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Synchromesh Flies Down The Straightaway With ‘Tertre Rouge’


by Treve Ring | You can tell this family-owned and operated winery is in it for the love of the craft. There is no way Alan Dickinson, his wife Amy and Alan’s parents John and Kristy would put this much time and effort into their micro winery if they didn’t live and breathe it. Focus and passion are nothing new for the Dickinsons; the winery is named for the gear shifting mechanism in a car that makes the driving and driven wheel revolve at a synchronized speed. The synchromesh system matches the speeds of gears that you are changing to the one that you intend to use, ensuring a smooth and quiet shift. John Dickinson used to race sports cars, and restoring and collecting classic and performance cars is a passion shared by several members of the family, including his two sons Alan and Stuart.

Synchromesh Wines Tertre Rouge 2011 | Turtle Rock Farms, Naramata Bench, BC | $35

Making well-crafted, terroir-driven, sustainably produced and low interventionist wine is also a shared passion. While primarily a Riesling-focused winery (perhaps it’s the petrol?), this wine, Tertre Rouge, is their flagship red.

From a single vineyard tucked up above the Naramata Bench comes this expressive red. Cab Franc dominates the blend with beauty black cherry, spicy cassis, sun-ripened tomato and dusty thorns, while Merlot plumps up the balance, all dark chocolate, roasted coffee and fragrant ripe blackberry. Acidity is brisk, tannins are confident and the vanilla essence on the finish lengthy. After a 15 month stint in French oak, plus a further yearlong repose in bottle, the wine is ready for release.

Tertre Rouge takes its name from an iconic corner of France’s Le Mans racing circuit. After you clear the tricky, high-speed Le Tertre Rouge bend, you’re straight sailing onto one of the longest, most rewarding straightaways in motor racing. Time and experience is key for a skilled racer; and time in the cellar is what this wine was built for.

I asked Alan Dickinson to share his message in a bottle of Tertre Rouge 2011…

Straight up – why did you make this wine? And what’s in the name? I love Cabernet Franc, it does amazing things in the Okanagan when grown on the right site and cropped appropriately. It can be as transparent as Riesling or Pinot Noir and brings a wonderful greenness and funkiness that kills with food. The name… Tertre Rouge is one of the most famous corners in motor racing and commands balance and patience to execute cleanly… I think this sums up Cabernet Franc and its intricacies.

Where are the grapes from? Tertre Rouge is a single vineyard wine from Turtle Rock Farms above the Naramata Bench. A unique site in soil make up and excellent exposure made more interesting by a late day ‘second sun’ from the lake reflection. We lease the entire vineyard and work closely with the Britton family to farm and produce the best Cabernet Franc and Merlot possible. We use the Merlot in careful doses to flesh out and soften the Cabernet Franc while allowing it to capture the aromas and flavours.

Your ideal pairing with this wine would be…? Tertre Rouge is very versatile because of its acid and aromatic intensity but I love what it does to lamb the most. Lamb happens to be my favourite meat and grilled lightly with rosemary and garlic scapes it wrangles the best out of this wine.

Favourite BC wine, other than yours? Tough one, it really depends what I’m eating. Meyer Family for Chardonnay, Painted Rock for Syrah, Blue Mountain for Pinot Noir or Fairview’s unabashedly big Cabs. I do seem to drink more from Okanagan Falls than any other areas, though.

What do you drink when you’re not drinking BC wine? German Riesling! Bordeaux (a special love for Magdelaine), but really all over the map. It is important to understand the best wines in the world in order to try and achieve the best you can with your own vineyards.