Tasting through a wide range of B.C. wines, as I am fortunate to do on a semi-regular basis, I am always excited by the sky’s-the-limit attitude of winemakers in the “can-do” province.
There’s not much that can’t be grown in the fertile soils and terroirs of the various B.C. wine regions and virtually everything is attempted — usually with delicious results.
As the regions mature, with the Okanagan Valley leading the way, the wines are getting better and better and winemakers are realizing their full potential.
I am looking forward to judging the 2016 British Columbia Wine Awards (conducted by the Okanagan Wine Festivals Society) this fall to get a complete picture of the province’s winescape. With an estimated 600 wines, from 100% B.C. grapes, the competition is the oldest of its kind in the province. I urge all B.C. wineries to get their wines submitted to this competition.
Today we look at the spring portfolios from three B.C. wineries — the Golden Mile Bench winery, Tinhorn Creek, the Summerland winery, Evolve Cellars (top photo), and the Comox winery, 40 Knots.
Tinhorn Creek Oldfield Series Rosé 2015 ($20, 89 points) — From Cabernet Franc sourced grapes from the Black Sage Vineyard, this lovely rosé shows notes of strawberry, light cherry and vanilla ice cream on the nose. There is underlying sweetness on the palate with expressive red fruits, cranberries, subtle herbs and a creamy, but fresh, note on the finish.
Tinhorn Creek Golden Mile Bench Gewurztraminer 2015 ($16, 90 points) — Tinhorn’s Gew is always on the fresh and lively side with a nose of lychee, grapefruit, ginger and tropical fruits. Though slightly drier than the 2014 vintage there is still some sweet notes to go with ripe fruit, grapefruit, peach, honey and pear with just a squirt of citrus zest on the finish. Note the sub-appellation designation, Golden Mile Bench, on the label. It’s the first to be named a sub-app in B.C.
Tinhorn Creek Pinot Gris 2015 ($17, 90 points) — Rocking aromatics of peach, mineral, melon and lemon zest notes. This is no simple Gris, with plenty of interesting complexity on the palate and layers of citrus, melon, peach and hints of herbs through a zesty finish.
Tinhorn Creek Oldfield Series Golden Mile Bench Chardonnay 2014 ($35, 92 points) — A rich, golden hue and an elegant nose of poached pear, citrus, toasted vanilla and spice with a gorgeous subtle honeycomb accent. Perfectly dry on the palate, with ripe pear, apple, grilled pineapple and integrated vanilla spice notes. A lot to love about this Chard that will show even better with a bit of time in the cellar.
Tinhorn Creek Pinot Noir 2013 ($22, 88 points) — A bright, perky and vibrant nose of raspberry bush, cherry, some herbs and spicy undertones. It shows structure on the palate with a complex array of fruit and spice to go with silky tannins and an earthy note on the finish.
Tinhorn Creek Oldfield Series Pinot Noir 2012 ($32, 91 points) — An attractive nose of savoury cherry, dried herbs, earth, bramble, anise and stylish oak spice notes. Plenty of red berries on the palate but also earthy/loam, herbs and elegant oak spices. This is serious Pinot that’s caressing on the palate and delivered on a bed of silky tannins.
— Evolve Cellars (@evolvecellars) May 25, 2016
Evolve Cellars Pinot Gris 2015 ($16, 89 points) — A well-balanced and flavourful Gris with a nose of apple skin, citrus, pear and tropical fruits. It has depth and substance on the palate but maintains balance between the ripe fruit and fresh, vibrant acidity.
Evolve Cellars Gewurztraminer 2015 ($16, 88 points) — Textbook Okanagan Gew from winemaker winemaker Lawrence Buhler, with a nose of lychee, ginger spice, melon, grapefruit and rose petals. It’s made off-dry but rocks the exotic tropical fruits, clove/ginger spice and citrus on the palate. It’s a deep and flavourful expression with wonderful spicy notes.
Evolve Cellars Riesling 2015 ($17, 89 points) — A lovely floral note opens on the nose with white peach, apple, pear and citrus following. There is energy on the palate and tension between the sweet-tart orchard fruits and citrus zing finish.
Evolve Cellars Rosé 2015 ($17, 87 points) — A fun rosé with light strawberry, cherry and herb notes on the nose. It’s off-dry on the palate with pretty red fruits through a lively finish.
40 Knots Vineyards and Estate Winery
This is the first time I have tried the wines this Comox winery and I was impressed. 40 Knots uses a combination of estate and Okanagan-sourced grapes to provide an interesting and eclectic range of wines.
The reason behind adding a lineup of wines from the Okanagan is to allow for some bolder reds and Icewine that cannot be achieved locally.
The portfolio includes a Chardonnay, a Pinot Gris, a Pinot Noir, a rosé and an aromatic blend of Pinot Gris and Schönburger called Whitecaps. As well, the winery has a 2010 sparkling wine, Spindrift Brut, made with a classic cuvée of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
40 Knots Pinot Gris 2015 ($19, 88 points) — A ripe expression of Gris with a nose of apple skin, peach, pear and nectarine. It’s ripe on the palate, but dry, with bold flavours of orchard fruits and a subtle savoury note on the finish.
40 Knots Whitecaps 2015 ($19, 87 points) — A blend of all the estate’s white grapes — Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Siegerrebe, Schönburger and Pinot Auxerrois. It’s light and airy on the nose with soft citrus and stone fruit aromas. There is some spice and lychee on the palate to go with apple, tropical fruits and citrus zest on the finish.
40 Knots “Uncloaked” Chardonnay 2015 ($19, 88 points) — A fresh nose of lime, citrus, apple and some tropical fruits. It’s lively on the palate with citrus and stone fruits leading the way to a clean finish. Everything you want in an unoaked Chardonnay.
40 Knots Ziggy Siegerrebe 2015 ($20, 89 points) — Named after the vineyard whippet, Ziggy, and not a certain Ziggy Stardust, as I first thought. This is an interesting and entirely delicious wine from one of Vancouver Island’s shining stars. The nose shows a range of citrus, peach, apple and apricot. It’s light but fruity on the palate with a basket of perfectly dry apricot, grapefruit and peach fruits and zippy, refreshing lime zest on the finish.
40 Knots L’Orange Schönburger 2015 ($30, 91 points) — This is totally winemaker Matt Dumayne (Okanagan Crush Pad) at play here. Using natural winemaking and no additives, the Schönburger was kept on the skins for fermentation and aging, adding structure, tannin and complexity. It’s essentially an “orange” wine, yet another in a growing legion of white wines made in this style. There will be bottle variation, so the bottle I sampled was No. 116 of only 590, for reference. It shows an amber hue in the glass and has such an interesting nose of bees wax and honey with marzipan, marmalade, citrus and bruised apple. It’s tangy and vibrant on the palate with notes of tart citrus and Meyer lemon and a complex, textured, somewhat tannic, highly acidic finish. Totally weird and wonderful wine. Love it!
40 Knots Stall Speed Syrah 2014 ($43, 90 points) — Wild fermented in the island’s salt-rich air in French puncheons and aged for a year, this Okanagan-sourced Syrah has a fragrant nose of cassis, cherry, spice, pepper and earth. It’s pure on the palate with a complex array of spices, mocha, black currants and a balanced approach to the tannins and acid.