I’ll let you in on a secret. I am getting somewhat bored with reviewing wine. Well not all wine of course as there are exceptions to the homogeneous blandness. One winery that excites me is British Columbia’s Stag’s Hollow Winery producing wines of exceptional quality. Of course, they are not alone in the Okanagan region of British Columbia. That area is a hotbed of exciting wines of personality and quality.
Eric Liu is the owner since 2019 and Kiera LeFranc is their talented winemaker. The winery is celebrating its 25th anniversary. Stag’s Hollow produced 5600 cases in 2020. Their wines are available on site, on line, BC Liquor stores, BC VQA stores, private liquor stores and restaurants in British Columbia and Alberta.
The Stag’s Hollow 2019 Pinot Noir from the Stag’s Hollow Vineyard is the home to its oldest Pinot Noir plantings. The wine is from two Dijon clones. The grapes were 100% destemmed. As stems contain tannins this should make the wine smooth. The wine was racked into 300 litre French oak barrels (16% new and the remainder second and third fill) were it slept for 12 months before it was bottled. A scant 240 cases were produced.
So does this wine excite me? It has a garnet colour and when you pour it there is a streak of brown as the wine cascades into your glass. As for aromas of course there is no doubt this is high quality Pinot Noir with notes of raspberry, strawberry, black cherry cola and a tad of vanilla. On the palate there are minimal tannins. The wine is a smooth one like a sarsaparilla salesman from Iowa! The wine starts with a little wave of earthiness enveloped in a gentle raspberry frame and picks up speed with red plum making for an elegant low key Pinot Noir. The finish is short.
The winery suggests the wine is approachable now but best from late 2022-2025. I agree! As the wine was bottled in May 2021 and travelled several thousand kilometres it still needs to settle in and recover from bottle shock. No, the wine is not dormant and sleeping but my guess is that by 2023 it will be dancing with ballet slippers. I do rate the wine primarily with what is in the glass today but do have some leeway in my point system to account for what the wine may taste like in the future.
At $27 you’ll be laughing all the way to the bank. Chers Amis forget Burgundian Pinot Noirs at this price. This wine makes a mockery of many higher priced Pinot Noirs from the so-called Pantheon of Pinot Noir! In a spirit of Trumpian diplomacy this Pinot Noir kicks French butt! Kudos for winemaker LeFranc for a beautifully structured wine.
(Stag’s Hollow 2019 Pinot Noir Stag’s Hollow Vineyard, Okanagan Falls Sub-GI, Okanagan Valley BC VQA, $27, Stag’s Hollow Winery, Okanagan Falls, British Columbia, Robert K. Stephen A Little Birdie Told Me So Rating 94/100).
Next in the shooting gallery is the 2019 Pinot Noir from the Shuttleworth Creek Vineyard. The wine has a blend of 5 Dijon clones. The grapes were destemmed. The juice was kept separate through fermentation and spent 12 months in oak before being blended into this wine. The wines sat in 300 litre French oak barrels (16% new and the remainder second and third fills). The vineyard is cooler than grapes grown in the Stag’s Hollow Vineyard with the winery stating this makes “A lifted more feminine style…”
So let’s delve in. The wine is garnet coloured. On the nose I would say it has more vibrancy than the Estate vineyard Pinot Noir but the aromas are quite similar with raspberry, strawberry, some smokiness, chocolate and root beer. On the palate gentle tannins. It is marginally lighter than the Estate vineyard Pinot Noir. And there is a tiny bit of acidity. There is a bit of a peppery finish and the fruit is also marginally less than in the Estate vineyard. There is raspberry predominating with black cherry and I would say the finish is thicker than the Estate vineyard although still light. I beg to differ with the winery but I find this Pinot Noir while being light is slightly heavier than the Estate vineyard Pinot Noir! But I may be splitting hairs. Both the Pinots are top quality and both are in the elegant category.
