Michael Bartier and David Scholefield

A duel done with the best intentions

La Dolce Vita: by Lorne Eckersley, publisher of the Creston Valley Advance, a Black Press publication

The smack down currently underway at Okanagan Crush Pad won’t likely end the friendship and business partnership between Michael Bartier and David Scholefield. That’s a good thing for wine enthusiasts, who are enjoying OKC’s growing reputation as a player in the B.C. wine industry.

The smack down (unlike the battle currently rating between the provincial government and the auditor general) is all in good fun. Bartier is a masterful winemaker and Scholefield has one of Canada’s most highly respected wine palates. They work together like, well, hand in boxing glove.

The boxing gloves are actually part of the smack down theme, as OKC invites customers to poeticize their preference of either of two Rosé wines. The Bartier- Scholefield’s aptly named BS label has been pitted against the Haywire label.

Same winemaker, same grapes from the same source. So why the competition?

Well, it’s a fun way to promote the Rosé wines that do offer a bit of a twist. The grapes were treated in slightly different ways in the winemaking process, and each of these wines is from the 2010 vintage. OCP chose to hold back some of the production from immediate release because the principles were convinced 2010 was a vintage that would allow the Rosés to age well. Keep in mind these typically light wines are usually best shortly after they are released.

A survey of six people, myself included, revealed that four preferred the Haywire product. I was a bit surprised, because I thought it was the less typical Rosé of the two, more old world in style. The BS was a bit lighter, thinner and fruitier and the majority of tasters expressed a preference for the Haywire, with it’s rounder body, more complexity and longer finish. For the record, I was among the majority.

Here’s what OCP has to say about the Haywire:

“This wine is 100 per cent Gamay Noir grown by the Wise Brothers at Secrest Mountain Vineyard in Oliver. The block gave us fresh, bright Rosé, bursting with cherry and cranbrerry, and somehow with a finish that hints of coffee. We did a fourteen hour cold soak to extract its lovely pale colour and to achieve a hint of tannin. Then we stirred it to the right until the next full moon, and then to the left until our arms were really, really tired. It easily fulfills Rosé’s purpose on this earth which is … ‘refreshing acidity to prepare the palate for the bowl of steamed clams and mussels’ … or ‘to daydream the afternoon away while floating on an air mattress on Okanagan Lake.’”

Of the Bartier-Scholefield:

“BS is 100 per cent Gamay Noir from the Wise Brothers in Oliver. Skin contact with the juice was allowed for a few hours, followed by a bit of a warm ferment (not typical practice – but it worked!). The wine is very Rosé like with strawberry and truffle characters somehow occupying the same glass. Very intriguing, very good.”

In recent years I have become a great fan of Okanagan Rosé wines. They pair well with a surprisingly large variety of foods (including our favourite Pad Thai and Drunken Noodles with Chicken dishes) and also make great patio sippers.

We plan to test them out with our Easter turkey dinner this year and I suspect they will stand up very well to the many flavours on the table. They look nice, too, which is an added bonus.

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