The judgement of... How useful are comparative blind tastings?

It’s 40 years since Steven Spurrier’s famous Judgement of Paris (also a story in Greek Mythology). This was the tasting that is credited with opening the way for New World wines to stand as peers alongside the old world classics. Since then, this sort of format has been repeated in countries eager to show that [...]

In the Okanagan, BC, Canada: Laughing Stock and Bella

The last couple of visits in the Okanagan were really interesting. The first was at Laughing Stock Vineyards on the Naramata Bench. Cynthia and David Enns (above) were financial people who caught the wine bug, and they bought this property in 2003. They were the ninth vineyard on the Bench, and now there are 30. [...]

In the Similkameen Valley, BC, Canada

The Similkameen Valley is a peaceful yet dramatic place. Running parallel to the Okanagan, it lacks the lakes, but makes up scenery wise by being hemmed in moodily by mountains. It’s named after the Similkameen River that runs through it. The valley has an almost alpine feel, and I reckon this is one of the [...]

In the Okanagan, BC, Canada: Le Vieux Pin, La Stella, Black Hills and Tinhorn Creek

Severine Pinte is the winemaker behind two high-end Okanagan properties: Le Vieux Pin and La Stella. The former is a Rhône specialist and is currently making some of Canada’s top Syrahs.

Severine Pinte

These are superb wines with real definition, and count among the country’s very best. They are quite northern Rhône in style, but they [...]

In the Okanagan, BC, Canada: Meyer Family Vineyards, Culmina and CheckMate

Jak Meyer and Chris Carson

Jak and Janice Meyer bought a small vineyard in the Naramata Bench back in 2006. Originally, this was just a hobby vineyard, but in 2008 when Jak started selling the grapes he realized that selling 600 cases was quite a bit of work and that he’d never make money doing [...]

In the Okanagan, BC, Canada: Summerhill Pyramid, Liquidity and Painted Rock

Summerhill Pyramid Winery is one of the Okanagan’s most distinctive. We visited with Ezra Cipes, CEO and son of the founder Stephen Cipes. Stephen brought his family here back in 1986 from New York, and began Summerhill Pyramid winery in collaboration with winemaker Eric von Krosigk.

Eric and Ezra

Back in the late 1980s, when the [...]

In the Okanagan, BC, Canada: Mission Hill, Cedar Creek, Gray Monk and Tantalus

The second day of this trip was spent immersed in the beauty of the northern and central Okanagan. As a wine region, the Okanagan is simply too diverse to make all that much sense of. The lake is very long, and climate shifts quite a bit from the cooler north to the pretty warm south. [...]

In the Okanagan Valley, BC, Canada, day 1: Quails' Gate

It’s never much fun when you have a tight connecting flight and then get delayed. Yesterday I arrived in Vancouver after a nice flight (6000 words written, a sleep and a Woody Allen movie), only for technical problems to keep us at the gate for 50 minutes before getting off. It’s a horrible feeling as [...]

Tantalus Old Vines Riesling Brut 2013 Okanagan Valley, Canada

So, this is pretty much a real time tasting note of a sparkling wine from Canada’s Okanagan Valley that’s in my glass at the moment. Tantalus has been growing grapes since 1927, and this Riesling vineyard was planted in 1978, which for Vitis vinifera in the Okanagan, is pretty ancient history. It’s from clone 21B, [...]

Some reflections on ProWein 2016: bubbly Brits, grower Champagne, Canada, Provence and Grenache

ProWein is a massive wine and spirits fair, held each year in Dusseldorf, Germany. It’s enormous. 6200 exhibitors, and 55 000 trade visitors. I’ve just returned, and these are some of my impressions. But it’s impossible for any one person to be able to give anything more than a personal perspective gained by merely scratching [...]