2014 Vanessa Vineyard Right Bank

All good things come to those that wait. Nothing can be more true than a fine aged Okanagan red wine pulled from the cellar.

And nothing makes me happier than sharing a vintage bottle and then being rewarded with amazement around the table at the deep complexity and smoothness of an Okanagan red.

The bottle receiving the oohs and aahs was a 2014 Vanessa Vineyard Right Bank ($72.99) from the Similkameen Valley. 

This wine will draw you into its depths. While the label promises a “gorgeous deep garnet colour,” aging had deepened its hue to a near-black velvet. 

Vanessa Vineyards Right Bank Trends Magazine
Dark and dramatic, the 2014 Vanessa Vineyard Right Bank, a Merlot-dominant Meritage blend, is showing off her age exceptionally well. Time to pull this one from the cellar.

Picked from the rocky terrain in the deep south, this beauty was fermented and aged for 26 months in oak barrels and spent at least five of its last years in my cellar. 2014 was an exceptional growing year, particularly at Vanessa. The winery reports it as an exemplary “goldilocks” season, with an early dry start in the spring, no huge heat spikes over summer and a temperate autumn. Despite being one of the warmest seasons on record, the lack of heat spikes enabled consistent ripening of the fruit. Indeed, this wine is a triumphant blend of terroir, winemaking and aging.

Drawing on the traditions of Old World wines, winemakers in the Okanagan region have refined their expertise to craft Bordeaux-inspired blends. At Vanessa Vineyards, winemaker Howard Soon has stepped it up a notch, dubbing this Meritage wine “Right Bank” to honour the famous valley in southwestern France. Located on the west side of the Gironde Estuary, the left bank boasts some of the world’s most famous and prestigious appellations and produces powerful, tannic red wines dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon. On the right side, velvety Merlot lords over the blends with Cabernet Franc as the lieutenant.

The 2014 Right Bank is a blend of 77% Merlot, 14% Cabernet Franc, and 9% Cabernet Sauvignon. It offers notes of blueberries and dark fruits, elegant character, and a lingering finish.

Wines love to be cool and constant. It’s a great philosophy to adopt, but especially for your wine. Luckily my house is tucked into a mountainside, so my wine room happily rests at 12 degrees, summer or winter. So find a dark spot, keep corked wines on their sides and don’t let the temperature fluctuate too much. Your patience will be rewarded. 

If you need further incentive to start your cellaring program, perhaps price will give you a push. When Right Bank was released in 2017, it retailed at $39.99. The winery still has some reserves and is shipping out at $72.99, but shop around —both in the Valley and Vancouver— and you may find a few precious bottles nearer the $50 price point.

One only needs to look at the many shiny gold medals to know that Vanessa’s big, bold red would be a show-stopper. Awards can be a great map to find age-worthy wines. Wine judges are gearing up to taste wines from across the region for Thompson Okanagan Trends Magazine Top BC Wine Awards. Wineries can enter the competition at trendsmag.ca/awards. For a sneak peek of the wine entries, a limited number of public tickets have been released for an intimate VIP gathering in early May.

Spring is in the air, and tasting rooms are flinging open their doors. This weekend, Sandhill Wines in Kelowna welcomes back patrons with their Spring Fling and in-store offers for Apr. 14-16. Enjoy wine tastings and a small bites menu throughout the weekend. Walk-ins are welcome, although pre-booking is encouraged. 

Sandhill will also have the pink vibes going Apr. 28-30 at its Tres Rosé Experience with a trio of tastings of the 2022 Sandhill Rosé, the 2021 Small Lot Sangiovese Rosé and a frozé, a frosty blended cocktail of Rosé wine. Light bites with a pink twist will complement the wine. Tasting tickets are $28 at mywinecountry.com.

[top photo] Award-wining winemaker Howard Soon is crafting wines from the truly distinctive Vanessa Vineyard on the hillside overlooking the Similkameen Valley. Photo by Chris Stenberg.

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