The sweet sunny weather we’ve been having lately has found me following two paths as far as wines go. On the one hand, I’ve been playing around with less common white varieties from British Columbia, and on the other, I’ve been riding the French rosé train for weeks. This week, my highlights.
Black Hills Estate Winery Roussanne 2015
(Okanagan Valley, B.C.; $29.90, winery only)
Winemaker Graham Pierce has had a steady hand with Black Hills’ iconic Nota Bene red Bordeaux-style blend; his Syrah is a personal favourite; and his earthy, herbal Carménère has a devoted cult following.
On the white side of things, although his Viognier, Chardonnay, and Alibi blend (of Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon) are perennially solid, I don’t feel that any of them have achieved the iconic status among local wine enthusiasts of his reds. Not to say these whites aren’t of equal quality; it’s more that the complexity, depth, and richness of certain reds are often more likely to strike one as possessing grandeur.
I think this Roussanne, a Rhône Valley white grape most often blended with Viognier and Marsanne, will change things and potentially be Pierce’s Next Big Thing. Marzipan, nougat, and honey are swirled into roasted peaches and apricots, with just enough lemon zest, acid, and mineral notes to keep things nice and fresh.
The best way to track it down is a visit to the winery or asking a favour of friends or family who may be road-tripping through Oliver sometime soon.
Stag’s Hollow Albariño Shuttleworth Creek Vineyard 2016
(Okanagan Valley, B.C.; $21.99, website)
I love Stag’s Hollow winemaker Dwight Sick’s obsession with geeking out on ultrarare varieties in these parts. This Albariño, a grape usually associated with Spain or Portugal, seems to be doing just fine in its newish Okanagan Falls home. Aromatics of river rock and salty sea air lead to fresh-squeezed yellow grapefruit, lime leaf, white pepper, and just a little bit of beeswaxy textural business going on, bringing added dimension.
Culmina Family Estate Winery Unicus 2016
(Okanagan Valley, B.C.; $29, website)
More Okanagan Valley Grüner Veltliner, please! If Culmina’s annual improvement of the crisp, citrus-laden Austrian variety’s quality is any indication of its potential, then my wish just may come true. From one of the highest-altitude vineyards in the region (almost 600 metres), we have eucalyptus on the nose (a breath of fresh air right away), then a flood of white flowers floating on key lime and lemonade, with bright, juicy acid singing all the way through. I adore this wine.
Mirabeau Pure Rosé 2016
(Provence, France; $28.99, B.C. Liquor Stores)
Clay and limestone soils at just under 400 metres’ elevation are where this wine’s Grenache and Syrah vines call home, and they bring an abundance of mandarin orange, nectarines, pomelo, and the slightest touch of sweetness on the finish, perfect for South Asian curries or any cuisine that may carry a little heat.
Château Barbebelle Cuvée Madeleine Rosé 2016
(Provence, France; $19.99, B.C. Liquor Stores)
Composed of 50 percent Grenache, 25 percent Syrah, and 25 percent Cinsault, this wine has distinct smatterings of pink and white flowers in the aromatics, which may have you thinking it will be on the delicate side when you take your first few sips. That’s not what happens at all. Instead, the palate enjoys buckets of alpine strawberries, rhubarb, and Coronation grapes, drenching you in deliciousness and cheer. Good acid keeps it fresh, with a crisp, dry finish.
Château Roubine La Vie En Rose 2016
(Provence, France; $22.99, B.C. Liquor Stores)
This lovely rosé is made from 40 percent Cinsault, with the balance of the blend being Tibouren. On her website, U.K. wine writer Jancis Robinson defines the variety as a “Provençal rarity making earthy rosés with a genuine scent of the garrigue, the herby scrub of southern France”—with that scrub often composed of thyme, rosemary, juniper, lavender, and more.
Whether it’s power of suggestion or not, I totally drank the Kool-Aid and would go along with those elements being in there. It’s a citrus jamboree, with pink grapefruit, Meyer lemons, and limes. Lip-smackingly juicy and full of charm, it’s absolutely gorgeous and will hit summer barbecues well.
On Saturday (June 3) sample fresh rosés from Provence for free alongside a few bites by chef Dino Renaerts of Bon Vivant Catering at the B.C. Liquor Store at 39th Avenue and Cambie Street between 2 and 5 p.m.