“Exciting with lots of warmth and sunshine and full of fruit and flowers” describes summer’s weather and the abundance of the season’s bounty. But it also describes today’s exuberant wines ready for you to enjoy in July and August.
First up, a 50th Parallel 2016 Estate Pinot Gris ($19.90 available at Save-On). This delicious white is produced by the Krouzel family on the 50th Parallel in scenic Lake Country near Vernon. The view from the winery overlooking Okanagan Lake is exhilarating, as are their wines.
Pinot Gris is the most planted white grape in BC, which accounts for 11 per cent of all grapes. And there is a good reason for its popularity. It’s usually fermented in stainless steel preserving its natural freshness and fruitiness. But it can also be aged in oak to add more complexity and creaminess.
50th Parallel specializes in aromatic grapes, Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer, Riesling, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Their website’s description of their PG is very accurate: “sweet navel orange, Meyer lemon and dominant peach flavours provide a welcome entry. Lemongrass and Bartlett pear chime in to produce a cornucopia of fruit characters that are accentuated by creaminess from the 20 per cent of fruit that was French oak fermented.” Bear in mind that the author probably tasted the wine on many occasions to get this detail!
For ideas on what to serve with Pinot Gris/Pinot Grigio, go to http://dish.allrecipes.com/recipes-pair-pinot-grigio/.
For something with Pinot Gris as part of the blend, reach for Quail’s Gate 2017 Chasselas, Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc ($17.99 at government and grocery stores). Chasselas is a Swiss variety, which is seldom planted in this province. But it was the first vinifera variety that the Stewart family planted in the early 90s when most of the hybrid varietals that produced mediocre wine were ripped out.
Not only is it cheap and cheerful, it’s so good and affordable that it is the number one selling BC white wine. Basically it is the Okanagan valley in a glass. I like its floral and peach aromas with flavours of pears, peaches and a hint of grapefruit. A perfect summer sipper. Light, refreshing and fruity, with an off-dry finish.
Finally, there is the 2014 Stoneboat Pinot Noir ($24.99 available at Save-On), made by the Martiniuk family in Oliver. One of the rising stars in BC, the Pinot Noir is now the second most planted red variety.
After you pour this red into a goblet, you will be dazzled by the crystal clear burgundy colour, which is very befitting considering the grape’s ancestral homeland in France’s Burgundy region. The bouquet offers up scents of cranberry, vanilla and a whiff of smoke.
On the palate, you’ll savour the velvety touch on your tongue as well as fruit flavours of cherry, strawberry, and cranberry, and spice such as cloves. Serve slightly chilled and enjoy with barbecued salmon or spareribs.
Eric Hanson is a retired science educator and a wine enthusiast.