The long-awaited release of their new vintage, incredibly interesting and fascinatingly-unique wines continues from 40 Knots Estate Winery at 2400 Anderton Road, just outside of Comox, on the route to the Powell River ferry.
With their decision to make premium wines, using very old fashioned, traditional methods, they took a step backwards with their 2015 vintages, to continue a growing commitment to natural wines made for the most part from the wild yeasts that occur naturally on the skins of carefully grown wine grapes.
As winemaker Matt Dumayne and owners Layne Robert Craig and Brenda Hetman-Craig explained: “A few thousand years ago, a wine maker couldn’t run down to the local shop to buy sulphites to preserve their wine. The ancient methods are more labour intensive and require more coddling, and more love, than just throwing juice in a tank.”
Their first concerted attempt at making wines ‘au naturel’ has had an exciting effect on the style and quality of their wines right across their growing portfolio. In the winery, nearly 70 per cent of their fermentations are wild/native due to the natural health of their vineyard and the exacting practices in their cellar.
Wines that are clearly labelled “40 Knots” are made from estate-grown Comox Valley grapes, sometimes augmented and enhanced by grapes sourced from a select few Vancouver Island growers.
The release of their ever popular and seductively silky 40 Knots Whitecaps 2015 (8243) $21.25 is a convincing testament to their commitment. Slow, cool fermentation of this blended white in stainless steel tanks retains sassy aromatics and provides a focused and lengthy mouthfeel that finishes with zingy, spicy, floral, tropical stone fruits.
Just as popular and sought after 40 Knots Rosé 2014 (81943) $19.99 is a blend of Gamay Noir and Pinot Noir. Aromas of bright red berry fruits with a touch of spice explode on the palate, overlapping a lush, dense mid palate, balanced by zesty acidity.
New and very much in a class of its own 40 Knots L’Orange Schonberger (780221) $35.00 harks back to traditional natural winemaking methods. Using absolutely no additives, this Schonberger was kept on skins for fermentation and aging, creating a white wine with a deeply orange colour, surprisingly brisk tannins, a sturdy structure and immense complexity. Under a nutty almost sherried dried apricot set of flavours, there are undertones of honeysuckle and a bouquet of savouryfennel and olive subtleties.
Most Island wineries have a kind of default dessert wine that is sweet and vaguely Port-like and based on the ubiquitous invasive and decidedly persistent Himalayan Blackberry. Occasionally creative winemakers step out of that predictable box!
Marechal Foch develops a whole new meaning in wine life in 40 Knots ‘Safe Haven’ (370650) $25.90/375ml. Sweet dark, dried fruit flavours slide into hazelnut, olives and caramelized sherry in this intriguingly sippable dessert wine.
Recognizing the limitations of their Vancouver Island vineyard to fully ripen heavier white wine grapes and rich red wine grapes, 40 Knots imports a variety of sun and heat loving wine grapes from the Okanagan valley. They sell these wines under their ‘Stall Speed’ label.
Stall Speed Pinot Gris – Gear Down Gris 2014 (745992) $14.95/375ml half bottle was sourced from 30 year old vines in Oliver. Fermented cool for retention of fresh, vibrant aromatics, shown through ripe Asian a pear, and sweet floral notes. The palate is rich and mouth-filling, yet has a delicacy and freshness that finishes with ripe tangerine and honeydew melon notes. Serve this with soft white cheese to really ramp up the fruit flavours!
New to the portfolio this year Stall Speed Leading Edge Viognier 2015 (690131) $26.95 comes out of one of the hottest vintages on record in the Okanagan Valley. Viognier loves sun drenched days to ripen its thick skins and provide lush notes of apricots, lemon rind and an intense explosion of honeysuckle.
Unctuous, viscous and oily on the palate, this amazing white definitely raises the bar for BC Viognier.
In that same category of breathtaking wine Stall Speed ‘Stick Shaker’ Syrah (606004) $49.85 was fermented in salt rich air wafting in from the Salish Sea. Fermented in French puncheons, and aged for a year, this wine an shows a seductively soft melange of spicy blackberry and black cherry fruit flavours that slide into a lingering toasty finish.
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