It was a great turn out to the Wine Islands Vintners Association Trade Tasting held at the Fairmont Empress Hotel. This industry has felt the effects of a tough economy and with a record number of BC wineries for sale, its encouraging to see a handful of new brands on the market.
The following wines stood out for me today, I will post notes on other wines that were impressive but here’s a quick list of what stood out. Remember many of these are made in very small quantities.
Starling Lane Ortega 2011 – $19 -Like a burst of sunshine, this little gem caught me off guard as it was fragrant, elegant, and brimming with bright acidity. Ortega is a wonderful grape that is at home on the island because it can ripen early. Its a grape that was created in 1948 by crossing Müller-Thurgau and Siegerrebe in Germany but is not known for its acid. 2011 was a late and cooler year that has allowed this grape to ripen enough to get aromatics and still keep its bright structure. With only about a 100 cases made, this wine will not last long.
Twenty two Oaks Pinot Gris 2010 -$18 – A ripe nose that offered up layers of tropical fruits and a hint of wet stone. The palate was a complete contrast to the nose as it was bursting with acidity and offered up a super bright and almost tart expression of citrus fruits and apple and a great long finish. Very small production with very little available for market. If you can find it, enjoy it.
Averill Creek Pinot Grigio – 2010 – $18 – Layered with citrus, grass, and apple flavours, a wonderfully complex nose for this grape. The palate was refreshing clean and focused with a great finish. Completely unoaked and perfect for the summer. About 600 cases made.
Zanatta Winery – Tradicionale Brut – $35 – Aged ‘en tirage‘ for over 6 years, this wine 70% Chardonnay 30% Pinot Noir is rich in flavour and texture and offers up some great brioche and toast notes to compliment the cooked apple and hint of preserved lemon on the palate. Zanatta has been specializing in bubbles from the beginning and I invite you to walk through their line up over lunch on their patio once the season starts. Only 60 cases made this wine is for the lovers of aged sparkling wines.
Blue Grouse Pinot Noir 2006 – $30 – Yes, its not a typo, 2006 is the current release to their Pinot Noir. I couldn’t be happier as I think BC Pinot’s need some age to settle into their structure which doesn’t (and shouldn’t) always come from oak. Our beautiful acidity needs time to balance with the fruit and this wine is a great example. The wine is still bright and young and just starting to show some tertiary flavours from the bottle. Ripe cherry flavours with layers of smoke and leather. Not too much left, I think around 40-50 cases.
What stood out for me today was a pride in local fruit and as one winemaker said “we need to own our region”, and that couldn’t be more true. I appreciate the honesty in a label and if its a tough season, then own it and do the best you can. Share best use practices and raise the region for its quality and uniqueness.