An OCULUS was first used by the Romans in buildings like the Pantheon - a window in a dome or wall to the outside. At Mission Hill, our oculus provides the only natural light into our underground barrel cellar, blasted out of volcanic rock that is otherwise hidden from the world. Our complex Oculus Bordeaux-style wine is the result of meticulous selection in the vineyard estate with grapes that have been specifically nurtured for this rare wine.
The 2011 growing season began cooler than usual which delayed bud burst. Late spring rains followed by warm weather facilitated aggressive vine growth and dense canopies. Our vineyard crews were proactive by hedging vines and removing selected leaves and laterals at the base of the grapevine shoots to improve airflow and sunlight around the clusters; all in pursuit of quality. The cumulative growing degrees in August and September were the highest ever recorded, so ripening was continuous and harvest commenced in late September. After a cool and reluctant season, canopy management and patience rewarded us with a farming year that produced fantastic wines with delightful fruit profiles, lower sugars and balanced acidity.
With a wealth of quality grapes at our ngertips, select fruit from designated vineyard blocks within estate-owned vineyards in Oliver and Osoyoos are nurtured through every step of the winemaking process in the Oculus Cellar, a dedicated winemaking studio devoted to producing this flagship wine. This is a self-contained space with its own equipment separate from the winery’s main production area, where grapes are selected or rejected according to rigorous criteria. First bunches, then grapes are carefully selected on sorting tables. All kinds of plant material, leaves and stems are removed in order to promote the fruit character in the final blend. The various grape lots are then gravity-fed into temperature-controlled, 65-hl oak fermenters and vinified separately. During fermentation, pump overs and/or punch downs are carried out daily, depending on the desired extraction level. Maceration typically lasts 22 to 26 days, depending on the development of each lot, in order to extract maximum flavour and colour, but always careful not to over-extract.
All lots are aged for an average of 15 months in new (50%) and 2nd fill (50%) French oak barrels, during which time our winemaking and viticultural teams meet every 3-4 months to select the best lots for Oculus. The team samples endless lots of wine and gradually decide which lots will go into the final blend, making sure that each new vintage of Oculus is both high in quality and true to the established style, the Oculus signature. Fining occurs naturally as the wine settles during this period of time.
Hand harvested from Osoyoos (89%) & Oliver (11%) vineyards in October 2011.
Date: 12 December 2013
2011 Oculus is ripe and powerful with racy tannins and serious grip, but polish and nesse as well due to great balancing acidity. The key to the vintage was to capture the freshness of the fruit, made possible by the subtle use of new French oak. The wine is broad and muscular, with lots of dark fig, black currant, damson plum and chocolate notes and a lingering nish of fruit, spice and mineral.