Con­sider Okana­gan reds this fes­tive sea­son

Calgary Herald - Calgary Herald New Condos - - Weekend Life -

As most of you al­ready know there is no short­age of pre­mi­umpriced red wine from the Okana­gan Val­ley, in fact I’d say the majority of the bet­ter ex­am­ples come in above the $40 mark, and in my mind any­thing over $40 can be con­sid­ered pre­mium. The ques­tion then is a sim­ple one; are they worth it?

There was a time, not so long ago, when I’d have said that most are not but the re­gion has ma­tured and there are now some se­ri­ous reds to con­sider.

I should add that in the white wine realm I be­lieve that Canada can com­pete on a world scale but reds are another mat­ter, es­pe­cially for late ripen­ing va­ri­etals like Caber­net Sau­vi­gnon (most no­tably).

As we are get­ting closer to fes­tive sea­son I thought I would sug­gest a few se­ri­ous wines from the val­ley that de­liver the goods. Black Hills Syrah

2012 — $36

Black Hills is lo­cated in the south­ern end of the Okana­gan Val­ley just north of the town of Osoy­oos. The area tech­ni­cally sits on the north­ern tip of the Sono­ran Desert and on the day I was there this past sum­mer it cer­tainly felt like it as the tem­per­a­ture was hov­er­ing around the 45 C mark. In fact the ex­ces­sive heat is a chal­lenge as vines start to shut down around 32 C, sort of a built-in self-preser­va­tion sys­tem. Both drip and over­head ir­ri­ga­tion is re­quired to keep things go­ing when it gets this hot and in true desert fash­ion the evenings tend to be much cooler which helps keep things in check. Black Hills flag­ship wine — a Bordeaux blend called Nota Bene (sold out) — typ­i­cally sells for about $80 and is very good but for the dif­fer­ence in cash I would go for their 2012 Syrah. The wine is dom­i­nated by black fruits with some notes of black pep­per and co­coa along with sweet vanilla oak. It would go nicely with a roast leg of lamb or game meats. Fox­trot Pinot Noir

2011 — $62

Fox­trot is sit­u­ated on the Nara­mata Bench at the south­ern end of the val­ley roughly half­way be­tween Sum­mer­land and Penticton. It is cooler than the Osoy­oos area and of­fers a di­ver­sity of soil types (the Osoy­oos area is pretty much all sand). It has turned out to be one of the most de­sir­able ar­eas to plant grapes in the val­ley and some of the re­gion’s best winer­ies are sit­u­ated here. This is a big, rich style of Pinot, burst­ing with cherry and cas­sis notes along with hints of spice and earth. I think Pinot Noir is grape that has a bright fu­ture in parts of the Okana­gan and here is a great ex­am­ple of that. Try it with baked sal­mon or roast chicken. Mis­sion Hill

Qua­train 2010 — $70

Mis­sion Hill needs no in­tro­duc­tion; the win­ery was among the first to de­velop a world-class fa­cil­ity both for wine pro­duc­tion and wine tourism. They pro­duce a wide ar­ray of wines but their flag­ship ef­forts in­clude Oc­cu­lus (sold out) Qua­train and Com­pen­dium. Qua­train is a Mer­lot-dom­i­nated Bordeaux blend (mostly) dis­play­ing notes of black cherry, eu­ca­lyp­tus and cedar spice aro­mas and flavours. There is some Syrah in the blend which adds notes of co­coa and spice. It would go well with most red meats; beef ten­der­loin would be a nice match.

LFNG is a Nara­mata pro­ducer de­liv­er­ing some of the best wines in Canada, both red and white. The Port­fo­lio red is their flag­ship wine, a clas­sic Bordeaux blend dom­i­nated by Mer­lot. 2012 is one of the best vin­tages on record for the val­ley and the re­sult is a big red wine with lots of grip but nicely bal­anced.

Ge­off Last

Black Hills win­ery is sit­u­ated in the south­ern end of the Okana­gan Val­ley.

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