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.
What was the BC wine that you first fell in love with? Do you remember where you were? What was the circumstance?
“My love of BC wine is a relatively recent one. Having come from the UK, my understanding of wines from British Columbia could have been compared to that of a Canadian’s understanding of British winemaking. My first visit to the Okanagan and more specifically, the Naramata Bench was a sense of comfort and serenity. There is a close-knit community of avid winemakers searching for something better from our region. Looking out from Nichol Vineyards across the Okanagan Lake, sipping their 2015 Pinot Gris, that’s when I knew – there’s something more to this voluminous grape of the BC.”
What are three BC wineries that are currently flying under the radar?
“A Sunday In August, Le Vieux Pin, and MacIntyre Heritage Reserve at Lake Breeze.”
If you could work in just one local winery for just one harvest, which would it be and why?
“Bella Wines. Sparkling wine from single vineyards sourced from different microclimate and terroir throughout the Okanagan, Similkameen and Lake Country. This style of learning is one of true experimentation of the vineyard and the grape. Jay Drysdale’s focus on premium sparkling wines is a project that is so unique to our region.”
Can you 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?
“Known for their Riesling on the East Bench of Kelowna, Tantalus Vineyards does so much more. Their 2016 Pinot Noir is an elegant expression of fruit sourced from a single vineyard on their estate. A small amount of new French oak adds a subtle sweet spice to this fresh bouquet of plums, cherries, and blueberries. Silky tannins that make for easy drinking coming into the spring.”
What about white?
“Deferring from searing acidity and notes of petrol so commonly associated with Riesling, Orofino’s 2017 Old Vines Riesling is rich and complex with subtle sweetness balancing the purposeful texture. Allowing a wild ferment in old oak barrels, Orofino has let nature produce a real treat on their behalf.”
And finally, a rose?
“Single vineyard Cabernet Franc planted 2008 on the middle of the Naramata Bench. Made with low-intervention and a dream to show true expression of Naramata fruit, Lock and Worth’s new 2018 vintage rose is the stuff Vancouver summers were made for. Bright and lively cranberries and fresh raspberries with that beautifully distinctive rhubarb note on the finish. Only 380 cases produced, this rose is going to go fast.”