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One Brilliant Bottle

organic/biodynamic/natural wines in Vinland

Rollingdale Winery Pinot Noir Icewine

Canada (British Columbia)

pinot noir

The setting is Greenland. Deep in a fiord, an edge of glacial ice ahead.

The subject turns to icewine. Its amber hues as rich as the landscape.

The colour comes from pinot noir, an unusual choice of grape for an icewine. It normally doesn’t take to the sub-zero temperatures required for ice wine production. But Rollingdale Winery has found a way, and with rewarding results. Not the least of the wine’s attractions is that wonderful copper colour, achieved by short skin contact prior to fermentation. In 2010 the Organic Wine Review named this Pinot Noir Icewine 2007 as runner-up for its Organic Wine of the Year. And Rollingdale as winner of its Organic Winery of the Year.

A fine achievement for a winery that has existed for less than ten years. Owners Steve and Kathy Dale were born in Ontario, and for a time were consultants for a Swiss-based company whose focus was organic horticulture. The couple worked at the conversion of a number of wineries to organic production. In 2003 they felt the urge to move back to Canada, and headed to British Columbia. Steve enrolled in a viticulture course in Penticton, before buying a small Okanagan vineyard in West Kelowna, and expanding it into Rollingdale. By 2007 Rollingdale became one of only two wineries in BC to be certified organic.

It is very much a family run, near garage-type operation. A quonset hut serves as its storage/production facility, and also as its tasting room. There are just over two hectares under vine, with an annual production of about 2,000 cases. Winemaker Joe Slykerman produces both red and white. In the meantime the winery has developed a strong reputation for its dessert wines. Rollingdale is drawn to using grape varietals not commonly associated with dessert wines — for example, the French hybrid ‘marechal foch’ in a dark and inky dessert wine called Potage. And in Rollingdale’s stellar icewines — pinot gris, pinot blanc, and, the grape of the slim bottle that ended up with me in Greenland, pinot noir.

Rollingdale Winery Pinot Noir Icewine 2007

The bright amber shine through the bottle is a definite attraction. It gives rise in the glass to aromas of a cold compote of apricots and apples. In the mouth a viscous blend of aged, port-tinged caramel, a fine acidity cutting through the fruit, exciting the palate and lingering on and on. I very much like a well-made, not-too-sweet dessert wine and this one is very much a winner!  $$


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