Posted July 30, 2009 by Adam Toren in Blogs

Salt Tasting Room Review

saltcellarWhen I discovered that Salt Tasting Room was teaming up with the Naramata based fruit winery, Elephant Island, I was pumped to say the least.

I have been a die hard fan of Elephant Island Orchard Wines since 2000. Discovered by accident while touring Naramata on a scooter – it was love at first taste.

Del & Miranda Halladay started the winery on the land Miranda’s grandmother bought. Nestled in the Naramata hills surrounded by cherry trees, it is an amazing spot.  Elephant Island wines are made from 100% fruit, not mostly grape infused with some fruit essence, like most “fruit wines”, which means the true body and flavour of the fruit comes through, in taste and scent. All fruit is local and grown in the Okanagan or surrounding areas, picked and processed by Del and his team and you can feel the love put into these wines.

We were greeted warmly in the cellar by Salt’s staff as well as Del and Miranda themselves. Elephant’s signature Rosemary Swizzle cocktail was handed out and introductions made. The tasting featured six offerings from the 2008 vintage; Pear, Cherry, Black Currant, Crab Apple, Apricot and Framboise.

Cherry, Black Currant and Apricot would have to have been my favorite of the six.

salt2The Cherry was so flavourful, dark and moody and not as sweet as you would imagine a Cherry wine to be. The aroma wet your palate before even taking your first sip.  Rated as 0/1 on the Sweetness scale, it paired amazingly well with the Stilton Blue cheese topped with Similkameen honey. Classified as a dinner wine, it is perfect to serve with red meat or a spicy curry dish.  This is a red that I feel would appeal to even the non-red drinkers, as it is not overly dry or oaky.

Black Currant, we were told, was the wineries love or hate wine. You either love it or hate it. The sniff test proved confusing to me, at first I thought no..it was too pungent, I wouldn’t like it. With the second sniff it grew on me and upon trying a sip I knew it was love for me. Complex and intricate, it leaves you wanting more, there are so many levels of flavour that I found myself still attempting to define long after swallowing. Fennel Salami and Comte cheese was the pairing choice for the Black Currant, which complimented it perfectly. An interesting fact about black currant; one black currant berry contains more vitamin C and antioxidants then a whole orange. Imagine how many berries go into a single bottle?  So a glass a day, would just be good common sense, right?

Salt’s most well known charcuterie pairing would have to be Mike Vitow’s Corned Beef and their house-made Guinness mustard, the beef is so tender and juicy, it almost melts in your mouth. Topped with a dollop of the grainy Guinness mustard – it is heaven. The Apricot dessert wine went down well with the beef. The smell was true to fresh apricots, blindfolded I would not have known the difference. The colour was a beautiful golden, natural color derived from the crushed skins of the Apricot. A high 8 on the sweetness guide, a quarter of the glass was plenty. I imagine it would taste amazing drizzled on vanilla ice cream or over cheesecake.

We were also lucky enough to taste the not-yet-bottled Stella Port, made using a Spanish technique called “solera”. A “mother barrel” was started back in 2001 and each year they release ½ the barrel and replace it with the newest years vintage. So, the effect is layers upon layers of flavour that is years in the making. It is absolutely amazing. I am not a huge Port fan, but this was a treat. Rich chocolate notes with hints of Stella cherry throughout.

The evening was topped off with a celebratory glass of Pink Elephant and a basket of Stella cherries to take home, picked fresh that morning. Pink Elephant is the winery’s feature sparkling wine. Pink in colour with the perfect amount of carbonation, it was a treat we were happy to receive.

Salt Tasting Room is located in Blood Alley, in the heart of Gastown. The next featured winery is another BC gem, Blasted Church, also from the Okanagan. They will be in the cellar Monday, August 24th at 7:00PM. Tickets are $65 and available for purchase on Salt’s website.

Rosemary Swizzle Cocktail Recipe
1 part Gin
2 parts Crab Apple Wine
1 splash of fresh lime juice
½ tsp simple syrup
Topped with soda and a sprig of rosemary

For information on Salt Tasting Room and their upcoming events: www.salttastingroom.com

For information on Elephant Island Wines: www.elephantislandwine.com

Adam Toren

Adam Toren
Adam Toren is born and raised in Vancouver BC and loves everything Vancouver BC has to offer. He loves traveling and exploring new and unique restaurants and places around the world.