BC Wine 101: Summer 2022 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

Live music events, busy tasting rooms, long, late sunsetssummer in wine country is here! And, as Lizzo so aptly saidit’s about damn time. Booking and paid-for tastings continue to be a trend, and honestly, I’m all for it. It means you get dedicated attention and time for your tasting, and you can really get into exploring wines with an engaged server, rather than fighting your way through a crowded tasting bar.

This month, Vancouver’s Bar Susu brings the funk with some lesser-known wine recommendations; we meet Valley of the Springs winemaker, Jody Scott fromyes!the Kootenays; and there are the usual events, news, and my personal recommendations for the summer. Cheers!

Five sparklers to pop your cork overbubblesunpict

  1. Frind Brut ($24.95)A riesling-chardonnay blend made in the traditional method, this beautiful bubble is super-refreshing with a mouthwatering bite of crisp apples.
  2. Monte Creek 2019 Sparkling Rosé ($23.99)This one has gorgeous foamy wild ferment with 100 percent estate-grown Marquette (there’s a grape we don’t see too often!) with bags of fresh red cherries, crushed strawberries and a beautiful pretty pink colour. Your new brunch bubbles!
  3. Meyer NV Method Traditional Extra Brut ($35.74)A heady blend of chardonnay and pinot noir make up this hella-crisp citrusy traditional-method bubble that spent 28 months on the lees gaining toasty brioche notes, slowly becoming your new favourite reason to celebrate.
  4. Stellar’s Jay Brut 2017 (20.99)You forget sometimes why the classics are the classics, and B.C. bubbles don’t get much more classic than Stellar’s Jay: aromatic, foamy, gorgeous bubbles and so fresh and crisp. On sale now for a crazy cheap price, and there’s free shipping on six bottles or more. Just get a case ’cause there’s always a reason to celebrate, right?
  5. Blue Mountain Gold Label Brut (NV) ($27.90)Revisiting another favourite here, Blue Mountain winery led the way in Canada for commitment to quality with their wines (they dumped their entire 2021 vintage as they weren’t happy with it due to wildfire smoke taint), and their non-vintage (that just means it’s blended from different years) Brut is consistently one of the best bubbles around. After spending 24 months on its lees, this one shows gorgeous creamy brioche toasty notes with fine bubbles and a crisp refreshing citrus finish. Delicious.

Wine newsCedar Creek

  • Summer concerts are back at Cedar Creek! Matt Andersen, the Juno-nominated blues guitarist/singer-songwriter from New Brunswick is playing Wednesday, August 17th. Purchase tickets here.
  • Poplar Grove is donating $1.50 to the BC Hospitality Foundation (BCHF) for every bottle of their 2021 Lakeview Rosé sold (that’s $18 a case!). Funds raised by the program will help the BCHF continue to provide last-resort assistance for hospitality workers in financial crisis due to a serious health condition. A percentage of Poplar Grove’s donation will also be earmarked for a special scholarship that will be part of a BCHF-administered scholarship program that fosters the next generation of hospitality industry leaders. 
  • Oliver’s District Wine Village is hosting a weekly market every Wednesday from 4 to 7 p.m. until September 14th in the Centre Plaza, supporting local farmers, crafters, culinary artisans and entrepreneurs.

Five white patio-crushers to drink right nowwhite winePhoto by Zan on Unsplash

  1. 2021 Sperling Amber Pinot Gris ($32): This is a gorgeous copper-coloured wine with a bright taste of tangerines and a pleasing dry finish. One taste of this and I was dying for sushi—which could just make this the perfect Vancouver wine.
  2. French Door 2021 Sauvignon Blanc ($32): It’s happening! I’m getting excited by SauvBlanc, the grape that usually has me pulling a face and checking my tooth enamel. But this is delicious—apricots, papaya, tropical! It’s out of stock at the winery but look for it on lists in Vancouver.
  3. Dirty Laundry 2021 Viognier ($19.99): Dear Canada, repeat after me: ‘vee–on–yay’. It’s that simple! Don’t be scared by that little ‘g’. Juicy, fresh, bright, a little oily (but in a very good way) this is an affordable, gateway Viognier for anyone who’s not already on that heavenly train. Get on board!
  4. Chaberton Estates 2021 Siegerrebe ($17.95): Well, hello Fraser Valley fruit! This is fresh, bright and pretty, and just wonderfully floral with white flowers on the nose. Yum.
  5. Harpers Trail 2020 Silver Mane Block Riesling 20 ($22.50): This white is juicy and so, so good with a super-long finish. It’s certainly on the sweeter side, but it’s absolutely awesome and a steal of a deal.

Bar manager recommendationsJoe Casson

Bar Susu’s Joe Casson has a quartet of delicious, low-intervention wines to recommend for this season. Seek ‘em out at a cool wine bar near you soon.

