Continued from Circle Farm Tour Abbotsford: Campbell’s Gold Honey Farm.
With a taste of honey wine on our palate, we ventured to Mt. Lehman Winery to continue the wine tasting.
As with the aforementioned businesses that are part of Abbotsford’s Circle Farm Tour, Mt Lehman is also family-owned and operated. This boutique winery has made some world-class wine and is noted for having exceptional pinot noir, pinot grigio, chardonnay, merlot and sauvignon blanc. I’m typically a cabernet sauvignon drinker (year-round), but of course that never deters me from trying them all. One can’t honestly say they don’t like a certain varietal until they’ve tried every region’s version, in every climate, right?
Speaking of climate, Mt Lehman Winery happens to be in a challenging one, in a seemingly inadequate area for producing wine. Regardless, making wine is the passion of Mt Lehman’s owner, Vern Siemens, so he persevered through experimentation, ultimately leading to his success.
“If there is no struggle, there is no progress.” – Frederick Douglass
A passion for making wine was instilled in Vern at the rip age of seven. In grade 2 he made dandelion wine, in grade 6/7 he made raspberry wine, as a young adult he used wine kits (and grew bored of wine kits), and as an adult he opened a winery. Although he believes winemaking isn’t necessarily the most profitable career, it is with great passion that he continues to create, pour, taste and sell – or so it seems at least!
“I’ve honed my palate to be sensitive to different notes and subtleties, by reading every book there is [about the libation], and by traveling the world and drinking wine. The worst thing that a winemaker can do is to only drink their own wine.”
Vern takes pride in producing natural wines with sustainable growing methods and minimal intervention. He knows where he wants to take the wine, and he makes it accordingly.
“You can make wine for the consumer, or for the wine judge; for the wine judge you have to stand out,” explained Vern as he compared an easy-drinking wine, to a wine that really made a statement.
During our visit to the winery we tasted:
2012 Symmetry (5 grape blend): moderately acidic white wine blend with a floral nose.
2011 Un-oaked Chardonnay: sweet, but not treacly, (roughly three on the sweetness scale). Good for one glass, or with plenty of food. Vern said it is great with apple pancakes (for breakfast), in the hot tub, or at a summer wedding. Composed of 8% Chardonnay, and the rest Gewürztraminer and Riesling.
2011 Viognier: minerally, European style, quite spicy with notes of apricot [not for me]
2011 Pinot Noir Reserve: light, with a dry finish. New Zealand style. “It’s just starting to open up and develop, and it will be better in a few years, so buy it and cellar it.”
We followed the tasting with another, straight from the barrels. I, of course, was a huge fan of the Cabernet, as well as the Tempranillo.
It was interesting to taste how different the barrelled wines were from the bottled wines, and also how different American oak is from French oak.
“American oak is too aggressive and in your face, just like an American,” said Verne with a chuckle.
To which I replied, “Would Canadian oak be too passive then?”
Forever cheeky. And I’m Canadian…
[Mt. Lehman wines are not available at BC Liquor stores, but are sold at the winery and in private liquor VQAs.]
Vern’s favourite wine? A really good Chablis.
Check out our next stop at Restaurant 62 where we indulged in a multi-course, locally-sourced meal. (stay tuned)
For more photos check out my Circle Farm Tour Abbotsford set on Flickr.