With so much delicious B.C. wine out there, and new wineries springing up almost every day, it’s hard to know where to start drinking… until now
I had a whole thing ready to go about crisp leaves and fall vibes, but the early arrival of winter has slammed the brakes on that, so let’s jump past it and head straight into 'Fireside Reds and Crisp Whites' season!
This month, we have sommelier recommendations from Ahn and Chi, Whistler’s Wild Blue, and we meet Black Market Wine Co’s Rob Hammersley, plus my seasonal favourites. Cheers!
1. Sommelier recommendations: B.C. white wines for fall with Miguel de Jesus Arrais, general manager and wine director of Anh and Chi
"Largely unknown, the La Crescent grape was created in 2002 in Minnesota. Aromatically, it’s reminiscent of muscat or gewürztraminer, with notes of fresh orchard fruit and citrus on the palate. It has a strong backbone of acidity, which makes it the perfect white wine to balance out the richness of comforting fall foods while not overpowering something more delicate like fish or harvest veggies.
"Check out Whispering Horse La Crescent 2021. While the Fraser Valley isn't yet well-known for its wine, this vineyard brings truth to the phrase that you can find beauty in the most unexpected places. Aromas of tree blossom, ripe apricots and fresh peaches leap out from your glass, and flavours of pineapple and peach tea cascade over your palate, but somehow the finish is crisp and refreshing.
"Monte Creek’s Living Land La Crescent 2020 leads with punchy aromatics and flavours of pear, mango and ripe Gala apples. Pushing the very boundaries of wine-growing regions, this Thompson Valley wine shows more restraint over its southern counterpart as it’s made in a “bone-dry” style.
"Try pairing La Crescent with Pacific cod, galangal, turmeric, fresh dill, green onions, with rice vermicelli, toasted sesame cracker, whole roasted peanuts, Vietnamese herbs, cilantro, bird’s eye chili, Hanoi-style shrimp sauce.
"Viognier has a fairly low production in British Columbia, but its popularity and quality are growing in the province due to its ability to pair with a wide array of cuisines. Celebrated as a lower acid alternative to chardonnay, the flavours range from light and perfumed with flavours of apricots, apples and honeysuckle to bold, rich, and almost creamy when aged in oak—transforming the aromas toward vanilla, clove and stewed peaches. It’s the perfect wine for the abundance that the harvest season on the West Coast brings, complementing the sweetness of seafood as well as heartier meals, such as roast chicken or pork. Its low acidity also makes it a natural pairing for spicy foods.
"Check out Amulet Viognier 2020. Hailing from the Naramata Bench, this wine retains precious acidity due to the cool nights it has in its northern climate. It's ripe with flavours of apples, peaches, crushed almonds, honeycomb, clove and a whiff of desert sage.
"From south of Osoyoos in Oliver, the Burrowing Owl 2020 Viognier celebrates a richer style that leads with tropical fruits like mango, papaya and honeydew melon, and rounds them out with viscous notes of toasted nuts, caramel and baking spices.
"Try pairing viognier with coconut lemongrass curry, fried organic tofu, winter vegetable medley, Thai basil, bird’s eye chili and coconut jasmine rice."
2. Five reds to sip firesidemonkeybusinessimages
- Hester Creek 2019 Garland: Splurge on this gorgeous super-soft red blend with notes of blackcurrants, licorice and thyme. We had it with a celebratory crispy roasted duck and it couldn’t have been a better pairing.
- French Door 2019 Héritage: This ‘French blend’ wants a little time in a decanter to smooth out any bumpy tannins, but it’s so worth the wait: rich cocoa, deep blueberries, plums and tobacco.
- Road 13 2019 GSM: I opened this for my first casserole of the year: one glass for the pot, the rest for me. It's full of all those heavenly fall flavours: licorice, leather, blackberries—just perfect.
- Bartier Bros 2020: Cabernet franc heaven—just dazzling silky, plush black fruit with notes of vanilla. If the question is: what should I drink tonight? The answer is this.
- Robins Ridge 2021 Gamay: I always love this lighter red with bright raspberries and juicy blackcurrants. Serve a little chilled. Cheer enthusiastically.
3. Meet the Maker: Rob Hammersley, Owner/Winemaker, Black Market Wine Co.
Time to hop over to Kaleden now, just a few minutes from Penticton overlooking Skaha Lake, to catch up with Rob from Black Market Wine Co (who makes my absolute favourite Bacchus) to get his B.C. wine recommendations for the season ahead.
What wines should we be drinking this fall from B.C.?
