As we tasted our way through the selection at Misconduct Wine Co. last year, I couldn’t help but think back to why we fell in love with visits to wineries so long ago. Owner Richard da Silva is knowledgeable and passionate. Enthusiasm and energy course through his body, lifting up everyone around him. And he happens to make good wine. Very good wine.
In the past couple of weeks we have opened two bottles from our purchases on that visit, each to match with a meal. In both cases, we were pleased with the pairings, but also to be reminded about our initial impression of da Silva’s wines. During our tasting it had been apparent that he is achieving his stated goal of not just producing what other wineries around the province are already doing. Misconduct wines are full bodied and very complex, much more Old World than modern in style. Exactly to my taste preferences. And they are made to cellar — if one can resist opening them right away.
First, a little about the winery and its image. Located right at the entrance to Naramata, Misconduct Wine Co. is a playful homage to the Roaring Twenties, with stylish labeling, created in-house, and a clever storyline that references speakeasies, bootlegging, molls and massacres. The tasting room and wine shop is generously sized and through a doorway is the Kitchen, which in the summer months offers up a small but very appealing menu. If you time your arrival to Misconduct Wine Co. just right, as we did, da Silva, carrying a mittful of tools and looking like the joint’s handyman, will greet you at the door and lead you directly into as entertaining a tasting as you are likely to find anywhere.
A couple of weeks ago, we pulled a container of stew from the freezer. It was from a big pot of beef and root vegetable stew I had made earlier in the winter. I remembered that it was quite spicy, so when I went down to the wine cellar I was in search of something hearty that would complement the flavours. Misconduct wines have two distinct label designs and the bottle I selected had one that on first glance can be mistaken for a French wine. The Syrah-Malbec label is pale blue, with “Suspect Series” in script beneath a coat of arms. I’ll leave the telling of the coat of arms story to da Silva when you stop in at the winery.
This wine spent 34 months in oak. It is very dark in colour and has a great aroma. Pepper and nutmeg abound, along with both ripe and dried fruit flavours. It has a remarkably long finish. I enjoyed taking a spoonful of stew into my mouth and chewing a few times, then sipping from my glass. The wine matched so beautifully that I could have got away with telling people I had also used it in the making of the stew. At $38 a bottle (and worth every cent), though, that wasn’t gonna happen.
Then, this week, we settled into our favourite takeout meal, pad Thai and drunken noodles with chicken (and some fantastic boneless stuffed chicken wings) from Kootenay Thai Restaurant here in Creston. I had just lightly chilled a bottle of Massacre Rosé so that it wasn’t so cold that the nose and flavours became muted.
The label on that bottle is one of three stylishly cartooned designs that closely mirror the speakeasy theme. The wine is an unusual blend of Merlot, Cabernet Suavignon, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Malbec Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris. It might sound like a bit of a hodge-podge, but da Silva undoubtedly had a reason for using each of the varietals. Never question the wisdom of a winemaker when you are happy with the result.
Massacre Rosé is an amazing amalgam of fruit flavours that range from raspberry and strawberry all the way to peach, apple and citrus. It made our very tasty takeout doubly good and I am grateful that I still have another bottle in the cellar. This is a 2010 rosé that will be great for another few years yet.
Misconduct Wine Co. is a not to be missed visit while in the Penticton-Naramata region, another reminder that small wineries often produce the very best wines.
Lorne Eckersley is the publisher of the Creston Valley Advance.