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Column: Painting the town red with Painted Rock wine

Various red wines to celebrate Lunar New Year and Valentine's Day next week.

We are nine days away from Valentine’s and a week away from Chinese New Year, the Year of the Ox. And that’s no bull! This gives you time to consider what wines to serve for these two celebrations.

Whether it’s dinner on the 12th or on the 14th, one of the wines you traditionally should open is a red.

A superb choice would be from our Okanagan Valley, the Painted Rock 2017 Red Icon ($59.99). Decanter Magazine, Britain’s prestigious wine publication, asked their experts from around the world to nominate value wines that impressed them most in 2020. Then a trio of judges blind-tasted and ranked them.

And Decanter’s "Canadian Wine of the Year" was the 2017 Red Icon with an outstanding score of 95 points.

Decanter reviewer Sonja van Praag described the Red Icon as “a rich wine displaying lots of fruit and intensity, but with an underlying elegance. The nose is very pretty, revealing attractive raspberry and other red fruits, while the palate is quite plummy with a touch of mint, red pepper and black pepper spice on the finish. Drink 2021 to 2030.”

Red Icon is a Bordeaux style blend of 38-per-cent Merlot, 21-per-cent Cabernet Franc, 20-per-cent Petit Verdot, 11-per-cent Cabernet Sauvignon, eight-per-cent Malbec, and two-per-cent Syrah. It’s aged 18 months in 30-per-cent new French oak. Here is the Painted Rock description: “This vintage invites you in with rich, pronounced aromas of cassis, black cherry, bramble fruit, and nutmeg. The palate with its well-balanced, smooth tannins shows further development with the dark fruit with further blueberry and chocolate notes. Elegantly balanced with a rich texture, bright acidity and smooth texture.”

Painted Rock Estate Winery is located on the eastern bench of Skaha Lake, just south of Penticton. In 2004, John Skinner, a Vancouver stockbroker, and his wife Trish purchased 56 acres of a former apricot orchard and built a new winery, tasting room and planted a vineyard.

The winery was named Painted Rock after the 500-year-old aboriginal pictographs near the property. The Skinners’ plan was to produce premium wines, mainly reds, that reflected the unique terroir of their estate and to provide a family legacy. Not surprisingly, their first vintage won them two prestigious Lieutenant Governor’s Awards.

And since that auspicious beginning, Painted Rock has continued to win accolades for many of their wines. Here is a list of their medal winners in the most recent 2019 National Wine Awards of Canada:

  • Painted Rock 2016 Syrah: Gold Medal, 91 points
  • Painted Rock 2016 Cabernet Franc: Silver, 91 points
  • Painted Rock 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon: Silver, 91 points
  • Painted Rock 2017 Chardonnay: Bronze, 89 points
  • Painted Rock 2015 Merlot: Gold, 92 points
  • Painted Rock 2015 Malbec Gold, 92 points
  • Painted Rock 2016 Syrah Cabernet Sauvignon Silver, 91points

And if these weren’t enough honours, Intervin International Wine Awards named Painted Rock "Winery of the Year for 2018/2019." 

And, of course, Decanter Magazine recently awarded Painted Rock’s 2017 Red Icon  "Canadian Wine of the Year!"

In most cases, newer vintages of the same varietal or blend are rated within a point of the medal winners.

Wines are available through the winery's website. Reserve a tasting online ($10 per person), redeemable with purchase. Enjoy the Estate favourites including Syrah, Red Icon, and two vintages of Merlot.

Wines are also available at Richmond Brighouse BCLS, JAK's – Richmond, Kingswood Liquor Store, Lennox Garden City Liquor Store, Liquor Depot – Richmond, and O'Hares Liquor Store.

Eric Hanson is a life-long Richmond resident, retired teacher and wine educator. Eric has also taught wine appreciation courses in Richmond and throughout Metro Vancouver for many years. He continues to be a journalistic ambassador for the enchanting world of wine through his weekly column.