Investigating 40 Knots...
Originally planted and eventually opened up by Bill Montgomery in 2011, 40Knots Estate Winery was revitalized last summer when Layne Robert Craig & Brenda Hetman-Craig cashed in their savings, bought the winery and moved to Comox from Calgary.
Was it the allure of making Spindrift Brut (87734) $29.90 an exceptional sparkling wine crafted from 20 percent Pinot Noir and 80 per cent from grapes grown entirely on their own
‘Estate’ that drew them?
Clearly to Layne and Brenda, 40 Knots Vineyard & Estate Winery was the promise of a dream. Located in the Comox Valley, overlooking the Salish Sea, 40 Knots is part of a community alive with culture and outdoor adventures. With a favourable climate and a vast array of fresh food, this established 24 acre winery whispered of a lifestyle change.
A splash of the red Marechal Foch adds a soft touch of strawberry to the sparkling Spindrift Soleil Rosé (430272) $29.90. Time and again, this crowd-pleasing bubbly is a tasting room favourite.
Most Vancouver Island wineries plant early ripening and mildew resistant varieties of wine grapes to maximize their return and try to get predictably ripe fruit most years. Tacking against the wind, Bill Montgomery chose instead to sail into the relatively uncharted waters of very nearly 100% classic “Noble” grape varieties. With a tropical fruit medley over a twist of spicy vanilla 40 Knots Reserve Chardonnay (345793) $20.90 could easily be mistaken for a lightly oaked white Burgundy.
The original 1.5 acres of Merlot, 5 acres of Pinot Noir, 2.5 acres of Chardonnay and 1 acre of Pinot Gris were planted in 2007. Another 1.5 acres of Pinot Noir and 1 acre of Gamay went into the ground in 2008. In 2009 2.5 acres of Pinot Gris was added. In 2011 almost an acre of seductive Siegerrebe was planted.
A classically rich, ripe white, 40 Knots Pinot Gris (345813) $18.90 offers up cantaloupe melon aromas and flavours over ripe peach and a bright clean green apple base. Balance and elegance lift this wine from ordinary to exceptional.
Besides the essential knowledge required to make fine wines, it takes a certain kind of passion. Layne and Brenda decided to hire Matt Dumayne as consulting winemaker. Matt works with the innovative folks at Okanagan Crush
Crush Pad (http://okanagancrushpad.com/), who offer services to other vintners.
A delicious and seductive blend of 80 per cent Pinot Gris and 20 per cent Schoenberger 40Knots Whitecaps (470435) $18.90 weaves a medley of ripe pear, sweet peach and honeyed tangerine rind aromas and flavours into a seamless and very prettily aromatic white wine!
Originally from New Zealand, with over 25 vintages under his belt, Matt has crafted award-winning wines in Central Otago, California, Australia, and Oregon. With a masterful touch, Matt has already managed to improve the quality of 40Knots’ various wines. Careful attention to the grapes in the vineyard and a brilliant hand balancing the ‘bright’ natural acidity of these cool-climate vines against optimal ripeness has resulted in a breathtaking portfolio of wines with unbelievable balance and elegance.
No exception to this, 40 Knots Rosé (345801) $18.90 is a blend of 65 per cent Pinot Noir and 35 per cent Gamay Noir. This Rosé opens with aromas of wild strawberries and raspberries, leading into a sprinkling of white pepper and twist of new leather in the finish.
Getting perfectly ripe red wine grapes in any Vancouver Island is a challenge. The climate is generally cool. Summers can sometimes be too short. Like many Island wineries, 40 Knots has opted to work with Pinot Noir.
Black cherry and ‘dry’ strawberry flavours dominate in 40 Knots Pinot Noir (345736) $22.90. Smoky, earthy, lavender and coffee bean notes add complexity to this medium bodied red wine.
Most Island wineries have a kind of default dessert wine that is sweet and vaguely Port-like and based on the ubiquitous invasive and decidedly persistent Himalayan Blackberry. Occasionally creative winemakers step out of that predictable box!
Marechal Foch develops a whole new meaning in wine life in 40 Knots ‘Safe Haven’ (370650) $20.90/375ml. Sweet dried fruit flavours slide into hazelnut, olives and caramelized sherry in this intriguing dessert wine.
For wines that are not made from their own Estate-grown grapes,40 Knots devised a second
label that they call ‘Stall Speed’ in homage to the busy nearby Comox Air Base and airport.
Fully aware of the difficulty of growing fully ripe red wine grapes, Matt, Layne and Brenda make their Stall Speed Meritage (765354) $29.90 from Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet, Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, and Malbec imported from the Okanagan Valley’s Naramata Bench.
From grapes grown in the Kelowna area, their Stall Speed Merlot Ice Wine (857433) $49.90 is made from clustered bunches of Merlot that were naturally frozen on the vine. Strawberry, raspberry and sweet cherry aromas and flavours ride over a subtle wisp of lavender and sage.
Located at 2400 Anderton Rd, Comox at the south end of Waveland Road, very close to the Comox-Powell River ferry terminal, 40Knots Estate Winery’s Tasting Room and Cellar is open to the public Thursday – Sunday, 11:30am - 5:30pm. Meanwhile their wines can be purchased and pick-up arranged by calling 250-941-8810.
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