Before winemaker Shane Munn introduces some new releases of pinot noir made in 2020 at Martin’s Lane Winery in the Okanagan Valley, he wants to show off something he’s been playing with. It’s a wine called Julius.
“It’s our foray into the lighter red slice of the market,” explains Munn, who was lured from his native New Zealand to the Okanagan 10 years ago by the prospect of making pinot noir at a tiny boutique winery. Owned by Anthony von Mandl, who controls Mission Hill Family Winery and CedarCreek Estate Winery, Martin’s Lane also makes white wines from riesling grapes.
Julius is a blend of pinot and riesling designed to show juicy fruit flavours with some spice notes. “More serious than rosé,” says Munn, speaking over Zoom in the last week of August. “Less serious, but still a bit serious, than our single-vineyard pinot noirs.”
This is his second attempt at making this unusual blend. The 2022 wine is a combination of 80 per cent of pinot noir and 20 per cent of riesling, a slight increase in the white grape component compared with last year.
“It’s more fun and juicier this year,” Munn says. “I find it very red-fruited in flavour and it develops an almost Syrah-like pepperiness to it, which makes it both interesting and enjoyable.”
Martin’s Lane produces small batches of pinot noir, typically 200 to 400 case lots, from organically certified vineyards in Kelowna and Naramata, which are owned by Sebastian Farms, von Mandl’s viticulture company. Upward of seven different pinots can be produced each vintage from the different vineyards. The releases range between $100 and $150 per bottle.
Munn says it’s important that each pinot noir shows points of difference – in perfume, texture, structure, weight or flavour profile – that contribute to a unique personality compared with the other Martin’s Lane releases. Julius adds yet another character to the portfolio. Julius and other releases are available through the Martin’s Lane’s wine club. Visit martinslanewinery.com or contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
The satisfyingly fruity and spicy Okanagan red is featured alongside these attractive red wines that are perfect for sweater weather.
Beronia Reserva 2018 (Spain), $23.95
A blend of mostly tempranillo with small additions of indigenous varieties (granciano and mazuelo), Beronia Reserva offers an appetizing mix of plummy fruit and peppery spice that stand out in this complex red wine. Aged for a minimum of 20 months in specially constructed barrels that are a mix of French and American oak, there are dill, tobacco and floral notes that add to the aromatic intensity. Drink now to 2028. Available at the above price in Ontario ($20.95 until Sept. 10), various prices in Alberta, $22.35 in Quebec, various prices in Alberta, $24.29 in Manitoba.
Erath Pinot Noir 2021 (United States), $26.95
Erath can be counted on for easy-to-appreciate, fruity styles of pinot noir. This offers a satisfying mix of bright red fruit with spice and cola notes. The plush texture and lingering fruity finish add to the appeal. Drink now to 2025. Available at the above price in Ontario, various prices in British Columbia and Alberta, $27.89 in Manitoba, $26.45 in Quebec, $34.79 in New Brunswick, $31.05 in Nova Scotia, $33.99 in Prince Edward Island, $33.93 in Newfoundland.
Francis Ford Coppola Director’s Cut Cabernet Sauvignon 2019 (United States), $39.95
This cabernet-dominant (86 per cent) red blend is produced with grapes grown in Alexander Valley, a premium red wine region in Sonoma County, Calif. Made in a concentrated and complex style, this crowd-pleasing wine has nicely balanced layers of flavour and shows the influence of the time spent aging in oak barrels. There’s a lingering cedar note that adds richness to the character. Drink now to 2027. Available at the above price in Ontario, various princes in British Columbia and Alberta, $37.99 in Manitoba, $35.50 in Quebec (2020 vintage).
Louis Jadot Beaujolais-Villages 2021 (France), $24.95
Always fresh and fruity in style, Jadot’s Beaujolais-Villages is a solid introduction to the charm of the gamay grape. Expect textbook red berry fruit with peppery and herbal notes. It’s balanced and approachable; a great everyday bistro red to enjoy with pizza, pasta or burgers. Drink now to 2026. Available at the above price in Ontario, $29.99 in British Columbia, various prices in Alberta, $27.99 in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, $22.35 in Quebec, $30.78 in Nova Scotia.
Martin’s Lane Julius 2022 (Canada), $75
Julius is an unconventional blend of pinot noir (80 per cent) and riesling that was picked on the same day and fermented together to produce an expressively fruity red wine with peppery spice notes. The bright cherry and berry aromas and flavours and supple texture make this easy to appreciate. Drink now. Available direct, sold as a three-bottle allocation for $225, martinslanewinery.com
Monte Creek Living Land Series Cabernet Franc 2020 (Canada), $25.95
Based in the Thompson River Valley near Kamloops, Monte Creek produces an exciting portfolio of wine from its estate vineyards (two in South Thompson Valley and one in the Similkameen) and additional grapes purchased from growers in the central and southern Okanagan. This cabernet franc includes some merlot (9 per cent) in the finished wine, which is bright and nicely structured. The aromas and flavours suggest ripe plum and berry with cedary notes in a wine that should develop nicely over the next three to five years. Drink now to 2028. Available at the above price in Ontario, $24.99 in British Columbia, various prices in Alberta.
Rustenberg Stellenbosch Cabernet Sauvignon 2019 (South Africa), $19.95
This entry-level red wine from a historic Stellenbosch estate (circa 1682) is made from 100-per-cent cabernet sauvignon. Hand picked in March, this was tank-fermented in stainless steel before aging in a mix of French oak barrels for more richness and complexity. The result is a nicely structured red with dark fruit, tobacco and savoury notes. The style is medium- to full-bodied, balanced and age-worthy. Drink now to 2030. Available at the above price in Ontario, $24.99 in Nova Scotia.
Yalumba Samuel’s Collection Bush Vine Grenache 2021 (Australia), $26.95
This bright and concentrated red wine is produced with grenache grapes from vineyards planted from 1920 to 1976 in South Australia’s Barossa Valley. The finished wine shows appealing fruit, floral and spicy flavours. The style is lighter but with structure as well as intensity of flavour. It’s best enjoyed served slightly chilled, with a meal or on its own. Drink now to 2027. Available at the above price in Ontario, various prices in Alberta, $29.99 in Nova Scotia.