  • Scout Vineyard Pinot GrisScout Vineyards’ pinot gris is absolutely delicious. Now, we drink with our eyes and this wine just screams hot-summers-day flavour bomb. We get to nerd out about this blend of two different pinot gris sites, one from the Similkameen Valley and the other from Naramata. One is fermented on skins for three and a half months in clay amphora, and the other is spontaneously fermented for a week on skins before being pressed into stainless—unfined, unfiltered, no added sulphur—just like Mother Nature intended. This wine has depth in all directions: colour, aromatics and flavour. Punchy and fresh, it’s a pink-, orange- and red-fruit explosion, framed with vibrant acidity and a gentle touch of rosemary. Drink this with dishes that have some pizazz: ceviche, watermelon and feta, or a super-fresh heirloom tomato salad.
  • 2021 Thorn and Burrow 2021 Siegerrebe: Just say yes to Thorn and Burrow, a one-man-band, skin-contact-only winemaker creating beautiful, quirky wines with grapes from all over Southern B.C. This is a hand-harvested nine-day carbonic maceration Siegerrebe from Abbotsford (I know?!), with zero sulphites, zero preservatives, just good ol’ fashioned juice. Alex Thornley grabs the rules of conventional winemaking by the scruff of the neck, and without even making eye contact, drop-kicks them out of the picture. His wines are versatile, and the perfect amount of ‘different’ for us flavour junkies looking for something off the beaten track. The “Sig” is no exception. Playful and round, it’s got a great hedgerow fruit structure along with watermelon and peach. This is an easygoing drop with the ability to work harmoniously alongside foods of the salty-rich variety: cured meats, or a cedar plank-baked salmon dish. Out of the 30 cases made we still have a couple of cases left at Bar Susu. So, if you need your fix, come on in—we’ve got you!
  • Anthony Buchanan 2021 La Bise: A new friend gave me a bottle of this with direct intent because they are very aware I come from cider country in England. This tactful gift was the perfect intertwine of what I loved growing up, and what I love now: cider and wine. La Bise is a blend of grapes and apples and I implore you to unapologetically consume this at any time of the day so long as there is sunlight! Breakfast/ lunch/ tea, it don’t matter! This marriage of disciplines creates a complex and delightful dry wine with notes of quince, pears and, well, apples, but with a lingering white pepper herbaceousness and aromatic blush-apple quality that skin-contact wines can sometimes acquire. Delightful with all sorts of picnic accoutrements—a rustic pork rillette, red-pepper hummus and crudités, or even a ploughman’s style cheese-and-pickles spread—don’t be afraid to add a splash of liqueur if you fancy a boost, Yellow chartreuse is aces!
  • Home Wine 2020 Acqua Pazza Bianco: Acqua Pazza—loosely translated as crazy water—is a sparkling piquette-style drink traditionally made by farmers in Italy from second-press grapes. Piquette wines in our market are a far cry from the “made with what we could get our hands on” model of yesteryear, with some really tasty examples coming out B.C. alone. Home Wine Acqua Pazza Bianco comes from rehydrated second-press skins from the Golden Mile Bench, including muscat, riesling and viognier, as well as direct pressed sauvignon blanc, pinot gris and gewürztraminer juice. All in all, this wine is light and refreshing with a lovely texture. Don’t overthink how you enjoy this wine. Just make it nicely cold and put it in a tumbler to chug it down with some lunch. A cheese and cucumber sandwich with a side of pickled onions? Yes. These wines might be a little hard to get hold of right now, but keep your eyes peeled for releases through their website.

Hello BBQ? These five reds are callingred wine bbqMuenz

  1. Upper Case 2020 Malbec ($34.99): Oh, this has such a beautiful inky colour with a fabulous fragrant nose of delicate violets—juicy blackcurrants and bags of pepper and spice at the finish.
  2. Foxly 2020 Pinot Noir ($24): Cherries, cherries, cherries! Voluptuously silky smooth with a forest-floor finish, it’s heaven! This is Foxtrot’s second (and more affordable) label and I, for one, am here for it!
  3. Mission Hill 2020 Reserve Meritage ($30): I had this with steak from the BBQ oozing with blue cheese with a side of crisp air-fried potatoes. It was the perfect pairing for this belter with juicy dark berries, a little cocoa powder, silky smooth and so well integrated.
  4. Stags Hollow 2020 Simply Noir ($23): I’d not encountered this terrific blend before and wow—what a winner! Tasty cocoa nibs, silky mouthfeel, this is such a super-easy charcuterie wine! Sold out at the winery, but available at Save On Foods and other liquor stores.
  5. Mayhem 2020 Cab Franc Merlot ($21.74): Delicious juicy wine—one taste of this and I was dying to grill something! It has lashings of blackberries and blackcurrants, and a super-soft and silky mouthfeel.

Meet the Maker: Jody Scott, owner/winemaker Valley of the SpringsJody Valey

A winery in the Kootenays? Who knew?! I popped in to visit Valley of the Springs in Nakusp on a recent trip and was delighted by Jody and Brenda’s beautiful cool climate whites and reds. Tough to track down in Vancouver and the Lower Mainland, either call to order for delivery, or just head on up there to visit if you want to try a taste of Arrow Lakes terroir!

NB: This summer, what should we be drinking from B.C.?
There are so many good things in this province! I’m an aromatic white wine drinkerI like a crisp, nice finish. If there’s a bacchus on the menu, that’s what I’m ordering. I love the bacchus from Recline Ridge, and Chaberton’s bacchus from the Fraser Valley is delicious too. I love the ehrenfelser from Summerhill Wineryit’s so great.

NB: What food-and-wine myth would you like to dispel?
JS: That you can’t have red wine with fish! There’s always a good light red to [pair with seafood]: pinot noir, Zweigelt… we made a great gamay nouveau last year, just two months in neutral barrels, and we had it with salmon—it was so nice.

NB: What wines should we be drinking from Valley of the Springs?
JS: Our vista is a big hit; it’s our baby. I guess it’s the first wine that we made, and it came about because we just didn’t have enough fruit when we first opened, and our consultant suggested making a white blend of ortega and siegerebbe together. From day one, it’s been the most popular wine that we’ve made, so we just keep doing it! We could make a separate wine with them both now, but we just keep co-fermenting and carrying on. It goes with charcuterie, cheese, chickeneverything. It’s so food-friendly, but it’s a great summer patio-sipper as well.