Sunday 25 September 2011

Similkameen Wineries Association Tasting & Dinner

Last Wednesday the Similkameen Wineries Association hosted a fantastic dinner at Edible Canada on Granville Island. The dinner was preceded by an afternoon tasting of wines from all eight member wineries: Cerelia, Clos du Soleil, EauVivre, Forbidden Fruit, Orofino, Robin Ridge, Rustic Roots, and Seven Stones. Wineries were pouring their current vintages and some exciting new releases for Fall, including myriad fruit and dessert wines from Forbidden Fruit and Rustic Roots. One noticeable absentee from the event was Herder Vineyards, next door neighbours to Clos du Soleil. Having tasted their excellent wines I can say they were sorely missed: hopefully the Herders will fortify the Association with their membership soon.

Similkameen Wineries

In the middle of the room John & Virginia Weber from Orofino Vineyards were pouring a couple of brand new reds. The 2009 Passion Pit Cabernet Sauvignon is a dark and ripe wine that clocks in at 14.9% alcohol. It is noticeably unfiltered – as are all of John’s reds – but that’s never a problem if the wine is made with care. The 2009 Syrah is an even darker colour, and just as rich, with a very promising future. The slightly reduced 14.5% alcohol is actually more noticeable in the Syrah due to its current tightness, but I’m really looking forward to trying it again mid-decade – Orofino recommends aging until 2013 at least. Both new wines sell for $29, which is a very respectable price point for small lot wines this well crafted. For even more information about Orofino check out their new blog, The Orofino Press; I’ve even heard a rumour that a Twitter account may be in the works!

At the Clos du Soleil table owner Spencer Massie was pouring his focused portfolio of Bordeaux-style whites and reds, while also showing off his new dessert wine “Saturn”, a Botrytis-affected late harvest Sauvignon Blanc. With low acid and lots of fresh fruit flavours it is a delicious treat, but the 50 cases made will probably disappear quite fast! Also newly released by Clos du Soleil is the 2009 Signature Red, their top tier Bordeaux blend – and this vintage includes all five Bordeaux varieties. Only 275 cases have been produced, but if you miss out you can always get one of the available magnums, double magnums, or 6L Imperial (i.e. “Methuselah”) bottles!

Standing behind an immense array of bottles in the corner of the room was Steve Venables, owner of Forbidden Fruit winery in the very south end of the Similkameen Valley. Steve and his wife Kim grow over 60 varieties of fruit on the banks of the Similkameen River, and have been doing so organically since 1977, several years before organic certification even existed! All that fruit yields more than a dozen table and dessert wines, including fortified and sparkling varieties, from both grapes and tree fruit. Steve was pouring most of those wines, including the dreamingly delicious Pomme Desirée Iced Apple Dessert Wine – Fruit Wine of the Year at the 2010 Canadian Wine Awards. I also tasted the rich flavours of plums and apricots in two of Steve’s “nectar wines” Plumiscious Plum Mistelle and Caught Apricot Mistelle: both are beautifully balanced expressions of pure fruit grown with care and years of experience.

Dinner Menu

Joined by my wife, we later sat down to a five-course dinner paired with ten wines that included all eight Association wineries. Canapés were served with two crisp sparkling fruit wines: Rustic Roots’ “Fameuse Frizzanté” is made from Snow Apples and Santa Rosa Plums while Forbidden Fruit’s “Flirt” is all peaches made into a refreshing, dry Traditional Method Brut. The “Similkameen Salad” came next, featuring an array of freshly-picked produce (some that very morning) including star crimson pears, toasted hazelnuts, sundried cranberries, cabbage, sorel, radicchio, endive, and celery dressing. Orofino’s Riesling was served alongside Clos du Soleil’s Capella, which I found to a particularly good pairing. The heavy Sauvignon Blanc component in the Capella was not to my wife’s liking, but I enjoyed the balanced structure and soft, almost floral aromatics.

