It’s a hot summer night – what’s a girl to sip with her friends on the porch? A 2010 Calliope Riesling you say? I’m waaaay ahead of you.
After working hard in the wine garden with the housewine.ca ladies in West Vancouver at a festival, I couldn’t help but want to have a bit of celebration myself! I drove to Kitsilano Wine Cellars (see Resources for further info) and perused the vastly packed shelves of bottles filled with tasty goodness. I knew I wanted a white wine. I knew I wanted something refreshing. I knew that I knew nothing about Calliope (pronounced ka-LIE-ohpee) wines.
So, I bought a bottle.
Perfectly chilled, this is a commendable piece of work. Let me tell you! Reading the respective website, I like the mission that the Wyse Family is on: to experiment with varietals in uncharacteristic ways. Exploration can be fun, and the exploration they took with this 2010 Riesling was fruitful (Ha!) in my brown eyes! What did they do that was different? Read on my friends…
My personal exploration of this product revealed that the clear, lemon green liquid, was just a bit different than the average Riesling I would normally drink. I couldn’t place my finger on it right away, but as I sipped it more, I started to think that they had followed a light lees protocol. “On lees” (or sur lie in French), means that winemakers will leave the wine resting with the inactive yeast cells in the barrel before bottling. Typically, they will stir the dead yeast cells in the wine on a fairly regular schedule for a certain amount of time. Doing so allows biscuit and yeast essences to permeate the flavors of the wine, making it more complex and striking on the palate. Later, I looked up their tasting notes. Low and behold, I learned that they had stirred the lees every fortnight! That being said, it is important to know that Riesling is not a varietal that typically benefits from either oak aging or extended lees contact. Way to be different!
Furthermore, the bouquet revealed lemon rind, white chalk, floral essences, and a bit of that diesel smell that I love to discover in a good Riesling. The palate held citrus notes as well, such as white grapefruit, in addition to pear, tart green apple, and fuzzy Okanagan peach. At 13% abv and well balanced, I was quite amused at how this dry, light+ bodied wine packed a good punch. Such a refreshing wine for, well, anytime!
Beware: only 190 cases were produced. When this stuff is gone, it is really gone. The early bird gets the worm. You snooze you lose. You get my point.
Random fact time: The name “Calliope” comes from the Greek Muse of Eloquence. Interestingly, I also learned that the smallest hummingbirds in British Columbia hold the same beautiful handle. Great name for a great wine; I like it when things get artistic!
More on the Riesling varietal here.