Picking Grapes is a new series that asks wine professionals to map out their complex relationships with British Columbian wines by citing the ignition point of their interest and some of their favourite wineries.
In our second instalment of the new Picking Grapes column, we speak with Jayton Paul, recipient of the 2016 BCHF Sommelier scholarship and a Somm at Hawksworth Restaurant. Jayton is almost done with his WSET Diploma and later this year he will sit the Court of Master Sommeliers ‘Advanced’ exam.
Name the BC wine that you first fell in love with. Do you remember where you were? What was the circumstance?
2008 Foxtrot, Henricsson/Erickson Vineyard Pinot Noir. I was maybe 20, back home working at Jasper Liquor and Wine Cellar. In the vast array of “cellared in Canada” products, Foxtrot in my mind was a gem representing British Columbian wine. One evening, the sommelier of the restaurant next door came into the shop with a glass of red wine. An American couple currently dining with them had come into the liquor store that afternoon and purchased a bottle. They brought it into the restaurant as corkage and were so impressed with the quality that they made sure we all had a taste. I knew very little about wine at the time but I knew, that wine was special.
What are three local wineries that fly somewhat under the radar?
Privato – Thompson Valley. A family-run, small scale winery making big gains as they push to pioneer a new and emerging wine region within British Columbia. Privato focuses on high quality Burgundian-influenced expressions of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay sourced from estate and contracted fruit.
Henricsson Vineyards – Naramata Bench. A handmade operation producing less than 500 cases of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay a year. Peter and Kajsa Henricsson use age-old Burgundian wine-making techniques and native yeast fermentations with minimal sulfur additions.
Synchromesh – Okanagan Falls. If you like riesling (which you should), Alan Dickinson and co. are producing truly incredible, site-specific, terroir-driven wines that will stand the test of time. Get to the winery soon after the release; they sell out quick!
If you could work in just one local winery for just one harvest, which would it be and why?
Bella. I respect Jay and Wendy’s project greatly, from their conscientious farming to hands-off natural winemaking devoted exclusively to Gamay and Chardonnay-based sparkling wines. Working a harvest at Bella would be a constant wealth of knowledge in organic and biodynamic viticulture, plus a first-hand understanding of ancestral and traditional method sparkling wine production. Who doesn’t like bubbles?!
Please recommend one local, emblematic-of-BC red wine for someone who didn’t even know wine was made here. What would it be and why?
Meyer Family Vineyards, Mclean Creek Road Vineyard Pinot Noir, Okanagan Falls. Given our cool climate, northern location and high diurnal range, there are understandably some grape varieties that perform better than others. Pinot Noir is a grape that I believe has found a great home in B.C. and Meyer Family Vineyards excels at highlighting single vineyard plot expressions and sustainable winemaking. Not to mention, it’s fairly priced.
What about a white?
Culmina Family Estate Winery ‘Unicus’, Grüner Veltliner, Golden Mile Bench. One of the best things about making wine in B.C. is that we can grow what we want, when we want, where we want. That’s how we end up with an Austrian grape varietal grown in the Okanagan Valley, planted at high altitude, then aged in concrete egg/amphora and stainless steel. Don Triggs, one of the godfathers of the B.C./Canadian wine industry, teamed up with his wife Elaine and Daughter Sara to produce remarkable terroir driven wines. With state of the art equipment, research and personnel, Culmina will continue to shape the identity of the Golden Mile Bench and the Okanagan Valley for many vintages to come.
And lastly, a rose?
Little Farm, Blind Creek Vineyard Cabernet Franc, Similkameen Valley. With a similar goal in mind, Rhys Pender MW and Alishan Driediger produce wines of personality that showcase unique character between vineyards and vintages. This rosé is made from low intervention, low manipulation Cabernet Franc grapes sourced from ‘Blind Creek Vineyard’, located a kilometre from the winery in Cawston. The grapes are foot trodden and left in contact with the skins for a few hours before gentle pressing, resulting in a light, dry and textural rosé brimming with notes of sour cherry, wild raspberry, orange zest and savoury herbs. It’s under $25, including tax.