If there’s one thing to know about me, it’s that I absolutely love wine. My boyfriend lived in Paris for five years before moving to Vancouver and I took full advantage of his time there to tour through some of the most beloved wine regions in France. Now that he lives in British Columbia, he’s fallen in love with the Okanagan Valley and we enjoy touring through the region every year. Pairing wine with food is something we love to do as we love to entertain and both of us are big foodies.
Summer is a great time to be trying out different wines, especially when sitting out on a sun-drenched patio. But which wine to pick? It can often be daunting when heading into a wine shop, especially when it comes to BC wine. Buying local is one thing – but how do you know it’s any good? Although I’m not a wine critic, I have definitely spent enough time using French wines as a benchmark and I thought I would share my own top five BC summer wines with you – so that it would be easy to bring the list with you while you shop.
2016 Semillon, La Frenz Winery
The semillon grape, native to France’s Bordeaux region, was once one of the most widely planted grapes in the world but is now no longer the case. You’ll be hard pressed to find many vineyards in the Okanagan who offer this as a single varietal as it’s most often used for blending; which is a shame as it’s highly aromatic.
These grapes planted at La Frenz are some of the oldest in Canada. You’ll experience lovely notes of lemon, figs and pears with a creamy honey finish. You can drink this now or cellar it for five years.
La Frenz Winery $19*
2016 Pinot Gris, Liquidity Winery
I’m a big fan of Liquidity’s whites and this is one of my favourite pinot gris from the region. It’s fresh and fruit with hints of apricot, pear and apples. It’s crisp and pairs great with cheeses but also stands well on its own.
By the way, if you’re ever in the Okanagan Falls area where Liquidity is located, you must try their bistro - the food is fantastic (get a seat on the patio) and the view is one of the best in the Valley.
Liquidity Winery $18*
2014 Ella, Maverick Estate Winery
I’m a big champagne snob but when I’m not willing to spend $65 and upwards on a bottle of French bubbly every week, I look to see what’s local. One of my favourite go-to bottles is Maverick’s Ella. Utilizing 80% pinot noir and 20% chardonnay grapes, the combination creates a delicate sparkling wine that resembles perfume on the nose but finishes rich and creamy. I often like to pair this with Eggs Benedict.
Maverick Estate Winery $35*
2015 Viognier, Lariana Cellars
One of my favourite wineries in the entire Okanagan Valley (it’s tiny, but I love that), Lariana produces one of the best Viogniers I’ve ever had. This wine is fermented in an 1,800-litre concrete egg - similar approach to what many artisanal winemakers do in France) and in a French oak barrel. The wine is refreshing and light, yet with lots of lychee and peach notes. Once you’ve had this Viognier, it’s pretty tough to top it.
Lariana Cellars $25*
2016 Saignée, CULMINA FAMILY ESTATE WINERY
A summer wine list must include a rosé of course - and my local favourite is from Culmina. They take a portion of the juice from each of their best Bordeaux-red varietals and you’ll understand why there’s quite a bit of minerality to the aroma. It’s not big and fruity like many of the rosés you’ll find in the Okanagan - this one will resemble more of the southern France varieties where some would argue, is the rosé's true origins.
CULMINA FAMILY ESTATE WINERY, $24
*Prices quoted are regular prices, before taxes. Price and availability are subject to change. Please see winery for details.