Splash of Wine: Blue Grouse's Ortega throws a perfectly pleasant afternoon spring party

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      Where we taste new wines and share highly subjective and uncorroborated tasting notes.

      Blue Grouse Estate Winery’s 2019 Ortega

      Tech Sheet: The signature grape of Vancouver Island, Ortega is a cross between Siegerrebe and Müller-Thurgau, the latter being a Riesling-Madeleine Royale cross. (It’s enough to make you need a glass of wine.) Made of organically farmed grapes, the vegan wine ($24) from the Duncan winery has subtle, savoury aromas of a Garry Oak grove after some rain and an alcohol content of 11.6  percent.

      Sip it: Medium-bodied with just a smidge of sweetness and a hint of caramel, this vintage brings to mind an afternoon spring fling (as in, a party with balloons and canapes, not a scandalous affair). It’s fun and flirty but not ditzy. #Respect.

      Next level: You can’t go wrong with freshly shucked oysters with a classic mignonette sauce or Rosie Daykin’s Iron Skillet Halibut (from Let me Feed You).

      However, we turn to winemaker Bailey Williamson, who suggests first-of-the-season spot prawns. “I love to toss them whole in garlic, salt, and olive oil and grill them till they are crispy,” Williamson says. “I pull the head off and suck the inside then eat the whole thing, shell and all; when the shell is crispy, it is so amazing. I usually pour the Ortega into a tumbler because I am covered in prawn juice. It all gets messy and one needs to drink it down with gusto and abandon.”

      Blue Grouse Estate Winery.

      Swirl this: Throughout April, Blue Grouse will donate $1 from every bottle of wine sold to the Nourish Cowichan Society and will match every donation dollar for dollar. The Cowichan Valley has the highest rate of child poverty on Vancouver Island, at 30 percent. Nourish Cowichan feeds area families in need.

      Shipping is free to B.C. residents on orders of six bottles or more. 

      More info: Blue Grouse Estate Winery