Wine Culture Magazine

Owners Douglas Barzelay (left) and Nathan Todd are thrilled with Foxtrot’s
“comeback vintage.” Photo courtesy of Foxtrot

After a couple of disappointing years, Douglas Barzelay and Nathan Todd are calling 2019 the “comeback vintage” for their cult winery, Foxtrot. It’s not what they were expecting when they bought the Naramata Bench estate back in 2018. Mind you, they weren’t expecting to buy a winery in the first place.

“Never in a million years did I think we would buy a winery,” Todd says. “We just wanted a place to invest and buy some land and have some fun.” The two New York-based oenophiles—Barzelay a retired lawyer and co-author of the essential book Burgundy Vintages: A History from 1845 and Todd working in sales of fine and rare wines—had fallen in love with Foxtrot at a blind tasting in 2011. They were thrilled to find a plot of land next to the winery, and when Foxtrot founder Torsten Allander put the winery itself up for sale, it seemed that all the stars aligned.

Unfortunately, Todd says, “A few things were neglected at Foxtrot before we arrived, which we found out the hard way.”

“The hard way” meant, essentially, two lost vintages. Both vines and barrels needed improvement, and the wine was, well, disappointing. So they hired Andrea Barker, who Barzelay describes as “a talented winemaker who can make wine in all these registers,” and spent two years “under a rock,” waiting for the 2019 vintage to come of age.

“We spent some time rejuvenating,” Todd says. “We’re back.”

Meanwhile, they launched their foxly line of approachable, affordable, ultra-enjoyable everyday wines (which retail in the $20 to $29 range). And they are exploring new projects, including an exclusive series of single-vineyard Pinot Noirs (which will be available to club members only).

As for that 2019 vintage, it was a tough year with a lot of disease pressure and a lethal early frost. But the wines themselves are gorgeous, elegant and complex, with well-balanced fruit and structure, very much representative of the Okanagan Valley terroir. Even better, Barzelay says, “2020 is a brilliant vintage.”

Three to try

Supplied photo

Foxtrot Chardonnay 2019
(Okanagan Valley, $44) Silky, creamy, lemon, honey, ripe apples. Classic.

Foxtrot The Waltz Pinot Noir 2019
(British Columbia, $50) Bright, elegant, red fruits, spice, lively.

Foxtrot Estate Vineyard Pinot Noir 2019
(Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, $95)Plummy, brambly, earthy, velvety, complex.

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