The Boldness of Moon Curser

All you need to do is hold a bottle of Moon Curser wine to notice that these guys do things a little differently. The branding elicits scenes from a film noir about prospectors cast with animals inhabiting the steppes.

Prior to 2011, when Moon Curser was known (less excitingly) as Twisted Tree, I became familiar by tasting the wines whenever I drove through Osoyoos. Arguably, they're the most convenient winery to visit along the Crowsnest Highway. If you're in a hurry, you could pull off, taste through the wines and be back at cruising speed in about as much time as it would take to stop for gas.

Moon Curser works with fruit grown around Osoyoos (six acres on the winery property and another eight leased in the region). This part of the Okanagan is hot, and as you would expect, these are ripe, intensely-flavoured wines.

Aside from the labels, the way Moon Curser truly strays from the pack is by planting uncommon grapes. Besides the Okanagan stalwarts, which they also grow and do well, you'll find vines of Viognier, Marsanne, Roussanne, Arneis, Tempranillo, Tannat, Touriga Nacional and Carmenere. They are the only spot making wine from Arneis, Tannat, and Touriga Nacional in the valley. Moon Curser's abandon when it comes to making wine from less-commercially popular grapes makes it an exciting and fun place to buy and drink wines if you're seeking something different. They are willing to invest in and plant vines no one else has, and if they don't grow well, aren't afraid to pull them out and try something new (as they did with a plot of Corvina planted in 2006 that wasn't able to ripen).

The Afraid of the Dark 2012 is a Rhône-styled blend of Roussanne, Viognier, and Marsanne, and my pick from the bunch for best value. It's rich and floral, with flavours of apricot and rosewater. The Arneis 2013 has the brightness and dryness I expect from the Northern Italian grape, yet Moon Curser’s is distinctly an ex-pat. There are subtle fruit characters of pear and white peach, but this wine's focus is an abundance of stony minerality. The Carmenere 2012 was the red that surprised and wowed me the most (yes, I may have been tainted by the Chilean Carmenere craze). This was only the second vintage they've felt was good enough to bottle unblended. It's wildly pronounced with black pepper, baking spice and herb notes; a savoury wine with fresh acidity.

Moon Curser has evolved into one of the top wineries in Osoyoos and a pioneer in the country for uncommon varieties done well. I've also heard rumours that they aren't finished yet; we're going to see more wildcard grapes in the coming vintages.

Jake Skakun is a writer and sommelier from Vancouver, currently living in Toronto. He can be found most days pulling corks and twisting caps at the Black Hoof. He Tweets and Instagrams @jakeskakun.

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