This is always a tough question because there are so many amazing B.C. wines, but here are a few standouts I've recently enjoyed. The Legado Series Chardonnay 2016 from Da Silva Winery is spectacular and great for fall and winter; it's full and rich in texture, beautifully balanced with layers of complexity. Next up would be the 2021 Syrah rosé from Maverick Winery. This is one of my favourite B.C. rosés, and it’s not just a summer wine. It has great balance, with fruity and herbaceous notes, and is very versatile with food. My last recommendation takes us up to a small producer in southeast Kelowna, Nagging Doubt Winery. Their red blend, The Pull, is a big wine with lots of body and structure and an intense flavour profile.
What food and wine myth would you like to dispel?
Although there are many foods that can be tough to find the right pairing for, I think asparagus often gets a bad rap. The safe bet to pair with asparagus is sauvignon blanc, but there are other wines that work as well; sémillon can be great, and if the asparagus is grilled, even a lighter bodied red, such as gamay, can work.
What should we be drinking right now from Black Market?
As we jump into fall (and an early winter) here in the Okanagan, I'd suggest our estate-grown merlot from our Conviction Ridge Vineyard in Kaleden. This is a big, powerful expression of merlot with intense aromatics, layers of flavour, rich texture and big tannins which make it a great wine for hearty fall dishes. Our barrel-fermented and aged estate pinot blanc is also a wonderful fall wine, with a brightness that reminds us of warmer summer days and a creamy body that can hold up to the cooler nights by the fire.
4. Sommelier recommendations: B.C. reds for fall with Christopher Edens, wine director and assistant restaurant director, Wild Blue, Whistler
"Although Syrah came to provenance in the 18th century in the Rhône Valley, France, British Columbia is making this grape stand proudly among many greats. Known for its deeply coloured wines, with nuances of blackberries, blueberry, tobacco leaf and fresh herbs as well as its notable savoury black pepper spice, Syrah is ideal for standing up to the richer and earthier expressions of fall flavours while you sit comfortably in front of a ‘just lit’ cabin fire.
"Check out Le Vieux Pin Equinoxe Syrah 2018, a deep, broad and finely textured syrah with ample helpings of both white and black pepper spice layered between beautiful dark red, and black bramble fruit.
"Coming from the oldest syrah vineyard in Canada (1990/1991 plantings), Nichol’s Old Vines Syrah 2020 is a wine which is hard to pass by, with beautiful rich fruit alongside great structure and sweet earthiness.
"Try pairing with black pepper crusted Alberta elk, parsnip, braised red cabbage, apple potato pavé and red currant jus.
"Although light in ‘style’, winemakers love to play with pinot noir. It’s made in many forms (including sparkling) with fuller expressions leading the charge for some of fall’s seasonal produce. Think earthy undertones, crunchy red fruits and bright acidity which will go down nicely as you unclip your ski boots in preparation for a pre-dinner hot tub.
"Martin's Lane Simes Vineyard Pinot Noir 2017 is a graceful and finessed, though intensely flavoured example, showing crushed cherry and black plums, with a silky texture and beautiful acidity. Pair with rosti potatoes, lentils, kale, squash and nut butter sauce.
"Tantalus’s Blanc de Noir 2018 is a traditional method sparkling wine made specifically from a single block of pinot noir planted back in 1985. It features notes of red apple, roasted almonds and mixed citrus followed by a fine and refreshing mousse. Complex and delightful!"
5. Five crisp whitesZbynek Pospisil
- Culmina 2021 Süsser Riesling: The perfect pairing to pork roasted in a homemade peach BBQ sauce, this is on the sweeter side of riesling, but apple-y, soft and so pretty with a beautiful honeysuckle nose.
- Stags Hollow 2021 Albarino: Salty. Mineral-y. Citrus. Crushed seashells. Fresh. This is such a mood: shuck oysters. Kiss people. Drink this wine.
- Chain Reaction 2019 Pinot Gris; Love this from new(ish) kids on the block in Naramata, Chain Reaction. Think Golden Delicious apples and crisp Bartlett pears. Pitch perfect B.C. pinot gris.
- Church & State 2018 Blanc de Blanc: Lemon zest and toasty brioche. Fine bubbles dance on the tongue. Nice long finish good acidity. This disappeared alarmingly fast in the company of sea salt and black pepper chips. Superb!
- Seven Stars 2020 Rigel: I love riesling in all its forms, but especially when it’s sparkling. Made in traditional method style (just like Champagne), this is a slam dunk choice for banishing any trace of the Sunday scaries with its brioche-y nose and zingy green apple, sun-warmed peach and lime finish.