Review – A french lady right here in BC

Ooh lala… I just love  a great French wine!

If you aren’t all into the nerdy part of wine loving then you may not know about new world and old world wines. Basically, it’s this; if a country was once ruled by a tyrannical King or Queen and used to behead people and have knights and folklore and such, they make old world wine. If a country was discovered and settled, then fought over by said Kings and Queens, then it makes new world wines. Roughly… that’s a pretty good rule of thumb for wine buying though.

So, we make new world wines here in Canada. And I really like new world wines. But there is something about the wine made from the grapes of those old, old vines that we won’t capture here for decades. Unless….

At the tail end of August we stopped at Larch Hill Winery in Salmon Arm. They are far up the hill and way out of your way. Who cares. You have to go. If only to try this one, unique, amazing wine.

You can steal this bottle at $13.79. Yes, that was correct. Thirteen seventy nine. It is worth buying a case of this stuff. Ready to know what it is? It’s Mad Angie.

Named for it’s varietal, Madeleine Angevine, or Mad Angie for short, this is a powerful white wine that will seriously please even the more discerning wine drinkers in your crowd. It’s got SO MUCH FLAVOUR! It is dry and crisp like a reisling, but bursting right out of the glass with curvy, sexy body.

Is it possible to have the body of an oaked chardonnay without any of the oak or chardonnay that makes that wine so, well, gaggy? Larch Hills has done it. Solid, packed to the rim with personality and still dry enough for dinner, this is going to become your new go-to white wine. And did I mention the price? Perfection.

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This wine is rated a 0 (zero) which means it’s full on dry. But, truly, it’s got to have just made the cutoff. It is a little on the sweeter side of dry. It’s like a shoulder wine! It smells peachy and tropical but is crisp in your mouth. Just buy it.

The only problem? I couldn’t find a place in Kamloops that sells it. The solution? Their winery is open daily until December!

Watch for the column in Kamloops This Week on Thursday for tips on visiting wineries. Then make plans to haul ass to Salmon Arm!

 

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2016 Kamloops Wine Awards – Winners!

It’s our second annual listing of our Kamloops Wine Awards! Hooray!

We are making some great wine here in our fair city. Really great wine. It was super exhausting but a few of us managed to get out and try them for you, selecting the very best of the bunch, so you can purchase exactly what you need. I know, it sounds like the toughest job in the world. You are welcome.

Don’t forget our disclaimer – none of us really know any more about wine than you do! We just drink a lot of it! Our credentials are fake so take this advice for what it is worth. Your tastes are your own and you should drink whatever you like! You can also drink whatever I like as long as you save some for me!

Without further ado, here we go!

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There are 11 categories this year. Bigger and better than 2015. Unfortunately, Harper’s Trail was closed so we weren’t able to sample their new wines. That left Privato Winery, Sagewood Winery and Monte Creek Ranch to battle it out for grape supremacy. They all faired well and I can safely say that all their newest vintages are better than last year! Was it the weather? The grapes? The oak? Me? I don’t know. But in 2015 (2014 for the Reds) good things were happening for you if you were attached to a vine.

Best Dinner Red

Sagewood 2014 Cabernet Franc/Merlot – This wine is so full of flavour with a hint of subtle oak right off the top. How can it be so bright yet so warm all at once? With a light to medium body and enough punch to stand up to whatever you serve for dinner, this wine is tops in the dinner department.

$20.78 at the winery

rating:5/6

Best Dinner White

Sagewood 2013 Kerner – Again, Doug knocks it out of the park for dinner! This dry white is the opposite of what you usually get with a white wine. Instead of being fruity at the front and lacking finish, this beauty is light on your tongue, then develops a beautiful green or grassy note and finishes strong and ‘appley’. Appley isn’t a word but I am no more qualified to write than to sip so you get what you pay for with me. This is a medium bodied wine and has enough weight to stand up to dinner well. It really is dry (unlike some ‘dry’ wines that you could never drink while you eat) and the aroma? Best part! And that’s saying something!

$

rating: 4.5/6

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Best Specialty Wine

Monte Creek Ranch 2014 Late Harvest Frontenac Gris – I am not a late harvest lover but this wine is like a bottle of apple pie. Really, drinkable apple pie!  This was the only late harvest we tried today, I was expecting to find a rosé for this category or maybe a bubbly but this well-weighted dessert in a bottle was the top pick. Not overly syrupy or sweet, with a light finish, this bottle is a great Thanksgiving hostess gift. And it is on sale. Get it. Now.

