Monday, July 01, 2013

BC Wines: 8 Tasted of 8

Okanagan Valley looking South (197?)
The limited interpretation by the LCBO for cross border shipping regulations between Ontario and other Canadian provinces continues to throttle purchases of thousands of excellent vintages grown and bottled in more than 200 wineries of  British Columbia. A recent trip to Vancouver garnered just three of the bottles below. The other three came from a meagre representation on a local LCBO Vintages shelf.

Why only a few direct from BC? That's all my spouse could carry in her luggage. Courier shipment of BC wines even for personal consumption isn't possible or iffy and if you don't travel by car the limit becomes as much as you can stow away on your person - the de facto definition of 'personal consumption', in our case 3 days worth or an evening with a few guests. 

A BC Open Tasting Bar  (197?)
The LCBO, with the  complicity of the Ontario Government, continues to starve Ontario consumers and to lose the opportunity for revenue from this monopoly restricted market. 

One politician claims to support wine sales in local supermarkets. Groceterias and corner stores stocking food and household staples would also be allowed to stock wines. In my view, the very last proprietor to warrant acquiring an inventory of worthwhile Canadian or foreign wines is the manager of a supermarket, generally speaking. They are looking for high margins, volume sales and more efficient sourcing and distribution with low cost, secure  warehousing. Wines let alone Value wines haven't been their focus, a focus that can't be acquired with the flick of a legislation switch. The focus of this side of government is on the revenues from Ontario consumers buying cheap labels - you know which they are - believing this will satisfy the wine consumer. What it won't satisfy are the thousands of Ontario wine enthusiasts wanting a wider selection of BC wines. 

'Silence' has been the current position of those in the Ontario and Canadian Wine Trade: Grape Growers, Wineries, professional Wine Critics & Tasters, Sommeliers, Event Promoters, etc. for obvious reasons. From my perspective those deriving a benefit from the local wine market will be the last to support a freer Canadian market. Perhaps it's much easier to say it's not their fight. It's unfortunate there are no influential advocates for the Ontario wine enthusiast.

PS. Not mentioned above and yet having the highest potential as the most experienced purveyors in the Province are the agents and distributors already licensed to obtain and sell wine. Unfortunately these companies are as exposed as are the wineries, restaurants and boutique shops having to comply with the master/slave Licensing regulations - don't comply and lose your License.  Take away this Licensing power from the LCBO and a flood of retail shops would soon open to sell labels from the wine producing regions of the world. Setting up independent wine shops would be as fast as leasing a storefront. A whole marketing identity would be established supplying the public with products and the Government with taxes. 

However, the popular film title 'Silence of the Lambs' comes to mind with the LCBO playing the part of Hannibal eating the flesh of the innocent. Those that are silent continue to be slaughtered, metaphorically speaking, along with the rest of us.

The other aspect is the possible increase in competition with Ontario's proclaimed 'premium' wineries. No longer could they inflate prices based on an 'icon' status attributed them by their friends and followers. Many may have to resort to pricing based on Value, not the cosmetics of self adulation. Personally I don't believe competition from within or foreign will have much effect. Wine consumption will expand rapidly and all Canadian wineries will benefit from this freer market.

What say ye o'silent one? 


THE LINEUP: Reds then whites

  • Burrowing Owl Estate Winery Cabernet Franc 2010 VQA Okanagan Valley, 91-1  --  O, Oliver, BC,  $33.00
  • Cassini Cellars Merlot 2011 VQA Okanagan Valley,  87a  --  V, Osoyoos, BC, #324319  $21.95  
  • Burrowing Owl Estate Winery Syrah 2010 VQA Okanagan Valley, 86  --  O, Oliver, BC, $33.00
  • Mission Hill Family Estate Pinot Noir 2011 VQA Okanagan Valley, 84  --  V,  Okanagan, BC,  #545012  $24.95
  • Tinhorn Creek Pinot Gris 2012 VQA Okanagan Valley, 88-1  --  O, Oliver, BC, $18.99
  • Tinhorn Creek Gewurztraminer 2012 VQA Okanagan Valley, 87 --  O, Oliver, BC,  $18.49
  • Quail's Gate Chenin Blanc 2012 VQA Okanagan Valley, 84  --  O, West Kelowna, BC, $18.99
  • Calliope Sauvignon Blanc 2011 VQA British Columbia, 83  --  V, Oliver, BC, #258905  $19.95
(V - Vintages, G - General, O - Other, r-v  - Rating-Value, a - aerated, NR - Not Rated)


BURROWING OWL ESTATE WINERY SYRAH 2010 VQA Okanagan Valley , Oliver, BC, 14.0%  XD  TA: 7.4g/L,  BC#  $33.00  (Tasted July 2, 2013) 

Purchased in BC on June 6, 2013.   My notes:  The colour of a black cherry skin with a film that stays firm until releasing a ring of slow tears from a solid rim. The nose has a delicate blackberry and currant scent, a touch of pepper increasing the presence. The first sip has a fine tannin to carry earthy spice, appealing as a sipper, light in texture with an intense hard blackberry flavour. The tang at the start carries bold flavours forward changing to a finish with a metallic aspect and drying on the palate. A good starter for a social crowd altho' the finish may lose some interest - the solution... keep quaffing. Also lost much of its boldness pairing with bbq'd burgers 'with the works' on a cheese bun. Matching with a milder vegetarian pizza or rack of lamb may be preferable.  A drink now. 86

