Drinking Wine in the Rain

Smoke from the Tremont Fire looming over Pineview Ridge in Kamloops

Hallelujah, it’s raining! I am watching a hummingbird hopping from side to side on the garden wire fence as if in glee. Wish I could do same (although that might look funny and would definitely hurt), so, I’m opening up some great locally-made B.C. wine instead. While the little bit of rain that is falling is not enough to quench all the fires that are, without exaggeration, closing in around the city, I am so thankful for the little bit of relief, even if it might only be psychological.

Over the past 30 days I have watched a battalion of trucks and semis lugging heavy machinery east to west and back again on Highway 1. There have been ambulances and fire trucks wailing up and down it as well any time of the day or night. Over the ridge, I hear the choppers as they haul their precious bucket loads of water from one lake to the White Rock fire and back again with another load for the Tremont or Sparks fire. I hear the skimmers as they fly overhead and I run out onto the balcony to wave at them. When I hear the water bombers flying over the house, I have never been so happy to hear them, even though I might have to stop my coffee cup or wine glass from dancing on my desk… it seems like they’re happy about it as well. And, I don’t think there will be enough days in my life to thank all the people involved and wildfire fighters strategizing, planning and bearing all the heat, fire…. I can’t even imagine the psychological effects… but there must be many.

On a personal note, I have been living in smoke for over 56 days, waking up with a heaviness in my chest, crusty eyes, and a taste in my mouth akin to licking an ashtray. No, in fact, I have been living in an ashtray, with ash and tiny burnt embers everywhere. And, now, it is raining.

Show the Love to B.C. Wineries, Drink Wine Grown and Made Local

Black Market Winery Omertà Syrah Rosé 2020 is dry, medium-bodied with a pleasant tart cherry, crab-apple, wild strawberry, fine herb, lime zest and white pepper bite balanced with medium-plus-acidity, vibrant, mouth-coating and with a loonnng finish. It’s delicious. Poured with lamb kebabs. Omertà is Black Market Winery’s “Our code of silence. Trust us” 100% Syrah Rosé. Well, I can trust that Black Market Winery is making some pretty excellent wines. Produced from 100% Syrah grapes, hand-harvested, sorted and whole-cluster pressed over a four-hour period. The free-run juice was left on its gross lees and stirred twice daily prior to fermentation. Perfect for Paella!  Tasted July 2021. 12.7% abv / $24

Black Market Winery Syrah MMXVIII is produced from 96% Syrah, 4% Viognier and is dry, medium-bodied, unfined and unfiltered. Look for baked cherry pie, earthy, meaty, savoury herb, cinnamon, spicy pepper and subtle vanilla flavours wrapped up in rich, grippy tannins. Good now, better if cellared for three more years to marry its flavours and mellow the tannins. Produced in the classic Northern Rhone style, the Syrah and Viognier were co-fermented. Grapes were de-stemmed, lightly crushed and enjoyed a two-day cold soak.  After a slow and warm fermentation, the wine was left to macerate another 18 days to extract more phenolics from the skins. Aged 18 months in French (30% new) and American oak barrels.  Decant one hour prior to pouring with a gourmet burger topped with blue cheese. So good! 13% abv / $36

Love the balance on Culmina Family Estate Winery’s Decora 2018 Riesling. Produced from estate-grown grapes sourced from Margaret’s Bench Vineyard with elevage completely in stainless-steel tanks, this South Okanagan Riesling is fragrant and tasty with ripe yellow apple, white-fleshed stone fruit and mineral notes on the nose. The wine is barely dry, medium-bodied with pink grapefruit, citrus zest, ripe apple, stony and mineral flavours lingering on the palate balanced with just enough acidity to start the mouth watering. Sophisticated and elegant, chill and enjoy with a smoked pork tenderloin and butternut squash spaetzli. Tasted July 2021. 13.5% abv / $21 

I like this easy-to-enjoy savoury and sultry, estate-grown Merlot 2016 from Culmina. The wine is welcoming on the nose with dark plum, chocolate and dark spices; dry, medium-plus-bodied with ripe dark berry fruit, plum, dark chocolate and well-integrated oak spice, balanced acidity and velvety tannins. Grapes for this vintage were sourced from the Golden Mile Bench G.I. Arise Bench Vineyard, and the wine was matured in a combination of new, previous use and neutral French oak barrels. Elegant and easy to love, enjoy it with a wild mushroom ragu or venison burgers stuffed with Feta cheese. Tasted July 2021. 14% abv / $35

Love the lemony freshness on this vibrant, medium-bodied and easy-to-love white wine blend. Fort Berens Winery Camels White 2020 is dry, clean, crisp and lemony on the nose with fresh apple, dried pineapple, more lime zest, pithy orange and white pepper spice finishing long and silky on the palate with balanced medium-plus acidity. In the ‘Dangerously Drinkable’ category, chill and enjoy on the patio on a hot summer’s day, or pour with light-bodied meals like salads, fresh-steamed shrimp or soft cheeses. The 2020 vintage is a juicy blend of 31% Pinot Gris, 25% Pinot Blanc, 18% estate grown Grüner Veltliner and 7% Riesling with elevage in stainless steel tanks to enhance the wine’s crisp fruit aromas and flavours. Tasted July 2021. 12.4% abv / $19

Fort Berens Estate Winery Grüner Veltliner 2020 is a bright, refreshing premier vintage Grüner Veltliner for the winery with grapes sourced from Bordertown Winery vineyards. A dry, medium-bodied Grüner with excellent acidity for food with zesty citrus, hay, soft petrol aromas. On the palate, the wine is dry, floral, grassy and fresh with soft petrol, citrus zest flavours and a creamy, lingering finish. Fort Berens is also looking forward to their first vintage of estate grown Grüner Veltliner in 2021 or 2022.

We paired the wine with salty Paradise and citrusy Silver Moon oysters on the half shell with just a squeeze of fresh lemon. Acidity in wine can compete with the salt in food, but this citrusy white is kind of Grüner meets Sancerre. If oysters and seafood are not your thing, try it with a nosh of smoked andouille sausage. Tasted August 2021. 12.5% abv / $22

Love The Bub Bottle Aged and Fermented 2016 from Haywire! A lively sparkler with a persistent mousse, bone-dry, full-bodied and textured with toasted white bread, bright apple crunch, zesty lemon citrus finishing long with vibrant acidity. Clean, super crisp and addictive, particularly in this heat! We chilled it and had the second bottle with Peruvian scallop ceviche, sweet chili salmon poke and chilled fresh steamed lobster. Produced by winemakers, Matt Dumayne and Jordan Kubek from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes sourced from the Secrest Mountain Vineyard in Oliver and the Watkin Family Vineyards in Summerland, British Columbia. Grapes were fermented in temperature-controlled stainless-steel tanks prior to bottling in December 2014. Disgorged January 2015 with zero dosage added. Tasted June 21 2021. 12.5% abv / $50

As well, Okanagan Crush Pad is celebrating their 10-Year Milestone. The winery opened in Summerland in 2011 and the last decade has been one of great growth and change for OCP. Coletta and her husband Steve Lornie have grown their business to now include 380 acres of land, 100 of those planted to vines on three organic certified vineyard sites; Switchback Vineyard, Secrest Mountain Vineyard and Garnet Valley Ranch. Okanagan Crush Pad, produces four unique labels: Haywire, Narrative, Free Form and Bizou + Yukon. To celebrate the event the winery is heading into the next 10 years with a new look. Graffiti artist Scott Sueme (who painted OCP’s walls in 2011) will return from August 24 – 29 to update and add to the original project. Read more about the install here: https://okanagancrushpad.com/watch-as-ocp-gets-graffiti-ed-again/

Love the buttery, toasted almond nose on this dry, medium-plus-bodied Little Engine Wines Chardonnay 2018. A beautifully crafted Chardonnay with a creamy mouthful of ripe apple, toasted almond, buttered brioche, cinnamon, ginger, vanilla and well-integrated toasty oak spice flavours finishing long on the palate with a citrus zing. The 2018 vintage was barrel-aged 16 months in French oak barriques (48% new), puncheons and second and third-fill barrels with occasional battonage giving complexity and a sultry creaminess to the wine. Tasted June 2021. 13.9% abv / $57

Okay, I’m in love again. I am absolutely smitten with Little Engine Winery’s 2020 French Family Release. Even the nose is enticing with its soft spritz of honeysuckle, white florals, golden apple, pear, ginger, white pepper and lemon curd with each flavour so defined, refined and delicious. On the palate this amazing dry, unoaked Chardonnay is medium-plus-bodied with laser balance fruit to acidity; plushy with dried white florals, fresh ripe orchard fruit, creamy lemon pudding, stony mineral flavours viscous, rounded, and vibrant with a forever finish (more than a minute). This is an amazing, complex, elegant, and once-in-a-lifetime Chardonnay. Tasted July 2021. 13.3% abv / $36 Buy by the case!

Little Engine’s winemaker, Scott Robinson, confirms that this is one of a kind Chard. “The 2020 harvest produced some of the most flavour intense wines that I have witnessed in my time winemaking in the Okanagan. This French Family Chard is comprised of grapes from three clones of Chardonnay from three estate vineyards here on the Naramata Bench. I pick based on flavour ripeness and this past harvest we had optimal flavours at a lower sugar level and perfect acidity. I skin contact destemmed grapes before pressing in order to extract more aroma and flavour compounds. I use multiple yeasts to bring out these flavours and ferment long and cool to retain them.” There is a touch of residual sugar in the wine giving a nice weight on the palate says Scott, “This will give you the perception of palate weight upfront, but it finishes crisp and dry.”

Lunessence Winery’s 2018 Merlot is amazing. Deep ruby in the glass with a bit of bricking on the meniscus, it’s all about the nose on this wine. Right from the get-go the wine is meeeaatty with savoury spices and grilled herb aromas. On the palate, it’s a grilled prime rib or roast beef in a glass; rich, full-bodied with grilled meat, cooked bacon, spiced plum, dark cherry, grilled herbs, savoury and pepper spices flavours balanced with medium-plus-acidity and rich with pleasantly grippy tannins that caress the palate. Beautifully balanced and crafted. Produced from sustainably grown grapes and aged 12 months in French and Hungarian oak barrels (8% new). This vintage was awarded Silver at the 2020 All Canadian Wine Championships for a Merlot under $30 ($29.99). Tasted July 2021. Drink or hold. 13.5% abv / $30

Lunessence Winery’s 2020 Rosé is so good!  Love the dried wild strawberries, cranberry, and bright mineral nose on this 60% Merlot, 26% Cabernet Franc and 4% Syrah rosé blend. A pretty pale pink-coral colour in the glass, reminiscent of Provence rosés, this is a well-crafted, and balanced rosé (medium-plus-acidity) with wild strawberry, ruby grapefruit, tart cherry, cold rooibos tea and white pepper palate-coating flavours finishing fresh and long. I have a personal wine classification called Dangerously Drinkable and this one definitely falls into that category. Chill it and pair it with a hot summer day on the patio, a good conversation with a friend, and you have ‘dangerously drinkable’. Tasted July 2021. 12.2% abv / $24

On the Black Sage Bench in Oliver, British Columbia, vintner and family farmer Gina Fernandes Harfman combines her passion for winemaking with her family’s four generations of farming experience in the South Okanagan. Nostalgia Pinot Gris 2020 shows the terroir from which it is grown and is an elegant, low yield, dry, medium-bodied 100% PG with nicely balanced natural acidity. For the 2020 vintage, grapes were sourced from the winery’s Home Vineyard as well as Cassini and Nunes Vineyards. Grapes were hand-harvested and fermented in temperature-controlled stainless-steel tanks to retain fruit freshness and natural acidity. Chill and enjoy this bright PG with flavours of ripe, white-fleshed stone fruit, fresh apple, and pear with a grilled pork tenderloin and pear compote. Tasted July 2021. 13.2% abv / $22

Nostalgia Wines 2020 Rosé is a tasty and zesty, dry, medium-bodied 24% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Merlot, 23% Syrah, 17% Malbec and 13% Cabernet Franc rosé blend made in the saignée method. On the palate, the wine is beautifully concentrated with crushed raspberry, pink grapefruit, watermelon, and a potpourri of dried fine herbs with a refreshing, lingering finish and a pleasant citrus peel bite. Produced in stainless-steel tanks. Absolutely perfect on a hot summer day (hint, hint) to chill and pour with finger food like tapas, Jamón Ibérico and aged Manchego cheese. Tasted August 2021. 13.7% abv / $22

Love the terroir-focussed label that shows that story about this wine. Red Rooster Winery Rosé 2020 is such a pretty ballerina pink in the glass, the nose is just as pretty with peony, pink florals and pepper spice aromas. Dry, elegant, barely medium-bodied, balanced with medium-plus acidity, the foot-stomped Malbec grapes for this rosé make a fine entrance with pink florals, pink grapefruit, fine herbs, white pepper and fine chalky flavours with a mineral kiss. Refreshing, delicious and absolutely killer with herbed, spiced salmon burgers. The Malbec-grapes for this vintage were sourced from the Osoyoos wine region in British Columbia, foot-stomped with élevage entirely in stainless-steel tanks. Available in Alberta, British Columbia private retail and direct to consumer (dtc). Tasted June 2021. 12.5% abv / $20

Fresh, clean and crisp on the palate, Red Rooster Winery Sauvignon Blanc 2020 is pin-point balanced, dry, medium-bodied and mouth filling with white stone-fruit, pink grapefruit, lemongrass and earthy mineral flavours finishing long on the palate. Refined and nicely done! Chill and enjoy with oysters, summer salads topped with herbed goat cheese. Available at private retailers in British Columbia. Tasted June 2021. 12.5% abv / $20

It’s all about the terroir with Roche Wines and it shows in their Tradition 2018 100% Chardonnay. Roche Wines Tradition Chardonnay 2018 is produced from a one-acre parcel of Chardonnay in the Falcon’s View Vineyard near Oliver sourced from vines grown in alluvial and gravel soils from an early post-glacial riverbed. So, while the grapes have their face in the sun, their roots are warm and dry. Grapes were hand-harvested in the cool of early morning and whole-bunch pressed. The wine juice settled out overnight and was then transferred to second- and third-fill light toast French oak barriques for fermentation. Malolactic fermentation was completed in the spring and the wine was aged eight months on its lees prior to racking and bottling.

The wine is very Petit Chabliess in style with a lovely silkiness and length. Fresh and floral with delicate lemon-citrus, stone fruit and dried fine herb aromas on the nose, it is dry, medium-bodied and elegant with fresh yellow apple, dried pineapple, lemon curd, toasted nut, finishing with a mineral kiss and vibrant acidity on the palate. We poured it with steelhead filets sautéed in lemon butter. Tasted August 2021. 14.2% abv / $30

Tightrope 2020 Rosé is immensely quaffable. Bright ruby in the glass, the 2020 vintage was produced from sustainably grown grapes, a blend of 75% Pinot Noir, 20% Syrah and 5% Barbera. Fragrant with bright cherry, wild strawberry, raspberry and mineral aromas, this rosé is dry, medium-bodied with medium-plus-acidity showing the same fruit flavours found on the nose with amazing quality and purity of fruit – a mouthful of fresh, ripe red cherries kissed with dried fine herbs and white pepper spice. Tasted June 2021. 12.5% abv / $20

Tightrope Winery 2020 Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon is so invitingly fragrant with summer-kissed white florals, lemon blossoms and a mid-note of mock orange and jasmine. On the palate the wine is dry, medium-bodied with ripe peaches, light gooseberry, lemon tart, pink grapefruit, dried fine herbs, dried chives, ginger, and white pepper spice perfectly balanced with medium-plus-acidity and a long crisp lemony, chalky mineral finish. Chill and enjoy this graceful and elegant Semillon, Sauv. Blanc blend on its own, or pair it with seared tuna steaks. The grapes for this vintage were sourced from Tightrope Estate Winery’s Thomas Vineyard on the Naramata Bench. The Sauvignon Blanc was destemmed, crushed, then pressed, while the Semillon was whole cluster pressed. Tasted July 2021. 12.8% abv / $20 

Township 7 Provenance Series 2020 Pinot Gris is absolutely delish with an incredible mouthfeel. So fragrant with fresh white florals, ripe pear and mineral notes on the nose, on the palate, there is a hint of sweetness (7.5 g/l residual sugar) nicely balanced with medium-plus acidity with more of a tang than sweetness on the tip of the tongue. Love the weight and silkiness of this medium-plus-bodied PG that is almost oily with ripe pear, lime zest, dried fine herbs, crisp mineral flavours and a kind of grapefruity pithy bite that is both pleasant and refreshing. A lovely, complex an excellent value PG that is easy to enjoy. Tasted July 2021. 13.4% abv / $21

Township 7 Benchmark Series 2019 Viognier is a beautiful, silky 100% Viognier, a mouthful that glides along and around the palate and just keeps on giving! Exceptionally well-crafted and balanced with crisp, juicy acidity showing fruit that was able to ripen slowly and evenly. Fragrant on the nose with a snootful of ripe apricot, passionfruit and soft citrus aromas, this wine is barely dry, medium-plus-bodied with ripe apricot, passionfruit, pink grapefruit, a kiss of ginger and a hint of minerality finishing plushy and just short of long. Grapes for the 2019 vintage were sourced from the Raju Vineyard in Osoyoos and Fool’s Gold Vineyard in Oliver. These very warm sites encourage the aromatics and the flavours on this Rhone variety. Grapes were fermented in stainless-steel tanks and oak barrels to add texture to the palate. Absolutely delicious! Poured with sautéed sablefish in a mild curry butter. Tasted July 2021. 13.3% abv / $28

Upper Bench Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 is a lush, balanced, smooth and tasty blend of 95% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Merlot sourced from the Upper Bench Estate Winery. Dry, rich, full-bodied, and elegant with a mouthful of dark berry, blackberry compote, dark cherry, savoury herb and pin-point balanced acidity with a medium-plus-length finish. Not overpowering and very comfy on the palate, we poured it with grilled sirloin steaks, but we did try it with the winery’s recommendation of baked Medjool dates stuffed with the winery’s King Cole blue cheese from their creamy, but without the recommended bacon wrap (would have had to answer to my physician for that one). Both pairings were amazing. Produced from estate-grown grapes, yield of 2.45 tons per acre, aged in French oak barrels (30% new) for 21 months, unfiltered and unfined. Tasted August 2021. 13.8% abv / $40

So what am I drinking in the rain….

