The theme for June at Whatcom Wine & Spirits is the celebration of new vintage British Columbia wines and their imminent release from the wineries. These are mainly 2008 whites but some establishments are debuting their 2006 and 2007 reds at the same time. When I am preparing for a Thursday Night Swirl I always like to find new wines and wineries to introduce to our Wine Club. With this in mind, Paul and I entertained several representatives from B.C. wineries who either had entirely new wineries to tell us about or had new varietal wines for us to taste that were not in our store.
I had experienced a B.C. Wine Renaissance during my visit to the most recent Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival in February. My relationship with wine began in British Columbia and then expanded to encompass the world, somewhat leaving my love for B.C. wines in the dust. I won’t go into that again because you can read about it in my newsletter on the Whatcom Wine & Spirits website. Suffices to say that I was reminded that I really do love B.C. wine, and I was impressed anew by the quality of the wines being crafted in our province. The quest for wines to pour at our June Swirl further confirmed my devotion.
I settled upon the following wine list: Cedar Creek’s 2008 Riesling, Wild Goose’s 2008 Pinot Gris, Twisted Tree’s 2008 Viognier Roussanne, Joie Farm’s 2008 Rosé, Saturna Island’s 2006 Pinot Noir, and Chandra Estate’s 2007 Red Fusion ‘Solar’.
We had a fantastic turn out for the event, and by a stroke of good fortune the Valley Room was already booked for another event so we got to meet in the pretty Mount Baker Room upstairs. Our Chefs had prepared a divine display of assorted Dim Sum along with a selection of local and imported cheeses and breads to snack upon during the tasting. There were a lot of new faces in the room; friends and Wine Club members had brought friends, and we saw a fresh sprinkling of faces from the local community. The room was filled with excitement.
And then we swirled, sniffed, sipped, and experienced the six new B.C. wines.
Cedar Creek’s 2008 Riesling is tart and tangy with some nice green apple and citrus aromas and flavours. The typical petrol notes are there on the nose and a hint of peach kisses the tongue. I envisioned a crisp green salad with a simple oil and lemon dressing, perhaps topped with grilled prawns and served with fresh bread on the patio.
The 2008 Pinot Gris from Wild Goose is a glass full of orchard fruit with a hint of spice. There is a lot of ripe red apple, pear, peach, and apricot both on the nose and in the mouth with an ever so gentle dusting of cinnamon and ginger. This wine would be perfect beside some grilled chicken and sticky rice with stir fried Asian vegetables dressed in garlic, honey, and ginger.
The 2008 Twisted Tree Viognier Roussanne is interesting for sure. In the glass its honey and floral fruit aromas are apparent, and the light touch of oak introduces itself alongside similar fruit and floral flavours on the palate. My hunch is that this is more of a food wine than a sipping wine as there seems to be a slight yet distinct bitterness in the finish. As such, it would shine as a Thanksgiving dinner wine and would be brilliant paired with turkey and all the trimmings.
When Paul and I were at the Playhouse Wine Festival we fell in love with all of the wines from Joie Farm. Their 2008 Rosé didn’t disappoint with its strawberry-rhubarb pie nose and spicy flavour profile. It is just slightly sweet to elevate the fruit and increase the viscosity and richness in the mouth. I like this wine all on its own but a nice food pairing would be grilled salmon, fresh corn, and creamy herbed pasta. You could also try serving it with strawberry-rhubarb pie in season and see what sort of response that brings.
Saturna Island’s 2006 Pinot Noir is made from grapes grown in the Okanagan Valley. This wine is an enigma because although it suggests strawberries, raspberries, and rhubarb on the nose, it unfolds to deliver a more raspberry-cherry flavour profile with some great acidity, earthiness, and spice thrown into the mix. Grilled honey-garlic glazed pork chops with black pepper and sautéed mushrooms come to mind, along with a serving of new red potatoes tossed in butter and herbs from the garden.
Finally, the Chandra 2007 Red Fusion ‘Solar’ is a blend of predominantly Blaufränkisch (also known as Lemberger which can be confusing since that is awfully close to the name of the stinky cheese and therefore not an attractive name for wine at all) and Zweigelt. It promises fresh and juicy red berries on the nose which really do follow through into the glass and onto the tongue. The wine is medium weight and perfect for sipping on its own with its ever so soft tannins and brilliant fruit. It’s also the perfect wine for a backyard barbeque and would be amazing beside all sorts of fire grilled foods including burgers, ribs, chicken, and pork with all the fabulous salads and delicious sides you’d typically find at an outdoor feast such as this.
We sat and swirled and tasted wine for about 90 minutes, and when all the food was gone and all the wine bottles were empty our friends said goodbye. There is growing excitement for the Thursday Night Swirls we have lined up for the fall, and huge anticipation for the Winemaker’s Dinner with Bradley Cooper of Township 7 Winery at Tanglebank Country Garden in September. The only way to be the first in line for tickets to that dinner is to join our Wine Club! Details on our club and an application form are available on the Whatcom Wine & Spirits website, or through me.