Beet Greens & Autumn Squash

While most diners received a seafood course next featuring Albacore Tuna we were pleased that Edible Canada flexibly provided us with an expanded version of the tuna side dish of beet greens and autumn squash. Heirloom cherry tomatoes helped to accentuate the flavourful greens, while we enjoyed Eau Vivre Pinot Noir and Cerelia’s red blend “Misceo”. The Pinot Noir is a blend of Similkameen and Okanagan grapes, with tart strawberry flavours, while Misceo is a smooth, low acid Merlot-driven Meritage blend.

Gnocchi & Vegetable Medley

Our fourth course diverged substantially from the Bison Short Ribs and beets everyone else received to feature an original gnocchi and vegetable medley that we both adored. Peas, edamame, and green beans supported mushrooms, greens, and even some edible flower petals as we devoured the mouth-watering fresh gnocchi. The wine pairings for everyone included Robin Ridge Gamay and Seven Stones’ new 2008 Meritage. Robin Ridge retained the services of Master of Wine Rhys Pender for some detailed and very accurate tasting notes: I could really notice the ripe cherry and toasted almond aromas in the Gamay Noir. George Hanson’s newly released Meritage follows two highly award-winning vintages and has already received prominent praise for its juicy berry characteristics and long finish.

Galette & Creme Fraiche Ice Cream

Both Forbidden Fruit and Rustic Roots received repeat consideration with the dessert course: vanilla, blueberry basil, and peach galette was served with crème fraîche ice cream. The lightly flavoured crispy galette was an ideal match for the rich but delicate wines, while the ice cream was almost dangerously delicious! Forbidden Fruit’s “Crushed Innocence” is a white peach dessert wine that is both pure and elegant, while Rustic Roots’ Apricot is made from three different varieties of organic apricots – equally refreshing and well suited to the final course of the meal. Both wines summarized nicely the excellent pairings, delicious food, and talented winemakers we celebrated that evening. Cheers to the Similkameen!

Sunday 18 September 2011

September Wine Club: Grape Crossing

Last weekend’s wine club dinner included some reliable favourites, plus a couple of relatively unfamiliar wines with which none of us had much experience. Once again our great local food and drink provided for another delightfully entertaining and informative tasting experience.

Our food and wine pairings have become increasingly mysterious as each couple seeks to hint at their choices yet ensure a pleasant surprise for the rest of us. This strategy of secrecy wasn’t in the original club “charter” but it has certainly upped the ante of culinary adventure. All we knew about the appetizer in advance was that a test-run had been desired to “test the structural integrity” – an intriguing statement that provoked a great deal of curiosity in the weeks beforehand. While the food was prepared with great care in the kitchen, a pair of familiar smile-inducing bottles were pulled out: Road 13 Sparkling Chenin Blanc – two vintages! We were treated to last year’s 2007 and the most recent 2008 sparkler thanks to our generous appetizer chefs. Beyond those delicious and award-winning wines we were even more awed when a beautiful vegetarian terrine was revealed. A veritable layered vegetable garden supported by fig goat’s cheese stood before us: zucchini, carrots, English peas, collard greens, eggplant, asparagus, tomatoes, and yellow zucchini showed off the rainbow of the late-summer harvest. Of course this variety of flavours and textures had led the appetizer team to muse about a proper wine pairing, but it was soon deemed that “sparkling goes with everything,” and so Road 13’s flavourful offering fit the bill perfectly.


Having two vintages of sparkling wine to compare was a unique and valuable opportunity, and quite clearly demonstrated the effects of both vintage variation and simple aging. The 2007 Sparkling Chenin was the more yeasty of the two wines, with bready, apple-centered aromas and smooth, delicate bubbles. The more recent 2008 showed much less yeast and significantly greater citrus and tropical fruit flavours. With an additional year of aging the deeper baked apple characteristics may become more dominant, but we enjoyed the freshness all the same. It wouldn’t be fair to pick one wine over the other as each had unique aspects that were preferred by some: my favourite was the yeasty 2007 but there was much love for the fresh 2008. Both wines possessed sufficient acidity and complexity to suit the terrine, and both bottles and the first course disappeared in short order.

