Skip to content

Column: Organic Okanagan wines that are shaped by nature

Wines that let nature take its course
Okanagan wines, nature
As we move into spring, enjoy the natural flavours of Free Form Blanc de Noirs, Narrative XO Sparking, and Narrative Cabernet Franc.

We’re just nine days away from spring and today I present three wines that will help you celebrate the new season. All three are produced from one of B.C.’s most innovative wineries: Okanagan Crush Pad. Situated in Summerland overlooking Okanagan Lake, the OCP has four different brands: Narrative, Free Form, Haywire, and Bizou + Yukon. Under Winemaker Matt Dumayne’s leadership, their organic farming principles follow them into the cellar where they let nature shape and direct their wines.

First up, a fizzy that will allow you to toast this season of gardening and other outdoor adventures, the Narrative 2019 XC ($24.99; 90 points). Produced from 40-year-old Pinot Blanc vines, primary fermentation occurred in concrete tanks. If you’re wondering what the XC stands for, it could be code for “ecstasy”, the mood it puts you in as you sip this frothy bubby. But no, it’s the Roman numeral for 90, the 90 days it stays undergoing secondary fermentation in state-of-the art Charmat tanks lying on their side. Secondary fermentation is the process that creates the "sparkle."

The OCP’s commitment to quality and the environment extends even to their bottle closures. All of their sparkling wines use crown caps instead of the traditional iron cage and cork and foil cap. Because OCP uses metal screw caps on their still table wine to avoid cork taint, it only makes sense to use a crown cap that maintains the wine fresh and pure in the exact state intended by the wine-making team. Besides, metal crown caps are recyclable and weigh about 1/5 the weight of the traditional cork, foil, and cage closure.

In the glass, the Narrative XC displays a beautiful orange-pink colour with a frothy mousse of bubbles. Put your nose inside the bowl and inhale the aromas of strawberry, raspberry, orange, and cotton candy.

Swirl the wine inside your mouth over your palate and savour the creaminess, bracing acidity, and lush fruit flavours with a touch of savouriness. Enjoy the dry finish with its lengthy flavours of mandarin orange and mango.

Have a sip as you relax after an afternoon in the garden, or partner it with Sunday brunch or with a picnic of fried chicken and potato salad.

Another bubbly with a very naturalist non-intervention approach is the OCP’s Free Form 2018 Blanc de Noir ($44.90; 92 points). Produced from organic Pinot Noir from their Garnet Valley Ranch, it was whole punch pressed to concrete tanks for natural fermentation. Bottles were filled for secondary fermentation then aged sur lie for 36 months and then disgorged and finished with no dosage (no extra sugar).

A medium yellow colour, the Blanc de Noir has persistent beads ascending in the glass with a gentle aroma of pears and red berries with herbal undertones.

On the palate, there’s lots of vitality in a medium-light body with a minimalist amount of gentle cranberry, rhubarb, and mint. Plus there are toasty notes along with a creamy texture of chalk, and very fresh and crisp acidity that makes your taste buds come alive! This elegant and classy sparkler ends on an extremely lengthy bone-dry citrus finish.

Enjoy with oysters on the half shell or soft cheeses like Brie, Morbier, or goat cheese.

My final recommendation is the Narrative 2018 Cabernet Franc ($25.99; 88 points). It displays a medium garnet colour and an aroma of black cherries and vanilla. The Cab Franc has a medium-light body with good acidity and flavours of raspberries, cranberries and a kiss of oak with smooth light tannins and a gentle fruity finish.

Let’s be frank about this Cabernet Franc. It’s excellent with a strip loin steak and a jus of beef broth, Cab Franc, tomato paste and fried cremini mushrooms with a Yukon potato mash and Brussels sprouts.

All of today’s wines are not yet released to the public. Check the Okanagan Crush Pad’s website for when these wines are available after the previous vintage is sold out.