July 7, 2016.
Sea Star Siegerrebe 2015. A flagship wine from this Pender Island relative newcomer, this full-on interpretation takes no hostages: up-front honey and floral aromatics followed vibrant acidity and immense vinous backbone with a touch of clove spice to finish. $17.30 92 pts.
Sea Star Ortega 2015. Forward hints of slightly earthy notes and orchard hints before a palate of pear and starfruit, melon and stonefruit with a luscious texture supported by easy acidity and a lengthy end. $17.30 91 pts.
Sea Star Stellar Maris 15. Multi varietal ‘cocktail’ of estate grown, oceanside Gewurz., Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Ortega and Schönberger yields forward honey and stone fruit notes before a layered and juicy, seamless palate that delivers complexity and interest with textured umami. $20.78 90 pts.
Sea Star Blanc de Noir 2015. Vibrant rhubarb and cranberry on top, followed by a juicy palate wrapped in luscious acidity before a lengthy dry finish with a touch of spice. $24, 91 pts
June 3, 2015. I recently tasted Sea Star’s newest releases from the 2014 vintage and am happy to report that they’re every bit as good, if not better, than the 2013s mentioned below. I’m particularly excited by Sea Star’s approach in focusing on Siegerrebe and Ortega, and how that’s reflected in their overall activity. It bodes so well for Gulf Islands and for Vancouver island, in conjunction with what other leading edge wineries are doing.
Sea Star Siegerrebe 2014. It’s apparent that Siegerrebe has resurfaced as a significant player in BC’s more borderline areas (such as here and in Salmon Arm), particularly when so well handled. This wine seems more intense and than the ’13, with up-front honey and floral aromatics, followed by vibrant acidity and immense vinous / grape-y backbone with a touch of clove spice to finish. $19.90; 92 pts.
Sea Star Ortega 2014. Early ripening Ortega is actually a cross of Müller-Thurgau and Siegerrebe. It did well in early trials that took place on Vancouver Island (and also, possibly, on Salt Spring) as a prelude to the early ‘modern’ plantings of the 1980s. Forward hints of slightly earthy notes and orchard aromas before a palate of pear and starfruit, melon and apricot with a luscious texture, supported by easy acidity and a lengthy end. $19.90; 91 pts.
Sea Star Stellar Maris. Multi varietal but well crafted and delicious ‘cocktail’ of estate grown, oceanside Gewurz., Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Ortega and Schönberger yields forward honey and stone fruit notes before a layered and juicy, seamless palate that delivers complexity and interest with textured umami and a lingering finish. $23.90; 90 pts.
Sea Star Blanc de Noir 2014. I’m seeing a bit of a trend this year that suggests more BC wineries have taken note of Provence’s return to the marketplace and are making much drier, more food friendly styles. Red fruit and cranberry notes on the nose with definite rhubarb and savoury notes on the palate. Crisp in the finish. Grab some cheeses and head for the beach. $21.90. 89 pts.
Encore 2013. I’m always intrigued by what Vancouver Island and Gulf Islands undertake for red wine production (beyond Pinot experts such as Averill Creek and others) and this is one of the more interesting I’ve come across. A medium bodied blend of South Okanagan Merlot, Cab Franc and Cab Sauv. sports vibrant, dark cherry notes with an earthy hint before flavours of black plum, mocha and anise on a layered and spicy palate with some firm tannins. 90 pts. $26.90. Interestingly, I happened to leave about half of the wine in the bottle for about three weeks and when I revisited it was barely oxidised and actually pretty well integrated. It actually reminded me more of an older, medium bodied Pinot, perhaps something out of Martinborough more than Otago… And certainly suggests to me that you could put this wine away for a few years.
As last year, several of these wines won at Northwest Wine Summit; and continue to be among the best wines I’ve tasted from the Gulf Islands (and from Vancouver Island, for that matter).
Updated. June 3rd, 2015.
For background, I’ll leave last year’s material intact.
Sea Star (which has blossomed on the former Morning Bay property) has plenty going for it, starting with a strong team and a keen focus on producing what makes sense for the region. Some wines are estate grown, while others are made with fruit from nearby Clam Bay Farm. The winery enjoy a spectacular setting and is the only winery in the province whose vineyard touches the ocean—although I think nearby Saturna Island Winery comes pretty close.
Two varieties that can flourish in cooler parts of BC are Siegerrebe and Ortega. Sea Star more than proves the point.
• Sea Star Siegerrebe 2013. In the right hands, delicious as a single variety. Look for citrus and spice notes up front followed by well balanced, not overblown, tropical, grapefruit and peach notes on a juicy, well structured, and lengthy palate. $17.90. 91 pts.
• Sea Star Ortega 2013. Lifted aromas of floral and orchard fruits, with a lush peach and melon toned palate wrapped in juicy acidity. $18.90. 90 pts.
This welcome newcomer looks set to become a standard bearer for the islands.