The entree course was even more of a mystery as no hints had been delivered in advance, so we mused about sparkling Chenin and tried to steal glances into the kitchen while we waited. Our patience was soon rewarded with the fresh smells and beautiful bright colours of heirloom tomato soup topped with fresh basil, served alongside gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches and a crisp side salad. Our host explained the challenge he had posed to staff at Village VQA Wines in Kitsilano when seeking pairing advice: the wine needed to mesh with the gruyere and gouda in the sandwiches whilst standing up to the acidity of the soup. Fortunately the perfect match was suggested in the form of Arrowleaf Zweigelt (2008) from the north Okanagan. Most of us were fairly unfamiliar with Zweigelt, which the winery mentions is a cross between Blaufrankisch and St. Laurent grapes, and named after its Austrian creator. Smooth tannins and sufficient acidity made for an excellent food pairing, as the wine possesses a lot of fruit up front but is not too sweet on the palate. There was a very good balance of fruity elements and spicy characteristics, and in our case everyone was quite pleased to enjoy something new with the delicious meal.


Dessert was my opportunity to open a bottle I’ve been holding for a while in the hopes of the right pairing. After Black Sage Bench winery Stoneboat won a second Lt. Governor’s Award for their 2007 Pinotage I acquired a bottle without any particular plans for it, but was later inspired by the tasting notes that describe aromas of spiced plums and chocolate. I soon found a recipe for Plum, hazelnut, & chocolate cake but needed the right opportunity: with the dessert course responsibilities rotating amongst us I had to wait for plums to be in season at the same time! Finally I got lucky this month as beautiful organic plums from BC’s Similkameen valley were prevalent in stores.

Loaded with fresh plums and brushed with red-currant jelly, the cake was a runaway success, but how can you go wrong with that much butter, sugar, and eggs, plus hazelnuts and chocolate. The wine was more of a question mark unfortunately. Pinotage is a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsault, and in fact, Zweigelt and Pinotage were both first bred in the early 1920’s. Similar to the Zweigelt, we had so little experience with Pinotage there was some uncertainly about spoilage when we opened the bottle. It remains likely that the initial wet cardboard notes reflected a bit of cork taint, but after time in the glass it opened up and became fruitier. Having recently tasted Stoneboat’s 2009 Pinotage – with lots of red fruit and spice – I can’t say that the 2007 measured up to its potential, but that certainly didn’t stop us from finishing the bottle without any hard feelings towards the winery.


Having acquired plenty of plums, chocolate, and hazelnuts for the cake, I decided a bottle of Sumac Ridge Pipe would make for an excellent final course. Pipe is a dependable Port-style fortified Meritage that suits a variety of dessert courses; in this case some Blue Benedictin and Stilton rounded out the after-dinner selection as the evening wound down. With two new wines under our belts and another evening of enjoyment the adventure in BC wine continues!

Thursday 15 September 2011

Osoyoos Reflection-Part III

After a relaxing and romantic Sunday, our third day in Osoyoos was earmarked for a tour of the Black Sage Bench and further realization of an ambitious shopping list. We started out by finally visiting Moon Curser, having been either too late or too early for the tasting room the previous two days. The winery’s easily accessible location on the main road (Crowsnest Highway) in east Osoyoos offers admirable views of the rest of town and the lake; being just south of Nk’Mip, Moon Curser may hold the title of southernmost winery in the Okanagan! That hot southern location lets Moon Curser – formerly known as Twisted Tree – successfully grow tough-to-ripen varieties like Tempranillo and Tannat. In fact, John Schreiner makes it a point to mention that Moon Curser is likely the only winery in Canada growing Tannat! We were lucky enough to try the Twisted Tree 2008 Tannat alongside the newer Moon Curser 2009 Dead of Night, a Syrah-Tannat blend: the varietal Tannat was deep and dark, with a caramel mocha nose, while the addition of Syrah in 2009 added red fruit characteristics that reminded us of a balsamic fruit reduction. Having nearly the entire current portfolio in my cellar already we left with a bottle of the very small lot (60 cases) 2010 Chardonnay, produced from a Muscat clone that provides rich tree fruit flavours.


