stats Making the Business of Life Easier

   Finance globeinvestor   Careers globecareers.workopolis Subscribe to The Globe
The Globe and Mail /
Home | Business | National | Int'l | Sports | Columnists | The Arts | Tech | Travel | TV | Wheels


  This site         Tips

  The Web Google


  Where to Find It

Breaking News
  Home Page

  Report on Business



Subscribe to The Globe

Shop at our Globe Store

Print Edition
  Front Page

  Report on Business




  Arts & Entertainment



   Headline Index

 Other Sections

  Births & Deaths






  Facts & Arguments




  Real Estate









  Food & Dining




  Online Personals

  TV Listings/News

 Specials & Series
  All Reports...


   Where to Find It
 A quick guide to what's available on the site



  Customer Service

  Help & Contact Us



 Web Site

  E-Mail Newsletters

  Free Headlines

  Globe Store New

  Help & Contact Us

  Make Us Home

  Mobile New

  Press Room

  Privacy Policy

  Terms & Conditions


Sunny days for B.C. wines
These wines of the week showcase the province's climatic advantages

Email this article Print this article
Saturday, June 8, 2019 – Page P14

Anthony von Mandl, proprietor of British Columbia's ambitious CheckMate Artisanal Winery in British Columbia, says that climate change has helped transform the Okanagan Valley into the ideal place for chardonnay, the white variety that traditionally has risen to its greatest heights in Burgundy.

(Read more from him in Q&A on P15.) Like Napa in California, the Okanagan is warm and dry in summer, so grapes achieve full ripeness. On the other hand, Canada's cold winters paradoxically play to our advantage, killing off bugs and helping to ensure pristine fruit. Moreover, cool nights, particularly in spring and fall, yield grapes with better acidity, so the wines become more vivid and complex.

My bottles of the week today all hail from B.C. and I believe essentially reflect what von Mandl described so sagely. There is just one chardonnay in my mix (and it's a remarkable bargain at $20.90), but I would argue there are other grapes increasingly benefitting from the province's unique climate. For example, pinot noir, Burgundy's famous red counterpart to chardonnay, of which there are four excellent examples below. And gewurztraminer, a spicy white whose only drawback, at least in my opinion, is that it can sometimes lack sufficient acidity. In the Okanagan, such acidity is rarely elusive.

BOTTLES TO TRY PAINTED ROCK RED ICON 2016, BRITISH COLUMBIA SCORE: 95 PRICE: $54.99 It can't be easy living up to the name Red Icon. Yet, Painted Rock's flagship wine has done a compelling job since Day 1. This example from 2016, a good vintage, achieved ideal ripeness, capturing decadent cassis- and plumlike fruit and impressive mid-palate density. The texture is beautifully polished and the oak (just 30-per-cent new) well handled, contributing spice, cedar and charred notes while the wine glides to a firm finish. A merlotled Bordeaux blend, it should develop beautifully for up to 20 years, with a likely sweet spot of around 2030. Available direct through

MEYER FAMILY PINOT NOIR OLD BLOCK 2017, BRITISH COLUMBIA SCORE: 93 PRICE: $43.58 The "Old Block" was planted in 1994 (old for vines and dogs if not for people). It's one of the boutique estate's original plantings on the McLean Creek Vineyard, now clearly hitting its stride with concentrated, flavourful fruit. A generous, delectable pinot, this is jammy yet crisp and smoky, with an attractively grainy texture and intriguing nuances of baking spices and underbrush. Available only with a Meyer wine-club membership; two-bottle limit ( Incidentally, Meyer's entrylevel red simply called Okanagan Valley Pinot Noir 2017 is very good, too, and well priced at $22.71 (score 90), also available only through the wine club.

MOON CURSER DEAD OF NIGHT 2016, BRITISH COLUMBIA SCORE: 93 PRICE: $39.99 An uncommon, if not unique, blend of equal parts tannat and syrah. This is Moon Curser's flagship red, a luscious, velvety cuvée with ripe fruit, cedar, dark chocolate and spice notes supported by tannat's substantial, astringent tannins. The acidity is well-balanced and there's a savoury oak quality reminiscent of gran reserva Rioja. Marvellous for grilled lamb. Available direct through

TANTALUS PINOT NOIR RESERVE 2016, BRITISH COLUMBIA SCORE: 93 PRICE: $60.87 This is substantial pinot, on the heavier side of medium-bodied, with dense, succulent, red and blue fruit, caramel, milk chocolate and satisfying spice carried to a long, warm, structured finish.

So much going on. Instead of blowing a comparable sum on an overpriced California pinot noir (assuming you've got the dough), check this out. You'll be glad you did. Try it with lamb chops or duck breast. Available direct through

BLUE MOUNTAIN CHARDONNAY 2017, BRITISH COLUMBIA SCORE: 92 PRICE: $20.90 I felt compelled to triple-check the price because, frankly, it seemed low, especially in heavily taxed B.C. Blue Mountain has made an admirable habit of underpricing its wines - at least relative to the French competition.

