Gehringer Brothers Estate Winery bring forth value in B.C. varietals
The great thing about the wines from Gehringer Brothers Estate Winery is the fact that not only are all in the extensive portfolio very good, they’re priced most reasonably. This isn’t all that common with B.C. wines, especially those from smaller wineries.
Starting at around $14 and ranging up to $17 for a heady late-harvest Cabernet Franc (unique among the vast range of B.C. wines available to us now), there is a preponderance of fine whites along with a couple of lovely reds, including a blend called Summer Night and that aforementioned sweetish Cab Franc.
I think it has to be said that these are quite likely B.C.’s best-value varietals, and in this column I’ll give you some thumbnails on all of the current crop. Over the past quarter-century, Gehringer Brothers has received 25 platinum awards. The wines are all food-friendly and sundeck-sipping treats for what remains of our summer. Best of all, they’re readily available in LDB stores. Oh, maybe not all of them in all of the stores, but most in most, if that makes sense.
A note on pronunciation. The first syllable of the winery’s name, gehr, rhymes with mare, while the second and third together are “ringer”, as in bell-ringer, although many, particularly non-Germanic folks, like to say “gare-rin-jer”. No matter; the main thing is that the wines are tasty and inexpensive, with something to please every palate.
The South Okanagan winery is the joint venture of brothers Walter and Gordon Gehringer. It’s an all-family operation that produced its first icewine in 1991. This style of sweet wines has included the (red) Chancellor, made on the earliest icewine grape-picking date in the Okanagan: October 31.
Walter was the first Canadian graduate of Germany’s famous Geisenheim wine school, while Gordon studied at Weinsberg, also in Germany. They specialize in solidly German-style wines: fresh and fruity, off-dry whites, not flamboyant but eminently satisfying. The two have also done lots of work with French hybrid grapes, and continue to produce some red wines from some of those varieties.
All of the wines are finished with screw caps. Below, they’re listed in ascending order of price.
Summer Night 2011 ($13.99)
A blend of Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot, this is a light but mellow red that showcases fruity aromas and flavours of berries and plums, with a lovely hint of spice. Fresh and tasty, it likes a little chill and handily accompanies pasta, bread and cheese, and even some fruit cobblers and puddings, but is also delightful for solo sipping. Easy and fun.
Classic Riesling 2010 ($14.99)
My favourite of the three Rieslings the winery produces, this is a lemony, fresh, soft sipping wine with some gentle tobacco-leaf hints in the finish. A hale and hearty one that favours chicken and curries, or pasta with tuna, garlic, and rosemary.
Private Reserve Riesling 2010 ($14.99)
Lots of citrus here, very full, with nice acidity. Peach and fresh apricot flavours tame the relatively high alcohol (for a Riesling, at 13.1 percent). A satisfying dinner wine that is particularly pleasant with mildly spicy Asian dishes, white fish, fowl, baked stuffed tomatoes, and vegetable casseroles.
Classic Dry Riesling 2010 ($14.99)
Tart and dry, yet full and hearty. Sturdy and rich; showing honey, apple, and even some floral touches; with lots of pepper in the finish and a hint of something effervescent. With its bright, brash freshness, this is a Riesling for people who profess not to like Rieslings. The brothers claim it’s “the best choice for any salad dish…[and] a treat with a fruit plate”.
Ehrenfelser 2010 ($14.99)
The king of the aromatic varietals, this is a great match for spicy plates, with its apricot aspects and hints of almond. One to try as an apéritif or an after-dinner treat.
Private Reserve Pinot Gris 2010 ($14.99)
Herby and spicy, a surprise treat with grilled salmon; suits anything in a cream sauce (including fettuccine Alfredo). Rich and lingering, with a subtle sweetness.
Auxerrois 2010 ($14.99)
One of only a handful of Auxerrois made in the Okanagan. (Gray Monk does one too.) Say it either as “ox-err-wah” or “oh-zer-wah”, depending on where you come from. Fabulous, off-dry finish with lots of luscious fruit aromas; try it with a clear soup (consommé) and other delicacies.
Gewurztraminer-Schonburger 2011 ($15.99)
Two aromatic varieties in a perfect blend of spice, with Muscat flavours and tropical fruits, especially litchi. The one for fruit and cheese, before a meal or after.
Sauvignon Blanc Dry Rock Vineyards 2010 ($15.99)
If you’re a person who’s been put off Sauvignon Blanc by some of the New Zealand–style acidic, tart, harsh wines, try this. It’s very aromatic, leafy, gently grassy, elegant, and refreshing, just the thing for a late-summer lunch. The fruit is intense and full, yet surprisingly delicate.
Private Reserve Pinot Noir 2010 ($15.99)
Everything a good, everyday drinking Pinot Noir should be: gently sweet on the front palate, then tight and linear but not skimpy, lightly oaked, fresh and full, with a lovely vanilla finish. Fruit is abundant all along the palate—berries, some pepper—and it goes with just about anything: starch, meat, vegetables, tofu, Asian dishes, or rhubarb pie. (Try it and see.)
Late Harvest Cabernet Franc 2011 ($16.99 for 375 millilitres)
Here’s dessert! One of my all-time favourites for (or as) dessert, and one of the best values among B.C.’s sweet wines. Delicate and fresh, very fruity, yet not so overwhelmingly sweet as other late-harvests—and certainly not as sweet as ice-ine. Easy-drinking dryness, a lingering finish, redolent of strawberries and red currants. This is a textbook-good dessert wine.