British Columbia Critics’ Picks June 2016
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. All are currently available for sale in BC.
Having just emerged from the National Wine Awards of Canada, and with Canada Day on the horizon, I thought it fitting to put together a case of some of the most memorable Canadian wines that I’ve tasted in the last twelve months for this month’s BC Critics’ Report. Keep in mind, these are the ones available for purchase within BC; I could easily recommend a dozen other Canadian wines that are still kept beyond our provincial borders. Perhaps by next Canada Day, we will stand united to enjoy Canadian wine.
As to be expected in a country this vast, the diversity of grapes, styles and producers is as ranging as our multicultural heritage. There’s a lot to celebrate this Canada Day, and most fittingly, with high quality bottles like these. #TrueNorth, strong and nearly FREE.
Cheers ~ TR
Yes. Fizz. Always. From my side in the far west, the Bella Wines 2015 Gamay Methode Ancestrale stood out for its brave, wild and natural deliciousness (as well as its less-is-more hand-tied packaging). Bonus #GoGamayGo.
From the other coast, Nova Scotia’s Benjamin Bridge 2009 Brut Méthode Classique, a serious traditional method sparkler, made from decidedly untraditional grapes: l’acadie, chardonnay and seyval. This serves an important reminder that exemplary sites can trump grapes.
A wine that typifies coastal to me is Sea Star 2015 Ortega, a vibrant example of the lean, aromatic white grape that is so well suited to the Wine Islands’ marine-fresh coastal climates. Tight pear, white peach, melon and crystalline lemon; pass the shellfish.
I continue to be impressed by Canadian chardonnay, and counting down the days when some of the stunners from Prince Edward County and Niagara are available for purchase in our province. Until then, I’m happy to drink wines like Blue Mountain Reserve 2013 Chardonnay, an elegant, creamy and restrained age-worthy style based on 24 year old Okanagan Falls vines.
Speaking of texture, Haywire 2014 Waters and Banks Sauvignon Blanc Raised in Concrete is imbued with it, from its elderflower herbaceousness to its savoury saltiness. They’ve captured the special site in the glass.
Across the board, the most striking wines are the ones where site is king. For Synchromesh Wines 2015 Four Shadows Vineyard Riesling, one of four single vineyard rieslings the winery released from 2015, the wine is a reflection of the higher altitude, steep sloping gravelled site on Naramata Bench. Auslese-styled, this matches concentrated fruit with surging limey acidity, handily balancing 52 g/l RS into 10.6 percent alcohol. Stunner.
Similarly impressive was the Tantalus 2013 Old Vines Riesling, showing the grape through an entirely different smoked stone, wild herb and grippy lens.
Rosé blends the best of both worlds – the drinkability and freshness of white wines with some structure, red fruit and tannins of red. Little Farm Winery 2014 Rosé is drinking beautifully right now (yes, some rosés CAN age), with its cabernet franc expressed with wild herbs, dusted stone and young strawberry fruit. The ideal foil for summer wild salmon bakes or charcuterie.
In a different vein, though similar rosé hue, is the 2015 Le Vieux Pin Vaïla Rosé. Also dry, with silken rhubarb, raspberry, rose bush and fine salts sailing through a streaming palate. Elegant and attractive.
Also making repeat appearances in the trevehouse is the Stag’s Hollow 2014 Renaissance Grenache. One of the rare Canadian grenaches, let’s hope this fresh, fragrant plum, blackcurrant and white pepper example from Okanagan Falls inspires more.
Some wines, like people, improve with age. While I was impressed with the 2011 La Stella Winery La Sophia when I last tasted it, I know that I will be rewarded ten-fold in five years’ time, when the firm, sinewy, dark fruit, leather and graphite has further intertwined.
Sometimes age is expressed in other ways, like with the Nichol Syrah. But what else would you expect from the oldest syrah vines in Canada, planted on sloping granite and sustainably farmed. The 2012 vintage is a stunner right now and has time to go still, with alluring violets, grippy thorns and dried herbs texturing the structured black cherry fruit.
WineAlign in BC
In addition to our monthly Critics’ Picks report, we also publish the popular shortlist 20 Under $20, as well as the Rhys Pender’s BC Wine Report, a look at all things in the BC Wine Industry. Treve Ring pens a wandering wine column in Treve’s Travels, capturing her thoughts and tastes from the road. Lastly, Anthony Gismondi closes out the month with his Final Blend column – an expert insight into wine culture and trends, honed by more than 25 years experience as an influential critic.
Editors Note: You can find complete critic reviews by clicking on any of the highlighted wine names, bottle images or links. Paid subscribers to WineAlign see all critics reviews immediately. Non-paid members wait 60 days to see new reviews. Premium membership has its privileges; like first access to great wines!