The British Columbia Wine Institute hosts an annual event called Bloom, meant to usher in the latest release of red, white and pink wines from BC’s VQA wineries. It’s a grand event with a solid following. This year, there were many standout wines, too many to list, but I thought I would share some of my personal highlights.  One thing I will say about this event, there were too many wines and too many people to be able to get through the entire roster in three hours. People tell me often how “tough” it must be to have to taste all those wines, but for those of you who have ever sat down (or walk about) to evaluate close to two hundred wines in three hours you know how challenging that can be. Without further ado…

Proprietor Spencer Massie

Clos du Soleil Winery, located in the burgeoning Similkameen Valley in Western Okanagan, is quickly becoming a premier site for top quality BC wine. Clos du Soleil specializes in “Bordeaux” style white, rosé and red wines. Their two pominent white wines are “Capella” a Sauvignon Blanc – Semillon blend reminiscent of the dry whites of Bordeaux and their “Fumé Blanc” a mostly barrel fermented Sauvignon Blanc with a new world flare. They also produce a savoury dry rosé from Cabernet Sauvignon and two red wines, “Célestiale” and “Signature” as well as a late harvest “Sauternes” style dessert wine called “Saturn”. The wine that really impressed above all others for me was their 2012 Pinot Blanc, not a “Bordeaux” variety. A line that Clos du Soleil calls their “Grower Series” features a Pinot Blanc from the Chegwin & Baessler vineyard that is a must for patio goers and back yard enthusiasts this summer.

2012 Clos du Soleil Pinot Blanc “Grower Series” – Chegwin & Baessler

To the eye, the wine is a bright golden with light green accents and a pale rim, typical of its youth. On the nose, there are light fragrant floral aromas reminding of spring blossoms and ripe orchard fruit. On the palate, the wine is dry with mild acidity and an explosive, mouth filling cacophony of ripe peach and apricot fruit. It is medium bodied and very creamy with excellent balance and a luxurious finish. Très Bon.

You can find all the technical details here, available by direct delivery or from private wine stores and restaurants throughout BC, Alberta, Ontario and Quebec. A list of all locations can be found here. For commercial distribution check the website here.

 

Proprietor Gordon Fitzpatrick

Cedar Creek Estate Winery, a member of the “old guard” of BC wine. My first visit to Cedar Creek was back in the early 1990’s, when a modest full service tasting room was considered a luxury among small BC wineries as many were still using the garage in their private residences. The wines are considerably better than the first time I tasted them and the property and selection have grown to become one of the most well respected portfolios in the Okanagan. Cedar Creek was one of the first BC wineries to really push the boundaries of quality wine under the guidance of then winemaker Tom diBello (now with Perseus winery) with their “Platinum Reserve” series which debuted with the 1998 vintage in early 2000, specializing in Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and more recently with Riesling and other aromatic varieties as well as Syrah/Shiraz. The new winemaking team is led by Darryl Brooker, who brings a wealth of global wine making experience and it shows in the quality of the wines across the board.

2012 Cedar Creek Pinot Gris

To the eye, the 2012 Pinot Gris has a pale gold, almost coppery hue with clear youthful rim. On the nose, there is mild mineral and nutty aromas mixed with fresh cut flowers and sweet apple and pear fruit. On the palate, WOW, dry, with moderate acidity and a rich, plush mouthfeel. Medium body, with a creamy texture and plenty of ripe peach, nectarine and apricot fruit with a finish that goes on and on.

Technical details of the wine are not available on the website yet, pertinent details: Harvest date – from October 4 – November 5, 2012; 100% Pinot Gris; 90%/10% Stainless Steel/Barrel(French) fermentation; 13.9% alc/vol.  Available by direct delivery, at Government of BC retail outlets, private wine shops and restaurants across BC and Alberta.

 

Proprietors Petra Flaa and Bob Johnson

Baillie-Grohman is a relative newcomer to the BC wine scene, and they are succeeding despite their un-traditional location. The property is in Creston, BC, roughly 300 kilometres East of the epicentre of the BC wine industry. On a similar latitude as Osoyoos (very near to the Canada/US border) but a couple hundred meters higher in elevation Baillie-Grohman is pushing cool climate viticulture with outstanding results. Represented at Bloom by proprietors Petra Flaa and Bob Johnson, the Baillie-Grohman lineup included Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir (and rosé) and a “Bordeaux” blend made from Okanagan Valley grapes. They also produce a sparkling Blanc de Noir which wasn’t available and the standout wine from the table,  the 2012 Gewurztraminer, which hinted at Alsace but had a character all its own.

