It was a warm summer evening. Keenan and his girlfriend Zoe show up at my apartment with their freshly bottled Cabernet Franc and I can’t help but be excited. We start off chatting about how much he adores Austrian wine, and how impressed he is with what Milan Nestarec is doing in the Czech Republic. We down a bottle of skin fermented Pinot Gris from Meinklang and then finally dig into his brand-new release. It’s fresh, wild, herbaceous, honest, and energetic. I immediately knew I’d have to share this with my friends across Alberta.
Keenan took over winemaking at Sage Hills, a winery in Summerland, last year. The previous winemaker committed some egregious errors which left the door open for an impossibly young assistant winemaker to move into the driver’s seat. The vineyards have been farmed organically for years, but cellar practices were conventional: lots of extraction, lots of oak, lots of adjusting. These techniques obviously masked the underlying terroir and quality of fruit – like a gorgeous gal wearing clown makeup. Keenan immediately started pulling back. He harvests based on acid instead of sugar. He lets indigenous yeasts carry out fermentation. He doesn’t fine his wines unnecessarily.
In this first vintage he was presented with a unique opportunity to purchase some beautifully farmed Cabernet Franc for himself. He wanted to make an analogue version of the wines he was crafting for Sage Hills. This freedom resulted in his first zero/zero wine (nothing added, nothing removed). Despite his youth, his wines show confidence and maturity. They’re still juvenile, but I assume each vintage will be better than the last. His enthusiasm and thirst for knowledge inspire me to do my job better – there’s always room for growth.
Keenan purchased a small amount of fruit from an organic vineyard just outside Kaledon on Skaha Lake. It sits at 425m above sea-level, facing south-east. Biodynamic preparations were used as necessary to improve vine health. After harvesting by hand on November 2nd, Keenan destemmed, but did not crush the Cabernet Franc into open top tank. The juice went through spontaneous fermentation and rested on skins for thirty days. It was pressed off into neutral barrel where it underwent spontaneous malolactic conversion. The barrels were vigilantly topped every two weeks to prevent oxidation or bacterial growth. The wine was never racked and was bottled unfined, unfiltered, and without SO2. 13.5% ABV
(70 CASES MADE) 808770