A heady collaboration for Van Westen wines

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      Winemaker Rob Van Westen dropped in recently from the Okanagan to drop off some new vintages. Don’t get too excited—I can’t afford them either. Yes, they’re all great, and yes, they all cost major money—the cheapest ones cost $30.

      Van Westen’s ongoing collaboration with peripatetic winemaker Tom Di Bello is now in its second phase with VD Pinot Noir 2012—$40 of dark and intense pleasure in your glass. Yes, Pinot Noir is always the costliest of B.C.’s reds, along with Meritage.

      This is heady, heavy, and thick. There are hints—no, major spice notes—of blackberries and treacle in the luscious fruit from the Granite Ridge Vineyard in north Naramata. This isn’t a solo sipping wine but an accompaniment to major meat and other hearty stuff, with big spice throughout.

      The V stands for Van Westen, the D for Di Bello, but on the label you can find many other definitions of VD—Very Delicious, Vineyard Delight, Violet Damsel, Valentine’s Day, Venerable Duo, and Varietal Diamond, among others.

      The other three wines cost $30 each: Voluptuous 2010 is mostly Merlot and Cabernet Franc, V is a Meritage-type blend (Merlot, Malbec, Cab Franc, Petit Verdot, and Cab Sauv), and Vivre la Vie is a 100 percent Merlot that’s “built to last”. All Van Westen wines are available at the winery in Naramata and extremely savvy independent wine stores.
      Some new Inniskillin vintages…

      Inniskillin Tempranillo 2011 ($30.09)
      This is from the Discovery series; the grapes are from the famous Dark Horse Vineyard, in the heart of the Okanagan Valley. Fresh berry juice, rich cherry fruit, some spicy oak notes, and a lingering finish. This is the one for any kind of meat dish, including roasted lamb, braised beef, or peppered steak.

      Inniskillin Pinot Blanc 2012 ($14.09)
      A true bargain; green and herbaceous. While Pinot Blanc can be bland, this one is assertive and rich, lovely and fresh. You’ll love this one with fillet of sole, baked ham, or any sort of poultry dish.

      Inniskillin Chardonnay 2012 ($14.09)
      Chewy, bright, and lively with fresh apple aromas and some subtle oak. Try it with seafood linguine and light cream sauces, steamed or crisp-roasted chicken, cedar-planked salmon, and ripe creamy cheeses.

      Inniskillin Merlot 2011 ($17.09)
      The grapes for this came from the Bull Pine Vineyard. It’s got an intense, deep red colour, and it was aged in French and American barrels for 10 months. One for roasted pork and lamb, and all sorts of barbecued meats.

      Recently I made reference to almond croissants and suggested some wines to go with them. Here are two more, both new vintages from Township 7. They’re available at select restaurants and the two T7 wineries, as well as from clubSeven, the T7 wine club. (There’s no membership fee for clubSeven, and free shipping anywhere in Canada or a 15 percent discount if the wine is picked up at one of the T7 wineries. See www.township7.com/.)

      The red is a Cabernet Franc ($29.99) with fewer than 130 cases produced. The white is a Pinot Gris, a true bargain at $19.99. Pinot Gris is generally considered to be the signature varietal of the Okanagan, particularly the Naramata Bench. Barely 140 cases were made of this one.

      Both wines go great with almond croissants.