Deck the patio with white wine
After the sputtering start, I’m confident there’s plenty of sun and warm weather still to come, so here’s a roundup of newly arrived whites for the deck and patio in the days ahead (in ascending order of price and with varying degrees of availability).
Carmen Viognier Reserva 2011
($13.99, specialty listing)
The Chilean powerhouse winery sends a new version of the popular varietal that is fast becoming a big fave with B.C. buyers. They call for “floral notes, white peach and acacia flowers”—none of which I found; it’s okay to differ with the back label, as I keep saying. Instead, I find lots of mixed fruit; a hefty, fresh aroma; and a big, smooth finish—all at a great price. The 14.5 percent alcohol is a bit on the hefty side, so stay out of the direct sun as you sip this.
Black Hills Cellar Hand Free Run White 2011
($15.90 at the winery)
The vaunted Black Hills enterprise goes a little down-market with a cheerful, tasty, uncomplicated, kitchen-sink blend of Pinots Blanc and Gris, Viognier, Chardonnay, Sémillon, and Sauvignon Blanc, in tribute to its hard-working cellar hands. This is a gulping wine with great depth of flavour and a lingering finish: there’s citrus and pear and pineapple, all in perfect, happy balance. It isn’t every day you get to have a Black Hills wine for 16 bucks.
CedarCreek Riesling 2011
One of the current crop of luscious aromatic varietals from this winery, celebrating 25 years in the crazy business this summer. This Riesling is crisp and bright, not so floral as many, and definitely one for warm-weather meals or snacks. If you’re expecting sweetish, flowery Riesling, this won’t be for you. But if you like sturdy, well-built, fresh-tasting, good-grapey wine, drink up.
Gray Monk Ehrenfelser 2010
Winemaker Roger Wong’s excellent work: richly aromatic, gorgeous fruit, a long finish but never cloying. Fine with lightly sauced pastas or “chicken in mourning”; fruity, fleshy, and very tasty.
Mionetto IGT Moscato delle Venezie n/v
The label calls it “the gentle sparkling wine”. It’s one of many newly listed Prosecco-style wines in town, and at seven percent alcohol it’s gentle, all right. Light and digestible, a pleasant, gently citric, bubbly post-surgery wine for those of us dealing with such. On the sweet side of the spectrum but with enough acidity to make it a tasty gulper. A buck or two less might be nice.
Villa Maria New Zealand Pinot Gris East Coast (Private Bin) 2010
(spec listing, just in; expect to pay around $18.95)
Come here instead, for a spicy, tart, big and bold, lovely summer sipper with a hint of almond among all the fruit flavours in the gorgeous, lingering finish. There are only two or three other N.Z. PGs in town. If they’re all like this, we could do with a few more.
Quails’ Gate Chenin Blanc 2011
This is state-of-the-art B.C. Chenin (not a hard trick to pull off: there aren’t all that many made in our neighbourhood wine lands!), characterized by fruity, full, and fresh flavours and a lovely finish. If you’re unfamiliar with Chenin, this makes a terrific introduction.
River Stone Pinot Gris 2011
Another fine release from the newish South Okanagan winery. Don’t let the pale colour fool you—this is a rich, hearty, refreshing summer treat that functions just fine as a stand-alone wine and rewards selective food pairing. You may need three or four bottles to experiment with! Good luck—the winery may be your only bet; I’m sure they can ship. We found lots of lime and lemon, and a hint of peach (or was it apricot?). A treat every which way.
Ferrari-Carano Fume Blanc 2011
($24.99, specialty listing)
A consistent crowd-pleaser, this label, especially its Chardonnay (discussed here in Part 2 of Warm Weather Whites, coming soon). Yes, it costs
25 bucks, but as the old saying goes: life is short. Great ripe fruit in an ultrafresh Sauvignon Blanc that’s not all that fumé-ish but rich and robust, with orange hints and a touch of pepper. Elegant and stylish, definitely for special meals, guests, and occasions.
Township 7 Reserve Chardonnay 2008
($24.99; 228 cases produced; at the Township 7 winery in Langley or Naramata and select restaurants in Vancouver and Whistler)
A little shy to the nose to start with, but then it opens up and assails the front palate (in a very nice way!) with hints of pepper, creamed corn, hay, and honey. The French oak asserts itself in the dark colour and oaky finish (it is a few years old, after all!), and it really wants food: goat cheese, wild salads, classy grilled cheese sandwiches.
TerraVista Vineyards Fandango 2011
($25 at the winery and select stores in Vancouver and Whistler)
From the founders of the original Black Hills label, this new offering claims to be the first—and so far only—Albariño in Canada. Winemaker Senka Tennant mixes in a little of another Spanish grape—Verdejo—for intrigue and balance. Since I love Albariño, it was bound to appeal to my taste. It’s tart and fruity, not as mellow as many Spanish Albariños, with spikes of bitter lemon (and a touch of butter) throughout.