OKANAGAN WINERIES PACK A PUNCH

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Time. Much like wine, it is something I can’t seem to get enough of. And something I run out of. Hence the absence of my blog for the last few months. Any extra time I had, I spent drinking wine, not writing about it.

So to kick myself into high gear, I took a couple of days off  from my new job and headed to BC wine country for some inspiration.

I picked a few places I had never been to before. Places with great stories. And great stories in the Okanagan are not hard to find. There are new wineries popping up here all the time.

There are anywhere from 120 – 250 wineries here depending who you ask, and whether they’ve been drinking.  And they are making some spectacular wines that we never see on the other side of the country.

I picked by grape. I know I love big reds, so I headed south to Oliver and  Osoyoos – home of some wondrous Bordeaux blends.  I also learned that if you mention you’re going to the Okanagan,  inevitably someone  sighs like they are remembering a visit to paradise and shows you a picture of that little winery that turned into a big experience.

Three days,  seven wineries and here are  a few highlights.

  1. Invictus by Perseus
    Invictus by Perseus

    Perseus – I sampled a bottle of Perseus wine a year ago and I have been dreaming about it ever since.  The winery opened in 2011 in the middle of a residential neighbourhood.  It has already picked up a number of awards for Invictus, a Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec. The winery is named after the constellation  which hangs above the Okanagan during harvest time. Had to take one home.IMG_1683

  2. Poplar GroveI visited this place  for the wine and the company.   Cindy, Cathy,
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    Poplar Grove Winery

    Wendy and Sue have been friends since high school. Today they invited us join them  to  sample the best this stunning winery had to offer. One more for the suitcase. Imagine waking up to this treasure every morning?

 

Culmina Winery
Culmina Winery

3. Culmina Winery – This was one of the reasons I came back to  the Okanagan, Rumour had it the wine was among the best in the Valley – and it did not disappoint. Don Triggs (of Jackson-Triggs fame) and his daughter Sara have blended old-fashioned knowledge with high tech tools to create wines to remember, including wines that shouldn’t really be growing in that climate. The approach is inspirational and will be the subject of a separate story in its own. Stay tuned.  OK… we bought a case.

 

4.  Moon Curser This winery has a one-of-a-kind distinction for me. I actually had to risk arrest and  break-in to get a taste. My friend Lisa and I were staying in Osoyoos and decided to clock our 10,000 steps by walking to the winery (how cool is that)?

Let nothing stand between Me and My Wine
Let nothing stand between Me and My Wine

Google Maps directed us to a walking path along the cherry trees and vines. However, about 100 metres from our destination we were met by a locked gate, not that that was going to stop us. We got down on all fours and slipped under the fence. It was definitely worth the effort. Moon Curser – formerly Twisted Tree – is named after the smugglers who used to work in “them thar hills with veins of gold.” They cursed the light of the moon when trying to sneak across the border.

Moon Curser features  some old and new world varietals that are attracting attention. Owner and winemaker Chris Tolley, a former Montrealer, and his wife Beata, honed their craft in New Zealand. Their Tannant , Malbec, Sangiovese, Syrah,

Moon Curser Winery
Moon Curser Winery

Carmenere,  along with the Afraid of the Dark white and red blends, are all  worth a taste.  Yup, Moon Curser got the last spot in my suitcase.

Big Sky over the Okanagan Valley
Big Sky over the Okanagan Valley

Go to the Okanagan!  Demand more BC wines in your local wine store!  These are national treasures that stand up to Old World excellence. Thanks for the inspiration!

Cheers!

 

 

Wine Picks for Wednesday

Fellini's Rhino from "E La Nave Va"
Fellini’s Rhino from “E La Nave Va” (And the Ship Sails On)

Looking for some picks for a weekend of reds?  Old World meets New World on the list of this week’s suggestions.

Frenchie Napoleon
Frenchie Napoleon

Frenchie Cabernet Sauvignon Napoleon 2013, North Coast, USA  I am not a fan of clever labels. All too often, I have found the cuter the labels, the lousier the wine. The exception to this are California and Australian labels. Hence I gave  “Frenchie” a try. And very happy I did. It is rich and smooth, a full-bodied wine with a great nose of cassis, vanilla, and dark fruit with a long finish. Dog lovers planning to visit this winery should know your pets are welcome to stay at their wine-themed kennels. $24.95

IMG_0747Miguel Torres Altos Ibericos Crianza 2012  Miguel Torres is the king of Spanish wine. On a recent stop in Toronto, the legendary winemaker paid tribute to other great winemaking families. Torres’ product line is extensive and a testament to good taste. I found this one at the LCBO for $16.95. It’s 100% Tempranillo and I plan to buy a case before my ex-pat Montreal friends come for dinner – otherwise we end up hitting the good stuff late at night. Never a good plan. Trust me, I know from experience.

Pillar Box
Pillar Box

 

Pillar Box Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, Padthaway, South Australia  Clearly my wine choices this weekend were on the big bold side.  This Cabernet Sauvignon responded to both. It was  spicy, smooth and it is winning accolades  around the world, including a 91 from the Wine Enthusiast.  $21.95

Let us know if you give them a try.

Cheers