The winery suggests classic food pairings of roast chicken, rack of lamb, Beef Wellington, roast pork with fennel, mushroom dishes, roast or grilled lobster, venison, turkey dinner or beef tenderloin. Subject to my comments above about turkey dinner I agree with the food pairings but not venison as it can be too heavy for a Pinot Noir like this one. And roast or grilled lobster? It might work depending what the lobster is being dunked in.
Again the winery says approachable now but best from late 2022-2025.Agreed.
390 cases made. $27? You gotta be kidding! Au revoir France! Bonjour Stag’s Hollow!
(Stag’s Hollow 2019 Pinot Noir Shuttleworth Creek Vineyard, Okanagan Falls Sub-GI, Okanagan Valley BC VQA, $27, Stag’s Hollow Winery, Okanagan Falls, British Columbia, Robert K. Stephen A Little Birdie Told Me Rating 94/100).
We conclude our foray with a 2020 Blanc de Noirs which is a “white” wine made from red grapes, in this case from Pinot Noir. However rarely is it white but it is not pink either but peachy in colour might be the best way to describe it. It requires a quick press and minimal maceration time. Maceration is the time that the skins remain in contact with the juice.
The fruit was harvested and destemmed and the juice was blended and transferred into stainless steel tanks where it was cold settled for 48 hours. It was then racked into two 500 litre French oak puncheons and a stainless-steel tank. Immediately after a cool fermentation half the barrel was transferred sur-lie into stainless steel barrels for regular batonnage. After 3 months all lots were settled racked and blended. The end result then in my view would be a lesser oaked wine that preserves the fruit?
The wine is not white but the best I can describe it is a copper infused pink? As for the nose ripe peach leads the way with tangerine, a faint whiff of raspberry and gentle floral notes. On the palate I think it fair to say you have a full-bodied wine in your glass. On the palate there is a nice raspiness to the wine indicating some minerality we did not get in the two Pinot Noirs tried above. It is a wine with a complex and not easily described palate. While the residual sugar is at 5 g/L the wine is not off dry but there is a minimal amount of sweetness to it. There is peach pie, raspberry liqueur, cranberry sauce, rambutan, lychees and sweet orange marmalade. If I can sum up this wine it is a trickster and very difficult to define. I have tried many wines throughout the globe and am able to scramble with some accurate description. This may be one of the most difficult wines I have had to face. I could retire in shame but would that mean I can’t review Stag’s Hollow wines which is a thought too difficult to bear. To winemaker Kiera LeFranc you have crafted a delicious wine and like Wayne and Garth in “Wayne’s Word “I bow down and say , “I am not worthy”. You have made a beauty.
Now being a total failure in defining this wine other than agreeing it is excellent for a food pairing a smoked salmon pasta over egg noodles might be a good suggestion. Take some onions and garlic and sauté them and chug a lug half a bottle of this wine ad let the alcohol evaporate then add capers, fresh basil and oregano and finely chopped field tomatoes and smoked salmon and let it simmer for 25 minutes then add some 35% cream and let it simmer for 15 minutes and serve it over tagliatelle egg noodles with a glass of this wine.
Yes Stag’s Hollow your wines are so good I’ll be watching them closely for somewhat Trumping me on this wine and I will say thank you for giving this writer a dose of humility. Indescribably in today’s wine world the inability to confidently describe is often a gift.
A mere 87 cases produced.
(Stag’s Hollow 2020 Blanc de Noirs, Stag’s Hollow Vineyards, Okanagan Falls, Okanagan Valley BC VQA, Okanagan Falls Sub-GI, Stag’s Hollow Winery, Okanagan Falls, British Columbia, $25, 750 mL, Robert K. Stephen A Little Birdie Told Me So Rating 95/100).
By the way my name is Robert Kennedy Stephen and not Luca Maroni!
To order check out http://www.stagshollowwinery.com or call 1.250.497.6162