Black Market Wines


I ventured down to Kaleden and dropped in at Black Market on their last open day of 2023.  “This is usually just an extra day to say thanks to all their supporters in the local community as well as to those nearby who like to show off to visiting holiday friends,” said owner Rob Hammersley.  It was a beautiful sunny day and people mingled outside around the fire pit and some took advantage of the opportunity to make smores to go along with the mulled wine that was on tap.

I was slightly embarrassed to realize this was my first visit to the winery which sits atop a hill overlooking Skaha Lake.

Rob Hammersley at Garagiste North 2018

All my previous visits with Rob Hammersley and his wife Michelle Shewchuk were at various wine events such as Garagiste North and other such venues.

In the tasting room, Michelle first poured their Unsanctioned 2022 Pinot Gris, which was quite lovely and light at only 12.3% ABV.  It is described as, “A textural experience showcasing both creaminess and crisp acidity.  Aromas of orchard fruits, mandarin and a hint of caramel followed on the palate with flavours of golden delicious apple, pineapple, toasted almond, and lemon zest on the finish.  Subtle hints of toasted marshmallow reflect the barrel aging process.”

Next, we moved on to the Unsanctioned 2023 Sauvignon Blanc.  I quite liked this one that Rob described as being more like an old-world sauvignon blanc from the Loire Valley and less like a new-world example from New Zealand.  I had to agree with his assessment and I liked the niche.  “A tantalizing treat for the senses!  Tropical aromas of gooseberry and passionfruit are underpinned by a flinty minerality and notes of green grass.  A bright entry on the palate showcases gooseberry and sweet pink grapefruit.  Crisp acidity shines from the entry through the long finish.  Crisp and dry on the palate, this wine has a roundness to the texture that softens the acidity you’d expect in a Sauvignon Blanc.”

The final white was the Estate 2022 Pinot Blanc.  A sip of this makes you wonder why this variety isn’t more popular in the Okanagan.  A very appealing and versatile wine.  “This wine has aromas of white peach, green apple and floral notes.  Soft and round on the entry, this wine has a striking acidity that keeps it lively and fresh on the palate.  White peach, pear, pineapple and citrus lead off, followed by lemon curd and poached pear.  The long finish shows notes of lemon peel and raw almond.  The rich texture is beautifully balanced between the lively acidity and the creaminess and length of the finish.” 

The red flight began, surprisingly with a Cabernet Sauvignon, then a Cabernet Franc, and finally a Merlot.  Rob mentioned that this may seem counter-intuitive, but after tasting them all, I understood his reasoning.  Unsanctioned 2021 Cabernet Sauvignon.  This was much lighter and fruitier than one might expect.  Quite delicious.  “Fruit aromas of black cherry, blueberry, and cassis followed by a hint of cedar.  This 100% Cabernet Sauvignon is rich and full-bodied with bright acidity, silky tannins, and an extremely long finish.  On the palate, the entry is juicy and bright with flavours of blackberry, cherry, and currant with savoury notes of espresso and tobacco leaf.  This is a wine with complexity and layers that is drinking beautifully right now.”

Next on deck was the Unsanctioned 2021 Cabernet Franc.  “This small-batch wine is an experience for the senses!  Softly structured, this wine offers bright red fruit aromas of wild raspberry and Rainier cherry.  The palate is soft, with light tannins and bright acidity.  Flavours of raspberry and cherry pie, a bit of tomato leaf, and a hint of pepper on the finish.”

The final taste was the Estate 2020 Merlot.  It all became clear why Rob had arranged the wines in this order.  The Merlot turned out to be the biggest of the three reds.  This wine was impressive.  ”A bold red wine with depth, concentration, length and complexity.  A nose of cassis with earthy undertones of forest floor and tobacco leaf.  The entry is firm with lively tannins and acidity that persists.  Flavours of cassis, plum, blackberry and black cherry, while the mid-palate offers mocha, cedar, and a hint of vanilla.  On the finish, you’ll find subtle notes of cinnamon, cloves and cracked black pepper.  This is a structured wine that will reward some patience in the cellar.”  This one will pay dividends if left to age for 3 – 10 years.

I left with the 2022 Sauvignon Blanc, the 2021 Cabernet Sauvignon, and the 2020 Merlot.

Have you tried any wines from Black Market?  If you drop into their tasting room, be sure to ask them to tell the story behind their name.

(All photos – Sam Hauck)

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