I’ve been told that over the past two decades, the Wines of British Columbia have truly come of age. Wines are produced in the Okanagan, the Similkameen, the Fraser Valley, the Gulf Islands and on Vancouver Island. Cool climate to desert conditions let us produce a wide range of wines and wine styles. At the BC VQA Wines Fall Release, I certainly found many interesting wines to present to you today.
What is VQA?
According to Wikipedia “Vintners Quality Alliance, or VQA, is a regulatory and appellation system which guarantees the high quality and authenticity of origin for Canadian wines made under that system in British Columbia and Ontario. It is similar to regulatory systems in France (AOC), Italy (DOC), and Germany (QmP). The VQA system allows for sub-appellations, by which the grapes for wines are sourced from extremely specific geographical locations with different soil and climate. ” Of prime importance is that the grapes come from BC or Ontario. A BC wine for example, could not have the VQA certification if some of the grapes that made a wine came from Washington State, for example. In addition, all VQA wines have been tasted by a professional panel of tasters to verify the quality of the wine and ensure that it is free of defects. VQA wines may be made from vitis vinifera or certain approved hybrid grapes. To read more about VQA and the appellations within BC, please read more from Wikipedia.
Quick Facts About BC’s Wine Industry
- BC’s wine industry grew from 17 wineries in 1990 to 195+ in 2011.
- There are over 3946 ha of vineyards in BC.
- VQA wine sales have more than doubled in the last 5 years to more than $191 million annually.
- BC wineries have already received over 1100 awards this year!
- BC produces wines from over 60 grape varieties from Auxerrois to Zweigelt.
Let’s start off with the white and sparkling wines that I thought were highlights of the Fall Release. There could be other wines that would fit in this category, but there is only so many wines that one person can try in a few short hours. If your wine wasn’t listed, please post a comment and tell me, and my readers about your wine. More knowledge for us all is great!
White and Sparkling Wines
Inniskillin Okanagan Vineyards Discover Series Chenin Blanc 2009. Light pear colour and a light lemon nose. High acidity, but still has roundness in your mouth. Peach and honey flavours. Very tasty.
- Kalala Organic Estate Winery Riesling 2008. Medium lemon colour in the glass. Nice petrol and apple aromas. Dry with apple, lemon, petrol flavours and a bit of spice on the finish.
- Lake Breeze Vineyards Zephyr Brut 2009 (Sparkling). I’ve been told that this wine is not made every year, so with this vintage release, if you like bubbles, you may want to pick up some of the Zephyr. Pale straw colour. Apple and lemon aromas. High acidity with small bubbles. Green and red apples, and lemon greets your palate. Medium body and medium length. Nice.
- Spierhead Winery Chardonnay 2010. Here is another of BC’s newest wineries. Spierhead is located in South East Kelowna, near Tantalus. Their chardonnay is creamy with lots of vanilla and tropical fruit aromas and flavours. Enjoy juicy fruit flavours in your mouth with medium acidity to keep it refreshing.
- Stags Hollow Viognier 2010. One of my favourite wines of the tasting. This Viognier was pale in colour with some sweetness, orange, and flower aromas. Very pretty. Tropical fruit and cinnamon flavours. Medium body.
- Tantalus Vineyards Riesling 2010. Their Riesling is always on my favourite list. This one is no exception. It has light lemon, lychee and flowers on the nose. Off dry, with high acidity to make your mouth water for more. Red apples and lemon flavours. Excitement in a glass.
- The View Winery Gewurztraminer 2010. Do you want an easy sipper? Try this Gewurztraminer. Lychee and flower aromas. Off dry, round with a lemon/lime flavour. Medium length.
- Thornhaven Estates Winery Pinot Gris 2010. I think there is something specific about the terroir for this wine that makes this Pinot Gris have a wonderful grapefruit nose and flavour. I haven’t seen this in other Okanagan Pinot Gris. Pale lemon in colour with red grapefruit nose. Flowery with citrus, grapefruit flavours. Yum.
- Wild Goose Vineyards & Winery Pinot Gris 2010. Watery colour. Peach and lemon nose. Roses and peaches on the palate with medium acidity.
Rose and Red Wines
Baillie-Grohman Estate Winery Blanc de Noirs Rose 2010. This rose is produced from the Pinot Noir grape and uses the saignee method. Dry with light body. Light cherry in colour, with a herbal and cherry nose. Off dry with cherry and red berry flavours.
- Baillie-Grohman Estate Winery Estate Pinot Noir 2009. Medium ruby in colour. Light ripe red fruit and vanilla aromas. High acidity. Very dry with medium tannins. Sweet cherry and currant flavour with a medium length.
- Cassini Cellars Red Carpet Pinot Noir 2010. Medium garnet in the glass with smoke and sour cherry aromas. Strawberry and cherry flavours and a hint of vanilla. Dry with soft tannins. I also noted a slight herbal edge to this Pinot. Nice.
- Clos du Soleil Winery Signature 2009. This is a Bordeaux blend that is very high quality. I liked this wine a lot. Deep ruby in colour. Slight bit of capsicum on the nose, with aromas of cherries and ripe black fruit. Medium body with cherry and vanilla flavour, and a steak of minerality running through it. Dry with medium tannins and a bit of spice.
Desert Hills Syrah 2007. Another one of my favourites of the tasting. Almost opaque ruby in colour. Smoky, meaty, and dark fruit nose. Full body, dry tannins, with dark fruit spice and vanilla flavours. Enjoy this big wine with a nice roast over the winter.
- Osoyoos Larose Le Grand Vin 2008 Tank Sample. This wine ranks as my Premium wine of the tasting. This wine is not yet bottled as is showing great promise. Deep garnet in colour. Ripe black fruit nose. Deep dark fruit, spicy, dry with firm tannins. A full bodied wine you can age and enjoy.
- Tangled Vines Estate Winery 3 Reds 2009. The 3 red varieties to make up this blend are Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Merlot. Medium garnet in colour. Nice nose with ripe red fruit and vanilla aromas. Dry on the palate with vanilla, cherries and also a bit of minerality. Medium plus acidity. An interesting wine.