I think it’s safe to say that spring has officially sprung, which means a host of new releases are heading from B.C. wine country to the city. This week, let’s keep things light and breezy for the season, with a trio of charming dry Muscats from Naramata wineries, along with a couple of pinks for extra cheer.
Hillside 2015 Muscat Ottonel
($21.73, Hillside website)
I’ve been a fan of Hillside’s Muscat Ottonel for as long as I can remember, and winemaker Kathy Malone has delivered yet again. From vines planted as far back as 1984 comes this lively white with intoxicating aromas of apple blossom and grilled grapefruit swirling out of the glass, leading to Asian pear and lemonade notes on the palate, with a touch of yellow plum. Superclean and fresh; serve it with a good chill, preferably on a picnic blanket in the sun.
JoieFarm 2015 Muscat
($23, JoieFarm website)
There was a time when the entire run of JoieFarm’s tiny production of Muscat would be snapped up (rightly so) by Vij’s Restaurant, but with fresh plantings of Moscato Giallo at JoieFarm’s estate vineyard having occurred since then, they’re able to spread the love a little more. Hooray for us! As always, winemaker Heidi Noble’s Muscat is quite dry and light on its feet, with slight nods in flavour to Gewürztraminer via elements of litchi and ginger, but then circling back to classic Muscat notes of table grapes, stone fruit, and a kiss of honey. Needless to say, it works wonders with Indian cuisine.
Township 7 2015 Muscat
($17.97, Wine Club Exclusive at Township 7 website)
I guess I have a thing for Muscats made by female Naramata winemakers. This time around, we have Mary McDermott’s take on the grape, sourced from the Rock Pocket Vineyard in North Oliver. This would be the zippiest of the three mentioned this week, with lemon-blossom, lemon-zest, and lime-leaf characteristics bursting out of the glass. The first few sips are akin to biting into the freshest, crunchiest Granny Smith apple you can find, with heaps of mouthwatering acidity. A nip of fresh ginger and white pepper on the finish acts as an exclamation point to it all. Although this is a wine-club exclusive, what a fun club to be a part of! Otherwise, it’s occasionally sold at the winery on special occasions. If I were still a restaurant sommelier, I’d be begging to nab a case or two for a summery, by-the-glass pour. With local seafood and in-season produce, this wine will be an absolute gem.
Tantalus Vineyards 2015 Rosé
($19.04, Tantalus Vineyards website)
Although 40 percent of this wine is made from newer plantings of Pinot Noir, what gives it most of its character is the balance of Pinot Meunier from 30-year-old estate vines. That variety is what brings a good dose of aromatics, nuttiness, and a little spice to Champagne (where it’s commonly blended with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir), and it certainly brings the goods here. On the nose, perfumed dark berry fruit and hints of Christmassy mulled wine are rather distinct, while the palate elevates things with plummy notes, red currants, pink grapefruit, and great acidity yet decent weight overall. Big enough for grilled meats; elegant enough for fresh seafood. Great with fish and chips or pretzels. A banana split? Sure. I really can’t think what wouldn’t go well with this wine. Actually, cigarettes. Don’t have this wine with cigarettes.
Monte Creek Ranch 2015 Rosé
($15.99, Monte Creek Ranch website)
The 2014 vintage was my first encounter with this winery situated in the extreme north of Okanagan wine country, close to Kamloops. It was also my first experience with Marquette, a grape variety that is a distant cousin of Pinot Noir. The pulp of the variety is pink, whereas the pulp of most red grapes is white, so there’s an extra richness here. I loved it then and I love it again with the 2015 edition. This ain’t a wimpy pink wine, either. It’s big, bold, and (kinda) boozy; there are buckets of stewed cherries and blueberries throughout, with some baking spices like clove and cardamom, and then a splash of spiced rum on the finish. This is a pink wine to drink in an old leather chair with taxidermy and wood panelling surrounding you. When we have those rainy summer days, and we know we will, this wine will knock it out of the park.
This week’s wines are available winery-direct but are steadily popping up on private-wine-store shelves for a couple bucks more than winery pricing. Having trouble finding something? You can always hit me up about that, or anything else, via my website.