I say that because after listening to everything they had to say – especially Pascal: about the winemakers passion, the vision of the winery, and the plantings (especially the planting) - it was the first thing that came to my mind. The vineyards are planted with so much forethought, where the Merlot was going, where and why put the Cabernet Sauvignon over there, the Malbec, the Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc expansion into the new 20-acre vineyard … you can't help but be impressed. Between soil tests, mountain and shade discussions, and the pictures they showed, you come to realize that they aren’t just planting grapes and hoping for the best – everything has a reason, nothing is left to chance. At one point Pascal said it best, “we try to be perfect in the vineyard, because that is where the wine is made.”
Osoyoos-Larose is the joint venture between Groupe Taillan of Bordeaux (owners of the prestigious Chateau Gruaud-Larose, amongst others) and Vincor of Canada (a Constellation company), started in 1998. This lunch/launch marked the decade long partnership and commitment of these two companies to this project, and also marked their fourth vintage launch in Ontario (2004) – the fifth vintage, 2005 has been limitedly released in BC, while the 2006 is being readied for bottling (June, 2008). The 2007 rests in barrel (and has been for the last two months).
There were so many clichés bandied about today you could have made a fortune had you bet on a number in the high teens, but there were two quotes that really hit home. One, Osoyoos-Larose is a new world wine with roots in the old world ... and it's true - the wines are made using only the five classic Bordeaux varietals and the wines are meant to age and mature once they make their way into bottle. Number two, is the motto of Osoyoos-Larose, which winemaker Pascal Madevon takes credit for, "the discovery of a terroir”. Larose and Vincor had no idea what they were getting into in 1998, and in 2001, when Pascal came on-board; he too had little foresight as to what he was about to embark upon. Ten years later, with Pascal applying for Canadian citizenship and the wines receiving both critical praise and commercial acceptance both here in Canada and worldwide, Pascal preaches the Osoyoos terroir (the mix of soil/relief, climate and people) ... but he admits that even he is still learning what his current 60-acre plot of land (~20 new acres planted in 2006) is capable of.
Interesting facts learned at the event:
- Lake Osoyoos Is the warmest late in Canada.
- Osoyoos is approximately 500km from Vancouver - about a six-hour drive.
- Average rainfall in the Okanagon: 233mm (maximum ~300mm); average rainfall in Bordeaux is approximately 500mm (maximum 1200mm).
- Irrigation is used in the vineyard, but only on the soil; the grapes and leaves are never touched with water, save for when it rains of course.
- In the approximate 19-acre new planting they put about 30,000 vines.
- Cabernet Franc planting has been increased in the Osoyoos vineyard - namely in the new 19-acre plot.
- The original vineyard was planted in 1999, first vintage 2001, first wine released to public in 2004.
- First vintage released (2001) equaled 4,000 cases; current release (2,004) 20,000 cases.
On March 15, 2008 Osoyoos-Larose will launch their 2004 Le Grand Vin into Vintages (tasting notes below), there will be much hype and hoopla to come, as yet again we get to see the results of French expertise on this uniquely Canadian wine.
Tasting the wine …
Osoyoos-Larose 2002 Le Grand Vin
A nose that has developed rosy nuances (very apt for its name) along with plum and some pruneyness - soft and smooth with a little tannin left to see it last a few more years. Has aged well for such young vines.
Osoyoos-Larose 2004 Le Grand Vin ($40.00) – In Vintages March 15, 2008
A nose of black fruit and cocoa; the taste is a little dusty with tannins – while the fruit is still hidden behind all that dustiness - should age well over the next decade.
Osoyoos-Larose 2005 Le Grand Vin (~ $40.00) - has seen limited release in BC
This was my favorite of the Grand Vins ... raspberry, plum and vanilla were most prominent on the nose; while sweet red fruit, and soft silky tannins found a way to bite you on the finish … there were also some floral-perfume notes - it was quite complex on both the nose and in the mouth. A wine that is really coming together.
Osoyoos-Larose 2006 Le Grand Vin ... to be bottled in June 2008
Still in tank, but soon to be bottled – this preliminary tasting shows red and black fruit, along with cinnamon and licorice on the nose - silky tannins, black fruit and spices rest pleasantly in the mouth and even longer on the tongue.
Component tasting 2007 ...
We also got a gander at the 2007 components, namely the Merlot, Malbec, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc that will go it into the 2007 wine - they're more than sixteen months away from the final blend and release but let me tell you, it's going to be a great wine.