Whirlwind Okanagan Trip Wine Tasting Experiences – Tinhorn Creek

On our whirlwind Okanagan trip we prioritized our wine tasting experiences. You know it’s amazing what you can pack into two days if you have the right incentive. The right incentive for me is always the opportunity to taste the yummy wines of British Columbia and this recent trip was no exception.

I am a huge fan of BC Wine and my travelling companion shares my love of BC red wines so for this visit we concentrated on Tinhorn’s juicy reds. Here’s what we sampled during our wine tasting experience at Tinhorn Creek.

Tinhorn Creek Oldfield Reserve Syrah

2014 VINTAGE: Hot and dry summer, typical of the South Okanagan, but with a cool October allowing us to pick our late into the growing season without high alcohol levels or dehydrating the fruit. A very high quality vintage for both Syrah and Viognier with no disease or pest pressure. ere was some mild heat stress in July as the temperatures approached 40C, but our irrigation investments the previous 3 years kept the vines healthy and thirst quenched when needed.

VINIFICATION: e day prior to picking our Syrah we picked and pressed our Viognier for the 2 Bench White and kept the skins aside in the cool shade of our Barrel Cellar. e Syrah grapes are destemmed and crushed before cold settling on skins for 3 days with the Viognier skins sprinkled in during this process. e fermentation begins naturally a er about 3 days and then temperature is maintained with a combination of punch downs and pump-overs to optimize colour extraction without forcing out too much tannin. e wine stays on skins for approximately 8 weeks before being pressed to barrel. A selection of French, Hungarian and American oak is used with about 30% new. e wines are kept on lees and topped regularly over 18 months before being bottled. e wine is then aged in bottle for a year to allow proper bottle conditioning to occur and bring out the true complexities of this great variety.

TASTING NOTES: Deep purple colour that is almost opaque. e nose is rich with g jam, dried plum, white pepper and vanilla. It opens up to reveal a meaty, soy aroma that makes you think about rare pepper steak, which would be a great pairing. e palate is ripe with blackberries, licorice and cardamom. A perfect balance of power, complexity and elegance.

Suggested retail $31.99

Tinhorn Creek Oldfield Reserve Cabernet Franc 2014

2014 VINTAGE: A hot and dry summer, typical of the South Okanagan, with a cool October that allowed us to pick our four di erent blocks of Cabernet Franc over a 15 day period, selecting the fruit at perfect ripeness. ese Cabernet Franc grapes come from our Diamondback vineyard on the Black Sage Bench which has free draining sandy soil, giving our Cabernet Franc plenty of power, structure and intensity. A very high quality vintage with no disease or pest pressure. We did moderate leaf thinning and green harvesting to ensure only the highest quality fruit made it into the winery.

VINIFICATION: Machine harvested fruit arrived at the winery early in the day to ensure it stayed cool for a short cold soak of 2-3 days. is wine is a combination of selected yeast and natural fermentations. e selected yeast lots were typically fermented at cooler (12-15C) temperatures, while the natural ferments were allowed to warm up to a maximum of 25-27C. Both fermentations stay on skins for about 30 days before pressing and fractioning. e wines were barreled down to French oak (25% new) and underwent malolactic fermentation naturally before being topped in the spring. A er a year of maturation the blends were selected with the reserve wine returning to barrel for a further six months. e wine was then bottle aged for another year prior to release.

TASTING NOTES: So ruby red colour. e nose is sweet, with dried cherries, fresh plum and cocoa powder. e French oak gives subtle spicy notes of vanilla bean and clove. Palate has impeccable balance of power and elegance with a perfect harmony of fruit and oak spice. e wine has great Cabernet Franc typicity with so red fruits and slight herbal edge. Will evolve well in the cellar but is drinking very well right now.

Suggested retail $31.99

Tinhorn Creek Oldfield Series Pinot Noir 2012

2012 VINTAGE: A er back-to-back cooler than average vintages, 2012 was a welcome return to typical warm Okanagan summer and cool autumn. e vineyards were in very good condition leading up to harvest and there was little to no sorting of fruit necessary in the vineyard or winery. Some minor green harvesting was completed at the start of veraison to ensure even ripening at picking time.

VINIFICATION: e grapes were destemmed and crushed into open top fermenters before cold settling on skins for 3 days. e wine was then inoculated and slowly allowed to warm naturally. Temperature and extraction was maintained and monitored using traditional punch downs. is allowed us to gently extract the colour and avour without bringing out too much tannin. e wines were then pressed to old barrels that allow for aging and maturation without imparting oak avour into the wine. e wines were kept on the lees and topped regularly over 18 months before being bottled and then aged in bottle for at least one year to allow proper bottle conditioning to occur and bring out the wonderful complexities of our vineyard sites.

