BC Wine 101: Holiday 2020 Edition

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

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

It’s time to raise a glass, or quite possibly a magnum (or really even a bucket at this point), because thank god, this hell-year is very nearly done. I know that it’s tough facing down the barrel of COVID holidays without friends and family, but don’t forget that those frontline workers who are out there keeping us safe often have to be without their loved onesand this year, if they’re working through the holidays, they’ll be doing it exhausted and burned out. So, let’s all take one for the team this year and have a no-visit Christmas and New Year, stick rigidly to the rules and look forward to when we are able to safely gather together again.

So… holiday drinking in COVID times. Let’s make it festive as f. Treat yourself and buy delicious B.C. wines that pair perfectly with your favourite foods—and you don’t even have to share ’em. Here you’ll find my personal recommendations for bubbles, whites and reds; sommelier recommendations to keep your glass full for every holiday occasion; and a check-in with winemaker Anthony Buchanan for his holiday drinking plans.

Stay safe, be kind, stay home and have a happy-as-you-can-make-it time this year…


1. Pop! Five must-have B.C. bubbles

Because nothing brings the happy like a bottle of bubbly.

Indigenous World Wine Ho-We-Nam Ho-We-Nem 2019 ($20.99)
Fragrant, super-light muscat bubbles. Superb for brunch.

Fitzpatrick Sparkling Rosé ($42.50)
There are few things I love more than drinking pink bubbles, and this is one of my favourite ways to do that. Lovely rhubarb and crisp green apples on the nose!  Lovely creamy bubbles with that brilliant bread-y-brioche finish. Find it at independent wine stores.

Hester Creek Ti Amo 2019 ($19.99)
Oh, this is perfect. Prosecco-style, this slipped down awfully quickly over a cheese plate. Teeny-tiny bubbles. White peach. Crisp green apples.

Mooncurser Moonlit Frizzante 2019 ($25.99)
I’m such a fan of Osoyoos’s Mooncurser winery; they grow grape varieties that almost no one else does and they make such wonderful wine with ’em! This is their first sparkling and it’s a winner straight out of the gate. Super foamy with bags of lemon, almond and baked apples. It’s the perfect day drinker! Sold out at the winery, see if you can track it down at a wine store ’cause it’s fab!

Cipes Blanc de Blanc 2012 ($40)
How I love this traditional method (made the same way as champagne)! 100 percent Chardonnay bubbles with bags of lemon and bready-brioche notes. It’s been quietly aging for eight years now so really this is a pretty kick-ass price. Pair it with oysters or chilled shrimp and feel the stress of the world just melt away.


2. Sommelier recommendations holiday edition: Miho Kataoka, sommelier and sake specialist, Yuwa Japanese Cuisine

As sommelier and sake specialist at Yuwa Japanese Cuisine, Miho Kataoka collaborates with her mother, acclaimed restaurateur and Yuwa co-owner Iori Kataoka, to curate one of Vancouver’s top wine and sake selections. Here are her recommendations of B.C. wines to enjoy throughout the season. Yes, there’s even a day sipperbecause 2020.

Lightning Rock Blanc de Noirs Elysia Vineyard Traditional Method Brut Nature 2018  Savoury, mouthwatering, with balanced fruit and acidity, and slight herbaceousness, this is a great accompaniment to appetizers or just on its own.

Averill Creek’s 2016 Somenos Pinot Noir
Bold and punchy with dark-fruit freshness and spicy, savoury notes, this Vancouver Island Pinot can stand up to a hearty holiday meal while still pairing well with all courses.

Pentage Roussanne/Marsanne 2015 
Want to try an interesting alternative to Chardonnay? This is a bold, full-bodied Rhône-inspired wine with a creamy texture that’s perfect for richer poultry dishes like turkey and all the fixings.

Unsworth Vineyards Ovation Solera 
It’s like Christmas cake in a bottle! Pairs well with cheese, chocolate cake, shortbread and other not-too-sweet desserts.

Bizou + Yukon Pinkie Rosé 2018  
Why not some ‘day rosé? Bursting with super-vibrant, fresh red berries, this is a juicy, approachable, easy-drinking wine that sparks joy—even during a pandemic!


3. Five fab B.C. whites

I absolutely love these wines and think they’ll bring something special to your table over the holidays. Each of them is excellent just to enjoy alone, but all of them are balanced enough to enjoy with food too.

Church & State Chardonnay 2017 ($35.64)
Buttery. Smooth. Ooooh! Yes *bangs table*! This made a weirdly amazing pairing with a lemon and raspberry tart. So good! Golden delicious apples. Honeyed lemons. Hang the expense. Gimme another!

