Here they are, to toast the passing of summer: recently tasted whites, nice and fresh, and some big, intense reds, all new, from various vineyards.
Stoneboat Chorus 2012 ($17.90)
This has been a solid winner since its first vintage a few years ago: a blend of Pinot Blanc, Müller-Thurgau, Schoenburger, Kerner, Pinot Gris, and Viognier. In fact, it just gets better with each new vintage. The Martiniuk family’s flagship white, it’s all about big, fat, fresh fruit. There’s some gently sweet lemonade on the front of the tongue at first sip, then it develops into a bold, fruity finish. This is a fabulous all-purpose white—for lunch, for company at dinner, or as an apéritif. Get it while you can; the price is certainly right.
Stoneboat Pinot Gris 2012 ($18.90)
Pick up a few bottles of this lovely Gris, while you’re at it. (Select indie stores around town may have some, but the winery in Oliver is always your best bet if you’re on an early-fall Okanagan wine-stocking-up trip!) This is a stylish, slightly mineral-y wine with lots of grapefruit and pineapple touches, fresh and rich in the mouth, perfect with a good chill on it. For an asparagus and mushroom risotto or a Cheddar, mushroom, and back bacon omelette. Another great buy from this outstanding winery.
CedarCreek Riesling 2012 ($17.95)
Riesling is probably my favourite white; it comes in so many different styles, from superdry to sinfully sweet. This is very much non-Germanic, a big bouquet of flowers in a glass: fruity but not sweet, tropical and with a terrific acidic bite. You can pair it with just about any food from avocados with lime and rock salt to smoked pork and sauerkraut, like they do in Alsace.
Harper’s Trail Thadd Springs Vineyard Riesling 2012 ($20 at the winery)
If you like your Riesling on the Germanic side, this is where to come; at 8.5 percent alcohol, it also hews to the German model in this respect. Delicate and off-dry, with a huge, long finish and excellent and gentle acidity. The relatively new winery continues to please the palate with each release. Ideal with Asian cuisine, simple noodle dishes lightly sauced with red (tomato) or green (spinach and garlic) sauce, and fresh strawberries or blueberries (sauce them with rock sugar and a little of the wine) or peach cobbler with cream.
Flor Prosecco n/v ($17.95)
Crisp and bright, dry as a whistle, very clean and superfresh: Prosecco, the Italian “welcome wine”, suits any occasion, any food—or none at all. Great value as your everyday bubble.
Nk’Mip Cellars Pinot Blanc 2011 ($15.99)
This is a steal: bright and full, quite neutral, and an all-around lunch wine.
Fetzer Shaly Loam Gewurztraminer 2010 ($13.99)
An even bigger bargain for fans of herby-sweet dessert Gewürz, great with croissants and some dried nectarines—which could well be dinner, certainly a lunch. The wine’s back label alerts you to “layered apricot and peach and rose petals”. If you like your Gewürz in the sachet style, this is your tipple.
On to some recent reds.
Glen Carlou Grand Classique 2009 ($20.99)
They only brought in a few cases of this South African Meritage-style bruiser (Cab Sauv 43 percent, Petit Verdot 20 percent, Malbec 16 percent, Merlot 16 percent, and Cab Franc 5 percent), so it may be sold-out by now, but if you find a bottle somewhere, grab it—or two. It’s fantastic: very soft, rich, and on the sweet side, with lots of lovely oak.
“Choose Boldly”, says the tasting sheet that came with three new vintages of Black Sage Vineyard reds; I believe 2011 is their second vintage. Here they are, in limited supply.
Black Sage Merlot ($23.99)
Intense, dark, huge fruit, some tobacco and herbs, especially sage. Plenty of tannins from 12 months in French oak. This is the ultimate rib-roast-dinner wine.
Black Sage Cabernet Franc ($23.99)
Ripe cherries and deep flavours of blackberry; very earthy and spicy and peppery. Surely, there’s a steak somewhere just crying out for this one.
Black Sage Cabernet Sauvignon ($24.99)
Even more oak in this outstanding Cab—both French and American. Currant, eucalyptus, and cedar notes bring to mind some of the better Australian Cabs. Smoked meats and roast potatoes want it. You might have to go to the winery to get these flavours of the record-breaking 2011 summer; have a look at www.blacksagevineyard.ca/.
Culmina Family Estate Winery Hypothesis 2011
This is Don and Elaine Triggs’s first wine, made by former Osoyoos Larose winemaker Pascal Madevon. Only 500 cases of this Meritage-style red were produced; they’re aiming for 5,000 per vintage within a decade. The blend is Cab Franc–fronted (40 percent), with Merlot (36 percent) and Cab Sauv (24 percent). It’s a beautiful wine, luxurious and silky, with super-ripe fruit, easily one to rival the Osoyoos Larose wines. At the time I received my sample, pricing hadn’t been finalized, but expect it to carry a hefty tag.