Bottled for easy access under a pop-off crown cap Evolve Pink Effervescence $20.99 is a bubbly blend of 97 per cent Pinot Blanc and 3 per cent Merlot.

Fabulous wine finds from the 39th annual Vancouver International Wine Festival!

180 wineries from 16 countries participated in 54 events, sharing 1700 wines with 25,000 attendees.

By Doug Sloan

The 39th Vancouver International Wine Festival wrapped up on Sunday, February 19. Altogether 180 wineries from 16 countries participated in 54 events, sharing 1700 wines with 25,000 attendees.

More than 60 of those wineries were from British Columbia.

With so many excellent wines to sample, it’s impossible to do them all justice. The wines that follow were stand-outs for this WineWise guy – some for their bang-for-the-buck quality to price ratio, some simply because they were outstanding world-class wines at any price.

Helmed by Christa-Lee McWatters Bond and located north of Summerland on famed Bottleneck Drive, Evolve Cellars has clearly achieved their intention to craft friendly and approachable wines.

No fuss, no unnecessary frills and no pretentions – these are wines that are made for easy enjoyment.

Made slightly off-dry in a lets-please-everybody style, Evolve Cellars Riesling (660415) $15.99 is a traditional Okanagan Valley styled version of this classic white wine. Aromas and flavours of green apple, peach and apricot lead with an underlying twist of honeyed spice.

Bottled for easy access under a pop-off crown cap Evolve Pink Effervescence (672410) $20.99 is a bubbly blend of 97 per cent Pinot Blanc and 3 per cent Merlot. Strawberries, cherries and cranberries captivate the taste buds on first sip. Stock up on a few of these for summer sipping on the deck – while they are still available.

Located just north of Osoyoos on Highway 97, Maverick Estate Winery was begun by South African immigrant Schalk DeWitt when he and wife Lynn purchased 48 acres in Osoyoos in 2005.

In 2009 their daughter Elzaan and her winemaker husband Bertus Albertyn came to the Oakanagan Valley. Maverick Estate’s first wines debuted in 2011.

Ripe fruit fills out Maverick Pinot Gris (502823) $18.99 beautifully. Aromatically tropically exuberant, an abundance of peach and honeydew melon flavours slide into pineapple, mango and guava. Too full-flavoured to be politically correct, this is a lusciously bold and uncompromisingly fruity white wine.

A blend of 65 per cent Syrah, 25 per cent Cabernet Franc and 15 per cent Cabernet Sauvignon, Maverick Rubicon (297101) $24.99 boasts aromas and flavours of raspberry, blackberry and blackcurrant. Surprisingly smooth and silky on first sip, this is a red blend worth seeking out!

Founded in 2005 by Christine Coletta and Steve Lornie, Haywire is one of Okanagan Crush Pad’s three labels – the other two are Narrative and Coolshanagh. Winemaking is in the capable hands of New Zealand native Matt Dumayne who works with consulting winemaker Alberto Antonini.

More subtly savoury that sweetly fruity, Haywire ‘Secrest Mountain Vineyard’ White Label Pinot Gris (665034) $22.90 opens with bright lemon and grapefruit notes over subtle wisps of rosemary and sage. Bright and marvellously mouth-filling on the mid-palate, it strikes a perfect balance between fruit and refreshing natural acidity.

Pushing the boundaries with concrete egg ferments and a commitment to making wine as naturally as possible, with minimal intervention. OCP and their Haywire wines are getting a lot of attention.

Prettily pink but surprisingly citric, Haywire ‘Secrest Mountain Vineyard’ Gamay Rose (687103) $22.90 manages to masterfully bridge the gap between cherry berry fruit and a subtle, spicy, ‘bouquet garni’ medley of thyme and sage notes in the finish.

After working with Okanagan Crush Pad for two years, bother Don and Michael Bartier opened Bartier Bros. Winery just last year. Award-winning winemaker Michael Bartier has a refreshingly local take on what makes great wine: “Don’t try to copy Napa, or Bordeaux, or Burgundy; make Okanagan wine.”

Bartier Bros. ‘Cerqueira Vineyard’ Chardonnay (506295) $27.99 opens with intriguingly complex aromas – including sage, fresh sliced mushrooms, lemon and grapefruit. Over a base of tart apple and pear, the full-bodied palate mimics the aromatics exactly and slides into chalky minerality in the finish.

Intensely rich and darkly fruited, Bartier Bros. ‘Cerqueira Vineyard’ Cabernet Franc (84905) $30.79 flaunts dusky aromas of dried cherries and overripe blackberries and the same dense and smoky, fruity flavours are framed by elegantly subtle and quietly earthy, peppery tannins.

Meanwhile, be sure to pick up a bottle or two of Iberian wines to tease your taste buds while you wait for the 40th Vancouver International Wine Festival – showcasing the wines of Portugal and Spain – to burst onto the scene February 24 to March 4, 2018.

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