News from Poplar Grove
When it comes to the world of fine wines, recognition and accolades serve as a testament to the artistry and craftmanship behind each bottle of Poplar Grove wine. We are thrilled to share the remarkable achievements of our recent releases, offer insights into our library, and provide a sneak peek into the exciting wines that you can look forward to in the future. Join us on this wine journey as we explore the impressive awards and upcoming releases that have captivated wine enthusiasts and experts alike.
Current Releases: A Triumph of Excellence
2018 Sparkling Extra Brut: Silver Medal at Drink Business Global Sparkling Masters
Our journey begins with the 2018 Sparkling Extra Brut. This wine is handpicked by our owners, Tony and Barb Holler, from their home estate vineyard on the shores of Okanagan Lake. Comprised of 100% single vineyard estate-grown Chardonnay and strategically picked early to be developed into a dry and crisp sparkling wine, this vintage has been awarded the Silver Medal at the prestigious Drink Business Global Sparkling Masters Competition. This is a testament to its exceptional quality and effervescent charm.
2019 CSM: A San Francisco Wine Competition Gold Medalist
This Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah blend stands tall with a Gold Medal proudly earned at the San Francisco Wine Competition. This blend masterfully combines the best of three varietals to create a harmonious blend of flavours that gives a platform to bouquets of rosemary, sage, with flavours of cardamom, oak and vanilla on the palate.
2019 Merlot: A San Francisco Wine Competition Gold Medalist
The 2019 Merlot wins a Gold Medal at the San Francisco Wine Competition. This bold red wine offers aromas of sticky toffee, peppercorn and plum. This wine has a medium body that is host to velvety tannins, with sweet notes of cherry, plum and vanilla. Red wines like this embody the passion and dedication of our winemakers, resulting in a sensory experience that is second to none.
2019 Syrah: A Gold Medalist at National and International Competitions
The 2019 Syrah has garnered gold medals at the San Francisco Wine Competition with 91 points, as well as gold medals at The Drink Business Global Syrah Masters and the esteemed Wine Align National Awards. This wine is deep purple in colour with fragrant clove and savoury blackberry aromatics that burst from the moment the bottle is open. This wine has flavours of succulent raspberry, smooth vanilla, and black pepper with a medium acidity and bold tannins. The dominant oak essence in this Syrah encourages this wine to have a long and complex finish.
2019 Cabernet Franc: Topping the Podium at the New York and San Francisco Wine Competitions
The 2019 Cabernet Franc has garnered dual Gold Medals at two international competitions in San Francisco and New York. The alluring scent of this Cabernet Franc offers aromas of cherry pie, black tea and lavender that greet your senses with the first pull of the cork. This medium bodied wine has bold tannins that surprise your palate coupled with sweet flavours of red fruit, smooth vanilla, and oak. With each sip, you’ll discover the intricate layers that make this varietal a true standout.
2022 Pinot Gris: Wins Double Gold at the New York Wine & Spirits Competition
The 2022 Pinot Gris has garnered a Double Gold Medal at The New York & Spirits Competition. This wine is medium lemon in colour with aromas of white lilac and citrus. The palate displays a bright acidity with flavours of ripe Okanagan peach, white nectarine and a soft floral note on the mid palate. This wine offers a smooth mouthfeel and long delicate finish making it the perfect pairing to any occasion.
Our Library Selection: A Cellar of Excellence
2017 The Legacy: Best in Show and Gold Medalist Winner in London Wine Competition
The Legacy 2017 has not only secured a Gold Medal with an impressive 93 Points, it has also been honoured with the Best in Show title at the London Wine Competition. Elegant and refined, the 2017 version marries elegance and finesse, with serious density and grip. All component varietals were estate grown and hand-picked for their specific characteristics, then rigorously sorted prior to fermentation and extended maceration. The various lots were aged in 100% traditional French barriques for 21 months before the final blend was assembled, and then matured in-bottle for 2 years prior to release. The wine is a testament to our unwavering commitment to crafting exceptional wines that contribute to the Poplar Grove Legacy.
2018 Cabernet Franc: A San Francisco Wine Competition Gold Medalist
The 2018 Cabernet Franc wins a Gold Medal at the San Francisco Wine Competition. Cabernet Franc was one of the original grape varietals planted in the Poplar Grove Vineyards. An immediate favourite from the first vintage in 1995, because of its intense fruit quality and ripe velvety tannins, this wine is deep ruby red with aromas of red berry fruit and cedar. The palate begins with flavours of blueberry and dark chocolate and finishes with hints of vanilla and dried herbs. This elegant wine is refined in its approach offering fine integrated tannins and balanced acidity. This vintage exemplifies the consistent quality and dedication that define our winemaking philosophy.
