This is a quaffable, juicy Merlot. Aromas of tangy plums and juniper spice continue onto the palate and finish with a savoury tamarind burst. This wine is medium bodied, carries light alcohol and is delicious served with a bit of a chill on it to highlight its juicy fruit flavours.
Lux Ultima Vineyard (Trepanier Bench, Peachland, planted 1996)
The vintage began with mild temperatures and little insulating snowpack in January. This made bottling and pruning very pleasant for us, but the unseasonable warmth also caused the soil to warm up, forcing the vines out of dormancy. An extended four-week cold snap in February then froze those awaken vines causing bud damage, cane damage and, in some cases, cracked trunks and straight-up vine death. Many vineyards saw smaller yields in 2019 from this thaw/freeze episode, some in Summerland and Naramata sustaining 70% loss. A lack of snow and rain during that time also meant there was little run-off or soil moisture, making for even lower yields. The spring started uneventfully with budbreak occurring in the first week of May as usual. By early June, flowering would also occur normally, although some wind and rain interrupted flowering in our Riesling vineyard (which was already affected by spotty budbreak and damage from the cold). Summer temperatures were cooler than normal with no heat spikes and many cloudy days. As result, veraison was drawn out – taking at least three to four weeks to complete (an abundance of secondary and tertiary shoots may have aided in extending the process). After a short temperature spike the last week of August and first week of September the rains started and never seemed to stop. (Environment Canada would later confirm that the Penticton area received three times more precipitation than average.) This abundance of rain created intense disease pressure and an overt lack of ripening. The rains eventually stopped with a hard frost of -7°C on October 10th, essentially ending the vintage for all intents and purposes.
While it felt like everything that could go wrong did go wrong in 2019, great wine could still be made by those with the experience to act quickly, the ability to pivot and a willingness to be flexible with house style. As a technical, confident winemaker with a strong grasp of organic chemistry, I was able to make rapid-fire picking calls and take immediate action in the winery. Through focusing on lighter, fresher styles and by using blending to achieve balance, we were still able to make the JoieFarm 2019 portfolio full of delicious wines as usual (just with more #maximumeffort and resolve than normally required!)
The fruit was hand-picked and a sorting table was utilized to select only the cleanest fruit. The Merlot was destemmed and the whole berries were left to warm up to cellar temperature in a 500L open top fermenter (for the semi-carbonic portion) and the other 2/3 of the Merlot berries were destemmed and crushed into a 20 hL cask. After five days the whole berries began to slowly ferment and “pop” under their own skins (dropping 1 brix). At that juncture we foot tread the berries in the open top-fermenter, stopping the semi-carbonic process and encouraging a full red fermentation, skins to juice. They continued their slow-fizzing ferment at 18 C. Five days later we foot tread the berries again, as they continued to ferment and the berries began to break down at 12 brix. We gave the fermenter one last stomp at 5 brix and pressed the ferment off when its fermentation went dry – about 14 days in total. The cask portion was also taken to dryness and the two were blended in a stainless steel tank. The wine was racked once and then final racked to a neutral French oak 30 hL cask where it underwent a second spontaneous malolactic fermentation and was quietly aged for 8 months. The wine was gently cross-flow filtered for clarity and stability bottled in July 2020 with a minimal sulphur addition.
Food Pairing Notes
At a moderate 11% this wine is the perfect choice to incorporate into a meal or patio snack where a casual, fun glass (or bottle!) of wine is called for.