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Poplar Grove Pinot Noir Launch

For those familiar with the Okanagan wine scene, you have probably heard of Poplar Grove Winery.

I myself have visited their tasting and dining room, having stayed at the air bnb located at Penticton’s Lower Bench, one level below the actual winery.

There and beyond, I have tried several of their bottles, and often recommend them as a good option for reasonably priced wine. Wine that is not only delicious, but with a label that instills value and prestige. A brand name that is gifting ready and sure to impress as an Award-winning Okanagan family-run winery, spanning 30 years.

They are already known for their award-winning Bordeaux-style reds and crisp refreshing whites. However, today we were gathered at Fairmont Pacific Rim’s Taschen lounge to celebrate the launch of their first-ever Pinot Noir.

The origin story of this new varietal started at a dinner where Poplar Grove proprietor, Tony Holler tasted several Naramata Pinot Noirs and determined that they should expand their portfolio into this direction. The result is the Poplar Grove Pinot Noir 2022, the first vintage of this new varietal.

(As taken from the press release)
“This is a medium-bodied Pinot Noir with velvety tannins, bright acidity and a long finish.” “Pale purple in colour with aromas of red fruit, baking spice and subtle earthiness.” “Followed by notes of ripe raspberry, red cherry, and earthy dark plum.”

“These grapes are grown by Tony and wife Barb’s sons in the Hudson Vineyard, a dedicated 13-acre parcel chosen specifically for loam soils of rock and sand that slope down towards Lake Okanagan. Each evening, the vineyard is cooled by high-mountain katabatic winds that flow down from the surrounding peaks.”

“Poplar Grove’s Pinot Noir is made in a dedicated 3,000-square-foot facility on the winery’s Upper Bench North property. This allows the production team— headed by Assistant Winemaker, Dan Marshall, under the mentorship of Executive Winemaker, Stefan Arnason — to focus exclusively on making Pinot Noir. The process includes a rigourous sorting table routine, separate destemmer, manual punchdowns, carefully chosen yeast, and six 6,000-litre coopers tailored to highlight the unique characteristics of the grape.”

“The Poplar Grove Pinot Noir 2022 has already won Double Gold at The Great Northwest Wine Competition in Oregon, Gold at The Drink Business Global Pinot Noir Masters in the UK, and most recently, Gold at the Los Angeles International Wine Competition.”

Scheduled for release in late June 2024, the Poplar Grove Pinot Noir 2022
will be available through the Poplar Grove Wine Club, at the winery, and at various fine restaurants throughout British Columbia.

Today we were able to learn more about the wine directly from owner Tony Holler, and Winemaker Dan Marshall, at this reception style mingler. This was an informal meet and greet with passed canapés.

There was a dollop of lush foie gras on a banana bread-like base in both sweetness and texture. The two together offered a wonderful juxtaposition.

For something savoury the tomato tart on puff pastry was a crispy bite with sweet fruit and seasoned herbs.

The shrimp tempura was perfectly fried for a light crisp. I just could have used a dip to help flush out the seasonings.

The Dungeness crab puff was a golden brown round with sweet buttery crab at its centre.

I preferred it over the dense chickpea puck that I found dry.

The beef croquette was dense and heavy like a meaty meal. This too could have benefitted from a sauce.

And for those looking for a lighter wine they were also pouring Poplar Grove’s Three Roses 2022 Rose today. It had bright berry notes and a tangy citrus finish. This would be a great sipper on the patio.

We got a chance to speak with Dan Marshall, who regaled us of stories and his first vintage in 2017. He has only been with Poplar Grove and described his wine making technique as being “rational”, He prides himself on good decision making, based on common sense and learned experience, rather than trying to buy a number or science behind the process.

As for the wine of the hour, I found it robust, ideal for food with richer flavours and heavier seasonings like Chinese or Indian cuisine. By itself I got dark berry notes and a faint smokiness for a versatile pairing wine. Ready to drink, but with potential to age for up to 5 years, thanks to its acidity and structured mouthfeel.

In short, this is a lovely way to welcome new wine. You can expect to see then at your local BCL come late June 2014.

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