It's always the spring when B.C. wines come storming outta the gates the most fast and furious, and that's probably the only thing that has remained traditional about the last couple of months. This is when we're seeing most whites and pinks landing on shelves and lists, though some lighter and buoyant reds are always welcome at the table. too.
Here are an array of recent faves with which there was no chance of any of 'em lasting too long once a cap was twisted or a cork was pulled. We'll start top-left and move clockwise:
Culmina Family Estate Winery R & D Rosé 2019 ($19.99) - A peachy charmer coming from red Bordeaux varieties grown on their Golden Mile estate. A few Bing cherries and red currants are swirled in their. too. I always say if you're just looking category-wise, pink wines have to be among the best value, most diverse in style, and most food-friendly wines on the shelf. 20 bucks? Dude. So good. Bon Appétit recently did a deep dive into a classic Carbonara pasta; this would knock it outta the park.
Clos du Soleil Winemaker's Series 'Middle Bench Vineyard' Pinot Blanc 2019 ($19.90) - Sure the lengthy name of the wine is quite the mouthful, but this perennial Similkameen Valley favourite fills the palate even more. Awash with a bounty of crisp apples and pears, the whole-cluster pressing and lees contact results in a bit of a graham wafer note, which dovetails with that juicy fruit so well. Aussie Pie Guy's Chook Pie with free-run chicken, mushrooms and white wine cream sauce anyone?
Bella 'Cavada Vineyards' Traditional Method Sparkling Rosé 2019 ($28.90) - Fresh, fresh, fresh with zippy rhubarb and lime, with some vibrant hibiscus prettying it up. 100 percent Naramata Gamay; both a winner and a bargain. Oh, how I adore the ever-growing roster of winemaker Jay Drysdale's bubbles. Three words: Fanny. Bay. Oysters. (Also, kudos to Jay and partner Wendy Rose, who are swapping from a tasting room format to a farm tour format for the season.)
Joue White by Averill Creek Vineyard 2019 ($29.53) - A field blend of white grapes from these Vancouver Island legends is "foot stomped, left over night and then whole bunch pressed the next day into older French barriques." Then: wild-fermented on the lees with no additives like SO2, enzymes, or anything else. Meyer lemon, meet blood orange marmalade and enjoy that salty sea air. Hot damn. Double up on Tacofino goodness with their Fish Taco (crispy ling cod, cabbage, chipotle mayo, salsa fresca) off the bat and their Tuna Taco (soy, sesame, wakame, ginger, wasabi mayo) as your chaser.
Blue Mountain Vineyard and Cellars Reserve Chardonnay 2017 ($29.90) - This wild-fermented Chardonnay, the majority of which was raised in a variety of French oak vessels, and the remaining 30 percent in stainless steel to preserve some freshness, is wonderfully blended and now wonderfully aged; it's just hitting its stride. The Mavety family, O.G.'s of Okanagan Falls wine-growing, have done it yet again. It's woven quite well; layers of citrus fruit, lemon, lime, pomelo — all of 'em — with a couple Spartan apples, a hunk of buttery pie crust, and maybe a slight drizzle of honey. There's a freshness here, but you can totally swaddle yourself in it, too. This recipe for Grilled Tahini Chicken on Molly Yeh's site would tango well.
Tantalus Vineyards 'Maija' Pinot Noir 2018 ($21.74) - From the lauded Kelowna winery comes yet another tip-top outing by winemaker and all-around good guy Dave Paterson. Fermented with indigenous yeast and aged in 20 percent new French oak barrels for just under a year, this Pinot punches well above its stupidly-low price-point. (Shhh... Just order a bunch before they figure it out.) A recent additional vineyard planting of various clones of Pinot Noir is a good sign they're going all-in with the variety. A basket of plums, some juicy acidity, a smattering of cardamom. Put a bit of a chill on it (10 minutes in the fridge is juuust fine), and pour liberally. How about Ottolenghi's Mushroom and Herb Polenta?
Terravista Vineyards Fandango 2018 ($25) - With the Okanagan Valley's mineral-rich soils, long, stunningly sunny and warm days to ripen and allow purity of fruit, a broad diurnal temperature shift bringing cool nights to preserve natural acidity, it's a wonder we don't see Albariño and Verdejo vineyards widely dotting the landscape. Terravista were the proverbial canaries in the coal mine with the varieties around these parts, and this eighth vintage of Fandago, a blend of the two, makes for a rock-solid thesis on why we need to see more. The juice of Ruby Red grapefuit, a little fresh lime zest, a hunk of quava, all strewn with a handful of rocks and tarragon. Flip to any page of the Tinned Fish Cookbook and go to town.
Kitsch Block Party 2019 ($21) - This mix of Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir comes from various vineyard blocks on the family's Kelowna estate, and is quite the fun and cheery summer sipper. Also, can we talk about what a great name 'Block Party' is for a wine of this style? Love it. Oh, and I love the juice, too. Think a proper Bellini with a spot of muddled lemon,and a wee splash of Campari. Crazy-delicious. Gordon Ramsay has a plate of Fish & Chips that'll be ready in 10 minutes!
...and Ann B. Davis as Alice is here to remind you that while all of these wines are available winery-direct, you can also find them at private wine stores around B.C. for just a couple bucks more!