Not sure just yet, but I will make a toast to the firewalkers, the wildfire crews and everybody on the frontlines who are fighting these Hell-bent fires. Again, Thank You So Much!

Stay Safe Everyone!

Posted in Go for the Wine, Uncategorized, Wine/Food Pairing April 2011 | Leave a comment

2020 was a great year …. for B.C. Wines

As mentioned in my October 2020 cultureofwine blog,  overall grape yields in B.C. were lower, but so far the vintage is showing beautiful quality of fruit, good natural acidity, alcohol levels, balance and complexity. Even the shocker mid-October 2020 snowstorm – a 120-year-old record broken for the most snowfall on an October day (previous record was 12.7 cm in 1899 according to Environment Canada) – left little damage to the vines or fruit quality. In addition, the B.C. wine industry continues to grow with more winery start ups, increased wine grape acreage and varietal expansion:  2019 BC Wine Grape Acreage Report

Although the year was more than a challenge for winery tours, tastings and sales because of Covid travel directives and restrictions, wineries did do well in DTC initiatives with innovative wine promos, free or reduced costs for wine deliveries and generally making it easier for consumers to try a variety of wines in their own backyard. While this will never replace a winery visit and tasting/dining experience, it has opened many direct-to-door initiatives.

Of course, the flip side of this is how that only four provinces – British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Nova Scotia — allow out of province wine shipments. The politics are too thick to get into in this blog, but progress has been slow with other liquor boards yet again jockeying for a bigger piece of that tax pie. Hopefully, that will change in my lifetime, but it has been more than a century trying to find a solution for wine lovers in Canada who want to support and buy Canadian wine. Until then, all I can say is Happy Canada Day, eh?

So, in quiet, thoughtful celebration of the day, please do support your local winery and raise a glass of made in Canada wine. Here are some beauties from British Columbia:

Black Market Estate Unsanctioned Series Pinot Blanc 2020: Wow! This is one fragrant Pinot Blanc with white florals, ripe peach, creamy banana, lemon curd, white pepper spice, toasted nut and hints of minerality on the nose. The wine is dry, medium-plus-bodied with medium-plus-acidity, elegant and silky with ripe pear, banana lemon cream, hay, nutty and vibrant on the palate and creamy as it rolls itself out with a long finish. Just lovely! Chill and enjoy with seafood dishes. We poured it with sauteed scallops in maple balsamic.

The 2020 vintage was barrel-fermented and aged in neutral oak. And here, less is definitely more – while 2020 saw lower grape yields (only 50 cases made) fruit quality was amazing. After fermentation, the wine was aged a further 12 months in barrel with some batonnage to build body and texture. Tasted May 2021. 13.5% abv / $26

Black Market Estate Secret Society White 2020: So pale yellow, in a bright light it almost looks water white. But don’t let Secret Society White 2020 fool you, because it is no secret on the nose. Enticing with aromas of baked apple, almond nut, white florals, soft Meyer lemon and hints of warm hay, this is a vibrant and very moreish medium-bodied, crisp and dry white wine blend with ripe yellow apple, orange sherbet, nutty and grassy notes ultra-balanced with pinpoint acidity with a long, lithe finish. Highly addictive!

So, the three varietals that make up the 2020 vintage of Black Market Estate’s Secret Society white is a secret that only the ‘Secret Society’ know. We do know that the grapes were sourced from Naramata, Osoyoos and Kaleden vineyards and that one of the varietals is Bacchus. But why don’t you try it and find out for yourself? Perfect for an afternoon on the patio or an evening of al fresco dining. We poured it with pan-fried, almond-crusted Walleye and perch filets. Tasted May 2021. 12.1% abv / $22

Black Market Secret Society Red 2019: Black Market Secret Society Red 2019 is a deep, dark mystery. Deep ruby in the glass the red wine blend is rich and spicy on the nose with dark cherry, incense, and pepper spice aromas. With a medium-plus-body, on the palate, it is dry but with a whack of fruit showing dark cherry, brambleberry, vanilla, dark spices, pepper spice, sandalwood, cocoa, tobacco leaf and a kind of a savoury olive or herbal note balanced with medium-plus-acidity and wrapping up long. Tannins are pleasantly grippy.

So, like the Black Market Secret Society white, the blend for the Secret Society red is also a secret. But I would venture to say Syrah, certainly a Cab… since it has gritty dark cherry, incense, and earthy notes… Try it for yourself? Drink or hold – the 2019 can easily cellar for three years. Poured with venison burgers. Tasted May 2021. 13.5% abv / $29

Blue Grouse Quill Rosé 2020: Blue Grouse Winery’s 2020 Gamay Noir rosé is brimming with red berry, strawberry, fine herb and soft citrus flavours creamy and forever on the palate. From a cooler vintage, the rosé is showing bright and beautifully balanced acidity to the 3.0 g/l residual sugar that was left on the wine to give it a touch of sweetness and was also aged three months on its fine lees giving this Gamay rosé added finesse, balance and structure. A perfect pairing to a hot summer’s day, chill and sip or pour with salmon burgers from the grill, creamy cheeses and fresh-cut veggies. Tasted April 2021. 12% abv / $20

CedarCreek Estate Winery Pinot Noir 2019: CedarCreek Estate Winery’s 2019 Pinot Noir is fragrant and enticing on the nose with fresh violets, pink rose petals and baked cherry pie. Deep ruby in the glass, dry, medium-plus-bodied with ripe black cherry, blackberry, fresh mushroom, savoury herb and medium-plus-acidity to balance all that juicy fruit. Finishes long, savoury and satisfying. A solid Pinot Noir that delivers! Poured with a grilled sirloin steak.

The PN grapes for the 2019 vintage were sourced from the Home Block Vineyard and wild fermented in small stainless steel and concrete tanks. The wine aged 12 months in French oak barrels. Tasted May 2021. 13.5% abv / $27

Fort Berens Estate Winery Ltd. Riesling 2020: Fort Berens Estate Winery Riesling just seems to get better and better. Light gold in the glass with just a hint of green, the nose on the 2020 vintage is fragrant with ripe pear, yellow apple, passionfruit, lime zest and just a hint of petrol. On the palate, this youthful Riesling is medium-bodied with medium-plus-acidity and on this side of off-dry. It starts off with a zing of lime zest, lemon sherbet, pepper spice, creamy, mouth-coating and beautifully balanced all the way around! So pretty now, but the wine will continue to evolve over the next couple of years. Lightly chilled, it went down too easy with sweet chili prawns. Tasted May 2021. 12% abv / $20

Fort Berens Estate Winery Ltd. Pinot Gris 2020: Love the purity and quality of fruit on this Fort Berens Estate Winery Pinot Gris. First off, it’s fresh and fragrant with fresh-cut pear, tropical fruit, mango and guava notes. On the palate, the wine is dry, medium-bodied, balanced with refreshing acidity and bursting with lemon blossom, fresh pears, pink grapefruit, lime zest leading into a lengthy finish. Very moreish! Chill and enjoy this PG on its own or pour with a creamy pasta dish. Tasted May 2021. 13.4% abv / $20

Fort Berens Winery Camel Red NV: Fort Berens Winery Camel Red NV is a well-rounded, easy-to-love fruity red wine blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Pinot Noir. Dry, medium-bodied with medium-acidity, this is the wine you choose when you are trying to decide if you want a glass of wine or not. No contest here, just a question of whether you have a glass or the whole bottle. Very smooth, easy-going and well-balanced with dark berry, soft plum, savoury herbs, softly spiced with cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg flavours lingering on the finish. Tannins are rounded. Don’t overthink it, chill slightly and enjoy. Pour with a charcuterie board, crackers and olive tapenade. Tasted June 2021. 13.6% abv / $22

Gray Monk Winery Rosé 2020: Gray Monk Winery’s 2020 rosé is a beautifully put together, off-dry, medium-plus-bodied and vibrant rosé blend of 36% Cabernet Franc, 29% Merlot, 13% Rotberger, 9% Gamay Noir, 8% Pinot Noir and 5% Pinot Meunier. On the nose, it’s summer in a glass with pink florals, strawberries and cream, fresh cherry and dried finer herb aromas. Nicely balanced on the palate as well, with ripe strawberry, cherry cotton candy, ripe peach, soft orange citrus, dried chives and a refreshing citrus bite on the finish.

The wine juice was cool fermented in stainless-steel tanks for 21 days. A great patio sipper that is also food versatile, we poured it with salmon burgers from the grill.  Tasted May 2021. 122.6% abv / $18

Hester Creek Estate Winery Pinot Gris 2020: Wow! Love the aromatic fresh pear, bright citrus, orange blossom and sun-kissed hay nose on this refreshing Pinot Gris. On the palate, Hester Creek Estate Winery’s 2020 Pinot Gris is dry, medium-bodied with medium plus acidity, zesty with layers of fresh pear, melon, citrus, quince jam, honeyed apple and a long, citrusy tangy lemon meringue pie finish. So good! Chill and enjoy on its own or pour with summer salads. Tasted April 2021. 12.9% abv/ $18

Liquidity Wines Rosé 2020: Love this medium-bodied, off-dry rosé from Liquidity Wines with strawberry and cream aromas. On the palate, there is bright cherry, melon, pink florals, orange citrus and a kiss of spice so well-crafted and balanced. Produced from Pinot Noir clones 114 and 777 mainly from the winery’s two younger vineyard blocks with the balance of PN coming from the Oliver wine region. After a cold soak of about three hours, grapes were pressed, and the wine juice fermented in 100% stainless steel tanks. Chill and pour with seared sweet chili tuna steaks. Tasted May 2021. 12.3% abv / $24

Liquidity Wines Viognier 2020: Liquidity Wines excel at Viognier. Their 2020 vintage was produced from 100% estate grown Viognier (Clone 642) sourced from the winery’s Allendale Vineyard and from another “scorching hot vineyard” in Osoyoos. On the palate, the wine is dry, full-bodied, crisp and lush with medium-plus-acidity and well-defined flavours of orange blossom, honeyed melon, beeswax, mango, guava, pepper spice and finishing long on a mineral note. Elegant and well-balanced, the Viognier could easily cellar for a couple of years, but why wait because it is drinking beautifully now. Grapes were almost entirely whole cluster pressed and cool-fermented in stainless-steel tanks. The remaining five per cent of the fruit was crushed and partially fermented on its skins. Tasted April 2021. 14.5% abv / $29


Lunessence Winery and Vineyard Pinot Noir 2019: Love this dusty, fragrant unfiltered and unfined 100% Pinot Noir from Lunessence Winery. The 2019 is full on fresh violets, cherry pie, sweet, dried tobacco leaf, ginger and nutmeg spice on the nose. Dry, fresh and medium-bodied with earthy florals, sweet spicy tobacco, cherry pie and baking spice flavours wrapped up in medium-plus acidity. Tannins are velvety and there is a lingering spicy and fresh finish. The sustainably farmed Pinot Noir grapes for this vintage were sourced from the Palo Solara Vineyard in East Kelowna and the wine was matured in French oak barrels (20% new) for eight months. Tasted May 2021. 13.5% abv / $28

Lunessence Winery and Vineyard Chardonnay 2019: Lunessence Winery Chardonnay 2019 is crisp, clean, fresh and juicy with a silky mouthfeel. The winery’s motto is “Harmony from Vine to Wine” and they certainly have achieved this with their Chardonnay. Fresh with golden apple and lemon zest aromas, the wine is dry, medium-bodied, vibrant with ripe golden apple, toasty nut, lemon meringue flavours zesty with a lengthy, spicy and pleasant citrus bite. Grapes were whole cluster pressed to retain maximum fresh fruit flavours and 20% of the wine was barrel fermented in French oak barrels with eight months on fine lees and stainless-steel tanks. Tasted May 2021. 12.8% abv / $25

Lunessence Winery and Vineyard ESV 2020: This is the inaugural release of Lunessence Winery’s 2020 ESV (Estate Single Vineyard) produced from a certified organic estate vineyard. The wine is juicy, fresh and barely dry with 55% Gewurztraminer, 27% Pinot Blanc and 18% from grapes that were whole cluster pressed, fermented with organic yeasts with five months of fine lees aging. About half of the wine was matured in second-fill French oak barrels. On the nose, the wine is floral, with elderflower, ginger spice and leesy aromas. Medium-bodied with medium-plus-acidity on the palate showing white florals, white-fleshed stone fruit, white pepper spice and a bright lime-lemon zest finish. Pour with sushi, grilled sweet chilli shrimp or enjoy chilled on its own. Tasted May 2021. 12.9% abv/ $25

I remember chatting with Gina Fernades Harfman about five years ago about Oliver Twist Winery – which has now rebranded to Nostalgia Wines. She was a one-woman winery show then… she may not be nostalgic for those days, but has since expanded her crew to three and continues to create memories in a bottle with her family’s four generations of farming experience with vine-growing and winemaking knowledge.

Nostalgia Kerner Home Vineyard Kerner 2020: Love the fragrant nose on this pretty Kerner from Nostalgia wines! The 2020 Kerner is pale lemon-green in the glass and so fragrant with white florals, ripe yellow apple, Bartlett pear, lemon pudding and notes of vanilla. On the palate, it is lush, off-dry, medium-bodied and comfy with a luxurious mouthfeel from beginning to end. Balanced with medium-plus-acidity with ripe apple, pear, guava, mango, a kiss of white pepper spice and a lemon pith bite finishing smooth, silky and long. On the rebranded label, the winery indicates this wine is like “sunshine in a glass.” In fact, it is also like summertime in a glass! Chill and enjoy on its own, or as the winery suggests pour it with Moroccan chicken and curries. Tasted June 2021. 13.1% abv / $22

Nostalgia Merlot 2018: This is a smooth and easy-going Merlot from Nostalgia Winery. The 2018 Merlot is dry, fruity and unfiltered produced from 95% Merlot sourced from Nostalgia’s Home Vineyard with 3% Cabernet Sauvignon from the Harfman Vineyard and 2% Malbec from Gablemann Vineyard. A classic and savoury Merlot with dark cherry, plum and cocoa aromas on the nose. Dry, medium-plus-bodied and juicy on the palate with dark berry, cherry, raspberry, plum, mocha, dried herbs and dark spices nicely balanced with acidity in check. Tannins are fine and velvety. Very approachable now. Aged 15 months in French and American oak barrels. Decant one hour and enjoy on its own or pour with roast duck dinner. Tasted June 2021. 13.7% abv / $33

Road 13 Chip Off the Old Block Chenin Blanc 2019: Road 13’s Chip Off the Old Block Chenin Blanc continues to be a solid crowd pleaser. Fragrant with orange blossom, beeswax, ripe quince and spicy aromas on the nose, the wine is on this side of dry, medium-plus-bodied, clean, bright and crisp on the palate with exotic white florals, ripe yellow apple, ginger spice, mouth coating with medium-plus-acidity and a medium-plus-lengthy finish. Grapes for this vintage were sourced from the Golden Mile Bench from vines over 50 years of age. This is a tasty, well-balanced and food versatile Chenin with just enough residual sugar to pour with spicy dishes or ribs and chicken from the grill. We paired it with lemon and rosemary chicken from the grill. Tasted April 2021. 13% abv / $18

Road 13 Honest John Rosé 2020: Deep Coral pink in the glass, this rosé is even delicious on the nose with light strawberry, rose petals, green herbs, earthy and mineral aromas. More savoury than fruity on the palate, the Pinot Noir, Gamay Noir and Syrah rosé blend is off-dry, medium-bodied with delicate, bright cherry, soft orange citrus, fine herbs, earthy and mineral flavours, medium-plus-acidity and a pleasant citrus bite on its lengthy finish. Excellent fruit quality, grapes were almost entirely sourced from the Golden Mile Bench. Very moreish. Chill and enjoy on its own or pour with seared tuna steaks from the grill. Tasted April 2021. 12.3% abv / $17

Road 13 Viognier 2018: Their low yield, terroir-driven Viognier speaks to its terroir. With long, hot sunny days and cool nights grapes ripen well and evenly making for some very flavourful wines. The Viognier shows up spicy and fragrant with white florals and white peach aromas. On the palate, it is dry, earthy, spicy, vibrant, and robust with ripe, white-fleshed stone fruit, apricot, ginger and white pepper spice flavours balanced with brilliant acidity and a lingering lemon zest bite. Tasted May 2021. 13% abv / $26

In May of this year, Dylan and Pénélope Roche of Roche Wines celebrated their 10th Anniversary on the Naramata Bench with their Burgundy and Bordeaux style wines. Dylan spent five years in Burgundy prior to going to work in Bordeaux, while Pénélope was born and raised in Bordeaux in the long winemaking family of Château Les Carmes Haut-Brion. Here are just a few of the wines from the family-run winery.

