There isn’t a corner of this province unaffected by this summer’s wildfires, but as bad as the air quality has been in Metro Vancouver, the interior of B.C. has had it far worse, and our wine growing regions (Okanagan, Similkameen) have been hit especially hard. While I haven’t heard news of any vineyards burning, the smoke has been acute enough to keep wine lovers away, and I’ve heard estimates from friends up there that business is down as much as 80% in some wineries.
It looks like we coasties will get at least a temporary reprieve from the smoke this weekend, but that’s only because maritime winds are pushing it back into the interior, and although I hear you can now see the other side of the lake from Naramata, the upcoming Labour Day weekend – usually a key wine holiday – may end up a wash this year. Remember when Alberta was going to ban BC wine and all of us were going to band together and drink up the slack? This is more dire. The BC wine industry needs our help: if we’re not gonna go drink it up there, we in Metro Van gotta drink it down here.
With that in mind, I’d like to recommend a few faves; wines to drink over the next couple of weeks while we wait for cooler (and wetter) skies to prevail.
Kettle Valley Gewurztraminer 2016, Naramata. Pretty pretty pretty, then kapow. A generous, ornate nose of lychee and honeyed flowers precede a 2-plane-seat body and a gingery finish with a whiff of glorious booze. Alsace is clearly the inspiration but this is lighter on its feet and cleaner, the hedonism is all on the front end. This wine hopes you order spring rolls. $20.49 +tax
Desert Hills Gamay 2017, Black Sage Bench. A spicy firecracker of red fruit and insolence. Wee snaps of vanilla and ash surround the nose, but the fruit is the story here and the fruit came to party. Black pepper on the finish, paired with enough acidity to balance the weight but not enough to make the cool kids sit at your table. Will barbeque the chicken for you. $29.99 +tax
Black Hills Tempranillo 2016, Black Sage Bench. It may come as a surprise to many, but the cult winery Black Hills does, in fact, make wines that aren’t Nota Bene. Tempranillo isn’t widely planted outside of Spain and almost never planted in B.C., which is a shame because this fab: a bright, ultra-present body of cherries and red apple, interwoven with a nose of roses, cinnamon and fine black pepper. A long hot finish and fine tannins – made for espelette-rubbed pork or chicken. $56.99 +tax. Be sure to stop by our South Vancouver location on Saturday, September 1st at 3pm to taste this BC gem!