Black Market Wine – New Releases and More

Last weekend, Rob Hammersley of Black Market Wine Co. dropped by for an impromptu wine tasting, on his way to the Garagiste North event in Penticton.

Black Market Wine is known for their Vibrant Whites, Bold Rosés and Smooth Reds.

We had a chance to taste seven wines while chatting about the BC Wine industry challenges faced by the smaller winemakers.

For the background on Black Market Wine Co. please see my earlier post. Black Market is on track to produce about 850 cases of BC wine, about the same number as last year.  The grapes are sourced from the same growers with the exception of Sauvignon Blanc, which was moved from Osoyoos to Naramata.  Rob found the Osoyoos fruit profile to be a little too ripe for the style of wine he’s targeting.  His current sourcing challenge is to find enough Syrah as it is such a hot commodity. Another business challenge is rosé, as you have red grape costs but the Market will only support white grape pricing.

Rob has decided to create an Unsanctioned Series of wine that currently will include limited releases (50 case lots) of Sémillon and Pinot Noir.  Sales will target their Wine Club and Restaurants.  Secret Society and Syndicate will continue to be the mainstay of the portfolio as they tend to appeal to a broader segment of the BC Wine market.

The Wines

Black Market Unsanctioned Series Sémillon 2016 This was the standout 2016 wine in the cellar so Rob decided to pull a portion destined for Collusion and make a 100% Sémillon wine.  100% oak aged in a 2nd fill French oak puncheon with some almost neutral American oak barrels.  This is a soft oak touch that does not overpower the wine.  Subtle citrus flavours of lemon, lime zest and grapefruit are accentuated with floral aromas.  The wine has well-balanced acid levels, without the oily lanolin texture of the classic French Sémillon.

Black Market Collusion 2016 75% Sauvignon Blanc 25% Sémillon blend. 100 cases were produced.  Rob was aiming for a leaner style of the wine this year over 2015.  Both varietals were fermented in stainless steel and the Sémillon was then barreled aged in neutral oak for 6 months as was one barrel of Sauvignon Blanc.  This vibrant white wine has good acid levels with a crisp citrus blossom on the nose. On the palate gooseberry and grapefruit, minerality with a medium body and nicely integrated oak.  The 2016 Collusion won a Bronze medal at the National Wine Awards of Canada.

 Black Market Secret Society 2016  Acid 6g/L, Residual Sugar 8 g/L, Alcohol % 11.9. Only Stainless steel fermentation for this fruit forward wine. The blend is not disclosed on the label, to underline the mystique suggested by the name. The word on the street is that the blend for 2016 contains about Gewürztraminer (60%), Sauvignon Blanc (30%) and Muscat (10%), but no  Ehrenfelser.  An aromatic white, the wine is crisp and dry and food friendly. This wine offers fresh aromas of lychee and citrus fruits, grass and a hint of butterscotch. Dry on the palate, pink grapefruit, lemon drop and a mineral undertone, all balanced together with crisp acidity and just a hint of sweetness.  The 2016 Secret Society won a Bronze medal at the National Wine Awards of Canada.

Black Market Omertà  2016 – Rob is very passionate about this crisp, dry rosé made from 100% Pinot Noir. Many BC Wineries have minimized the cost for Pinot Noir based rosé by using the cheaper grapes from young vines.  But not Black Market’s Rosé! Rob has used the same grapes from mature vines that go into the premium Pinot Noir.  The grapes are from the Sonora Pines Vineyard in North Oliver. The elegance of this wine is the result of painstakingly delicate handling of the fruit. Hand picked, hand sorted and destemmed, the grapes were transferred by hand into the press using 20-litre buckets. A light squeeze was followed by 7 hours of maceration on the skins to extract a perfect balance of colour and flavour. Only free-run juice made its way into this wine.

The vibrant nose has the aromas of strawberry, watermelon, and raspberry.  On the palate, the entry is bright and juicy, dominated by raspberry, wild strawberry, and rhubarb. Crisp acidity with only the slightest hint of sweetness, this wine finishes dry.

Omertà is an interesting choice for the Rosé name as it means “a code of honour that places importance on silence, non-cooperation with authorities, and non-interference in the illegal actions of others.”

Black Market Unsanctioned Series Pinot Noir 2015 13.2% AlcoholThis wine was made with minimal intervention in the winery.  The grapes were destemmed, lightly crushed and inoculated with commercial yeast ( the production was too small to risk the use of wild yeast), fermented and put in barrels, so Rob could determine the true nature of the fruit. The wine was then split into one new and one neutral barrel and aged for 18 months. The wine was allowed to gravity settle and racked with no fining agents or filtering before bottling.  This is very close to a natural wine.

I would agree with Rob that the wine is a little over oaked for a Pinot Noir.  He plans to continue with Pinot Noir in the future but use less new oak.  There is a lot going on in this wine. Ripe, almost jammy raspberry meets savoury notes, maybe fennel. The pinot has excellent acidity and tannin structures when allowed to open up and smokey bacon from the 50% new oak.  Make sure you decant or aerate before drinking this Pinot!

Black Market Syrah 2015 The Syrah was co-fermented with 5% Viognier to enhance the floral and fruity notes and to provide a rounder mouthfeel. After a slow and warm fermentation, the wine underwent another 10 days of maceration to extract more phenolic compounds. The wine spent 18 months in 40% new French and American oak barrels.  135 cases of Syrah were produced.

Full-bodied with a luscious mouthfeel, the tannins are lifted by a hint of acidity. Aromas of blueberry, blackberry are followed on the palate by savoury notes of black olive, cinnamon and smoked bacon. The wine lingers with pepper notes on the long finish.  Drinkable now but will definitely improve with age.  The 2014 Syrah won a Bronze medal at the National Wine Awards of Canada, and a Gold medal and Best of Category at the Northwest Wine Summit.

Black Market Syndicate 2014 This full-bodied blend of Merlot (40%), Cabernet Sauvignon (28%), Cabernet Franc (16%) and Petit Verdot (16%).  Each varietal was fermented separately in small lots and aged for about 18 months in French oak barrels, of which 30% were new. The final blend was assembled, bottled and aged a further 9 months before being released. 175 cases were produced.

A luscious, well-balanced wine that is approachable now, but with the acidity and tannin structure to enable cellaring and enjoyment over the next 3-5 years. The wine opens with seductive aromas of chocolate, plum, sweet spices and a touch of mint.  On the palate flavours of black currant, blackberries, a hint of cherry cola. The texture is concentrated. I would age this Syndicate a couple of years for peak taste.  The 2014 Syndicate won a silver award at the Northwest Wine Summit.

Please visit the winery website for the complete BC Wine portfolio of Black Market Wines.