Roche Chateau 2017: Wow! This is one spicy Bordeaux blend showing great potential but would also benefit from a couple of years in cellar to become the elegant Bordeaux-style blend it is promising to be. Chateau 2017 is Roche Winery’s Premier Cru Bordeaux blend of 54% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc. Pale ruby in the glass, this unfined and unfiltered dry, medium-plus-bodied red is a Grand Vin aged 18 months in 40% new French oak barrels. Fragrant and spicy on the nose with cedar spice, violets, cinnamon, anise, and toasty oak spice. On the palate Chateau is youthful with a mouthful of black currant, blackberry, dark cherry, pepper, cedar spice flavours with fine, grippy tannins and a long finish. Acidity is in balance, but the toasty oak spice and tannins need some time to integrate. Only 258 cases produced.

Just a mention here that I had the opened wine had a glass, corked it and placed it back in the fridge for five days. When I brought it out and back to serving temperature (16/17 Celsius or 60/62 Fahrenheit), it had calmed down considerably — smoother and showing blackberry, black cherry and smoky vanilla flavours on the palate. Although I might have missed the nuances the wine would show from ageing in cellar, this is a beautifully sculpted wine and at $50, pick up a few and cellar … you won’t be disappointed. Tasted June 2021. 12.8% abv / $50

Roche Nuances 2018: Deep Ruby in the glass. Nuances 2018 is perfumed with pink rose petals, dried fine herbs, fresh dark cherry, blueberry, and baking spice aromas.  The wine is a dry, medium-plus-bodied Bordeaux-style blend of 58% Merlot, 24% Cabernet Franc and 18% Cabernet Sauvignon savoury and smooth with pink florals, dark cherry, dark fruit, plum, Christmas cake spices, violets, lavender smooth and tidy balanced with medium-acidity. Tannins are rich and structured. Good now, better as it continues to evolve into 2022. Tasted June 2021.

Merlot grapes were sourced from Kozier Organic Vineyard, high up on the Naramata Bench and the Cabernets were sourced from the very warm south Okanagan, north of Tuc-el-nuit Lake. Aged 12 months in 10% new French oak barrels. 1022 cases produced. Produced by Penelope and Dylan Roche. Tasted June 2021. 14.3% abv / $33

Roche Pinot Gris Texture 2020: I am in love with Roche Winery’s Texture Pinot Gris! Pale gold in the glass with an explosion of fresh sweet Anjou pear, tropical fruit, lemon pudding, warm vanilla and mineral notes on the nose. The wine I medium-bodied with medium acidity and bone dry — not what I was expecting after all that fruit on the nose. Texture is warming at 14% abv with fresh pear, mango, vanilla, clean mineral flavours and pinpoint balanced with crisp, food-friendly acidity. An absolutely beautiful and elegant Pinot Gris giving everything on the nose with a slow striptease of flavours on the palate. Very food versatile, we poured it with scallop ceviche, pan-fried Coho filets and Caesar salad — an amazing pairing. the flavour of the wine sang throughout the meal. Tasted May 2021. 13.9% abv / $22                    

Roche Pinot Gris 2018: If I had to choose between Roche Winery’s Texture 2020 Pinot Gris and their 2018 Pinot Gris, I couldn’t. As much as the former is opulent on the nose and teasing on the palate, the latter is the other way around. Pale Gold in the glass with fresh pear, citrus zest and white pepper spice on the nose, dry, medium-bodied with medium-plus acidity, luxurious and mouth-coating on the palate with ripe pear, lemongrass, fennel, lemon sorbet, baked pastry, pepper spice and stony mineral flavours finishing long and bright on the palate. We chilled and poured it with grilled chicken breasts and sauteed Peruvian scallops (mild flavoured scallops), but it would also be a perfect pairing to a grilled fennel and citrus salad. An easy to enjoy Pinot Gris with amazing acidity.

The 2018 PG was produced by Penelope and Dylan Roche from organically farmed grapes from the Kozier Organic Vineyard fermented in neutral French oak barrels and developed for one year on its fine lees with occasional lees stirring.  Tasted May 2021. 14.1% abv / $29

Sperling Vineyards Dry Riesling Organic, Vision Series 2018: From Sperling Vineyards, Vision Series Organic 2018 Dry Riesling is the winery’s first vintage of Dry Riesling from their 1978 plantings. Bright old gold in the glass, fragrant with orange creamsicle, citrus blossoms, anise, lemongrass, flinty, petrol and light mineral notes. This is a dry Riesling (.61g/l) elegant and mouth-watering with lemon juice, white florals, fine herb, grassy, petrol, mineral flavours finishing long and mouth watering with winking acidity. A definitely made-for-food wine, try it with oyster pot pie or crispy fried pork schnitzel, but the wine can also easily cellar for the next five years. Produced by winemakers Ann Sperling & Rickard Branby. Tasted June 2021. 12% abv / $35

Summerhill Organic Merlot 2019: Rich and fresh with blackberry, spiced plum, mint and sage aromas on the nose; dry, full-bodied and intense on the palate with dark berries galore, dark cherry, plum, cedar brush spice, mint, savoury shitake mushrooms, finishing long and spicy with a mineral edge. A beautifully balanced Merlot showing quality ripe fruit with acidity in check. Tannins are rich, fine, and pleasantly grippy.  The 2019 Merlot can easily cellar to 2023 – it will continue to evolve and only get better, but if pouring tonight, decant it for one hour prior to pairing this vegan-friendly Merlot with mushroom or gourmet burgers from the grill.

Produced from organically and biodynamically grown grapes from Esther Vineyard (Kaleden, BC) and Sehkon Family Vineyard (Osoyoos, BC) with each portion fermented separately and naturally in 10,000 litre oak foudres. The wine was aged for over one year in neutral oak barrels and finished in the winery’s precision Pyramid Cellar. Tasted May 2021. 13.3% abv / $30  

Tightrope Pinot Gris 2020: A refined, elegant and beautifully balanced Pinot Gris! Dry, medium-bodied with a lovely mouth filling weight showing purity of fruit and well-defined fresh-cut pear pineapple, guava, citrus peel and replays of red apple, ginger and nutmeg spice. I think 2020 was an excellent year for PG on the Naramata Bench since all the wines I have tasted to date from there show exceptional quality and balance. Chill and enjoy on its own or pour with a salad of fresh greens.

Grapes for the 2020 Pinot Gris were sourced entirely from the Naramata Bench, from the winery’s Fleet Road Vineyard, as well as vineyards owned by the Madsen, Riccio, Rubis and Flaherty Families. Tasted May 2021.  12.9% abv / $22

Township 7 Cabernet Sauvignon Provenance Series 2018: Township 7 Provenance Series 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon is so smooth and so approachable now. Inviting and subtle on the nose with aromas of ripe blackberry jam, cedar spice and smoky vanilla, on the palate the wine is dry, medium-plus-bodied with ripe dark fruit, savoury spice, earthy mushroom, fine herbs balanced with food friendly acidity (medium). Tannins are plushy with a lingering harmonious finish. In fact, the wine is so velvety, we poured it on its own and paired it with a sunset.

The Cab Sauvignon grapes for this vintage were sourced from the Raju Vineyard in the hot Osoyoos wine region with a dollop of Merlot (11%) sourced from the winery’s Blue Terrace Vineyard in Oliver to round the Cab out. The blended wine was aged for 18 months in French and American oak barriques. Tasted May 2021. 13.9% abv / $30

Upper Bench Pinot Blanc 2020: Upper Bench’s 2020 Pinot Blanc is brilliantly mouth-watering and creamy all at the same time. You don’t know which way your palate is going. On the nose, the wine is fragrant with honeysuckle, lemon curd, grassy and mild spicy aromas. On the palate, the wine is dry, medium-bodied with medium-plus-acidity, mouth-filling with creamy pineapple, peach, lemon zest, pepper spice and a lingering earthy finish. There is a small amount of Muscat (4%) added to the wine that was grown in the winemaker’s Naramata vineyard.  A really juicy, food-friendly Pinot Blanc which we chilled and poured with pasta Primavera. Tasted April 2021. 13.5% abv / $22

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S U P P O R T – Find out what it means to me

It's all about Support
I got your limb! Thank You Neil Thomas for the use of this amazing photo

It’s interesting, throughout this COVID time I’ve heard variations on how “we are all in the same boat” and “we will all get through this together.” There is no doubt that we are all in the same waters, but each person has a different situational boat and to navigate the waters, we really do need to rely on each other, together. So, while Mother’s Day is around the corner and Mothers are all about support, I am dedicating this blog in support of the industry I so love!

The British Columbia Hospitality Foundation is a charity that raises funds in support of those in the industry facing financial crisis due to a health condition and when all options have been exhausted. The BCHF also offers scholarship programs which are awarded to students enrolled in hospitality, culinary, sommelier, beverage and other hospitality-related programs in British Columbia. The BC Hospitality Foundation #Hospitality Hustle fundraiser presented this year by Odlum Brown is well on it’s way with many supporters (see here) as well as support from several wineries.

Between April 1 and June 1, 2021, Courcelette Estate Winery will contribute $1 from every bottle of wine purchased. Hillside Winery Bistro will do same on every bottle sold of their delicious Muscat Ottonel. Nichol Vineyard will donate $10 per case (12 bottles) of their Oval Pinot Gris. Rust Wine Company will donate a portion of the sales from every magnum of their 2019 Gamay ($50) and Township 7 is supporting the BC Hospitality Foundation by extending their SUPPORT10 fundraiser to May 31 2021 by donating $10 – as well as free shipping – on four bottles of wine or more to your door. This is a great deal, particularly, and as per tradition, Township 7’s 2020 Provenance Series Rosé will be released on Mother’s Day and available to the public. Bonus, when you order a case (12 bottles) of the 2020 rosé before May 9 because you will receive a $30 eGift Card. It doesn’t get better than that!

A Grumbling of
Blue Grouse Estate Winery Wines

Blue Grouse Estate Winery will once again donate $1 for every bottle of Blue Grouse or Quill wines sold (winery, online, restaurants and retail) to the Nourish Cowichan Society. The Society was created to feed children in need in the Cowichan Valley, and has also expanded its breakfast program to provide lunch and snacks as well as weekend bags that feed families of up to four people. In addition, the Brunner family, owners of Blue Grouse Estate Winery, will match each donation, dollar for dollar. In 2020 the winery was able to donate $10,000 to Nourish Cowichan and they are hoping to exceed that amount in 2021. Hint, hint. Buy their new releases Quill 2020 Off-Dry white and Quill 2020 Rosé. They are juicy, fresh and delicious!

In recognition of industry professionals for the stellar work and services they provide #StandUpforService recognizes B.C. Restaurant Workers who go above and beyond the requirements of their position. The BC Restaurant and Foodservice Association (BCFRA), Sumac Ridge Estate Winery, Save on Foods stores and Town Hall Brands are asking you to share stories of colleagues, servers, cooks, friends and businesses who have provided a stellar or unique dining experience. This is a 12-week program from March 1 to May 23, 2021 that requires a nomination online. Each week, a Superstar of Service will be eligible to receive a $100 Save-On-Foods gift card and a gift from Sumac Ridge Estate Winery. At the end of the 12-week promotion, four individuals will be chosen to receive a special Sumac Ridge Estate Winery gift and a $250 gift card to Save-On-Foods. For more information please visit www.bcrfa.com/stand-up-for-service.

Show a lot of love to the wineries and local restaurants! Most wineries have or are doing their best to adjust to the new Covid PHO Rules and Regs (to the end of May 2021) and if they can’t comply, they do deliver product free or with a nominal delivery fee within B.C. If you are planning to visit the wineries, you will need to make reservations for tastings. The weather looks like it’s going to be good by the end of the week and Mother’s Day weekend, so go out there and sip, support and enjoy.

Winemaker Bailey Williamson at the Beautiful Blue Grouse Estate Winery

Most of all, support your neighbourhood and local restaurants! They are breaking their butts trying to accommodate outdoor dining, take out and delivery. Where I live, the Casino’s Match and Atlas and Fish Restaurants have absolutely amazing dine in specials and the service is way above par. Local restaurants like Cordo Resto and Bar, Maurya’s, Romeo’s Kitchen and Spirits, The Noble Pig Brewhouse and just too many to mention here, are truly happy to see you, or to take your pick up order and meet you outside with it, with some restaurants offering delivery as well. I just can’t believe the effort and the genuine caring about how everyone is doing. So, step up to the plate and show them you care about them too!

A Few Great B.C. Wines and Wineries to Support:

We had a busy month of wine tasting and of course we came up with a lot of great wine choices to support, or for Mother’s Day, Me Day or any day. So grab a glass of wine, there is something here for everyone. Wineries are in alphabetical order:

Highly Recommended: From Bartier Bros. Vineyard & Winery, The Goal is an icon and the winery’s flagship red produced from equal amounts of Merlot and Cabernet Franc sourced from their Cerqueira Vineyard. As amazing on the nose as it is on the palate, The Goal is fragrant with dark cherry, soft plum and white pepper spice aromas. Dry, medium-plus-bodied with beautifully balanced acidity, velour tannins and supple, spiced dark plum, cherry, raspberry, deli meat, flinty and white pepper spice finishing long on the palate. Poured with an Entrecôte Bordelaise, it was a gastronomic success! The Goal is so named for “getting the job done” in this case, more like getting the job well done in producing this amazing Bordeaux-style red. Tasted March 2021. 13.9% abv / $37

So Fresh and Zesty: From Blue Grouse Estate Winery, Off-Dry White 2019 is exactly that at 24 g/l residual sugar, beautifully balanced with a juicy acidity that just creeps around the sides of the palate. The wine is an off-dry, medium-bodied 49% Gewürztraminer 22% Riesling, 11% Chasselas, 9% Schönburger and 9% Pinot Blanc white wine blend subtle on the nose with ripe Macintosh-style apple (Cortland perhaps), honeyed stone fruit, orange blossom aromas and flavours with a lengthy, mouth filling, juicy finish. The winery suggests pouring it with spicy Asian or Indian cuisine. We chilled and poured it with pan-fried, ginger-spiced Arctic Char filets.  Tasted April 2021. 12.5% abv / $18

For the BBQ: Produced from 100% Cabernet Sauvignon sourced and hand-harvested from the Golden Mile Bench, C.C. Jentsch Cellars Small Lot Series Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 is fragrant with dark fruit and savoury aromas, rich and smooth with black cherry, dark plum compote, cassis, savoury herb, cedar and dark spice flavours on the palate all balanced with good acidity. Matured 16 months in French and American oak barrels. Pour with a Philly steak sandwich or rosemary braised lamb shanks.  We poured it with slow-braised beef short ribs and bison burgers with a toast to the late, great Chris Jentsch who was the owner and winemaker at C.C. Jentsch Cellars. Tasted February 2021. 14.6% abv /$50

For a Hot Summer Day: Produced from estate-grown Pinot Gris from the North and South Okanagan, B.C. Cedar Creek’s 2019 Lot 87 Pinot Gris 2019 is a 50/50 blend of Pinot Gris sourced from the Southern Okanagan’s dry and desert-like vineyards giving the wine rich and ripe mouth-filling flavours balanced with laser-like acidity. The result is one masterfully-crafted Pinot Gris. The wine was fermented three months in stainless-steel tank with seven per cent of the vintage aged in neutral oak. The blended wine rested on its lees for three months adding body, roundness and finesse to the wine. Floral with bright citrus and ripe pear aromas on the nose; dry, medium-bodied and lush with ripe pear, melon, apple and quince fruit on the palate lingering on with a touch of spice. Tasted February 2021. 13.4% abv / $19

Superb Poise and Balance: CedarCreek Estate Winery Pinot Noir Rosé 2020 is really a beautiful rosé. Produced from estate grown Pinot Noir specifically grown to make rosé, the wine is elegant and absolutely delicious! Starting off with its pretty, soft pink hue in the glass, it is a fresh and creamy mouthful of ripe strawberry, raspberry, mandarin, mineral flavours long on the palate with a soft spicy finish. Subtle, dry and crisp, this is a rosé for every occasion. Chill and enjoy on its own or pour with a baked Brie topped with a warm strawberry coulis. Tasted April 2021.  12% abv / $21

Smooth Elegance: This is one zesty and spicy Pinot Noir, fragrant with ripe black cherry, pomegranate, blackberry, dried fruit and soft citrus aromas on the nose. On the palate the wine is dry, vibrant and medium-bodied with spiced cherry, cocoa, anise, cardamom, pepper spice flavours and velvety from beginning to finish. Tasted February 2021. 12.5% abv / $35

Beautifully Crafted: Love this medium- to full-bodied Cabernet Franc from Fort Berens Winery. Do decant the wine one hour prior to service. At first whiff, there are meaty, peppery and iodine aromas on the nose, but after about 45 minutes, the wine opens up to dark chocolate, pink florals and raspberry leaf aromas with raspberry cream, cedar spice, vanilla flavours smooth and rich on the palate with a flinty, pepper spice finish.  The wine could easily cellar for a couple of years but is drinking beautifully now. Tasted March 2021. 14.1% abv / $36

One for the Cellar: A beautiful, if not shy, Reserve Meritage blend of 57% Merlot, 26% Cabernet Franc and 17% Cabernet Sauvignon. The 2018 is a great cellaring candidate and I would say try it in 2022, but if you can’t wait and want it now definitely decant the wine two hours prior to pouring it with a grilled steak or game sausage and roasted root vegetable casserole. Something meaty in any case. A bit shy on the nose as well with some reductive aromas, but once decanted the nose is bright with ripe, red cherry, cassis, red plum, savoury herbs and spices. On the palate the wine is dry, medium-plus-bodied, earthy with layers of ripe red cherry, red currant, black raspberry, blueberry, savoury herb and spices. Acidity is balanced. For this wine, the Cabernet Sauvignon was aged in American oak barrels and the Merlot and Cabernet Franc wine grapes were fermented 25% whole clusters and 75% crushed with a portion of the Cab Franc grapes made Apassimento style to increase flavour intensity. The wine was barrel-aged 14 months in a mix of French and American oak barrels. Tasted February 2021. 13% abv / $36

Patio Pick Rosé: One word – Delicious! Fort Berens Estate Winery 2020 rosé is a mouthful of bright and ripe wild strawberry flavours that go on forever intermingled with ripe raspberry, watermelon, soft orange zest, subtle fine herb and white pepper spice balanced with spot-on acidity. Produced from mostly Pinot Noir grapes sourced from the winery’s estate vineyards with some Cabernet Franc and Merlot from their fledgling Red Rock Vineyard.