$12.99 (sale price)

rating: 4/6

Best Patio Sipper

Monte Creek Ranch Giddy Up White – This was a tough category with stiff competition from all our contenders. In fact, we had flagged a wine from each winery that could have taken this prize. In the end though, for the price, this made a great patio sipper. After all, you should have a deck full of friends to share your wine with and this is a great value. Boxed up in 3 litre increments you really can’t go wrong with this wine. It’s a blend of Frontenac Gris and Frontenac Blanc. It’s a bit sweet but light and bright and airy. Great with appies it will please a crowd for sure!

$27.99 3litre box

rating: 4/6

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Best Gifting Wine

Privato 2015 Rose – John can really make a rosé. His 2014 rosé was off-the-charts strawberry. It was amazing. Could he ever top it? Well, it turns out he could and he did. This bottle, a blend of chardonnay and pinot noir, is more subtle, more complex and more grown up than it’s older brother. It’s characteristics develop slowly in your mouth. It’s smooth and long and dry and light. Everything a good wine should be. There is nothing one dimensional about this wine. From beginning (aroma) to end (finish) it is an A+ wine.

$18.99

rating: 4.5/6

Most ‘Kamloopsy’ Wine

Monte Creek Ranch 2015 Frontenac Gris – Now we are really just making words up, eh? But we really did want to try to find a wine that was true to our city and would be a great ambassador for our wine industry. This grape grows well in our dry climate, it is exclusive to our community within our province and it’s a great wine to boot! If you have never had it you really do have to try it. Light at the beginning, it develops into this beautiful, tropical flavour as it sits in your mouth. With warm pineapple and coconut notes, it almost seems like it was lightly oaked. It is just the rich flavour of the grape. Well worth the try  and a great conversation starter for visitors to our city.

$

rating: 4.5/6

Best Value Wine

Sagewood 2015 Marachel Foch – Holy jam, Batman! This is a wine for the fruit lover. With deep cherry flavour and medium body, this wine comes across like a premium product. There is a lot packed into this bottle! This taste like roasted fruit that was blended up. Really, it’s deep and hearty and fresh and clean. I love a good Gamay and this comes pretty close. Best Sagewood wine I’ve had. This one is also a ‘must try’!

$20.78

rating:5.5/6

Best Surprise Wine of the Day

Privato 2015 Sorpressa – Ironically, Sorpressa is Italian for surprise. That had nothing to do with choosing this wine as our pick for an off-the-chart wine that gave 110% in all departments. This wine was just released in May and I predict it will be sold out before Thanksgiving. Get it NOW! A blend of 100% Privato-grown, pinot noir and foch grapes, there are just 756 bottles of this fresh, clean, bright and snappy wine. It’s light bodied and totally unoaked (that was the surprise part for me as Privato does the best oak in the Interior). New wine drinkers will love it and seasoned wine drinkers will appreciate how refreshing and crisp it is. A great combination and a fitting name. Two corks up!

$24.99

rating: 5/6

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Best Romance Wine

Privato 2013 Fedele Pinot Noir – Okay, boys. It’s time to impress your lady. Whether you are planning a very nice dinner, or something a little later in the evening by the fire or by candlelight, this wine will only score you points in the romance department. First of all, Fedele is faithful in Italian. Second, this is the warmest wine we tasted all day. Well oaked, with a bold flavour at the top, finishing fruity, this wine would be lovely with anything chocolate or just on it’s own. This is a beautiful wine, both in colour and in taste. Not looking to impress your love? This is a perfect ‘Winter wine’ for cold nights spent inside or hearty dinners. Just buy it. It’s awesome.

$34.69

rating: 5/6

Best Kamloops Winery

We just couldn’t decide. This year, all three wineries we visited had amazing staff, amazing service and great wine! All are well marked and easy to find and each was so unique it was impossible to compare one to another.

Privato

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With it’s beautiful setting by the river, Privato is quiet, romantic and high class. The vineyard is beautiful and I’ve always had great service. Today, Alyssa guided us through our tasting. She was knowledgeable and friendly. I am not sure I asked a question she couldn’t answer. Their facility is beautiful and there are lots of specialty products you can try on top of your wine purchase.

Sagewood Winery

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I love this place. Tucked away in the middle of a neighbourhood, you would never know they produce 600 cases of wine a year. This place is full of character and a family affair. Quaint and charming, you will get very personal service here. Our tasting was led by the winemaker himself and it doesn’t get better than that! Your guests will feel like you took them to a hidden treasure if you bring them here.