Heading north along the Black Sage Bench on the eastern side of the valley one of the first wineries is Burrowing Owl, set amidst 140 acres of vineyards that seem to go on forever. The Burrowing Owl complex also includes a restaurant and 10-suite guest house with pool, but it was their hard to come by wine I was there to procure. Specifically I was hoping to find a bottle of Athene, a new addition to the Burrowing Owl portfolio that blends their well regarded Cabernet Sauvignon with their equally popular Syrah. The wine came out last year but hasn’t been seen in any stores or even on the Burrowing Owl website. What it has seen are heaps of great reviews since, including praise from critics such as Anthony Gismondi, John Schreiner, and Daenna Van Mulligen. Unfortunately my hopes were dashed when the tasting room staff informed me it was completely sold out, with the last bottles having been earmarked for staff purchase (fair enough). Distracted, and a little overwhelmed by the crowds in the popular tasting room I neglected to even sample any of the other current releases, and eventually regretted not buying a bottle of the 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon while I had the chance: John Schreiner would only days later go on to say it is a wine that “would blow away a lot of California Cabernets.”


I was hoping our next stop would buoy my spirits and yield some cellar dividends, and I was not disappointed! Just up the road from Burrowing Owl is Church & State’s new Coyote Bowl winery, which I was eager to visit for the first time. The gorgeous and sleek tasting hall was quite busy, as patrons are seated on a first-come, first-served basis, so we took the opportunity to relax on the outdoor patio and enjoy stunning views of the Golden Mile Bench across the valley. With assurances that we would be seated in due time we enjoyed the picnic lunch we’d picked up at JoJo’s Cafe in Osoyoos that morning. Upon finishing lunch we were seated indoors and offered a selection of wines from Church & State’s extensive portfolio. With a cushion of lunch and plenty of time ahead of us we tried a number of wines, including Trebella – a delicious floral blend of Rhone grapes with a slightly oily mouthfeel and flavours of citrus and honeydew. The unique Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé was also poured for us, in both chilled and room temperature versions: the ruby grapefruit and cherry notes in the chilled wine yielded to deeper and richer expressions of Cabernet when the wine had warmed – an entertaining comparison. The new 2009 Chardonnay was also poured alongside the older 2008 vintage, which shows richer creamy popcorn flavours that lingered, whilst the fresh 2009 is more fruit-forward.

What really caught our attention at Church & State were two new reds from 2009 – the Hollenbach Vineyard Pinot Noir, and the Coyote Bowl Syrah. The Pinot Noir possesses a very expressive nose of savoury strawberries coming from a pale, slightly rusty wine which has some minerals on the palate. The new Syrah is a young, fresh wine with an inky colour: slight green, floral aromas follow-through to a dark bloodiness on the nose and flavours of plum and pepper – delicious! We left with various bottles in hand, as well as high praise for the professionalism of the tasting room staff: they were never intrusive or overly suggestive, allowing us time to taste the wines and come to our own conclusions – one of them being that Church & State really sets the bar for most of the other tasting rooms in the area.


