Winemaker Jay Drysdale Pops Twin “Bella” Sparkling Rosés


by Treve Ring | No, you’re not seeing double through rosé-coloured glasses. Like identical twins, these paired rosés – Bella Sparkling Rosé Brut Natural, Oliver 2013 and Bella Sparkling Rosé Brut Natural, Westbank 2013 – are mirror images of nature and nurture, yet each exhibits its own distinct personality and style. Sure, there are obvious similarities – same grape (gamay), same style (bone dry, traditional method sparkling), same vintage (2013) and same winemaker (Bella Wines founder, Jay Drysdale) – but it’s the little differences that count here.

One wine is made from grapes sourced from Secrest Vineyard outside of Oliver at the bottom of the Okanagan. This warm, sandy site gave birth to the shy one, with its delicate wild strawberries and fragrant raspberries, ripping lemon-peel acidity and savoury, finely spiced finish. The second wine is from Beaumont Vineyard in Westbank, near the top of the Okanagan Valley. This is the gutsy one, with 100% organic fruit. It’s assertive, vibrant and racy, with lime peel, rhubarb leaf and cranberry on the finish.

The experiment is not one of temperament, but of terroir. Jay and his wife Wendy focus exclusively on gamay and chardonnay grapes through a series of small lot, single site-specific sparkling wines. Keeping their low-interventionist methodology and grapes the same across varying sites allows the geeks among us to clearly taste what’s in the glass.

But you needn’t be a nerd to enjoy these bottles. It’s dry, crisp, Bella sparkling rosé! Get it while you still can.

I asked Jay to share his message in the bottles of Bella Sparkling Rosé Brut Natural – Oliver 2013 and Bella Sparkling Rosé Brut Natural – Westbank 2013.

Straight up, why did you make these wines? The desire to see the personalities of this amazing grape and eventually hear what the vineyards have to say. With very little gamay planted in BC and its ability to come across light and elegant to muscular and aggressive, my goal was to offer up some consistency to see what I could learn from this varietal. My winemaking style this year offered up some very cool profiles as the grapes from Oliver showcase this shy and elegant style with soft integrated notes and the Westbank grapes play up the young and awkward acidity emphasizing the big rhubarb flavours.

Where are the grapes from? The lighter sparkling rose is from Secrest Vineyard in Oliver; a very unique site with a silty sand base — a micro-region that tends to trap the heat with the surrounding rock features. This is the third year we have made sparkling rose from this site. The other sparkling rose comes from the Beaumont organic vineyard in West Kelowna. This site takes advantage of the volcanic soils of the region. This is the first year we have made a sparkling rose from these grapes. Oliver came in first while Westbank was about two weeks later.

Your ideal pairing with these wines would be…? The Oliver sparkling rose needs some saltiness to coax out some of the beautiful floral flavours and my favourite pairing is some local oysters, au naturel. Grab a bucket of oysters and a bottle of this wine on the beach somewhere and you’ll understand. The Westbank rose with its bigger flavours is the perfect start or end to any amazing meal while you nibble on some charcuterie and cheese. I love the way this wine compliments cured meats.

Favourite BC wine, other than yours? Blue Mountain. I’m a big fan and not just of their sparkling wines. If you have the patience to hold on to some of their wines like the Pinot Noir or Chardonnay, you will be very well rewarded. I am also a fan of their sustainable practices and how their vineyards have been taking shape for the past 40 years. I’d like to be like them when I grow up.

What do you drink when you’re not drinking BC wine? I’m a fan of wines from all over the world but recently I have been on the hunt for wines from Marches, Italy. Can’t seem to get enough Verdicchio – it’s such a comfort wine with beautiful minerality and soft fruits.

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