Monthly Archives: July 2012

2010 Summerhill Organic Riesling

2010 Summerhill Organic Riesling
Okanagan, $20

I used to be a little bit wary of Summerhill with its pyramid and its accompanying new age-y vibe, but its early forays into organic and biodynamic farming are beginning to pay fantastic dividends as the wine world awakens to the value of these farming techniques. I’m also starting to really love how CEO Ezra Cipes and winemaker Eric von Krosigk refuse to follow the pack on almost anything. Sure, riesling is a great street cred grape—especially in the North Okanagan. But many winemakers insist on making the wine in the very dry Alsatian style currently in vogue in the new world. Not these two—they go full Mosel-style, allowing some residual sugar to stick around. The result is a sweeter wine (though the acid balances the sugar very well) with lovely stone fruit flavours, a Meyer lemon finish and a jaw droppingly low 8.5% alcohol (neighbouring winery and critical darling Tantalus’ 2010 Riesling is 12.2%; CedarCreek’s version is 13.7%). The point is there are a bunch of different paths to get to great riesling in these parts—Summerhill just takes the one less travelled.

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Naysayer Cabernet Franc 2009

Naysayer Cabernet Franc 2009
British Columbia, $25

Our sister publication, Vancouver Magazine, runs the West’s finest wine awards and one of the benefits of that is that after the entries are judged, the entrants go into a magic wine room in the back of our office to be kept under lock and key. By strength of personality alone, I have access to a key, so on rare occasions I’ll mosey in to see if there’s something unexpected to take for a spin. All of this is a long way of telling you how I happened to have a bottle of a new BC wine I’d never heard of—Naysayer Cabernet Franc—in my hot little hands a while back. Cab Franc grows very nicely in the Okanagan, but it’s a grape that can go wrong 100 ways and right about two, so my expectations were low that this new start-up would be up for the challenge the first vintage out of the gate. And then I tasted it and I felt like I was a hockey scout who wondered into an arena in Brampton only to see a 13-year-old Wayne Gretzky skating around. The wine had a really nice opening blast of dark cherry, a hit of oak but a balanced acidity. All this from a rookie? And that’s when I turned over the bottle and saw that the rookie was Del and Miranda Halladay, owners of Elephant Island and one of the great fruit wine producers in the world. It shows two things—great winemakers are great winemakers, regardless of the medium. And read the bottle before you drink. It’s tough to find but you can order from www.itoldyouso.com, and some wine stores in the Okanagan carry it.

2011 La Chablisienne Saint-Bris

2011 La Chablisienne Saint-Bris
France, $18

Say the words “White Burgundy,” and most consumers think elegant Chardonnay that costs a fortune. But this bottle from the large Chablis collective, La Chablisienne, confounds on both counts. First, it’s from the Saint-Bris appellation in between Paris and Beaune, the only appellation in Burgundy that’s allowed to grow Sauvignon Blanc. Second it’s cheap: cheaper than Sauvignon from New Zealand. Neither of these points would matter but for the wine being fantastic. Light and dry, it has the aromas of melons and a crisp, but not mean, granny smith apple bite. If you love Kim Crawford or Oyster Bay but want to branch out (and weirdly, save a few bucks) here’s your girl.

Scaia Garganega Chardonnay 2010

Scaia Garganega Chardonnay 2010
Italy, $18

Italy’s a funny place for wine—even the most obscure white grape has been adopted by some region of the country. Veneto in the north makes stellar wines—always bracing but well balanced—and it’s one of the few places where the garganega grape is grown. This varietal is best known for making the ubiquitous Soave, which can be dull but when made right is a heady, complex wine with waves of flavour. Scaia’s winemaker, Tenuta Sant’Antonio, adds some chardonnay and trebbiano to the mix, resuling in an acidic, cool wine that’s both bracing and full. It lives to be enjoyed on a sun-drenched patio with a simple dinner of pasta with fresh vegetables.

Book Review: John Schreiner’s Okanagan Wine Tour Guide

okanagan winery tour guide book

The Ultimate Guide to Wine Touring in the Okanagan
John Schreiner has been tromping through vineyards in the Okanagan—almost 160 wineries—longer than almost anyone, so he knows a thing or two about where to go and what to look for. His new book John Schreiner’s Okanagan Wine Tour Guide (Whitecap) shares his 40 years of wisdom with anyone who’s interested in exploring the big boys and the hidden gems of our wine region. wl

Quinta do Ameal Loureiro 2010

Quinta do Ameal Loureiro 2010
Portugal, $17

Wine nerds live for endless debates on the merits of various wines, but there’s a near universal love for Portuguese Vinho Verde—the cheap, acidic bracing wine that is the country’s calling card. Most bottles check in at the $10 range and are often very low in alcohol, making them perfect for hot summer days. But Quinta do Ameal’s Loureiro is a bit different. It labels its vintage (many VV don’t), it’s 11.5 percent alcohol and it checks in at $17, which is cheapish for anything but VV. But compared to your $22 New Zealand sauvignon blanc, it’s a steal. It has that bracing crisp green fruit bite that’s followed by a luscious structured finish of melon. The wine of summer has arrived.