Burrow Owl Estate Winery. This tasting was hosted by their agent here in Ontario - Le Sommelier - and held at the Fine Wine Reserve.
Founder Jim Wyse had no intention of starting a winery when he began replanting vineyards in 1993 - his goal was to produce world class, premium quality grapes. Soon enough, however, he realized that his grapes were producing wines that gained immediate recognition. In 1997, Jim decided to build Burrowing Owl Estate Winery, with construction beginning early in 1998 and completing in time for that year's harvest. Today, Burrowing Owl uses state-of-the-art technologies, including a gravity-flow system to ensure grapes are handled delicately, with proven, classic winemaking traditions. Burrowing Owl also has a temperature controlled cave/cellar for fermentation and barrel ageing.
The vineyards at Burrowing Owl are varied and have deceptively fragile ecosystems which the team tries to maintain using environmentally-friendly methods. For pest control, bluebird boxes and bat nurseries are used to help contain insects in the vineyard, while snakes are safely relocated, and bears and big horned sheep are discouraged from munching on grapes but never harmed.
Nearly all of the 9 wines that were available for tasting were enjoyable. Here are wine reviews of 6 of my favourites.
BURROWING OWL CHARDONNAY 2012 - BC VQA Okanagan Valley (#208694) (XD) - $33.95
Barrel fermented in 90% French oak and 10% American oak. Highly aromatic and very balanced nose showing orchard fruits, apple, pear and butter. It's medium-full bodied on the palate with bracing acids and very nice aroma replays. Oak-spiced mid-palate and very long finish. Released in VINTAGES last September and plenty in stock. Recommended. Score: 90+ pts
BURROWING OWL PINOT NOIR 2012 - BC VQA Okanagan Valley (#556613) (XD) - $40.95
Nose appeared somewhat closed but had an appealing aromas of dark currant, beet root, and hints of raspberry, strawberry and cherry. Medium+ bodied and slightly creamy, with dark currants and aroma replays on the flavour profile. Fresh, mouth-watering acids, along with integrated tannins and a medium+ length, spiced finish. Plenty available in VINTAGES. Score: 89 pts
BURROWING OWL ATHENE 2010 - BC VQA Okanagan Valley (#373336) (XD) - $44.95
Blend of 60% Syrah and 40% Cab Sauv has a medium-to-high lifted nose of barnyard and earth with nuances of raspberry, plum and cedar aromas. On the palate, it's medium-to-full bodied with currant, blue fruits, dark cherry, floral, and cassis flavours. Very good, balanced acids and oak spiced mid-palate giving way to a long, warm finish. Firm tannins are still a bit tight - will be better in 2-3 years and will last up to 2020. Fine stuff. Score: 91 pts
BURROWING OWL CABERNET FRANC 2012 - BC VQA Okanagan Valley (#349019) (XD) - $43.95
Medium+ intensity aromas with green pepper, herb, currant, smoke and cedar aromas. Palate is medium-to-full bodied and crunchy with very good tannic structure. Savoury red & black fruits, currants, green pepper and oak flavour profile. Has mouth-watering acids and a medium-long finish. Will reward with 2-3 years cellar time. Available in VINTAGES. Score: 90 pts
BURROWING OWL MERLOT 2010 - BC VQA Okanagan Valley (#585737) (XD) - $40.95
Medium intensity aromas with oak at the forefront and underlying notes of mocha, dark berries, chocolate and plum. It's medium-to-full bodied with more oak-influenced flavours of vanillan, cedar, hickory, woodsy, and some black fruits and cocoa notes. Very good acids, firm tannins are integrating nicely. Long finish is warm. The 2011 is currently in VINTAGES. Score: 89 pts
BURROWING OWL MERITAGE 2010 - BC VQA Okanagan Valley (#343038) (XD) - $59.95
Blend of 55% Cabernet Franc, 25% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2.5% Malbec and 2.5% Petit Verdot. Aromas of medium+ intensity show musky, fresh new wood, blackberry and eucalypt. Complex red & black fruits, mint, cassis, and woodsy flavours on a medium-bodied frame. Lively, fresh acids on the mid-palate, followed by firm, dusty tannins on the very long, slightly warm finish. Only 1 remaining at the LCBO (in Liberty Village, Toronto) as of this post. Score: 90 pts