3rd Annual Kamloops Wine Award Winners!

This is it!

We have finally made it through all our notes on all the newest Kamloops wines and we are ready to share them with you.

First, I have to tell you that this year we sampled 39 Kamloops wines to come up with our list. And that’s not even all of them! Ten years ago would you have imagined a time when you could leave your house and drive not twenty minutes to have a selection of four dozen beautiful, hand-crafted, local wines to choose from? The owners and staff at our four local vineyards have outdone themselves. It’s like they are astronauts they have taken off so fast and created an industry in a decade where once there was none. Exceptional. Kamloops should be very proud of our wine sector, which I know we are.

Okay, no more chit chat. Let’s nail this down.

Twelve categories. Four wineries. A huge range of grapes, styles, landscapes and tastes. This is what we’ve discovered for you…

Best Winery to Visit – Monte Creek Ranch

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Last year we couldn’t decide who edged out the others since each of our wineries were so unique. And they are all still unique. Amazingly different from each other, each venue offers something the others don’t have. What they all have in common is great people, stunning scenery and lots to do.

Monte Creek won out this year because, without exception, their staff has been spot on every single time we went through the doors. Casual, knowledgeable, funny and fun, the Monte Creek team do Kamloops proud. The views, the grounds, the welcoming opportunity to wander the vineyard and the patio restaurant make it well worth the trip.

An honourable mention goes to Sagewood Winery this year. Sagewood couldn’t be more different than Monte Creek Ranch. Moving from one of the top ten grape producers in the province to one of the smallest vineyards in BC, one after the other, is great.

Sagewood is family farming at it’s finest and I love bringing guests out there since it feels like you are taking them to a secret winery that only the locals know about. I’ve never had a conversation with Doug that didn’t end in laughter. They’ve done some renos, too. It’s worth a visit if you haven’t been lately!

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Best Dinner White – Privato 2016 Ortega

Please tell me you can still get this wine…

We visited Privato earlier this year then I got sidetracked by wildfire volunteering. As such, this wine may be sold out. But, rest assured, if you missed this vintage, the next is going to be great, too.

Ortega is not my grape. All of the Ortega’s I have sampled have come from South of here and they are all too sweet, too floral and too German for my liking. But, add our intense Kamloops heat and our unique soil composition (along with some great winemaking skills) into the equation and you have yourself a very fine wine indeed.

Privato’s 2016 Ortega is the most fragrant wine you will find in Kamloops. What a beautiful bouquet. Once you get past that, you’ll find a light, dry, peachy, summery wine that would pair well with any or our typical Kamloops fare. I gave this one a 5/6. It’s priced at just $17.09 for Wine Club members. Be a wine club member. It’s worth it.

Best Dinner Red – Monte Creek Hands Up Red

Okay, I am going to get hanged for saying this… or shot at high noon, maybe? Hands Up Red has never been a big favourite around here. It’s young, it’s pretty ‘new world’ and it’s meant for a less experienced wine drinker. But, this year? Bam! Winemaker Galen Barnhardt has this varietal strung up by it’s bootstraps. He owns it!

First of all, they added some Cab Franc. Everything is better with Cab Franc. Secondly, it’s been handled well with a light touch. It feels and tastes carefully crafted. It’s more subtle and smoother than previous years. It has a little layering and stands well on it’s own. If you haven’t tried the 2016 it’s worth a revisit. 4.5/6 and $16.99.

Best Patio White – Harper’s Trail 2016 Riesling

The 2016 Pioneer Block Riesling is a wine to be reckoned with. It is intense. It is so full of flavour and beautifully bold you’ll do a double take.

The Harper’s Trail wines all have a great mineral flavour you can attribute to their location against the hoodoos. That limestone soaked soil, baked by our Kamloops sun, packs a lot of really unique characteristics into their wines.

The 2016 Riesling is tart, full and far more flavourful than most other BC Rieslings. It’s more than enough grape to stand alone. A really great patio wine should last you a while. It should be the kind of drink you want to savour.  This meets the mark and then leaps right over it. It tastes of the sun, perfect for Kamloops! 3.5/6 at $18.29 

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Best Patio Red – Privato 2014 Tesoro

Okay. Pinot Noir. That is all you should have to say about this. Pinot Noir is great. And, here in BC, Pinot Noir does really well. Then, add someone who is as passionate about winemaking as John is, and you have the makings of a Pinot Noir that is exceptional.

Have you ever had a jam made out of roasted fruit? It’s so much warmer and richer than a jam made out of fresh fruit. Fresh fruit jam is fantastic. Roasted fruit jam is other-worldly. The Tesoro is so warm and deep and flavourful. And all of this comes through is a medium bodied wine that isn’t so dry or heavy that you need to sit down with food to enjoy it. If you want to impress your guests, this wine will do it. It’s draped in medals from fancy wine awards (as opposed to homegrown ones – cough, cough) and deservedly so. I gave it a 4.5/6 but only because it rings in at $34.69 which is a bit high for me. I get it… 18 months in beautiful french oak doesn’t come cheap. I come cheap, though, so this one is out of my price range.

