Today we take on the other VQA - Beautiful British Columbia! In my loitering in the LCBO, I have heard many ask quizzically "Why don't we get more B.C. wines here in Ontario?". Well, the main reason for this is that the West doesn't want to give up the wines! B.C. is still a small wine-producing region, even in comparison to Ontario, so most of the wines get sold and consumed within the province. That's why we are so lucky when we can get a fee of these gems.
In BC, the smaller boutique winery prevails. There is more focus on quality, local wines. Most BC wines are produced in the Okanagan Valley, which stretches North from the Canada-US broder for about 160 kms. Despite being further North than Ontario, the climate is surprisingly hot and dry; in fact, some of the sub-regions such as Osoyoos are literally the desert. There are also some other exciting new emerging wine regions in BC; including Similkameen Valley, Fraser Valley, Vancouver Island, and the Gulf Islands.
Here is a sampling of 4 of the beautiful BC wines released in Vintages this past Saturday, January 19, as well as 2 quality Vintages Essentials that you can get all year long. These are my humble opinions on the wines.
Please follow myself and some other wine enthusiasts on Twitter tomorrow - Thursday, January 24th from 8:00 - 9:00 pm EST using #ONtastesBC. You'll get lots of tips, tidbits, and tasting notes on the wines of this wonderful area.
You can also enter to win a fabulous trip to BC: 5 nights/6 days with hotel, flights a private wine tasting at a vineyard and spending money! Enter here to win.
2011 Gray Monk Estates Winery Gewurztraminer, Okanagan Valley, BC VQA
Medium-full bodied gewurztraminer that is spicy, sweet, tart, and floral. When I first poured there was a noticable effervesence, and the aromas weren't very expressive. But after being open a couple of hours and warming up a touch, the aromas really opened up. The aromas are rosewater, sweet apple, candied ginger, mango, lychee, and beeswax. The first mouthful is sweet and fruity but finishes dry with a bit more acidity than expected and a slight finish of grapefruit pith. This wine has a lingering richness. This wine is very elegant. Beautiful for a coconut curry. A great balance between the dry and off-dry style.
$19.95 - LCBO# 321588 - Released January 19, 2013
Quails' Gate Estate Winery 2011, Okanagan Valley, BC VQA
The wine surprised me by feeling both creamy and refreshing at the same time - lucious without being overpowering. The aromas of toasty coconut, vanilla, lemon remind me of a lemon meringue pie, and it feels as rich on the palate. This wine is great for a lover of oaked chardonnay. Delicious for a fettuccine alfredo, or something covered in butter.
B.C. $20.95 - LCBO# 377770 - Released January 19, 2013
Mission Hill Family Estates Resevere Chardonnay 2010, Okanagan Valley, BC VQA
This lovely wine is a Vintages Essential, so its available year-round. I found this chardonnay to be bright and elegant, more Burgundian style. Bright yellow and clear in the glass, this wine hits you with juicy tropical fruit aromas of pineapple, pear, MacIntosh apple, lemon and bright minerality with a smokey background. The palate is refreshing with the rich fruit replay, mouthwatering citrus and minerality, and a slightly toasted coconut background. Great for roasted chicken or smoked salmon.
$19.95 - LCBO# 545004 - Vintages Essential
EauVivre Winery & Vineyards Pinot Noir 2008, Similkameen Valley, BC VQA
Now this is a wine I could drink every day! Beautiful pinot noir colour, bright and clear pale red. Tart cherry and earthy - mushroom aromas. The palate is fresh, juicy raspberries, smoke, truffle, crushed white pepper. Pinot noir can be a very tricky wine and I think this one has enough beautiful fruit to please the masses and enough complexity to keep the oenophiles happy. I would pair with a pasta with fresh tomato sauce, or some chocolate. But light enough for sipping!
$24.95 - LCBO# 308353 - Released January 19, 2013
Mission Hill Family Estate Quatrain 2009, Okanagan Valley, BC VQA
This wine is just as delicious as the first time I tried, "sneaking" into a licensee tasting! Seductive, rich purple. Impressive balance of jammy fruit and structure; cassis, blueberry pie filling, milk chocolate, espresso, sweet tobacco, and with a dash of pepper. Will cellar well, but I feel like this wine opened up nicely and the tannins were noticible but nicely integrated. Feels like this wine just soaked up the sun! Some rich and tender red meat cuts will hold up to this, such as filet mignon.
$44.95 - LCBO# 218636 - Released January 19, 2013
Osoyoos Larose Le Grand Vin 2008, Okanagan Valley, BC VQA
Even after a couple of hours decanting, this wine was still a little tightly wound. This wine is definitely built to age - it should be beautiful in about 5 years. Rich blackberry, dark cherry, anise, dark chocolate, christmas cake, menthol, black pepper, and tobacco, freshly ground coffee bean. Blackberry jam and dark chocolate ganache fills my mouth, with abundance of chewy tannins. Long finish. Best to hold, but if you're drinking this now, decant and drink with a nice fatty steak. Would make a great gift!
$45.95 - LCBO# 626325 - Vintages Essential