B.C. WineNewsTop Stories

B.C. wine report: Spring releases for Sperling, Fort Berens, Hester Creek and Township 7

By Rick VanSickle and Michael Lowe

In this report on B.C. wines, we delve into a selection of spring releases from Sperling Vineyards, Fort Berens, Township 7 and Hester Creek.

The vast majority of B.C. wineries remain open for online ordering only with many offering free delivery in B.C. and some across Canada, with a few wineries offering curbside pickup. Local wineries need consumers’ help more than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic. Here we offer a selection of wines that will help with your online shopping as we all continue to self-isolate. 

Sperling Vineyards

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Sperling has closed the tasting room, play centre and picnic area in an effort to keep guests and employees safe. While staff members are self-isolating and quarantining, they are still available to fill and re-fill cellars. They are offering free shipping on all orders of 6+ bottles or more, with optional contactless curb-side pick-up or local delivery.

For ordering, call 778-478-0260 or email here.

Here are some recommendations from the new releases.

Sperling Vineyards Amber Pinot Gris 2018 ($30, 89 points) — From the Vision series, as indicated on one of the coolest labels in the country, comes this orange wine that’s 100% naturally made from 40% whole cluster, 40% whole berry and 20% pressed juice from hand-picked Pinot Gris. Natural yeast and malolactic fermented, this wine has had nothing added and nothing taken away (no sulphites, or other additives, and no fining nor filtration). The wine shows a vibrant and glowing amber colour in bottle and glass and has a complex, enticing nose of jammy strawberries, rhubarb, tangerine, watermelon, earth and green tea. It’s juicy and flavourful on the palate with pulpy strawberries, lovely earthy/umami notes, some stone fruits, citrus zest, light tannins, gorgeous texture and a fresh vibrant finish. It’s an interesting wine that changes in profile as you sip away. One of Canada’s classic orange wines.

Sperling Vineyards Chardonnay 2017 ($32, 91 points) — A nice golden colour in the glass of this organic Chardonnay with a saline nose of pear, apple, minerals and citrus zest. It’s harmonious on the palate with orchard fruits, land emon tart with a clean, poised and balanced attack and vibrant finish driven by tingly acidity.

Sperling Market White 2018 (19 , 89 points) – This easy-drinking white is a
blend of Bacchus, Pinot Blanc and Riesling. It’s highly aromatic with notes of honeysuckle, citrus fruits, apple and pear. The palate is fresh and juicy with plenty of melon, apple and citrus and a chalky mineral seam at the core. The low alcohol (10.6%) is just a part of the appeal, and makes it an easy match with spicy foods. (Michael Lowe review)

Sperling Vineyards Pinot Gris 2018 ($21, 88 points) — A lovely summer white with a nose of peach, melon and apple all nicely integrated. There is a touch of sweetness on the palate from the ripe orchard fruits but well balanced by the firm acidity through a juicy finish.

Sperling Vineyards Pinot Noir 2017 ($35, 91 points) — Oak aging for this tidy organic Pinot was done in large format barrels. The nose shows bright cherry fruit, earth, brambly raspberries, forest berries and just a hint of oak. It shows mouth-filling red berries, caressing tannins and a smooth texture with earth, a touch of spice, anise and a finessed finish.

Sperling Vineyard Old Vines Foch Reserve 2017 ($32, 92 points) — This old vine, organic Foch was planted in the 1960s by winemaker Ann Sperling’s (above) dad Bert. It produces low yields with berries that are high in concentration. It’s tight on the nose, but swirl away and it will reveal a range of cassis, anise, black currants and earth followed by earthy/forest floor notes. It’s highly structured and complex on the palate but the fruit pops with dark berries, a touch of kirsch, licorice, savoury herbs, earth and depth through a long and lively finish. History in a bottle here.

Hester Creek

Hester Creek is offering free shipping to all consumers. There is no shipping code required and you can mix and match any of the available products in shipments of 6, 12, 18. Go here to order online.

Here are some recent releases we can recommend:

Hester Creek Pinot Gris 2019 ($17, 88 points) — It teems with crisp apple, pears, apricot and melon on the nose. It’s dry and refreshing on the palate with just a whiff of wild honey to go with layered orchard fruits and apricot with plenty of vibrant acidity on the finish.

Hester Creek Pinot Blanc 2019 ($16, 88 points) — Primarily sourced from the estate’s old vines Block 4 on the Golden Mile Bench planted in 1968. It has such an expressive nose of peach, ripe apple, nectarine and just a hint of citrus. It’s perfectly dry on the palate with a range of juicy orchard fruits, minerals and citrus zing on the finish.