BURROWING OWL ESTATE WINERY CABERNET FRANC 2010 VQA Okanagan Valley,  Oliver, BC, 14.5%  XD  TA:7.4g/L,  BC#  $33.00  (Tasted July 9, 2013)  CS

Purchased in BC on June 6, 2013.   My notes:A soft aroma of crushed blackberries with a touch of raspberry and an appealing spice and a dark ruby colour.  A swirl leaves a light film with legs running freely draining a rim of tears. A pleasing spark of acid starts a sip, a velvet layer unfolds luscious fruit blended with a cassis edge and ending with drying tannins. Have with anything beefy, grilled or bbq'd or with a tray of hard cheeses. Cellaring several years may replace some current youthfulness with a mellow maturity for wider matching.  Drinking nicely now.  91
TINHORN CREEK PINOT GRIS 2012 VQA Okanagan Valley , Oliver, BC,  12.9%  XD LT2.0g/L,  #BC  $18.99  CS

Purchased in BC on June 6, 2013. Grapes from the Diamondback Vineyard on the Black Sage Bench My notes:  A pale golden blond with a floral aspect to a melon aroma - serve at 14oC+ for an interesting social sipper. A thin film runs long legs with a firm swirl then fragments. The first sip has a polite acid balanced with a slight cream and fruity melon. Nicely dry on the swallow refreshing by itself as an aperitif and interesting for the long soft finish. Has a fullness to go with fresh oysters, bacon wrapped scallops, a tray of coconut shrimp or a Bento Box of tempura veggies and seafood pieces. Short cellaring. 88

TINHORN CREEK GEWURZTRAMINER 2012 VQA Okanagan Valley, Oliver, BC,  12.9%  XD  7.08g/L,  BC#  $18.49  (Tasted July 10, 2013) 

Purchased in BC on June 6, 2013. Grapes from the 'Tinhorn Creek' vineyard on the Golden Mile Bench.  My notes:  A polished light blond that needs to warm before showing a soft, faint scent of crushed grapefruit seed. The film is firm then runs slow tears from a fragmented rim. Serve at or above 12oC. A sharpness accompanies a well rounded texture with grapefruit, tangerine and apple all hiding their individuality but presenting an interesting blending. Ends with a slight chalk dryness on a long, tangy, cheek shrinking finish. Have with grilled/broiled fresh fish or shellfish or sip with soft cheeses. A drink now.  87

QUAILS' GATE CHENIN BLANC 2012 VQA Okanagan Valley ,  West Kelowna, BC,  13.0%  D  5g/L,  BC#  $18.99  (Tasted July 2, 2013)  

Purchased in BC on June 6, 2013.  A blend of 92% Chenin Blanc and 8% Sauvignon Blanc.   My notes:  A hint of green to a delicate blond colour and an aroma of musty honeydew melon at 9oC shifting to a grassy Granny Smith as the temp creeps higher. The film holds to a solid rim quickly draining through long legs first then small tears. A crabapple adds to the tangy flavour along with a chalky background laying on the palate for a long finish. As a sipper I found it to have an 'acquired taste'. A well balanced thirst quencher for a stay in the shade or perhaps with a lime squeeze following a fast squash game? Should go well with Asian foods - a drink now.   84
MISSION HILL FAMILY ESTATE RESERVE PINOT NOIR 2011 VQA Okanagan Valley,  Okanagan, BC,  13.0%  D  6g/L,  #545012  $24.95  (Tasted July 5, 2013)  CS

Released by Vintages on March 16, 2013 and rated 89 by Anthony Gismondi & Stuart Tobe (October 6, 2012).   My notes:  The nose is an appealing blend of raspberry and red currant with a modest tang and slight smoke. Pours with a see through ruby colour muted by a charcoal cast. The film is light leaving a thin rim draining through fast tears. Thin-bodied, a bright red cherry and slight herb provides some interest and airs quickly leaving straight fruit with fine tannins for a dry, mellow, clean finish. A polite social sipper for an open buffet or have with a tuna steak or vegetarian pizza. A drink now. 84

CASSINI CELLARS MERLOT 2011 VQA Okanagan Valley, Osoyoos, BC,  13.2%  XD  3.2g/L, #324319  $21.95  (Tasted July 4, 2013)  CS
Released by Vintages on May 25, 2013.  My notes:  A deep ruby with a slight purple cast and having a scent of raspberry blueberry jam but not jammy. A swirl leaves a solid rim draining through long fast legs. A medium-bodied rich raspberry blueberry flavour adds a warming sensation for a long finish, a layer of fine tannin and an extra dry end. Decanting or aerating tames a core of acid that builds when sipping. Perfect for a buffet of mixed appetizers or have with beef steaks, ribs, tenderloin, rack of lamb and a gamut of meaty cheesy pizzas. Without aerating five years cellaring may take some of the bite from mid palate - seems young now. Watch for sediment.  87a
CALLIOPE SAUVIGNON BLANC 2011 VQA British Columbia, Oliver, BC, 13.5%  XD  6g/L,  #258905  $19.95  (Tasted July 4, 2013)  CS

Released by Vintages on June 22, 2013 and an entry level wine from a division of Burrowing Owl. My notes: A polished pale straw for colour and a honeycomb with a citrus gooseberry edge for a nose, just noticeable as the temp goes to 14oC+.  The rim separates quickly fragmenting as islands on the glass. The first nip is pleasing with some latent gooseberry showing as the freshness of the acid leads into an extra dry finish. A social sipper having the astringent aspect of a NZ Sauvignon Blanc without the strong presence of fruit. Have with seafood or chicken breast in a cream sauce or grilled and sliced.  A drink now. 83

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