Canada Day sipping...
Canada Day is almost upon us and there's never been a better crop of British Columbia's own home-grown wines to choose from.
Inniskillin Okanagan was established as a collaboration between Don Ziraldo and Karl Kaiser's Ontario-based Inniskillin and the Inkameep Indian Band in the Okanagan Valley, British Columbia in 1994. Winemaker Sandor Mayer signed on in 1996 and helped 'raise the bar' for BC wines in the Okanagan.
Challenging the notion that our own BC wines are too expensive - compared to international imports - Inniskillin Okanagan Estate Pinot Grigio $12.99 overflows with aromas and flavours of green apples, pears and fresh cut ripe white peaches.
The opportunities for fine wine grape growing in BC get better every year, thanks to climate change. Warmer temperatures in most regions are producing riper fruit. In well-trained hand riper grapes yield richer wines.
Grape growers continue to expand their reach in response to warmer temperatures. Wines from the Islands, Fraser Valley, Thompson Valley, Shuswap, Lillooet, and the Kootenays are beginning to get the recognition that was once reserved exclusively for wines from the Okanagan or Similkameen.
Based in the far outer 'burbs of Vancouver, Langley's Backyard Vineyards uses a combination of estate grown grapes augmented with fruit selected from Fraser Valley growers and vineyards in the South Okanagan.
Exceptionally affordable in BCLS Government liquor stores, Backyard Vineyards Nosey Neighbour Red $14.99 is priced at $18.85 at the winery in Langley. A cheerful blend of 56 per cent Merlot and 23 per cent Cabernet Franc, there's also some Syrah, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon. Red and black berry fruit flavours lead with chocolate, liquorice and spicy pepper notes framing the fruit.
Even farther from the Okanagan Valley, Beaufort Vineyards and Estate Winery is just north of Courtenay on Vancouver Island. Film director James Cameron and his wife Suzy Amis purchased Beaufort Vineyards & Estate Winery in 2014. Mark and Freya Timmermans have been in the vineyard, on the crushpad, and pushing the winemaking envelope at Beaufort since then.
Despite climate change, northern Vancouver Island's moist cool climate still presents challenges. Beaufort Petite Milo
$23.99 is made entirely from this hardy Blattner hybrid. Over wispy notes of rhubarb, fruity peach, mango, pineapple and guava flavours fill every sip of this 'chewy' mouth-filling white wine.
One of today's hippest wine trends are natural wines made with the yeasts that grow on the grapes – rather than industrially engineered 'cultured' yeasts. As daring and cutting-edge as it might seem, this is how most wines were made until the 1960s.
Pale cloudy orange in colour, a fascinating and unique blend of Riesling, Müller-Thurgau and Grüner Veltliner – all aromatic white wine grapes - Anthony Buchanan RMG Orange $28.99 opens up with subtle peppery, earthy vegetal aromas of fresh chopped bok choy. This Okanagan Valley white offers very 'dry' apricot and
cantaloupe flavours that slide into kumquat with salty notes of almond and hazelnut lingering in the finish.
Synchromesh Wines is a small, family run operation producing terroir-driven, world class Riesling, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Franc. They practice sustainable techniques, chemical-free farming, natural low cropping, naturally occurring indigenous yeasts and they use no additives or high-tech manipulations in winemaking.
Unfined and unfiltered, ever so slightly hazy, every sip of Syncromesh Cabernet Franc $27.99 proclaims the principled results of non-interventionist winemaking. Soft and silky, there's
no prickly 'bite' of sulphur in this marvelously earthy red... just the ripe black cherry and 'dry' black raspberry fruit that marks great Cabernet Franc.
North of Penticton, on Naramata Rd, Joie Farm Winery was co-founded by executive winemaker Heidi Noble in 2003. With a background as a trained chef, its no surprise that her wines invariably have a vein of juicy, racy natural acidity making them perfect partners for a wide range of foods.
A decidedly BC bubbly, the 2018 vintage of Joie Farm Quotidien Brut $24.99 is a blend of 70 per cent Riesling and 30 per cent Chardonnay. Subtly nutty from first sniff to last sip, there's an underlying base of apple and pear flavours that slides into
lemon rind and candied pineapple notes. An excellent everyday bubbly, Quotidien's “... beautiful, lingering, toasty finish is complex and a satisfying accompaniment to fresh oysters, fried olives, gourgéres and salty, aged cheese.”
Go wild and crazy this Canada Day! Drink local wines!!!
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