When Messrs. Triggs and A. Jackson created Vincor with much financial help from savvy businessmen and the public, their goal was to create wines of distinction.
Among their various objectives, these to create an organization owning operating well-equipped and managed wineries all over the world, produce above average Canadian wines, and to generate shareholder value. Their main objective was to improve winemaking in general in Ontario and British Columbia. This was achieved relatively quickly. Another was to create mass market wines to generate product lines and this took shape over a few years; still one more was to cerate two supra wineries (one in Ontario, the other in British Columbia) with the mandate to produce outstanding wines exclusively.
For the Okanagan project in British Columbia they approached Groupe Taillan, a well known negociant and chateau owner (Château Gruaud Larose), and for Clos Jordanne in Ontario, Boisset the largest publicly traded French wine organization.
Osoyoos Larose is a joint venture between Vincor Canada and Bordeaux-based Groupe Taillan, owners of world-renowned winemaking estates that have been defining international standards of quality for over two centuries.
Group Taillan brought European winemaking tradition to the relationship and Vincor Canada provided access to the most desirable vineyards in British Columbia.
The project was launched in 1999, and the first wine was offered for tasting in 2002 at the Sheraton Hotel in Toronto. At the time, all present were suitably impressed with the quality despite the vines were merely three years old. As vines get older their fruit tastes better, but yield starts to decline after 25 – 30 years.
Osoyoos Larose was named for the vineyard’s location overlooking Osoyoos Lake,
and one of Groupe Taillan’s most prestigious chateau in Bordeaux, Gruaud Larose.
The expertise of Taillan’s chief viticulturist Alain Sutre, and consulting winemaker Michel Rolland brought new thinking to the Okanagan Valley.
Pascal Madevon, a talented winemaker from Bordeaux, was recruited as Osoyoos Larose’s resident winemaker and vineyard manager.
The southern Okanagan Valley’s pristine lake country setting and the opportunity to create a new benchmark for Canadian red wine were compelling draws for Madevon.
Located in the southern interior of the westernmost province of Canada, British
Columbia’s Okanagan Valley is home to 95 percent of the province’s wine production.
The 200 kilometer long valley ranges in width from roughly 3.5 km. at the Canada/US border to approximately 20 km at the 49th parallel.
A scenic chain of lakes runs the length of the valley, surrounded by magnificent sage-covered mountains, and lower valley slopes that are planted to vineyards and fruit orchards.
The south Okanagan Valley’s geography is characterized by the dryness of the region and the hot, dry climate is a landscape ideally shaped for viticulture. With less than 20cm of rainfall annually, the Okanagan Valley relies on irrigation to cultivate its vines.
On the arid west-facing bench on the hillside above Lake Osoyoos is the breathtaking, 35 hectare Osoyoos Larose vineyards planted to the classic Bordeaux varietals Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec.
The soil is an optimum mix of sand, clay, rock and gravel, and the vineyard site enjoys Plenty of sunlight, and good air drainage but must be irrigated. Proximity to the lake combined with the mountain casting a cooling afternoon shadow provide cooler temperatures in the evening, which helps retain acidity so important in the wine.
The slope of the site reduces the intensity of the sunlight, thereby promoting
excellent photosynthesis for the vines enhancing the maturation of the fruit’s tannins and colour.
Planners worked to balance the sand and gravel with the addition of only organic
materials as fertilizers. The planting is high density with vines every 1.22 meters, and rows 2.1 meters apart.
Pascal Madevon, the vineyard manager and winemaker has also installed an intricate system of “maxi-jet” irrigation, utilizing to minimize water usage and irrigating without wetting the canopy , thus reducing moisture-
verything at Osoyoos Larose is done by hand, from pruning to leaf stripping to
picking. In the late fall, pickers make several passes through the vineyard selecting each bunch at its perfect ripeness.
Osoyoos Larose wines are made in specifically designed winemaking facilities using advanced technology to produce superb quality. Madevon uses a gentle winemaking process maximizing gravity flow to avoid forceful mechanical pumping.
Upon arrival, grapes are carefully transferred into a stemmer/crusher. The must is then moved into the 17 unique cone-shaped fermentation tanks where each grape
variety is fermented separately using the same yeast strain. The fermentation
temperature is kept at between 28 and 30 C, a process that lasts eight days.
After fermentation the free run is transferred slowly wine into oak barrels for aging (approximately 16 months). Press wine is stored separately for blending later on.
Osovoos Larose emphasizes the craftsmanship of French barrel makers and uses
new and one year old oak barrels made from tight grained wood obtained from the
forests of central France.
The wine is racked every three months by gravity with no filtration or stabilization.
The blending of a Bordeaux-inspired wine from up to five different grape varieties is a complex and constantly evolving process.
Like an extraordinary perfume, the wine takes some of its character from the terroir, ripening of grapes, yeasts, and tannin. The toast level of the barrel and the origin of the wood for the barrels also influence both taste and texture.
The grand vin (the best) is blended using wine from the best barrels. There is no
formula to create the grand vin as the taste of each component changes every year.
Prior to bottling, a traditional method using egg whites gently clarifies and stabilizes the wine.
The bottled wine is aged for a further period prior to being released for sale.
After the grand vin, whatever is left is blended to create a so called “second label”. This is also a fine wine, but a little less intense aromatically. At Osyoos Larose it is called Le Petal de Osoyoos.