Monte Creek Ranch

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With stunning views and a beautiful restaurant, this vineyard is unique to our community. It is busy! Like, hopping. Most days I have had to wait for service. Today, Emily took us through our wines. Just two weeks into her position behind the counter here, she was a champ. Our service was exceptional and she was gracious and knowledgeable.

At all three places, we took a long time. We were never rushed and were encouraged to stay and look around. I feel strongly that when you make your way to one of these places they should make you feel like the trip was worth it. All three places are businesses I would bring any visitor to Kamloops and are great ambassadors for our community.

So there you have it! It was a great day, and a great year! Keep making great wine, you guys! And a huge thank you to Jocelyn for tagging along and helping to choose. It was 7 hours by the time we were done. A full day’s work! Tough day, hey? I’ll see you next year!

It’s Kamloops Wine Awards Day!

Three of us are headed off on a tour of our Kamloops Wineries today! 

We’ll be looking for the best Kamloops Wine or Vineyard and the winner in 12 different categories. 

Watch for posts and pictures through the day for sneak peaks. Do you follow us on Twitter? You can check out the action there as well! 

It should be a great day. We may sneak in an extra winery too! You never know!!

review – okanagan crush pad winery visit

I have been waiting to visit the Crush Pad for a long time.

I had heard about the facility many times at festivals. One of my favourite parts of attending the wine festival is getting a chance to talk to the vineyard owners and winemakers of the smaller, local wineries that surround us. Often, when I ask too many questions and we really start getting into the nitty gritty of how they go about producing wine, they mention that they use the crush pad for their processing.

So, what’s the Crush Pad? Well, it is kind of exactly what it sounds like. You go there and crush grapes. If you grow grapes but need a place to process them, you can go there. If you need help refining your wine and don’t know where to turn, you can go there. Since they were established in 2011, they have been helping other wineries get off the ground and even today, with five wineries under their wing, they are helping newly established Okanagan wine growers make a real go of it.

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But, since you DRINK wine and probably don’t MAKE wine, you want to know more about the philosophy and the process that goes into the wines they produce for themselves, right? And since this is really about great winey places, you want to know if it’s worth a trip to visit the place and spend some time there.

The Philosophy

Do you remember a few years back when Kashi cereal got busted for not being as organic as they had projected that they were? It turns out some of their suppliers were maybe not as granola (hardee har) as Kashi and they had turned a blind eye to that slip.

That could never happen at this vineyard.

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Sometimes, when I explain my philosophy about ethical food consumption to people, their eyes roll back in their head, or they glaze over and you can tell, despite all their bamboo wearing, lulu headband sporting, burt’s bee’s chapstick loving ways that they really don’t get why I only eat happy cows that were driven in pairs to the butcher’s field before the big day.

If you feel that we are caretakers of our planet, and it’s inhabitants, you are going to love how this team makes wine. This place oozes respect for the land, for the wildlife and for the next generation. And they do it without an ounce of pretentious snobbery. How that is even possible this far North of Oregon I have no idea.

Sustainability is built into all their programs and a respect for the land, and what it can do well, is at the core of how organic wine is produced here.  It makes so much sense. Find out what your patch of dirt is capable of doing really well, then support it as best you can to do that. So simple, yet so rare. They have a terroir specialist and truly believe that wine is made from the ground up.

Guess who weeds in the vineyard? Um, ducks! Hello! And their best friends, the chickens! Like dogs? Awesome, they have dogs and sheep and bees, too! This is a working farm and what they are doing works. I was surprised by how dry the land was. But that’s how it naturally is, they haven’t created a golf course for the sake of the visitors.

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From there, it is all about clean, crisp and true-to-the-fruit bottles of wine. All the wines are aged in concrete tanks or clay amphorae and there are no additives or commercial yeasts used in the process. The grapes are left to rest and to do what they are meant to do. Why does this matter? Well, if you don’t want your kids eating red dye #5 in a 68 cent wiener then why are you willing to drink it in your $25 bottle of wine? Let that sink in.

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They have a new winemaker, Matt Dumayne, who has come over from New Zealand with stops all over the place making award winning wines. Previously, Mike Bartier was their winemaker. You probably recognize the name as Bartier Brothers has been featured on here a number of times. The whole team, really, are superstars of good grapes and great wine with a wealth of knowledge and experience. The best part, besides the great wine, of course, is that they are happy to bring others along in their success and their journey.

The Tour and the Winery

We were led through our tasting and our tour by Mike West, whom I had already met at the Sun Peaks Wine Festival Blending Seminar a few times. Mike is about the nicest guy in the wine business, and a perfect person to ask dumb questions to, as he is too polite to laugh at you. I asked plenty and he was very gracious. I expect their other tasting room staff are equally lovely.

