Traditionally, in vineyards in France, Italy, Spain and Portugal all wines were blends.
Years ago – before the various vines were classified by wine scientists as recognizably different – they replanted with cuttings from their best vines, regardless of the variety of grape.
Situated in Langley, Backyard Vineyards combines grapes from their own vineyards and complements them with grapes from the Fraser Valley and South Okanagan. With a focus on affordability, their wines are built for enjoyment and that is reflected in their whimsical names.
An easy drinking blend of Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer and Riesling, Backyard Vineyards Nosey Neighbour White (398826) $12.65 boasts aromas of peaches, orange rind and guava. Full bodied and intensely aromatic it follows up with flavours of pear, apple, honeydew melon and mangoes.
Their matching Backyard Vineyards Nosey Neighbour Red (746883) $14.10 combines almost equal amounts of Syrah and Merlot with splashes of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc to provide structure. Expect to find hints of plum, ripe raspberries, cloves, and vanilla oak.
Today’s grape growers are more likely to deliberately choose specific varieties for their different qualities. Most often, these variously different grapes are fermented into wine separately before blending.
Few wineries have as little respect for the sophisticated matter of winemaking as The Hatch, born in the Okanagan Valley’s West Kelowna in 2015. Their self-describing website is hilarious in its own right … but even more amusing with a glass of their Talking Stories blends in hand.
“One of the most anticipated releases in the history of wine”, Talking Stories White (484741) $13.50 the “was released to coincide with the Queens Diamond Jubilee. A blend of the most prestigious Pinot family grapes; Gris, Blanc and the upstart and sassy Auxxerois. If you could drink Chanel N°5, and you can if you want (we have, don’t judge) then the Talking Stories White is perfect for you or your family and some of your friends.”
A blend of 60 per cent Cabernet Franc and 40 per cent Merlot, Talking Stories Red (831131) $13.50 is “made from grapes that were grown on actual vines, this real wine has been bottled in real, Himalayan glass. A favourite wine of both Mick Jagger and Sirhan Sirhan. Enjoy now, or build a time machine and enjoy it August 25, 1883.” ‘Nuff said? Named for the rough flat sledge for moving stones, originally used to clear their home vineyard of its abundant river rocks, Stoneboat Vineyards released their first vintage in 2005. By 2015, they were looking for a new twist and released their ‘Stone’d’ blends.
Previously known known as ‘Chorus’, Stone’d White (875740) $17.99 combines roughly equal parts Pinot Blanc, Müller Thurgau, Schöenberger and Kerner, with a splash of Pinot Gris and a splash of Viognier. Full of fruity tropical notes on a juicy base of citric acidity with a touch of sweetness, this is a cheerful blend.
Featuring a pair of young folks wearing flashy kaleidoscopic glasses, the colourful labels of these Stone’d wines were originally criticized for implying some kind of connection the youth drug culture. Definitely not as traditional and serious as the stoneboat sled featured on the winery’s original labels!
Stone’d Red (850412) $20.25 is a unique blend of 58 per cent Pinotage and 42 per cent Pinot Noir with the brighter cherry notes of the Pinot underpinned by the earthiness of the Pinotage. The medium bodied palate is plush and plummy, juicy with some restrained toasty notes.
Canadian by birth, trained in Australia, Richard Kanazawa started making wine in the Okanagan Valley at Red Rooster Winery in Naramata and moved on to Blasted Church Vineyards. The first vintage of his own Kanazawa Wines was produced in 2010.
A white blend of 57 per cent Viognier, 38 per cent Semillon and 5 per cent Orange Muscat, Kanazawa Nomu 2013 (574673) $20.25 was made without commercial yeasts or enzymes. Orange blossom, citrus rind, peach, apricot and grassy aromas slide into flavours of lemons and mandarin oranges, peaches, and honeyed pears.
A red blend of 37per cent Merlot, 31 per cent Cabernet Sauvignon, 26 per cent Petite Verdot and 6 per cent Malbec, the outrageously elegant Kanazawa Ronin (883454) $30.90 2012 is ripe and rich with bright flavors of red and black berries, leading to a toasty finish with soft tannins.
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