...here are a few reports and unconfirmed rumours from various sources. Some credible, others,... well.
The Globe and Mail - Tannat or arneis, anyone? Canada’s grape crusaders embrace offbeat varieties
"Moon Curser’s rich, ripe tannat is, in my opinion, far superior to many produced in France."
"Moon Curser may be the most ambitious grape crusader in Canada, but there are others breathing fresh air into an industry that for arguably too long has hitched its star to the secure familiarity of France’s big-name, blue-chip varieties, including not just riesling, cabernet and merlot but also chardonnay and pinot noir."
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Western Living Magazine - If You See This Bottle on a Wine List the Somm Has Impeccable Taste
"One of my tasks at our sister publication of Vancouver Magazine is to pour over the city’s wine lists and parse them up based on selection and price (mostly price) in a column called the Wine List Once-Over. And you quickly learn there are certain hallmarks on every list that are illuminating: How much do they charge for a bottle of Veuve Cliquot? Do their mark-ups go down as the wine becomes more expensive? And so on.
One thing you also see are a few sleeper bottles that end up finding their way on to a disproportionate number of lists. I’m not talking about the big names like Dom or Oculus that are there because people expect them. No, I’m talking about the small production gems that the somms hand pick out of love so that they can turn their customers on to something unexpected. That’s where this bottle comes in: I spied it most recently on the list at Yaletown’s Provence Marinaside (where it’s very well priced at $55).
For starters it’s an oddity—a Canadian wine, made with a Italian grape (and a relatively obscure grape at that). Arnies is native to Piedmont, the home of the great reds Barolo and Barbaresco, and it was almost extinct four decades ago until the producers Vietti and Bruno Giacosa brought it back from the brink. But it’s still a nice grape and given it grows in the very pricey real estate of Piedmont, when we do see it here it’s quite pricey.
Enter Moon Curser. I think it’s fair to say the Osoyoos-based to team of Beata and Chris Tolley push more varietal boundaries than almost anyone in Canada (Okanagan Falls-based Stag’s Hollow would be up their too). In addition to their Syrahs and Cabernet Sauvignons they grow Tempranillo, Tannat, Petit Verdot and Touriga Nacional. Wine writers love the experimentation, but I can’t imagine it’s an easy road to hoe—each one of those grapes require them to educate most consumers about them before they’ll make a sale.
Which brings us to their Arneis. It’s a magical wine: it’s both bone dry and juicy at the same time with citrus skin and citrus pith and what seems like a daily dose of minerals thrown in. It’s serious but still quite approachable and most importantly it doesn’t taste like anything else on most wine lists. And the price—$23 at the winery—is a steal, much less expensive than any Italian import we can get our hands on out here.
For a producer or a somm, selling any wine is hard. But selling a wine that almost no one has heard of—that’s where the heavy lifting comes in. In some cases that heavy lifting is worthwhile. So when you see this wine—at the winery, the store or a restaurant—give it a whirl. It’s the product of the road seriously less-travelled."
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John Schreiner on wine - Moon Curser's love affair with slightly obscure varietals
"There is a view that far too many grape varietals are grown in the Okanagan Valley. Chris Tolley, the co-proprietor of Moon Curser Vineyard in Osoyoos, would differ.
“I love the diversity,” he says. “I love the affirmation that this valley is capable of doing a wide variety of wines. I have not been the champion of that but it is turning out that way. Maybe we do one of these varieties better than anywhere else in the world.”
The Moon Curser portfolio is unusually rich with varietals that would not be considered mainstream for the valley. Such as Arneis, Dolcetto, Tannat, Tempranillo, Touriga Nacional and Carménère. Coming soon: Nebbiolo.
There is a nod to mainstream varietals such as Viognier, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. And this spring, the winery planted a new 10-acre property in west Osoyoos that includes three acres of Merlot. In 2005, when the first vines were being planted by Moon Curser, Chris planted Merlot because he thought that he could always buy it. Today, Merlot, along with many other varietals, is short supply, forcing vintners to grow their own.
Chris’s viticultural choices have made for challenging grape growing but also for a very interesting wine portfolio.
Take Arneis, which Chris grows, along with Dolcetto, because he has roots in northern Italy, where that white varietal produces crisp and fragrant table wines.
“In Italian, Dolcetto means little sweet one, where Arneis apparently is little rascal,” Chris says. So far, he has produced three vintages of Arneis – and each one ripened at a different time.
The 2016 vintage ripened in September while the 2017 ripened in early November. “If I had that much drama with every variety, I probably would not be in this business,” Chris laughs. “In the end, the 2017 made a very interesting varietally correct Arneis. I quite like it. It has a lot of structure to it.”
