 mL, 13.9%, Robert K. Stephen Set The Bar Rating 94/100).

You can check out the wines offered by Stag’s Hollow at and check out ordering details by phoning 250.497.6162.

Published by Robert K Stephen (CSW)

Robert K Stephen writes about food and drink, travel, and lifestyle issues. He is one of the few non-national writers to be certified as a wine specialist by the Society of Wine Educators, in Washington, DC. Robert was the first associate member of the Wine Writers’ Circle of Canada. He also holds a Mindfulness Certification from the University of Leiden and the University of Toronto. Be it Spanish cured meat, dried fruit, BBQ, or recycled bamboo place mats, Robert endeavours to escape the mundane, which is why he has established this publication. His motto is, "Have Story, Will Write."

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