Category Archives: Riesling

CedarCreek Platinum Riesling 2012

CedarCreek Platinum Riesling 2012

BC, $25

A few times a year the BC Wine Institute gathers a group of wine people together and they’re lead through a blind tasting by the always cool and crazy knowledgeable Rhys Pender, MW. A few months back, I noted how in a blind tasting of Pinot Noirs the $19 Spierhead from just outside Kelowna showed amazingly well against much higher priced Pinots from around the world. This edition saw Rhys focusing on Riesling, a grape beloved by oenophiles and largely ignored by the general population. Tasting Okanagan Riesling blind is murder because different producers make it in radically different styles. Most, fearful of producing wine that’s regarded as too sweet, emphasize the wines austere character, resulting in almost flinty wines with a classic nose of petrol stored in a used honey jar. But there are a number of producers who embrace the grape’s sweeter side, and when they balance it with proper acidity, it makes for a wonderful glass that no one would mistake for Sauvignon Blanc. Summerhill falls into this camp, as does this week’s wine, from CedarCreek, which was one of the crowd faves at the tasting. It’s low in alcohol and relatively high in sweetness, but with a acidic backbone that keeps it from being cloying in the least. I’d love this wine with some sticky glazed ribs or anything with some heat—and the price is right where it should be for a wine of this quality.

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Selbach-Oster Zeltinger Scholssberg Riesling Spatlese 2009

Selbach-Oster Zeltinger Scholssberg Riesling Spatlese 2009


Selbach-Oster Zeltinger Scholssberg Riesling Spatlese 2009
Germany, $39

Thai food is notorious for being difficult to pair with wine. It’s spicy, it’s sweet, it’s savoury. But at a recent lunch at Vancouver’s amazing Maenam, one wine shone for its ability to pair and complement almost every dish Chef Angus An brought out: this bottling from Selbach Oster. Crispy Pork Belly Stir fry? No problem. Panaeng Curry of Beef Chuck? Squid Salad with Chili jam dressing? Bam and bam, good. It’s not cheap, but as one of my dining companions said after a sip, “Is there a better desert island than this?” He might be right.

Psst: Try the German wine for yourself at Maenam’s (admittedly thematically inappropriate) Chinese New Year’s celebration. Get one of their limited tickets here.

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.

Canadian Wines for Canada Day

2011 Martin’s Lane Riesling
Okanagan, $25

Here’s the latest candidate for best value wine in the Okanagan. $25 for a Riesling a value? When it’s a handcrafted small production (400 cases) beauty like this the comparison is not Mission Hill’s neighbours, but the heavy hitters of Alsace—few of whom can offer a wine that has the combination of balanced acidity (this one’s great with food or without) with a concentration of peach and mineral backbone. This wine is tough to find, so if you strike out, there always Joie’s killer Riesling, dependable in the way that Gretzky was—that is, dependably stellar.


2010 Laughing Stock Syrah
Okanagan, $34

I can’t recall ever being disappointed in a Laughing Stock wine, and while the flagship blockbuster Portfolio gets universal love from the critics, for a casual Canada Day barbecue, its relatively new Syrah is the best choice. It’s made in the Northern Rhone style, with 6 percent viognier thrown in to settle down the syrah. It’s boozy at 14.7 percent, but it carries the alcohol like a dancer and gives a full mouth feel without ever attracting the heat of high alcohol. Plus the bottle, as always, looks supremely cool tucked under your arm as you arrive at the shindig.

Tantalus Old Vines Riesling 2010

Tantalus Old Vines Riesling 2010
B.C., $29.99

Tantalus has been making some great wines the last few years. Their pinot noir gets better each vintage, but it’s their Riesling—easily one of the Okanagan’s best—that’s a perfect match for chinois prawns (gewurztraminer is the most classic match but I don’t think there is a gewürztraminer in the Okanagan as good as this wine).

Zind Humbrecht Riesling Brand Vendage Tardive

Zind Humbrecht Riesling Brand Vendage Tardive
Alsace 2006 $55

Champagne is a great special occasion wine, but it’s a little bit easy no? The problem with bubbles is that it’s expensive so to snag a bottle you’re looking at $75 minimum, a price most consumer’s rarely consider dropping on a bottle of table wine. But why not? Take this excellent bottling from one of Alsace’s premier vintners. At $55 it’s not cheap but it’s about $20 less an ubiquitous bottle of Veuve Cliquot and you’ll be blown away by it’s honey and citrus notes cradled in a bracing acidity.

Spierhead Riesling 2010

Spierhead Riesling 2010
Kelowna, $22

This wine is from a new winery—Spierhead—in east Kelowna and if this is any indication of things to come, I expect greatness. Many new ventures take the easy drinking route in the first few vintages, fearful of alienating any potential customers. But owner Bill Knutson and consulting winemaker Tom DiBello have taken a different tack with this highly evolved Alsatian-style Riesling. It’s very light in texture and colour and eschews some of the grape’s usual sweetness —which can verge on cloying in inferior bottlings—for a very tart, minerally bite. Its long finish recalls baked green apples. An impressive first vintage.