The grapes were destemmed and crushed with 48 hours of skin contact giving the wine a pretty, bright coral pink colour in the glass and the wine juice was cold fermented giving the wine its fresh and juicy fruit flavours. Chill and enjoy this anytime rosé on its own or with everything from brunch fare, salads and charcuterie to veggie kebabs and salmon burgers from the grill. Tasted April 2021. 12.6% abv / $20

A Juicy and Satisfying Rosé: Love this brilliant pink rosé from Hester Creek. It’s so fresh and friendly! All it wants to do is please and that it does starting with fresh and fruity aromas of rhubarb, red berry, watermelon and a whiff of white pepper spice on the nose.  This rosé is so juicy on the palate with bright red cherry, strawberry, raspberry, cotton candy and zesty citrus flavours. Produced from 100% Cabernet Franc from the Oliver and Osoyoos area, grapes were hand-harvested, destemmed and cold soaked whole for four days, pressed, racked and cool-fermented in stainless-steel tanks for 32 days, with individual lots blended and aged in stainless-steel tanks for four months prior to bottling. The result is one juicy, on-this-side of off-dry, rosé.

The 2020 vintage was the 5th warmest in growing degree days in the last 20 years giving amazing ripe and quality fruit. According to the winemaker “producing wines that are cellar worthy.” Not a chance!  Guaranteed, if you have this rosé in the house, it’s not going to make it to Thanksgiving. Serve chilled on its own or with a charcuterie board. Tasted March 2021. 13% abv / $20

A BBQ Red with lots of Character: Wow! Hester Creek’s 2019 Character Red has a whole lot of character. This is a full-bodied, spicy and exuberant, rich and meaty red wine blend of Syrah, Petit Verdot, Cabernet and Malbec. On the nose the wine is fragrant with pink florals, blueberry, blackberry, dark cherry, nutmeg and clove spice. Tannins are grippy right from the get-go, but there is also abundant dark fruit, ripe dark cherry, dark plum, baking spice and savoury herb flavours balanced with vibrant acidity to match. The wine could benefit from some time in cellar (try in 2022) or decant two hours prior to pouring with a roast beef dinner or a well-marbled ribeye steak done rare from the grill. Tasted March 2021. 13.9% abv / $20

Easy to Love: Hester Creek’s Character white is always so much fun and easy to understand. The 2020 vintage is no different. Produced from 65% Pinot Gris and 35% Gewürztraminer sourced from vineyards near the winery including the winery’s Golden Mile Bench and Road 7 estates. Wine lots were cool fermented for about 31 days, then blended and aged in stainless-steel tanks for four months on fine lees. The wine is juicy, off-dry and fragrant with rose petal, lychee, peaches and cream aromas with tropical fruit, pineapple, mango and citrus zest flavours on the palate. From a banner year of abundant ripe fruit balanced with good acidity. Chill and enjoy with brunch fare or something as simple as herbed flatbread and goat cheese. Tasted March 2021. 12.9% abv / $17

Chill, Sip, Enjoy, Repeat: Hester Creek Estate Winery’s Pinot Gris Viognier (PGV)  is unique to select Save-On-Foods VQA Stores in B.C. and sells out every year. And you don’t want to miss out on the 2020 PGV because this vintage is exceptional. Produced from 65% Pinot Gris and 35% Viognier, the wine is concentrated on the palate with ripe, juicy peach, citrus, ginger spice flavours and refreshing acidity. Wine grapes were sourced from the Oliver area with the Pinot Gris sourced from Hester Creek’s Vineyard Manager’s own properties as well as select grape growers in the area. The Viognier was sourced from Fournier and Chahal’s vineyards. Suffers from evaporation when chilled and enjoyed with friends and lively conversation, so buy it by the case. Tasted March 2021. 12.7% abv / $17

Supple, Sensual and Elegant: Le Vieux Pin Syrah Cuvée 2018 Violette is produced from 99% Syrah and 1% Viognier. Straight off the top the nose on this wine is fragrant with, well you guessed it, violets, as well as rich cherry, plum, fine herb and savoury aromas. On the palate this dry, fruity, medium-plus-bodied and elegant Syrah is so silky, sensual and liquid luscious finishing long with a kiss of pepper. The wine was fermented in cement, oak and stainless-steel tank with 10 months ageing in a mix of concrete, oak casks and six months in neutral French oak barrels. Pour with a duck confit and roasted small potatoes. This is a beautifully-crafted Syrah that is so good now, but will continue to evolve for the next five years. However, the 2018 vintage is already difficult to find! Tasted February 2021. 13.5% abv / $36

Bright and Sunshiny: Produced from Pinot Gris grapes planted in 1996 and 2008, Liquidity 2019 Pinot Gris is a fresh and zesty PG with yellow apple, ripe pear, orange blossom and mineral aromas on the nose with fresh orchard fruit, honeyed citrus and white pepper spice balanced with medium-plus, food-friendly acidity on the palate. Very refreshing and a perfect pairing to a grilled chicken or pork tenderloin dish. Tasted March 2021.  13.4% abv / $22

Highly Recommended: Wow! That’s all I got. Little Engine Winery’s Gold 2016 Pinot Noir is so luxurious, well-balanced and well-crafted, it’s a love story! Ruby with garnet hints, the wine is as savoury on the nose as it is on the palate. Fragrant with ripe dark cherry, dried wild herbs, leather with soft anise aromas, you just know it’s going to be smooth and elegant on the palate. And it is, but not overly fruity, more like dried florals, gentle baking spices, ripe dark cherry and mixed red berry flavours on its medium-plus-bodied frame with ultra-balanced acidity and soft velvety tannins that sashay to the finish. The winery does note that this PN can cellar to 2023. So sad… because in my cellar it is no more. We poured it with a sautéed swordfish steak in a lemon, ginger and spring garlic marinade. It was a marriage made in gastronomic heaven. Tasted April 2021. 14.1% / $ 65

Highly Recommended and Great Value: Mission Hill Reserve 2019 is an elegant and powerful red Meritage blend of 45% Cabernet Franc, 44% Merlot, 9% Petit Verdot and 1% Malbec with grapes sourced from Mission Hill’s estate vineyards as well as select sites in the Oliver and Osoyoos wine region. The wine was aged 15 months in French and American oak barrels and is dry, full-bodied and chock-a-block with dark fruit, brambleberry, dark plum and cedar spice flavours finishing with mouth-watering acidity and fine, chewy tannins that go on forever. It’s a beauty now and excellent value at $27, but if allowed time to develop and evolve will be more nuanced and refined in 2023.  However, if curiosity gets the better of your wine palate decant the wine two hours prior to pouring it with a roast beef dinner or gourmet burgers from the grill. Drink or hold. Tasted April 2021. 14.4% abv / $27

Highly Recommended and Great Value: What a pretty raspberry pink rosé from Mission Hill. The 2020 Rosé Reserve is an elegant Pinot Noir, Syrah and Merlot wine blend, fresh and bright on the nose with red berry, plum, cherry, chalky mineral aromas finishing with baked cherry pie. On the palate, the wine is dry with medium-plus-acidity and a fresh mouthful of concentrated strawberry, ripe raspberry, red currant and citrus flavours with a long, juicy finish. Chill and pour with a creamy Brie or baked ham, but it was delicious with oysters on the half shell with strawberry mignonette. Tasted March 2021. 12.5% abv / $22

Elegant and Light: Love this fresh and fruity, light-bodied Gamay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier rosé wine blend from Quails’ Gate Winery. Each varietal was cool-fermented separately in stainless-steel tank prior to the final blend. Bright on the nose with wild strawberry, cranberry, red currant, melon and citrus aromas, this rosé is dry, crisp and refreshing with a lingering fresh red berry, fine herb finish and a smattering of spice. An easy summer sipper but very approachable now. The winery suggests pairing it with Caprese salad, melon and prosciutto, or spinach and strawberry salad. I must confess, we poured it on its own and paired it with gardening. Tasted March 2021. 12% abv / $19

A Graceful Pinot Noir: Such a pretty and graceful Pinot Noir from Robin Ridge Winery.  Lovely and inviting on the nose with dried summer pink florals, ripe raspberry, fresh cherry, citrus, clove and nutmeg aromas. The wine is fresh, dry, medium-plus-bodied with spicy red plum, raspberry, bright cherry, savoury herbs and a variety of baking spices finishing smooth, silky and elegant. Very moreish and drinking beautiful now. The Pinot Noir grapes for this wine were sourced from the Similkameen Valley and are estate-grown and certified organic. Poured with Veal Ragù Pappardelle. Tasted February 2021. 13% abv / $24

A ‘Me Day’ Rosé: With a promise of Spring, Sandhill Terroir Driven 2020 Rosé is fragrant with fresh strawberry, raspberry, peaches and cream aromas on the nose; dry, medium-bodied and vibrant with wild strawberry, raspberry, cranberry, melon, earthy and savoury on the palate with a crisp finish and a kiss of pepper spice, briny mineral and soft citrus flavours.

Produced from Merlot and Gamay Noir wine grapes sourced from the winery’s South Okanagan Sandhill Estate and Rocky Ridge Vineyards, this is an expressive and beautifully-balanced rosé with lots of character and a perfect pairing to grilled shellfish – prawns in particular. Tasted March 2021. 90 pts / $20

An Amazing Grüner Veltliner / Highly Recommended: Amazing value on this vibrant Grüner (2019)  from Singletree. Light, bright gold in the glass with a green hue, you know exactly how this wine is going to taste – crisp, clean, zesty, vibrant and fresh like Spring. On the nose, the wine is softly floral, grassy with citrusy aromas and on the palate it is dry and mouth-watering with food-friendly acidity and well-rounded with honeyed citrus, herbal, tarragon, chives, dusty mineral and white pepper spice flavours. Beautifully-crafted and delicious. Poured with Steelhead filets stuffed with curried cream cheese and a perfect pairing with this rich dish. Tasted February 2021. 12% abv / $18 

(just a heads-up! For a limited time only the winery is offering free shipping in B.C. only on six bottles or more of any Singletree Winery wine).   

Fun and Juicy: From Singletree winery, Siggy is a friendly and fragrant 100% Siegerrebe with orange blossom, lychee, fine herb and spring rain mineral aromas on the nose. On the palate the wine is clean, crisp and mouth-filling with ripe stone fruit, pear, apple, soft orange and citrus flavours with beautifully balanced acidity. Enjoy chilled on its own or pour with a pork schnitzel. Produced by winemaker, Andrew Etsell, who entered the wine world as a vineyard tech at the Mission Hill Family Estate Winery, when he thought about starting his own vineyard in the Fraser Valley, which he and the rest of the Etsell family did with Singletree. “Siegerrebe” in German translates to “Victory Wine” and Singletree’s Siggy 2019 is definitely a winner! Fresh, zesty, food versatile and easy to enjoy chilled on its own or with seafood dishes, pork schnitzels or fresh veggies and dip. Tasted March 2021. 12.5% abv  / $17

Plushy and lush: The 2018 Cabernet Franc from Summerhill Pyramid Winery is an absolute beauty. Smooth, elegant and in total harmony, the wine is dry, medium-plus-bodied, lush with ripe red berry, raspberry cream, blackberry, earthy violets, flinty mineral flavours with just enough defined nutmeg, cinnamon and pepper spice on the finish to make it interesting. The wine is balanced with medium-acidity and tannins are velvety throughout.

The organically grown Cab Franc grapes for this vintage were sourced from the west shores of Skaha Lake in the Okanagan Valley and the winery has been certified Demeter Biodynamic since 2012. The wine was fermented with natural yeasts in large oak foudres and allowed to mellow and rest for 26 months in neutral oak barrels. Pour with filet mignon and roast pheasant. We poured it with a venison filet mignon encroute. The 2018 Cab Franc can easily hold a year or two in cellar, but why wait – it’s drinking beautifully now! Tasted April 2021. 14% abv / $29

A Lively Alive Rosé: From Summerhill Pyramid Winery, Alive Rosé 2020 is an off-dry, vegan-friendly and organic 49% Zweigelt, 45% Cabernet Franc and 6% Pinot Meunier rosé blend, bright wild cherry pink in the glass and as vibrant on the palate as it is fragrant, lush with mouthfuls of tart cranberry, crushed raspberry, fresh cherry, rhubarb, dried fine herbs and a juicy long finish. An elegant, fun and refreshing rosé, food-friendly and versatile with seafood, salads or as an easy-to-enjoy patio-sipper! Tasted March 2021. 12.5% abv / $20

One Juicy Cab Franc: Time Winery Cabernet Franc 2018 is lush, smooth and comfy on the palate with rich raspberry, red berry, black cherry, leather, toffee, anise, pepper spice flavours and nicely balanced with food-friendly acidity. Tannins are rich, pleasantly grippy and while it is so quaffable now, it has the structure, fruit and balance to easily cellar for another three years. We poured it with grilled Boer’s sausage, and it was a perfect match to the anise and cardamom spice in the sausage. Tasted March 2021. 13.5% abv / $35

Highly Recommended: So, the definition of Pavlovian is a learning procedure in which a biologically potent stimulus (e.g. food) is paired with a previously neutral stimulus (e.g. a bell).” In this case, it would be burgers from the grill to Time Winery’s Cabernet Sauvignon 2018. It screams burgers and every time I sniff at it, that’s all I want… aside from the wine, of course.

The 2018 Cab Sauv. is dry, medium-plus bodied, meaty and spicy on the palate, intense with dark fruit, blackberry, menthol, vanilla flavours, medium-acidity and rich, grippy tannins. Decant two hours prior to pouring with burgers and ribs or cellar for a year and try it in 2022.  Tasted March 2021. 13.5% abv / $40

Great Gew: A vibrant, aromatic Alsatian-style Gewürztraminer with soft orange, pink and white roses, ginger spice and lychee aromas, Township 7 Vineyards and Winery 2018 Gew is dry, mouth-wateringly crisp and mouth-filling with ripe pear and pink rose petals dominant on the palate finishing spicy and long with mandarin flavours. So refreshing and drinking beautifully now. The Gew grapes for this vintage were sourced from Township 7 Naramata Bench Estate and Vista Lago Vineyards and were fermented in both stainless-steel tank, to retain fruit aromatics, freshness and acidity and oak barrel, adding more body, texture and finesse to the wine. Poured with peat-smoked Atlantic salmon and spring onion cream cheese on baguette. Tasted March 2021. 13.5% abv / $20

A Perfect Pairing to Spicy Foods: Township 7 Provenance Series 7 Blanc is like spring and summer all rolled into one. Fresh and fruity on the nose with ripe pear, peach, white and pink florals, ginger, pepper spice and a zesty citrus and mineral zing to top it all off. Produced from Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris, Viognier, Riesling and Muscat grapes, 7 Blanc 2019 is off-dry, medium-bodied with balanced acidity and nicely balanced overall. Easy to enjoy chilled on its own or pour with mild curries. Tasted April 2021. 13.2% abv / $21

Sauvignon Blanc Sipper: Township 7 Provenance Series Sauvignon Blanc 2019 is a well-crafted, elegant gentle and easy sipper SB with a splash of Semillon. The wine is a balanced and harmonious mouthful of fresh tropical fruit, grapefruit, citrus zest and grassy notes with a satisfying mouth feel and lingering finish. Easy to enjoy chilled on its own, pour with a hot summer day by the lake. Tasted April 2021. 13.1% abv / $20

A Big Buttery Toasty Oak Zesty Chard: The 2019 Chardonnay from Upper Bench Winery is like liquid lemon sunshine meets toasty oak spice and smoky vanilla. After a long, cool fermentation, the wine was matured in 50% French oak barrels of which 30% were new, so there is a lot of toasty oak, buttered popcorn, toffee, lemon curd and mouth-watering acidity on this Chard with some stone fruit, apple and mineral flavours on the palate. It does need some time to marry and mellow. Give it a couple years to show its best. Pour with roast chicken. Tasted March 2021. 13.8% abv / $27

Stay Well and Safe Everyone!

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Wintry Weather, Barbeque, Patio, Brunch and Dinner Wines, or Welcome to March

We live on the edge of a semi-arid, desert-like climatic zone where, in March, you can have snow in the morning, snow-melt sun in the afternoon, then rain and wind into the evening…often, all on the same day. This same climate diversity and terroir is also responsible for producing world-class B.C. wines. So, the conundrum for this blogpost was what to name it, but given the forecast for today, I’m sticking with Wintry Weather Wines that are also perfect for the BBQ, patio (if you wear a parka), brunch, lunch or dinner.

