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Column: Inviting, Affordable, and Informal Wines

Affordable white wines for informal spring and summer events.

Today we discover three affordable whites that are perfect for informal occasions for your spring or summer enjoyment. And all of them are available at all Richmond BC Liquor Stores.

The first is Gehringer Brothers 2021 Old Vines Auxerrois ($15.95; 88 points, Very Good). Many BC wine consumers haven’t tried it before although it’s been around since quality wines were first produced in our province back in the 1990’s. Auxerrois is a grape traditionally planted in Alsace, Germany, Luxembourg.

Gehringer Brothers is one of the earliest family wineries in the Okanagan. Situated in the Golden Mile Bench south of Oliver, the brother’s Walter and Gordon made their first vintage in 1985 and have since won 92 Platinum awards for their dedication to excellence.

Gehringer Auxerrois is not an over-the-top in your face fruit bomb. Instead it’s a mellow wine, great to sip when you’re in a mellow mood. With understated aromas right out of the Okanagan with orchard fruit such as apples, pears and peaches. The taste reveals ripe mellow melons, a hint of honey, a subtle acidity with a dry mouth feel ending on touch of sweetness. The Gehringers suggest, “It’s a wine to serve when one is not sure of one’s preference.” In other words, Auxerrois is worth trying because it is unique. And it’s also been well received by local wine judges. The 2020 vintage was a Gold Medal winner at the most recent Cascadia Wine Competition in Washington State.

Gehringer Auxerrois is a delicious match with scallops wrapped in bacon, mussels in a cream sauce, a grilled chicken sandwich, or a tuna salad.

Let’s head to Cataluña, and enjoy one of the most popular of Spain’s Familia Torres wines. The Torres 2020 Vina Esmeralda ($17.49; 89 points, Very Good) is a vegan off-dry aromatic white. Its name refers to the green emerald colour of the Mediterranean and is a medium-light bodied blend of gewurztraminer and muscat (muscatel de Alejandria). The nose has the grapefruit and lychee aromas from the gewürztraminer, as well as the ripe perfumed flavours of roses, peaches, and melon from the muscat. Balanced with medium acidity, it ends with a honeyed tangerine finish.

Vina Esmeralda is a pleasant sipper, especially if the sun is out and you’re outside bonding with friends and Mother Nature. It’s great with Miss Vickie’s Original Recipe Kettle Cooked Potato Chips; the salt from the chips seems to kick the wine up a notch!

A more Spanish match would be with a sizzling garlic prawns and smoked paprika tapa. You could make an international pairing if you serve this Spanish white with Greek calamari. Or enjoy a burrata summer salad with fresh tomatoes and basil, peaches, and vibrant lemon-thyme oil. This go-to appetizer for spring and summer has fresh and rich components, much like the fresh and opulent Vina Esmeralda. 

Finally we travel to South Africa and uncork the Protea 2020 Chenin Blanc ($14.99; 89 points, Very Good). Chenin Blanc is the most widely planted grape variety at the Cape.

The wine’s brand is named after Protea, a flowering plant common in South Africa and it happens to be the national flower. Light lemon in appearance, the Chenin Blanc has a generous floral and tree fruit nose with quince, honeysuckle, pear, melon, and ginger flavours. It’s tangy and very crisp which balances the ripe fruit. The wine spent two months on its lees in stainless steel tanks to provide a creamy texture with a dry citrus and spicy finish.

Protean Chenin Blanc is delicious with pulled pork, coleslaw, and crispy peppered shoestring chips. Chicken or ham salads or ones containing apples or pears are worth trying. And tuna or salmon tartare, fish and chips, and salt and pepper squid would be darling companions to our South African Chenin Blanc.

Now it’s your turn to discover these inviting, affordable, and informal white wines!