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Column: Hester Creek’s Roots Run Deep

Four new releases from a winery south of Oliver, B.C.

Hester Creek Estate Winery’s slogan “Our roots run deep” is more than just clever marketing. Their roots go back over 50 years to 1968 when they were first planted by the original owner, Joe Busnardo.

Busnardo had planted Hester Creek’s grapevines with varietals that he had grown up with in northern Italy. The perfect location for European vinifera grapes, the site just south of Oliver was on a sun-drenched bench with sloping hills that facilitate a longer growing season. Virtually unheard of at the time for British Columbia, over 80 classic European vinifera grapes were planted on the then 76-acre property.

Several of those original varietals planted by Busnardo have thrived over the past half century with the Pinot Blanc, Trebbianno, “Italian Merlot” and Cabernet Franc flourishing on Hester Creek’s estate. These old vines have intensity and elegance.

Today, four new premium releases from the Golden Mile Bench Hester Creek winery.

Hester Creek Foundation Series Ti Amo 2021

($21.99; 88 points, Very Good).

This is a delicate Prosecco-inspired bubbly by the Charmat Process. It’s mainly Pinot Gris along with Gewurztraminer and Semillon. Expect a frothy mousse delivering aromas of citrus and tree fruit. Flavours of pear and lemon greet your palate along with herbal and earthy tones in a medium body.

Ti Amo is a versatile sparkler. There’s plenty of refreshing acidity to match with food. Thanks to the relative sweetness, it also pairs well with rich earthy cheeses such as Fontina, Brie and Camembert.

The delicate bubbles of Prosecco can help cut through the saltiness of some hard cheeses too, such as Parmigiano Reggiano, Grana Pedano, or Asiago,

Hester Creek Source Collection 2020 Syrah

($29.99; 91 points, Outstanding).

A Rhone style red with 85% Syrah and 15% Viognier to highlight the floral and spice notes of the blend. Hand-picked fruit from Hester Creek’s Golden Mile estate with a small percentage from growers in Osoyoos and Oliver, it was fermented and then aged in American and French oak barrels for 14 months.

The Syrah displays a deep red ruby appearance indicating a rich character. There are violets in the nose along with scents of leather and red, black, and blue fruit. On the palate, you can expect a potpourri of flavours: blackberries, blueberries, and cherries with black cardamom, white pepper, and savoury meat. Tannins are smooth with an elegant spicy fruity finish.

A bold wine like this can hold up to the intense flavors of barbecued pork. Spice this with pepper and cumin to bring out the fruitiness in the wine. Or add plum sauce.

Hester Creek Source Collection 2019 Old Vine Brut

($34.99; 89 points, Very Good).

Sourced from the winery’s historic vineyard, this traditional-method sparkling wine is produced from their Old Vine Pinot Blanc. Hand-picked and sorted, it was whole cluster pressed for best-quality clean and delicate juice. After fermentation, it was aged on the lees for 24 months to develop rich and creamy characters.

With a light lemon appearance, there is a yeasty nose with citrus and ginger fragrances. Fine beads of bubbles add to the “show” with well-balanced bread dough flavours along with lemon, ginger in a medium body with crisp acidity that begs for another sip. It ends on a bone-dry finish.

The Old Vine Brut is enjoyable now or cellar for up to 10 years. Enjoy with olive tapenade, spot prawns, ceviche, or oysters on the half shell with a Meyer Lemon and ginger Mignonette sauce.

Hester Creek Origin Wines 2019 Garland

($59.99; 92 points, Outstanding).

Named after Hester Creek’s Owner, Curt Garland, this premium Bordeaux-styled red is made with grapes from the historic property. Produced with 74% Cabernet Sauvignon along with Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc Malbec, and Merlot, the grapes were hand-picked and sorted, and soaked for two days for aroma and flavour extraction.

An extended maceration time and careful pressing followed gentle fermentation. Malolactic fermentation softened the stronger malic acids and created softer creamier lactic acids. Then 24 months in French oak added layers of complexity and ageability.

Blessed with a dark garnet colour, the Garland’s nose effuses cassis, pencil shavings, vanilla, violets, and herbs. This is a full-bodied elegant red with flavours of blackberry, cocoa, licorice, and mint with refreshing acidity to cut through rich foods and tannins that are smooth yet provide good structure for the wine. It draws to a memorable conclusion ending with a lingering tobacco finish.   

Enjoy now or cellar for up to 10 years. Try paired with steak frites (steak and duck fat fries); this might be the perfect match. The boldness of Bordeaux-style compliments the umami in the meat and the wine’s tannins are smoothed out by the dish’s fat content.

Hester Creek 2019 Garland is available at the winery, online, at the winery’s Terrafina restaurant, and private liquor stores.

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