Sandhill2004 Small Lots - two, Sandhill Estate Vineyard
This wine, as the name indicates, is one of a trio of premium red blends produced by Sandhill, each distinguished from the other by the blend or the vineyard. Sandhill makes only single vineyard wines. The Sandhill Estate Vineyard, about 200 acres in size, is on Black Sage Road, a sandy and hot terrain in the south Okanagan. Vineyard manager Richard Cleave, who signs all Sandhill wines with winemaker Howard Soon, believes Black Sage is one of the best places in Canada for red grapes. He just might know, since he has been managing vineyards there since 1975.
The 2004 season turned out well in the end but, along the way, it tested Cleave and other growers. Normally, the Okanagan counts on a long-dry growing season, which is why all vineyards are irrigated. In 2004, growers were surprised by three weeks of cool, rainy weather beginning in late August that triggered bunch rot. Vigilant vineyardists like Cleave promptly had their crews removing affected bunches, eliminating serious damage. Once the rain ended, a prolonged dry autumn ripened the fruit well. Sandhill picked the grapes for this blend between the middle and the end of October.
The result is a dark-hued wine with aromas of vanilla and chocolate and red berries, primarily cherries. The wine is firm and concentrated, needing decanting to bring out the best at this stage in its youth. It has ripe tannins with appealing flavours of plum, chocolate and spice. Only 269 cases were made. 89 points.
Reviewed March 12, 2007 by John Schreiner.
Other reviewed wines from Sandhill
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.