20 Under $20 in BC : July 2015
Smokin’ Hot in B.C.
Trust me, we’re not complaining about the heat in BC. We’re absorbing it as much as the grapes are (up to two weeks ahead of the norm in some areas). It’s just that after weeks of 20+ degrees Celsius and even more weeks without rain, we’re starting to dream rain dances in our sleep. Our thoughts are with all in BC affected by the fires, and with the brave firefighters working around the clock to stop the blaze. Keep safe all.
Though we certainly can’t control mother nature, we can control our thirst, and we do, liberally, with the tidy value buys below.
DJ Kearney is off to visit vineyards in Greece, so we’ve filled in while she’s filling up with Assyrtiko and other delicious wines. Watch for her field notes over the coming weeks.
The heatwave persists in British Columbia and I can’t help but think it has spurred on interest in summer style wines that frankly were never a big part of the BC wine market, especially on the wet coast. But, damp and wet summers appear to be a thing of the past under climate change so this month I’m going with some classic summer sippers you should cool down with on the patio.
We begin with Errazuriz Max Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2014. This wine just gets better every year as the vines settled into the Manzanar Vineyard some 12 km from the Pacific Ocean at Aconcagua Costa. Goat cheese, tomatoes, corn fish chicken…mmmm.
Closer to home and pink is the 50th Parallel Estate Pinot Noir Rosé 2014, a classic cool-climate style that is dry with citrus and cran-cherry flavours. Think summer pasta salmon and or potato salads.
No summer can pass without riesling and the Über Riesling Kabinett N/V from the Pfalz is affordable and gulpable. Bring on the sushi platters.
How much do I like the Hillside Pinot Gris Unoaked 2014? A lot. It’s such a pleasure to drink a pinot gris for grown-ups. Pinot gris can throw a little colour from its copper skin and this one has a beautiful Provençal hue. Grilled chicken or assorted shellfish all work here. Stock up for summer.
If you’re lucky enough to be enjoying Dungeness crab this month, you’ll want a creamy, solid wine with good intensity and freshness to pour. Try the Louis Latour Ardèche Chardonnay 2013, with intensity and brightness far beyond its price point.
Finally we all need to drink more bubble and to get you started may I suggest the Wolf Blass Yellow Label Sparkling Brut Mousseux. Their style is refreshing with juicy, citrus, honey apple flavours. A crowd pleaser at a crowd pleasing price. Head for the patio.
Rhys Pender MW
With the exception of a few necessary steak pairing situations, I haven’t drunk any big red wine for weeks. The body craves crisp dry white wines, savoury dry rosé, or chilled light juicy reds. Varieties like Riesling come into their own in summer with their powerful ability to refresh. Anything else with that crisp acidity and a mineral edge also works well. My picks this month all fit these criteria.
The first two wines are from BC, top quality wines that are consistent from year to year and wines that are always refreshing and drinkable. The Wild Goose 2013 Stony Slope Riesling has good zingy power and plenty of racy acidity. The Lake Breeze 2013 Pinot Blanc is a versatile wine for food, good on its own when well chilled but also with enough stuffing to stand up to things like roast chicken or richer white fish.
The next two wines are from two of my favourite “mineral” wine regions. Consistently the wines from Limari in Chile and Muscadet in France’s Loire have that stony, mineral edge that gives great refreshment. The Concha y Toro Marques de Casa Concha 2013 Chardonnay has ripe fruit and some body but still the great mineral edge that Limari always provides. Another standby is the Château de la Gravelle 2013 Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie, so crisp and refreshing and great with fresh oysters or anything deep fried.
The final pick is a wine that is red but can be drunk like a white, chilled down against the summer heat. Light, juicy and savoury Folonari Valpolicella 2012 is perfect for charcuterie or grilled light meats like rabbit or quail.
Fresh back from The Nationals (#NWAC15) and a week of tasting nothing but Canadian wine (and the necessary post-judging refreshing Canadian beer, of course), my Canadian palate is as finely honed as ever. And with summer fresh local bounty taking over my table, the time is prime to pour wine from our BC backyard.
Quails’ Gate Chardonnay 2013 has never felt fresher, and upon retasting recently, a beautiful vein of stony minerality has risen through all the ripe orchard and melon fruit. Lovely with grilled corn on the cob.
If salmon is on the grill, crack the top on Therapy Vineyards Pinot Noir 2012. The tart rhubarb and mellow spiced cherry work well to carry cedar planked salmon.
No matter the foodstuffs, bubbles is always appropriate. Thornhaven Estates 2014 Infusion blends pinot noir, pinot meunier and chardonnay into a frizzante rosé. This sunripened, strawberry jam and floral sipper finishes crisp and off dry, ideal for brunching.
Lake Breeze Winemaker Series The Spice Jar 2014 is also brunch-ready, blending gewürztraminer, ehrenfelser, viognier and schonburger into an aromatic, exotically spiced white built around ripe pear and pithy lime.
Viognier can overwhelm some dishes, and some drinkers, with its flamboyance in the glass. Sandhill Viognier Osprey Ridge Vineyard 2014 harnesses the grape’s apricot essence, while honing in its bombastic nature. Great with Thai green curry.
Wild Goose Pinot Gris 2014 brings roses, fine spice and pithy citrus in a tighter, leaner style, balancing lime oil and herbal edged acidity to offset the off-dry palate. This makes for a welcome pour for fennel salads or lemon-dressed trout.
It wouldn’t be summer without a rainbow of rosés in my glass. It’s hard to beat the consistency and availability of Mission Hill Family Estates Five Vineyard series, and the Five Vineyards Rosé 2014 once again hits the sweet spots. Great price, ripe candied fruit, bright, juicy acidity and just a kiss of summer sweetness to refresh you, and your wallet.
Spierhead Winery offers up a different style of pink with their single Lands End Vineyard 2014 Pinot Noir Rosé. Salted plums, strawberry compote, cured meats and a snappy dry finish welcoming pouring alongside fried chicken or salmon burgers.
Though known for their riesling, Tantalus Vineyards 2014 Rosé masterfully brings equal parts pinot meunier (planted 1985!) and pinot noir together to an elegant, fruity and dry wine my favourite rosé from the winery to date. Beauty balance between berry ripeness and stony freshness and one I’m looking forward to pairing with charcuterie platters all summer long.
WineAlign in BC
In addition to our popular 20 Under $20 shopping guide, we publish the monthly Critics’ Picks report and include the wines across any price point and channel that excite us each month, as well as the BC Wine Report, a look at all things in the BC Wine Industry. Lastly, Anthony Gismondi closes out each month with his Final Blend column – an expert insight into wine culture and trends, honed by more than 25 years experience as an influential and global critic.
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