One of our final stops of the day allowed us to visit Stoneboat Vineyards, and sample their small but focused portfolio of whites and lighter reds (centered on various types of Pinots), including the relatively rare Pinotage grape. John Schreiner recently reviewed some of Stoneboat’s new releases, and pointed out that they are one of only a handful of Okanagan wineries growing this interesting grape. After admiring the beautiful gardens and relaxing surroundings we were pleased to meet owner Julie Martiniuk in the tasting room. With the winery having won what seems like a Lt. Governor’s award every year since opening, we looked forward to wines reflecting the Martiniuk’s long history of grape-growing and were not disappointed: starting out with the well balanced and very refreshing 2010 Pinot Gris, we followed it with a sweeter but equally tasty sample of 2010 Chorus, Stoneboat’s versatile six-grape white blend. A Rosé blend of Pinot Noir and Cabernet Franc kept up the refreshing theme as we moved on to the spiced cherry notes of the 2009 Pinot Noir – a flavour profile my wife likened to “Cola Bottles” (the candy). The 2009 Pinotage is a bright burgundy colour with prevalent aromas of red fruit and a spicy finish that for us emphasized flavours of chai tea. A couple of special treats finished the tasting, including the mouth-watering Very Late Harvest Pinot Blanc (2008), a special one-time release with spiced fruit sweetness and flavours of caramel apples that made a purchase an easy decision. Lastly, Stoneboat also produces an ice-wine called “Verglas” which is quite an intense experience, and well-priced at $33 for 200mL in a classy bottle.

The Black Sage bench is home to several other wineries, big and small and new and old, including Desert Hills, Black Hills, Silver Sage, Oliver Twist, Le Vieux Pin, and Quinta Ferreira. It’s quite easy to spend an entire day enjoying the beautiful scenery and exploring from Osoyoos up or Oliver down. The hardest part is deciding how many bottles to bring home with you!


Cellar Highlights – Award-winning wines in short supply:

Church & State Pinot Noir (2009): Sadly the last Pinot Noir from this vineyard after disagreements ended the relationship that yielded a multiple-gold-medal 2007 wine. If Church & State decides on an estate-grown Pinot Noir in the future it will likely be substantially different in flavour profile, but no doubt equally well-made.

Church & State Syrah (2009): Follow-up to the 2007 wine that won Best Red at the 2009 BC Wine Awards (Okanagan Fall Wine Festival). Despite financial and space restrictions we had to get more than one bottle given the potential of this rich, dark wine.

Stoneboat Pinot Noir (2009): A third Lt. Governor’s Award for this small boutique winery shows they know their business! A relatively large production run of 1054 cases won’t necessarily last for long given the award, the very reasonable $25 price point, and it being described as “a charming wine…with a palate far richer than the colour suggests.”

Oliver Twist Syrah (2008): I had actually never heard of this young winery before the 2010 Canadian Wine Awards were published late last year. But when their 2008 Syrah won a Gold medal (one of six awarded in the category) alongside big competition like Jackson-Triggs and Mission Hill I immediately looked them up. It’s a smooth and fruity Syrah, with unique aromas of mango, plus soft blackberry flavours. Packaged under screw-cap it should retain the fruit for a while.

Quinta Ferreira Syrah (2008): Another recent Lt. Governor’s Award-winner, 625 cases were produced and local stocks seem to be running low since the award – I have only seen it in Kensington Square Wines. It has been very positively reviewed and should age well for the next couple of years at least.

Wednesday 7 September 2011

Osoyoos Reflections-Part II

Our second day in Osoyoos was planned well in advance, it being our official wedding anniversary. Knowing a fast-paced wine tour would not provide the appropriate atmosphere, I had arranged only two winery visits for the afternoon leaving us with a relaxing morning to explore our resort and the town itself. Shortly after noon we headed up to the Golden Mile to our first appointment, with enough time available for a short stop at Italian-inspired winery LaStella. This small winery produces several top-notch wines, with a focus on Merlot, and prides themselves on having some of the lowest yields in the valley. Having tasted a couple vintages of their pinnacle “Maestoso Merlot” I can see why it receives accolades such as this: “It’s a massive wine that coats the glass like a tailored jacket…

