The variety of
BC white wines
Sure, there’s Chardonnay. And, of course there’s Riesling. Gewurztraminer is falling out of favour and Sauvignon Blanc is not as plentiful as it used to be but almost everyone is making Pinot Gris. There’s something for every white wine lover being grown and made right here in British Columbia.
Opened in May 2015 in West Kelowna, ‘the hatch’ may be the quirkiest, punning-est, and all around most entertaining player in the Okanagan Valley’s broad sweep of quality wineries. Pour a glass and visit their website at thehatchwines.com and prepare to chuckle away an hour.
From the hatch winery, Talking Stories Lip Service White (484741) $14.99 is a lip-smacking blend of Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc and “the upstart and sassy Auxxerois” - along with pretty much every other white grape grown in BC.
With a winery and vineyards in West Kelowna. Mt.Boucherie Estate Winery also sources grapes from their vineyards in the Similkameen
Valley as well as the Golden Mile Bench, south of Oliver. New ownership in 2016 gave winemaker Jim Faulkner the green light to keep making great wine.
The second wine grape of the traditional white Bordeaux blend, after Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon is rare elsewhere – outside of Australia’s Hunter Valley. Winemakers ‘downunder’ craft their sturdy Semillons to age into honeyed, spicy complexities.
Built for the cellar, Mt Boucherie Semillon 2013 (110650) $15.99 was recently marked down from $18.99. Another year or two in the cellar will accentuate the honeyed pear and apple flavours
that ride a sturdy base of chalky lemon and grapefruit. Hints of anise and fennel add intrigue to the finish.
Stag’s Hollow started with an existing 10 acre vineyard in 1992 just south of Okanagan Falls making wines from Merlot, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Vidal and just kept growing. In 2008, owner Larry Gerelus handed the winemaking off to Dwight Sick, who continued to create interesting, often unique wines well worth seeking out.
Deliciously off-dry Stag’s Hollow Vidal 2016 (541110) $18.99 includes grapes from two separate vineyards – Stag’s Hollow and Shuttleworth Creek. The final cuvee incorporated 14 per cent Orange Muscat from Shuttleworth Creek Vineyard, added to the blend before the wine was finished. Aromas and flavours of peach preserves and mandarin orange are underscored with a touch of spicy, earthy mushroom betraying the daring inclusion of a sprinkling of botrytized grapes.
Originally planted and opened by Bill Montgomery in 2011, 40 Knots Estate Winery was revitalized when Layne Robert Craig & Brenda Hetman-Craig bought the winery and moved to Comox from Fort St.John in 2014. Shortly afterwards, Matt Dumayne came on as consulting winemaker. Since then, Michael Bartier – another Okanagan Valley based expert – has taken over as consulting winemaker.
Designed as an all-encompassing white wine to showcase the delicate, refreshing, yet complex wine style only found on Vancouver Island, 40 Knots White Seas (34465) $22.99 is built on a base of estate-grown Pinot Gris, Chardonnay and Epicure, with a splash of Pinot Noir adding a little ‘weight’ and spice.
Many local winemakers have figured out that our co0l-climate conditions in BC are perfect for growing grapes that make excellent sparkling wines. Summerhill Estate Winery and Blue Mountain were the first to realize that potential.
With their own unusual inflection on the classic French Champagne recipe Blue Mountain Gold Label Brut (471672) $28.99 marries 56 per cent Pinot Noir with 39 per cent Chardonnay and 5 per cent Pinot Gris. Using ‘méthode traditionnelle’ techniques and aged on its
creamy ‘lees’ for 24 months, this delicious bubbly intrigues the taste buds with crisp notes of lemon and grapefruit and a hint of toast.
Four Shadows Vineyard is at the south end of the Naramata Bench. Located at the foot of Campbell Mountain, the vineyard soils consist of rocky glacial till mixed with lacustrine deposits. Lean lacustrine deposits of silts, clays, and carbonates keep the vines struggling just enough to send down deep roots that heighten the layers of minerality underlying the fruity characters of the grapes.
Barrel-fermented, Foxtrot ‘Four Shadows’ Chardonnay (813063) $45.99 reaches for that layered complexity of apple, pear and apricot flavours over toasted oak and lingering sun-baked herb and savoury spice box subtleties. It has a wonderful, almost “oily” textured weight and silky density on the tongue rarely seen in BC Chardonnay.
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