Blasted Church adds a second winemaker as it plans for growth
By John Schreiner
Once the victim of incredibly bad luck with its winemakers, Blasted Church Vineyards made itself bullet proof this spring by adding a second winemaker to the team in the cellar.
Richard Kanazawa, formerly the winemaker at Red Rooster Winery, moved to Blasted Church this spring, joining co-winemaker Kelly Moss.
These are the fourth and fifth winemakers to move into the Blasted Church cellar since the winery was acquired in 2002 by Chris and Evelyn Campbell. Their first winemaker did accidentally that fall at another winery. The second winemaker, a young South African, could not get his work visa extended and had to return to his own country. The third winemaker, a talented Australian, left after one vintage to join another Okanagan winery.
Kelly Moss, who had been a rising star at Calona Vineyards, moved to Blasted Church in the summer of 2005. The excellent wines she has made in the past two vintages show why she was so well regarded at Calona.
Richard Kanazawa Last fall Blasted Church produced 16,000 cases of wine, more than ever before. The winery’s current plans include growing to 20,000 cases. A second winemaker is part of this growth plan. (Moss had an assistant winemaker last year who left because of health problems.)
Kanazawa is a native of Langley who played professional rugby in Japan before coming back to Canada. Here, he fell into the wine business when he became a deliveryman for the Domaine de Chaberton winery in Langley. After working in various winery positions through eight years, he went to Australia, studying at the Charles Sturt wine school and getting hands-on experience at two large wineries there. Shortly after returning to Canada in 2004, he went to work for Red Rooster.
What he and Moss have in common is that both have worked with Howard Soon, the respected master winemaker in the group of wineries that includes Calona, Sandhill and Red Rooster. There are not many better mentors than Soon.
Blasted Church, one of the Okanagan’s first wineries to use screwcap closures entirely, has begun releasing its 2006 white and 2005 red wines. As in the previous year, the quality is high. No doubt, the wines, which can be ordered from the winery or found at VQA stores, will sell out as quickly as last year.
These are my notes from a recent tasting:
Sauvignon Blanc 2006 ($18.99) This is a crisp, fresh white with classic grassy aromas and attractive fruity flavours, including a touch of grapefruit. The fruitiness was tweaked with the addition of about 10% Chardonnay Musqué in the blend. The acidity and the mineral notes give this wine a good backbone and a crisp, dry finish. Only 600 cases were made. 87 points.
Pinot Gris 2006 ($19.99) This has classic aromas of peaches and pears. On the palate, there are flavours of pears, apples and citrus. Here the fruit flavours were tweaked by adding four percent Ehrenfelser in the blend. The finish is crisp. The winery made about 2,900 cases. 89 points.
Chardonnay Musqué 2006 ($17.99) In its vineyard, Blasted Church grows the rare spicy clone of Chardonnay that is often preferred for making unoaked Chardonnay. Kelly Moss describes this wine as “unique” among the unoaked Chardonnays in that it is finished dry. The sweet aromas – fruity, spicy and floral – suggest otherwise. On the palate, there are flavours of green apples, citrus and apricots, a delicious tropical mouthful that is rich and luscious. The wine’s good acidity gives it a refreshing, mouth-watering finish. 1,000 cases were made. 89.
Hatfield’s Fuse 2006 ($15.99) The production here is 3,400 cases – but this happens to be Blasted Church’s most popular white. The winery’s only off-dry white, it is a blend of Optima, Ehrenfelser, Pinot Gris, Riesling and Gewürztraminer. Beginning with aromas of peaches and green apples, it is a fleshy fruit bomb with layers of flavour, including apples, ripe bananas, mango and lime. While the wine has a touch of residual sugar, the balance is so good that lovers of dry wines will also like it. 88.
Merlot 2005 ($25.99) This estate-grown Merlot has aromas of red currants, cedar and vanilla that explode from the glass. Supple in texture, it has flavours of plums and currants enhanced by well-handled oak. This is a satisfying, full-bodied red, one of the Okanagan’s better Merlots. 650 cases were made. 88.
Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2005 ($25.99) This is a blend with 63% Cabernet Sauvignon, with the classic bell pepper aromas and the firm structure of the variety. On the palate, there is attractive red berry and vanilla flavours, with a touch of chocolate. This is a red to cellar while drinking the Merlot. 650 cases were made. 89 points.