Syrah on a Tightrope

tightrope-2I first wrote about Tightrope Winery last winter, after Graham and Lyndsay O’Rourke had won a Platinum award for their Riesling at the 2015 BC Wine Awards.   You can find background on Tightrope in my earlier post. It was with great anticipation that we stopped by the winery last month.  We arrived directly after a mini bus of wine enthusiasts had taken over the tasting room and the Tightrope staff were on a roll to keep them entertained.  Unfortunately, Lyndsay was in the winery, working hard at crushing the new harvest of  grapes, so we didn’t have a chance to talk with her this trip.

The Wines

Here are the BC wines we sampled.


Tightrope Winery Viognier 2014 Extensive work was done in the vineyard,  all the vines were shoot thinned and fruit thinned to one cluster per shoot.  The vines were also leaf thinned and the grapes were handpicked.  The grapes for this wine were sourced from our home vineyard, Hermitage, the neighbouring vineyard and the Makepeace Vineyard in the Similkameen Valley.  At the winery, the grapes were whole cluster pressed and juice was cold settled for three days before being racked off solids. Half of the juice was stainless steel fermented, while the other half was fermented in stainless steel, Acacia and French oak barrels.  The fermentation was carried out at low temperature, 12-14 ⁰C, with the barrel ferment being slightly warmer at 14-16⁰C.  The fermentation took 14 days to complete.  The barrel fermented wine was aged on lees for 3.5 months with extensive lees stirring without Malo-lactic fermentation. This wine has a beautiful floral nose with orange blossom, citrus and spice. On the palate, there is apricot, tangerine, ginger and vanilla. Minerality supports the smooth and lingering finish.

Tightrope Winery Riesling 2015  The grapes were picked in two separate lots, twelve days apart to maximise ripeness and flavour. The first lot of grapes were whole-cluster pressed, with 14 hours of skin contact, before pressing.  The wine was then stainless steel fermented with minimal intervention.  The fermentation was at a low temperature between 11 – 14 ⁰C and took 21 days to complete.  As with our other Rieslings, the fermentation was stopped to leave only 9.2 g/L residual sugar to balance out the bright acidity. This wine is packed with an intense varietal character:  peach, pineapple and apricot with a citrus backbone, leading to a crisp lingering finish.

Tightrope Winery Pinot Noir 2014 The grapes for this wine came from the Tightrope Vineyard and the adjacent Hermitage Vineyard.  Fruit is dropped to one cluster per shoot and the shoulders are removed.  Both shoots and leaves are thinned to ensure good light penetration and even ripening.  The irrigation is strategically managed to control canopy growth, but guaranteeing good ripening of grapes. The care taken in the vineyard continues in the winery where the grapes were hand picked and then processed immediately.  The grapes were de-stemmed, but not crushed, directly into small half ton fermenters where they cold soaked for five days before a wild ferment was allowed to commence.  The must was hand punched twice daily until the ferment was finished.  The grapes spent about 21 days on skins before being pressed.  The wine was aged in French Oak (30% new) for about 10 months.  The Pinot Noir is fruit forward on the nose with aromas of black cherries, plum and black currants. On the palate, the fruit continues with hints of coffee, chocolate, vanilla and spice. The finish is still young but is becoming smooth and lingering with a total acid level < 6 g/L.

2014-tight-syrah11Tightrope Winery Syrah 2014, our favourite wine this trip! All the grapes for this Syrah were sourced exclusively from the Naramata Bench.  It was also co-fermented with Viognier, which accounts for its deep colour and floral hints on the nose.  This wine was fermented in small lots, of approximately 1 ton each and was cold soaked for 5 days, before fermentation was begun.  The wine was barrel aged for 10 months, in mostly French oak, with a small percentage of American oak, for added complexity. On the nose this wine has aromas of violets, white pepper, dark cherry and plum. The palate has flavours of blackberry, prune and mocha, balanced out with soft, silky tannins.

For the complete portfolio of Tightrope BC Wine please check their website.

A stop at Tightrope is a must if you are in Naramata.