You’ve gotta visit: Corcelettes

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Corcelette’s new winery and wine shop have a prominent physical position overlooking the Similkameen Valley (Another Similkameen winery?? Noticing a trend yet?) from the northern slope which you can see from all over the Keremeos and parts of the Cawston area. It is close to the town of Keremeos at the junction of Route 3 and 3A and is located on Upper Bench Road. Follow the signs for the Grist Mill and keep going just a little further and it will be on the left. Look for the huge stones near the end of the driveway.

Why you should go there

IMG_0897At this point, wine maker Charlie Baessler does not make very much wine and he and Jesce Walker consider themselves to be garagistes although they probably won’t be that way for long. The wines that they make now are beautifully balanced and wonderfully complex made by two of the nicest people in the industry today. It’s kind of hard to explain these things without seeming all New-Agey but the personalities of the people who produce the wines can strongly influence how much you enjoy a wine. If I’m not connecting with a producer on a personal level for some reason (weird attitudes, bizarre methods, or just a “bad vibe”), it’s highly unlikely that I will like their wines. For small producers, personality will go a long way to driving sales and establishing long-term relationships with customers. I think that’s why some people prefer small boutique producers rather than large corporate wineries because they are so far removed from any human element. That’s just a theory though. Regardless of winery size, personality comes down from the top and the gang at Corcelettes are awesome and they let that awesome filter down through everything they do.

The other big reason to go, and go soon, is that they may be sold out fairly quickly and you really don’t want to miss out on the experience of this place.

What to expect

This is a small, boutique winery so expect a small tasting room with only one or two people staffing it. This isn’t a large volume winery with a big tasting bar so while they may not have many wines to taste, they will certainly have a lot of things to tell you about how they were made. Personalized service and lots of stories are part of the fun with visiting boutique wineries. They may also not have everything available to taste when you visit so enjoy the wines that they do have.

You will want to be taking lots of photos at this winery. The view is truly inspiring. It’s perfect for group shots.

IMG_0898The Wines

Trivium (Chasselas, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris)

Gewurztraminer

Oracle Rosé (Zweigelt)

Syrah

Menhir (Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah)

Two whites, two reds, and a rosé in the middle. And, did you notice that first grape variety in the Trivium?? If not, I’ll type it again for you slowly.

Chasselas.

Yeah, that’s right. I typed it. There’s not a lot of that grape variety in BC let alone in the Similkameen. I’ll let you be the judge of how it tastes but if I have to type it again, I totally will.

IMG_7120The style here is subtle complexity that can evolve over time or even as you drink a glass. The Gewurztraminer starts out with a beautiful set of flavors and then, when you aren’t looking, changes into something else beautiful altogether. The Trivium, unique in the Similkameen with 50% Chasseslas (there I go again…), does that to somehow. The Oracle is refreshing without being wimpy while the reds bring a solid fullness without any harsh, unripe tannins. This is what prudent, quality-conscious grape growing can do for making wines. The Baessler family has a history doing just that. If you’ve ever tried the Clos du Soleil Growers Series Pinot Blanc, that wine was grown by Urs Baessler, Charlie’s father, and is what brought them to my attention years before Corcelettes was released.

Go there. Be amazed. Enjoy. Tweet it with #bcwine. Then enjoy it some more.

Cheers from wine country.

~Luke

Corcelettes Moves to the Upper Bench

Jesce and Charlie from Corcelletes

Jesce and Charlie from Corcelletes

Celebrated garagistes Corcelettes Estate Winery in the Similkameen Valley have graduated and are on their way to becoming a larger production winery with the recently announced acquisition of the Herder Winery and Vineyards. Corcelettes also has a new ownership team which will now include Charlie Baessler, his partner Jesce Walker, Charlie’s parents Urs and Barbara, and their new partners, Gord and Diane Peters, long-time friends of the Baessler family.

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Charlie Baessler

The tasting room and production is all planned to take place at the former Herder location on Upper Bench Road. Located next door to Clos du Soleil, down the road from the historic Grist Mill, and around the corner from Robin Ridge, Corcelettes will be ideally situated for wine tours and offer a spectacular views among other innovative experiences. With Clos du Soleil’s new building that is scheduled to open in 2015, that area of Upper Bench Road looks like it will become the hot spot for wineries in the Similkameen.

So, inquiring wine nerds want to know: What’s going to happen to Josephine, Herder’s iconic red blend? According to their recent press release, Jesce Walker, Co-owner & Sales and Marketing Manager explained, “Although we are in early days, we are in discussion to brand the infamous Josephine red blend and perhaps other Herder trademarks under our Corcelettes brand.”

If you’ve toured the Similkameen wineries and Keremeos and are not familiar with the Herder property, you are probably not alone. It was a small production and limited visibility on maps meant that only people who were aware of it even noticed that it was there. That will likely change for the better with Corcelettes moving in and also joining the Similkameen Wineries Association, which promotes the region as a whole through tourist maps, online campaigns, and events such as the Similkameen BBQ King Championship. In fact, Corcelettes could now be the closest winery to the BBQ King event since it is within easy staggering distance from the Grist Mill. I sense an after-party in the works…

(Actually Robin Ridge may be closer physically, but I won’t knit-pick.)

In any case, this is an exciting new development in the Similkameen winery scene and one that I will be closely following as it progresses. However it develops, put Upper Bench Road in the Similkameen on the itinerary for your next wine tour.

Urs Baessler, Barbara Baessler, Jesce Walker, Sharon Herder, Charlie Baessler

Urs Baessler, Barbara Baessler, Jesce Walker, Sharon Herder, Charlie Baessler (photo supplied)

Past articles and podcasts on the Similkameen Valley.

BBQ King 2014

BBQ King 2013

BBQ King 2012

BBQ King 2011

Similkameen Wineries Association podcast

Corcelettes Trivium 2013 podcast