Take Tannat, best known for the robust reds made with the varietal in Uruguay and in the south of France. The unusual chemistry of the grape challenged Chris with stuck fermentations when he first made it, something since mastered.
The next challenge was how to use the rustic red in a blend. After trying a number of varietals, he took the suggestion of his wife, Beata, to make a Syrah/Tannat blend. (Both owners trained as winemakers in New Zealand.) That now comprises the blend of Moon Curser’s flagship red, Dead of Night.
“Beata and I blind-tasted blends for Dead of Night two years in a row,” Chris says. “We don’t even bother blind-tasting the Tannat blends now. It is always going to be a Syrah blend. Originally, we tasted other Tannat blends and we always picked the Syrah. They seemed to marry quite well – although the appellation system in France would not allow that.”
The winery does release a modest volume of Tannat on its own, mostly to satisfy the curiosity of tasting room visitors. “We do a pretty nice Tannat compared to other places that do Tannat,” Chris believes. “It is nice to have a variety we do world class, even if it is an alternative variety.”
Then there are Chris’s adventures with Touriga Nacional, the great Portuguese red varietal. An Osoyoos neighbour with Portuguese roots decided to plant some vines. With no viticultural experience, he canvassed the possibilities with Chris and settled on Touriga because it is a Portuguese varietal.
“He put lots of fertilizer on the plants,” Chris says. “The vines grew like crazy. When winter came, they were still green. The first frost came and they all died right down to the ground.”
Not quite all; enough survived that in 2011, about two barrels of wine were produced from what had once been a two-acre vineyard. When an effort to replant did not succeed, the neighbour sold the vineyard to Chris in 2012. Never one to back away from a challenge, Chris salvaged cuttings, had them propagated and planted them in a different vineyard. He made his first significant volume of Touriga Nacional in 2016 – a wine so good that it won a platinum medal this fall at the Lieutenant Governor’s Wine Awards.
Carménère is another varietal grown just by a handful of B.C. wineries. It was grown widely in Bordeaux pre-phylloxera but, because it is a late ripener, was not replanted often in France after phylloxera. The varietal did thrive in Chile, which has no phylloxera, and has been revived during the past 25 years. Black Hills Winery and Moon Curser were the first Okanagan wineries to plant it.
Moon Curser is also among a handful growing Tempranillo, a Spanish varietal that is not quite as challenging as the other non-mainstream varietals. “All it cares about is heat,” Chris has found. “If you get a cool fall, it gets to a certain ripeness and just sits there.” In a cool vintage like 2011, Tempranillo wines were light. Most subsequent vintages have produced bigger, richer Tempranillo.
Moon Curser does pretty well with varieties that are grown more widely in the Okanagan, such as Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot and Malbec.
Here are notes on Moon Curser’s current releases."
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RVWest.com - South Okanagan is a wine lover’s paradise with vineyards at every turn
"South Okanagan is a wine lover’s paradise with vineyards at every turn
The wine tastings are even better when accompanied by a fabulous meal
by Louise H. Boyer
Osoyoos is a popular camping destination, with Nk’Mip RV Resort as the star. Not only is this location exquisite in its diverse landscape of lakes, hills and desert fauna, it is also a stone’s throw from various wineries.
A few minutes’ drive from Nk’Mip, Moon Curser Vineyards is a friendly 2.4-hectare (six-acre) farm-like winery that produces wines from unusual varietals such as Tannat and Tourigat. The Malbec 2016 is a medium-bodied red wine with intense notes of blueberries on the nose and flavours of plum, black cherry, sweet leather and oak. The finish is full of lush tannins and well-balanced acidity. The 2016 Border Vines is a dry, full-bodied red wine, mostly Cabernet Sauvignon, with a nose of cherry, blackberry and black pepper. The palate adds leather and a little spice well-balanced with medium tannins and subtle oak. "
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BC Living - B.C. Wine 101: Festive Edition
"With so much delicious B.C. wine out there, and new wineries springing up almost every day, it’s hard to know where to start drinking… until now
Welcome to the festive edition of B.C. wine 101! Here you’ll find everything you need to fill your glass throughout the holiday season. For the first time, we blind tasted dozens of wines with a crack team of industry professionals to bring you the ultimate, crowd-pleasing picks of bubbles, red and white turkey wines, and delicious dessert wines. All that plus expert advice, a winemaker interview and some fun gift suggestions (spoiler: it’s wine).
Have a fantastic time over the holidays, and don’t forget to treat your designated driver!
2. Wine clubs: the gift that keeps on giving
Did you know that many of B.C.s most celebrated wines sell out each year before most of us even get the chance to taste them? You can’t find them in wine stores and often they sell out at the cellar door before summer wine touring even starts. But there’s an easy way to make sure you get to try these special wines—join a wine club! Far more flexible than you think (nope, you won’t be locked into an endless contract!), offering deals, free tastings and tours, member benefits galore and access to exclusive wines no one else can buy, here are my picks which, hint hint, make perfect holiday gifts.
