Two whites for the glorious summer of 2015 reviewed by John Gerum

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Two new Okanagan Crush Pad selections are being released this summer. This winery is in the forefront of experimentation with different vineyards, winemakers and fermentation techniques. These wines are always interesting as they never see oak and are generally fermented in concrete giving them a unique profile not found in commercial wines. Only a few hundred cases of each are released, and are available at private wine shops and directly from the winery. If you happen to be in the Summerland region in the Okanagan this summer don’t miss out on visiting this architecturally stunning winery and tasting their full line up.

How do you improve Sauvignon Blanc and create an exciting new style that may be the answer to the question, “Does the Okanagan have a signature style?” You produce the 2014 Haywire Waters & Brooks Sauvignon Blanc. This white adds another dimension to Sauvignon Blanc by adding a creamy, polished body and contrasting it nicely with an attractive racy, tartness. Aromas include stone fruit with a predominate peach essence followed by lime zest, gooseberry and a slight, fresh grassiness. This intense white wine is clean and bright and reveals green apple, lemon and grapefruit on the palate. A one up on Marlborough style Sauvignon Blanc as it adds a unique body and creaminess not found anywhere else. Well done. 89 points. $24.90

I have never been a fan of un-oaked Chardonnay but this is an exception. The 2014 Samantha Canyonview Chardonnay adds flavor and complexity to this grape without the use of oak barrels. Wafting from the glass after a quick swirl is a lovely buttery, yeasty aroma with ripe stone fruit, melon and citrus. A sip uncovers a full, voluptuous, fleshy, creamy palate, complex yet approachable. This is a Chardonnay that you could enjoy before dinner but would be incredibly versatile in matching to a wide range of menu items. 90 points. $22.90

Explore local, eat and drink local

local beer
I love the local farmers, brewers and winemakers in my community. There is nothing better than driving or walking a short distance to connect and purchase groceries, wine or craft beer.
In Maple Ridge, BC we have a local craft brewer Carlo who make the beer and sells growlers (beer filled into a large resealable bottles). He is also brewing fresh seasonal natural beer that excites the taste buds.

At the local Haney’s Farmers market local farmers sell their tasty wares with a sense and pride and passion explaining the way that their foods are grown and cared for, with the environment in mind.
In Langley, Patrick from Vista D’oro winery ferments small batches of delicious wine and his wife Lee produce jams, jellies and preserves from their own farm.
There are so many more examples as the numbers increase every year, be adventurous and support and explore your local area, you will never know the hidden gems to connect you to the land if you don’t.

Wine is all about fun

There has been some discussion among wine educators and wine industry members about the benefits of wine education. The idea put forward was that the average consumer does not need any education to appreciate or enjoy wine. I agree to a certain extent, a large majority of consumers will enjoy wine without any formal education or training. However if you are curious and want more out of your wine then a class or two may work for you.
lucy wine

The main point is that wine should be fun and therefore learning about wine should be entertaining. Learning about the people who make wine, why, and the story behind the winery is a lot more pleasurable than endless facts about soil types, fermentation methods and barrel management.

Discovering a wine that you enjoy at a tasting or workshop that you would probably never tasted outside that setting can give you a life time of pleasure. We have too many formal classes for subjects so it’s always fascinating to learn and sip at the same time.

In the spirit of discovery I have put together some suggestions for summer styles of wines that are often overlooked when most wine consumers are shopping. It can get dull drinking the same old Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay during the summer months when relaxing with friends and family.

The first white style to discover are Vinho Verde wines from Portugal. They are for the most part dry, crisp and bursting with citrus flavours. These wines are first-rate and inexpensive; usually around $12 or less for a bottle. To reduce the alcohol and keep you hydrated during hot summer days add a splash of soda to the wine and a wedge of lime or lemon.

Another wine style that has been around for a long time is Riesling. Riesling has received a bad rap because of the overly sweet versions that flood the marketplace. Avoid the cheap German sweet versions and try a BC Riesling which does not have too much sweetness and balances the acid and sugars. St. Hubertus and 8th Generation wineries are good bets.

