Desert Hills Estate is a family owned and operated winery, brought to us by brothers Randy, Jessie, and Dave Toor. Farmers and grape-growers first, they have, as they say, learned the wine business literally “from the ground up.” Though the trio has been making wine for over 16 vintages now, they maintain their hands-on attention to detail in every step of the winemaking process: from Jessie as vineyard manager, to Randy as business lead, and Dave as product manager — and introducing Rajen Toor, Randy’s son and second generation to join the Desert Hills family team as lead cellar hand. So not only does this Okanagan winery have the unique touch of Canadian terroir, it has the unique touch of a boutique family affair.

About the Wine: The Desert Hills 2016 Gamay is made from 100% Gamay grapes sourced from the Desert Hills Estate vineyards in Osoyoos, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada.

Winemaker: Anthony Buchanan

13.7% ABV

Flavor Profile: Open the bottle of Desert Hills 2016 Gamay and breathe in a beautiful bouquet of light, bright raspberries, strawberries, with hints of oak chips. This Gamay is a dark, jewel-like red on the pour — as if you’ve just spotted a ruby gem in the darkest crevice of an ancient cave. In the glass, it is just a shade lighter, fading to a rose-petal pink around the perimeter.

The aromas are immediate as you pour the wine from bottle to glass, revealing raspberry, strawberry, dried cherry, and an air of rose bush on a windy day. Swirl and reveal more of that floral perfume, a bit of fresh oak woodiness, and eucalyptus leaf.

On the palate the Gamay is quite light in body and sings of fresh fruits: berries, yes — as sensed on the nose — but also a hint of red apple coats the tongue just gently. If you hold the wine in your mouth, let it linger on the center of the tongue, you’ll begin to feel the tickling of texture. But on the whole, the tannins here are negligible and this is absolutely a smooth red wine. The acid starts out quite subtly, but rises to a climactic resolution, leaving an almost puckery sensation on the tongue and a bit of warmth in the chest. You’re left with a lingering finish filled with tart red cherry on the tree.

Food Pairing: I paired the Desert Hills 2016 Gamay with grilled chicken, butternut squash purée, and roasted broccolini.

Let me just pause here and say that this Gamay has, what we call, a “gluggability” rating of 10 out of 10. You could easily drink this all night on its own. But, thusly, it could also pair well with a multitude of meals, so it’s the perfect pairing for any night of the week when maybe you don’t want to think too hard about your food and wine pairing.

For my meal, what I loved was that the juiciness of the chicken brought out a bit of a dried fruit flavor, amplifying the body of the wine just a bit. Meanwhile, the earthy-sweetness of the purée did just the opposite, pulling forward the fresh, fruity, acidic elements. So what that means, really, is that this was a very well balanced meal from tip to tail.

More Info: I recieved the Desert Hills 2016 Gamay as a sample for review. (Cheers Kristof!) For more information about Desert Hills, their wines, and to purchase wines directly, please visit the Dessert Hills Estate Winery website.

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