THERE are arguably few more potent winery teams in the Okanagan than Joie Farm's Heidi Noble and Michael Dinn.
Noble, a former sommelier turned professional chef, makes the wine while Dinn, also a former sommelier and wine agent, looks after operations and immerses himself in every aspect of the winery.
In short, together they've carved out a well-earned reputation for making wines that fit in a distinctive, very food-friendly niche. Last week they came to town to present their newest offerings from a growing range of reserve wines.
You can tell a lot about a winery by where it chooses to hold its events. The Joie duo opted for an airy apartment, bathed in sunlight, above the warmly rustic Marché St George. Its shelves, lined with the best of the Lower Mainland's artisan producers, from Oyama Sausage to Farmhouse Cheeses, along with a neighbourhood personality, which complements the style these two convey.
To be sure that these drops got what they deserved, they brought along Joy Road Catering for a superlative taste of the Okanagan.
The couple's hospitality background draws on a wealth of tasting experience broader than most, which also contributes to their success.
Recently, Joie acquired another 12 acres on the Naramata bench, with eight under vine. The expansion will allow them to further explore their passion for Pinot Noir, as the vineyard encompasses several different clones of the varietal from both new and old worlds.
The inaugural Joie 2010 Reserve Pinot Noir is one of the best we've come across in recent years. It sports violet and some earthy hints on top, followed by a medium-bodied palate defined by supple and silky tannins, and strawberry, underpinned by a touch of savoury with juicy acidity.
When playing off roasted wild mushrooms, the earthier and darker notes come through more.(92 pts. $40 at the winery)
"We're very particular about the Pinot Noir we drink so we're equally particular about releasing a reserve Pinot Noir that would be representative of what the Okanagan can do," adds Noble. No question that it does.
Also in the reserve line: a beautifully textured, quite leesy, less citrus more pear-toned Reserve Chardonnay 2010 (91 pts.), perfect with fresh corn chowder, bacon and sablefish; as well as the vibrant PTG 2010 (Passetoutgrain), a take on the traditional Burgundian Gamay and Pinot Noir blend, that balances well-managed tannins with ripe strawberry, dark berry and spicy notes underpinned by juicy acidity. Even better with duck confit. (91 pts.)
Joie Reserve Gewurztraminer 2010 truly is one of the more Alsace-inclined Gews we've tasted from the Okanagan, with a luscious mouthful and weight seen all too rarely. The distinctive perfumed nose and rose petals are all there, but there's also an underlying streak of acidity that holds it all together. Reserve Gewürz? That's an Okanagan first. (91 pts.)
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Dine with the characters of B.C. wine
Leading VQA winemakers and proprietors gather at Edible Canada on Sept. 19 for an intimate wine-paired dinner to discuss their fall releases.
Here's a rare chance to get up close and personal with the people behind Gray Monk, Laughing Stock, Tantalus, Quails' Gate, Stoneboat, Spierhead, Sumac Ridge and Stag's Hollow, hosted by Master of Wine Rhys Pender.
Guaranteed to be a fun and informative soirée. Tickets, $75, can be purchased at www. winebc.org/events/view/155.