Nk’Mip Cellars- a First Nations Operation Making Great Wines

Last night I tried one of the new releases from Nk’Mip Cellars in B.C. — the 2008 Pinot Noir.  Although a little bit leaner than in the past, it was still bang-0n varietally, with dried cherries, just a touch of oak and a little bit of herbalness.  For under $20, this is still a really nice wine.

For those who aren’t familiar with this winery, I encourage you to try out some of their offerings.  It is North America’s first Aboriginal owned and operated winery, which is something in its own right. But the big news is the quality of its wines, which — for many of them — can compete with any in B.C., Canada and even around the world.

Nk’Mip makes two levels of wines — regular and the Qwam Qwmt (or reserve) lines. There are whites and reds in both, and I have had the privilege of following their progress for a number of years now, with some fabulous results.

On the white side, the Chardonnays (both regular and Qwam Qwmt) stand out both in terms of quality and value. They are made in a traditional oaked, California style and the Qwam Qwmt, in particular, can be amazing, picking up the butterscotch, caramel and hazelnut tones you only usually get from $50+ wines south of the border — for half the price!

For the red wines, the regular Pinot is the best value, although the Merlot can also be very nice. But it is the Qwam Qwmt Pinot Noir and Syrah that really standout.  The first is just gorgeous, a blend in style of California and Burgundy with ripe cherry fruit, a nice cloak of vanilla (from the oak) and some earthy, herbal nuances. I am testing this one in the cellar to see how it may age, but I wouldn’t be surprised at 5+ years.  All that for $30! The Syrah is newer to the portfolio but shows good promise, with classic earth, pepper and black cherries.  It will need a few years in the cellar to round into form, but at $35 is competitive with some of the other reserve Syrah’s from B.C.

So if you get a chance, try some of Nk’Mip’s wines.  All are at least good, and some can be truly outstanding!




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