Wednesday 27 October 2010

Best of BC Fall Release

This past Saturday BC Liquor Stores held their “Best of BC” Fall Release, in which selected Signature Stores offered a number of newly released VQA red wines. Although at least a couple of the wines on offer were actually older vintages (e.g., Laughing Stock Portfolio 2007, Painted Rock Red Icon 2007), a few wines were seeing stores for the first time. Always the eager collector I took the chance to snag a few bottles I didn’t already have. There are still many bottles left – but going fast – of most of the wines available, including the new (2007) releases of Mission Hill’s venerable Compendium and Quatrain. Below are the four wines in particular I singled out for addition to my collection.
Nk’Mip: Qwam Qwmt Pinot Noir (2008): Nk’Mip Cellars submitted both their 2007 and 2008 Reserve Pinot Noirs to the Canadian Wine Awards this year, and won prestigious Gold Medals for both of them! The 2008 vintage was just released in August, but there is some 2007 to be found if you are very lucky: I recently discovered a few bottles – and picked one up – at Village VQA Wines Dunbar; they may still some left. Both vintages have racked up a long list of national and international awards; the 2007 was also named Best of Class in the 2009 All Canadian Wine Championships and the 2009 Los Angeles International Wine Competition. Winemaker Randy Pickton has been heard to declare the 2008 as the “best ever”; Nk’Mip is certainly setting the standard in the Pinot Noir department. Even Nk’Mip’s non-reserve wines are highly awarded, and preserved nicely under screwcap (the Qwam Qwmt releases are all sealed with cork).
Burrowing Owl: Syrah (2007): Burrowing Owl wines are highly-collectable due to their scarcity and superb reputation. With enviable vineyard locations in the Black Sage Bench between Oliver and Osoyoos, Burrowing Owl has been producing sought-after wines for many years, and is arguably one of BC’s first “cult” wineries. Most of their production is snapped up by restaurants as a result of their status, and bottles for sale are rarely seen outside private wine shops. The opportunity to pick up a delicious Syrah for winery-pricing was too good to pass up: few of Burrowing Owl’s wines are even offered for sale directly from the winery, unless you visit in person! The 2008 vintage is currently on offer from the winery, so this may be your last chance to obtain the 2007! The Syrah will join my bottles of Burrowing Owl Cabernet Franc and Meritage (also part of the Best of BC release) from the 2007 vintage, a trio I look forward to enjoying in a few years!
CedarCreek: Platinum Merlot (2007): The 2006 vintage of CedarCreek’s legendary Merlot was awarded a Lt. Governor’s Award for Excellence in BC wines, and the new 2007 vintage sports a shiny Gold Medal from the Canadian Wine Awards (ironically the 2006 only received a Bronze, such are the vagaries of wine competitions). CedarCreek has been holding back this wine for some time as the large 2006 vintage is sold off (1279 cases versus 878 cases for 2007). Part of the reason for the delay was to avoid awkwardness resulting from the new labels: having two significantly different labels side-by-side was probably perceived as unnecessarily confusing. However, some 2006 bottles can still be found in Vancouver-area shops, and it’s worth picking up one or two for the cellar. Both vintages are available for the reduced price of $35, and I hope CedarCreek sticks with this reasonable price for the remainder of the 2007 release.
Osoyoos Larose: Le Grand Vin (2007): Followers of BC wine will be quite familiar with probably the most well-known Bordeaux-style blend produced in the province, a wine partnership between two industry giants – Groupe Taillan of France and Vincor Canada. Osoyoos Larose’s facility in Oliver has been overseen since 2002 by French viticulturist (and newly-minted Canadian citizen) Pascal Madevon, who has produced steadily-improving Bordeaux blends from BC grapes for several years. The wines are meant to age, and the 2007 is no exception; you’ll want to hold on to this wine for at least a few years to let it reach its maximum potential. The 2007 Grand Vin has been labelled by many in the industry as the best ever; fortunately there is plenty to go around: case production often tops 10,000 for distribution across Canada. Wide-ranging availability and reasonable pricing ($45), combined with consistent quality ensures Le Grand Vin a spot in most collections.

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