Last week I was pluggin’ away at tasting notes for Thornhaven Estates wines that will be tucked in with bottles being sent to Canadian wine lovers from coast to coast as part of My Wine Canada’s Wine Club, and it was such a pleasure to revisit their wines.
Based in Summerland, which sits along the west side of Lake Okanagan in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley, Thornhaven’s gravity-fed winery has been in operation by the Fraser family since 1999. They’ve been increasingly renowned for harnessing local terroir, including (in their own words) “the natural landscape of the semi-arid Okanagan climate, where dry grasses, cacti, sagebrush and Ponderosa pine thrive.” In addition to these elements, their proximity to the lake cannot be discounted. Moderating the well-known extreme heat of the Okanagan, along with contributing to a broad diurnal temperature swing, the lake allows grapes grown in nearby vineyards to preserve their natural acidity, which in turn allows the fruit to be a little more lifted on the palate and express the region’s minerality very well.
As with any global regions, there are a myriad of benchmark wines up and down the Valley. The “Oh, you MUST try the…” wines, like JoieFarm Rose, Laughing Stock Portfolio, Le Vieux Pin Syrah, and Meyer Family Vineyards Chardonnay. I could certainly go on, but any solid listing of Okanagan signature wines would be remiss to omit Thornhaven’s Gewürztraminer. While the grape and her wines elsewhere in the world can occasionally be flabby, missing a good lick of acid, Thornhaven’s whip-smart edition hits all the right notes, being buoyant and bright with the variety’s telltale traits of lychee, rosewater, and citrus peel. A careful straddling of the line between dry and off-dry makes it extremely food-friendly, ripe for a variety of Asian cuisine and poultry dishes.
As you’d imagine, being such pros with Gewürztraminer lends them to being excellent stewards of other aromatic varieties like Pinot Gris, along with Riesling, Orange Muscat and Chardonnay – a trio that winemaker Jason Fraser pulls together into a perfect-for-the-season blend dubbed Tortured Grape. While I’m waving their flag, I must also mention the nuanced prettiness of their Pinot Meunier and how they craft the Champagne grape into something so proper, with cherry, cola, violets, and nutmeg sailing out of the glass.
Want to give Thornhaven’s wines a whirl? There’s still time to join My Wine Canada’s Wine Club for the current Thornhaven Estates edition. If you sign up by midnight on this coming Monday, June 15th, you’ll soon have a box of their Okanagan goodness arriving on your doorstep! All of the information’s right here.
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.