Other white wines to enjoy are Pinot Blanc from BC, especially Lakebreeze Vineyards’ version if you can find it and to add a bit of fizz try a Prosecco from Italy. There are many different brands at your local wine shop which are all refreshing, bubbly and a bit off dry.

You don’t need a Sommeliers diploma to enjoy these summer selections, but if you get hooked on these new wines and want to discover more you may want to attend a tasting or workshop in the near future.

Secret of choosing the right summer white

Summer has arrived and white wines will appear on patios throughout the province. You can grab any white from the shelf or you can experiment with some fabulous underrated picks that will sure to bring you a season of pleasure and refreshment.

My ideal summer white is clean, crisp, refreshing, and full of citrus and orchard fruit flavours but lower in alcohol, as on a hot sunny day your thirst levels may lead you to drink more than a glass or two. A little bit of fizz always helps so my first pick hails from Portugal, the land of Port, where Vinho Verde is a white that includes all the criteria above. There are at least three or four different brands offered in BC all which are recommended and best of all are priced under $12 a bottle.
mountain wine
Riesling has always been a classic choice for the summer heat. Citrus, orchard fruit, and minerality offset by a balanced sweet to acid combination makes for an ideal thirst quenching beverage. Look for Hardy’s Riesling/Gewürztraminer, Bree Riesling, and Dr. L Riesling for a selection under $16. If you are up for a treat, BC produces some outstanding choices with 8th Generation and Intrigue wineries leading the way. Intrigue’s winemaker Roger Wong is known throughout the valley as a master at crafting outstanding Riesling.

Don’t forget sparkling wines this summer; in the last decade the quality of sparkling wines has improved and the prices have come down. Prosecco and Cava from Spain leads the way with consistent quality regardless of the producer or brand. One of the reasons for Prosecco’s quality is the strict regulations that Processo producers must adhere to by the Italian Ministry of Agriculture. A large majority of these wines are well under $20 and are more widely available than ever before. Eastern European, Australian, and Spanish producers present some interesting choices under $15. Look to the sweetness levels to find one that suits your taste.

Armed with all this information your summer get together will never be boring and you will find yourself enjoying wines you may have never drank before, who knows drinking these summer whites might stretch the summer out a few weeks longer.

BBQ grilling & wine matching made easy by John Gerum

Most people think of beer and bbq when the season rolls around but wines are an interesting and refreshing change of pace. There are a few general guidelines to matching wines with your favourite summer recipes.

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The first one is enjoy the wine you will be drinking, there is no use trying to pair a wine if you don’t enjoy that type or style of wine in the first place. The second is that you don’t have to spend a lot of money to get a good bottle of wine. In the market today, $12 to $18 will get you a good bottle of red or white wine. The third is to keep it simple, after all you don’t want to spend your time indoors trying to figure out a good match when sunny days are short and few between.

The following are a few guidelines:

Pork Butt
Pork Loin

Riesling (Off Dry)
Lang Vineyards (BC)
Gray Monk (BC)
Any German Riesling

Spicy Ribs

Zinfandel
Cabernet Sauvignon

Any California (real Red Zinfandel not the blush!)
C/S from California or Australia, the less oak the better


Beef Brisket, Prime Rib, Steak

Shiraz
Good Australian Shiraz should do the trick!

Hamburgers

Merlot or Pinot Noir
Merlot from Chile or Pinot Noir from BC

Chicken

Pinot Gris or Pinot Grigio
Good Italian (Masi)
or BC

Shrimp or White Seafood

Sauvignon Blanc
Any good New Zealand or BC (ie: Sumac Ridge)

Salmon

Pinot Noir
BC, Oregon, California
or Burgundy Red

Lamb

Cabernet Sauvignon or Shiraz
Need the full bodied versions, California or Australia

Vegetables, Tomato, Peppers, Onions

Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris or
Un-Oaked Chardonnay
BC and Australia are good choices