The Okana­gan Grape Cheat Sheet

Or how to sep­a­rate your pinots and sound like a somm on your next win­ery visit.

Western Living - - CONTENTS -


Acres Planted 1,564 Best Area Oliver and Osoyoos.

Char­ac­ter­is­tics Okana­gan mer­lot is the big­gest, bad­dest mer­lot around with loads of struc­ture, pow­er­ful fruit and great acid to balance it all out. Even Paul Gia­matti would be con­vinced. Stand­out Bot­tle Vanessa Vine­yard Right Bank ($40): Ripe Sim­ilka­meen fruit held in place with some medium firm tan­nins rem­i­nis­cent of its homage— Right Bank Bordeaux.


Acres Planted 510 Best Area Kelowna north to Lake Coun­try. Char­ac­ter­is­tics Ei­ther steely with laser-fo­cused acid­ity or slightly sweet with laser-fo­cused acid­ity.

Stand­out Bot­tles So many, but when it comes right down to it, the Tan­talus Old Vines Riesling ($30) may be the con­sis­tently best bot­tle of any va­ri­etal made in the Okana­gan.


Acres Planted 996

Best Area Black Sage Bench and Nara­mata Bench are notable, but there are great pock­ets from Kelowna South.

Char­ac­ter­is­tics Can go from Ch­ablis-like min­er­al­ity (Tan­talus Ju­ve­niles) to Cal­i­for­nia-style but­ter­i­ness (Time Win­ery).

Stand­out Bot­tle Sper­ling Chardon­nay is fresh but never aus­tere and an ab­so­lute steal at $26. Ab­so­lutely de­li­cious.


Acres Planted 530 Best Area Nara­mata Bench (balance) to Osoyoos (power).

Char­ac­ter­is­tics A bold, spicy wine that gen­er­ally avoids the rich, lush Aussie-style in favour of a more el­e­gant flo­ral ex­pres­sion on par with syrah from France’s Rhône Val­ley. Stand­out Bot­tles So many, but you could do worse than Laugh­ing Stock’s won­der­ful sexy and se­ri­ous syrah ($36).

Pinot Noir

Acres Planted 1,073 Best Area Kelowna is ground zero, but north to Ver­non is good as well.

Char­ac­ter­is­tics This one’s more in the hands of the winemakers some of whom go for Russian River-style rich­ness (Quails' Gate Ste­wart Fam­ily Re­serve) and some for Bur­gun­dian re­straint and earth­i­ness (any­thing from Martin’s Lane; see page 76).

Stand­out Bot­tles Spear­head Cu­vée ($38) is a blend of the above, with lay­ers of cher­ries but some lovely earthy notes.

Pinot Gris

Acres Planted 1,114 Best Area Wher­ever dan­de­lions grow? The truth is that there’s good PG from Oliver to Lake Coun­try—and that’s why it’s our most widely grown white grape.

Char­ac­ter­is­tics When grown in the Al­sa­tian style: honey, melon, balanced acid­ity. In the Ital­ian pinot gri­gio style: quaf­fa­bil­ity, for­get­table-ness.

Stand­out Bot­tle Roche Pinot Gris Inox 2016 ($22) strad­dles the two with zippy, bright fruit but a level of rich com­plex­ity be­neath that pro­duces a sat­is­fy­ingly long fin­ish.

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