This week we've enjoyed a couple bottles from two legendary wineries situated on the Naramata Bench in British Columbia's Okanagan Valley. Both Hillside Winery and Nichol Vineyard started out in 1989, and have persevered over the years as the number of local wineries has shot from less than 20 to almost 400. Both of 'em are true Naramatian wineries, sourcing 100% of their fruit the Bench.
Hillside 2019 Un-Oaked Pinot Gris has both a peachy hue and palate. From grapes grown among fruit orchards on the property, the fresh-pressed juice spends a few hours with the skins, giving the wine a good clutch of texture. The acid makes in nice 'n juicy. The nose has lightly-perfumed stone fruit, and those peaches on the palate are joined by Pink Lady apples and little squeeze of pink grapefruit. Quaffable yet sturdy, it's a good choice for pan-seared salmon or halibut, poultry, creamy pastas, and so much more. $23 winery-direct, or a couple bucks more a private stores around B.C. (Also, I'm loving their sweeet new labels. Handsome!)
Nichol Vineyard 2018 'Old Vines' Syrah is true to its name. You can't get any older when it comes to Syrah in Canada, as Nichol was the first in the country to plant the variety; they did so in estate granite bedrock soils back in 1990 and 1991. The variety has become a critical darling in B.C., and Nichol has always led the charge. Experienced blind tasters would likely nail the variety with this wine - there are violets, lavender and fresh-cracked black pepper in the aromatics, which join a little smoked brisket and black berry fruit on the palate. It's fresh and buoyant though, far from a gloopy and bombastic Shiraz. Grab it winery-direct for $34.69, or you can find it around B.C. private stores for a pinch more, too.