In 2004, A Noble Blend was the very first wine made at JoieFarm. Recently, I had a lot of fun presenting “Taste the Noble Blend Again for the Very First Time” – originally as a public tasting at Vancouver’s Legacy Liquor and then at a trade event at the Two Penny Tea Room in Calgary. These events allowed me to put in context the time and place of its introduction (the Vancouver restaurant scene in the early 2000s), to taste two consecutive vintages side by side as well as break down A Noble Blend into its individual varietal components.
This was such a fun, useful and interesting exercise that I wanted to extend the opportunity to all of our customers. To celebrate A Noble Blend's 15 year anniversary we are releasing a limited number of 'Noble Boxes' containing single varietal wines of each the blend's five components as well as two consecutive vintages. As you taste your way through it, I thought I'd share the initial inspiration behind it...
As a self-taught winemaker in a New World wine region, the notion of ‘learning to walk before I could run’ was important to me. In the beginning Joie was “non-land based”, meaning I didn’t always have full growing decisions over the fruit I worked with. So, in wanting to respect the wisdom of time-honoured European traditions, and in order to give myself more control over the character and balance of my wine, I looked to the classic blending techniques of Alsace – after all, it was that region’s famous aromatic white varietals that were the first vinifera vines planted in BC in the late 1970s.
The traditional Alsatian blend known as ‘Edelzwicker’ - literally translated: “Noble Blend” - dates back to the 17thcentury and can comprise any of the four “Noble” grapes (Gewürztraminer, Riesling, Muscat and Pinot Gris) with other common regional varieties (we also use Pinot Blanc and Auxerrois). Each grape in these blends contributes its own unique taste and texture to the overall balance.
The exact proportions of my Noble Blend do change slightly year to year, but I have always highlighted Gewürztraminer for the zesty spice it brings, Riesling for its mouth-wateringly juicy acidity, Auxerrois for its broad body, Pinot Blanc’s warming clove-like notes, and Muscat for its elegant floral qualities. I continue to work with some of the Okanagan’s oldest vines, taking full advantage of the complexity they offer (as you will no doubt taste).
Over the years I have always been enthusiastic to pair these wines with classic Alsatian food: pork sausages, choucroute, liver terrines and tarte flambés. Sixteen vintages later, however, folks just don’t seem to be eating that way anymore. I certainly don’t eat that way very often… and I once roasted a goose just to have the fat to braise my Riesling choucroute for my Sommelier instructor, Park Heffelfinger!
In 2019, the world is far more health conscious, more locavore and increasingly more ethnically inspired by our diverse West Coast culinary community. Particularly in Vancouver, consumers can so passively Thai, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, or Persian. Our access to non-stop seafood and the increasingly popularity of plant-based dishes have certainly replaced foie gras torchon on Vancouver’s restaurant plates. Whether it is cuisine heavy with ginger, garlic and chilis, dishes redolent of cardamom, almonds and rose water, or foods enriched with curry spices and coconut milk, I still find A Noble Blend is a winner every time.
I think this versatility has been the enduring hallmark and reason for A Noble Blend’s popularity. It is a naturally balanced, satisfying and delicious wine when enjoyed on its own, on a patio or as an aperitif, but it always shines in that classic sense when paired with a meal, even (and often especially) when that includes international foods.
I didn’t invent this style of wine - I just make a respectful and well-executed New World tribute to this classic Alsatian tradition. I am proud that A Noble Blend has become an iconic BC wine, especially as it continues to keep the wisdom of the Old World alive while staying relevant in a new era where anything goes.