Martins Lane is a stunning high-end winery in the Okanagan Valley that focuses solely on making single-vineyard wines from Riesling and Pinot Noir from the north of the region. When I first visited the region in 2014, the winery was an enormous hole in the ground. It’s right next door to Cedar Creek in East Kelowna, and both wineries are part of the empire of Anthony von Mandl, who began in the Okanagan with Mission Hill, which is visible across the lake in West Kelowna. Mandl added Cedar Creek, then Martins Lane, and most recently Checkmate Winery in the south of the Okanagan, which specializes in Chardonnay and Merlot.
Martin’s Lane defined boutique. The six-level gravity flow winery is quite breath-taking, and currently produces just 2000 cases. Plans are to grow it to 10-12 000 cases, solely made up of super-premium wines. Winemaking is in the hands of Shane Munn, who hails from New Zealand (he did a long spell with Millton in Gisborne). Shane moved out with his family in 2014, for the debut vintage. The winery opened its doors to visitors in 2016.
Here’s a short video interview with Shane:
No commercial yeasts have ever been used in the winery.
The Rieslings all have 5 g/l residual sugar. ‘Skin contact is a big part of the style,’ says Shane. He gives them 48 h skin contact. The technique is to gently crush whole bunches, with no SO2 additions and leave them for two days. Then they are pressed and the juice is stirred and then allowed to settle for 10 days at low temperature. Then fermentation is allowed to begin. Pinot Noirs are classically made with varying proportions of whole bunch.
Martins Lane Simes Vineyard Riesling 2016 Okanagan, Canada
20% Clayver (a ceramic sphere) and the rest in stainless steel. This has a lovely nose with some honey, nougat, peach and lemons. The palate has lovely keen acidity, with notes of lime, spice, lemon zest and some peach and baked apple. Rich but focused with lovely complexity and a bit of structure. 93/100 ($45)
Martins Lane Naramata Ranch Vineyard Riesling 2016 Okanagan, Canada
Two thirds in 1200 litre stuck. This is really pretty, with bright citrus fruit and some pear and melon richness. Has some real zip to it with great acidity and some supple herbal hints. Layered and complex with incredible brightness and nice complexity. 94/100 ($55)
Martins Lane Fritzi’s Vineyard Riesling 2016 Okanagan, Canada
Concentrated, dry, linear and pithy with some grip to the bold, textured lime and green apple fruit. Linear and zippy with high acidity as well as tangerine and lemon notes, with some density. Tightwound but with great concentration of flavour. Lovely precision with some power and an amazing acid line. 94/100 ($65)
Martins Lane Dehart Vineyard Pinot Noir 2015 Okanagan, Canada
12 year old vines. Elevated in east Kelowna, where it gets afternoon sun (faces west). 667 and 777 cofermented, 45% whole bunch, concrete fermented. Sweetly aromatic on the nose with perfumed cherry fruits. Polished, pretty and perfumed on the palate with some silkiness, but also lovely precision. Has sweet red cherries and raspberries with lovely prettiness. Has a nice crunchy bite on the finish. Such a beautiful Pinot. 95/100
Martins Lane Simes Vineyard Pinot Noir 2015 Okanagan, Canada
Clones 943 (destemmed), 667 (60% whole bunch) and then a block with 114, 115, 667 and 777 (60% whole bunch). Supple and bright with sweet cherry and plum fruit. Has some crunch and some grip, with sweet, rich berry fruits. Has raspberries and cherries with some nice tannic bite. Sweet, fresh fruit, with some grippy structure. Still has some firmness on the finish. 94/100
Martins Lane Fritzi’s Vineyard Pinot Noir 2015 Okanagan, Canada
50% whole bunch. Sweet, aromatic red berry and cherry aromatics. Quite floral. The palate is concentrated and dense with firm tannins under the vivid berry and black fruits. Stony and grainy, with lots of tannic structure. Firm with some potential for the future. A massive, impressive Pinot Noir with lots of potential, and nice purity. Hide this away for five years. 95/100
Martins Lane Single Block Naramata Ranch Pinot Noir 2017 Okanagan, Canada
100% whole bunch. Just touched once: a gentle foot tread, and then delestage. Open, slightly appley edge to the nose with sweet red cherries and plums. Has a grip to it on the palate with fleshy, supple red fruits and some sappiness. Freshness and structure here with an interesting texture. It’s slightly awkward at the moment (it has just been bottled) but there’s such amazing detail and so many layers of flavour. 95/100
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