Now more than two decades in, Tinhorn Creek knows a little something about their terroir. They own and farm two vineyards in the south Okanagan: one on Black Sage Road and one at their home property on the Golden Mile Bench – the Okanagan’s first official sub-region. Under the direction of CEO Sandra Oldfield, Tinhorn has led the charge for what it means to be sustainable in the BC wine industry.
From converting 150 estate acres over to drip irrigation and implementing comprehensive sustainable business practices across each department to bottling with eco-friendly glass and putting their entire portfolio under screw cap (including their new flagship red blend “The Creek”), Tinhorn lives and breathes what it means to go the distance in an industry fraught with challenges from all sides. Winemaker Andrew Windsor is steadily elevating what has been a solid portfolio, and viticulturist Andrew Moon continues to help coax the vineyards into showing what terroir means for the east and west benches of this valley.
What: vineyard and winery, portfolio samples
Where: Oliver, British Columbia
When: September 2017
Portfolio standout: 2016 Oldfield Reserve 2Bench White
2016 Oldfield Reserve 2Bench White (sample)
for: when you don’t know what to drink with dinner, because this wine has everything going for it
47% sauvignon blanc, 17% sémillon, 16% viognier, 14% chardonnay, 6% muscat | alcohol 13.5% | RS 0.9 g/L | TA 5.5 | pH 3.7 | cases 1507
As part of the Oldfield Reserve line, this white blend sees partial fermentation in new and old oak barrels. A delicate balance of aromatics, as a sassy grassy herbal character competes for your attention with peaches and melons and herbs and citrus peel. Sipping brings a knockout of ripe roundness across your tastebuds and a tingly acidity to cut through it all. A harmonious drinkable choir fit for a variety of edible companions.
2016 Chardonnay (sample)
for: those pining for a well-balanced chardonnay, but who also love acidity
100% chardonnay | alcohol 14% | RS <3.0 g/L | TA 6.15 | pH 3.82 | Cases 1866
Part of the varietal series, this wine is unabashedly straightforward. Aromas of simple, bright orchard and tropical fruits. Sipping brings good viscosity and a rich, roundness on your palate with a solid medium-to-full weight and underlying zing of acidity to avoid overwhelming. A sense of pineapple and tropics outshines the citrus, but that’s okay. This is a fully ripe, south Okanagan chardonnay and we expect nothing less.
2014 Pinot Noir (sample)
for: those who enjoy a serious new world, larger profile pinot
100% pinot noir | alcohol 14% | RS <2.0 g/L | TA 6.23 | pH 3.92 | cases 2056
In the varietal series, this pinot noir still sees treatment in the cellar as a serious wine. It spends 14 months in barrels before bottling and another 18 months in bottle before release. Warm aromas of black cherry, vanilla, and candied orange with a shadow of anise, combined with classic ripe strawberry, earth, and wet stone (think dry river rock just as it starts to rain). Sipping brings a bright acidity with calming layers of fruit and just enough tannin to remind you where it’s from.
2015 Cabernet Franc (sample) new release in the coming weeks
for: those seeking a big and beautiful red wine that isn’t cab sauv or merlot
100% cabernet franc | alcohol 14% | RS <2.0 g/L | TA 5.70 | pH 3.90 | cases 2270
One of the shining stars in the Okanagan and Similkameen valleys, cabernet franc covers the spectrum from lean to lush. This varietal series sees a shorter period in barrel (12 months) than its Oldfield Reserve cousin, so out of the gate it’s rather bold and upfront. Aromas teeter between dark fruits with cranberry and dried hay, flirting with green pepper and warm earth. Sipping brings dark plum, black currant, grippy tannins, and a surprising acidity.
2015 Merlot (sample) new release in the coming weeks
for: someone who loves merlot, because this one’s spot-on
100% merlot | alcohol 14% | RS <2.0 g/L | TA 5.55 | pH 3.97 | cases 3928
As if it just drained all the light from the room, this varietal series merlot is inky dark. Aromas of plum and cocoa meet dark ultra-ripe cherry and pencil shavings (think graphite & minerality). Like the cabernet franc, this merlot sees about a year in barrel to help tame the tannins and provide structure. Just the right balance of sticky-tooth-tannins and mouth-watering acid to keep everything in check, I expect this newly released wine to take a deep breath and relax as the months go by.
photography by Lionel Trudel