Hester Creek Old Vines Trebbiano Block 16 2019 ($21, online, 91 points) — The source of these old vines, which were imported from Italy in 1968, are some of the oldest vines at the estate (and B.C). I do adore this wine vintage to vintage. There is vivid Northern spy apple on the nose with pineapple, tropical fruits, lemon and stony minerality. It’s delightfully off-dry on the palate, and dripping in peach, mango, pineapple, ripe apple and minerals with an acid kick on the finish to keep everything juicy and lively.

Township 7

Township 7 is offering free shipping across Canada and, until the end of April, $10 from every online order of four bottles or more is being donated to the B.C. Hospitality Foundation, which supports workers in the sector that has been devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic. To order, go here.

Here are some recent new releases to consider:

Township 7 Seven Stars “Polaris” 2017 ($36, 90 points) —  A traditional method sparkler made from 100% Chardonnay. The nose is fresh with green apple, lemon and a yeasty bread note. Mouthfeel is generous and round on the palate with flavours of tart apple and lemon backed up with a lees/yeast background. A great match for shellfish or creamy sauces. (Michael Lowe review)

Township 7 Reserve Chardonnay 2018 ($27, 91 points) — The fruit is sourced from the Becker Vineyard on Black Sage Road and is aged and fermented in French oak, 20% of which was new oak. The nose shows a bold tropical fruits, pear, lemon blossom, apple and elegant oak spices. The palate reveals more baked apple notes with ripe pear, grilled pineapple, toasted vanilla bean and spice with juicy acidity on a the finish.

Township 7 Reserve 7 2017 ($38, 92 points) — This is a five-varietal Bordeaux blend of 51% Merlot, 28% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Cabernet Franc and 1% each of Petit Verdot and Malbec primarily sourced from the estate’s Blue Terrace Vineyard in Oliver. It’s aged in American and French oak barrels for 20 months and is bottled unfiltered. Such an enticing nose of black currants, plums, dark cherries, minty herbs, raspberry bush and elegant spices. It shows an elegant, plush structure on the palate and it’s loaded with dark fruits, mocha, earth, lavish spices and depth that all leads to long finish. Tempting now, but can cellar 5-7 years.

Township 7 NBO 2017 ($36, 91 points) — A blend 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Merlot sourced from the Blue Terrace Vineyard, this beautiful wine has a lot of character. From hints of mint to enticing aromas of blackcurrant, spice and plum to cooked beetroot, it’s a joy just to nose it. On the palate it’s laden with ripe, fleshy, dark fruit balanced by mouth-watering acidity. The fruit carries through the long finish with tannins that are still quite firm and able to cellar for 5+ years. Pair with roasted venison or lamb with fresh herbs. (Michael Lowe review)

Fort Berens

To place an order during the COVID-19 pandemic, you can:

• Visit the website here.
• Call 1-877-956-7768 ext 202
• Email here.

Here are some spring releases to consider:

Fort Berens Rosé 2019 ($18, 88 points) — This is 100% Pinot Noir from the estate vineyard in Lillooet that spends 48 hours on the skins. Notes of fresh-cut watermelon, violets, red berries and red currants on the nose. It’s perfectly dry on the palate with juicy watermelon, raspberries and herbs that are wonderfully fresh and vibrant on the finish.

Fort Berens Pinot Gris 2019 ($18, 88 points) — A blend of estate vineyards and sourced vineyards from Lytton, Keremeos and Similkameen vineyards. The nose shows pear and melon with lemon, lime zest, apple and a pinch of spice. It’s zesty and vibrant on the palate with juicy orchard fruits, citrus and nectarine followed by a crisp, fresh finish.

Fort Berens Riesling 2019 ($18, 87 points) — A nose of crisp apple, citrus, peach and pear. It’s mouth-filling with pineapple, lime, grapefruit, pear, honey and subtle herbaceous notes with decent balance between sweet and tart fruit on the finish.

Fort Berens Pinot Noir 2018 ($26, 89 points) — A blend of estate Pinot and fruit from the Similkameen Valley and West Kelowna. It shows a lighter colour in the glass but has a highly aromatic nose of crushed raspberries, cherries, cranberries and spice. The mouth-watering acidity highlights lovely red berries on smooth frame with vibrancy and finesse on the finish.