2018 Syrah: A Decanter World Wines Gold Medalist
The 2018 Syrah has secured its place among the best, earning a Gold Medal with an impressive 95 Points at the Decanter World Wines Competition. This Syrah is medium purple with a silky mouthfeel and dark red fruits with enticing savory elements. The aromas are youthful with notes of white pepper and blueberry. This wine has flavours of raspberry and spice with notes of tarragon on the finish. Beautifully balanced with bright acidity, it marries well with grilled lamb and roasted duck dishes. This recognition underscores the elegance and complexity that this varietal brings to our portfolio.
Upcoming Releases: Anticipation Builds
2019 The Legacy: Double Gold Medalist at The New York International Wine & Spirits Competition
The excitement builds as we anticipate the release of the 2019 The Legacy, with a Double Gold Medal at The New York International Wine & Spirits Competition. This wine has a rich intensity in the nose with deep garnet hues in the glass. You can expect bold aromas of cassis and black cherry with notes of plums, vanilla, and blackberries on the palate. This wine promises to carry forward The Legacy of excellence that define the Poplar Grove brand.
2020 Merlot: Wins Best in Class at The Los Angeles International Wine Competition
A class of its own, the 2020 Merlot has earned both a Gold Medal with 95 Points and the coveted Best in Class title at The LA International Wine Competition. This vintage is poised to redefine the standards of Merlot craftsmanship. With aromas of blueberry, bay leaf and aged leather at first smell, the palate offers notes of bright red cherry, dark chocolate, and a subtle spice note on the finish.
2020 Syrah: Wins Double Gold at Pacific Rim International Wine Competition
With a Double Gold from the Pacific Rim International Wine Competition and a Gold Medal from The Drink Business Global Masters, this release promises to captivate wine enthusiasts worldwide. This Syrah exhibits aromas of plums, vanilla and pepper on the nose. The palate is sharp and precise with ripe raspberry, black licorice, and a subtle essence of oak on the finish.
Our recent and upcoming releases are a testament to our unwavering commitment to producing wines of the highest quality and distinction. The accolades and awards they have garnered show the passion, skill, and dedication of our winemaking team.
Poplar Grove was awarded a GOLD medal for its Syrah 2019 at the 2023 Wine Align National Wine Awards of Canada, which was held in Penticton, B.C this past June. The “Nationals” are Canada’s largest wine awards, with over 1,930 entries representing 255 wineries from seven different provinces across the country.
Poplar Grove Syrah 2019 also won GOLD at the 2022 Los Angeles International Wine Competition (USA) and GOLD at the 2022 Drink Business Global Syrah Masters, held in the U.K. This international recognition and acclaim speak to the consistent quality of Poplar Grove’s red wine program.
The grapes for this prestigious wine were hand-picked from Poplar Grove’s Haynes Creek vineyard, located on the east side of Osoyoos Lake, and cold-soaked for four days of careful fermentation with gentle tannin extraction. Malolactic fermentation took place in barrels, maturing for 15 months in French oak, followed by 21 months of cellar aging. The wine’s deep purple hues are fragrant with clove and savoury blackberry aromatics and boasts flavours of succulent raspberry, smooth vanilla, and a hint of black pepper, complemented by medium acidity and bold tannins.
Poplar Grove Syrah 2019 is ideal pairing for roast lamb and a great addition to any dinner party.
Both the Syrah 2019 and Syrah 2018, winner, GOLD Medal at the Decanter World Wine Awards (95 points), are available for purchase from the winery, at poplargrove.ca and at fine restaurants and retail stores throughout Canada. Our wines are distributed in the USA by Kascadia Wine Merchants.
About the Wine Align National Wine Awards: Each summer since 2001, The Wine Align National Wine Awards of Canada has been taking the pulse of Canada’s wine quality by assembling over 20 judges from several provinces to taste almost 2000 wines over five days. Wine Align was designed by wine consumers (not wine sellers) who want logical, practical, and objective wine buying advice. The service aggregates ratings from a growing portfolio of top Canadian wine critics who taste thousands of wines a year and have an objective frame of reference for rating quality and the journalistic ability to effectively communicate the style, character, and background of the wine.
