Consider Okanagan reds this festive season
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.
Black Hills winery is situated in the southern end of the Okanagan Valley.