Even with the busy holiday season taking up our time, I was able to make a quick trip to Vancouver Island, and one of the things I did was visit the Chase & Warren Winery located in Port Alberni, BC. I bet you didn’t know there were any wineries in Port Alberni, a place better known as a forestry town. Well, there is, and my host pouring the wines was Mr. Vaughan Chase.
Chase & Warren sold their first bottle of wine in 2003 but the vineyard was started in 1995 and the first vine planted in 1996. The wines are of very limited production, so the best place to get the wines is to go and visit them. If you are living in Vancouver like me, the following stores carry their wines:
- Denman Place Wines
- Everything Wine (North Vancouver)
- Firefly Fine Wines & Ales
- Jimmy’s Beer & Wine
- Liberty Wines, Point Grey Place
- Yaletown Liquor Store
As you may guess, this is a marginal climate for grapes, so you would not get the same wines as you would from a hotter climate, such as Oliver, BC. Think more white wines. They do offer some reds, but the grapes are purchased from vineyards in other parts of the Province. You may notice that the labels for the wines have pictures of birds. This is because the winery owner is a bird lover.
Chase & Warren’s Wines
Muscat d’Orval 2010. These grapes are produced from their own vines. This wine was watery lemon in colour with orange and pineapple aromas. Light body with citrus and pine needle flavours. Dry with a medium length. You need to let this wine breathe a bit if sulfur dioxide (SO2) bothers you. It is not a fault in the wine. It is added by many wineries to help prevent oxidation and preserve fruity flavour and freshness in wine.
- Bacchus 2010. I quite liked this wine. The grapes for this wine are also grown on their estate. It had a light nutmeg and citrus nose. Quite aromatic. Light body with medium acidity and a slight prickle in your mouth. Lots of pine needle flavour along with some nutmeg. Medium-plus length. Dry finish.
- Alsatia 2010. This is a blend of Auxxerois and Pinot Gris grapes from their estate. The grapes are crushed and fermented together. Slightly sweet nose with citrusy aromas. Very light body with banana, tropical fruit and peach flavours. Very round and soft mouthfeel. Low acidity.
- Cyrpress White, NV. Another wine I quite liked. A blend of Viognier and Chardonnay. The Viognier was fermented in 2009 and the Chardonnay in 2010, then both were blended together. The Viognier grapes do not grow in this cooler area, so they were sourced from elsewhere in BC. This wine was light lemon in colour. Light stone fruit aromas and some lees. Medium body and medium acidity. The level of acidity gave the wine a nice bite. I enjoyed the peach, stone fruit, and slight herbal flavours. It ended with a mouth-watering finish. Very refreshing.
- Tokay Pinot Gris 2008. Light pear skin colour with a light peach nose. Off-dry with medium body. Round mouthfeel with medium acidity. Quite mouth filling with peaches, sweet spices and some herbal flavours. Medium length.
Wrangel Red, NV. Wrangel pays homage to the Insular Geological Belt extending along the west coast of Alaska and British Columbia, of which Vancouver Island is a part. One of the 2 terranes composing this belt is called Wrangellia. This is a red blend of Pinot Noir and Gamay, with a dash of Gewurztraminer and Pinot Gris added. Light cherry colour. Quite aromatic with sweet cherries, candied fruit and flowers. Light body, dry with low tannins. Cherries and some leafiness on the palate. Quite interesting and enjoyable.
- Wranglette, NV. This wine is made from 100% Pinot Noir, with the grapes coming from a vineyard in Nanaimo. Medium garnet in colour. Light cinnamon aroma that builds in the glass along with red cherries. Light body with low tannins. Ripe red cherries, some tropical flavours and vanilla on the palate. Dry with medium length.
- Merlot 2009. These grapes come from the South Okanagan and are fermented in stainless steel open top fermenters. Medium garnet in colour with light cherry and milk chocolate aromas. Medium body, round mouthfeel with medium tannins. Cherries and some leafiness on the palate. Medium-plus length.
- Cabernet Sauvignon 2009. Cabernet Sauvignon is another grape that needs warm weather, so these grapes are brought in from another area in BC. This wine was deep ruby in colour and had dark fruit aromas. Medium-plus body, very fruity with some vanilla and a bit of spice. It also had an interesting dill flavour component.
Take A Steam Train to Chase & Warren
Do you have any nostalgia for the days of steam trains? If so, there is a daily WINE STEAM TRAIN RIDE leaving the Port Alberni Harbour Station at 1:00 pm and returns from the Chase and Warren Winery at 3:30pm. Reservations are required. The price is $40 per person and includes steam train ride, wine tasting and appetizers at the winery. Very cool.
That’s all for this post, my last one for 2011. I hope you enjoyed my writing for this past year. If you have a chance in the Spring – Summer – Fall to go to Vancouver Island, consider taking the ferry and then driving over to Port Alberni to visit Chase & Warren. Here is their website link. You will also pass through Cathedral Grove, which has a stand of some of the oldest and largest trees in BC. Cheers!