When you look back on your life, reflecting on experiences held most dear, what things do you find come up most? I’ll bet you won’t say money. You might not mention your job. You may not even say wine! The first thing you’re likely to remember is people. Life—in all its wonder, mystery, and glory—is always better when there are great people around you to share the fun. A blend of personalities from varying walks of life with different viewpoints keeps things interesting. It’s all about balance. Wine, naturally, is no different.
In particular, British Columbia has its own range of “viewpoints” when it comes to wine: a diverse range of wine-growing areas and grapes that are suited to growing in each region. B.C.’s long, hot summer days and cool nights result in aromatic whites with a balance of ripeness and crisp, juicy acidity. For B.C. winemakers, receiving a range of white grapes at the cellar door provides an opportunity to mix and match at harvest. Each grape, each vineyard, each varietal clone brings something unique to a wine. One brings bright aromatics. The other offers acidity. The next delivers structure or colour—you see?
Back to our gathering of friends: imagine a picnic where everyone brings potato salad. Boring. But when each person brings something deliciously different to share with the gang, now that’s a party. As I said earlier, it’s all about balance.
In the spirit of sipping good wine with great friends this summer, here are some new white blends I’ve recently enjoyed, all from B.C. and available right now.
Black Hills Estate Winery Alibi 2013 ($24.90)
The spirit of the Okanagan’s Black Sage Bench is captured in this, one of my perennial favourites. Alibi is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon—the same white blend that was made famous across the pond in Bordeaux. Our local version shows notes of pear and dried pineapple with a long, citrus-y, and waxy finish.
Quails’ Gate Chasselas Pinot Blanc Pinot Gris 2013 ($18.99)
I once called this blend the “best all-around B.C. sipping wine with Asian foods of all kinds”, so the new vintage has a lot to live up to. The 2013 edition is fresh and lemony, and if I ate lobster I’d enjoy them together. Since I don’t, refill my glass and pass the French bread and garlic butter.
Bench 1775 Winery Chill 2013 ($16.90)
Talk about a party: this value-for-money blend includes Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, Sémillon, and Gewürztraminer. No wonder they just went with chill. Nicely fruity on the nose, it suggests a just-opened tin of pears, but in a good way. The finish is clean and crisp, with a lingering note of sweet spice. Serve well chilled, of course.
TH Wines By Hand White 2013($19.99)
Tyler Harlton started his small winery in Summerland in 2011, and each of only three vintages since then has shown improvement. His By Hand White is a blend of Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. It’s an interesting combination that offers aromas of apricots, nuts, and orange blossom alongside a rich and mineral palate.
Intrigue Wines Social 2013 ($14.90)
This wine, like its acclaimed winemaker, Roger Wong, is unpretentious and unassuming. The winery thoughtfully laid out on the packaging every possible occasion that one may want to enjoy the wine. (My friend’s 20-year-old niece got great glee out of reading around the bottle.) The wine itself delivers good bang for the buck. Great lemon-lime aromatics with further notes of dried fruit, pear, vanilla, and apple.
Intersection Estate Winery Mile’s Edge White 2012 ($18.90)
Love the design on the label—simple and smart, just like the wine. It’s a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier that shows notes of citrus, peach, apple, and honeydew, following through to a crisp finish.
Tinhorn Creek Oldfield Series 2Bench White 2013 ($22.99)
The blend this year is mostly Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and Sémillon, with a sprinkle of Viognier and Muscat for good measure. A little fuller weight this one, it offers notes of marigolds, honeydew, cantaloupe, Red Delicious apple, and dried herbs with a plush mouthfeel. Hungry yet? I’m thinking cod fillets in a spicy mango marinade, grilled outside with a few friends. Let’s make some memories.