At the time of this writing, Vancouver and much of the province were experiencing the first heat wave of summer, sending people in swarms to beaches, parks, and, naturally, the city’s amazing restaurant, hotel, and golf-club patios. Admittedly, our tasting panel has spent more than a few Fridays of late outdoors on the Roof at Black+Blue, taking in the lunchtime burger-and-beer special. After that, the panel takes a quick stroll down the road to our headquarters, where the weekend can officially be welcomed back at the home patio.
Other than my cabin on Mayne Island, there’s nowhere I’d rather spend the summer than right here in Vancouver and, whenever possible, outside. The air is sweeter, smiles are abundant, and everything tastes better. Get out there and enjoy it with a few of these deck-friendly picks.
SpierHead Pinot Gris 2013 ($20 at the winery)
In just a few short years, this dynamic winery in southeast Kelowna has deservedly garnered intense critical acclaim. This is one of the most nuanced and delicious Pinot Gris produced in the Okanagan today. The 2013 is lightly honeyed and has tropical notes of papaya and lemon, as well as a fresh green-apple finish balanced with tart minerality.
Happy Camper Chardonnay 2012 ($13.99)
The folks at California’s Happy Camper Wines offer a couple of great-value quaffers to get your patio party started. They’re relatively new to B.C. and widely available through the LDB. The Chard is soft and fruity, with flavours of cream soda, caramel, peach, and citrus. Serve very well chilled with a salad topped with herbed grilled chicken.
Happy Camper Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 ($13.99)
Their red offering is soft and approachable, showing sweet, smoky notes of plum and gummy cola bottles. Not too tannic, with decent acidity overall. I’d pop this one in the fridge for just 10 minutes before serving. Very barbecue-friendly.
Blue Mountain Pinot Blanc 2013 ($17.90 at the winery)
What’s not to like? This well-priced superstar is dry, crisp, peachy, and wonderfully refreshing. There’s a note of Earl Grey tea and a touch of sage on the nose as well. A long, lemony finish, too.
Galil Mountain Rose 2012 ($17.99)
A patio party can’t really get started without at least one bottle of rosé. This one is an interesting blend of Sangiovese, Barbera, and Pinot Noir from the Upper Galilee region of Israel. The nose reminds me of fresh blueberries and those swirly strawberry-cream hard candies, while the palate shows zippy flavours of rhubarb, nectarine, and orange sorbet.
Nobilo Sauvignon Blanc 2013 ($17.99)
Given my general distrust of New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs, I was pleasantly surprised by the zesty tropical aromatics and the creamy finish here. Everyone’s got the right to change their mind, you know.
Mt. Boucherie Family Estate Chardonnay 2012 ($38.50 at the winery for a three-litre box)
Time for a quick math lesson, my friends. This environmentally sensitive three-litre box holds the equivalent of four regular 750-millilitre bottles, making this gorgeous Chardonnay an unbeatable 10 bucks a bottle. And it’s really tasty, to boot. Unoaked, fresh, and aromatic, with crowd-pleasing notes of butterscotch, pineapple, peaches-and-cream corn, and citrus. It will hold well in the fridge for weeks, if it lasts that long.
Haywire Pinot Noir 2012 ($22.90)
My local LDB store sold out of this one quickly, so I was forced to wait a day or two to get my hands on another bottle of this delicious Pinot Noir, sourced from a single vineyard in Oliver. There’s an irresistible savoury cherry quality to it that keeps me coming back for more. An ideal pairing with grilled pork tenderloin or even a soy-glazed arctic char, where the sweet smokiness of the proteins can blend seamlessly with the wine.
Bleasdale Second Innings Malbec 2012 ($15.99)
Easy outdoor drinking with this Aussie Malbec that shows notes of hearty Christmas spice, plum, and red berries, with a finish that’s soft and round with velvety tannins.
Time Estate Winery Red Meritage 2011 ($29.99)
The legendary Harry McWatters shows no sign of stopping after so many years of producing wines that remain benchmarks for the Black Sage Bench in Oliver. Time Estate Winery, his latest project, is offering three wines: a Chardonnay, a red Meritage, and a white Meritage. The red is my current favourite, displaying notes of black cherry, cloves, cassis, and cocoa. Outdoor dining deserves a barbecue. Barbecue deserves a steak. Steak deserves this wine. You deserve this wine.