Bartier Brother wines speak of their terroir, but very much of the land from where the grapes are grown. In the case of Bartier’s Black Sage Bench Cerqueira Vineyard 2019 Chardonnay, vines toil in the Gneiss, limestone, quartz, granite, mineral and chalky soils. Pale gold in the glass, this Chardonnay is fresh, clean, nuanced with dried white florals, chalky mineral and Meyer lemon aromas on the nose; dry, flinty with soft citrus, smoky, stony mineral flavours and lightly creamy on the palate from elevage in stainless steel tank with lees contact for six months, but more silky-smooth with a deft chalky, tannin-like finish. Complex and elegant. Too easy to enjoy chilled on its own *(* but also pour with lightweight seafood dishes. Tasted December 2020. 13% abv / $20

Highly Recommended: Love the fresh lychee, sagey, dried floral and mineral aromas on this 2019 Gewurztraminer from Bartier Bros. On the palate the wine is light, vibrant, linear with lychee, brush herbs, softly-spiced and finishing silky with soft citrus flavours and a fresh and flinty minerality I so love on Bartier’s wines. The Gew grapes for this vintage were sourced from the Lone Pine Vineyard in Summerland.  Pour with roast turkey, duck or on its own. Tasted December 2020. 13.1% abv / $20

Bartier Brothers 2018 Cabernet Franc showcases the unique terroir of the Black Sage Terrace with its gneiss, limestone, quartz and granite soils giving this wine its distinctive flinty mineral signature. Fragrant and fresh with aromas of ripe raspberry, white pepper and flint on the nose the 2018 Cab Franc is dry, medium-plus-bodied with ripe raspberry, red currant, white pepper, finishing fresh with a lingering spicy, flinty minerality. Tannins are fine-grained and chalky. Tasted January 2021. 13.3% / $26

C.C. Jentsch, The Quest 2018 is a zesty, medium-bodied, well-crafted and balanced unoaked white wine blend of 74.9% Chardonnay, 13.3% Viognier, 10.3 Gewurztraminer and 1.5% Schoenburger. On the palate, the wine is dry, bright and food-friendly with white summer florals, Bartlett pear, lime zest and ginger spice flavours. Chill and enjoy on its own. The winery suggests pairing it with light seafood dishes like crab cakes or a steamed filet of sole. We poured it with pan-fried, almond-crusted pickerel filets. Tasted December 2020. 13.9% / $18

Highly Recommended and Amazing… that’s all I’ve got. Cassini Cellars Maximus 2014 is a full-bodied, muscular, spot-on balanced 56% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Merlot, 12% Cabernet Franc and 4% Malbec classic Bordeaux-style, red wine blend. Rich and intense on the palate mirroring its nose of juicy black currant, black pepper, strawberry fruit leather, vanilla, cocoa and sweet dried tobacco leaf never more prevalent than what I’ve tasted on this wine.  Dry, savoury and mouth-filling finishing long with well-integrated oak spice, balanced acidity and fine-grained, rich tannins. Pour with grilled lamb, venison or beef. We poured it with venison roulades. Tasted January 2021. 15.5% abv / $50

From Cedar Creek Estate Winery 2014 Platinum ‘Block 4’ Single Vineyard Pinot Noir is elegant and smooth with ripe cherry, dried pink florals, red currant, mocha flavours, sultry, smoky and complex with a walnut shell finish. Tannins are velvety and the wine is harmonious, savoury and comforting on the palate, like speaking with an old friend and with who you should share this wine! Produced from Pinot Noir clones 115 and 667, aged one year in French oak barrels and bottled unfiltered. Tasted December 2020. 13.9% abv / $75

Highly Recommended: From Clos du Soleil Winery in the Similkameen Valley, B.C., shines Capella, a fresh and vibrant white Meritage blend of 85% Sauvignon Blanc and 15% Semillon aptly named after the brilliant Capella star prominent in the Northern Hemisphere on winter evenings. Capella is Clos du Soleil’s top tier white wine, complex and elegant with white grapefruit, lemon curd, fresh pear, soft orange citrus, smoky, mineral aromas on the nose; dry, medium-bodied, beautifully-balanced, creamy and mouth-filling with crisp, fresh acidity and a lingering grapefruit and mineral finish on the palate. Extremely moreish! Grapes were whole-clustered pressed, fermented in 65% French oak puncheons and 35% stainless steel tank, then barrel-aged for nine months on fine lees with regular batonnage. 13.1% abv / $25

Highly Recommended: Celestiale is a beautifully-balanced and smooooooth 38% Merlot, 13% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Malbec, 13% Cabernet Franc and 3% Petit Verdot Bordeaux-style red wine blend from the Clos du Soleil Winery. Fragrant with ripe cherry, raspberry, dark berry and cedar spice aromas, the wine is dry, elegant, medium-plus-bodied showing a subtle savouriness with ripe dark cherry, ripe red berry, blackberry flavours and a lingering flintiness on the palate. Well-crafted, structured with food-friendly acidity for a beef bavette from the grill or roast chicken. Grapes were sourced from Chopaka Ridge, Clos du Soleil Estate, Middle Bench and La Côte Vineyards in the Similkameen Valley, British Columbia. The final blend was aged 15 months in French oak barrels. Tasted December 2020. 14% abv / $26

Highly Recommended: If you’re looking for a cozy, smooth winter red, Dark Horse Vineyard 2016 Meritage is perfect for those wintry nights by the hearth fire. Produced from 65% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Cabernet Franc is a dark wine with a bright and sensuous soul, inviting on the nose with warm aromas of black cherry, plum conserves, baking spices and Madagascar vanilla. On the palate, it is elegant but assertive, generous with layers of spiced plum, dark cherry, earthy violets, smoky vanilla, dried tobacco, cedar spice, silky and mouth-filling finishing long and sensuously satisfying – a well-balanced and beautifully crafted Meritage worth every penny. The wine was aged 16 months in French and American oak barrels before being transferred back into stainless steel tanks prior to final blending. Paired with a wintry, snowy night by the fire, but this full-bodied Meritage would be amazing with roast pheasant or filet mignon. Tasted November 2020. 14.5% abv / $60

Highly Recommended and Exceptional: Great Northern Vineyards is located on the bench above the Similkameen River in Cawston. British Columbia. The soils are predominately rocky in the Similkameen Valley retaining the heat in the vineyards during the valley’s cool nights. An excellent Viognier from the valley, floral on the nose with warm white blossoms, ginger, soft orange citrus aromas, the 2018 vintage is dry, medium-bodied, beautifully-balanced and mouth-filling with ripe spiced pear, peach, honeyed quince, soft citrus flavours finishing zesty with food-friendly acidity and silky on the palate. An amazing Viognier from a great vintage with a fabulous price point and not a lot left of it either. Grapes were hand-harvested at 23.2 brix for this vintage. A portion of the wine was barrel-fermented in previous-use French oak barrels prior to being blended with wine fermented in stainless-steel tank. Tasted many times – last tasted January 2021. 13.5% abv / $18

Howling Bluff Century Block 2015 is an amazing Pinot Noir with a few years on it yet! On the palate, the wine is dry, medium-plus-bodied, lush, supple, richly-layered with ripe black cherry, plushy plum, savoury herb, nutmeg, ginger spice flavours balanced with good acidity, finishing long, smooth and smoky with velvety, rounded tannins. Produced from Pinot Noir clones 667 and 777 sourced from the Century Block, once an orchard of 100 different apple species. This vintage was aged 12 months in French oak barrels and only 63 cases produced. Tasted November 2020. 13.5% abv / $35

Kismet Estate Winery’s 2017 Moksha is a full-bodied 38% Syrah, 24% Malbec, 14% Grenache, 14% Mourvèdre and 10% Viognier red wine blend. Smoky with liquid ripe dark fruit, cedar spice and mocha aromas on the nose with dark berry fruit, chocolate, cedar and pepper spice flavours smooth and mouth-coating on the palate. Tannins are rounded. Pour with grilled lamb dishes. Tasted December 2020. 14% abv / $35

Two years ago, when I bought this wine, I was told it would age well, and it has! I half-expected it would have lost its acidity and might be a bit flat. Wow, was I wrong! On the nose, there is still a lot of fresh red berry and more candied cherry, spicy and earthy aromas. On the palate, Play Estate Winery 2015 Syrah is dry, medium-plus-bodied with dried cherry, savoury herb, earthy and pepper spice flavours with a lingering spicy finish and pleasant, mildly grippy tannins. Definitely a cool-climate Syrah built to age and I would say to drink by 2022 because it is beautiful now. This vintage was awarded Silver at the 2017 B.C. Wine Awards Okanagan Wine Festival. 14% abv / $30

Robin Ridge Gamay Noir 2018 is a lighter style Gamay produced from organically-grown wine grapes from the Similkameen Valley in B.C. On the nose, the wine is spicy and fragrant with white pepper, pink florals, peony roses, fresh truffle and earthy aromas. On the palate, it is dry, medium-bodied with bright cherry, raspberry, violets, white pepper with a lingering dark spice finish. Tannins are rounded on this easy-to-enjoy Gamay. We poured it with roast duck. The winery suggests sautéed wild mushrooms on sourdough toast which would also be a heavenly match. Tasted January 2021.  13% abv / $24

Robin Ridge 2016 Falcon Merlot is produced from organically-farmed, estate-grown grapes and is spot on with ripe spiced plums, blueberry, raspberry compote, dark cherry, cooked bacon, dried herbs, clove. nutmeg and savoury spice flavours finishing long with a stony minerality. Dry, medium-plus-bodied with fine, chalky tannins, balanced with food-friendly acidity. We poured it with grilled, bacon, shallot and wild mushroom stuffed farmer’s pork chops. The winery suggests pouring it with Asada tacos or slow-cooked beef and tomato stew.  Tasted January 2021. 14% abv / $22

Highly Recommended and Great Value: Shades of Sandhill 2014 Terroir Driven Syrah – only better. Buy this one by the case because it is not going to last long! While Sandhill Winery’s 2014 Syrah was amazing, their 2017 Syrah is an elegant, poised and ultra-balanced beauty. Deep dark ruby in the glass. Bold, medium-plus-bodied with liquid cherry, dark plum, ripe blueberry, earthy mushrooms, violets, meaty, mochanilla flavours lithe, warming and pin-point balanced on the palate. Tannins are still a bit grippy, but decanting it for one hour prior to pouring will solve that. Could easily cellar for another year or two… but why would I want to do that? Delicious now. Pair it with grilled noisettes of lamb. Tasted December 2020. 14.3% abv / $20

Highly Recommended: From Sperling Vineyards, their 2018 Pinot Noir is a classic, dry, medium-plus-bodied PN with ripe red berries, red currant, cherry, fresh mushroom, violets with a lingering citrusy, mineral finish. Tannins are velvety and there is good acidity for food. Pour with roast Cornish game hens. Produced from organically-grown wine grapes with 40% of the hand-harvested bunches whole-cluster fermented in small lots and matured in large, older oak barrels (265 to 500 litre) more to marry and mellow the wine with only a small percentage of new oak. Produced from 114, 777 and 828 Dijon Pinot Noir clones Tasted December 2020. 12% abv / $29

Highly Recommended: Old Vines Riesling 2016 from Sperling Vineyards is definitely is a Wow! A beautifully put together and different Riesling. First off, it is just dry at 10.4 g/l residual sugar but it tastes bone-dry with balanced laser-precision acidity. This IS the winery’s jewel and flagship and released only after it has already spent two years in bottle. Fresh on the nose with yellow apple, apricot, mandarin orange aromas, on the palate it is medium-bodied and crisp with a beautiful chalky minerality, bright citrus, subtle apricot, white almond nut flavours and a clean and zesty, flinty, long mineral finish. The estate, organically/biodynamically grown Riesling grapes were hand-harvested, cool-fermented with non-aromatic and wild yeasts in stainless steel. The wine can age up to 10 years, but I can tell you It’s not going to last that long around here! Chill and enjoy on its own or pour with pan-fried almond-crusted walleye filets. Tasted November 2020. 11.5% abv / $20

From Fool’s Gold Vineyard in North Oliver, Township 7 Vineyards’ Fool’s Gold Vineyard Riesling 2018 is bright lemon in the glass and bright and fresh on the nose as well with light petrol, apricot and citrusy aromas. On the palate, the wine is dry and refreshing, medium-bodied with a silky mouthfeel showing honeyed apple, lemon-lime zest, mild petrol, wet gravel flavours with a crisp, long mineral and lemon curd finish. We poured it with pan-fried, almond-crusted walleye filets (we like walleye). The winery suggests pairing it with Sashimi. Tasted January 2021. 12.5% abv / $20

Highly Recommended: Produced from 100% estate-grown Syrah, co-fermented in small batches with a small percentage of Viognier produced in the traditional Rhone style. I first tasted this Syrah about a year ago and it was great then and is great now. The only difference now is the toasty oak spice on this wine has further integrated (aged for 20 months in new and second use American and French oak barrels) and the fine-grained tannins are more approachable. This Similkameen Valley Syrah is rich and mouth-filling with ripe dark berries, licorice, meaty, cocoa, savoury spice flavours silky-smooth on the palate and finishing with a kiss of vanilla. Poured with grilled venison steak. Tasted January 2021. 14.8% abv / $35

Winery Roundup

Chatting with several wineries across B.C. so far, (fingers and everything crossed) that early cold snap and snowfall in October 2020 hasn’t bothered the vines too much with 2020 being reported as a banner year for wine. Go figure!

And, as I write this blog, many wineries are offering discounted or free shipping, end-of-vintage specials, care packages and all manner of discounts. So check the offers from your favourite winery. There’s too many to mention here, but Great Estates, Summerhill, Township 7, Upper Bench are just some of the few.

Little Engine Wines virtual wine set

However, I would like to tip my hat and glass to Little Engine Wines. In 2020, the winery came up with the COVID-inspired idea to offer virtual tasting wine sets to enjoy at home. A fantastic idea and a great way to try their wines. There are two sets – a silver and gold series. They were/are a smashing success and the winery plans to continue these virtual tastings in the future. Take a peek here: https://www.littleenginewines.com/virtual

Stay safe and enjoy the wine you’re with!

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There is Beauty in Bubbles

Beautiful B.C. Bubbles!

I just love tiny bubbles… which is a good thing on many fronts right now. And, while I love Champagne, Cava and Prosecco, for the past four years I have been diligently working at discovering more about Beautiful British Columbia bubbles.

While not everyone likes sparkling wine, it has become the most versatile of wines and its consumption has increased around the world, accounting for 10% of global wine sales and growing from 2.5 billion litres to 25 billion litres consumed annually (Drinktec). Personally, I know I have worked hard at contributing to that stat.

In Canada, sparkling wine dollar sales in increased from $439M in 2018 to $472M in 2019. (Statista Consumer Goods and Alcoholic Beverages). Part of the reason for the increase of bubble imbibitions is more bubble is being made in a variety of sizes, formats, alcohol levels (from 7% to 13.5% abv.) price points and most of all, it has become a beverage appropriate for every occasion. So, don’t only think New Years, Valentine’s Day, think brunch, picnic, host/hostess gift, sunsets/sunrises, or just being grateful for the day.

Summerhill Pyramid Winery Cipes NV Sparkling Organic Brut

I love Summerhill Pyramid Winery’s Cipes NV Brut. I love the toasty almond, citrusy acidity and the persistent and lively mousse of fresh honeyed apple, pear, pink grapefruit, lime zest that all come together in a crisp and vibrant bubble rush on the palate. The winery is Demeter Certified and the cuvée for Cipes NV is produced from 100% organically-grown wine grapes, a blend of 70% Riesling, 20% Pinot Noir and 10% Chardonnay produced in the traditional method as in the making of champagne. Cipes Brut is off-dry and will pair with most anything. Chill and enjoy anytime and often.  Tasted December 2020. / $30

Sperling Vineyards B.C. 2019 Pet Nat, Okanagan Valley, B.C.

In honour of November’s Beaver full moon, we cracked open Sperling Vineyards 2019 Pet Nat – a delightfully fine, dry bubble at 9% abv, zesty, food-friendly and produced from Perle de Csaba wine grapes planted at the winery in 1934. Soft and delicate on the palate with mandarin, peach, mild anise, fine herb and leesy mineral flavours balanced with refreshing, mouth-watering acidity. The 2019 Pet Nat is Sperling’s best one yet – a delicious, B.C. Okanagan Valley, organic, biodynamic, estate-grown, vegan, gluten-free, naturally-fermented, spritzy sparkler produced by winemakers, Ann Sperling & Rickard Branby. Poured with a scallop ceviche. Tasted November 2020. / $30

Monster Vineyards The Brute 2019 Sparkling wine B.C. V.Q.A. Okanagan Valley

The Brute is a delish, bright bubble with lemon, pineapple and soft orange citrus flavours creamy and zesty on the palate. Produced from lower yielding Muscat, Pinot Gris, Viognier, Chardonnay and Verdejo wine grapes from a fairy-tale vintage with excellent quality fruit. This is lovely monster you won’t mind having around — very moreish and a great value sparkler. Chill and enjoy. Tasted September 2020. / $20

Monte Creek Ranch Winery 2019 Sparkling White

A fun bubble for brunch, Mimosas or try it with a Bellini made with apricot puree.  Produced in the Charmat Method and made from 100% estate-grown La Crescent and Frontenac Blanc grapes. The base wine was aged on its fine lees in stainless steel tanks. Fragrant with ripe white-fleshed stone-fruit, tropical fruit and beeswax aromas on the nose, this easy-to-enjoy playful bubble is off-dry with honeyed pear, citrus, Ataulfo mango and nectarine flavours creamy on the palate. Tasted September 2020. / $22

Time Winery & Evolve Cellars Effervescence White NV BC V.Q.A. Okanagan Valley

Another great value bubble, Evolve Effervescence is a fun, refreshing and lively sparkling Charmat Method (second fermentation in tank) 70% Pinot Blanc and 30% Chardonnay white wine blend. On the nose, the wine is citrusy, peaches and cream, finishing with light spicy aromas. On the palate, the wine is on the drier side of off-dry, creamy with ripe peach, lemon curd and dusty chalk (in a good way) flavours. Pair with brunch, Westcoast eggs Benny, quiche, or on its own. Tasted November 2020. / $20

Township 7 Vineyards and Winery 2016 Equinox Seven Stars, BC V.Q.A.

