Film director James Cameron and his wife Suzy Amis purchased Beaufort Vineyards & Estate Winery in early 2014 from founding owners, grape growers and winemakers Jeff and Susan Vandermolen.
“We’re excited to build on the strong foundation that Jeff and Susan created with their award winning family of unique wines,” the Camerons said. “This is our first foray into winemaking and we’re getting to start at a high level.”
Formerly released as Qandisa, Beaufort Sieggerebe $21 is made from 100 per cent estate-grown grapes. Seriously floral, with honeysuckle aromatics, this unusual white is “crisp” up front and richly flavoured in the middle – mostly peach and mandarin orange. Marvellously tasty!
The Camerons are obviously intrigued by their new venture.
“Our goal is simply to maintain the quality and the creativity, while growing local awareness of these excellent wines. What better way for us to become a part of the community here in the Comox Valley, and the Vancouver Island area, than to offer world-class wines at affordable prices to our new friends and neighbours?”
Beaufort Ortega $24 is crafted from Beaufort Estate and Vancouver Island-grown grapes. Luscious and aromatic, it is a medley of spicy rhubarb, creamy gooseberry and subtle tangerine rind complexities on the nose and tongue. Masterful handling of what can sometimes be a difficult grape to turn into such a tantalizing white wine.
Deeply involved in making some of the best-known and highest grossing films of all time – Titanic and Avatar – Cameron and his wife hired Mark Timmermans as the vineyard and winery manager and retained the services of Jeff and Susan Vandermolen as consulting winemakers.
An old favourite – and a wine with its own unique flavour profile – Beaufort Beaudacious $20 is an extremely popular, highly creative and lusciously off-dry blend of Beaufort Estate-grown and Vancouver Island Schönburger, Ortega, Pinot Gris and Siegerrebe. With the signature floral honeysuckle fruitiness of the Schönburger, this could turn into your favourite summer white.
New to the line-up Beaufort Epic $19.50 is a blend of 20 per cent Pinot Gris and 80 per cent Epicure. Still a groundbreaking variety in British Columbia, Epicure is a complex cross between Cabernet Sauvignon and a number of Asian grape varieties. Wines from Epicure show tropical flavours, pineapple, guava, and passionfruit – as well as gooseberry.
Mark Timmermans and his wife Freya have lived the last dozen years in the Cowichan Valley. Mark spent much of that time as executive director at Providence Farm, a 400-acre organic community farm near Duncan.
Not yet wholly organic, Beaufort Rosé $18.50 is a beautifully-plush pink colour. Overflowing with strawberry and rhubarb aromas and flavours, there is an intriguing ‘woodsy’ twist in the finish. Not entirely unexpected, apparently, when the unusual Epicure grape makes up the largest part of the wine. A dash of Marechal Foch adds colour and structure to this luscious rosé.
With more than 25 years of farming experience in a variety of settings, the Timmermans have the expertise the Camerons needed to pursue their goal of farming using sustainable, low-impact methods. Part of that process – when it comes to making red wine in marginal, wet, cool-climate regions like Vancouver Island and all through the Gulf Islands – is picking grapes that ripen early and are exceptionally resistant to moulds and mildew.
Beaufort Nouveau $18.50 is made (like its namesake Beaujolais Nouveau) from whole grape clusters that undergo their own carbonic maceration. Rather than using Gamay Noir (as they do in Beaujolais) Beaufort Nouveau is 100 per cent Marechal Foch. Expect assorted red berry fruit flavours with hints of earthy tree-bark and coffee in this terrifically tasty light-bodied red.
While Mark and Freya Timmermans are refining their winemaking skills, they are fortunate to have the assistance of the Vandermolens. During the seven vintages under the Vandermolen’s direction – 2007 to 2013 – Beaufort was awarded 70 national and international medals for its wines, including two awards from the world’s largest wine competition in London, England. In 2012, the Beaufort Winery was recognized as one of the top three B.C. wineries at the Northwest Wine Summit in Oregon.
Using their estate-grown Marechal Foch and Cabernet Sauvignon from the Okanagan Valley Beaufort Foch-Cab $22 is an intriguing mouthful of Bright blackcurrant, plum and red berry flavours. As well as sassy fruit, Marechal Foch adds subtle dark chocolate and coffee notes that show up in the aftertaste.
Beaufort’s new tasting room opens for Case Club members on May 9, and to the public on May 14. Check them out at 5854 Pickering Road just north of Courtenay. Beaufort Winery will be open through till the end of August on Thursdays through Saturdays from 12 noon until 5 p.m. Or visit online at www.beaufortwines.ca
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