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Column: 'Sunshine in a glass' at Nostalgia Wines

Merlot has excellent ageing potential

More Memorable Wines from the Nostalgic Winery on the Black Sage Bench

To celebrate their 15th anniversary, Oliver Twist Estate Winery has been renamed Nostalgia Wines. The rebranding was very appropriate. Nostalgia is a state of being homesick or yearning for a return to the past.

Owner and Winemaker Gina Fernandes Harfman is a fourth-generation farmer in the Okanagan. She went to fine arts school but returned to the land, made roots, bought a farm, worked at several wineries, and then bought a winery in Oliver. And her dad, Ken Harfman now grows grapes for Gina’s winery.

At a recent tasting of Nostalgia’s new releases, I enjoyed the 2020 Kerner ($21.99; “A” rating). Sheila Whittaker, the winery’s General Manager describes it as  “sunshine in a glass.” She explains, “Kerner is pretty unique. It has the sweetness upfront and spice on the finish.”

Most visitors to the winery have never heard of Kerner. It’s a cross between Riesling, a white grape and Trollinger, a red grape. The result of the vineyard romance is an aromatic white with an affinity for sweetness, and some spice on the finish.

Although delicious on its own, Kerner is a fun wine to have in the kitchen. Whittaker explains, “We had a Moroccan chicken recipe that was a knockout with the Kerner with all that cinnamon and honey. Indian food is awesome with Kerner because it has that nice amount of sweetness to it. So if your mouth is on fire and you have a sip of Kerner you can put the flames out!”

Nostalgia also makes a bubbly, Chantilly Lace ($24.99; B+ rating) which is a blend of Kerner and Chardonnay and belongs to the winery’s fun Pin-up Series Like the Big Bopper’s 1958 hit, ‘Chantilly Lace’, Nostalgia’s frizzante version has “a pretty face” on the label but no “ponytail hangin’ down.” There is, however, a delicate band of Chantilly Lace on the bottle’s neck for those who aren’t sure what the original lace from France looks like.

Gentle Okanagan flavours of pears and peaches from the Kerner and Chardonnay cuvée greet your palate with gushing bubbles, refreshing acidity, and a lingering semi-sweet finish

Chill the Chantilly Lace and celebrate the summer as we begin to travel and socialize. Be sure to enjoy a glass of Chantilly with angel food cake and local strawberries and whipped cream.

Moving onto the reds, Whittaker discusses the Nostalgia 2018 Merlot ($32.99; “A+” rating). “Our Merlot is a wine you can keep and you will be rewarded! For me, it’s like a warm hug from our vineyard.”

She describes more, “It’s got all that gorgeous dark cherry and spice on the nose and if we open it up one evening, the next day it’s going to show really better. Right now it’s quite tightly bound and young but as you continue to swirl your glass and let air into this wine, or decant the bottle or keep it for four years, this is a wine that will continue to get better and better.”

Winemaker Fernandes Harfman reveals, “It’s got that chocolate cherry cocoa flavour off my vineyard.” She added 3 per cent of Cabernet Sauvignon to make the blend darker and 2 per cent of Malbec to add floral notes, juiciness, complexity, and roundness.

Whittaker discusses the excellent ageing potential of the Merlot: “We know for sure our last Merlot was the 2014 vintage and it’s in a really beautiful place right now. I like to drink wine when there’s still a lot of nice fruit and Gina’s wines have so much gorgeous fruit. You don’t want to wait too long. I prefer wines in that 6 to 8-year window.”

Whittaker’s dad however likes to drink Nostalgia reds that are older. They’re drinking really well when the fruitiness has been transformed into secondary characteristics with more spice and softness.

Finally, there’s the 2018 Meritage ($37.99) which is part of the Family Collection. “Sometimes I find wines that stand out and they’re really special so we put it at a higher tier”, says Fernandes Harfman. 51 per cent of the blend of five grapes is Merlot from the Nostalgia Vineyard, 21 per cent is Cabernet Sauvignon from Gina’s dad’s vineyard, with smaller amounts of Cab Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot.

Whittaker recommends, “This wine needs more time just to really mellow. It has really powerful fruit quality, really strong tannins, really fresh acidity, so it has all the structural elements to help the wine age.” Cellaring will pay dividends and create tomorrow’s memories.

Nostalgia Wines in Oliver is open daily from 10 to 5:30. Relax on their patio and savour their tasty portfolio, enjoying the view of the desert hills and the vineyards. Buy online or purchase at Save-On Foods VQA stores.