Here are two BC wines you may want to consider serving with meals or with appetizers before your main meal during the holidays. Blue Grouse Estate Winery Estate Pinot Noir 2019 and Pinot Gris 2020. The grapes are harvested from the winery’s vineyard on Vancouver Island. The grapes on the estate are 100% organically farmed using no/minimal till cover crop rotations, minimal irrigation, full leaf stripping and crop thinning to hit peak phenolic ripeness. Cool climate grapes to make cool-climate wines. The grapes should have a nice level of acidity to keep the wines fresh and more easily pair with many dishes.
My Wine Tasting Notes
Blue Grouse Estate Winery Estate Pinot Gris 2020 (BC $25.99)
From the winery, “This wine was developed in two parts, with 40% of the grapes going into two-year-old French Barriques and a one-year-old 500L French Puncheon. These fermented slow and cool over a 4-week period and then went through spontaneous malolactic fermentation with a total of 8 months in oak. The remaining grapes were fermented over 20 days in stainless steel tanks, then rested on lees for another 3 months before spontaneous malolactic fermentation. The wine was cold settled and left on fine lees for 4 months when it was blended with the barrel portion. After bottling, we aged the wine for an additional 4 months.”
Appearance: A medium-plus intensity clear pear skin colour.
Nose: Pronounced aromas with ripe pears, apples and apple skin, and touches of toast, vanilla and butterscotch. As the wine gets air you also get a touch of pineapple. The wine still had pronounced aromas after decanting but were mainly of pears with a touch of toast.
Palate: Dry and lean with a lighter body. Pears, pear skin, with a lesser amount of crisp apple, lemon rind, and a touch of toastiness. The wine became a bit rounder with decanting and you can add a touch of butterscotch to the flavours already mentioned.
Finish: A medium-plus length finishing with pear flavour primarily, a touch of bitterness, then apple skin and some pepperiness at the very end. A bit more peppery plus butterscotch flavour added on the finish with decanting.
A wine that you can enjoy in one sitting or savour over the next day. The wine does get rounder with air.
Rating: Pear skin colour in the glass. Ripe pears and apples on the nose plus a touch of butterscotch and toast. Dry, medium bodied with a learner mouthfeel. It gets a bit rounder with decanting. Pears, pear skin and crisp apple flavours. Medium-plus length finishing with pears, apple skin, peppery and butterscotch, with air.
Blue Grouse Estate Winery Estate Pinot Noir 2019 (BC $37.99)
From the winery, “…we whole cluster fermented a portion in terracotta Amphora to achieve a large percentage of carbonic maceration to maintain a fruit-forward profile while keeping tannins in check. The ferment in the Amphora was gradual and required two rounds of foot stomping to generate juice. It then fermented slow and steady over three weeks before pressing. We finished the wine in our Amphora, 500 L new French Puncheons and neutral French oak barrel for 12 months before blending. Un-fined and un-filtered, the wine was bottled and further aged for 6 months prior to release.”
This is quite an interesting process to produce this wine. There is a porosity to the terracotta amphora that affects the fermentation. I’ve read that amphora pull out acidity, allow oxygen exchange, and provide superior insulation, plus other benefits. In addition to the amphora, the winemaker, Bailey, also applied carbonic maceration, which is when the grapes ferment intracellularly due to lack of oxygen. Typically carbon dioxide is added to the fermentation vessel to keep out oxygen. I am not quite sure how much oxygen still gets in via the amphora during this process but it must be minimal in order to get carbonic maceration to occur. A unique wine.
Appearance: A lighter intensity garnet colour, translucent from rim to core.
Nose: An interesting mix of aromas. Light intensity. Tomatoes, red fruits, and a touch of nutmeg. Candied cherry aromas were prominent with decanting. There was also the red cherries, tomatoes and nutmeg, but no red fruit aromas.
Palate: Dry, roundish with a medium-plus body. Tart red fruit, red cherries and touches of vanilla, other sweet spices, and dill. Some candied red cherries with air. The wine was rounder and silky with decanting. There was more dill and candied red cherry flavours as well.
Finish: A medium length finishing with light fine tannins, tart red fruit, red cherries, some stem bitterness and cinnamon. No change with flavours on the finish or tannins.
I like this wine both decanted and undecanted. If you prefer more candied cherries and dill go with the decanted version.
Rating: – A light translucent garnet colour. Light intensity aromas upon opening of tomato, red fruits and a touch of nutmeg. Decanting asdds candied cherries. This wine has a medium body, dry and semi-round. Tart red fruit, red cherries, light oak and sweet spices. With air you can add light candied cherries and dill flavours.
Quick Food Pairing
Both these wines paired nicely with Mastro® Salametti Salami (a small salami dry-cured and treated with a blend of sweet and aromatic spices) and with buttery Cerignola olives. These are huge olives, about the size of an almond in its shell, that comes from Sicily. The butteriness and saltiness from curing the olives brought out the fruit flavours in the wines and made the wines feel rounder. The fattiness of the salami toned down the acidity in the wines, again making the wines smoother while allowing the fruit flavours in the wines to be enjoyed. I purchased the salami and the olives from Bosa Foods in Vancouver.
Where Can I Buy These Wines?
You can purchase these wines directly from the winery:
The Estate Pinot Noir is available at Swirl Wine Store in Yaletown and at Marquis Wine Cellars.