Pleasant Pinot Gris is made for the shade
Got a few white Pinots for you to try this week. Pinot Gris or Grigio, what’s the difference? Basically, not much more than the nomenclature—same grape, occasionally a slight difference in handling during the winemaking process, but for most wineries they’re one and the same.
So here they come—from Lillooet, the South Okanagan, and South Africa.
Fort Berens Pinot Gris 2011 ($17.99)
Flat Roof Manor Pinot Grigio 2011 ($12.99) Haven’t seen this one in the stores yet, so I imagine it’s either a Specialty or Speculative Listing. But it’s definitely worth seeking out—also pale, with odd but pleasant aromas that don’t call up any of our domestic Pinot Grigios. The finish is mellow and smooth and the whole thing is quite delicious, especially with a Greek salad or some chili-spiced biltong. You may have to hunt for it, but it’ll reward the extra effort, especially at the reasonable price.
Young & Wyse Collection Pinot Gris 2011 ($19.90) Steve Wyse and Michelle Young’s little winery just outside Oliver has produced some outstanding vintages in the relatively short time of its existence. Here’s one more; as the proprietors tell you on the back label, it begins with “an intriguing nose that combines…cantaloupe and apple blossom aromas…and dried summer herbs”. Those notes, by the way, continue in considerable detail; follow the flavour observations and suggestions, and you have a recipe for making your own excellent Pinot Gris. There’s refreshing acidity here; a crisp, dry touch on the palate; and intense lemon, grapefruit, even nectarine touches in the super-long finish. Some pairing suggestions would have to include our local spot prawns; citrus salad or an antipasto platter prominent with olives, prosciutto, and other charcuterie; and good Parmesan with extra virgin olive oil and ripe tomatoes. This is a big, bold wine—rich and round and bright for summer lunches. Not in the big stores, at least not for the time being.
Burrowing Owl Pinot Gris 2011 ($19.90) While you’re shopping for Pinot Gris in the South Okanagan, you might as well pick up some of this flagship model, although Burrowing Owl is more widely available in local stores than some of the others listed here and more widely seen in VQA stores. This is state-of-the-art Gris: luscious, full, and mouth-watering. One bottle is never enough. Burrowing Owl wines have been among my solid faves for many vintages, and this one doesn’t fall short of expectations. This is a thoroughly delightful and delicious white wine that rewards a thoughtfully built dinner or simply fuels good conversation on the deck when the sun’s just starting to set.
B • S white and rose table wines ($18.99) I like the fact that some B.C. winemakers have the guts to use the term “table wines” on some of the, well, table wines, instead of fancy, made-up names that obscure the facts. Take B • S, the initials of colleagues Michael Bartier and David Scholefield, ex Road 13 and the LDB, respectively. These two have joined forces to make wines at the Okanagan Crush Pad facility. Over the weekend I tasted the white table wine and the rosé, both 2010s: both are terrific and cost $18.99. (There’s also a red table wine for a dollar more, which I haven’t tasted yet.)
The white is produced from proportionally diminishing amounts of Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc, all from around Oliver. The wines are soft and mellow, fruity and fresh, and, yes, a buck or two cheaper would be nice.
The rosé isn’t identified on the label as to grapes, but the winemaker says: “It’s lightly tannic as all good rosés should be…24-hour skin contact…gives the wine that light, not-quite-salmon-but-beyond-apricot colour.” It shows excellent acidity and some nice, bright berry notes. B • S table wines can be found at select B.C. wine stores and the winery/crush pad near Summerland.
Le Vieux Pin Petit Blanc 2010 ($19.90, available by direct order from the agency, Christopher Stewart) They don’t say what’s in it, but whatever it may be, it’s very aromatic and floral and quite rich; more suited to solo sipping, perhaps, than trying to match it to specific foods. Some people might well identify honeysuckle in the aroma, which has become a popular catchword among wine descriptors of late. I don’t use the term because I don’t know what honeysuckle tastes or smells like, but I’m ready to be enlightened. There is something very, very floral in here, though, making it a lovely apéritif wine.
Le Vieux Pin Ava Viognier-Roussanne-Marsanne 2010 ($35, available by direct order from the agency, Christopher Stewart) Even at the price—or perhaps because of it!—this big white blend has sold very well since its initial release and is now subject to limited availability. It’s primarily Viognier, with the other varieties adding some delicious, spicy, pointy flavour touches. The fruit is massive, but the finish manages to be delightfully dry and full. Earlier vintages were aged in acacia barrels; no word as to how this one was finished. A fine and fascinating, bold-flavoured B.C. white unlike any other. Worth the effort to find it, and worth the cost.
McWatters Collection Meritage 2009 ($29.99) We’ll close for this week with a glorious red that’s here and will—poof!—be gone, just like that. Remember that iconic B.C. wine personality Harry McWatters was the first in Canada to sign on to the American Meritage protocol and all that it entails, so he’s entitled to fly the M proudly. Spicy and full and rich all along the palate, this is a big and stylish wine, soft and lovely, with mellow tannins. The blend is predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon (44 percent), with Merlot (32 percent) and finally Cabernet Franc (24 percent). The wine spent 15 months in small French oak barrels and another 15 months in the bottle before McWatters released it. It’s just the ticket for well-sauced roasts, game, or a mustard-and-herb-studded leg of lamb with artichokes and potatoes and broad beans. When you put your name on the bottle, it means you stand by what’s inside. The winemaker personally guarantees every bottle and welcomes your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.