This new sparkling addition to Township 7’s Seven Stars collection is expressive and impressive. Equinox 2016 is a club-exclusive 100% Pinot Noir rosé bubble with grapes sourced from Sperling Winery’s biodynamic vineyards in Kelowna. Salmon-pink in the glass, Equinox has a fresh and savoury character, toasty with tart red berry and soft orange zest aromas on the nose. Light and crisp with a creamy, persistent mousse of ripe red berry, strawberry, clementine, biscuit and mineral notes that caress the palate – a gentle and mellow bubble. Seven Stars Equinox 2016 is a vegan-friendly, traditional method sparkler in which the wine undergoes second fermentation in bottle. The wine was left en tirage for 29 months to develop rich and creamy autolytic characters. Tasted October 2020. / $50

Township 7 Vineyards and Winery 2017 Polaris Seven Stars B.C. V.Q.A.

So fresh, lively and bright! A great traditional-method sparkling Blanc de Blanc from Township 7 Vineyards. Produced from 100% Chardonnay and fermented in bottle. As the North star is the brightest star in the Ursa Minor constellation, Polaris 2017 shines bright from the winery’s Seven Stars Collection. Dry with a creamy and lively mousse of fresh melon, binned apple, apricot jam, custard bisquite, toasty on the palate with a long and bright citrus finish. Great chilled on its own. We paired it with stargazing, but it would also be a perfect match to all manner of seafood. Tasted December 2020. / $35

Bubbles of a Different Sphere – Dome Dining

Colorado has its retired gondolas and Amsterdam its glass greenhouse dining, so what do Canadians do when they need to keep their bubbles small, they enjoy their tiny bubbles in a bigger bubble. Enter Dining Domes which are now becoming all the rage across Canada.

Frind Winery Dining Domes

So how cool is bubbles and dinner on a beach front under the stars, or as the snow slowly drifts down all around you cocooned in an elegant, heated and softly lit glass dome. Very Cool!

Frind Winery has 10 of these comfortable and cozy domes for a maximum seating of six per dome, and they are high in demand. Dinners are a lavish five-course setting and wine pairing at $110 per person. Reservations are required and can be made (minimum four people per dome) at Frind Winery.

Singletree Winery Abbotsford

St their Abbotsford site, Singletree Winery also has two domes for your dining and wining pleasure, again for a maximum of six people per dome. Minimum cost per person is $50 for a one and one-half hour seating.

Romeo`s Kitchen and Spirits Igloos

Locally, Romeo’s Kitchen and Spirits, in the Coast Kamloops Hotel, have three dining igloos furnished with blankets and gas fireplace, each seating a maximum of six people. Reservations are required with seatings at noon, 2, 5 and 7:30 p.m. There is a $20 non-refundable deposit per igloo. Email manager@romeoskitchen.ca for more info.

Welcoming in 2021

with bubbles

at our bubble.

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2020 Life Lessons – I’ll have a wine or three with that – Part 1

I have always believed there is a reason for everything. Even 2020. The lesson for me has been about what is important and what is not. I find myself recalibrating, often, to stay mindful in navigating 2020’s hairpin curves. I take more time to breathe and reflect to stay sane and grounded in the present. I don’t fiddle with my smartphone or multitask during a conversation anymore, instead I listen with intent to what people have to say. Also, for reasons more personal, I need to say a big “Thank You” to Dr. Bonnie Henry as I work toward being kinder, calmer and safer.

On a lighter note, I am giving 2020 one star for its performance and the only reason it’s getting that is because of how it has changed my thinking, for the better. Oh yes, and there is one other reason, which has also changed my thinking for the better, the birth of my grandaughter, Sienna, Karolyn St. Pierre, on November 16 2020.

But, what has all this to do with wine? Well, a lot of wine was consumed this year in B.C. (no kidding), by me and a whole lot of people, with a part of that bit of a break for the industry attributed to food and wine take out and delivery. So keep drinking and eating local wherever that might be!

Despite COVID-19 challenges, Monte Creek Winery was the proud recipient of the 2020 All Canadian Wine Champions Founder’s Award for Best Overall Performance with nine medals, including Best White Wine of the Year for their 2018 Riesling Reserve. In addition, their wines are also now available in AB, SASK, MB, ON and QC. The winery is open daily from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and for more information about the winery, ordering wines, etc., contact montecreekranchwinery.com

Monte Creek Winery November 2020

Harper’s Trail Estate Winery also won several awards from the 2020 B.C. Lieutenant Governor’s Wine Awards: Gold for their 2019 Rosé and 2018 Cabernet Franc; Silver for their 2019 Pinot Gris and Pioneer Block Riesling. The winery is offering free shipping for B.C. residents until December 31 2020 on six or 12 bottles of wine with a minimum purchase of $100. Contact the winery at 250-319-4611 or online sales@harperstrail.com

Privato winery is also open on December 19 and 20 2020 for free wine tastings The winery is also offering free shipping for a limited time only on full case wine orders. Select “Shipping” once your billing information is entered and use coupon code FreeShipBC to activate. Free local delivery is also available on a six-bottle minimum wine purchase. Select “Local Delivery” once your billing information is entered use coupon code FreeShipLocal to activate. To place an order online, contact store or contact the winery at 250-579-8739 / Email: info@privato.ca.

A few of the many beautiful B.C. wines You need to taste for yourself:

C.C. Jentsch Cellars Small Lot Series 2019 Blanc de Noir Rosé, Okanagan Valley, B.C.

A delish and elegant, year-round rosé to enjoy on the patio or with turkey dinner. Barely dry, this vintage is a 47.5% Merlot, 42.5% Cabernet Franc and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon blend. The rosé is creamy, fresh and fruity on the palate with sweet red cherry, red plum, dark berry, subtle dried wild herbs and a smooth vanilla finish.

Typically, C.C. Jentsch’s Blanc de Noir is produced from 100% Merlot, but an early-October frost over two nights severely shortened the harvesting season and then the birds swooped in for the sweet, frost-hit Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes before they could be harvested. The winery decided to use the balance of these premium grapes in their rosé and I would say they benefited from Mother Nature’s folly. C.C. Jentsch Cellars Small lot Series 2019 Blanc de Noir is vegan-friendly and produced from hand-harvested grapes fermented in stainless steel tank with lees stirring. Tasted October 2020. 12.6% abv/ $23

C.C. Jentsch Cellars The Chase 2018 , Okanagan Valley, B.C.

The Chase 2018 is a rich and spicy Bordeaux-style red wine blend of 65% Merlot, 18% Cabernet Franc, 9% Malbec and 8% Cabernet Sauvignon. Versatile and so easy to love on its own or with hearty fare like burgers, pizza and tourtière. Dry, medium-plus-bodied with dark plum, black cherry, fine herb, smoky vanilla and well-integrated oak spice flavours finishing smooth, savoury and satisfying. Excellent value, this is a wine you can drink over dinner and long conversations, Buy it by the case. Tasted October 2020. 14.2% abv / $22

C.C. Jentsch Cellars Small Lot Series 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon, Golden Mile Bench, B.C.

Simply love this dry, smooooooth, full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon, fragrant with spiced plum, underbrush, lavender and ripe black currant aromas on the nose; luxurious on the palate with liquid black currant, blackberry jam, black cherry, prune, lavendar, sous bois, meaty, cedar spice and smoky flavours finishing velvety with a kiss of vanilla. Pour with Sunday Night Dinner! We matched it with a venison tenderloin, sautéed Chanterelle mushrooms on homemade thyme- and rosemary-herbed tortillas. The 2016 vintage was awarded Silver at the 2020 BC Lieutenant Governor’s Wine Awards. Tasted November 2020. 13.6% abv / $50

Clos du Soleil Winemaker’s Series 2019 Pinot Blanc, Similkameen Valley, B.C.

Clos du Soleil’s Winemaker’s Series 2019 Pinot Blanc is elegant and sunny bright with orange blossom, citrusy, lemongrass aromas on the nose, dry, medium-bodied, zesty with a silky caress of liquid lemon, fresh ripe pear, white pepper spice flavours and a mouth-watering finish. Chill and enjoy on its own or pour with pan-fried walleye filets, pike or other firm, white-fleshed freshwater fish. Wine grapes for the 2019 Pinot Blanc were sourced from Middle Bench Vineyard in the Similkameen Valley, whole-cluster pressed with a long and cool fermentation entirely in stainless-steel tank and some lees contact for added richness and creaminess to the wine. Tasted November 2020. 12.2% abv / $20

Fairview Cellars, Eagle Bluff, Crooked Point 2016 Pinot Noir / Golden Mile Bench, B.C.

The 2016 Pinot Noir is a juicy mouthful of ripe black cherry, smoky, meaty, spicy flavours and a long smooth finish. Lots of body and character on this PN from Fairview Cellars from Eagle Bluff Vineyard. Drinking beautifully now. Pair with grilled lamb chops. Tasted October 2020. 13% abv / $25

Fort Berens Estate Winery Red Gold 2017 Lillooet, B.C.

I want to know how they got a charbroiled ribeye steak, cooked bacon and all the spices that go with it in a bottle of wine? The aromas alone on Red Gold 2017 will make you crave a grilled beef steak topped with pan-fried garlic bacon and sautéed wild mushrooms. A beautifully crafted and balanced Bordeaux-style red wine blend of 67% Merlot and 33% Cabernet Franc, savoury on the palate with liquid crushed raspberry, dark plum, smoky savoury herbs, dark spice flavours and a long smooth finish. So good now. Tasted October 2020. 14.8% abv / $35

Osoyoos Larose Le Grand Vin 2016 Okanagan Valley, B.C.

The Grand Dame of Bordeaux-style reds in the Okanagan Valley, always elegant, powerful, generous. Love the ripe, spiced dark plum, cocoa, dark berry and soft vanilla aromas on this vintage. Dry, medium-plus-bodied, silky and mouth-filling, the 62.5% Merlot, 12.5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11.8% Petit Verdot, 7.7% Cabernet Franc and 5.5% Malbec red wine blend glides over the mid-palate, smooth and rounded with dark cherry, dark berry, fresh mushroom, savoury herb, sweet spice and smoky vanilla flavours. Tannins are fine and pleasantly grippy. The wine is very approachable now, but could easily cellar to 2024. Tasted October 2020. 14.5% abv / $45

Robin Ridge Gamay 2015 Similkameen Valley, B.C.

Wow! This is a gorgeous, rich, bold, full-bodied Gamay with staying power!  Beautifully intense and spicy on the nose, with smoky, spicy dark plum, crushed raspberry, cinnamon and pepper spice, smooth and long on the finish. The 15% abv has been tamed out of it. We poured it with BBQ ribs,  but it could easily pair with grilled game sausage, roast chicken and roasted root vegetables. Tasted November 2020. 15% abv / $22

Tightrope Winery Cabernet Franc 2016 Naramata Bench, B.C.

A poised and elegant medium-bodied Cabernet Franc, fresh on the nose with dark cherry, raspberry, green leaf and subtle spicy aromas. Fresh on the palate as well, this is a dry, medium-bodied and fruity Cab Franc with fresh raspberry, red currant, plum, dried dark berries, brambly and vanilla flavours lingering with a mellow white pepper finish. Tannins are smooth and velvety. Lyndsay & Graham O’Rourke are the winemakers at Tightrope Winery and grapes are all sourced from the Naramata Bench. Tasted October 2020. 13.8% abv / $28

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Pandemic Pinot? Covino 2020? Masked Merlot?

From our house to yours – A Happy and Safe Thanksgiving 2020

Make no mistake, I’m not making light of THE virus rather this is my challenge to it. And, in the spirit, hope and wish that “this too shall pass,” from a sampling of winery reports across British Columbia, wine harvest 2020 is going to be the best thing coming out of this crazy year.

North to South:

Fort Beren’s Estate Winery began harvest as normal on the middle of September and are “super busy” now. Already harvested are Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay and while the yields seem lighter, Heleen Pannekoek, co-owner  and founder of the winery is happy to say “we are seeing a good balance of sugars, acidity levels and flavours and the general quality of the grapes is very good this year. We haven’t much in the way of smoke issues, just two days that were very smoky and about a week in total.”

This week the focus is on Riesling, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. “We were one-two weeks behind normal during veraison, but the warmer weather since the end of August have caught us up to a ‘normal’ harvest.”

Celista Estate Winery owner, Jake Ootes and Lee Holland, winemaker, indicate that while there was some winter damage in 2019 on the white varietals, the red varietals survived. “With a wet and cold spring in June and July 2020, yields are a little lower – about 10% and 15% for Foch. We are allowing the grapes to hang another two weeks to ripen. Ortega will be coming off this week and Siegerrebe has already been harvested. The Siegerrebe is so good!” That said, Jake acknowledges he will be glad when the wine is in tanks.

At last report from Harper’s Trail Estate Winery and Monte Creek Ranch Winery, harvest was about to begin and the grapes are looking very promising there as well.

From Master Winemaker, Howard Soon of Vanessa Vineyards, by all indications it “was a good year for the grapes, they grew very well, no smoke taint and ideal conditions as well as stellar weather from Labour Day on.” Vanessa Vineyards will be bringing in their Merlot this week (pictured below).

From Michael Bartier, Winemaker and Owner of Bartier Family Vineyards, what was already becoming a late harvest was further pushed back because of the stateside wildfires with smoke blocking the sun and cooling temperatures. “There was 144 hours of continuous, heavy smoke.”

Smoke gave winemaker’s a scare with the possibility of smoke taint in the grapes and resulting wine, but all laboratory tests have shown well below the sensory threshold for smoke taint. Since the smoke has cleared, “we’ve had almost uninterrupted perfect ripening conditions; warm days, clear skies, cool nights and the forecast looks good.  No frost yet but one dip to 2 degrees Celsius.”

Overall, the harvest yield is down with some vineyards up to 70% off their typical yields. Bartier’s guess for the south valley is that it may be 15% lighter on average. He anticipates that 90% of white varietals will be harvested by the end of the weekend and the red harvest will start Tuesday with Merlot.  We expect to harvest Syrah on the weekend, followed by Cabernet Franc seven-to-10 days after that.”

However, the main story this year seems to be the lack of harvest labour. “For ourselves, we’ve always paid very well, but this year we’re simply paying extremely high wages to make sure we get the workers.  Our best pickers are making upwards of $40 per hour.”

What’s in your glass this Thanksgiving?

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I can tell you there is a whole lot of gratitude in mine for good health, family and friends! And, of course, good food and British Columbia wine!

Celista Estate Winery Oak Barrel Foch Reserve 2018 Marechal Foch, Thompson Valley,

People who like Foch, love it and people who are not enamoured with the grape simply don’t. However, whatever side of the Foch fence you are on, you really need to try Celista Estate Winery’s Oak Barrel Foch Reserve 2018. This is a fantastic Marechal Foch; deep, dark ruby in the glass, smooth, spicy and masterfully-crafted from 18 year old vines. Fragrant on the nose with dark cherry, ripe blackberry and espresso coffee aromas, the wine is dry, full-bodied and harmonious with dark cherry, smoky dark fruit, espresso coffee, dark chocolate, vanilla and pepper spice flavours with ultra-balanced acidity. The grape does have a reputation for having quite a bit of acidity that can be difficult to manage, but Celista gets it smack on. Tannins are chalky and fine. Enjoy with bison burgers, grilled steaks or dark chocolate studded with dried blackberry and cherry fruit. We paired it with a venison meat fondue. Tasted October 2020.

Aged 12 months in American and French Oak barrels. This vintage was awarded Gold in the 2020 All Canadian Wine Competition. / 12% abv $20

Harper’s Trail Winery Thadd Springs Vineyard 2019 Gamay Noir, Thompson Valley/

Deep ruby in the glass with an intense nose of baked cherry pie, pink florals, violets, raspberry and pink cotton candy. On the palate, the Gamay is dry, medium to medium-plus-bodied with a juicy mouthful of  kirsch, smoked bacon, dark berry and white pepper flavours finishing long, spicy and mouth-watering. Tannins are structured and fine. An excellent Gamay now, but what I have experienced with other Harper’s Trail Winery wines is their ability to evolve and age in bottle. So buy it by the case because it will continue to come together during the next couple of years, but by then there will be no more of this vintage. Enjoyed with a rosemary and sage-rubbed roast chicken and a wild mushroom duxelles. Available winery-direct only. 13.5% abv $30

Harper’s Trail Rosé 2019 Thompson Valley

Dry, medium-bodied coral-salmon colour in the glass, a cool-climate beautifully crafted and balanced rosé produced from mostly Pinot Gris with a smattering of Cabernet Franc. Lovely texture, bright with fresh pear, soft stone fruit, red berry and grassy aromas on the nose, textured, mouth-filling with raspberry, fine herb, anise and a lingering savoury and white pepper finish. Tannins are present but soft and add to the character of this food-friendly rosé. Excellent turkey time or anytime rosé with great acidity to cut through the richest roast turkey and stuffing dish. 11.9% abv $17

Harper’s Trail 2019 Thadd Springs Vineyard Field Blend Red, Thompson Valley

I really like the Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc and Chardonnay wine blend for Harper’s Trail Winery 2019 Field Blend Red. It’s berry fragrant on the nose, medium-bodied and smooth with  bright dark cherry, raspberry, dark berry, white pepper flavours finishing with a kiss of vanilla and a lingering, spring rain minerality. Tannins are velvety and the wine is fresh and easy to sip on its own. We paired it with a charcuterie board of Cheddar, Edam cheeses, smoked turkey, duck terrine and it was killer with Swiss Farmer smoked sausage. 13.3% abv $20

Kismet Estate Winery 2018 Karma Okanagan Valley

Karma 2018 is a spicy Bordeaux-style red blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot, vibrant with lively acidity and juicy tannins. Fragrant and spicy with pink florals, violets, sous bois, white pepper and cedar spice aromas, Karma is dry, medium-plus-bodied and zesty with liquid dark cherry, spicy pepper, sweet baking spice and vanilla marshmallow flavours with a medium-plus finish. Tannins are structured and mildly grippy. Food-friendly with great acidity for burgers and ribs. We paired it with a grilled sirloin steak rubbed with garlic-chive salt from farmersdotter organics (Cawston, B.C.)

