By Kurtis Kolt – WE Vancouver
Published: August 15, 2013 1:00 PM
Updated: August 15, 2013 1:18 PM
I was going to start off this week’s column by saying “I’ve been thinking about Pinot Noir a lot lately,” but then realized I’m pretty much always thinking of the grape.
I don’t know if I could call it my favourite wine grape (that would be like asking a parent to name his favourite child), but I probably do end up gravitating towards Pinots more than any other types of wine. For me, it’s their often-lightweight elegance, the breadth of flavours from truffles and cherries to a variety of spice, and their “Princess and the Pea”-like ability to express the subtlest mineral notes from the soil.
On top of all that, the level of alcohol in Pinots is often less than that of your Cabernets and Syrahs, keeping things nice and civilized.
It probably goes without saying, then, that I was elated to receive a note from JAK Meyer of Meyer Family Vineyards in Okanagan Falls asking if I’d be willing to sit on a panel at his winery’s BC Pinot Noir Celebration and Salmon Bake on September 1. With a dozen local wineries on the roster, I and a host of other wine folks will be discussing the ins and outs of the noble grape, from its Burgundian origins to the wide variety of styles we produce here at home.
For me, the first winery I think of when I’m looking to British Columbian Pinot Noir is Blue Mountain, which has been knocking it out of the park with the grape for over 20 years. Not only that, the Mavety family has been farming their land since 1971 and has consistently delivered lovely, balanced versions with Old World flair, loaded with truffles, plums and a host of baking spices in both of their $30 Classic and $45 Reserve versions.
Over on Vancouver Island, I’ve always been impressed with Andy Johnston’s $26 Averill Creek version from estate-grown grapes in the Cowichan Valley. Though ripening reds properly can be a challenge around those parts, he utilizes techniques such as tenting the vines in early spring to usher in a little more warmth than would naturally be kicking around that time of year, allowing a slightly longer season. Perfumed bing cherries and soft, silky tannins are consistent hallmarks of his style.
Of course, winemaker Chris Carson at Meyer Family Vineyards is certainly no slouch, delivering a quite solid $25 version from grapes sourced around the Okanagan, and single-estate bottlings if you want to dig deeper into your pockets.
There are so many more, and I have so little space! I haven’t even gotten into the Quail’s Gate’s stunning Stewart Family Reserve ($45), which I find often has the slightest hint of chocolate to it, or David Paterson’s buoyant, floral take on Pinot up at Tantalus in Kelowna ($30).
You’ve been meaning to get up to the Okanagan soon anyways, right? Come join the Pinot conversation on September 1 at Meyer Family Vineyards. The whole kit and kaboodle is $125 and sure to be an awesome time. You can head on over to MFVWines.com for more info.
As always, if you’re having trouble tracking something down, find me via KurtisKolt.com or Tweet me @KurtisKolt.
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