Cedar Creek Platinum Pinot Gris 2019 Block 7 ($29.99)
It’s rare that I taste a Pinot Gris and immediately sigh an ‘Ooooooh’ of happiness, but this organic expression made from a small block of vines on the east of Lake Okanagan is an absolute stunner. Peaches and fruit salad on the nose, it has a glorious rich mouth feel and tastes like more, please! Pricey, but wonderful.

Mayhem Sauvignon Blanc 2019 ($15.65)
What a joyful wine! Big burst of lemons, melon and maybe a splash of  pineapple and gooseberry on the nose and just easy-sipping peaches and creaminess of the palate. Terrific wineexcellent price!

TIME White Meritage 2018 ($28.75)
I know regular readers know this, but once more for the newbies: it’s meritage, rhymes with heritage. I know it seems like it should sound French and fancy and meritaaaaaage but it’s not. (see here an interview with the late, great Harry McWatters which explains it all.) I love this; such an elegant, sexy, sophisticated wine. Gorgeous silky mouth feel and a terrific honey nose with citrus and vanilla on the palate.

Stags Hollow Albariño 2019 ($24)
Salty apricots. Almonds, dried mango. This wonderful wine has an amazing nose. Delicious, refreshing and just joyful! Perfect with charcuterie and cheese plates. Bring on the crackers.


4. Meet the maker

I’ve wanted to feature Anthony Buchanan for so long, but I was doing some work with him last year and didn’t want to seem biased but honestly, his wines are so great, you should know about him! A garagiste winemaker, Anthony Buchanan makes small-lot wines with bags of personality. Be among the first to find out when his 2021 releases hit the market.

What’s your go-to fireside wine?
Call me crazy, but I love sparkling wine by the fire! There’s something about being warm and cozy while enjoying a glass or twoor threeof your favourite B.C. bubbles. Try Lightning Rock Blanc de Blancs or Blue Mountain’s Brut Rosé.

What food and wine myth would you like to dispel?
Food and wine pairings are not etched in stone but there are a few guidelines to follow. If you start by understanding the flavours in the dish, that will help with pairings. As everyone’s tastes are unique to themselves, a great way to find out what tastes best to you is trial and error. That’s the fun part!

What’s on the menu for Christmas?
My go-to Christmas morning wine is a sparkling Keremeos Gamay Ancestrale from Bella. For lunch, I want Terravista Vineyard’s Albariño. And then for dinner, it’s Blue Mountain Estate’s Cuvée Pinot Noir.

What should we be drinking from Anthony Buchanan right now, and why?
I’m really enjoying our 2019 FUBAR at the moment; it’s a delicious blend of Zweigelt, Gamay, Pinot Noir, Syrah and Muscat. It’s a very refreshing, versatile wine that can be paired with just about anything. It’s a wine for every occasion and you don’t need to intellectualize. Just enjoy it!  Serve slightly chilled. Our 2018 Ashlyn Pinot Noir is tasting great at the moment too: floral, red fruits of cherry, strawberry and spice. The palate is silky, fruit driven and textual.

Sign up for Anthony’s mailing list and be among the first to find out when his 2021 releases hit the market.


5. Five amazing fireside reds

Open up these wines an hour or more before you want to drink them. Pour them into that new decanter you treated yourself to and then… wait. It’s worth it. Later, settle in by the fire, swirl and taste these beauties come to life.

Bartier Brothers the Goal 2018 ($36.99)
Impossibly silky wine! Wonderful nose of leather and honey and raspberries. Light and harmonious, I adored this. Light and bright enough to sip by itself, full-bodied with an excellent structure which can easily handle roasts, steaks and tomato-y pastas.

Roche Chateau 2016 ($49.90)
This is such a beautifully rounded, pleasing wine. Opulent and sexy, it’s unfined and unfiltered. An exciting treat of a wine, if you want to experience Bordeaux know-how with Okanagan grapes, this is the wine for you.

Four Shadows Pinot Noir 2017 ($32.99)
This has such a gorgeous garnet colour, and great bright cherry and dusty raspberry notes. It’s so silky! Mmmm. Make way for the new lighter red that you’re gonna be obsessed with this season.

Liquidity Dividend 2017 ($35)
So, so, so, so, so, so, so, freaking gorgeous! Bags of blackcurrants and black cherries on the nose. Even more blackcurrants, plums and silky tannins on the palate. Let this sit and breathe for a while and savour!

Township 7 Merlot 2018 ($25.97)
That’s it. I’ve been fighting it, but I think I’m a Merlot fan. This is straight-up marvellous. Black Cherry. Dusty cocoa. A little hit of vanilla. Wonderful stuff.