Every Tuesday in January, we'll create a flight of BC wines for you to enjoy

January 14 marks the start of Dine Around & Stay In Town – Victoria’s  favourite food program with over 50 of the city’s best restaurants offering set three-course menus paired with B.C. VQA wines.

This month’s Tasting Tuesday flights are inspired by Dine Around’s featured wine region: BC! Here are our Tasting Tuesday line-ups, our Dine Around Menu and a reminder that many of the great hotels are participating in the “Stay in Town” part of hte promotion so you should realyl make a night of it! – ahem, we happen to know a great hotel, really close by

 

Flights Through B.C.’s Wine Regions

Tuesday January 12

The Naramata Bench – B. C’s first Premier Wine Region

The Naramata Bench is located on the south east side of Okanagan Lake. Nowhere else in the Okanagan do you find so many wineries packed into a simple touring route.  The glacial soils, gentle slopes and moderating lake breezes make this an outstanding region for the making of quality wine.  Indeed, it was wines from this region that first put B.C. on the world wine map.


Viognier, Marichel, 2016, Naramata, B.C.

This Viognier is elegant and well balanced.   Its typical flowery aroma is not overwhelming and it has enough weight to work well with food. This wine was wild fermented and whole cluster pressing was used.  Marichel is a family winery in the Naramata.  They only make Viognier and Syrah from grapes grown on their estate.  It is not an exaggeration to say they are passionate about the Naramata Bench and the quality wine that can be made there.


Lone Wolf Syrah, Marichel, 2018, Naramata, B.C.

This Syrah is made in the Rhone style and is incredibly intense for a wine from this region.  Its flavours run more on the savoury side than the spicier versions of this grape. Naramata does not have the heat found in wine regions farther south where you might expect to find the Syrah grape.  Yet this does not seem to affect the wine in any negative way.  Just, perhaps, adding a touch of elegance.


Barrel Blend, Poplar Grove, 2013, Naramata, B.C.

The wine is 38% Merlot, 35% Malbec and 27% Cabernet Sauvignon.  Every year, five B.C. Sommeliers are invited to Poplar Grove Winery in the Naramata Bench to create their own wine called Barrel Blend.  This year, our Food and Beverage Director Janis Goard was one of the five who met, tasted, debated and then chose a blend that they thought was the best reflection of that year.  Although there were five grapes to choose from Janis, and one other Sommelier picked just these three. Founded in 1993, Poplar Grove is one of the original five wineries on the Naramata Bench.

 

 Tuesday January 19

Cooler Climate Wines from Kelowna/Lake Country

 The Kelowna and Lake Country Wine region is the coolest and most northerly of B.C. wine regions.  Its close proximity to Lake Okanagan helps to moderate these temperatures.  The grape varieties that do best here are Riesling, Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.  Some of the oldest vines in B.C. are planted here and the region is known for its outstanding Rieslings.


Riesling, 2018, Tantalus, Kelowna/Lake Country

 This site was where some of the first Riesling vines in B.C. were planted.   In fact, cuttings were brought over from St. Urban’s Hof Winery in 1978.  This wine is off dry with a long intense finish.  The grapes were handpicked then whole bunch pressed.


Old Vines Riesling, 2010, Tantalus, Kelowna/Lake Country

 These are some of the oldest Riesling vines in Canada.  All Tantalus wines are estate produced in the cooler climate Kelowna region.  This wine has 11 years age which results in an additional element of smokiness.  Yet it retains its acidity and backbone.  Riesling is one of the few white grapes that can improve with age.


Semillon, 2017, Lock & Worth, Kelowna/Lake Country

These natural winemakers revel in the concept of terroir and enjoy experimenting with how well certain grapes do in different areas of B.C.  They also love sourcing out unique microclimates with regions.  This is a rare wine as Semillon is not typically made around Kelowna.  But they found a site that they felt worked and their gamble paid off.  Big aromas of mango and sage, it is weighty on the palate with a long dry finish.  A longer growing season and a short time on the lees add complexity.  The bottles have sediment at the bottom as these winemakers do not over filter their wines.

Tuesday January 26

Natural Winemaking flourishes in Summerland

Summerland and Naramata used to be considered essentially the same region as they are in roughly the same area of B.C. but on opposite sides of Lake Okanagan.  However, in 2019, the wineries of Naramata achieved sub-GI (Geographical Indication), status allowing them to tout the unique aspect of the slopes and climate on the east side of Lake Okanagan.  With wineries like Okanagan Crush Pad, however, Summerland is bound to quickly achieve their own classification.


Pinot Gris, 2019, Haywire, Summerland

Okanagan Crush Pad in Summerland makes wines under the Narrative, Haywire and Freeform labels.  They are a certified organic winery.  The Winemaker is Matt Dumayne and he hails from New Zealand.  He practices natural winemaking where the process starts naturally with native yeasts and the fermentation happens in small concrete eggs.  Pinot Gris is B.C.’s most popular white grape and this wine is a fantastic example of one. It is medium weight and well balanced.


Switchback Pinot Gris, 2016, Haywire, Summerland

These grapes are harvested from the organic Switchback vineyard.  It is fermented with native yeasts and aged in concrete tanks for 10 months on the lees.  This makes a wine that is lush and rich and full malolactic fermentation results in a creamy mouth feel.  Early harvesting means this wine retains acidity even with five years of age.


Pinot Noir, 2018, Haywire, Summerland

This is a very well balanced Pinot Noir.  Soft cherry notes are accompanied by a savoury, barnyard meatiness.  The owners of Okanagan Crush Pad who operate Haywire consulted with Alberto Antonin and Pedro Parra when setting up the site. These two European wine consultants offered advice on soil conditions and grape selection.  Their advice clearly paid off resulting in this very European style Pinot.

 

Tuesday February 2

Oliver & The Golden Mile – B.C.’s First Sub – GI

There are nine official wine regions in B.C. and these are classified as Geographical Indications, (G I’s).  Within these, smaller regions or sub – GI’s have been created in areas with unique topography and climate.  The first region to be recognized in this way was the Golden Mile Bench a small region just outside Oliver.  Its intensely hot desert like conditions tempered by cooling lake breezes has resulted in wines that are both powerful and elegant. Two of the wines featured are this week are from this sub -GI, the third is from an area just outside Oliver where the conditions are similar.


Chip Off the Old Block Chenin Blanc, 2017, Road 13, Golden Mile B.C.

This beautiful Chenin has an aromatic nose which is followed by a flowery and intense finish.  The grapes are whole bunch pressed and stainless steel fermentation is utilized. This vintage won gold in the National Wine Awards of Canada in 2018.


Chardonnay, 2018, Hester Creek, Golden Mile Bench, B.C.

This wine is buttery and spicy with just a touch of oak.  It has more weight and viscosity than the Chenin but does not lose its crisp edge.  The grapes are hand harvested and a small percentage spends time in new oak barrels.


Sangiovese Small Lots, 2016, Sandhill Winery, Oliver, B.C.

Sandhill winery was one of the first to champion the Okanagan’s microclimates.  This single vineyard, small lots wine has a red cherry bouquet followed by notes of sage brush and finished with sweet oak.  The vineyard is located by Oliver and the intense heat, sheltered location and sandy soil are perfect for making Sangiovese.  It is the first VQA Sangiovese wine in Canada and only 36 barrels of this wine are made every year.

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