Wine Wednesday: Ancient Hill

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This wine Wednesday I would like to tell you about a secret winery I have just discovered up in the foothills about Kelowna.

Funny how you can live so close to things and not visit them… Such is living in a tourism area. On my way home from picking golden plums today, I decided to make an impromptu stop, some “me time”, and taste the wines at Ancient Hill.

I had heard that a Dutch couple owned this winery and had branded it with Celtic designs. I was suspicious… I don’t like cultural mixups. But I was dead wrong. The building is absolutely gorgeous. I spoke to the owner outside about her beautiful gardens, and later, about their winemaking history. The couple have lived on the property for two decades, and over the last decade have made an investment in growing their own grapes. They are one of the smallest wineries around, with only 2000 cases of production. That’s tiny! But all the grapes are grown right there on the estate.

Now on to the wine. I have to tell you that I am not a BC wine drinker for patriotism’s sake. I have a critical set of taste buds, but this little winery really delivered.

The first tasting was a Pinot Gris, which had lovely tropical nose. Still, Pinot Gris is not really my thing.

Onto the Gewurztraminer. I love all the expressions of Gewurztraminer. In the Okanagan, it tends to typically be a very crisp, kiwi or lychee nut fruit expression with a light body and just hints of spice. This wine instead leaned toward the Alsatian approach, with heavier viscosity and a bit of sweetness to complement the acid. The flavors were all there… And I bought a bottle for our next Thai food meal. Very nice!

The rents are all grown on the state as well. Realizing that this is not typical for a north Okanagan winery. Most wineries need to bring up grapes from the south when they want to grow things like Merlot. But the owner, who took viticulture classes before they open, researched Varietals that would grow well in the more northern climate. He stuck to Pinot Noir, but also added some Australian varietals.

The Baco Noir was deep and pungent with layered dark fruits and other edible flavors like coffee; however, it didn’t have much body. I thought it was very interesting. The Pinot Noir had a decent nose full of secondary flavors. Think: barnyard and mushrooms. That’s a good thing, but the flavor just dropped off and didn’t have much of a finish.

For me, the highlight was the mixed red with the Australian varietals front and center. I’m a big fan of Zweigelt, although not as familiar with Lamberger. And tasting the Pinot Noir, I can see the thought process behind the mixture. The Pinot had some earthy notes to add, but over all the wine was very bright, very full of delicious and very identifiable aromas. Interestingly, it lasted a lot longer and the finish was more complex, possibly due to the mixture of grapes, than the straight Pinot Noir.

I took two bottles of the red home and will definitely finish them off before the winter!

Anyway, if you are looking for a little hidden jewel in the north Okanagan, I highly recommend Ancient Hill. Not a bad wine to be found, and some bright, lovely examples of delicate and thoughtful wine making.

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Wine Wednesdays… Ok – I admit upfront that I love wine. I always got lots of comments and questions (on the old blog, I mean,) about the wines that we serve with dinner parties, etc. I also I have been expanding my own wine knowledge, and recently completed my Advanced level of the WSET (Wine and Spirit Education Trust) courses.

So what better way (other than in person, over a glass of wine) to share my love of with you, than to have a series dedicated to favourite wines? Cheers!

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