British Columbia Critics’ Picks August 2015
Our monthly BC Critics’ Picks is the place to find recent recommendations from our intrepid and curious BC critics – wines that cross geographical boundaries, toe traditional style lines and may push limits – without being tied to price or distribution through BCLDB or VQA stores. All are currently available for sale in BC.
This past week all of our WineAlign West members were in the Okanagan during the wildfires. Massive thanks to all the brave firefighters and rescue crews working around the clock saving homes, businesses and vineyards from the lightening-lit fires north and south of Oliver. While fires east of Osoyoos still blaze on at this time, it’s important to share that the wineries, hotels and restaurants in Oliver and Osoyoos are open for business, and now is the time (more than ever) to show your support for their communities and our industry. Also, starting today until August 26th, all BC Liquor Stores will collect funds for the BC Wildfires Red Cross relief efforts.
Cheers ~ TR
August looks like it’s going to be warmer than July and it could spill into September before we really cool down on the coast. The clouds continue to tantalise us but very little rain has fallen. I’ve almost forgotten what a big red wine is. Plan to put some seafood in your future and let these three white wines help you slay the heat and take you to the end of our warm summer evenings.
The Seresin Sauvignon Blanc 2013 is all about complexity. I love the fruit and the terroir that leaks into this wine making it so much more interesting than the commercial labels that flood this market. It finishes dry, making it so much more interesting with food.
Closer to home we look at two chardonnays from central/south Okanagan. The Anarchist Mountain Vineyards Elevation Chardonnay 2013 is the best yet from the property. A blessing in disguise was a malolactic fermentation that didn’t complete, thus halting that creamy, softening process that can flatten out a lot of New World chardonnays. Its intense citrus butter and peachy stone fruit flavours will capture and hold your imagination. Perfect with halibut and a fruit salsa.
Finally, just a little further north in Okanagan Falls the Noble Ridge Stony Knoll Chardonnay 2012 comes off a near perfect vintage and is one of the best I have tasted from Noble Ridge. Only eight percent of this wine sees any oak and even that is a mix of new and one year old wood, leaving the fruit free to express itself all under screwcap. A delicious way to say good-bye to summer.
Rhys Pender, MW
With the August heat comes cooler nights, and turned my mind to warming red wines. These three are a perfect match to a night under the stars watching for the meteor showers (although the smoke haze hasn’t helped in BC). In these wines I look for character, intensity and complexity of flavour, a mix often found from warmer parts of the world and a Mediterranean climate.
My first pick is the Stags’ Leap Petite Sirah 2011. Very Napa in plushness but with a very characterful, savoury edge that begs for it to be drunk outdoors.
The second two wines are both from the south of France. The first is a great value wine from Perrin, the Les Christins Vacqueyras 2012. Great complexity and togetherness for the price and very warming.
The second will cost you a few more bucks but is worth it for the complexity, and something to ponder over between shooting stars. The Château de la Gardine Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2011 is full, rich and soft, continuously opening in the glass to reveal more complexities.
Here are three white wines that tickled my tastebuds this week, either sipped with a modest chill, or put to work with grilled dinner.
How do I love thee grüner veltliner? Let me count the ways. Well, forget the counting and just trust me that this under-$30 bottle is a convincing way to try Austria’s most important white grape. The 2011 Salomon Undhof Wachtberg Erste Lage Grüner Veltliner from Kremstal is dry and medium bodied with savoury fruit, white pepper and pile-driving minerality. The words ‘erste lage’ mean first growth, and refers to a special collection of top-terroir vineyards spread across Austria’s most important winegrowing regions. Try this ‘premier cru’ grüner with grilled white fish or scallops.
We all need more chenin blanc in our lives, and South Africa has some of the oldest preserves of this noble Loire grape. Painted Wolf The Den Chenin Blanc 2014 combines weighty fruit and lick-smacking acidity for bring-home sushi or melon and shrimp cocktail. Drink up and help preserve the older chenin vineyards.
Finally a standout bottle of Blue Mountain Pinot Blanc 2014. To my mind, one of the best wines in BC. Structured and fruit-draped enough to star with some bbq’d sustainable sockeye, or pair its galvanizing acidity with grilled local oysters. And if dinner is just salad, baguette and local cheese, this is all the wine I need.
I taste wine every day, and every day something surprises me. Granted, it’s not always a good surprise, but these three wines certainly were – above and beyond expectations. It’s a constant reminder to be open and non-judgmental about grapes and places, because beauty can sneak up and surprise from anywhere, especially in the glass.
Road 13 Vineyards have released a trio of white Rhone varieties from the 2014 vintage, all under the Low Yield Wines flag. Their 2014 Marsanne opens into an orchard of perfumed florals, starfruit, passionfruit and pink grapefruit. Whole cluster pressing and fermentation in old neutral barrels builds mouth-feel and complexities.
On the theme of Rhone varieties transported, the Yangarra Vineyards 2013 GSM impressed with its deft marriage of finesse and structure, ripeness and freshness. Nearly half of this fragrant, layered biodynamic wine is old bush vine grenache. Wild ferment, nine months in old French oak and no fining ups the mouth-feel and complexities.
Grilled and herb-crusted lamb chops pair beautifully with the structured, perfumed and leathery Graceland 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon from Stellenbosch, South Africa. Red and dark fruit, dark cocoa, fresh herbs and bright, lifted acidity carry through to a black cherry and espresso finish, and will finish off your summer evening’s BBQ soundly.
WineAlign in BC
In addition to our monthly Critics’ Picks report, we also publish the popular shortlist 20 Under $20, 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.