A Bounty of B.C. Wines…Just not in Ontario!

Once upon a time I was a member of the Opimian Wine Society and received a copy of their “Tidings” magazine where a small club of reviewers picked over a variety of wines and I was amazed to see how many British Columbia wines were reviewed.
There are some 359 licensed wineries in British Columbia but visit an LCBO and you’d think the paucity of B.C. wines indicates Ontario is, like Alberta, having some pipeline dispute with British Columbia. I’d think it’s more of a frightened LCBO buying strategy than a pipeline dispute.
The VQA areas in B.C. are the Okanagan Valley, the Silkameen Valley, the Fraser Valley, Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands.
By acreage the top 3 whites are Pinot Gris, Chardonnay and Gewürztraminer and the top three reds are Merlot, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Mention Osoyoos Larose to any wine writer and they kneel before its Bordeaux inspired altar.
The 2014 is 68% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Cabernet Franc, 5% Malbec and 8% Petit Verdot.
Black cherry in colour. On aromatics my guess of 70% Merlot was very close and it hooks up beautifully with the Petit Verdot. As to blending a magnificent job. Impressive, delicate yet worthy of at least a decade of ageing. On the nose black cherry made slightly exotic by the Petit Verdot. Seductive and elegant.
On the palate still young and very closed. Nonetheless the exotic black fruit simmers below the surface with an abundance of tannins.
Excellent if not ambrosial with rare rack of lamb. For veggies I think Eggplant Parmesan might do the trick provided the sauce is made with rich San Marzano tomatoes.
This is a bit like “Wayne’s World” where Garth and Wayne bow and say, “We aren’t worthy!”
If you are serious about wine collecting buy a case or two and try it over the next twenty years. It is going to soften and seduce.
(Osoyoos Larose, Le Grand Vin 2014, VQA Okanagan Valley, Osoyoos Larose, Osoyoos, British Columbia, $ 47.95, 14%, LCBO # 626325, 750 mL, Square Media Group Rating 93/100).
The Backyard Gossip has an Australian flare for catchy and untraditional names. Its label is also a bit untraditional to say the least.
Light purple in color. Aromatics of black cherry, raspberry and strawberry. Pleasing and enticing.
On the palate smoky black cherry, tobacco and almost brackish blackberry. Mild but slightly grippy tannins with short finish. Drinkable but not worthy of a beauty pageant win.
Not worth ageing. Will handle simply prepared light tomatoe based pasta sauces and your Friday burgers and pizza and wings.
Sorry my view that this is overpriced and at this level Portuguese, Eastern European and Spanish wines kick B.C. butt!
(Back Yard Gossip 2013, VQA British Columbia, Backyard Vineyards, Langley, British Columbia, 14% $ 29.95. 750 mL, LCBO # 542233, Square Media Group Rating 85/100).
Black cherry coloured. On the nose plenty of blueberry, some blackberry and black cherry.
On the palate the tannins are moderate if not almost smooth. Fresh blueberry pie rules however not cloying or jammy. I would say the wine may improve over the next couple of years but marginally. I suppose pair it with the usual Cabernet Sauvignon food matches being beef or lamb. I think it can also pair well with vegetarian stuffed Red Peppers with a couple of Jalapeno Peppers in the rice based stuffing.
(Mission Hill Family Estate Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, VQA Okanagan Valley 2015, Mission Hill Family Estate, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, $30.95, 14.5%, 750 mL, LCBO # 553321, Square Media Group Rating 89/100).
We move to a Mission Hill Sauvignon Blanc from the Okanagan Valley.
Platinum coloured.
Positively tropical nose of pineapple, guava, banana and peppermint.
On the palate gentle acidity. You get on the palate what you get on the nose. A perfectly balanced wine. And without the racy acidity you might expect in a Zealie equivalent. A refreshing British Columbia expression of terroir?
A short finish but a gentle one. Well made. Nothing out of whack but this is a British Columbia Sauvignon Blanc and mellow as she goes.
Great with chicken or veal in a cream-based sauce. Or turkey burgers in grilled egg buns! For veggie heads good with a egg based pasta with a goat cheese or Boursin mushroom based pasta sauce.
(Mission Hill Family Estate Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2015, VQA Okanagan Valley, Mission Hill Family Estate, $ 22.95, LCBO # 57430, Square Media Group Rating 85/100).
For our last British Columbia wine we try a Merlot from Bordertown.
The first thing that catches my eye is the 16.2& alcohol content!
Black cherry in colour.
On the nose a big burst of black cherry and blackberry with a hint of milk chocolate.
On the palate a heavy hitter full of blackberry and sweet red cherry. The tannins are light and despite the high-octane content the wine is a bit smoother than one might originally think.
The result is a heavyweight prize fighter with lots of power and brawn but not much finesse. You might want to call it a paint by numbers Merlot. Not worth its boastful price.
Good with a brontosaurus steak.
(Bordertown Vineyards & Estate Winery, 2015 Merlot, VQA B.C. Okanagan Valley, Bordertown Vineyards and Estate Winery Ltd. Osoyoos, British Columbia, 16.2%, $ 39.95, 750 mL, LCBO # 548180, Square Media Group Rating 85/100)

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About the Author

Robert Stephen (CSW)
Robert K Stephen writes about food and drink, travel, and lifestyle issues. He is one of the few non-national writers to be certified as a wine specialist by the Society of Wine Educators, in Washington, DC. Robert was the first associate member of the Wine Writers’ Circle of Canada. He also holds a Mindfulness Certification from the University of Leiden. Be it Spanish cured meat, dried fruit, BBQ, or recycled bamboo place mats, Robert endeavours to escape the mundane, which is why he loves The Square. His motto is, "Have Story, Will Write." Email Robert Stephen

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