As important as being lovely is that they are smart. Nothing disappoints me more than tasting a wine, asking a question and having the person behind the counter not know a thing about the vintage. This has happened to me at big wineries and small ones, too. I think it is important, if you invite a consumer to come to you to purchase, that you can produce some value-added services for them while they are there. Someone that can talk about your wine is one of those services. Have a bad winery experience and you will know just what I am talking about.

We were not rushed, our questions were answered and we got an opportunity to really look around and learn about the wines, the grapes, the process, the facility and the company. To me, that is a perfect winery visit.

We got to see the chickens, the ducks and the bees. We got to see the alien pods (they call them concrete tanks but whatever) and the winemaking facility. Mike answered questions about the tanks, they only rinse them between vintages, like a tea pot, and the use of neutral French oak barrels for a select few wines. You know how I feel about the overuse of cheap oak in wine. Those people should be cattle ranchers.

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The winery was gorgeous, had seating, lots of parking and was easy to find. Check, check, check and check! Ten out of ten!

The Wines

Okay, the juicy part. I love these wines. I bought five after all was said and done and I already regret not buying double that. The winery has two ‘house brands’, Narrative and Haywire. Both brands have great qualities and I would be hard pressed to choose a favourite. A month ago I would have told you it was Narrative. You can look back through reviews to see a few of each, but I have got to say, I loved the Haywire line as well.

Every wine we tasted was worthy of a conversation. They were complex, long, true and full of flavour. The only exception was the Haywire 2015 Gamay Rose which is just a young, young wine. I bought some 2013 Narrative Red over a year ago and just opened the last bottle. It aged beautifully, so I am not dismissing the Gamay just yet. Give it time.

Smoothest wine of the day? The Haywire Canyonview Pinot Noir. So rich, and almost creamy! Wow. And we even had a Syrah that I liked, usually not on my list of buying wines.

My favourite wine of the day? The Haywire 2014 Wild Ferment. This wine was made with absolutely no intervention. Like, pick the grapes, plunk them in the alien pod, and walk. I’m sure it’s not quite that simple, but pretty close. As natural as winemaking can be in this day and age of food safety and the 1%. Wild ferment wines are just not possible without the philosophy of this company. The result? It’s nothing like any other Pinot Gris you’ll taste this year. It’s complex, dry, earthy and should cost a lot more than they charge. I can’t wait to share it.

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Wine to watch? Narrative Red. This wine is having kind of a ‘Tiger Woods year’. It’s really out there, doing big things. But.. it could be doing good, big things. It can be that champion. Keep it on your radar, it may come back with a grand slam.

The Verdict

Get to this winery. They do a Summer concert series and have a wine club. Connect with them on social media to find out about what’s happening and keep them on your radar. You will not be disappointed with your visit. I rarely visit a winery twice, and I never go back if the experience was mediocre. I’ll be back without a doubt.

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how far is too far for local?

I am starting to plan for our second annual Kamloops Wine Awards list! It’s very hard work and requires extensive planning, organizing, tasting and note taking. Very, very hard work…

Last year we stuck to our 4 wineries that make up the Kamloops Wine Trail. This year, I am thinking that I would kind of like to expand it. Maybe Fort Berens in Lilooett? Celista? All the way out to Tappen and Sunnybrae??

My reasoning is that those may be places you would take your guests for a little jaunt if you were looking for something to do. But, how far is too far? Do you consider those to be local wineries?

Categories did include best winery to visit and best tasting room experience.  Wines were best patio sipper, best dinner red and the like. I’m not sure the winners would change much from one year to the next without a little shake up! I will be keeping all of the 2015 catagories but would like to add a few for a fresh look.

Feel free to weigh in on what you would like to see in this year’s list! We are excited to start our research! Or, if you have a category idea I would love to hear it too! I’m thinking best wedding wine, best patio, best menu, best winery event??? Really, there are a million great ideas, actually! What would you like to see on the list?

 

congratulations to sagewood winery

Sagewood Winery, one of our local Kamloops vineyards, has recently cleaned up in the awards department!

SAGEWOOD WINERY, Home of Kamloops’ first commercial vineyard,brings home an amazing 16 medals and 3 special acknowledgements fromInternational Wine Competition

I haven’t tried any of their wines yet this year. But I am always up for a Cab Franc or a Gamay and they are the only locals producing wither of those grapes!

I encourage you to go out to their quaint little tasting room this month to check out their offerings!

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