Summer is a great time for wine lovers who live in B.C. Public and private tastings abound; our fabulous local wines are omnipresent at parties and picnics and on patios; and the latest vintages of some tried-and-true favourites make a welcome (but brief) return to store shelves and restaurant lists.
For your buying, drinking, and sharing pleasure, here is a cornucopia of new releases—mostly white, all delicious.
Clos du Soleil, an emerging winery in the Similkameen, presents two takes on Sauvignon Blanc: its 2013 Fumé Blanc ($20, winery-direct) leans toward the fruitier side of the grape, while the 2012 Capella ($25, winery-direct) shows a citrus-focused minerality and juicy intensity. They’re lovely on their own. Grab one of each and let me know which you like best.
Two new goodies just arrived from Summerland’s Haywire winery. Its 2013 Pinot Gris ($20, winery-direct) is a great showcase for unadulterated Okanagan terroir: it’s fresh, lean, slightly savoury, and not entirely dissimilar to its 2013 Sauvignon Blanc ($23, winery-direct), with unexpected aromas of sweet Peppadew peppers, pear, and cantaloupe with a tangy thyme finish. Try pairing either with a vegetable hash, or basil pesto and a just-out-of-the-oven baguette, dripping with butter.
I couldn’t resist getting some takeout from our local White Spot the other day and tried a couple of the picks on its 100-percent-B.C. VQA feature, smartly paired with locally sourced ingredients. The Red Rooster 2013 Pinot Gris ($18) is aromatic and spicy, with mandarin and stone-fruit notes that suited my B.C. Beet, Brie, and Bacon Bigger Burger perfectly. I could also have paired it with the Jackson-Triggs 2013 Reserve Series Rosé ($17), with its pleasantly gulpable, lush, rhubarb finish.
Mission Hill Family Estate recently freed two new 2012 whites from its Reserve stashes—a Sauvignon Blanc and a Pinot Gris, both priced at $19.99. Each stays nicely on this side of tropical while remaining crisp and food-friendly; the Pinot Gris offers a little more weight and texture. Consider both for grilled oysters with a jalapeño-bacon vinaigrette.
Figure Eight 2013 White ($15, winery-direct) is by Calliope Wines, a label from the Wyse family, which also produces Burrowing Owl. It marries Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, Pinot Gris, and Riesling into a wine with perfectly balanced acidity. It goes down very well in this summertime heat. Figure Eight 2012 Red ($15.99) brings Merlot, Syrah, and Cabernet Sauvignon to the table, with off-dry notes of blueberry, vanilla, and coffee.
Pinot Noir–obsessed winemaker Bradley Cooper made these next two gems for Naramata’s Township 7 Vineyards and Winery—the last before he moves this fall to take the winemaking reins at Judy Kingston’s Serendipity Winery just down the road. Township 7 2013 Rosé ($17, winery-direct) is ripe and far too easy-drinking, with notes of watermelon and summer berries. The 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon ($26.99) is solid and full of black fruits and rich spices. I’m hoping my wife, Kate, will make her famous LAZOM (lamb, avocado, zucchini, oyster mushroom) stew for the next time we crack a bottle.
Also in Naramata, Van Westen Vineyards has just released its 2013 Vivacious ($20, winery-direct), a blend of mostly Pinot Blanc with a touch of Pinot Gris. The preponderance of stone-fruit flavour, coupled with a tart finish of green apple and lime, makes it a great food accompaniment—think white fish or soft cheeses. It makes me long for a big bowl of buttery steamed mussels from the Flying Pig, which, coincidentally, also serves this by the glass. Don’t pour it too chilled, as it benefits from a few minutes on the table to allow the Naramata fruits to surface, showing this lovely, well, vivacious wine at its best.
Kelowna’s Summerhill Pyramid Winery has just released a trio of Robert Bateman Artist’s Series wines featuring exclusive artwork by Bateman himself. A donation from every bottle sold supports the Robert Bateman Centre’s new outdoor education program aimed at school-age children. We tried the 2010 Organic Merlot and the 2010 Cabernet Franc (each $45, winery-direct). They were both serious reds that tasted great, perfect for any summer celebration. We’ll try the 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon–Syrah another time.
Speaking of giving back, until the end of August, the always well-stocked Marquis Wine Cellars (1034 Davie Street) is donating 25 cents from each bottle sold of its already good-value Wines of the Week to the B.C. Hospitality Foundation, which supports those in the hospitality industry facing a financial crisis due to a medical condition. Great deals made even better by supporting others: let’s drink to that.