Winchester Cellars2005 Chardonnay, Sharp Rock Vineyard
Making wine is just one of many skills that Ken Winchester has mastered in his 54 years. Born in New York, he began making wine as an amateur while a student at McGill University in Montreal. He went on to a successful publishing career, then moved to an editor’s job at Sunset Magazine in California, in part to enrol at UC Davis' wine school. Once he was professionally trained, Winchester started his first winery in the Paso Robles AVA.
In 2002, Winchester and his family sold the winery and moved to Canada, settling in Victoria. Two years later, he opened his second winery just north of Victoria, leasing space at the Barking Dog Vineyard, Vancouver Island’s first organic vineyard. Winchester makes wines from those grapes but he also makes wines, notably Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, from Okanagan-grown grapes. Currently, he is installing a German still at the winery for the production of grape spirits, having just acquired distilling skills at Michigan State University and at Bruichladdie, a small single malt distillery in Scotland.
This Chardonnay, from Okanagan grapes, displays the sure hand that experience has given Winchester. Light gold in colour, it begins with aromas of tangerine framed by a light toasty note, both of which carry through on the palate. The texture is full but not heavy, because the wine has good acidity. The finish is long, lively and fresh. 87 points.
Reviewed December 13, 2006 by John Schreiner.
John Schreiner has been covering the wines of British Columbia for the past 30 years and has written 10 books on the wines of Canada and BC. He has judged at major competitions and is currently a panel member for the Lieutenant Governor’s Awards of Excellence in Wine. Both as a judge and as a wine critic, he approaches each wine not to find fault, but to find excellence. That he now finds the latter more often than the former testifies to the dramatic improvement shown by BC winemaking in the past decade.