British Columbia Critics’ Picks November 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.
We’re all over the map this month with our picks, from our own BC backyard to New Zealand, Australia, Spain, Italy and France. All the wines stood out for us this month, and considering we’ve tasted hundreds of wines between us in the past few weeks, that’s saying something. Buy local, think global, but drink well.
Cheers ~ TR
Having just returned from Emilia-Romagna, Italian wines are on my mind, and in particular, warming reds that stand up to the heartier dishes craved in November. Altesino 2010 Brunello di Montalcino serves up sangiovese’s refined aromatics with restrained red fruit and silky tannins. Osso Buco anyone?
Popping over to Spain and Priorat, the Domini De La Cartoixa Formiga De Galena 2012 blends grenache, samsó and syrah into a a fresh, juicy and stony blend, ideal for a mushroom-laden winter stew.
If you’d like a new lens for local, seek out Black Hills Carmenere 2013 from Oliver. This wine has come a long way since first release. With only 12 percent alcohol, the peppery, structured undertone is balanced with soft red fruits, striking a fine balance and elegance.
Rhys Pender, MW
The world seems awash with great value Chardonnay in the modern, restrained style and New Zealand has many regions and climates well suited to this fresher expression. Winemaker and fellow MW, Michael Brajkovich has the technique down with a range of Chardonnays from his Kumeu River winery and these are starting to appear in BC. I was quite impressed with the Kumeu River 2012 Hunting Hill Chardonnay from the Kumeu region. Lots of nut, fruit, fresh crispness and restraint. Delicious.
A wine with good pedigree that I don’t get to try too often is the Howard Park 2012 Leston Cabernet Sauvignon from Margaret River in Western Australia. The 2012 is out now in BC and should be a good one to put a few bottles away for later. Most Margaret River reds seem to age quite well and are often a well-priced bet for the cellar.
An interesting red worth trying and that has some nice complexity and a bit of age for the price is the Losada 2011 Bierzo from Spain. Bierzo and its Mencia grape were rediscovered in a forgotten corner of north-west Spain not so long ago and I’m glad they were. This wine has a nice combination of rich fruit, minerality, spice and some savoury notes. Very good with something meaty cooked over charcoal.
Though November has been chilly, we’ve been blessed with many days of brilliant sunshine and ample grilling opportunities, befitting juicy, friendly red wines. JoieFarm PTG 2013 is a BC classic, a blend of pinot noir and gamay that references Passe-Tout-Grains and the Burgundy blend of winemaker Heidi Noble. The medium-bodied palate carries forest, dark raspberries, cherries and dried salted herbs along lightly grippy tannins. Herb grilled chicken was a perfect match.
Gamay also plays a starring role in Okanagan Crush Pad’s Narrative Red 2014, a smart and well-priced syrah/gamay that is seriously quaffable. Smoked berry, ripe black cherry, raspberry jam and peppery roasted meats rule this juicy, round red, while ripe tannins finish with a gentle tug, making for the ideal support for a warm wild mushrooms and hearty grain salad.
Gamay is (obviously) never far from my heart, especially during November and Beaujolais Nouveau month. I skipped the Nouveau this year however, in favour of the striking Domaine Piron-Lameloise Chénas Quartz 2014. Rock juice. That’s what this wild ferment Chénas is like, living up to its Quartz name. Subtle earthy smoke, dark florals and black berries are laid across a textured streambed of stones. Tannins are slightly grippy and acids are bright and shining through to a fine peppery finish. Quite structured, this held up beautifully to roasted pork tenderloin.
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.