This is becoming one of the most exciting wineries in all of Canada. I first visited Okanagan Crush Pad back in 2014, and since then things have come on in leaps and bounds. In particular, the winemaking, under New Zealander Matt Dumayne, is confident, brave and spot-on, resulting in some exciting wines.
A short film of the visit:
Owners Christine Coletta and Steve Lornie have invested a lot into this business: they have been busy developing a beautiful estate at Garnet Valley Ranch, and this year they purchased the Secrest Vineyard, which they’d been sourcing from: the owners wanted to sell and the only way of securing these grapes was to buy the vineyard, which in the Okanagan is an expensive option.
Oakanagan Crush Pad is the name of the winery, and the two brands are Haywire (estate-owned or long-term contract vineyards), and Narrative (bought-in grapes, or things which might change each year). As well as making their own wines here, this is also a crush pad, and half the 50 000 case production is for customers, but this is gradually decreasing.
We visited Garnet Valley. The last time I was here in 2014, they’d just planted the first 10 acres of Pinot. The 320 acre property will eventually have 60-80 acres of vines, with Pinot, Riesling and Chardonnay, and in the current wave of planting Gamay and Chenin. One of the plots, at 680 m, is the highest in the region. They’ve left wildlife corridors, and the most they moved the earth when they were contouring was 6 inches, under the advice from consultant Pedro Parra. Parra’s advice was good: neighbours who’ve moved lots of earth have struggled with the vines establishing themselves.
Viticulturist Duncan Billing explained how he’s been using compost to build up the upper layer of soil so it has some organic matter. Farming here has been organic from the outset.
In the winery, it’s clear that the approach here is different. There’s a lot of concrete, not much stainless steel, and hardly any oak. Matt Dumayne explained that he’s done lots of comparisons. The barrel wine is barrel wine, the stainless steel is linear and focused, and the concrete wine may lose a bit of varietal character, but he says the layers of texture and complexity are ‘through the roof’. He adds, ‘it’s always the better wine.’ A new addition in the winery are some larger concrete tanks: there are seven each of 5000 and 3000 litre tanks, stacked on top of each other. The concrete eggs here come from Sonoma Cast Stone, but the larger concrete vessels come from Nico Velo in Italy.
Matt stopped acidifying three yeas ago, and isn’t afraid of the typically high pHs found with reds in the Okanagan. He says he has bottled Pinots at pH 4 or 4.1, and five or six years down the track they’ve been fine. ‘You can bottle at pH 4.2 with 6 g TA and freshness, so who cares?’ The young glacially deposited Okanagan vineyards tend to produce grapes with a massive potassium shift, and so you add tartaric and it doesn’t change pH, it just increases the TA.
Haywire Vintage Bub 2013 Okanagan, Canada
11% alcohol, 10 g/l TA, 2 g/l rs. This is traditional method and has had 4.5 years on lees, disgorged three months ago, no dosage. Very tight, linear and focused with concentrated flavours. Has a slight smokiness with really vivid acidity. Lemony, mineral and a bit smoky with real vitality and focus. Serious and grown up. 92/100
Haywire Secrest Mountain Chardonnay 2017 Okanagan, Canada
13% alcohol. One egg in 2016, and two in 2017. Whole bunch pressed, native fermentation, 8 months in concrete on gross lees (don’t have any reduction problems). This has lovely texture here: very fine with some lemony notes, some pear, a hint of white peach. Freshness and purity here, and some delicacy too. Very fine and expressive with lovely purity and a slight mineral edge. This is beguiling and beautiful. 93/100
Narrative Pinot Blanc 2017 Okanagan, Canada
13% alcohol. 35 year old organic vineyard in Okanagan Falls at high elevation. Very pure and lemony with lovely purity. Very refined and with a distinct mineral twist. Has a slightly flinty edge and real precision. Shows delicacy and elegance, and finishes stony. 92/100
Haywire Waters & Banks Sauvignon Blanc 2016 Okanagan, Canada
Whole bunch pressed into concrete, no malolactic this time. Organically farmed, steep rocky site, lots of calcium carbonate. Bottled after 6 months. Beautifully fruity and expressive with some nice tangerine and melon fruit. Quite pure, rich and generous with some fruit sweetness (it’s dry) and some lovely sage brush herbiness. Very appealing. 90/100
Haywire Free Form White 2016 Okanagan, Canada
Destemmed, stainless steel tank, fermented on skins and left on skins for 9 months before pressing. Beautifully aromatic with some tropical fruit, some IPA hoppiness. Passionfruit, a bit of lemon, lovely freshness and very refined tannic structure. This is such an expressive, pretty wine that has real beauty. Some tangerine and grapefruit notes too. Such a pretty, detailed, fine wine. 94/100
Haywire Gamay Noir Rosé 2017 Okanagan, Canada
13.5% alcohol. Fruity and lively with a hint of rosehip, some bright citrus and cherry fruit, with good acidity. Nice focus and weight here with good acidity. Dry but fruity. 88/100
Haywire Gamay Noir 2017 (tank sample) Okanagan, Canada
Secrest Mountain Vineyard, organically farmed. Lovely floral, fleshy wine with good acidity. Vivid black cherry and plum fruit. Has nice fine-grained tannic structure and a slight hint of meaty savouriness. Has a bit of crunch here. Such a lovely wine. 93/100
Haywire Pinot Noir 2016 Okanagan, Canada
pH 3.8, 13% alcohol. Fermented in concrete, 25% whole bunches, 6 weeks on skins before being basket pressed back into concrete. This is so pretty. Lovely flesh and freshness allied with a floral edge to the red and black cherry fruit. So expressive and pure with some raspberry bite, too. Very expressive and pure with nice red fruit character. 93/100
Narrative Cabernet Franc 2016 Okanagan, Canada
From Osoyoos and Golden Mile, certified organic. Fermentation in open top stainless and concrete. Crunchy and grainy with notes of chalk and gravel under the sweet blackberry and black cherry fruit, together with some blackurrant notes. Beautifully fresh and expressive with a nice grainy character under the fruit. Has lovely fruit. Very Cabernet Franc. 93/100
UK agent: Red Squirrel Wines
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