Thank you Victor and Henrietta Poirier of Red Star Media for photographing this beautiful cover portrait. This issue we are featuring Le Vieux Pin/La Stella’s outstanding winemaker: Severine Pinte.
1. When did you decide that you wanted to become a winemaker? How did food and wine play a part of your young life?
After high school, I enrolled in a program to eventually join ENSAM (Ecole Nationale Superieure Agronomique of Montpellier). I was going to be an agronomic engineer. Very quickly I found out about the versatility of the wine world. I was going to be able to learn how the industry worked from growing the baby plants in the nurseries, to nurturing plants in the vineyard and growing quality grapes, to making the wine, aging it, bottling it, selling it. Finance and marketing were also a part of the program and allowed me to have a wide understanding of the business. So it was decided, I was going to specialize in viticulture and enology and become a winemaker. As life and experiences came along, I became more and more passionate and I just fell in love with the ability to create some beautiful pieces of art every single season!
Growing up in France allowed me to appreciate the importance of food …and wine. I remember our Sunday lunches where delicious smells would escape from the kitchen and my dad was religiously hunting down the perfect bottle to pair with what my mom had concocted! From time to time, my parents would go on wine tours and as a little girl I was so bored waiting inside a beautiful wine cave while they were tasted from every barreI. I guess it impacted on me, more than I thought LOL!!! I couldn’t imagine changing careers now or being anyone else but a winemaker!
2. How did you decide to move your family here from France?
The BC wine industry is so dynamic, constantly evolving. Being able to write a small part of the wine history is so exhilarating! Learning new viticulture technique to adapt to the Okanagan Valley special climate is one of my biggest challenges but I love it.
3. If you were a bottle of wine, what would you be? What would your tasting notes be?
I would be a bottle of Syrah from a cooler growing region with some granite dominant soil. The color would deep, ruby red with some hints of purple. The nose would be intense dominated with some thyme, rosemary aromas with an elegant background of flowery notes such as violet or peonies. As I would keep swirling the wine in my glass, a few notes of blond tabac and truffle would slowly come up. In the mouth, it would be elegant, balanced, velvety, silky but with a nice tannin spinal cord. It would linger for a while letting some ripe dark fruit charm my senses.
4. The Rose revolution has finally come here. Your Vaila is one of our best and very unique. Describe it and how you decided to make your particular style and what your secret is.
For me, Rose is one of the most challenging style of wine to create: the rosé wine is NOT a side product. The Pinot Noir Vineyard I get the grapes from to make the Vaila rosé at Le Vieux Pin winery are carefully chosen and are grown specifically to make rosé. The canopy and the yield will not be managed the same way as if I was growing grapes for red wine.
The picking date is also crucial, as I want to reach a nice phenol maturity but also preserve some natural acidity. Then once the grapes reach the crush pad, fast processing, protection against oxidation and slow cold fermentation would be, I guess, how I do it.