2012 Baillie-Grohman Gewurztraminer

To the eye, the gewurz was a pale gold with bronze hues and had the youthful clear rim. On the nose there was a typical Alsace style character with rosewater and lychee fruit but on the palate there was mouth watering savoury acidity with ultra ripe, almost confit, of stone fruit and intense mineral and sweet baking spice flavours. Medium bodied with balanced alcohol and a long finish. Very nice!

Technical details can be found on the website here, wines are available at the cellar door, or at private retail stores and restaurants in BC and Alberta, a list of locations can be found here.

 

Proprietor Bill Eggert

Bill Eggert, jack of all trades and proprietor of Fairview Cellars had the goal of producing a single “Grande Vin” from his property all these years ago. When I first met him back in the early 1990’s I asked what changed? “Well”, he said, “When I started making the wines the Merlot was so darn good on its own so I kept a few barrels back to bottle on its own.” “Then, the Cabernet Franc was also so good, I left a little aside, same for the Cabernet Sauvignon.” Then, when I started blending, the Cabernet/Merlot was so good together, but so was the Merlot/Cabernet, so I made a little of those too.” A lot of things have changed at Bill’s property, he now makes an outstanding Sauvignon Blanc, has dabbled with producing ice wine and made some wines in partnership with longtime friends in the valley, but what hasn’t changed is the goal of producing a wine to rival the great reds of Bordeaux. I tried the entire lineup, but how can I not comment on what is surely BC’s first $100+ bottle of wine?

2009 Fairview Cellars “Iconoclast” (Cabernet Sauvignon)

In the glass, the wine was a dark, opaque crimson bleeding to a bright violet rim and was incredibly viscous. On the nose, WOW, huge concentrated dark fruit character with hints of blackberry, black cherry and cassis, along with coffee, tobacco smoky oak. On the palate, the wine is bone dry with bright acid and massive but well integrated tannins. Fruit character continues from the nose with almost a liqueur like quality, full bodied with balanced alcohol and a long full finish. A real powerhouse!

There is very little information available for the “Iconoclast”, I would suggest contacting Bill directly at the winery if you are interested. I know he produces very little. You will find all of the contact information for buying and finding Fairview Cellars wines here.

 

This is just a small sample of the great wines that were on display, some honourable mentions must also be made.

2005 Fairview Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon

A library wine that Bill brought along just for fun, and boy was it. Dark and inky in the glass with very little signs of age in the colour. On the nose there was plenty of kirsch, crème de cassis and crème de mûre aromas with toasty oak, vanilla and saddle leather. On the palate, dry, with bright acidity and well integrated structured tannins, dark fruit compote, balanced alcohol and a long finish. Very nice indeed, hopefully those of you who bought this way back when still have a few bottles in your cellar.

 

2010 Painted Rock Syrah

Dark and inky, almost black with ripe blackberry, plum and blueberry fruit. Dry with modest acidity and silky smooth tanning, concentrated dark fruit and baking spices with a pronounced black pepper aroma and toasty oak. Medium to full bodied with a long balanced finish.

 

2011 Orofino Syrah

Dark and brooding in the glass with big ripe black cherry and boysenberry fruit, cinnamon, allspice and anise to go with white pepper. On the palate it is dry with bright acid and smooth tanning, bold yet still elegant with a long balanced finish. Reminiscent of old world Grenache/Syrah, Vacquerays maybe.

 

2010 Burrowing Owl Athene

A 50/50 blend of Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon, co-fermented. Dark and concentrated in the glass with aromas of blackberry, cassis, black cherry and tobacco. Dry, with moderate acidity and firm tannins, plenty of dark berry fruit, spice and oak notes come through on the long, well balanced finish.

 

2010 Tantalus Old Vines Riesling

Pale gold with mild green highlights and a pale rim. Intense smoke/slate nose with hints of petrol and white flowers and white peach on the nose. Dry, with intense, mouth watering acidity and modest sweet apple and peach fruit, finishing with lemon/lime and mineral notes. Light bodied, long finish. Give this one some added time in your cellar for it to really start to show off.

 

2012 Terravista Vineyards “Fandango”

The first grower/producer of Albariño in BC and its about time! Bright pale gold in the glass with intense ripe peach and apricot fruit, floral and mineral aromas. Dry, with moderate acidity and intense ripe peach fruit with an earthy mineral character and a long mouth-watering finish.

 

2012 Perseus Viognier

Bright pale gold and clear to the rim with expressive nose of white flowers and ripe apricot, quince. Dry with lip smacking acidity, bright apricot/peach fruit, mineral notes and a long balanced finish.

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