Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Report from ... British Columbia Day 9 & 10 Going South – July 30-31, 2008

For my mother's 70th birthday she wanted to travel the Okanagan tasting wine ... I being the curious wine writer that I am decided that sounded like a really good idea ...

We took to the South of the Okanagan as we
took to the north, dividing up the region from the furthest to the closest.

We began the day by moving as far south as we could – which we had been told was Nk’Mip, but there is one that is just a hair further south these days, Twisted Tree. It’s interesting to note that we began and ended day 9 without a drop of wine.

We had been told by fellow wine writer Michael Vaughan, to visit the Nk’Mip Cultural Center; so we popped in to see what the big deal was about. The sign said that i
t was a good idea to have a hat, water and sunblock for the 1.5km walk – I had no hat so instead of doing it “tomorrow”, as mom and I debated, I bought a hat, that either made me look local or yokel, still not sure (you decide – see right). Between mom and myself we also bought about $100 worth of souvenirs (making sure they were all made in Canada). We ended the day back at Golden Mile Cellars, where Mick took us on a 45-minute vineyard tour. This man is passionate about his vines, his fruit, his workers, everything to make better wine. From thinning and pruning to paying his workers top dollar to get a better days work … you get what you pay for is one of Mick’s many philosophies. Mick is doing wine on his terms (this from a 5 year farmer) and it shows in the glass that is presented to you at the tasting bar. I was very impressed by what I saw. I’m sure that Mick would like me to mention his good looks, smarts and humility, but I have never lied to my readers and I won’t start now (see day 4).

As for the wines in this part of the Okanagan, once again we were confronted with over inflated prices for wine that would not fetch that much normally, especially in Ontario, but that’s the price you pay for being in a “hot region”. I talked to a number of winery principals about the price gap and one said to me, in confidence, “This bubble is going to burst and there will be a shake up, right now the prices are high and we’re all willing to ride it out until the shake up occurs. For now we just call it a sun-tax and smile.” The wines that are good are real standouts, and are worth the price that is being asked, for the most part. But like anywhere, there is an enormous amount of over-priced wine made by people trying to make their money back quickly. There is no way I (or anyone) should even consider paying $42 for an unoaked (or lightly oaked) Merlot … that’s absurd. It’s pricing like that, and with a few simple questions, that you can determine who is in it for the long haul; they’re the ones whose prices seem more in line or even slightly under where everyone else is. Quality and price always should match, or be under priced … that’s how you know value. Below is my list of wines that were worth their price.

Wineries Visited in Order:
Wednesday … Twisted Tree, La Stella, Orchard Hill Cidery, Desert Hills,
Golden Beaver, Silver Sage, Oliver Twist, Antelope Ridge.

Thursday … Chandra (ghost winery), Le Vieux Pin, Quinta Ferreira, Fa
irview (closed – sold out), Dunham & Froese, Noble Ridge, Tangled Vines, Blue Mountain, Pentage (closed – appointment only).

Wines of Note:
Twisted Tree 2005 Merlot ($25.00)

Desert Hills 2005 Mirage ($34.90)
Golden Beaver 2006 Merlot ($19.50)

Silver Sage 2007 Pinot Blanc ($15.95); 2006 Pinot Noir ($21.95); 2007 Pinot Blanc Peach/Apricot ($24.95 / 375ml); 2007 Raspberry ($24.95 / 375ml)
Oliver Twist 2007 Kerner ($17.90)
Antelope Ridge 2006 Cabernet Franc ($23.00)
Quinta Ferreira 2007 Unoaked Chardonnay ($19.90); 2006 Merlot ($29.
Dunham & Froese 2007 Amicitia – White ($25.00); 2006 Amicitia – Red ($28.00); 2007 Rosé ($17.00)

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