What does master chef Rob Feenie have to do with the Le Vieux Pin wines of the South Okanagan? No, he is not another celebrity opening a winery. But what he has done, now for the second year, is pair up with the wineries to produce a Feenie’s Blend wine, which is sold at Cactus Club Cafe restaurants! I had a chance to try the second release of the Feenie’s Blend, red and white, at a recent Le Vieux Pin and La Stella winery new vintage release event. In addition, I was able to taste a vertical of La Stella’s Allegretto Pie Franco Merlot wines. Let me tell you about the wines I tasted.
Feenie’s Blend Wines
Petit Le Vieux Pin Feenie’s Blend Blanc 2010 – Slightly warmer year so slightly higher alcohol content compared to the first vintage. This is a blend of several white aromatic varieties. Pale lemon colour. The Muscat really shows through with orange and spices on the nose as well as other citrus fruits. Quite round mouthfeel, with acidity kicking in the mid-palate. Spicy finish with ripe fruits; peaches and oranges. A nice wine.
Petit Le Vieux Pin Feenie’s Blend Rouge 2009 – A Bordeaux blend made with primarily Merlot. Pretty medium garnet colour. Has a bit of chocolate, leather, cherries, and vanilla on the nose. Medium body, fairly dry, with big legs in the glass. Red cherry and a bit of bon bon flavours. Dry finish.
What is Le Vieux Pin Équinoxe Series?
Newly released, the Équinoxe series could be viewed as a Reserve level series for Le Vieux Pin, but it is much more than that. It also represents equal day, equal night; Equal Old World, equal New World styles. Everything in perfect harmony.
Le Vieux Pin’s Latest Releases
Équinoxe Syrah 2008 – This Syrah has a traditional Rhone blending of 5% Viognier to add some flowery notes and colour extraction to the Syrah grapes. This is a single vineyard wine from new, 3 year old, vines. Fairly deep purple garnet in the glass. Lots of leather on the nose and a bit of smokiness and dark fruit. Bursting with blueberry and black currant flavour. Spiciness in the mid-palate, and a long length. Subtle vanilla in the background. A big wine. Nice. Still full of youth, it should be interesting to watch future vintages of this wine.
Équinoxe Merlot 2008 – Medium garnet in colour. A fair amount of legs to this wine, representing high alcohol content. Restrained nose, even with decanting. I detected light vanilla and cherries, and in general ripe, red fruit. Medium body, very smooth. Some red fruit and cherries. Towards the mid-palate, a raspberry leafiness, some tannins and spices. Long length to this wine. This wine leaves the back and sides of your tongue watering, which indicates a higher amount of acidity.
Équinoxe Cabernet Franc 2008 – This wine comes from a single row from a single vineyard of 16 year old vines, to produce a single barrel of wine! Medium garnet colour in the glass. Light vanilla, cherries, and a slight hint of cedary notes. Medium body with cherry and cassis flavours. Tannins kick in quite quickly. A very dry wine. This wine also has the raspberry leafiness that was also there on the Merlot.
La Stella’s Latest Releases
Before talking about these wines, you may want to know what is “Pie Franco“? “Pie Franco” is a term meaning ungrafted (In French I believe it would be “franc de pied”). Why is this important? As you may know the phylloxera louse nearly wiped out all vitis vinifera in Europe and needed to be grafted to North American root stock in order for it to survive. Some people have said that you now never really get the true flavour of these European grapes. In some parts of the world that have sandy soils, phylloxera cannot survive, so you can plant the vitis vinifera in the ground with it’s own rootstock. This is what has been done in the South Okanagan with the Merlot I had tasted from La Stella. Chile is another area famous for planting vitis vinifera vines on their own rootstock.
Allegretto: Pie Franco Merlot 2006 – Medium to light garnet in colour. Some earthiness on the nose. Earthiness on the palate as well. Red fruit flavours. Low tannins and medium body. Just a hint of spices. Dry with a long finish.
Allegretto: Pie Franco Merlot 2007 – A bit deeper in colour, purple red in the glass. Fresh cherry and vanilla nose, with some white pepper. Medium plus in body. Quite smooth and round on the palate. Restrained cherries on the palate. Mid-palate there is some refreshing acidity and spiciness. Dry finish, and long length. I like this wine.
Allegretto: Pie Franco Merlot 2008 – Light garnet coloured. Raspberry and vanilla aromas and a hint of cassis. Light body with firm tannins. Cherries and raspberry flavours with vanilla in the background. Very dry. Another nice wine.
Maestoso: Merlot 2008 – This is La Stella’s flagship wine – the Jewel in the crown. Light ruby in the glass. Quite aromatic compared to the Allegrettos. Nice vanilla and cherry with a leafy edge to the nose. Interesting. Starts off feeling light, but as you aerate it, it gets heavier in your mouth! Vanilla and red cherry flavours with milk chocolate on the finish. Quite round. The tannins are soft. I highly recommend this wine.
Enjoy these wines at home with friends or family, or go to the Cactus Club Cafe and try a Feenie’s Blend.