Naramata Bench Wineries
Last week we were fortunate to have been given an invite to the Naramata Bench Wine Country Trade Tasting at the Westin Bayshore. Having lived in the Okanagan for 7 years, and sponsoring a row of vines at Red Rooster which is also on the bench, we thought we were fairly familiar with the area and its wineries. However, we were surprised to find out that there are 15 wineries on the Naramata Bench, 3 of which we had not heard of and 6 of which we had never been to. So we had a great time making our way around the ballroom first with a round of whites and then with a round of reds. We specifically tried to taste wines we had not had before or a least for a few years. Since we have already written a few blogs about Red Rooster we pasted on their booth (we are looking forward to opening the 2005 Meritage that we got delivered at Xmas).

La Frenz Riesling a Standout
The standout wineries for us included La Frenz, Laughing Stock and Black Widow. The owners of La Frenz come from Australia. After working in Napa the family took a trip to the Okanagan Valley. Jegg Martin began working at Quail’s Gate winery in Kelowna before he and his wife Niva began La Frenz. They have two vineyards on the Naramata Bench as well as one on the Black Sage Bench and one south of Oliver. We tried both the 2009 Riesling and the 2009 Viognier. Both had wonderful aromas but we prefered the green apple and honey of the Riesling. Of the reds Jeff preffered the very dark 2008 Malbec loaded with dark fruit and a bit of oak. Tara preffered the 2007 Shiraz which had a bit of spice.

Laughing Stock Not a Winery to Laugh At
You have to love the name Laughing Stock; and you have to love the wine too. Of the whites we tried (Pinot Gris, Chardonnay and Blind Trust White) both the 2009 Pinot Gris and the 2009 Blind Trust were impressive even though they had only been bottled several weeks earlier.  This vintage of Blind Trust includes Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Blanc and Viognier.  We also tried the 2008 Pinot Noir (Small Cap) and the 2007 Blind Trust Red.  The Blind Trust won the Silver Medal at the 2009 Canadian Wine Awards and was very full bodied with dark berries and a smooth finish.  We were told that this wine has a very good aging potential. 

Our Favorite White
Black Widow specialies in single vineyard limited release wines. Of all of the whites we tried at the tasting our favorite was the 2007 Black Widow Pinot Gris.  We were told that it is fermented in a combination of stainless steel and new Oak barrels to preserve the fruit character.  It was very fruiy indeed with apple and tropical fruits with a crisp light finish.  This one we will buy for a nice summer afternoon.

We are hoping to attend the Trade Tasting for the Vancouver International Wine Festival next week.  It is sure to have some great wines frm Argentina and other regions as well.