Shona and Dick Lancaster purchased their Okanagan Valley vineyard on the renowned Naramata Bench in 2000, but it wasn’t until 2006 that Black Widow Winery was built and they started releasing the first of their single-vineyard wines.
Their seven-acre estate sits right next to Laughing Stock Vineyards on a steep slope off of Naramata road in this tiny part of the world that manages to be the home of everything from great Rieslings and Gewurztraminers to opulent Syrahs and Merlots. The diurnal temperature fluctuations are vast here due to the region’s immediate proximity to Lake Okanagan and its northern latitude; lively acidity comes naturally to the area’s wines. At the same time, the high temperatures during vintage (often crossing the 40-degree Celsius mark) ensure a ripeness and purity of fruit, enabling those big reds to shine.
The Lancasters take advantage of this unique spot by crafting lively Gewurztraminers and Pinot Gris, big Cabernet-Syrah blends and more. Everything in their vineyards is hand-harvested, and then made in small batches using mostly French oak.
One of my favourite wines of theirs is the 2013 Oasis, an aromatic white blend that speaks to the region well. There’s Pinot Gris in there, all peachy and full of cheer, along with Gewurztraminer that brings all of its trademark lychee and rosewater characteristics. What makes this wine super-cool is that it uses Schonburger as its predominant variety.
Yup, Schonburger. It’s a pink-skinned grape that’s a genetic-crossing of Pinot Noir, Chasselas and Black Muscat, and it brings a lot of charisma to the blend. At once floral, figgy and kinda grapey in flavour, it really makes the wine sing in its own, unique way.
The resulting wine has been quite acclaimed, adding to their trophy shelf, and is the perfect accompaniment to many a Thai curry; there’s just enough residual sugar to tackle a bit of heat but the on-point acidity keeps it from being too sweet.
This is Naramata sunshine in a bottle; grab yourself some soon.
Kurtis Kolt is a Vancouver-based wine consultant, writer, competition judge and enthusiast. He’s not half as fancy/boring as that sounds. He Tweets and Instagrams @KurtisKolt.