About the Los Angeles International Wine Competition: For more than 100 years, the Los Angeles International Competitions have bestowed gold medals to the best wines, spirits, olive oils and dairy products from around the globe, showcasing the winners at the LA County Fair. Judged by an array of the finest palates in the world, the ensuing scrutiny can result in catapulting a little-known product to worldwide fame or reiterate the staying power of a traditional label.
About the Drink Business Global Syrah Masters: The Drink Business Global Wine Masters Competitions began in 2013 as an offshoot of The Drinks Business, the world’s leading magazine for the wine and spirits trade, to promote the world’s best wines. The Wine Masters take a distinct, new approach to the way wine is judged. Each competition showcases a key variety or style – such as Pinot Noir, sparkling or organic – and is open to wines from anywhere in the world. All tastings are done blind, with only price bracket and category revealed to the judges so that wines can be tasted without prejudice or bias.
About Poplar Grove Winery: Founded in 1993, Poplar Grove Winery is one of the original five wineries on the Naramata Bench. Tony and Barb Holler purchased the winery in 2007. Their sons, Chris, Andrew, Matthew, and Eric farm more than 140 acres of estate vineyards with care. The family is widely recognized for crafting their outstanding signature red blend The Legacy, as well as delicious Cabernet Franc and Merlot focused wines and an exceptional Pinot Gris. Together they share a commitment to distinctive, genuine wines that reflect the character and richness of the Okanagan Valley.
For centuries, wine drinkers have been accustomed to natural corks as the closure of choice when it comes to sealing and storing bottles. The ritual of opening and assessing corks was commonplace in restaurants, and the corkscrew was considered indispensable for anyone who enjoys wines at home. In 1972 however, a new option emerged – the Stelvin screwcap. First used by Hammel winery in Switzerland, the Stelvin has now seen the world over and is commonly used on wines that receive acclaim at international competitions. Does the screwcap deserve the occasional unsavoury reputation it has garnered? To the surprise of many traditionalists, the answer is a resounding no.
As the wine industry continues to evolve, new and exciting technologies are invented and rigorously tested to establish new international standards. This has led to a multitude of studies regarding the nature of corks and their new Stelvin counterparts. The AWRI (Australian Wine Research Institute) has been particularly interested in the efficacy of Stelvin, as both New Zealand and Australia utilize these closures more commonly than cork. Having conducted both a longitudinal study comparing different closures up to 20 months of aging, and a comparative study of wines rejected for being faulted by the International Wine Challenge (IWC), Stelvin screwcaps were shown to be highly effective closures. In direct comparison, Stelvin was reported with approximately a 1.5% fault rate compared to 4.5% for natural corks. For the 20-month longitudinal study, Stelvin showed higher retention of freshness and fruit character and less risk of oxidation than natural cork. These findings indicate that, even for long-term storage, Stelvin screwcaps perform equally or somewhat superior to natural cork.
The dreaded scourge of cork taint (TCA) is greatly reduced with Stelvin, but it is not eliminated as most consumers might imagine. It is still entirely possible to get a “corked” wine that is sealed with a screwcap, as the bacteria that cause cork taint can thrive in barrels, hoses, nozzles, and many other areas in a winery besides the corks themselves. While Stelvin screwcaps did show a slightly higher susceptibility to reductive aroma faults, natural corks showed an equally elevated susceptibility to oxidative faults. Neither is ideal, but current consumer trends show a higher tolerance for reductive characteristics than oxidation, potentially giving Stelvin an edge for the average consumer palate over natural cork.
All in all, the case seems closed – Stelvin is here to stay, and many wines will end up being the better for it. While sommeliers and collectors will never abandon the corkscrew or the precious ritual of opening a perfectly aged bottle, most of us will be happier at the convenience of screwcaps, with the confidence that it’s every bit as delicious.
In the next week, we will be harvesting Pinot Gris from our Haynes Creek, Skaha Bench and Naramata Bench vineyards. We are very excited as this is our largest crop of Pinot Gris to date due to the 22-acre expansion planted by the Holler family over the last 2.5 years. While walking the vineyards this morning, we noticed more genetic variation in the grapes than prior years. This variation is known as chimera mutation. Chimera mutation demonstrates the relationship between all Pinot varieties - Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Noir and because of the natural ebb and flow of the vineyard, we are becoming more aware of it.