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Best Speciality Wine – Sagewood 2016 Dernier

I try to not get too wound up about dessert wines.

Of course they all taste great at the end of a wine tasting! You have just had a bunch of free wine. Hooray! Let’s celebrate! It’s loaded with sugar so it gets 200 bonus points right there. Then, it’s loaded with lots of alcohol since it’s packed with all that sugar so it gets 600 bonus points on top of the previous 200 and the next thing you know, you have 9 bottles of dessert wine at home and you have no idea how it happened.

But, every once in a while, I come across one I would like to share with my Dad. This is one of those kind of wines. Made out of Marechel Foch, this lovely selection is like a really nice sherry. It’s light and subtle and woody and nutty and screams, “Just sit. Sit here and relax.” It also says, “Stop talking,” which is why my husband also gave it a 4.5/6. $17.30

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Best Wine For Beer Drinkers – Monte Creek 2016 Frontenac Gris

My husband is more of a beer guy than a wine snob. That’s okay because he still happily keeps up with me on my wine adventures, but I am always looking for something he can really enjoy when we are sipping away.

This is a very young tasting wine. It’s heavy and flavourful and bold. It packs a wallop. It’s also fairly yeasty. And that, my suds loving homies, is what makes it ideal for the beer crowd. It is a little on the sweeter side, but it’s body and texture make up for that. I actually gave it a 3.5/6 because it’s not my thing. But I can appreciate what it brings to the rodeo. It’s only $15.99 a bottle. Class up, Earl, and bring this to the next family BBQ.

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Best Gifting Wine  – Monte Creek Rose

All four of our wineries make a stellar Rosé. They’ve all elected to craft a dry, light wine that lets the fruit shine through. This year, Monte Creek has taken their offering further than before by once again presenting a well-crafted, complex wine that stands exceptionally well on it’s own. It’s very light and not too dry. Made with Marquette grapes, it’s got lots of flavour and a long, beautiful finish. What’s interesting here is the fruity flavour is most intense in the finish. I love long wines. This one is just $16.99 and scored a 5/6. BC makes some of the best Rosé in North America. Don’t buy it from anywhere but here.

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Best Value Wine – Sagewood 2014 Cabernet Franc/Merlot

This wine costs $19.04. Not cheap. But it packs a lot into a bottle for under $20. This wine is deep and rich and dry. But, it’s not the kind of dry that makes your eyebrows furrow. You know what I mean… when one cheek kind of sucks in and you tilt your head a little. It’s still got a nice light feel in your mouth, while carrying the more intense Merlot characteristics. This is another example of great winemaking. Yes, you can buy deep and dry and dark reds from France for $5 cheaper. But how much is that wine really worth if it can be sold for $14 bucks a bottle including shipping. It’s $12 to mail a small book to Edmonton from here. Your $14 French bottle is comparable to Two Buck Chuck, honey. It’s like Walmart Wine. Buy the nice wine. Eat off the good plates. If you are lucky, you’ll find the 2014 Cab Franc instead. It’s even better.  4.5/6

Surprise Wine – Harper’s Trail 2016 Gewürztraminer

I am not a huge fan of the Gewurtz. Actually, all of the very German whites, Ehrenfelser, Riesling, Gewurtz, are not my favourites typically. They are very floral, almost soapy to me. But this year, Harper’s Trail really surprised me with a beautiful, dry and light offering that I loved. It is best served very chilled and is atypical of a Gewurtz. (I have given up saying, let alone, spelling, this grape long ago so get over the typo)I loved the lightness and green notes. It’s unoaked and a lovely reflection of what Kamloops has to offer in wine.  It comes in at $19.90 and got a 4/6.

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There you have it! All in all, I feel like this year, everyone really hit their stride. I’m not sure if the grapes were better, the cooler and wetter Summer made a difference or if everyone just brought their A-game but Kamloops Wine has set the bar with their offerings this year. Watch out, Okanagan! Kamloops Wineries are knocking it out of the park.

Note: I have 2 more wines to share with you at a later date… Surprise categories! 

Disclaimer: I am no wine expert. No PhD, no certificates of merit, no girl guide badges. I just drink wine. And write. that’s pretty much my qualifications. If you find we have similar tastes in wine, this kind of column will benefit you. If not, that’s okay! Peace and cheers!

 

 

 

 

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Wine Wednesday

The struggle is real.. am I right, Moms?

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I just found out my child needs to be in all black for a concert at school tomorrow.

First, since when did school concerts need to look like miniature funerals? OMG. Pick a different colour, please.

Second, my child is in Grade 3. Please don’t rely on her to pass on instructions in a timely way. Just like you need to tell her 8 times to return to her seat, you need to tell her eight times to wear black on Thursday. Since the eighth time rolled around today, we are all super thrilled and getting along in our house tonight.

