2010 BC Wine Profile: What BC Wine Makers Should be Drinking

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While tasting through dozens of BC wines for my 2010 BC winery profile (with a few more to come after the Olympics), I’ve also been engaging in conversation with many industry types about BC wines and the industry generally. One of the more interesting dilemmas I’ve been considering is that it seems many BC wine makers simply don’t taste that many international wines (I’m sure for various reasons). I’d love if any winemakers who read this blog could give their opinion on this issue, but my sources have told me that no BC wineries participate in buying Bordeaux futures and other special offers from the various wine stores and agents in the province. When I heard this I was surprised – how can BC wine makers not be consistently drinking the most important international wines to get a sense of style, place, and direction?

With this in mind (and not with any sense of pretention) I thought I’d compile a list of international wines (other than the obvious, such as Bordeaux) that I think every BC wine maker should get their hands on because I think such wines represent the future possibilities of the province, each with a distinct personality and approach, but all with something to teach. If anyone else would like to add suggestions or get discussion going on this topic, please join in. Here’s what I suggest, and why (All of these are available in Vancouver at BCLDB, Marquis Wine Cellars or Kitsilano Wine Cellars):

Whites:

Pieropan ‘Calvarino’ Soave Classico: This is what a well-made cool-climate white sipper should be like. Aromatic complexity, simplicity, and directness.

Domaine Weinbach Cuvee Laurence Gewurztraminer: The epitome of a big, rich Gewurzt. If you haven’t had a G-wine of this quality, then you have nothing to aim for.

Domaine Weinbach Cuvee St. Catherine Pinot Gris: As above, but for Pinot Gris.

Movia Ribolla: How innovation, amazing vineyard practices and biodynamics can produce rich and very complex whites from indigenous grapes.

Movia Pinot Grigio: As above, but with an international grape.

Grosset Watervale or Polish Hill Riesling: The epitome of new world dry Riesling. It is as cutting as you could imagine. A master at work.

Domaine Coursodon Saint-Joseph Blanc Silice: 100% Marsanne – and while we don’t grow this much in BC, it is a prime example of how to make a 100% varietal white with flavour, depth and personality.

Domaine L’Ecu Expression du Granite or Expression D’Orthogeneiss: Biodynamics and vin de terroir. You cannot understand how to make terroir-driven whites made from poo-pooed varieties (Melon) without tasting these wines. Oh, and this is one of the most important Biodynamic estates in the world.

Di Majo Norante Falanghina: A warm climate white, but an example of how to make them well and a good contrast to what should be done in BC. Taste this to see masterfully balanced acid in a warm-climate white.

Pierre Morey Bourgogne Blanc: Of course everyone should taste as much Burgundy as possible, but this is the premier example of classic old-world style Chardonnay with insane depth, perfect oak treatment and great vineyard practices and fruit. I think BC can make Chardonnay this good if it works on it.

Anything from Domaine Huet: Chenin Blanc – a cool climate variety that has worked so well in the Loire, and this is the epitome.

Any single vineyard wine from Donnhoff: If you make off-dry Riesling, this is your benchmark.

Gobelsburg Gruner Veltliner Grub: A perfect example of how good indigenous varities can taste when you are true to them.

Tablas Creek Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc: A new world style white Rhone blend – again a great example of how to avoid an overtly rich style in a climate much warmer than ours.

A wine from Nicolas Joly: Crazy nutso biodynamic wine – just so you see what it can taste like. Unlike anything else.

Palacio de Fefinanes Albarino: Since seafood is our cuisine here in BC, and since Albarino is perhaps the greatest seafood wine of them all, try this – the textbook example of the variety.

A Tissot single vineyard Chardonnay: A perfect example of how all Chardonnay does not need to taste the same. These will change your preconceptions of the possibilities for Chardonnay – an absolute MUST taste.

Reds:

Any Cornas from Domaine Courbis: Cooler climate syrah, at a great price. Since syrah is getting so big here it’s time to start tasting a lot more from the Northern Rhone.

Marcel Lapierre Morgon: A gamay-based wine, this cru-beaujolais is the exact kind of light bodied and yet aromatically complex red wine that we should be trying to make in BC.

Tissot Pinot Noir or Trousseau: More cool climate reds, looking to aromatics and minerals rather than overt fruit.

Sean Thackrey Pleiades: We couldn’t make this in BC, but every wine maker should see how successful and singular a wine can be when you never give up your integrity and push for what you believe in, despite what everyone is saying they want and what you should do.

Rippon Pinot Noir: There is already a BC connection here, but again, great cool-climate and biodynamic pinot. Is anyone noticing the Biodynamic trend yet? Yes, you BC wine makers should be starting to learn about this and experiment with it.

Alphonse Mellot Sancerre Rouge: Great Loire valley Pinot, struggling with ripeness levels, just like we do. Taste it to see what’s possible.

Domaine Villard St. Joseph Reflet or Cote Rotie: Again, more great cooler climate Northern Rhone syrah – great and honest examples that aren’t afraid of the kind of funk you can get in BC syrah.

Matetic EQ Pinot Noir: Yes Chile has some cooler climates, and this is made in one of them. Unique and absolutely worth trying.

Radio Coteau La Colinas Syrah: Cooler climate new world style Syrah – taste this to see what it should taste like and then adjust accordingly. Don’t emulate what is simply not possible.

Cameron Pinot Noir: Oregon, while climactically different from us, should be a source of knowledge. Here is an example of the kind of wine-making we should be learning from in BC.

I’m sure there are many more wines I could choose, but this is really just meant to be a fun post with light-hearted suggestions about the kinds of wines that I wish BC would learn from while we figure out our distinctive style. It’s a tough journey, but to get better we should be challenging our palates (and livers). Cheers, and CONGRATS to Canada on their gold-medal win in Men’s Hockey!!

Comments

  1. Jack Everitt
    March 12, 2010

    This could be said for 99% of the world’s winemakers; they taste way too many of the same wines (mostly local), and drink beer the rest of the time.

    How can you produce great, interesting wines if you haven’t tasted great, interesting wines? Particularly if you’re in a region where the wine industry is still very young?

  2. Shea
    March 12, 2010

    That’s a good point. And, when they do drink beer it’s corporate macro-lagers. How many times have I seen wine lovers drinking shit like grolsch. What’s the problem? It seems like a lack of passion.

  3. Jon D.
    April 8, 2011

    You make a great point. It’s like a business that doesn’t research the competition to stay abreast of what other businesses in the industry are doing. In my view, vintners outside of BC are still the competition (although it is very cool that many British Columbians drink BC wine often).

    Besides, drinking and studying wines from other regions can inspire ideas for improving local wines.

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