BC Pinot Noir pairs well with Easter feasting

The British Columbia Wine Institute has declared the entire month of April to be BC Wine Month. Local wine lovers shouldn’t need any more encouragement.

As well as being the perfect introductory red wine for white wine lovers, Pinot Noir pairs well with just about any dish… including salmon! Think about picking a BC Pinot Noir for your Easter family feast.

Low in tannin – that astringent edge that gives red wines their ‘grip’ – most Pinot Noir wines have refreshingly high natural acidity keeping them bright and sassy and seriously food- friendly.

The range of growing conditions we have in British Columbia – from the desert-like heat of the southern Okanagan Valley to the moist cool climate of Vancouver Island – allows our grape-growing winemakers to explore the wide range of styles Pinot Noir can produce.

Reduced by $2 until the end of April, Andrew Peller’s Conviction ‘The Priest’ Pinot Noir $13.99 features a medley of cherry, berry, currant and ripe apple flavours in a silky, sippable lighter red.

Under their ‘Prospect – of the Okanagan’ label, Mark Anthony Wine & Spirits (Mission Hill, Painted Turtle, Rigamarole et al… domestically) puts out a full range of VQA approved Okanagan Valley wines.

Named for winemaker Corrie Krehbiel’s golden retriever dogs that scare off intruding wildlife in the vineyards, Prospect ‘Ruby & Sparky’ Pinot Noir $16.49 blends grapes from Oliver and Kelowna vineyards. Supple strawberry aromas and flavours are supported by sassy ripe cherry.

Exposed as “The Heartbreak Grape” in Marq de Villiers’ 1994 study, Pinot Noir has long been considered difficult to grow successfully and just as challenging to turn into fine wine.

The ‘Garagiste’ movement began – of course – in France. ‘Garagiste North’ is a local BC group of “avante garde and crazy mavericks making wine in their garage ”. Many of these small production wineries produce their own styles of Pinot Noir.

The entry level offering from an Okanagan Valley ‘garagiste’ winery that specializes exclusively in Pinot Noir, Black Cloud Fleuvage $20.00 is an uncompromisingly dry and spicy mouthful of cherry and raspberry with a medley of tree-bark, root and vegetal undertones.

With its comparatively delicate layers of aroma and flavour from violets through berries and green vegetables and herbs into spices, leather, roasted meats and a mushroom and truffle-like kind of medley often described as “forest floor” – Pinot Noir can be much more about subtlety than sheer power.

Using grapes from their own Naramata vineyards Joie Farm Pinot Noir $22.98 is made in a lighter bodied style. Refreshing natural acidity is balanced with subtle earthy flavours of sour cherry and ripe, jammy raspberry. Delicate notes of sage and liquorice round out the lingering finish.

Few traditional ‘noble’ red wine grapes thrive in Vancouver Island’s moist, cool-climate vineyards. Getting Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon to the required ripeness is impossible. However, careful site selection and canopy management can produce ripe Pinot Noir.

Crafted from grapes grown in a Cowichan Valley vineyard close to the winery, Unsworth Vineyards Pinot Noir $26.87 is elusively aromatic. Delicate floral notes simmer over the scents of more obvious fruits – earthy cherry, pomegranate, smoky cranberry, peppery boysenberry. Almost austere on first sip, it shows more layers of fruit as it opens up in the glass.

Overlooking Vaseaux Lake, Noble Ridge winery and its vineyards straddle the line between cooler northern Okanagan growing conditions and the warmer southern Okanagan. As the name suggests, only ‘noble’ wine grapes are grown here.

There’s nothing delicate about Noble Ridge Pinot Noir Reserve $28.99. This is a sturdy style full of ripe dark plum, black cherry and blackberry aromas and flavours. Aged more than a year in French oak barrels, there’s a peppery edge of earthy beets underpinning the rich and smoky dark fruit in this full-bodied red wine.

Fans of BC Pinot Noir should note the 5th Annual BC Pinot Noir Celebration will take place at UBC’s Okanagan Campus in Kelowna on Saturday, 17 August from 9:00am – 10:30pm. Check online at www.bcpinotnoir.ca for exact times and details of the associated events.

Reach WineWise by emailing douglas_sloan@yahoo.com or visit online at www.dougsloanwinewise.com