Just yesterday, I had a chance to sit with Rasoul Salehi, managing partner and director of sales and marketing for British Columbian sister wineries Le Vieux Pin and LaStella. I’ve long been a fan of both, but I’ve found that I’ve gravitated to the French-inspired wines of Le Vieux Pin more often lately, inadvertently giving the Italian-inspired wines of LaStella the cold shoulder.
When I asked him to refresh me on the philosophy behind LaStella Winery, he first talked to the whites. “We’re encouraged by the Northern Italian whites of Trentino-Alto Adige, wines that respected producers like Alois Lageder have put on the map,” he said. “If you look at Pinot Gris, or Pinot Grigio, there are so many ways you can make wine from the grape, and being our most-planted white variety in B.C., we do so many diverse styles, but most lean towards the richer, Pinot Gris end of the spectrum.”
“For us,” he continued. “This is most definitely a Pinot Grigio, and we want it to be about the purity of fruit. The grapes are picked early from cooler sites and immediately pressed; we don’t do any lees stirring, battonage, anything like that. We bottle it in screw cap so it retains its freshness and those lovely aromatics.”
Indeed, my first few sips had me pickin’ up what he was layin’ down; there’s some ultra-bright green and yellow fruit, green table grapes and a nice little bit of salinity carried by bright, juicy acidity. It’s so lively and fresh, it should undoubtedly be a summer staple.
On the red side of things, we get a little more serious. “While our LaStella wines are all about balance, we certainly celebrate power with our line-up of reds. When you think of the bolder Italian reds, or the reds of Napa, that’s the kind of power I’m talking about. Of course, we do practice restraint in that power, but these are wines that shout “Food, food, food, food, food!’”
The guy wasn’t lying. We tucked into the LaStella 2014 Fortissimo—to simplify things, let’s call it an Okanagan take on a Super-Tuscan—and I had an immediate hankering for a juicy steak or lamb chop. A combo of 57% Merlot, 11% Cabernet Franc, 11% Cabernet Sauvignon and 21% Sangiovese Grosso, the wine is rich, deep and pure with dark berry fruit, currants, a good dose of earthiness and a smattering of violets. Aged in Slavonian oak barrels of various sizes for added complexity, the wine is cradled quite well by the treatment. A good decanting will unleash even more deliciousness. I have to add for a wine of this stature and quality, that $35 price tag is beyond fair. Do pick up a few, which of course you can order right to your door here at My Wine Canada, and cellar a bottle or two for at least three to five years.
(Oh, and that big meal your having? It would be served very well by finishing it all off with a splash of LaStella’s Moscato D’Osoyoos, a fizzy, tropical fruit-laden bottle of cheer.)
Try Kurtis' favourites from LaStella by clicking on each bottle below!
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.