Growing wine grapes in British Columbia is a much more expensive exercise than in many other wine growing regions throughout the world.
There is such a small area of this beautiful province that is suitable for growing perfectly ripe wine grapes and in the premium regions – the Okanagan and Similkameen Valleys – the cost of land is high and the cost of growing grapes even higher, since the vineyards need to be irrigated throughout the growing season.
The appearance of remarkably affordable Vintners Quality Alliance approved wines like Strut’s Okanagan Valley ‘Red Over Heels’ really begs the question: Is there now a glut of wine grapes in the Okanagan?
Despite its chic, high-heeled label and amazingly affordable price Strut 2012 ‘Red Over Heels’ (612689) $7.99 is a surprisingly rich and well-balanced red full of dark cherries and blue and black berry fruit aromas and flavours. Nicely integrated oak gives it an edge of earthy spiciness with a twist of coffee in the finish.
Unlike Chile, Argentina, South Africa or Spain, British Columbia has no regions with endless acres of vineyards. Our local wine grape growers are faced with pockets of suitable sites scattered through the interior valleys, the Gulf Islands and Vancouver Island.
To compete with international wines, our largest wineries started importing bulk wines from around the world and finishing them here in their own winery facilities. Often referred to as CIC – Cellared in Canada – these affordable wines might actually be multinational blends of locally grown wines as well as base wines from Australia, Argentina or even the Central Valley of California.
Recently introduced in BC, Rebellion wines are made by a couple of young winemakers – Juzer and Sydney – and developed for younger wine sippers who will appreciate the exuberance they have managed to coax from their domestic and imported blends.
Very well-priced for younger wine lovers Rebellion Pinot Grigio (959346) $8.20 shows a plethora of peach and pear aromatics with a sweet lemon rind and pink grapefruit flavour over brisk green apple notes that are crisp and light-hearted. Very clean,
A strikingly smooth combination of jammy black currant and oak aromatics Rebellion Shiraz (213082) $8.20 – according to Juzer and Sydney – sings with notes of blackberry, red berry and a hint of spice. A strikingly smooth combination of jammy black currant and oak aromatics, their Shiraz flaunts nicely rounded notes of blackberry, red berry with a hint of spice.
All of BC’s largest wine producers – Andrew Peller, Mark Anthony and Constellation Brands – have numerous labels in their ‘Cellared in Canada’ blends of domestic and imported wines. Different house styles become apparent across their portfolios. But the one feature they share is the combination of refreshing acidity and sweet ripe fruitiness.
New to private wine retailers Twist of Fate Pinot Grigio Chardonnay (442335) $8.99 is also a ‘Cellared in Canada’ blend. No telling where the juicy fruit for this off-dry white really comes from… but from the generosity of apple, pear, lemon and honeyed melon flavours California might be a good guess.
The companion red Twist of Fate Malbec Merlot (634691) $8.99 overflows with brambly blueberry fruit from the Malbec and deep, ripe plum notes from the Merlot. There’s a seductive touch of sweetness in the finish that makes this a crowd-pleaser!
Founded in the world-renowned Okanagan Valley, the Artisan Wine Co. has crafted an extensive portfolio of fine wines. Their brands range from classic and traditional to irreverent and fun. The newest addition to their family of fascinating wines are the wines from Pendragon.
Peach and pineapple aromas lead into the first sip of Pendragon Satin White Pinot Grigio (381145) $9.49. Green apple and ripe pear flavours slide seductively into a luscious tropical fruit medley of flavours. There’s an intriguing sprinkling of spicy sage and white pepper lingering in the finish of this off-dry white.
Full of ripe red and black fruit flavours Pendragon Velvet Red Cabernet Sauvignon) $9.49 shows a surprising richness for the attractive price. Subtle savoury spices swirl into dark chocolate, sweet black cherry and damson plum in the aftertaste of this medium-dry red.
Take the opportunity to explore these new wines. Whatever your preferences you’ll be sure to find a style that pleases your own personal taste!
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