LaStella’s tasting room just north of Osoyoos is staffed by enthusiastic and fun-loving members of the team with an eye towards detail. The varietal-specific tasting glasses were of the highest quality, and changed regularly to ensure purity of samples: it conveyed a great deal of respect for the customer that impressed me immediately. To my surprise even the expensive Maestoso was sampled, and it continued to impress, along with the Allegretto Merlot I had come to purchase. One of the benefits of visiting the winery in person was apparent as a limited number of back-vintage bottles of 2006 Allegretto were available for sale alongside the current 2007 vintage. Allegretto in hand and dreams of Maestoso in mind we continued on our way to Road 13 Vineyards in the hills above the valley floor, where I hoped to see the new Executive Lounge and try some of the old favourites and new blends that are always racking up more awards.


Little did we know that as we pulled up to the quaint castle in the hills that is Road 13 that we were about to be treated to some of the best hospitality in the Okanagan! A touching individualized welcome sign at the front door was only the first hint of the excitement that General Manager Donna Faigaux had in store for us. We were quickly whisked off to the newly-opened lounge adjoining the public tasting room where we marvelled at stunning views across the valley through floor to ceiling windows as we sipped delicious Sparkling Chenin Blanc. As the very friendly staff arranged a full Riedel tasting flight on our private table Donna returned with beautiful trays of bread and cheese, marinated vegetables, and curried preserves. With nearly the entire spacious lounge to ourselves and a gamut of Road 13’s top Jackpot Wines arrayed in front of us my wife gushed that she felt like a celebrity – just what I was hoping for on this special day!


While we nibbled on our rather extensive “light lunch” owner Pam Luckhurst stopped by to welcome us. Despite the busy weekend there was no sense of haste in the lounge; Pam appeared relaxed and encouraged us to take our time enjoying the many wines she was happy to share with us – I could not have imagined a better way to spend the afternoon! Among the wines were the delicate 2009 Jackpot Riesling – “supremely well balanced” with only a hint of petrol on a nose that favours stone fruit – and the 2008 Jackpot Chardonnay, which was a Gold medal winner at the 2010 Canadian Wine Awards. Despite being fully oaked and showing pleasing aromas of smoke and baked bread, the Chardonnay still retains fresh fruit and vanilla notes. The 2008 Jackpot Pinot Noir was a lot of fun to taste, as it interacted so extensively with our food that each bite and sip was a unique experience. The cherry and leather flavours seemed to invigorate the curried onion confit when the wine followed, but when aged Gruyere preceded the wine the cheese maximized the bright fruit characteristics of the Pinot Noir. Next up it came time to sample the 2007 Jackpot Syrah, and we were blown away by the aromas of fresh ground sausage and spice! The taste of the Syrah is not nearly as meaty as the smell, but sausage notes are still present in this eye-opening wine. Blue cheese and hot peppers were excellent pairings, and I’m sure carnivores would find the appropriate match as well; the tasting notes suggest lean gamey protein but I can’t help but wonder how a quality chorizo would fare as well.

We left the lounge both supremely relaxed and invigorated and were sure to profusely thank everyone we met on the way out. Fortunately both Donna and Pam were available to see us off and we were able to thank them again for the amazing hospitality. We left with a few more bottles to bring home, including the hard-to-come-by 2008 Sparkling Chenin Blanc and (now sold-out) 2010 Old Vines Chenin Blanc, along with some of the new 2009 Rockpile red blend (primarily Merlot and Syrah) – already winner of a Gold medal at the 2011 All Canadian Wine Championships.


