BC Riesling for Summer Sips

So far, I’ve covered BC Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir for summer sips. Another varietal you may want to consider is Riesling. Riesling can be made in a bone dry, citrusy style, through to a very luscious sweet ice wine. I think that there will be some style of riesling that would fit your taste.

Checking again on the www.EverythingWine.ca website, I’ve come up with the following wines in the $15-$25 range (you can click on the links and go to the EverythingWine.ca website to see how many bottles are in stock):

8th Generation Dry Riesling 750ml Riesling $24.99 More information about 8th Generation  Dry Riesling 750ml
8th Generation Riesling 750ml Riesling $24.99 More information about 8th Generation  Riesling 750ml
Cedar Creek Riesling 750ml Riesling $21.99 More information about Cedar Creek Riesling 750ml
Dirty Laundry Riesling 750ml Riesling $21.99 More information about Dirty Laundry Riesling 750ml
Kalala Organic Estate Winery Riesling 750 mL Riesling $20.99 More information about Kalala Organic Estate Winery Riesling 750 mL
Lang Vineyards Farm Winery Reserve Riesling 750ml Riesling $19.99 More information about Lang Vineyards Farm Winery Reserve Riesling 750ml
Larch Hills Riesling 750ml Riesling $19.99 More information about Larch Hills  Riesling 750ml
Mission Hill Family Estate Reserve Riesling 750 mL Riesling $18.99 More information about Mission Hill Family Estate Reserve Riesling 750 mL
Pentage Riesling Riesling 750 mL Riesling $24.99 More information about Pentage Riesling Riesling 750 mL
Pillitteri Estate Riesling Icewine 200ml Riesling $24.99 More information about Pillitteri Estate Riesling Icewine 200ml
Quails’ Gate Dry Riesling 750ml Riesling $16.99 More information about Quails' Gate  Dry Riesling 750ml
Red Rooster Riesling 750 mL Riesling $15.99 More information about Red Rooster Riesling 750 mL
Road 13 VIneyards Riesling 750 mL Riesling $23.99 More information about Road 13 VIneyards Riesling 750 mL
See Ya Later Ranch Unleashed Riesling 750 mL Riesling $15.99 More information about See Ya Later Ranch  Unleashed  Riesling 750 mL
See Ya Later Ranch Riesling 750 mL Riesling $16.99 More information about See Ya Later Ranch Riesling 750 mL
St. Hubertus Riesling 750ml Riesling $15.99 More information about St. Hubertus  Riesling 750ml
Wild Goose Stoney Slope Riesling 750ml Riesling $24.99 More information about Wild Goose  Stoney Slope Riesling 750ml
Wild Goose Vineyards God’s Mountain Riesling 750 mL Riesling $24.99 More information about Wild Goose Vineyards  God's Mountain Riesling 750 mL

From a check of past notes, I have tried some of these wines. My notes are as follows:

Dirty Laundry Vineyard Riesling, 2008. Pale lemon colour. Green apple aroma and crisp apple flavour. Tart. Refreshing.

Kalala Organic Estate Winery, 2008. Crisp acidity, pineapple and apple aromas with a hint of petrol. (It won a Gold at the 2010 New World Int’l Wine Competition in California, a Silver in the 2010 Concours mondial de Bruxelles, and a Bronze at the 2010 Northwest Wine Summit.)

Kettle Valley Winery Riesling 2008, has a bit of residual sugar with some apple, flower and citrus aromas, and apple with a bit of petrol flavours.

Cheers!

Okanagan Road Trip

This past week was a road trip with my family in the Okanagan. I did get a chance to visit a few wineries I already knew, and to visit some new wineries. With Kelowna as our home base, we drove as far north as Vernon, and as far south as Osoyoos. In Kelowna, I had to show my family the beautiful views from Mission Hill Family Estate winery’s grounds. It is always so nice to look over the lake and Kelowna from the patio restaurant. On the wine tasting side, I was privileged to taste a 2003-2006 vertical of Mission Hill’s top wine, Oculus. Although I didn’t have any notes written, I can tell you that the 2006 was “feminine” in style with a beautiful flowery bouquet. The 2004 and 2003 Oculus was my favorite by a slim margin over the 2006 Oculus. 2003 was a very hot year in the Okanagan, and had the horrible forest fires we all remember. The heat made the fruit very ripe that year, so you get lots of fruit to balance the tannins. The 2003 still has good tannic structure with fruit and I’d give it a few more years to soften. It is a wonderful wine. You might want to see if they are selling any through the Library releases. I think you have to go to the winery though to buy their Library releases.

