With so much delicious B.C. wine out there, it’s hard to know where to start drinking… until now
April may officially be B.C. Wine Month but here at BC Wine 101, we celebrate our amazing grapes all year round! Time to kick off the new season with a focus on what’s delicious to drink this spring from fresh bright reds and rosés to aromatic whites and bubbles. All that plus sommelier recommendations see a 'bear tour' this month with guest somms from the Bearfoot Bistro in Whistler and The Bear, The Fish, the Root and the Berry in Osoyoos, and a chat with Jacq Kemp, winemaker at Therapy. Oh… and events. Actual, real events. Whoop! Buy tickets at once and keep supporting those beautiful B.C. wineries by buying B.C. wines—all year!
Sick of Zoom tastings? Fill your boots at these excellent in-person events...
1. Top Drop
Facebook/Top Drop CanadaOn May 10th and 11th, Top Drop Vancouver returns, with 'a continued focus on sustainably-farmed, handcrafted wines offering a distinct sense of place'. Their Main Event tasting at Yaletown's Roundhouse Community Arts and Recreation Centre offers ‘sips and stories from the principals of 40 participating international wineries’ and event proceeds benefit the B.C. Hospitality Foundation.
VIWF is back! Switching its usual February window to May 16th through 22nd, all events are on sale now, including their tasting events, the PICA kitchen party, some excellent winery dinners and the legendary Bacchanalia gala and dinner at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver.
Valley First Spring Wine Festival is back too! HURRAH! Head to the Okanagan in late April and May for a raft of fun events from sabering in the vineyards at Volcanic Hills and pairing wine and cheese together at Upper Bench, to pairing chamber music and wine together at the Laurel Packing House and, of course, the grand tasting event on May 7th. So many fun events!
2. Six essential whites
Facebook/Nighthawk VineyardsMartin’s Lane, 2021 Simes Riesling, $45
There’s a sweet switcheroo in style here and I am loving it. On the nose: fresh pink grapefruit, on the palate: honeyed apricots, Meyer lemons and juicy tangerines. Probably the absolute best breakfast/brunch riesling you never had. Remedy that immediately. This is the bomb. Frustratingly only available as a wine club exclusive right now, keep checking their website as soon it’ll be available to all of us. Or, y’know, splash out… join their club!
Hester Creek, 2021 Character White, $16.99
Lychees and rose petals on the nose, with papaya and juicy peach notes. Terrific day drinker.
Nighthawk Vineyards, 2017 Gewürztraminer, $19.90
Yup, a rare appearance from a gew! I tasted this recently and it’s simply gorgeous; juicy, sweet, tropical fruits with a whisper of rose petals and baking spices. Super plush mouthfeel and a nice acidity at the end. Your new go-to Thai curry wine.
Crescent Hill 2020, Island Girl, $20
What’s not to absolutely love about this super tasty, tropical white blend of riesling, gewürtraminer and chardonnay? Crazily crushable.
Black Market, 2021 Bacchus, $21
Shout out to the rebel winemakers who are playing with grapes we don’t see too much of! Don’t know Bacchus? Well, this little treat is super-dry and packed with apricots and peaches with an herbaceous dried sage note that made me long for charcuterie and a patio–STAT. So good.
Meyer Family Vineyards, Tribute Series 2020 Terry Threlfall Chardonnay, $32.26
It is still heartbreaking to see the much-missed Terry Threlfall’s name on a wine and know that he won’t be pouring it, and, gosh, he’d have loved this aromatic tropical chardonnay from the Old Main Road vineyard in Naramata, packed with apricots, peaches and a terrific zippy acidity. Funds from the tribute series always go towards a not-for-profit organization; this vintage honours Terry’s contribution by donating to the B.C. Hospitality Foundation.
3. Ask a Somm: Wines of the South Okanagan
The Bear, The Fish, The Root & The BerryOn tour this month, first we touch down with David McBean and Bappa Dinda of the The Bear, The Fish, The Root and The Berry, located on the traditional lands of the Osoyoos Indian Band. Their wine list exclusively showcases wines from Oliver, Osoyoos and the Similkameen Valley. Enjoy their delicious advice!
Culmina, 2020 Saignée Rosé, $24.00
Culmina’s Saignée is a well-known staple for rosé lovers in the South Okanagan and for good reason. This wine is made with a blend of five different grapes using the Saignée method with free run juice and very short skin contact. The result is a rosé with a little bit of acid and juicy flavours of citrus and tropical fruit. This will be a more complex wine than your everyday rosé.
Corcelettes, 2021 Oracle Rosé, $23.90
Each vintage of Rosé coming out of Corcelettes has consistently been on my list of favourites with the 2021 vintage living up to the quality of its predecessors. This year it is a blend of Pinot Noir and Syrah making a wonderful light pink Provençe-style Rose. The texture is nice and crisp and has some great white peach flavours coming off that amazing Similkameen fruit.
Liber Farm, 2020 Rebil Pinot Noir, $39.99
This is Liber Farm’s first vintage of a pinot noir and they hit a home run with it. This is a well-balanced, fruit-forward pinot noir, which has less earthy characteristics than what you would expect coming out of the Cawston region. This had a great mouth feel with light flavours of fresh berries with a long finish that just kept going.