Moon Curser Vineyards ‘Highly Suspicious’ club offers total flexibility with which wines you receive. You need to commit to two cases a year (24 bottles). In return, you get free shipping, 15 percent off all wines in excess of your 24 bottles, exclusive tours and tastings, priority access to limited releases (such as their Tannat 2014), library releases and winery events."
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The Georgia Straight - Fruit shines in B.C.'s Petit Verdots
"I got my hands on a couple British Columbian wines recently, two bottles that weren’t exactly common pours.
We often get the opportunity to compare and contrast local Pinot Noirs, Merlots, Rieslings, and so on, but the two wines in front of me were single-varietal Petit Verdots—definitely outliers when it comes to what we’re used to on the home front.
First up, we have Moon Curser Petit Verdot 2016 ($30.99, online). Proprietors Chris and Beata Tolley are no strangers to homing in on obscure varieties, as glances toward their Arneis, Tempranillo, Dolcetto, and Tannat attest. The fruit for this wine comes from Osoyoos, in the deep south of the Okanagan Valley, where the sandy loam and granite soils are dotted with wild sagebrush and cacti, culminating in a rugged setting for a concentrated, rich, wintery wine.
Aging in French oak, 25 percent of it new, frames mulberries, blueberries, and deep, balsamic flavours, all rich and jammy but tethered to tannins that give great texture and an acid component, bringing a liveliness to the wine. It’s big, and you can feel the purpleness of it seeping into your teeth at the first sip, yet it still glides across the palate, not sinking in too deep."
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Winter in Wine Country at Moon Curser Vineyards
November 23rd to 25th, 2018 - Winery Open daily 10am-5pm
10% OFF ALL WINE & RETAIL ITEMS Thursday Nov. 22 – Sunday Nov. 25!!
Vertical Library Wine offers
All tasting fees donated to Osoyoos Gift Cupboard (also accepting donations of items for Osoyoos Gift Cupboard such as toiletries, scarves, gloves, toques, warm socks, stationary, etc.)
Christmas music, decor, holiday cheer and treats
Free gift wrapping with wine purchase
Gold pan gift baskets available
Castanet.net - Wines for All Hallow's Eve
"Check just about anything from Moon Curser in Osoyoos, for the labels that are both whimsical, and a tad odd. Afraid of the Dark, a gold medal winner at several competitions, is a Rhone-inspired blend of Viognier, Roussanne, and Marsanne.
And fellow award winner Dead of the Night is a bold blend of Syrah and Tannat. The labels feature owls hovering over animal heads on human bodies."
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CKNW Lynda Steele Show - What spooky wines and spirits....
"Tomorrow is Halloween! What spooky wines and spirits… tee hee... are out there to serve at a Halloween party or just a night in watching scary movies? Our next guest has curated a list of spooky wines that have bold flavour profiles and scary stories to match.
Guest: Lynn Coulthard - Wine and Spirit Buyer for JAK's Beer Wine & Spirits"
Moon Curser wines were discussed.
Waters & Wine - 2016 Dead of Night and 2016 Border Vines reviews
"MOON CURSER VINEYARDS 2016 DEAD OF NIGHT
Okanagan Valley, British Columbia
An unusual blend of equal parts Syrah and Tannat from vineyards on the Osoyoos East Bench ensures Dead of Night always offers a unique profile. I’m a big fan of this wine, consistently putting it forward as part of the Canadian team for the Six Nations Wine Challenge. It's also largely seen as Moon Curser's flagship wine. The two varieties are harvested, fermented and aged separately before the blend is assembled. Thirty percent new oak is used to add complexity and tame the tannins (especially of the Tannat), with a large percentage of neutral barrels also employed. Dry, refreshing and complex, this nicely structured and flavourful red is robust yet refined. 380 cases. (91/100)"
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"MOON CURSER VINEYARDS 2016 BORDER VINES
Okanagan Valley, British Columbia
The newly released Border Vines is a blend of 44 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 24 percent Cabernet Franc, 20 percent Malbec, seven percent Petit Verdot and five percent Carménère. (Fun fact: Moon Curser doesn’t grow Merlot.) All of the grapes were grown on the Osoyoos East Bench and blended to taste by co-founder and winemaker Chris Tolley. Last year’s blend contained three varieties; the 2016 version blossomed to include five Bordeaux varieties. Border Vines is always a bigger, bolder red born of the sun-soaked Osoyoos vineyards, but there’s brightness and balance that adds greatly to the appeal. 1,412 cases. (88/100)"
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