It’s that time of year, so here are my picks for BC wines that you can give as gifts for Christmas. I will break it up between those you can by in the government liquor stores (not many, unfortunately) and those you will have to buy direct from the winery (unless you can find them in a private wine store).
Government Liquor Stores
Just in time for Xmas, Nk Mip Vineyards has released the new vintage of its Pinot Noir. The 2010 is a worthy follow-up to the very good 2009, with deep red colour, classic cherry/earth/vanilla aromas and flavours, and a lush, smooth texture. Still selling for $19.99, it is one of the quality bargains out there from BC.
Not as much of a bargain — and a wine that needs to lay down for while — is the 2009 Syrah from Burrowing Owl. This is a special order from this now iconic winery, so not sure how much is still around, but it is, in my opinion, the best wine this winery now makes (and the only one I buy for my cellar). Classic French-style Syrah, it is dark, with pepper, black fruit, earth and bit of meat flavour — a real “red wine”. The oak is integrated well here, so don’t expect a jammy Shiraz. And, as mentioned in the intro, I would lay it down for a couple of years or decant it for a couple of hours before hand to let it smooth out. At $29.90 it isn’t a bargain, but there is quality here for sure.
For whites, I would recommend going back to Burrowing Owl again for their 2009 Chardonnay. Made in a pseudo-California style, the oak provides a nice vanilla/butter kiss to the citrus fruit in a medium bodied framework. At $24.91, it also offers pretty good value for this style of wine.
The only other white is even in shorter supply — the 2010 Riesling by Tantalus Vineyards. Only a couple of cases of this German look-a-like are still around, but if you find some grab it — lovely mineral, slightly off-dry fruit, medium body, really ripe; almost as good as the La Frenz!. Just a great wine for $22.90, and it would go very well with turkey.
At the Winery
Speaking of La Frenz, a quick check of their website shows only two wines are still available — the 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon for $29.00 and the 2008 Total Reserve (a Bordeaux blend) for $40. If you have a wine snob on the Xmas list, get him the Cab — it is the best in BC (if not in Canada) and easily competes with California wines at twice the price! It is a fabulous vanilla/blackcurrant filled bottle that will drink well for 3 – 5 years.
Also a great pick for a gift is the 2009 Syrah from Nichol Vineyards, which was just released a couple of months ago. This is the best Syrah in Canada — peppery, earthy, meaty and lean but ripe. It ages amazingly well, and develops even more French character over the course of 6 – 8 years. It is $35, but worth the price.
Another best in BC/Canada is available from Kettle Valley — the 2008 Hayman Vineyard Pinot Noir. Only 88 cases of this beauty are made, so it is surprising it is still around. Not your typical California style Pinot, this one is very Burgundian, with earthy/mushroomy overtones to the red cherry fruit. It is best cellared for 3 – 5 years, but can also keep for 10 in good vintages. Again, not cheap at $38, but a bargain compared to French or Californian wines of equal quality at 3 – 4 times the price.
Last, but not least, Blue Mountain’s Reserve Pinot Noir may be sold out, but they still have their NV Sparkling Wine, which might be the best in BC. Made in a Spanish Cava style with crisp green apples and just a hint of toast, it will go well with any celebration. And the $25 price tag is great compared against other wines of this quality.
So there you have it — some BC wine suggestions for gifts this year. Next week, I will do the annual “what to serve with dinner” blog, before taking a break until 2012.