“Never heard of ‘em.”
It’s a familiar refrain to the mention of various new wineries that have popped up across the Canadian landscape over the last few years. Sure, it can be tough to keep up with every single winery that has set up shop; here in British Columbia we’re up and over 250 of them. It’s amazing though, the difference that a handful of big awards can make. Once those ringing endorsements come chiming in, many who might have been initially dismissive of a newer winery suddenly perk up and take notice.
From where I’m standing, the Okanagan Valley’s C.C. Jentsch Cellars has pretty much gone from, “Never heard of them,” to, “Oh, yeah – they’re fantastic,” in the few short years since their 2012 launch. No rookies to the land though, co-owner Chris Jentsch’s family have been farming the Okanagan since 1929. Jentsch had been farming cherries most of his life, until swapping over to wine grapes in 2002, those grapes being sold to other wineries. With his wife Betty and a small, dedicated team, he transformed his fruit packing warehouse into a winery in 2012, and brought winemaker Amber Pratt (Road 13 Vineyards, Black Hills Estate Winery) into the fold in 2013.
Pratt’s hands have guided Jentsch’s 63 acres of Golden Mile Bench estate grapes (along with a smattering from other Okanagan vineyards they farm) into laudable, well-crafted South Okanagan wines, expressive of sun-drenched days and mineral-rich soils. It’s quite possible that history will see 2015 as a tipping point in awareness of the winery, and consequently their overall success. A Platinum medal for their 2013 Syrah and a couple Golds from WineAlign’s National Wine Awards of Canada and World Wine Awards of Canada for their 2013 The Chase and 2014 Small Lots Chardonnay respectively, punctuated a year which also saw Jentsch nab Best Syrah over five B.C. gems and six international legends in this past summer’s Judgement of B.C with Decanter’s Steven Spurrier. Their trophy shelf has been filling up fast with a series of other awards and accolades, plus sommeliers have been snapping up many Jentsch wines for their lists.
So, in short, you should totally get to know them. And then, you can look forward to a day years from now when you’ll be saying, “I knew them back when.”
C.C. Jentsch is the featured winery this month for the Wine Club! Get a taste of their fantastic wines by subscribing for this month, you'll get 2-3 bottles of wine delivered to your door. The deadline to register for C.C Jentsch's wines is this Friday, January 15!
Here are some of the wines that will be included in the club packs:
2013 Syrah ($29.99) is their wine that currently holds the most praise, though many of their other labels give it a run for its money. New World fruit-forwardness and power bring Old World flavours of black fruit, white pepper, earthiness and a few slices of smoked beef brisket to the palate. A carnivore’s delight!
2013 Cabernet Merlot ($15.90) is one of the best, bang-for-your-buck, Bordeaux-styled blends in the country. Black currant, mulberry and anise notes are carried through with a touch of earthiness and a drop of espresso on the finish. A solid, crowd-pleasing, medium-bodied red that should be hoarded by the case; who knows when company might pop by?
2013 Viognier ($22.90) rocks my world because it’s not one of those over-the-top, heavily cloying fruit salads in a glass. Vibrant minerality and juicy acidity keep this guy nice and fresh, with zippy lemon, Granny Smith apple and nectarine flavours sailing through with ease.
Kurtis Kolt is a Vancouver-based wine consultant, writer, competition judge and enthusiast. Track him down at KurtisKolt.com, or on Twitter and Instagram @KurtisKolt.