Here's a perfect example, a medium-bodied and smartly oaked white that's fleshy in the middle and crisp and bright around the edges. Soft tropical fruit combines with zesty citrus, buttered popcorn and roasted nuts. Very Burgundian, yet entirely Okanagan. Available direct through

BLASTED CHURCH NECTAR OF THE GODS 2016, BRITISH COLUMBIA SCORE: 91 PRICE: $55 The name was probably inevitable. Blasted Church likes to riff on religious themes, as in Holy Moly Petit Verdot, Small Blessings Semillon and (cover your ears, kiddies!) OMFG Sparkling Wine (google the initialization if you're clueless). "Nectar of the Gods" certainly has the ring of quality about it, which helps to explain the $55 price tag. This is made from 49-per-cent petit verdot, 40-per-cent cabernet sauvignon and 11-per-cent "cot noir," a.k.a. malbec. Basically, it's a lopsided Bordeaux blend in which neither cabernet nor merlot are the lead actors. The wine is concentrated, to be sure, with suggestions of dark fruit and firm tannins, delivering a wallop of spice carried on a chalky texture.

Pair it with steak. Available direct through

QUAILS' GATE STEWART FAMILY RESERVE PINOT NOIR 2017, BRITISH COLUMBIA SCORE: 91 PRICE: $51.99 Not cheap. But fine, cool-climate pinot noir is not easy to produce. This one's especially earthy and woodsy, with forest berries, underbrush and spices coming together on a dusty frame, supported by solid tannic structure. Ideal for seared duck breast. Available direct through ($44.19 for wine-club members).

BLACK HILLS PINOT NOIR 2017, BRITISH COLUMBIA SCORE: 90 PRICE: $39.90 Gutsy, with good depth and a jammy fruit quality. Cherry, vanilla, woodsy spice and earth.

Good energy and juicy acidity.

This is the first release for this wine from Black Hills, which continues to expand its portfolio, building on the legacy of its flagship Bordeaux blend, Nota Bene. Available to wine-club members in limited quantity through

FORT BERENS PINOT GRIS 2018, BRITISH COLUMBIA SCORE: 90 PRICE: $17.99 Medium-full, fleshy and engagingly aromatic in a way that pinot gris should be but often isn't. Pear, apple and spices, with orange peel and a vaguely stony quality playing in the background. Available direct through

STAG'S HOLLOW DOLCETTO 2017, BRITISH COLUMBIA SCORE: 88 PRICE: $22 Light and bright, this ably captures some of the best qualities of a Piedmontese red grape that has struggled under the long shadow of nebbiolo, the grape of Barolo and Barbaresco. Cherry, raspberry and a light tug of astringency, with a soft bass note of mellow oak. A good red for fish. Available direct through

SUMAC RIDGE GEWURZTRAMINER 2018, BRITISH COLUMBIA SCORE: 88 PRICE: $13.99 Sumac Ridge's gewurztraminer has long been one of Canada's greatest white-wine values - certainly for my money and my palate. The 2018 growing season was especially kind to this wine, made from the sumptuous, floral and spicy Alsatian variety.

The 2018 spring may have been cool and wet, but no matter. October delivered ample sunshine, which permitted the grapes to continue ripening slowly into fall, yielding excellent fruit. This bargain is dripping with classically plump lychee/peach flavours, complemented by the variety's signature ginger lift and rose-petal perfume. Often, gewurztraminer can seem sweet because of its characteristically low acidity.

That's not the case here, thanks to the elevated McIntyre Bluff vineyard, which is a few degrees cooler and fresher than the nearby valley floor. Try the wine with Indian curries or other spicy or aromatic dishes. Available at the above price at BC Liquor Stores.

Associated Graphic

B.C.'s Okanagan Valley produces not just some of the best wines in the country, but some of the best wines around the world.


Huh? How did I get here?
Return to Main Jeffrey_Simpson Page
Subscribe to
The Globe and Mail

Email this article Print this article

space  Advertisement

Need CPR for your RSP? Check your portfolio’s pulse and lower yours by improving the overall health of your investments. Click here.


7-Day Site Search

Breaking News

Today's Weather


Rick Salutin
Merrily marching
off to war
Roy MacGregor
Duct tape might hold
when panic strikes

Where Manley is going with his first budget



For a columnist's most recent stories, click on their name below.


Roy MacGregor arrow
This Country
Jeffrey Simpson arrow
The Nation
Margaret Wente arrow
Hugh Winsor  arrow
The Power Game

Rob Carrick arrow
Personal Finance
Drew Fagan arrow
The Big Picture
Mathew Ingram arrow
Brent Jang arrow
Business West
Brian Milner arrow
Taking Stock
Eric Reguly arrow
To The Point
Andrew Willis arrow

Stephen Brunt arrow
The Game
Eric Duhatschek arrow
Allan Maki arrow
William Houston arrow
Truth & Rumours
Lorne Rubenstein arrow
 The Arts

John Doyle arrow
John MacLachlan Gray arrow
Gray's Anatomy
David Macfarlane arrow
Cheap Seats
Johanna Schneller arrow

Murray Campbell arrow
Ontario Politics
Lysiane Gagnon arrow
Inside Quebec
Marcus Gee arrow
The World
William Johnson arrow
Pit Bill
Paul Knox arrow
Heather Mallick arrow
As If
Leah McLaren arrow
Generation Why
Rex Murphy arrow
Japes of Wrath
Rick Salutin arrow
On The Other Hand
Paul Sullivan arrow
The West
William Thorsell arrow

Home | Business | National | Int'l | Sports | Columnists | The Arts | Tech | Travel | TV | Wheels

© 2003 Bell Globemedia Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Help & Contact Us | Back to the top of this page