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The best winery you’ve never heard of | NW Wines
By Andy Perdue and Eric Degerman
Wine Press Northwest
If you haven’t heard of Gehringer Brothers Estate Winery, do not fret because you are not alone.
Yet the winery, just north of the Canadian border near Oliver, British Columbia, is one of the finest producers of white wine anywhere on the West Coast.
Walter and Gordon Gehringer produce 30,000 cases of wine in an unassuming facility in the sunny Okanagan Valley, about four hours east of the Vancouver area. In this year’s Platinum Judging — Wine Press Northwest’s year-end best-of-the-best competition — Gehringer scored a remarkable six Platinum awards, including a rare unanimous Double Platinum. In the competition’s 12-year history, Gehringer has racked up 25 Platinums, as many as any winery in the Pacific Northwest.
In the 1970s, the Gehringer family sent Walter and Gordon to competing winemaking universities in West Germany to learn their crafts. The hope was that, between the two, they would receive a complete winemaking education, and that strategy has paid off ever since, with the brothers producing wines of distinction since the winery opened in the mid-1980s.
The winery excels at white wines, but it also crafts delicious reds, including Pinot Noir, Merlot and blends.
Gehringer’s wines are generally unavailable in the United States. If you want to experience its superb wines, make a trip to the Okanagan Valley one of your resolutions for 2012.
Here are Gehringer’s six Platinum-winning wines.
- Gehringer Brothers Estate Winery 2010 Minus 9 Ehrenfelser Icewine, Okanagan Valley, $50. Last year, this Oliver, B.C., winery topped our Platinum Judging with a Riesling ice wine, and this year, it repeats with a unanimous Double Platinum using the rare Ehrenfelser grape (a cross of Riesling and Silvaner). This is a thick, exotic, viscous, over-the-top dessert wine that shows off aromas of honey and ruby red grapefruit, followed by rich flavors of poached pears and baked apples topped with vanilla and cinnamon. There’s nothing subtle about this rich, refreshing ice wine.
- Gehringer Brothers Estate Winery 2010 Classic Ehrenfelser, Okanagan Valley, $15. This wine uses the rare Ehrenfelser grape, serves Gehringer well for this dry table wine as well as a succulent ice wine. This opens with aromas of pears, passion fruit and orange zest, followed by intriguing flavors of tropical fruit, melons, ginger and light spices. It’s a dry wine that will pair perfectly with halibut, baked oysters or scallops.
- Gehringer Brothers Estate Winery 2010 Gewürztraminer-Schönburger, Okanagan Valley, $16. Schönburger is a young grape as far as viticulture goes. The cross of Pinot Noir with Chasselas and Muscat Hamburg has been around only since 1979. The Gehringers successfully blend it with Gewürztraminer to make a wine that has a bit of sweetness (1.2%) and plenty of fruit. It shows off its Muscat and Gewürztraminer origins with aromas of lychee, apple pie spice and pink grapefruit. On the palate, it could be mistaken for an Alsatian wine with flavors of gala apples, lemons and oranges.
- Gehringer Brothers Estate Winery 2010 Private Reserve Riesling, Okanagan Valley, $15. How ridiculously consistent is this wine? This is the third consecutive Platinum from the last three vintages. It provdes aromas of melons, citrus and floral notes, followed by flavors of tropical fruit topped with sweet spices. It’s a long, beautifully textured wine.
- Gehringer Brothers Estate Winery 2010 Classic Auxerrois, Okanagan Valley, $15. This white wine grape is rarely seen outside of Alsace, but this sibling to Chardonnay is grown a bit in British Columbia and Oregon. It offers aromas of apricots and dried pineapples, followed by delicious flavors of apples and pears, all backed with bright acidity. It’s a beautifully made wine that is perfect with shellfish.
- Gehringer Brothers Estate Winery 2010 Dry Riesling, Okanagan Valley, $15. This opens with outstanding aromas of minerals, apples and floral notes, followed by bright flavors of slate, minerals, limes and apples. It is steely and elegant through the lengthy finish.
— Andy Perdue and Eric Degerman are the editors of Wine Press Northwest magazine. For the freshest reviews, go to www.winepressnw.com/freshpress.