The wines of British Columbia, Canada: diversity and purity

cipes ariel
This seminar at the Vancouver Wine Festival looked at the diversity of wines coming from British Colombia, and followed on from a previous session focusing on some more of the region’s wines. I was on the panel, which was very well led by Canadian wine journalist Treve Ring, and which included Rhys Pender and terroir expert Pedro Parra. These are my notes on the wines, of which a few really impressed.

maverick ella

Maverick Estate Winery Ella 2013 Okanagan Valley, Canada
A sparkling wine from the Golden Mile Bench, disgorged in April 2015, 20% Chardonnay, 80% Pinot Noir. Subtle waxy, appley edge to the fresh citrus fruit. There’s nice warmth to the fruit here with tangy citrus notes and some pear, too. Intriguing and quite delicious with nice texture in the mouth. 90/100

Summerhill Pyramid Winery Ariel 1998 Okanagan Valley, Canada
This is a distinctive, mature sparkling wine that comes in a very striking bottle. Complex, rich, toasty and appley with lovely complexity. Pear, peach and nuts with some honeyed richness. Powerful, bold and long, with a sense of deliciousness. Sweet and savoury at the same time. 92/100

Unsworth Vineyards Pinot Gris 2015 Vancouver Island, Canada
From the cool climate of Vancouver Island. Attractive texture here with sweet pear and citrus fruit with some melony richness. Nice weight here. Has lovely purity and appealing fruit. 89/100

haywire switchback pinot gris

Haywire Switchback Pinot Gris 2013 Okanagan Valley, Canada
Lovely open fruit here with some fresh grape and pear characters. There’s a detailed texture to this wine which shows lovely purity and a stony, mineral character. Subtle nutty detail. 92/100

Little Farm Riesling

Little Farm Winery Riesling 2015 Similkameen Valley, Canada
Lively and keen with intense lemony acidity and some appley character. Some taut herb and nut characters. Waxy and complex with great precision and freshness. Distinctive and lovely with a stony minerality. 92/100

Tantalus Vineyards Old Vines Riesling 2014 Okanagan Valley, Canada
Such a beautiful wine, made from one of the famous plantings of 1978. Appley, nutty and precise with some waxy notes and a lovely lemony core. There’s really high acidity but it integrates beautifully into the complex fruit. Powerful and expressive with real personality. 94/100

cedar creek platinum chardonnay

Cedar Creek Estate Platinum Block 5 Chardonnay 2014 Okanagan Valley, Canada
There’s a lovely citrussy core to this wine, with good acidity. Hints of pineapple, white peach and toast adding richness. Lovely precision and good acidity (pH 3.1, no malolactic) with nice focus. Puncheons and a concrete egg used here, and only 10% new oak. Very stylish and pure. 93/100

Checkmate Queen Taken Chardonnay 2013 Golden Mile Bench, Okanagan Valley, Canada
Made from some of the oldest Chardonnay vines in Canada, trellised in an umbrella sprawl with wide spacing. Lovely fruity depth here with pear and white peach, as well as some sweet bready complexity. Broad, nutty and complex with some vanilla oak evident. Very sophisticated and bold, but still in balance. 92/100

Spierhead Winery Pinot Noir 2015 Okanagan Valley, Canada
Four Dijon clones, 10% new oak. Sappy, green edge to the sweet cherry and berry fruit. Made in a lighter, more expressive style with some sweet, supple fruit and a green edge that just about integrates with the fruit. Has a cool-climate edge. An attractive wine. 90/100

Foxtrot Vineyards Pinot Noir 2013 Okanagan Valley, Canada
From the Naramata Bench. Sweet and sour cherry and plum fruit with a spicy, tarry, tangy edge. Strawberries and herbs, too, with a savoury spicy finish. Tangy. 89/100

Black Hills Estate Syrah 2014 Okanagan Valley, Canada
A beautifully sleek, modern wine with lovely black cherry and blackberry fruit. Sweet and lush with seductive fruit and notes of olive and roast meat. Satisfying in a ripe, luscious style. 91/100

Painted Rock Syrah 2013 Okanagan Valley, Canada
Very distinctive with a lively peppery edge to the black olive and black cherry palate. Intense and vivid with dense fruit and grippy tannins. There’s a strongly savoury, saline character to this wine and it’s quite delicious in a bold, full-on style. 92/100

Find these wines with wine-searcher.com

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