Our next appointment was at Tinhorn Creek, to include dinner at the new Miradoro Restaurant. After a bevy of photographs of Tinhorn’s beautiful vineyards and winery we were treated to a sit-down tasting of the varietal series wines, plus a sample of the top-tier white blend – Oldfield Series 2Bench White (2010). If I could select a “house white” to serve on a regular basis I think it might be the 2Bench White; it is a complex and deliciously layered blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Viognier, and Muscat. We thoroughly enjoyed the 2009 vintage earlier in the month, and the 2010 is very similar (it being exactly the same blend), loaded with mouth-watering flavours of fresh fruits and vanilla & cream. Among the varietal wines the new Cabernet Franc (2009) was a highlight: it is very ripe and warm, and the tannins could handle aging quite well, plus the 14.8% alcohol will keep it preserved for some time! Another new release was the 2008 Pinot Noir: it was given an additional year of bottle aging over previous vintages, but still shows a fair amount of tannin in addition to earth and dark cherry flavours.

We followed our tasting with a tour of the winery itself, and marvelled at the seemingly enormous two-storey stainless steel tanks that Sandra Oldfield would later dismiss as “not that big”! One particularly memorable experience was stepping into the barrel room and inhaling the most soothing air I have ever remembered smelling – the cool and clean aromas of oak and red wine were so alluring it was challenging to continue on our way to Miradoro! We managed to drag ourselves away from the barrels for what turned out to be a stunning view of the entire valley from the wraparound glass balcony in the restaurant, where we relished in the vegetarian-friendly menu and extensive wine list. I enjoyed a delicious heirloom tomato salad paired with Tinhorn Pinot Gris while my wife raved about her equally beautiful beet salad. She elected for the tomato and squash pizza while I was happy to see “pizza funghi” on the menu, paired with Tinhorn Cabernet Franc of course. Our desserts was equally tasty and tasteful – chocolate cake for her and tiramisu for me. Overall the food was prepared with great care and high-quality ingredients, and the service was that almost invisible type of subdued excellence you don’t even notice until your perfect meal is over; it was the ideal relaxing culmination to our day.

Cellar Highlights – Sunday’s lucky finds and cherished gems:

LaStella Allegretto (2006 & 2007): Knowing I wanted a bottle of this unique Merlot (grown on its own rootstock – quite a rarity) I was pleasantly surprised to find the previous vintage for sale in the shop as well. The 2007 vintage is quite positively reviewed, and John Schreiner feels this “dark and brooding” wine could cellar for quite a while, as opposed to the more approachable 2008 (coming out soon).

Road 13 Jackpot Pinot Noir (2008): One of the wines we enjoyed in the Executive Lounge this small lot (393 cases) Pinot Noir was a hit with various foods. The previous vintage was named Best of Category at the 2010 Okanagan Spring Wine Festival and this newer wine has already received Bronze at the All Canadian Wine Championships earlier this year.

Road 13 Jackpot Syrah (2008): Even fewer cases of Jackpot Syrah were produced than Pinot Noir, and those 294 will probably go fast. The intriguing flavour profile found in the 2007 vintage was enough to prompt a purchase to see how the 2008 turns out. Given the maintenance of vineyard practices and winemaking it should continue to be an entertaining wine to share – we know a few carnivores who would have no trouble coming up with an epic food pairing!

Cassini Malbec (2009): Few Okanagan wineries produce varietal Malbec on a consistent basis – it can be challenging to ripen and make best use of – so I tend to snap it up when I see it. The 2008 from this young winery won Silver at both the Canadian Wine Awards and the All Canadian Wine Championships, and the 2009 is the first of Cassini’s bigger reds coming out this year (with Syrah, Merlot, and the Maximus blend to follow I hope). It won’t last long at the winery – only 85 cases were made – so I’m glad I got mine when I had the chance!

Tinhorn Creek Cabernet Franc (2009): Another delicious wine in a long series of successful, approachable, and economical Cab Francs from Sandra Oldfield and her team. We got two bottles to bring home for friends, safe in the knowledge that more was on its way in the September Crush Club shipment. It is usually quite widely available in stores (thanks to 5,000+ cases made) and is a very reliable food pairing for any season (burgers and pizza in summer, and stews and hearty pasta in the winter, etc.).