Aged for 18 months in French and American oak 225-litre barrels. Awarded Silver in the 2020 All Canadian Wine Awards. 14.5% abv $20

Little Engine Winery 2018 Silver Pinot Noir

An elegant Pinot Noir with fresh cherry, ripe red berries, strawberries and fresh mushroom aromas on the nose. Dry, medium-bodied, savoury, smooth and harmonious with ripe cherry, raspberry, dried fruit and a lingering anise and nutmeg spice finish. Great acidity for food. Tannins are velvety and very approachable now. Tasted October 2020.

Produced from 100% Pinot Noir (clones 115, 667 and 777) from the winery’s estate vineyards on the Naramata Bench, British Columbia. Matured in barrel for 14 months with no racking until pre-bottle blending (bottled February 2020). The 2018 Silver Pinot Noir is matured in second and third-fill barrels. 13.1% abv $40

Township 7 Vineyards & Winery Provenance Series 2018 Chardonnay Vista Lago Vineyard, Okanagan Valley

I am lovin’ the Chardonnay Renaissance. From Township 7 Vineyards & Winery, Provenance Series 2018 Chardonnay is a buttery beauty with aromas of fresh-cut, sun-kissed straw, lemon pudding and can you say buttered popcorn? Weighty on the palate with refined acidity harmonious with butternut, lemon curd, ripe golden apple and wispy vanilla flavours finishing long and luxurious on the palate. In short – a fantastic Chardonnay. Enjoyed with a sautéed filet of sablefish – a great textural match and balance to the richness of the fish. Tasted October 2020.

Vista Lago Vineyard Chardonnay 2018 is a single vineyard wine produced from Chardonnay grapes sourced from Casoro’s Vista Lago Vineyard in Oliver. Originally from Italy, the family has been farming in the Okanagan Valley since the 1880s. The Vista Lago vineyard is located on an Eastern Slope facing Tuc-el-nuit Lake and has gravelly, sandy loam soils. The wine is fermented in 50% French barriques with the remaining 50% in stainless-steel tank. The wine in barrel underwent malolactic fermentation while the stainless-steel portion did not and retains the wine’s natural acidity. 13.5% abv $22

Township 7 Vineyards and Winery 2016 Equinox Seven Stars

This new sparkling addition to Township 7’s Seven Stars collection is expressive and impressive. Equinox 2016 is a club-exclusive 100% Pinot Noir rosé bubble with grapes sourced from Sperling Winery’s biodynamic vineyards in Kelowna. Salmon-pink in the glass, Equinox has a fresh and savoury character, toasty with tart red berry and soft orange zest aromas on the nose. Light and crisp with a creamy, persistent mousse of ripe red berry, strawberry, clementine, biscuit and mineral notes that caress the palate – a gentle and mellow bubble that arrives much like the 2020 autumn Equinox did. Tasted September 2020.

Seven Stars Equinox 2016 is a vegan-friendly, traditional method sparkler in which the wine undergoes second fermentation in bottle. The wine was left en tirage for 29 months to develop rich and creamy autolytic characters. 12% abv $50

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2020 – The Year of The Wine

Getting off to a great start!

Sometimes I read my horoscope for a laugh. These days, it seems like it’s the only thing that is relatively stable and mostly the same. So, out of curiosity I took a look back at the Chinese horoscope and predictions for 2020, the year of the rat …and I really do think we need to revise and nominate 2020 as the year of the wine, not only because of the obvious, but because there are some pretty fantastic wines to be discovered.

Celista Estate Winery Celista Cuvée 2019 B.C. V.Q.A. Thompson Valley G.I. In its 11th year of operations, this Mom and Pop estate winery was awarded several medals at the 2020 All Canadian Wine Awards Competition (ACWC), with Celista White Cuvée 2019 winning Double Gold in the White Vitis Vinifera Blends catergory. “Cuvée” refers to a blend of more than one grape, or a blend of wine from select vineyards, barrels or tanks.

A summery white blend of Ortega and Siegerrebe wine grapes with white florals, mild hoppy, hay and soft fresh pear aromas on the nose, Celista White Cuvee 2019 is light-bodied, off-dry with white florals, yellow apple, stone fruit and mango flavours fresh, smooth and comfy on the palate. Chill and enjoy on its own or with with a grilled chicken dish and a mildly-spiced apricot salsa. Tasted August 2020 / 11.6% abv / $20

Celista Estate Winery Marg’s Rosé 2019 B.C. V.Q.A. Thompson Valley G.I. Part of the recently designated Thompson Valley G.I., Celista Estate Winery is a 160-acre winery and farm with cozy cabin rentals, Icelandic horses that work the land and seven acres planted in Riesling, Ortega, Siegerrebe, Marechal Foch and Gamay Noir grapes. The first vines were planted in 2002 and Marg and Jake Ootes are proud owners and operators of this multi-award winning winery. Lee Holland is the winemaker at Celista and has garnered several wine awards during this time. Marg’s Rosé 2019 was awarded Double Gold, Blush Style at the 2020 ACWC and Silver in the 2020 Experience Rosé Wine Competition in the United States.

A pretty pink-coral in the glass, the rosé is fragrant with honeysuckle, white florals, bright raspberry and strawberry aromas. Marg’s Rosé is a juicy blend of Ortega, Siegerrebe and a touch of Marechal Foch wine grapes. Off-dry, medium-bodied with honeyed melon, ripe red berry, bright wild strawberry and subtle fine-herb flavours on the palate. Enjoy it well-chilled on its own, or with brunch dishes. We paired it with double-smoked salmon. The winery suggests a honey ham and pork medallions pairing. Tasted August 2020. / 12% abv $20

Indigenous Would Wine 2015 SIMO Okanagan Valley, B.C. V.Q.A. Simo (See-Moo) is a small lot, spicy and fragrant 45% Merlot, 42% Cabernet Sauvignon and 13% Cabernet Franc red blend from a hot vintage (2015). On the nose this lush red is a bed of rose petals with earthy cedar spice and cinnamon aromas. On the palate, Simo is layered and rich with spiced plum, liquid dark cherry, black currant, pink florals, earthy cigar box, baking spices and a lingering white pepper finish. Tannins are fine and supple throughout on this dry, medium-plus bodied, Bordeaux-style food-friendly, flagship red. Decant for one hour prior to pouring with a grilled venison filet or roast pheasant. We paired it with roast duck and that was a perfect match as well.

Simo means “connected to the land” and is the traditional name that was given to Robert Louie by one of his elders. The Merlot wine grapes were sourced from the Antares Vineyard in Oliver, while the Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes were sourced from the Daliwal vineyards in Osoyoos, British Columbia. Each varietal is fermented separately in small batches and left on their skins for an extended period of time. Grapes were gently pressed and then transferred to fine-grained French oak barriques where full malolactic fermentation occurred. After malolactic fermentation, the wine was aged in oak barrel for over three and a half years. Tasted August 2020. / 13.8% abv $55

Hester Creek Estate Winery Chardonnay Golden Mile Bench 2019 B.C. V.Q.A. This is an elegant and beautifully-balanced Chardonnay from Hester Creek Winery’s Estate Vineyard on the Golden Mile Bench. Initially softly floral, it becomes rich on the nose with ripe pear, nougat, toffee, fine herb, citrus and soft mineral aromas. Dry and medium-plus-bodied, on the palate it is lush, creamy with ripe yellow apple, pear, apricot, butterscotch, lemon curd, tropical fruit notes and well-integrated toasty oak spice flavours finishing long and citrus zesty.

The Chardonnay grapes were sourced from Hester Creek Estate Winery’s low-yielding Block 17, from Dijon, Burgundy clones 76 and 809 known for their aromatics and elegance. Approximately one-third of the wine was barrel-fermented in 100% French oak and aged on its lees with battonage once a week giving the wine an added creaminess and mouthfeel. Both barrel-fermented and stainless-steel Chardonnay wines underwent 100% malolactic fermentation. After aging, the whole was blended to the beautifully-rounded and elegant Chardonnay I am tasting today. Paired with roast quail. Tasted September 2020. / 13.5% abv $22

Hester Creek Estate Winery, Terra Unica 2019 Semillon Golden Mile Bench, B.C. V.Q.A. A beautiful nose on this small lot Sémillon from Hester Creek Estate Winery. This is a 100% Sémillon with grapes sourced from their Block 12 Vineyard on the Golden Mile Bench (planted in 2020). Fragrant with fine herbs, aromas of fresh tarragon stand out with honeysuckle florals and clean mineral notes. Available to club members only, this is a dry, medium-bodied voluptuous Sémillon, not fat by any means, but textured, ripe and mouthfilling with white florals, tarragon, lemon zest, a saline mineral touch finishing long, zingy and refreshing. Lovely now! Tasted August 2020. / 12.9% abv / $20 Wine Club Members only

Hester Creek Estate Winery Ti Amo 2019 Okanagan Valley B.C. V.Q.A. What a fresh, fruity and tasty bubble! Hester Creek Estate Winery’s Ti Amo 2019 is the winery’s first sparkling wine. Prosecco..ish in style, Ti Amo is produced from mostly Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer wine grapes with a kiss of Semillon. Fragrant with fresh Bartlett pear, white florals, dried herbs and zesty citrus aromas, the frizzante is just barely dry with a delicate and creamy mousse of fresh pear, dried fine herbs and soft citrus zest flavours that linger and play on the palate.

Grapes are hand-picked early from the winery’s Oliver estate to retain fruit freshness and natural acidity. Produced in classic Charmat-Martinotti method, secondary fermentation lasts for 30 days in stainless-steel tank. This is a fresh and fun bubble easy to enjoy on its own or with salads and lighter fare like fresh-steamed shellfish and party pinwheels.

The Martinotti method was developed and patented by Federico Martinotti at the Experimental Institute for Enology in Asti in 1895. About 15 years later, Eugène Charmat worked with the Martinotti method to build and patent the autoclaves that are still used in the process today and sometimes referred to as the Charmat method or the Charmat-Martinotti method. Tasted September 2020. / 11.4% abv $20

Kismet Estate Winery 2019 Pinot Grigio B.C. V.Q.A. Wow! Just love the pure fresh pear, fine dried herb and lemon-zest aromas on Kismet Estate Winery’s 2019 Pinot Grigio. It’s pure freshness in a glass! Dry and creamy on the palate with fresh ripe pear, soft lavender, mild sage and fine herb flavours that linger on with a crisp citrus and clean mineral finish. This vintage was awarded Double Gold at the 2020 ACWC. Chill and enjoy a bottle or two on its own or with freshly-steamed crab or grilled prawns. Tasted August 2020. / 12.9% abv $18

Kismet Estate Winery 2019 Infinity Rosé B.C. V.Q.A. Masterfully-crafted from a blend of eight red grape varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Petit Verdot, Malbec, Mourvèdre and Grenache produced in the saignée method, Kismet Estate Winery’s 2019 Infinity Rosé is fragrant with Rainier cherry, wild red berry and Spring rain mineral aromas on the nose. Elegant and dry with a mouthful of wild strawberry, raspberry, bright cherry, red plum and soft citrus flavours finishing long, elegant and crisp on the palate. Beautifully balanced and dangerously drinkable, this vintage was awarded Bronze at the 2020 ACWC. Buy this very versatile rosé by the case! Chill and enjoy on its own, or with brunch fare, grilled seafood and chicken dishes. Tasted September 2020. / 13% abv $18

Monte Creek Ranch & Winery 2018 Chardonnay, B.C. V.Q.A. Wow! This Chard is a beauty. Monte Creek Ranch & Winery 2018 Chardonnay is smoky with ripe red apple, pear, tarragon and anise aromas on the nose; dry, medium-bodied, plushy and mouth-filling with ripe orchard fruit, tropical fruit notes, fine herb, anise and lemon curd flavours finishing long and smoky on the palate with a fine mineral edge. Lovely mouth feel and balance on this Chard and while it can easily hold in cellar for a year or two, it is drinking beautifully now. Excellent value under $20, so buy it by the case. Tasted August 2020. / 13.7% abv $20

Monte Creek Ranch & Winery 2019 Marquette Rosé. Love the intense Carmine pink colour on this tangy Marquette rosé. Off-dry, medium-bodied, it’s a wild child with a dazzling mouthful of ripe raspberries, wild strawberries, orange zest, finishing vibrant and long and deserves a DD classification (Dangerously Drinkable). Chill and enjoy a bottle or three on the patio. Tasted August 2020. / 13.2% abv $20

Monte Creek Ranch & Winery 2017 Cabernet/Merlot, B.C. V.Q.A. Monte Creek Ranch & Winery 2017 Cabernet, Merlot is an ultra-smooth 69% Merlot, 26% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Cabernet Franc red wine blend with dark plum compote, crushed black raspberry, ripe dark cherry with a lingering smoky, soft and subtle, baking-spice finish on the palate. Nothing overpowering on this dry, medium-plus-bodied, nicely balanced Bordeaux-style blend with rounded, velvety tannins. Tasted August 2020.

Grapes for the Cabernet Merlot 2017 were sourced from select vineyards in Oliver, Osoyoos and the Similkameen. The fruit was partially fermented in 7,000-litre oak vats adding more texture and mouth feel to the wine, then aged 18 months in French oak barrels (15-20% new). Give it a bit of chill and decant one hour prior to pouring it with Tuscan-style veal chops. The winery suggests a smoked duck breast with berry compote pairing. This vintage was awarded Silver at the 2020 ACWC. Tasted August 2020. / 14.4% abv $20

Not everyone enjoys wine made from grapes and B.C. has a wine for that. Northern Lights Estate Winery is British Columbia’s northernmost winery. Facing the beautiful Nechako River and not far from downtown Prince George, Northern Lights is a stunning winery on the riverfront.

Seduction 2019 is one of many fruit wines created at the estate and is a fragrant, off-dry, creamy strawberry and rhubarb wine blend that really tastes of strawberries and cream. Balanced with good acidity, softly sweet and mouth-filling, it is delicious chilled on its own, but we also paired it with a traditional Polish cheesecake (Sernik) made from farmer’s cheese (dry curd cheese). The wine is a bit sweeter than this style of cheesecake and it’s like have a strawberry cheesecake with the strawberry topping in a glass. The winery suggests pairing it with spicy, smoked meats or a summer salad topped with fresh raspberries. Tasted August 2020 / 12% abv $18

The really good news is you can now find these much-asked-for fruit wines at your local Save-on-Foods wine shop thanks to the efforts of the recently spearheaded New Wave Wine Society – a 20-member consortium of wineries and producers of fruit, grape, mead, cider, and sake producers. This society has recently been granted approval of a new quality assurance standard for BC fruit wines by the BC Wine Authority, who will oversee the quality assurance program for future years.

Highly Recommended: Poplar Grove Winery 2016 Cabernet Franc B.C. V.Q.A. If you’re out winery hopping and are only allowing yourself but one Cabernet Franc from B.C. (although I can’t see how that’s even possible) let it be this one. Poplar Grove Winery 2016 Cabernet Franc is an amazing example of what this supporting Bordeaux wine grape can do in the Okanagan as a single varietal. A dark and broody ruby colour in the glass, not so on the palate. Fragrant with dark cherry, blackberry, subtle spice and dried tobacco leaf aromas on the nose, this Cab Franc is dry, opulent and concentrated with mouth-filling layers of ripe raspberry, raspberry leaf, black currant, oak spice and a smattering of white pepper spice, smooth and elegant with a long velvety finish and beautifully-balanced acidity – an absolutely stunning, medium-plus-bodied Cabernet Franc showing great depth of character. Drink or hold to 2025. Decant one hour prior to pouring with a grilled filet mignon.

Select grape bunches were hand-harvested and sorted from several vineyard sites. Grapes were fermented separately with malolactic fermentation occurring in barrel over winter into spring. Wines were kept separate in 30% new oak and a combination of two-to-three year old French oak barrels for 21 months, bottled and aged for a further 12 months prior to its release. The 2016 vintage was awarded Gold at the London Wine Competition. Tasted August 2020. / 14.3% abv $35

Equal Opportunity Wines

Never limit the palate. Like trying different foods, it’s always interesting to see what other grapes, winemaking and wine styles there are in other countries and wine regions. Benchmarking wine is fun and the following wines are pretty fantastic and worth investigating… in the name of wine education, of course!

Kim Crawford New Zealand Pinot Noir 2018. Oh Wow! This is a well-crafted, elegant and concentrated Pinot Noir from Kim Crawford Wines. Fragrant with grilled herbs, dark cherry, earthy wild mushrooms, dark chocolate, baking spice and a hint of vanilla on the nose. Dry, medium-plus-bodied with raspberry compote, dark cherry, blueberry, violets, fresh mushroom, savoury herbs, dark chocolate, ginger, pepper spice and a smoky vanilla kiss. Finishes long with vibrant, balanced acidity and fine tannins with a palate-pleasing grip. Enjoyed with a grilled venison sirloin steak and it would also be great with veal medallions sautéed in a rich mushroom sauce.

Produced from 64% cool-climate Marlborough and 36% Central Otago Pinot Noir grapes. Grapes were destemmed, cold soaked for five days and left on their skins for a total of 15 days. After fermentation, a portion of the pressed juice went into oak barrels to age for eight months. Beautifully balanced! Drinking great now and for the next two years. Tasted August 2020. / 13% abv $23

Kim Crawford New Zealand Pinot Noir Rosé 2019. Kim Crawford New Zealand 2019 Rosé says summertime all over (and I am still into summer). Love the coral-pink colour in the glass and I love the fresh, up-front strawberry, melon and pink grapefruit aromas on this Merlot and Malbec rosé wine blend from Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand.

