Nestled into the hillside of the Okanagan Valley's Naramata bench is the latest Canadian addition to the Lifford portfolio: a very boutique winery called Foxtrot Vineyards famed for their incredible Pinot Noirs. These guys are seriously boutique...Foxtrot is currently producing about 2000 cases of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay combined, and they project limiting their production at 3000 cases in the coming years.
I passed their driveway several times trying to find the winery. With no sign, tasting room or winery insight, I entered the steep driveway between rows of vines at the address listed on the website. Just as I was beginning to feel like I was trespassing, driving up to somebody's private home, some white plastic fermenters and a de-stemmer came into sight by the entrance to their cellar door and I knew I was at the right place. Situated directly beside their home, the Foxtrot cellar is dug into the hillside and could almost pass as an extremely stylish garage...instead that is where I found winemaker Gustav Allander hard at work checking his Chardonnay ferments, and getting ready for Pinot Noir harvest in the coming days.
I've noticed Foxtrot in many of the top Vancouver restaurants, so its safe to say its gained quite a loyal following. Their wines however are a bit of a departure from the Ontario Pinots, but much more elegant that many of the BC Pinots that tend to drink more like California than Burgundy. To me they're stylistically more akin to great Oregon Pinot Noirs: delicate and earthy with nice fruit, but a bit more mid-palate heft with gamey/savory notes. Really great wine and great people too...
Owned by Torsten Allander, his son Gustav and daughter-in-law Nadine are the winemakers. Gustav studied winemaking in the Okanagan and Nadine did in New Zealand; so together they have quite a wealth of experience and international context. With their focus fixed firmly on Burgundian varietals for their Estate label Foxtrot
wines, they have begun to dabble in aromatic whites and fuller bodied
reds under a separate label called Wapiti Cellars. All of their Chardonnay and Pinot Noir now comes from their home estate vineyard and another
nearby vineyard with which they have a long term contract and manage themselves. From just the first shipment of these wines to Ottawa restaurants, a buzz has circulated of very positive feedback...and I can see why.
I would be remiss if I didn't mention their fantastic design. Too many people try to dismiss the importance of good labels and branding and claim to focus exclusively on the wine itself, but outside of a blind tasting scenario I think that's impossible to separate because appreciating wine involves the entire aesthetic experience and I think Foxtrot has some of the very best design I've seen. A great label should never be the only thing a wine has going for it, but in cases like Foxtrot, where the wine speaks so well for itself, having a great label takes it up a notch. A bear holding a gramophone dancing with a woman? Click here for the great back story on their label and to find out more about the winery.