November 17, 2017
On the Vine: A room for Larose
By John Schreiner
The most frustrated wine lovers are those who search for the Osoyoos Larose tasting room in the Okanagan. There isn’t one—but that’s about to change.
Groupe Taillan, the Bordeaux wine company that owns Osoyoos Larose, has sent a new executive manager to the Okanagan. A winemaker with 18 years’ experience, Caroline Schaller will select a site, recruit an architect and get a winery built in a couple of years.
Osoyoos Larose has an 80-acre vineyard spectacularly set on a mountainside overlooking Osoyoos Lake. But since making its first vintage in 2001, the winery’s production area has been in a back corner of the massive Jackson Triggs winery north of Oliver. That’s because it was initially a 50/50 joint venture between Vincor (the Jackson Triggs parent) and Taillan. Several years ago, when the French partner acquired the other 50 per cent, it was agreed that Osoyoos Larose would finally move out.
Osoyoos Larose makes just two wines, both red Bordeaux blends. The elegant and powerful Le Grand Vin is the $45 premium wine and Pétales d’Osoyoos is the $25 second label. The wines are widely available and widely collected, but cannot be tasted before buying until a tasting room opens.
The style of these wines is quite deliberately Bordeaux. The vineyard was planted according to recommendations from Bordeaux consultants. From that start, every winemaker has been recruited in France. Caroline Schaller and associate winemaker Benoit Giroussens, who teamed up to make the 2017 wines, are the fourth and fifth French winemakers sent to Osoyoos Larose.
“What impressed me here is that we feel we live in the animals’ land,” Schaller says. “Vineyards are the same everywhere, but here you are in the wild land. It is part of the magic.”
Three to Try
Osoyoos Larose Le Grand Vin 2014 ($45.99)
This wine is 68 per cent Merlot, 11 per cent Cabernet Franc, 8 per cent each of Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot, and 5 per cent Malbec. The wine was aged 18 to 20 months in French oak. There are aromas of black currant and other dark fruits with a touch of vanilla. On the palate, there are flavours of black currant, black cherry and spiced black fruit framed with vanilla and long, ripe tannins. 94/100
Culmina Hypothesis 2013 ($46)
This is 38 per cent Merlot, 36 per cent Cabernet Franc and 26 per cent Cabernet Sauvignon. It has been aged 16 months in French oak barrels (60 per cent new, 40 per cent one-year old). The wine begins with a powerful aroma of berries (blackberry, cherry, mulberry) and vanilla, leading to dark fruit flavours. 94 /100
Bordertown Living Desert Red 2014 ($25)
This is a blend of 45 per cent Cabernet Franc, 35 per cent Merlot and 20 per cent Cabernet Franc, aged 12 to 18 months in French oak. The wine begins with aromas of cassis, dark cherry, vanilla and mocha. On the palate, it delivers intense red berry flavours and dark chocolate, finishing with savoury sweet fruit and herbs. 92 /100
Pop-up tasting room
Like Osoyoos Larose, CheckMate Artisanal Winery also frustrated consumers by launching in 2015 without a wine shop. At first, the super-premium wines—$100 Chardonnays and $85 Merlots—were made deliberately hard to get. Then in July, a modular “pop-up” tasting room was erected on CheckMate’s Golden Mile property. It is not winterized, but off-season visitors with appointments get to taste inside the winery.