From our experience, the chimera mutation is seen to mutate Pinot Gris to Pinot Blanc in a hotter, drier climate whereas in cooler temperate soils the Pinot Gris mutates to Pinot Noir. In the first photo, we have one bunch that is mostly Pinot Gris but has partially mutated back to Pinot Blanc. On the right side of the cluster, you can see one grape that is half of each. The reasoning for this is still being discovered, what we know from our vineyards is that these genetic mutations happen because of the interaction between soil, temperature (both hot and cold), aspect, and overall stress on the vine. The second photo shows each varietal starting from left to right – Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir.
Does this mean that the Poplar Grove Pinot Gris is not a single varietal wine?
Less than 2% of our plants are affected and the mutation does not compromise any overall flavour or quality. We do like to think that this makes our Pinot Gris just a little extra special as we believe in embracing the natural ebb and flow rather than fighting the natural happenings in our vineyards.
We have had a slow but great start to September in the vineyards. The daily temperatures of above 30° and cool night time temperatures these past few weeks has helped enable fruit development to thrive and make up for time lost from a cold spring. At this time, our vines have stopped growing and are now focused on ripening fruit for a harvest. During this time, water stressing the vineyards is crucial.
If watered too much, the vine will suck up every drop and the berry will grow bigger bearing low quality, diluted fruit. By being diligent in the vineyard, water stressing forces the vine to dig deeper into the soil to find the water it needs.This, combined with limited drip irrigation, allows for more concentrated flavours and overall better fruit quality.
Birds can eat an estimated 10% of the wine crop here in British Columbia. Our Crew is currently working hard to put out netting in our starling prone vineyards to avoid losing too much of our crops. In addition to birds, our bear friends enjoy our grapes as well. Where possible, our crew has installed bear fencing to ensure the berries are protected.
The team is busy preparing for harvest in three weeks. We are expecting our Pinot Gris to start at the end of September and from there, we will be picking nonstop until the first week of November. The last fruit to be harvested is always our Osoyoos Cabernet Sauvignon and Munson Mountain Cabernet Franc. We are looking forward to another great harvest.
Mother Nature plays a big part in what we drink. Here’s what she’s been up to in our vineyards: Crush 2018 concluded on November 15th and will go down as one of the less tumultuous on record, with a nice steady stream of fruit coming into the winery at peak ripeness. Our picking crews started way back on September 18th and harvest in our estate vineyards stretched out over 58 days, with 40 actual picking days.
Here’s our report:
The weather in the Okanagan was favourable for most of the 2018 season, beginning with a mild spring. Budburst was 2-3 weeks later than normal, but the continuing mild weather trend allowed for uniform flowering, which paved the way for balanced cluster development. A typical Okanagan summer (hot and dry) tested our vineyard crews who had to pay careful attention to irrigation regimes and leaf-to-fruit-ratios. Once again, meticulous farming and careful yield management has delivered exceptional wine quality.
In September temperatures cooled to below normal, especially at night. But as the saying goes, “the sun always finds a hole in the clouds over the Okanagan” and, by the time harvest commenced we had recorded enough warm, sunny days to match long-term average heat summation levels. More favourable weather marked a rare “Golden October” and provided a long, unpressured harvest period which continued into the first couple of weeks of November.
According to winemaker, Stefan Arnason, “The steady pace of our 2018 growing season yielded balanced wines; the cool nights and warm days over an extended period preserved acidity and develped wonderful phenolic ripeness and flavour complexity.”
The release of Poplar Grove Legacy 2014 is good news indeed. A wine that sets new standards and serves as a benchmark for the style. The judges at the fourth annual Judgement of BC agreed: our proprietary red blend took top spot!
Said a jubilant Tony Holler: “Winning such a prestigious award validates what we’re doing in the vineyards.” He added, “prominent awards like this one enhance awareness and interest in the Okanagan Valley, our wineries and their wines.”
DJ Kearney, head judge, wine educator and global wine expert had this to say about the winning 2014 Legacy: “It has that wonderful crossover character with old-world structure and quality and new-world fruit generosity and weight, and our signature acidity. It is so well made and so well balanced, a worthy winner.”
Poplar Grove Legacy 2014 is a Bordeaux-inspired blend originating from the following vineyard locations - Osoyoos 65%, Oliver 15%, Penticton 13%, Naramata 7 %. The blend comprises 44% Cabernet Franc, 24% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Merlot, 4% Malbec and 4% Petit Verdot.