I’ve been impressed by the wines from Haywire in the Okanagan Valley, in Canada’s BC. Based at the Okanagan Crushpad, where their team also makes wine for other people, they have been pioneers of interesting, geeky natural wines in a region that has often played it a little safe, as many emerging wine regions do. Rather than just using small oak and stainless steel as tools for elevage, they have invested heavily in concrete eggs and tanks. They’ve also used terroir expert Pedro Parra as a consultant (normally new world wineries just get expensive winemaking consultants).
These three wines intrigued and impressed. They aren’t easy, conventional wines, but there’s lots to like about them. Haywire is very much a work in progress, but they are already producing some very interesting things.
Haywire Waters and Banks Sauvignon Blanc 2015 Okanagan Valley, Canada
13.5% alcohol. From the Waters and Banks vineyard, which is a 7.5 acre vineyard in Summerland. Limestone and granite soils. Whole bunch pressed into concrete fermenters. Wild yeast ferment and malolactic in concrete. Seven months on gross lees. Highly aromatic with distinctive grapefruit, cats’ urine and passionfruit characters, with some subtle herbiness and a bit of white asparagus. The palate is concentrated and textured with weighty fruit and some lushness, and a fresh citrus edge that frames the richer flavours really nicely. This is a wine with freshness and also drinkability, showing lovely textural elements. It’s really hard to put into a box: there are just so many flavours jostling for position on a bed of creamy, leesy richness. Give it six months to resolve, and I think this will be brilliant. 92/100
Haywire Free Form White 2015 Okanagan Valley, Canada
13% alcohol. From the Waters and Banks vineyard, which is a 7.5 acre vineyard in Summerland. Limestone and granite soils. This is clone 72/1103P Sauvignon Blanc, in third year of transitioning to organic certification. Pedro Parra identified this site as special. Fermented with wild yeasts in stainless steel. Full malolactic and 9 months of skin contact. Pressed and then bottled unfiltered. Lots of deposit floating in the bottle. Beautiful, slightly lifted nose of peach, ripe apple and apricot, with a nice spiciness. The palate is rounded and spicy with sweet pear and ripe apple fruit, as well as hints of melon and apricot. Textured and detailed, this is really natural with a slight oxidative character and lots of ripe apple. I appreciate it, but it’s not for everyone. There’s a bit of grip on the finish. 90/100
Haywire Free Form Red 2015 Okanagan Valley, Canada
13.8% alcohol. 23 Brix and pH 4 with a TA of 5.6. Clone 667 Pinot Noir from the Waters and Banks vineyard in Trout Creek Canyon, Summerland. There’s limestone and granite in the soil. Wild ferment in two 800 litre amphorae, with 8 months on skins. No added sulphites. Such a distinctive wine. Vivid, slightly earthy raspberry and red cherry fruit. Edgy and grippy with some herby notes as well as a bit of roast coffee. There’s a touch of raisin, too, alongside the bright berry and cherry notes. It keeps changing in the glass and shows nice freshness, but there’s also a softness and slight soapiness from the high pH. It’s very stony and tastes a bit of terracotta. I admire it, and enjoy it, but I don’t quite understand it. Do I have to? 92/100
Find these wines with wine-searcher.com
The UK importer of Haywire is Red Squirrel Wines