By The Bottle: Wine Tour The Best of Kelowna by Varietal this Okanagan Fall Wine Fest
Entering the valley for Okanagan Fall Wine Festival, cresting the bridge from West Kelowna intoKelowna proper, the enormity of this valley becomes clear. It has an arid landscape, loosely moderated by the deep (232m / 761ft), wide (5km / 3.1mi), and long (135km / 84mi) Lake Okanagan whose surface can change from mirror calm to white-crested swells within moments.
As you tour the area you’ll hear the words “cool-climate growing”. In general, that means higher acidity (making your mouth water), with increased minerality (added complexity), and often better pairings with food. Technically we’re on par with parts of Germany and northern France – and unsurprisingly, some of our favourite regional sips have roots in those beauty regions. Consider this a field guide to finding your local BC wine happy place.
Tantalus Winery, July 2014
This darling can be long and lean, crisp and petrol-y, slightly sweet, or a combination of any of the aforementioned. It’s often a good gateway for wine newcomers and can be a wine geek’s best friend. Bonus: riesling loves food, and food loves it.
St. Hubertus 2012 Riesling, $16.75 http://www.st-hubertus.bc.ca
With a quaint mom-and-pop vibe in the tasting room and signs of working vineyards on its doorstep, St. Hubertus has both feet planted firmly in function over form and you’ll thank them for it. There’s something special on this bench that speaks to Riesling; the folks here have listened, closely. Thank them.
Sperling Vineyards 2011 Old Vines Riesling, $32 http://www.sperlingvineyards.com
Tucked behind the most adorable market deli is Sperling’s simple (and pretty) tasting room. Exploring the heritage site, one can learn how the Casorso family has been part of this agricultural area for generations. Farmed from 35-year-old vines, this is one for self-proclaimed wine-nerd Riesling lovers of petrol-y goodness.
Tantalus 2013 Riesling, $22.90 http://tantalus.ca
When one hears BC riesling, one inevitably thinks Tantalus. The delectable Old Vines is sold out; however, this offering is anything but ordinary. The beautiful complexity of 30+ year-old vines is met with the fruity perkiness of younger plantings. Ideal for newer wine drinkers and die-hard Riesling fans alike.
Summerhill Pyramid Estate Winery, June 2014
The new world sparkling wine movement has grown leaps and bounds since its early days with Baby Duck as headliner. Now, traditional method (or champagne-style) BC sparklers are achieving the national and international recognition they deserve.
Summerhill 2008 Cipes Blanc de Noirs, $34.90 http://www.summerhill.bc.ca
Stephen Cipes ignored a few raised eyebrows when construcing a to-scale pyramid for ageing wine. Early doubters might now rethink their skepticism; the organic 2008 Blanc de Noirs is a culmination of vision and planning. Winemaker Erik Von Krosigk helps bring home the accolades and this toasty, creamy, brilliant pinot noir will show you why.
Gray Monk 2011 Odyssey Traditional Brut, $29.99 http://www.graymonk.com
Traditional grapes blended in a traditional method sparkler, from one of the province’s older wine producers. Here, pinot noir meets chardonnay and pinot meunier with incredible balance and beautiful texture. Champagne sippers will recognize a few familiar aromas, but this wine is all BC bright character and style.
The First Annual BC Pinot Noir Celebration, Sept 2013
New world winemaking has been good to pinot noir, giving it an opportunity to express its expected flavour profile while amplifying the smallest variations in terroir. It’s a brave new pinot world, and we’re all better off for it.
Cedar Creek 2011 Platinum “Block 2” Pinot Noir, $39.95 http://www.cedarcreek.bc.ca
Something good is afoot when a winemaker sees enough awesome in part of a vineyard to deserve its own bottle. Low yields on each vine mean more work, but here it’s so very worthwhile. If you’re seeking a winery expressing unique terroir in the vineyard – you’ve found it. Bonus: try the 2011 “Block 4” and compare.
Arrowleaf Cellars 2012 Pinot Noir, $18.95 http://www.arrowleafcellars.com
With a new winery building this year, our best-kept-secret winery is about to burst wide open. Officially in the Kelowna suburb of Lake Country, Arrowleaf has been steadily producing quality wines for years. Those in the know reach for their Pinot Noir as an example of what BC can (and should) do.
Quail's Gate, September 2013
Foch can be divisive: those who like it love it, while those who don’t have a taste for it tend to think the former are somewhat dotty. Ranging from peaty and earthy to gamey and barnyard-y, when Foch is in skilled hands it can embrace all of those elements with panache and style.
Quails’ Gate 2011 Old Vines Foch Reserve, $24.99 http://quailsgate.com
The Stewart family planted these vines 47 years ago and we’re still enjoying the fruits of those labours. This wine has a cult following and sells out quickly; even the most ardent foch-avoiders would be best served by giving it a whirl. It’s a little bit of everything foch is known for – big, bold, rich, savory, gamey, earthy – and then some.
by Jeannette Montgomery