TASTING NOTES: Lovely dark cherry red colour in the glass. e nose is beautiful with dried herbs, cranberry, red owers, dark chocolate with orange zest, and black licorice. It opens up showing mushrooms, leather and dried berries. e palate is bright with a red berry compote, but has our typical orange zest and citrus notes, giving the wine a beautiful freshness despite its considerable aging. e wine nishes with so tannins, persistence and elegance.

“Both of the winery’s Pinot Noirs clearly have benefitted from the Burgundian detail that has gone into making them. This wine is dark in color, with a glorious aroma of cherry and toasty oak. The texture is every so silky; and the wine delivers flavours of cherries and red berries modified by a toasty, savoury spice. The wine benefitted greatly from a year in oak and three years in bottle before release. The finish is long. Bottom line: an elegant wine with good aging potential” –  93pts – John Schreiner, May 2016

Tinhorn Creek The Creek 2014

2014 VINTAGE: Hot and dry summer, typical of the South Okanagan, but with a cool October allowing us to pick our Bordeaux Varietals at the end of October, selecting the fruit at perfect ripeness and balance. e three main varietals come from our Diamondback Vineyard on the Black Sage Bench which has free draining sandy soil, giving our wine plenty of power and intensity, with smooth tannins. e Malbec and Petit Verdot from our Golden Mile Bench vineyard yield beautiful acids and tannins to the wine. A very high quality vintage, there was no disease or pest pressure and we did moderate leaf thinning and green harvesting to ensure only the highest quality fruit made it into the winery.

VINIFICATION: e grapes were destemmed and partially crushed, leaving some whole berries and pumped to open-top fermenters and stainless steel tanks for fermentation. For some blocks we use special cold tolerant yeast strains and ferment the wines quite cool (~10-11C), while others we allow to ferment naturally with no added yeast. ese fermenta- tions typically are warmer and are much less vigorous, leading to a long, slow (6-8 weeks long) gentle extraction of colour, tannin and avour. e wines are then pressed and racked to 40% new French and Hungarian oak barrels for malolactic fermentation and ageing. e wines were racked to tank for blending in spring 2016, and then returned to barrel for a further eight months, for a total of 24 months of barrel ageing.

TASTING NOTES: Beautiful garnet red colour showing barrel ageing to perfection, with a youthful appearance. Nose opens with chocolate and black currant, cassis liquor, and blueberry pie. e wine has wonderful balance of power and elegance, with layers of chocolate and fresh red and black fruits. e nish is long and supple making this wine approachable now, but the acidity and tannin to go the distance and will reward signi – cant cellaring.

Suggested retail $55.00

Tinhorn Creek Vineyards is proud to announce the release of The Creek, its highly anticipated flagship wine. A toast to 23 years of experience in farming and winemaking on the southern Okanagan Valley, The Creek is an elegant, luscious and modern wine that reflects both place and time. – 91 points – Beppi Crosariol, The Globe & Mail, Sep 2017


When visiting the Okanagan, before you go: Do your homework and a bit of research about the wineries you wish to visit. Check the winery website to find out their months, days and hours that their Tasting Room is open. Know if you need to book your tasting in advance of your visit. Many wineries are now so busy there may be times that they are unable to accommodate you. It will be a much better visit if you have a confirmed appointment. Be on time. Expect to pay for your tasting, some, but not all wineries refund all or a portion of the fee if you purchase wine. Plan ahead for a designated driver or use the services of a wine tour company. Limit the number of wineries you visit in a day. A more leisurely timeline will increase your enjoyment. For the best overall experience, I like to limit my daily visits to no more than three maximum, and if a winery lunch is on the agenda, no more than two winery tastings.

All images courtesy of Tinhorn Creek. Wine notes courtesy of Tinhorn Creek.


Valerie van der Gracht

About Valerie van der Gracht

I am a Boomer, mom, gram, wife, foodie, wine novice, and I love to travel. Experiencing life and dividing my time between Vancouver and Vancouver Island. Formerly a Vancouver Wine Festival volunteer and freelance blogger for HelloVanCity.com and VancouverIslandStyle.com now Editor and Publisher of MyVanCity.ca Connect at [email protected] Twitter @myvancity Instagram @myvancityca and Facebook https://www.facebook.com/myvancity/

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