White wines to keep you going through Labour Day
There being a good chance of more sunshine ahead, herewith the second part of a column begun a few weeks ago, featuring some recently tasted whites for the warm weather. While a few are listed with the LDB (specialty or speculative), most can be found at the wineries or in better indie or VQA stores.
As is the custom here in Uncorked, the wines are listed in ascending order of price.Finca los Primos Torrontes 2011 ($10, specialty)
Torrontes is Argentina’s big (some say best) white grape, and while this is by no means the best we get here, it’s certainly the cheapest. It starts out with a fresh rhubarb nose; the taste is a little skunky at first but if you pour it and let it sit in your glass or a carafe, it soon dissipates and becomes much fresher tasting and more aromatic. Go ahead, add ice, fresh mint leaves, lemon, and maybe even spritz it with soda. Gotta love the price.
Rosemount Diamond Label Pinot Grigio 2011 ($15.99, speculative)
One more to add to the burgeoning list of white Pinots (Gris or Grigio), this Australian winner is fresh and crisp, bright and full-fruited, light and lemony; an excellent introduction if you haven’t tried any yet. It welcomes ice cubes and chunks of fruit, or bubbly water, too.
Sperling The Market White 2011 ($16 at the winery; 835 cases)
An uncommon white blend—Pinot Blanc and Bacchus—by peripatetic winemaker Ann Sperling, who has wineries in Ontario and Argentina as well as the Okanagan. Fragrant and aromatic, rich and fruity, this makes for the perfect summer spritzer because of its gentle sweetness. Too bad there’s so (relatively) little of it out there. I expect it to be all sold out by September. Get yours while it’s gettable.
Tinhorn Creek Chardonnay 2011 & Tinhorn Creek Gewurztraminer 2011 ($17.99 at the winery, various restaurants, and selected VQA stores)
The Chard has some barrel-fermentation in new French oak, and it shows in the light, fruity aromas and clean, fresh, appley (if shy) palate. Less floral and drier than many versions of this variety from the Golden Mile, its peppery, spicy finish makes it a surprising and good accompaniment to prawns on the barbie. In fact, it works with anything roasted, grilled, or barbecued; not where we customarily expect Chardonnay. The Gewurz is also shy at the beginning but then shows some rose petal or lavender among the aromas, and also hints of mango, making it fine with curries, pork tenderloin, and Big Lou’s breakfast sausage. (See one other Tinhorn wine, below.)
8th Generation Sauvignon Blanc 2011 ($18.50 at the winery; 452 cases)
The winemaker points out it’s had some sur lie treatment, spending time on the lees, which makes it mellower than many Okanagan SBs. Fresh and herbaceous, bright and light. Sauvignon fans who are weary of the New Zealand bite will welcome this one.
Monte del Fra Ca del Magro 2010 ($19.99, specialty)
Aromatic but dry; slightly medicinal at first whiff, then morphing into a floral aftertaste. Unusual blend of Garganega, Trebbiano Toscana, Tocai Friulano, Cortese, Chardonnay-Riesling, Italico-Malvasia, and Incrocio Manzoni. Good fruity tang and a lingering finish. Try this with oysters, sushi, or anything cold and raw.
Spierhead Dry Riesling 2011 ($21.90 at the winery; 185 cases)
Well worth the quest to get your hands on some of this before the summer fades away. Fabulous nose of lychee and flowers, fresh and with beautiful acidity, this is an excellent Okanagan Riesling (from the nicely named Gentleman Farmer Vineyard). Among an impressive lineup of competitors, it certainly holds its own. The only problem lies in finding a supply.
JoieFarm Pinot Blanc 2011 & JoieFarm Muscat 2011 ($22.90 at the winery, Naramata General Store, some Penticton stores, and very good Vancouver indie stores)
The thing is, most of these wines will have already been sold—JoieFarm made 427 cases of the Muscat and only 180 of the Pinot Blanc. The Pinot Blanc is stunning, with rich and aromatic aromas (orange blossoms?) at the start, lovely weight and body, and an exquisite, beautifully sweet finish. The palate is a mile long and the orange blossoms continue throughout. One of B.C.’s best Pinots yet. The Muscat starts with a spicy-sweet nose, which follows through all along the palate. This is a dry Muscat, despite the touches of sweetness, with crisp acidity. While it accompanies many foods (smoked trout?), it sips well all on its own on the veranda. Can JoieFarm do no wrong?
Tinhorn Creek 2Bench White 2011 ($22.90 at the winery, various restaurants, and many VQA stores)
I’ve loved this blend since it first appeared and it continues to be a winner. In descending order of grape variety, this is Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, Semillon, and Muscat. Pairs perfectly with just about anything, in particular Asian or Latin flavours, seafood curry, grilled tuna, snacks bought or homemade. We fuelled the hockey playoffs with it last year and found a few more bottles to lubricate the Olympics. Made the losses as well as the wins go better.
Black Hills Alibi 2011 & Black Hills Viognier 2010 ($24.90 and $25, respectively, at the winery and specialty VQA stores)
Alibi is 75 percent Sauvignon Blanc, and the balance is Semillon. It’s a gorgeous blend that’s worthy of the Black Hills name and fame. Tropical flavours abound, the finish is long and lovely; it goes especially well with citrus flavours and even handles salads (with vinaigrette!) surprisingly well. The Viognier is only in its second vintage. It’s a complex, elegant wine, but totally approachable with many foods. The winemaker likes it with “everything from grilled halibut to roasted chicken”.
Ferrari-Carano Chardonnay 2010 ($32.99, specialty)
When should you pay $33 for a California Chardonnay? When it’s called Ferrari-Carano; money well spent for the payoff your palate gets in flavour and elegance. It may be the best Chardonnay for sale in B.C. at the moment, with its rich, succulent softness and sumptuous, full flavours. There’s lemon butter and cream in the finish: sweetish, mellow, round, and abundant. Yes, by all means serve it with an elegant lunch or dinner, but don’t disdain it with cheddar and salted nuts as a snack. No wonder it’s in my top three vintage after vintage (and I can’t remember the names of the other two at the moment). So good, so consistent—no wonder it costs what it does. If only I could afford it every day. Or even once a week!