Vibrant, fresh and juicy with bright red berry, strawberry, soft citrus and watermelon flavours finishing fresh and zesty with soft spice and a lingering clean mineral note. Dry, medium-bodied with food-friendly acidity or chill and pair with a patio, but would also be great with seared Ahi tuna steaks and grilled calamari. Enjoy now and for the next year. Tasted August 2020. / 13% abv $18

Kim Crawford New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc 2019. A consistent crowd pleaser with grapefruit, citrus zest, light herbal, grassy, soft guava and passionfruit flavours finishing long and mouth-watering with a stony mineral finish. A dry and medium-bodied, beautifully balanced SB, easy to love chilled on its own, but would be perfect for brunch dishes like smoked salmon Bennies and herbed quiches. Drinking beautiful now and into 2021. Tasted August 2020.

Produced from sustainably-grown wine grapes with individual vineyard block harvesting and small lot fermentation. Grape lots were harvested in vineyard blocks throughout the Marlborough; while grapes from the Wairau Valley provide passionfruit and grapefruit aromas, grapes from the Awatere Valley and Southern Valley contribute lemon, lime, and fresh herb flavours. Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc has been recognized in the “2019 Wine & Spirits Restaurant Top 10” Sauvignon Blanc category. Tasted August 2020. / 12.5% abv $16

Saving my fave for last — Moet Chandon 2009 Vintage Champagne. If you are still hanging on to this beautiful vintage champagne in your wine cellar, I can tell you that it is drinking so great now. Leesy, toasty with soft stone fruit, citrus meringue, buttered toast on a persistent and elegant mousse so fine, toasty, buttery and refreshing on the palate. Finishes long with orange zest and a bitter almond bite. Absolutely marvellous chilled on its own. Moet & Chandon 2009 is the 73rd Grand vintage produced and was the first Pinot Noir-dominated vintage in many years. Tasted August 2020. / 11.5% abv $110

Wine Tale of Woe. The End

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Congrats! Thompson Valley Wine Region


Monte Creek 2018 Reserve Riesling Best Wine Wine 2020 ACWC

2020 ACWC – Best White Wine of the Year
Monte Creek Ranch Winery 2018 Reserve Riesling.

With 17 medals awarded at the 2020 All Canadian Wine Championships to Kamloops wineries, you can safely say the Kamloops Wine Trail has arrived on the wine scene. However, British Columbia, in general, cleaned up very nicely at the championships with just over 70% of the awards from 805 wines entered, from 130 wineries across Canada: B.C. had 545 entries, Ontario 203, Quebec 20, New Brunswick 18,  Saskatchewan 11, Nova Scotia 6 and Alberta with 2.

  • Best White Wine of the Year:  Monte Creek Winery 2018 Riesling Reserve
  • Gold: Monte Creek 2018 Varietal Series Riesling
  • Gold: Monte Creek 2017 Hands Up Red
  • Gold: Monte Creek 2018 Reserve Chardonnay
  • Gold: Monte Creek 2018 Varietal Series Chardonnay
  • Gold: Monte Creek 2019 Hands Up White
  • Gold: Harper’s Trail 2019 Rose
  • Gold: Harper’s Trail 2018 Cabernet Franc
  • Gold: Privato 2017 Woodward Collection Merlot
  • Silver: Harper’s Trail 2019 Pinot Gris
  • Silver:  Monte Creek N.V Split Decision Blueberry Grape Sparkling
  • Silver:  Monte Creek 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve
  • Silver:  Monte Creek Winery 2017 Cabernet Merlot
  • Bronze:  Privato 2019 Gewurztraminer
  • Bronze:  Privato 2019 Pinot Gris

Double Gold Medal also went to Privato’s sister company, Woodward Cider Co. for Hang Time Peach Infused craft cider.

And kind of an extended wine trail from Kamloops, it was also nice to see Celista Estate Winery in Celista and Ovino Winery in Salmon Arm pick up a few medals as well:

Celista Estate Winery, B.C.

– Other Single Vitis Vinifera White: 2019 Siegerrebe / Bronze
– White Vitis Vinifera Blends: 2019 Celista Cuvée / Double Gold
– Rosé Blush Style: 2019 Marg’s Rosé / Double Gold
– Marechal Foch: 2019 Oak Barrel Foch Reserve / Gold

Ovino Winery, B.C.

– Other Single White Hybrids: 2019 Pinot Tramino / Bronze
– White Hybrid Blends: 2019 Entice / Bronze
– Marechal Foch: 2019 Momento / Silver

For more info about the wines and where to try/buy them, contact: Celista Winery,
 Harpers Trail Winery,  Monte Creek Ranch Winery, Privato Winery,  OVINO Winery

Congratulations to Everyone! So Well Done!

Rosé All Day

On to trying more B.C. wine! Several years ago, I thought rosé wine was the next big thing. It took a little time, but here it is — in all manner of varietals, styles and sizes. Here are just a very few of what I am enjoying these days (all wines tasted between May and July 2020):

Roche Tradition Rose 2019True to Terroir Rosé:  Domaine Roche Vineyard Texture Rosé 2019 ($21):

From Domaine Roche Vineyards on the Naramata Bench, British Columbia, Texture Rosé is produced from organically-farmed Zweigelt and Schonberger grapes from 20 year old, ungrafted vines. An elegant and unique rosé, enchanting with citrus zest, pink grapefruit, rose petals and mineral aromas on the nose. On the palate, dry, medium-bodied, bright and fresh with soft citrus notes, dried strawberry, cranberry, rose petals, violets and a clean mineral finish. The winery suggests pouring it with freshly-steamed spot prawns – a spot-on *(* pairing  for this juicy, mouth-filling rosé.

Camels-Rosé-BIB-small-nsHighly Recommended: Fort Berens Camel  Pinot Noir Rose, 3 litres or 3000ml ($45):

And the pioneering spirit continues at Fort Berens Estate Winery with their new release of Camels Rosé, a three-litre (3000ml) boxed rosé made from organically-grown Pinot Noir grapes.

This is a beautiful, summertime, fun-loving and fruity rosé, dry, medium-bodied and mouth-filling with ripe strawberry, red berry, watermelon, and rhubarb flavours on the palate.

The boxed wine is designed to fit perfectly in your fridge or cooler – convenient, portable, complete with pour spout. The winery states that “this packaging will keep your wine fresh for 4-6 weeks after opening.” I don’t think there is a worry there. Price point is pretty delicious as well at $45 (works out to $11 per bottle).  Discovery Club members enjoy an additional 10% discount.

Gray Monk Estate Rose 2019Highly Recommended: Gray Monk Estate Winery Rosé 2019 ($18):

Love Gray Monk Estate’s Rotberger and Gamay rosé blend! The 2019 rosé is palest salmon colour in the glass with soft aromas of pink rose petals, cherry cotton candy, ripe strawberry and dried fine herbs on the nose.

Medium-dry, medium-bodied, fresh and elegant with ripe strawberry, raspberry, rhubarb, pink grapefruit and white pepper spice flavours vibrant and long on the palate.

Delish on its own, we paired it with Fraser Greens salad topped with slices of fresh B.C. strawberries and cubes of Fontina cheese.

Indigenous World 2019 RedFoxRoseElegant, Meaty BBQ Rosé: Indigenous World Red Fox Rosé 2019 ($20):

From Indigenous World Winery, Red Fox Rosé, or “Xʷaylxʷ” in Okanagan Syilx, is a meaty, savoury rosé produced from Gamay, Malbec and Pinot Blanc wine grapes.

Fresh on the nose with ruby grapefruit, strawberries and orange zest aromas, it is dry, medium-plus-bodied with ripe strawberry, ruby grapefruit, fine herb and citrus peel flavours finishing long and zesty on the palate – a smack-on pairing to roast chicken.


Fun Rosé: Monster Vineyards 2019 Rosé ($18)

Monster 2019 rosé is vibrant, fresh and fruity!  Even the colour is vibrant on this rosé.

Bright raspberry pink in the glass, so fresh and enticing with ripe strawberry, raspberry and tangy orange zest aromas on the nose; off-dry with ripe cherry, melon, rhubarb and citrus flavours juicy and mouth-watering on the palate.

Produced from 63% Merlot, 20% Malbec, 12% Syrah and 5% Cabernet Franc wine grapes using the saignée process whereby the juice is bled from the grapes (a by-product of red wine fermentation). The wine juice is cold-settled and cool-fermented to retain its fresh and zesty fruit flavours.  This is a fun summertime rosé to chill and enjoy on its own (and with other monsters).

Rose-Lakeview-19 Poplar GroveElegant Rosé: Poplar Grove Rosé ($30):

A pretty coral-salmon colour, single-vineyard rosé in an elegant bottle. Softly fragrant with dried strawberries, pink grapefruit, lemongrass aromas on the nose with bright strawberry, sagey, citrusy flavours fresh and dry on the palate. Lovely and refreshing chilled on its own, we also paired it with lemon-butter sautéed steelhead filets. The bonus on this wine is for the months of July and August 2020, $5 from every bottle of the Lakeview Rosé 2019 sold online will go in support of the BC Hospitality Foundation.

The Malbec grapes for this vintage were hand-harvested from Poplar Grove’s Lakeview Vineyard on the Naramata Bench overlooking Lake Okanagan. Produced using the saignée method, “to bleed,” a portion of the Malbec red wine juice was bled off with minimal skin and seed contact, then cold settled and cool-fermented to preserve the fresh fruit flavours in this medium-bodied rosé.

township-7-vineyards-winery-rose-2019-label-1594064581Highly Recommended: Township 7 Provenance Series 2019 Rosé ($25):

I love this rosé! It is so refreshing and tasty, but it also brings back memories of when I was living in Quebec and had the opportunity to pick fresh cloudberries. Cloudberries (also known as bakeapple) taste like something in between a fresh raspberry, strawberry and sweet spring rhubarb all rolled into one and is exactly what I nose at first whiff on the Township 7 Provenance Series 2019 rosé along with peony and clean mineral aromas.

Pretty pale pink colour in the glass, not pale on the palate. Fresh and zesty with creamy bright strawberry, raspberry, pink florals, cinnamon spice and clean mineral flavours, elegant with a long, refreshing finish. Buy it by the case and pair it with a sunny summer day on the patio.

Vanessa_rose_2019Highly Recommended: Vanessa Vineyard 2019 Rosé ($25):

Lots of ripe berry fruit and bright florals on this 65% Syrah and 35% Merlot rosé blend from Vanessa Vineyards in the Similkameen.

A barely blushing salmon hue in the glass, intensely fragrant with raspberry, strawberry, ripe plum, sage and spring-rain mineral aromas on the nose. Dry (0.9 g/l residual sugar) vibrant with ripe raspberry, bright cherry, dried pink florals, fine herbs, soft citrus and clean mineral flavours finishing long on the palate. Absolutely excellent and so much to enjoy here! Paired with roast chicken. Tasted May 2020.

The estate-grown wine grapes for this ripe and intense vintage (Brix 25) enjoyed an abundance of warmth, sun along with cool nights on sloping hillsides overlooking the Similkameen Valley. Grapevines are surrounded with rows of rock absorbing heat and warmth during the day while moderating the valley’s cooler nights.

The Next “Big Thing” Fruit Wines and Ciders:

Northern Lights Estate Winery Boreal FrizzanteSo Refreshing and Delish: Northern Lights Estate Winery Boreal Frizzante ($23):

I love sparkling wines. Whether it’s champagne, prosecco, cava or other sparkling wines made from grapes, there is so much lovely bubble out there to try.

However, I decided to try something different — a sparkling fruit wine. In addition to expanding my palate, I’ve also had several people enquire about sparkling fruit wines and ciders, because not everyone enjoys wine made from grapes.

Northern Lights Estate Winery in Prince George makes fruit wine and they also make a fresh and zesty frizzante, from orchard and berry fruit from Northern B.C. Boreal Frizzante is a juicy and fresh, off-dry blend of apple, raspberry, blueberry and Saskatoon berry from there. It’s like a tiny bubble explosion of ripe berries on the palate with just enough fresh acidity to balance the sweetness. Delicious chilled and on its own, but particularly good with roast turkey.




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Sip, Savour, Support Local Wineries

I’ll try not to jinx the weather, but I think it looks like a great weekend to go out and visit your local wineries. There, I said it, but no matter because if the wineries are weathering Covid19, we can certainly manage the weather. And it is amazing how the wineries are managing under both. With winery start up plans mostly rolled out, it’s sip, savour and support under the new normal.

Kamloops is very local for me, although most wineries are not more than three hours away from Vancouver in any direction and that includes the ferry trip to Vancouver Island. It does take a bit more planning and care if you’re making a staycation of visiting the wineries and given the recent relaxed travel restrictions within British Columbia this is a great idea and a welcome break. Hotels, motels, spas, resorts, hostels and RV parks are now allowed to resume operating. Most provincial campgrounds, trails and other recreation sites are also open.

If you’re planning a homecation, many wineries are offering free delivery, or are charging a small fee to get the wine (and some offer food) to your door. Several wineries are also extending their offer to no minimum or maximum bottle amounts.

Kamloops Wine Trail  – The East Entrance to the Okanagan

Harper’s Trail Winery feels like the “untamed land.” This is a beautiful, mystical place with hoodoos, Bighorn sheep and wild horses. The vineyard is set against a backdrop of limestone and you can taste the chalky, flinty and mineral flavours in the wine. Tastings are well-organized and it is best to make a reservation, however, they will accommodate walk-ins if possible. View their Covid19 plan here.

Carrie at Harpers

Harper’s Trail Winery Wine Wall with Carrie Neal, Tasting Room Manager

The current flight sampler is a menu of five wines. The 2018 Pinot Noir is a must try! Bottle price includes tax and deposit. (a fee of $10 per person is waived with a per person purchase of wine):

2018 Chardonnay ($26.55): – Lemon drop citrus, pear and Honeycrisp apple on the nose and palate – even non-Chardonnay drinkers enjoy the 2018  Chardonnay

2018 Rosé ($19.65): – Dry wine with a bit of body, zingy acidity and notes of strawberry & grapefruit. It pairs well with a patio full of friends

2018 Field Blend White ($16.20): – Peach and tropical aromas, these are delivered on the palate with a crisp minerality. Pairs well with sunshine and a straw.

2019 Silvermane Block Riesling ($22.30): – Delicate citrus, peach and vanilla notes beautifully accentuate its ample body. Pair this with lemon pistachio salami (available in the wines hop for $10).

2018 Pinot Noir ($26.55): – Light cherry, vanilla & cocoa notes accompanied by a hint of pepper on the finish. This pairs well with roast turkey dinner.

Harpers Trail perfect trio with poured ISO glasse July 2020

A Tasty Trio

Just 20 minutes east of Harper’s is Monte Creek Ranch Winery, a working ranch and winery with Black Angus beef, honey bees and haskap berry for their honey and jam they sell on-site and this is in addition to 75 acres of vines at two estates vineyards, Monte Creek and Lion’s Head. The Tasting Room is open to the public year-round and the Terrace Restaurant is open from June to September from 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.

Monte Creek wine wall 2020 May (1)

Monte Creek Ranch Winery Tasting Room with amazing views of the South Thompson River


Frontenacgris-nv-Monte CreekI think I’ve tried most everything on the Terrace menu and haven’t been disappointed yet. Again, reservations are highly recommended for both wine tastings and the restaurant (currently set at a maximum of six people per group) but the winery will accommodate walk-ins if possible. There is also a park-like picnic area under the trees in front of the winery where you can enjoy your picnic lunch with a purchase of wine from the winery.

My current favourite is the Frontenac Gris. Summer in a glass with lovely fresh pear and citrus aromas on the nose and vibrant acidity to match. Great with the mussels, mushroom toast and butternut squash soup they often have on the menu.

Along the lush farmlands on the North Thompson River, Privato Vineyard and Winery is Bohemian in spirit, elegant in stature with wines to match. The tasting room is small, so reservations are recommended. As of July 2020 three tastings are available (maximum, six people per group) in the Barrel Room Tasting Bar. The tasting room is open from Wednesday to Sunday.

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Just a few of the wines from Privato Vineyard and Winery

“Taste Of Privato” is a daily tasting with the Privato Collection of wines in the Privato Barrel Room tasting bar or at the patio tasting bar on weekends. The tasting takes about 30 minutes and there is a $10 fee per guest which is waived with a purchase of two bottles of wine per person (Tasting is complimentary for wine club members). 

“Premier Flight”  is a tasting with the Signature Privato and Woodward Collection wines starting with Privato’s Rosé followed by the Woodward Collection Chardonnay, Sorpresa, Tesoro Pinot Noir and the new addition to the Woodward Collection, Merlot. The tasting can be done by appointment or as a walk-in tasting during tasting room hours. The winery recommends booking an event director to walk you through the tastings if your group is larger than four people. The tasting takes about 30 minutes and there is a $15 fee per guest which is waived with a purchase of two bottles of wine per person (Tasting is complimentary for wine club members). 

“Grande Wine Tasting”  is an opportunity to taste the winery’s collectable and library wines with three tiers of wines for Chardonnay, Privato Collection Pinot Noir, Tesoro Pinot Noir and Grande Reserve Pinot Noir, followed by the 2017 Merlot. This tasting is by reservation only and plan to spend 40 minutes to taste and enjoy these magnificent wines. The fee for this tasting is $20 person and not waived with any purchase. (Wine club members pay $10 per person).

In addition to the tastings the winery also has music in the garden events every second Friday from June to September with a food truck available to purchase snacks to go along with your sips.  And, if you want to sip on something different, visit the Woodward Cider Company right next door. 

Lots to sip and savour on this sunny weekend!

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