BC Wine 101: Holiday 2021 Edition

With so much delicious B.C. wine out there, it's hard to know where to start drinking… until now

With so much delicious B.C. wine out there, it’s hard to know where to start drinking… until now

Welcome to the last B.C. Wine 101 of 2021, an incredibly challenging year for all of our B.C. wineries. There may be supply chain issues for many other things, butright nowthere are local wineries with delicious wine to sell right here! So, buy local and direct as often as you can to show your support, andof coursedon’t forget that wine club memberships are great gifts to buy for friends, family… and yourself! 

Now it’s time to pour yourself a glass and start making a list of what you need in your cellar to take you from this year to the next. Happy drinking and here’s to a better 2022!

1. Somm recommends: Holiday whites

We asked Kelowna’s Waterfront Wines executive chef and sommelier Mark Filatow for his picks for the holiday season: “I search for whites that have character; maybe some standout varieties that are not so mainstream… wines that I would like to drink and ones that I would share with family. Oysters are a must for me on Christmas Eve. Blue Mountain Brut and Tantalus Blanc de Blanc please! With turkey, I look for savoury, spicy whites such as Terravista‘s Roussane and Culmina‘s Gewurztraminer. They both have the power and structure to make a great pairing. With the cheese course, try Orofino Scout Vineyard Clone 21b Riesling. Off dry enough and great with younger bloom rind cheeses and sweeter chutneys.”

2. Five fireside reds to drink right now

Eau Vivre 2019 Rosé ($23.30)
A 100 percent merlot that tastes far more like a light, savoury, dangerously crushable red than a bright rosé. This is such a great food wine for everything from turkey and ham to tofu and chips. 

Upper Case 2020 Roman ($29.99)
100 percent cabernet franc… this is a big fruit-forward red, but it’s super silky, pleasingly soft, and definitely ready to drink now! Pair with ribs, steaks or burgers. 

Gneiss 2018 Shiraz ($39.99)
Meaty but well balanced, with leather, juicy dark cherries, and plums and a little pepper on the finish. A decadent companion to your charcuterie board. 

Mt Boucherie 2018 Blaufränkisch ($27.99)
My first time trying this variety and I adored it! Soft, sweet red fruit and pomegranates, earthy, silky and spicy. It’s exactly what it would taste like if pinot noir and syrah got together. Amazing! 

Petrichor 2019 Cabernet Merlot ($18.99)
A virtual winery from the Mission Hill crew, this is likely one of the best budget B.C. red blends that you’ll find on the market right now. It’s an absolute Goldilocks of a wine: not too big, not too fruity… just right. The perfect house party red.

3. Five bubbles to pop

Therapy Vineyards Fizzio Therapy Rosé ($24.99)
A blend of chardonnay and pinot noir, this foamy sparkler is a super pretty pink and tastes of crushed strawberries. Just the thing for Christmas morning!

JoiRyde Winery 2019 Hello Sunday ($27.90)
Oh my gosh. This is such a perfect brunch frizzante-style bubble! Bright cherries, grapefruit, and strawberries. Crushable!

Evolve Pink Effervescence magnum ($49.99)
You’ll be a hit at any party if you show up with a magnum of this beautiful pink bubble which smells and tastes divine. Think raspberries and cranberries, with a pretty peachy note.

Summerhill Cipes Brut NV ($29)
It’s never a bad plan to pop open a bottle of this reliably delicious sparkler from Canada’s largest organic winery. Crisp and zesty with bags of Granny Smith apples and a beautiful brioche finish.

Cedar Creek 2020 Jagged Rock Sparkling Rosé ($35)
The palest ballet slipper pink, this beautiful bubble slipped down far too easily over cheese and crackers. Ripe strawberries and tart grapefruit with a savoury edge.

4. Five crushable holiday whites

Wapiti Cellars, 2020 Viognier ($29.90)
This heavenly viognier has a terrific nose, all beautiful peaches and apricots with a creamy texture and good lasting acidity on the finish. I’d happily drink this all by itself, but I think it would love turkey, cheese and seafood too! 

Valley Commons, 2020 Harvest Table White ($25)
An aromatic blend of muscat, viognier and chardonnay, this wine smelled so gorgeous I wanted a candle of its scent: white flowers, tea, orange blossom… yum! Beautiful bright pineapples and lychees, welcome to your new favourite day drinker.

Nk’mip 2020 Q’am Q’mt Riesling ($28.99)
I loved the silky texture of this wine and the bracing bright Granny Smith apple finish and mouth-watering acidity. This screams to be paired with rich dishes like pork, or anything spiced. Just gorgeous. 

Vintner’s Cove 2020 Chardonnay ($28)
Vanilla. Almond. Baking spices. Soft and luscious mouthfeel; this is my new favourite creamy buttery chard. Let some good cheese sit and lose its chill from the fridge and enjoy with this cracking wine.

Winemaker’s Cut 2020 Muscat Canelli ($23)
There’s a very slight spritz on this well-priced white, which tastes like sun-warmed citrus and bags of tropical fruit. A crowd pleaser.

5. Somm recommends: Holiday reds

The sommelier and GM of Maxine’s Café and Bar in the West End, Alain Canuel, offers up his holiday choices for your glass if you’re looking for perfect pairings for B.C. reds. “During the holidays I always look for fun red wines—nothing too tannic or powerful—I need fresh fruit acidity and some spice. Pairing wine is always a challenge over the holidays; you have your typical potluck of endless flavors, so you want something versatile such as the Orofino gamay: light, fresh and dry. Inevitably you will have turkey, gravy and all the fixings. Intersection Alluvia merlot could just be your calling! Filled with dark fruit flavor and acidity. Anywhere you’ll go there will be cheese, pinot noir will be your best friend and Roche is a great choice; dark raspberries and savoury at the same time!”

6. Meet the maker

Time to head to Vancouver Island to catch up with winemaker Dan Wright, from Unsworth Vineyards, to get the low-down on his holiday drinking recommendationsand, as he didn’t mention it himself, can I remind you that it’s not too late to join their wine club so you can bag some of their exceptional 2018 Saison pinot noir? I love it. 

What’s your go-to fireside wine?
Sitting fireside conjures a sense of quiet contemplation; a fine match to said mood is Spearhead Saddle Block pinot noir. Layered cherry, bramble and spice notes prelude a firm yet velvety mid-palate leading to a supple, long finish. Spearhead’s stewards Bill and Marina Knutson clearly take wine seriously. With expansions to the winery and the not-so-recent addition of icon Grant Stanley to the mix, I suspect their mastery to only continue. 

What myth would you like to dispel about food and wine pairings?
Suggested pairings are sign posts, not law. Although rhyme and reason exist for the hallmark champagne and oysters, Rochefort and port, and foie and Sauternes, classics are the tip of the iceberg. The truth is most wines go with most food; your personal tastes and intuition generally prevail. Case in point: I recently enjoyed a dessert pairing where the wine was most certainly not sweeter than the dessert itself.

What’s on the menu for Christmas wines for you this year?
Don’t pass Kutatas traditional method sparkling wine. Grown and meticulously vinified by Salt Spring Island partners Mira and Dan, this wine is well-worth searching out. As delicious as it is now, I will be enjoying a special bottle for years to come, discovering just how age-worthy it is. Champagne, eat your heart out.

And what should we be drinking from Unsworth right now?
Pure and simple, chardonnay is the future of Cowichan Valley white wine. The 2019 Unsworth chardonnay represents our first crack at the most noble of varieties. Plenty of current vineyard expansions in the Cowichan Valley feature chardonnay… and for good reason. If you are impartial to chardonnay, I guess that means more for me!