Hello and happy Wednesday #winelovers – I hope your week is off to a great start. I had a whirlwind week up in the Okanagan Valley and tried some outstanding wine and met up with inspiring people.
One of the highlights was an afternoon spent with Lawrence Buhler, who is the new winemaker for Encore Vineyards portfolio of wine: TIME Estate Winery, McWatters Collection and the new kid on the block – Evolve Cellars.
Buhler comes to Encore Vineyards via Ontario where he was a part of some huge wine portfolios including those of Peller Estates, Angels Gate and Colio Estate Winery where, specifically, he was responsible for 500,000 cases of wine. With an outstanding reputation and great personality, it is no wonder that Harry McWatters chose Buhler for the role of Director of Winemaking.
Buhler moved his young family out from Ontario to the Okanagan Valley and now lives in Penticton. We met at the five acre Evolve Vineyard location in Summerland, B.C. which is mostly planted to Pinot Gris with a bit of Gewürztraminer. Buhler also oversees the 50 acre Sundial Vineyard in Oliver, B.C. We tasted through the portfolio the three wine labels as the sun started to dip behind majestic clay cliffs.
What I appreciate about the Evolve wines is that they are all under $20. These wines offer outstanding value for money:
- Pinot Blanc 2014 – bright, balanced and easy-drinking
- Sauvignon Blanc 2014 – notes of passionfruit with great mouthfeel
- Gewürztraminer 2014 – lovely ‘peachiness’ sprinkled with lychee
- Cabernet Merlot 2013 – great depth of tannin for an outstanding price point
Next, we tasted wine from TIME Estate Winery that offered more complexity between $20 and $35:
- Sundial White 2013 – a blend of Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc with a great ‘fruit salad’ freshness
- White Meritage 2014 – a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon with great acidity, a hint of almond skin and nice mouth-watering finish
- Cabernet Franc 2014 – nice, big, floral with an awesome mid-palate hit
- Red Meritage 2012 – complex and pleasing
Finally, the McWatters Collection made for Harry McWatters’ personal preferences and both retail for $25:
- Meritage 2012 – 68% Cabernet Sauvignon blended with Merlot and Cabernet Franc this wine has structure, good acid and is very good.
- Chardonnay 2013 – probably my favourite of the flight with everything I personally look for in a good Chardonnay…balance, tropical fruit notes, whiffs of vanilla, coconut and butter with a dusting of oak…delicious.
I asked Buhler about the challenges in maintaining three unique labels, “Differentiation is a challenge but I love all three styles of wine here. I am excited to see what I can do with these three brands. I take an honest approach to winemaking and I want to make it fun. I feel truly fortunate and that I am in the right place at the right time.”
Personally, I am excited to witness the direction Buhler takes and how he elevates an already great portfolio of wine. Keep your eyes open for these great wines listed above – you won’t be disappointed. Thinking about Thanksgiving wines? My suggestions based on these wine are the McWatters Collection Chardonnay 2013, Evolve Cellars Cabernet Merlot 2013 for those who like a red with their turkey and finally, TIME Estate Winery ‘Sundial’ White 2013 for a pleasing accompaniment.
That is it for me this week!