Vin Amite, 2021 Gamay Noir, $30.00
The 2021 vintage—very different from their 2020—follows a tradition of consistently great gamay noir coming from Vin Amite. Winemaker Catherine Coulombe shares stories of hers and her father’s passion for great gamay noir and how important the timing is of the harvest. Cherry pie flavours with a bit of well-rounded spice at end and just the right amount of tannins. Many suggest to chill this wine, but I personally enjoyed it at room temperature.
4. Five reds to drink right now
Liquidity, 2021 Rosé, $30
100 percent pinot noir and 100 percent delicious. Super blast of strawberries and pink grapefruit, with a lovely balanced acidity.
Culmina, 2016 Hypothesis, $46
Sometimes it’s good to splurge, right? And what better wine to splurge on than this; so plush and fragrant, layered with blackcurrants, wild sage and rose petals on the nose, and so silky to sip with cocoa, cherries, baking spice and plums. Just divine.
Mayhem, Cabernet-Merlot 2019, $21.74
Black fruit, jammy damsons and cocoa; really just a perfect crowd-pleasing red.
Sumac Ridge, 2019 Cab-Merlot Private Reserve, $13.99
In these exhausting times, you know what’s a delight? This! It serves up exactly what you want: a velvety smooth red with a gorgeous blackcurrant nose that just slipped down waaaay too easily with charcuterie, plus it’s ridiculously cheap. Thank you.
5. Somm Recommends: Plump for pinot
Pinot gris—one of the most popular white wines in B.C.—is fresh and delicious, and is always a partner to good times spent in the sunshine. It can be found in many styles, from dry to sweet, or even sparkling, but my absolute favourite comes from Phantom Creek in Oliver.
They have crafted a masterpiece with the help of Olivier Humbrecht from Domaine Zind-Humbrecht who is known as the best pinot gris producer in the world. He helped design the winery and consulted on the winemaking decisions for this wine. The result is delicious bone-dry wine that has more texture, complexity and intensity than other pinot gris from B.C. They achieve a beautiful balance of acidity and fruit, that takes you on a journey of flavour full of white peach, citrus and elderflower. It’s great with food and, if you can get your hands on some B.C. spot prawns this season, it will be a match made in heaven.
Pinot noir has won countless awards from various wineries in B.C. It’s always a good choice to go with a lighter wine when the weather starts to warm up outside. A must-try this season is the blanc de noir from Sea Star Winery on Pender Island, a rosé made from pinot noir. This light and zesty rosé made in the dry Provence-style is simply delicious. The cool climate of Pender Island is ideal for producing wines in this style with light hints of strawberry and rhubarb. Fresh spring vegetables, salads with a fresh citrus vinaigrette and ample of sunshine will pair perfectly with this wine.
6. Three unmissable new-to-me bubbles
Play WineryWild Goose, 2021 Frisch
Welcome to a brand-new sparkling blend of sauvignon blanc and gewürztraminer in a can. Super dry and super fresh, and at just nine percent alcohol, this is perfect for picnics, fishing trips or lake-side hangs.
Township 7, 2018 Seven Stars Polaris, $35.97
Wow! Delicate, foamy and the most fabulous mouth feel. This is super light and sparkling, with lemon meringue, hazelnuts and brioche. Absolutely excellent.
Play, 2020 Teatro, $28.99
The labels at Play have undergone a stylish rebrand and I just love this curvy bottle shape too. What’s inside? A blend of three different varieties of Muscat, bursting with orange blossom, just begging to be popped with friends over gossip and a catch-up.
7. Meet Your Maker: Jacq Kemp, Principle Winemaker/Viticulturist, Therapy Vineyards
Facebook/Therapy Vineyards & InnWhat's your go-to patio wine?
I love patio wines that are food-friendly, and can be shared easily among friends. A great variety for patio sipping is pinot gris, and I really enjoy Hillside’s unoaked version. It is crisp, fresh, juicy and has an aroma that I just love: white peach. Yummy, fun and versatile.
What should we be drinking this spring?
That is a good question; with this spring off to a slow cool start, I would reach for a white wine which can have some density and warmth to it. Viognier is perfect as it can be chilled down on warmer days, and bought up to near room temperature on the days that remain cooler. There are so many lovely viogniers to choose from in the valley, but my favourites are Narrative’s and Mocojo’s. Narrative’s viognier tends to be more rounded and textured whilst Mocojo’s is crisper and fruitier.
What food and wine myth would you like to dispel?
That traditional method sparkling cannot be paired with main courses. I love a good bottle of traditional method brut with herby fried chicken, or with a delicious bowl of fresh pasta drizzled with white truffle oil. Perfection. Blue Mountain sparkling wines are always lovely as are Silhouette Cellars, Tantalus’s Old Vine Riesling Brut and Township 7's Seven Stars.
What should we be drinking from Therapy this year?
Everything naturally; but if I had to choose just one wine, it would be Therapy’s Pink rosé. It is time for us to be with groups of people again, to share stories and to laugh. Our rosé has warmth, vibrancy, a hint of funk and it sits well with diversified palettes. Here’s to saying cheers again and clinking those wine glasses!