On another day trip, we went to Nk’Mip desert cultural centre and the Nk’Mip winery right beside it. The cultural centre was very interesting, and has a nest with an Osprey parents and chicks. The nest is on the top of a tall pole, so bring your binoculars. My favorite wine on this tasting of the Nk’Mip winery was their NK’Mip Qwam Qwmt Pinot Noir 2007. Again no hand written notes, but I remember strawberries with smoke aromas and flavours. Buy some if you can.

On another trip, we spent some time tasting wines at Sumac Ridge Estate winery in Summerland. While there I tried my first ever sparkling Gewurztraminer. It was quite refreshing. I bought a bottle so that I can try it back home with some seafood this summer. I also enjoyed their Chardonnay and their Cabernet Franc from the Black Sage vineyards. Quite elegant.

Another day was spent at Volcanic Hills winery, Beaumont Estate Family winery, and Kalala Organic Estate winery. I found out that the owners of Volcanic Hills winery were co-owners of the Mount Boucherie winery. They just opened their tasting room 3 weeks ago. Most of the grapes were purchased from what I could tell. The Volcanic Hills Pinot Gris was quite nice. Round mouthfeel with juicy ripe fruit flavours. This is their first vintage of their reds and whites. I am looking forward to trying their next vintages and see how they define their style.

If you like wines made from organically grown grapes, there is Beaumont Estate Family winery, which is right next door to Volcanic Hills winery, and there is Kalala Organic Estate winery (who BTW let Volcanic Hills use their equipment for vinifying their first vintage). Beaumont is a family run business with the daughter of the family making the wines. They have a wide range of wines from Pinot Gris, to Pinot Noir, to Gamay Noir, and more. They noted that Pinot Noir seems to like their soil the most, so expect to see them concentrate on this wine. I was really looking forward to Kalala Organic Estate winery, since I saw them last June. They have won several medals this year for their red and white wines. I really liked their Riesling 2008 vintage. It had crisp acidity, pineapple and apple aromas with a hint of petrol. It won a Gold at the 2010 New World Int’l Wine Competition in California, a Silver in the 2010 Concours mondial de Bruxelles, and a Bronze at the 2010 Northwest Wine Summit. Buy this wine before it sells out. On the red side, if you have not tried, give their Zweigelt 2008 a try. This red grape provided sour red cherry aroma and flavour, and a bit of maraschino cherry too. Soft tannins also with Zweigelt. This wine won 4 different Bronze medals this year. Check out Kalala’s website http://www.kalalawines.ca/wine/index.php for all their medals.

That is all for now. I wish I had more time to try more wines while I was in the Okanagan, but being with family is also nice!

Zweigelt – A Red to Try

From my last 2 trips to the BC Okanagan, I sampled several red wines made from the Zweigelt grape. Zweigelt isn’t a household name, but I think it should be more well-known. It is a grape conceived in Austria in the 1920’s by crossing Blaufränkisch and St. Laurent. You may say it is now the signature red grape of Austria. It has winter hardiness which is one reason why I think it is becoming more popular in the Okanagan. The name of the grape btw, comes from the Austrian plant-breeder Prof. Fritz Zweigelt.

The wines I tried were all quite full bodied, but did not have the big firm tannins of other varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. Some have said that Zweigelt is more similar to Gamay in France.

Some BC producers of Zweigelt are:
– Stonehill Estate Winery
– Kalala Organic Estate Winery
– Hainle Vineyards

– Mistral
– Arrowleaf Cellars

and many more.

My recent review of the Stonehill Estate Winery Zweigelt Reserve 2006 ($19.90). “…had a dark cherry cordial type aroma. Very smooth in the mouth, with more dark cherry cordial and plum flavour. This wine, and grape, has a nice richness to it that makes it go well with a stew over the winter”.

Give a bottle of Zweigelt wine a try and see what you think. Enjoy!

A Taste of LaStella Wines

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} catch(err) {}LaStella Winery is one of the new wineries in the Okanagan, opening it’s doors in May 2007. It has a sister winery, which you may have heard of called Le Vieux Pin. I was recently invited to a tasting of LaStella’s wines in Yaletown and was very impressed with their wines. LaStella operates their vineyards with a cross between organic and biodynamic practices. They also contract grapes from like minded, quality growers (which I will talk about shortly). They also take great care in the production of the wine, from hand-destemming grapes, to using whole berries for fermentation and using small open-top oak fermentors.

LaStella has both white, rose, and red wines. The two white wines I tried was the Leggiero Unoaked Chardonnay 2008 and the Vivace Pinot Grigio 2008. The Leggiero and Vivace grapes come from the Kalala vineyard. For those that have read my past posts, the Kalala Organic Winery in West Kelowna has produced some wonderful organic wines at a great price point. They also told me that they sell some of their grapes to other wineries. So I was VERY happy to see that LaStella is one of those wineries.