Third.. um, whatever. It seems like it’s a big deal. I’m am sure there are three things wrong with this.

Yay for wine on Wednesday. Saving Moms everywhere. Two sleeps til Friday!

So tomorrow my kid will be in a combination of semi-clean black items and a very dark blue sweater and I’ll be wearing this…

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Chefs in The City Winners!

First of all, a huge Bravo! to Kamloops Rotary for pulling off a great event! It was well organized, the flow was better this year and the waits were reduced at each table. Chef’s in the City is a ‘not-to-be-missed’ culinary event in Kamloops!

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Now, who did it best??

***dislaimer – I don’t eat lamb or duck so I didn’t sample those dishes. (but my heart is happy with me)

Hands down, my favourite dish was the banana bread stuffed french toast offered by Hello Toast! It was the lightest french toast I’ve ever had and by far the lightest banana bread I’ve sampled in my life. Topped with cream, honey butter and stuffed with cheese? I’ll take 8 helpings, please.

Honourable mention goes to Blue Dining and Lounge for a Caesar Salad made of brussel sprouts. Don’t even question it. It was amazing.

Drink of the night? Once again, Storms brought their A-game and made a fantastic cocktail with Prosecco and gin and lemon. Zing – straight in for the win!

Well done, everyone!

 

Beautiful Kamloops Wine hits a Home Run

Let me tell you about a beautiful bottle of wine.

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It’s not too often that a winery I have frequented regularly surprises me, but the 2015 Ranch Hand Red from Monte Creek did just that. In fact, it kind of floored me.

Monte Creek is a young winery, producing a good volume of wine that’s ready to drink straight from the shelf. It’s fruity and fresh and everything a new winery should be putting out. They take home their share of awards and do a good job getting their wine into the hands of young, BC consumers. Their perfect market. It’s working well for them, they have a popular patio and host many events, from painting classes to vineyard tours, that draw an ever-growing fan base to their door.

If you haven’t found your favorite Monte Creek wine yet, go buy a bottle of Ranch Hand Red. At $30 a bottle at the winery (or online) it is a bit pricier than their usual bottle, but this is the price point where really good BC wine can really start to compete on the world stage. This wine is capable of that. It is worth the drive out just to grab a bottle of this. And, if you don’t stop on your way by if you are headed east, all the more pity I have for you, since one day this wine will be sold out, and you’ll have missed your chance.

Beautifully smokey and oaked so subtly, it is their smoothest selection to date. It’s more complex than their other offerings and the beautiful roasted fruit flavour rises up behind the other spice-infused notes. This wine is full of baking inspired tastes; vanilla and allspice along with just a hint of smoke. A good balance of time in both French and American oak barrels has served the wine exceptionally well. Sixteen months in oak is a long stretch for BC wine, and sometimes, our local wines that have been oaked for any length of time are ruined by the use of cheaper wood, or wood chips, or rushing the process. Don’t let your previous experiences with oaked wine scare you off here. This is the perfect wine to start your red wine love affair with.

These grapes, a blend of mostly Merlot with a good measure of Frontenac Noir and Cab Sav, have been handled with a light touch. Left well enough alone and not over-handled, the fruit shines through. It’s light in your mouth and has a long finish.

With enough acidity and fruit for the patio, and enough meat and depth for dinner, this is a do-not-miss vintage for your wine shelf. I’d buy two for good measure.

Purchase Ranch Hand Red here. 

Happening now….

When you are broke but still want to drink wine…

So, your tastes and your bank account don’t seem to really jive? You have more wants than George Washingtons (sorry, but I couldn’t come up with a loonie link). You still like finer wine but your debit card says you need to stick to ramen and ice cubes.

Sigh, me too.

I really do wish I could be sipping $25 bottles of wine on Wednesdays. Or, pop out for drinks on Friday and pay more for a glass than I do for a bottle. Alas, that is not how I roll.

So, you have little extra cha-ching but you don;t want to drink junk. Good on you! Me either. So, I do have four labels that I think you can rely on, that are good, good value!

These four wineries deliver consistently across their varietals and are drinkable for even the most discerning wine lovers that watch the bottom line as much as the grape vine. Ready? Write these down…

Cono Sur… This is just good wine. I’ve never had a bad one yet. It is ridiculously affordable and very drinkable.

Cono-Sur-Bicicleta-Viognier-640x640.pngWayne Gretzky.. This is a little pricier but it always delivers. And I have never found another ‘celebrity endorsed’ wine that I liked. Period. This one wins all the games!

wgFinca Los Primos.. Again, great wine that is well priced and consistently delivers. Made for the new-world wine drinker, you can’t go wron

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Jacob’s Creek… These wines run sweet but are well priced and if you are new to wine, or like barefoot or naked grape wines, you will like these too!

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So, there you have it. Bookmark this post and open it the next time you are at the liquor store! If you lack the funds to go on a high-falutin’ hoe down but still want to be swanky this weekend, give one of these a spin!

Happy sipping!

 

 

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