There is a fresh young addition to the Osoyoos Larose winery. New winemaker, Mathieu Mercier, still in his twenties, brings his passion to continue the winery’s forte of blending the Bordeaux tradition with the Okanagan terroir.
Mercier may be the new kid in the vineyard, but he’s hardly new to the world of wine. Born and raised on a vineyard in Cognac, Mercier has always had a fascination with wines and vines. He has a host of achievements that include a Masters in Viticulture & Enology, a National Diploma of Enology from Bordeaux’s Agronomic School, and experience with Concha Y Toro (Chile), Swanson Vineyards and Cain Vineyard (Napa) and several Groupe Taillan estates in Bordeaux.
A few weeks ago, a lucky group of writers, press, oenophiles and others had the pleasure to meet the charming, talented vintner over dinner at the Loden Hotel’s Grand Salon.
Mercier has a shy yet endearing manner. His confidence shines through as he tells of joining Osoyoos Larose this Spring and it’s clear that he understands the potential of the South Okanagan’s unique climate, geology and geography.
Not only is the west facing South Okanagan bench of Osoyoos Larose blessed with bountiful sun and daily temperature variances, but its soil is superb. The region sits on sand, clay, rock and gravel, these offer excellent drainage and a rich environment for the Bordeaux varietals to thrive.
In short, this terroir is the perfect place for Osoyoos Larose’s rootstock and clone combinations from Bordeaux.
The Osoyoos Larose team employs exacting viticulture and vinification techniques to help the finished wine express this unique region’s terroir. The label has long been known for its commitment to merge centuries-old winemaking traditions with New-World technology and continues to prove itself worthy of this fusion with the release of their 08 and 09 Grand Vins.
True to the old-world convention of most Bordeaux estates, Larose produces two wines from each vintage. Their Grand Vin is made from lots that contain more tannins and long-term potential. The other lots make their Pétales d’Osoyoos, and this is where our dinner begins.
Pétales d’Osoyoos 2010 is considered an ‘everyday’ wine that is a terrific value. Best sipped within 3 years of release, our 2010 was slightly fruity red with spice, soft tannins and a clean finish. It was the right accompaniment to the rich earthy flavors of creamy mushrooms on toasted Brioche.
After the talk, we moved onto the main course and the main event of the evening – comparing Le Grand Vin 2008 and 2009. Le Grand Vin is the heart of Osoyoos Larose, a luscious Bordeaux-inspired blend. It is barrel aged for 18 to 20 months, bottled and then given another 6 month rest. It’s intended to be cellared for eight to ten years.
Ah, Le Grand Vin is grand! Bold and complex, with ample tannins, a long finish and big potential. The ’08 blends Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cab Frank, Petit Verdot and Malbec. Although it needs to be put aside for three to five years before maturity, it is open and supple, even now.
The 09 needs another five to eight years to reach its full potential, but the promise of that potential is clear to the expert palates at the Grand Salon.
Both vintages of the Osoyoos Larose Le Grand Vin were a great accompaniment to the perfectly grilled beef tenderloin. They were pretty damn good with the chocolate mousse too.
Tasting Room Confidential welcomes Vancouver writer Nancy Baye who will be contributing more in the future.