The Leggario had nice mango and pineapple aromas. It was medium body, with light acidity, lime and mineral flavours. The Vivace is a gorgeous, refreshing pinot grigio. It has a crisp citrus and pineapple nose. Good acidity, with pineapple, lime, and mineral flavours. Next I moved on to the Lastellina Rose 2008. This is a merlot based rose. It has a nice salmon colour and a ripe strawberry nose. It is medium bodied, with some spice (cinnamon), and strawberry flavour.

There were 3 reds to enjoy. I found out that the reds are all un-fined and un-filtered, which gives you the closest to a barrel sample experience as possible. The red first was the Allegretto Merlot 2006. It was medium garnet in colour. Ripe plums and light oak on the nose. Medium body and tannins, with black cherry flavours. Their premier wine that evening was the Maestoso Merlot 2006. This wine was deep garnet in colour. Ripe black fruit, cigar box and mocha nose. Ripe black fruit, cherries and mocha flavour, with a cherry finish. The tannins were very fine. This is an exceptional wine. Last but not least was the Fortisimo 2007. This wine will soon be bottled, so we were treated with a sneak taste of this wine. The Fortisimo is a Bordeaux blend, with approximately 60% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 10% Cabernet Franc. This wine had a very complex nose and aroma. I unfortunately did not take detailed notes on this wine, but it had many flavour dimensions and a long finish.

What’s upcoming for LaStella? I heard that they have Sangiovese grapes planted and will be harvesting them to blend with other red varietals to offer their first “Super Tuscan“. I joked that maybe it should be a “Super Okanagan“. Either way, I look forward to trying this wine. Enjoy!

Small wineries in Kelowna

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} catch(err) {}Everyone visits the big wineries in Kelowna, like Mission Hill and Quail’s Gate, but there are other small wineries worth a visit. This past week I had the pleasure of visiting:
Rollingdale Winery
Kalala Organic Estate Winery
Camelot Vineyards Estate Winery

Rollingdale Winery is located in Westbank very near to the other big wineries in the area. Rollingdale is certified organic, which I think is getting to be more common in the Okanagan. There was a wide range of wines to taste, from whites to reds to dessert wines. This winery started in 2004, with most of the vineyard area in Okanagan Falls and a few acres around the winery in Westbank. An interesting white was their 2007 Chardonnay / Semillon. This is a wild ferment. Vanilla on the nose. Very tart with green apple flavours. Would be good chilled with shellfish. Their red selection was quite large, with the winery making a 2007 “La Droite” and a 2006/07 “La Gauche” wine following the blends that are used in the Right and Left banks in Bordeaux. The “La Droite” was primary Merlot, with smaller amounts of Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec. This wine was deep purple in the glass. Sweet cherry / plum nose. Round mouth feel, cherry flavour and firm but not overpowering tannins. For those with a sweet tooth a nice wine was the 2007 Pinot Noir Icewine. Pear coloured. Apple, pear, and burnt matches aroma and flavours. Good acidity to balance the sweetness.

Another certified organic winery I visited on this trip was Kalala Organic Estate Winery, also located in Westbank. I was impressed with all the wines they let me try. As it is now officially summer, I welcomed the Pinot Noir Rose 2007. This wine is light salmon / orangy in colour. Strawberry and cranberry nose. Strawberry flavour with good acidity. A great choice for a patio sipper. An unusual wine that I tried (and bought a few bottles) was their Kalala Cuvee Noir 2007. What made it unusual? The 3 varietals that they used to make this wine: Zweigelt, Blaufrankisch, and Michurinetz. I’ve tried two of the 3 varietals before, but not all 3, and not all 3 blended together! This wine was a deep, bright purple colour. Red fruit, plummy nose. Sweet candy, red fruit, ripe cherry flavours with low tannins. This wine should hold up to full bodied grilled meats. The prices for Kalala’s wines are also excellent. The Cuvee is $14.95 and the Rose is $17.95. Only their Zweigelt icewine broke the $20 mark with a price of $75. They want to keep the prices reasonable to show people that organic wines need not be expensive and can be quite tasty. The Zweigelt icewine 2006 if you are curious, had honey, orange, butterscotch aromas and flavours.

The last winery I visited was Camelot Vineyards Estate Winery. I do not know if this is an organic winery, but I do know that it just opened to the public 2 weeks ago. They produce both red and white wines, but at the moment, only their white wines are bottled and ready for tasting. The reds I saw were still in barrels (both French and American oak) waiting for bottling next year I believe. The 2 whites I tried were a Pinot Gris and a Gewurztraminer. I enjoyed the Gewurztraimer. It was light bodied, with lychee and spice aromas and flavours. I have tasted many very nice Gewurztraimers from the Okanagan the last few years. If you have not had a chance to try a BC Gewurztraimer, you should give it a try.