Our monthly BC Critics’ Picks is the place to find recent recommendations from our intrepid and curious BC critics – wines that cross geographical boundaries, toe traditional style lines and may push limits – without being tied to price or distribution through BCLDB or VQA stores. All are currently available for sale in BC.
We’re filing these picks this week with one eye on The Nationals, starting shortly. While many in June are anticipating the end of the school year and the start of summer holidays, we’re gearing up for a week of intensive Canadian wine ‘studies’ in Niagara and meeting 1500 or so Canadian wines (plus our cross-Canada colleagues and our international honourary Canuck, Dr. Jamie Goode). Since Anthony is busy prepping the back room, flights, scores and entries, he will not be submitting his top three wines this month for WineAlign West June Critics’ Picks. That said, follow him and our entire WineAlign judging crew on Twitter and Instagram (#NWAC15) for our favourite wines and flight insights in real time, starting next Tuesday, June 23.
Cheers ~ TR
Rhys Pender, MW
There are so many great and interesting wines out there it really is amazing what we can find. However, there are also a lot of very uninteresting wines out there that offer zero excitement – we wade through those for you. Fortunately for all of us, it is challenging to pick three monthly critics picks because there are many wines that thrill and energize every month. This isn’t just about expensive, well-known wines but often about those that either do something a little different or are just simply delicious.
My first pick is a wine that everyone who wants to understand rosé should taste. It is from Provence, it is bone dry, it is delicious and I probably could drink it endlessly all summer. It is Elixir Côtes De Provence 2014.
The second is a wine that I was lucky enough to enjoy on the same day after the rosé just mentioned. It was evening now, the sun had dropped, I was sitting outside looking at the pink clouded dusk and there was a bit of chill to the air. Jumilla from Spain is often so warming and rich and when it is old vines from a good chalky vineyard it manages to be rich and mineral at the same time. The Juan Gil 2012 has pulled this off nicely.
Another exciting thing about picking these wines is new discoveries, and in particular, bold wineries trying things to make something special. Orofino vineyards in Cawston has produced something very special. They took some of the top quality syrah from Scout Vineyard in Cawston and put it in raw concrete from Osoyoos and let it ferment wild without any interference from oak. Orofino 2014 Wild Ferment Syrah is amazingly fresh, textural and complex and worth seeking out because it is so wonderfully drinkable and “good” different. And they didn’t make very much of it (available directly from the winery).
I’ve been sipping many interesting bottles at tastings in Vancouver (and at home), including lovely, stony classic rosés from Provence. I love the evocative name of Domaine du Dragon Côtes de Provence ‘Cuvée Prestige’ 2014, and the savoury austerity and grip of this almost all-cinsault rosé. Crusty baguette, salty tapenade and a slight chill on the wine is perfect for la nuit blanche.
Then two pinots… the Howling Bluff Summa Quies Pinot Noir 2012 is beautifully in tune now, with emphatic fruit and a gutsy Burgundian flair. It’s a sockeye salmon-worthy wine with bright cherry flavours, subtle tannins and juicy acidity.
Marchand & Burch Mount Barrow Pinot Noir 2012 is a wine I have tasted twice this year and each time been enchanted. Textured, woodsy and vinous, it’s got a stellar pedigree, a killer Art Nouveau label, and duck written all over it.
Like my colleagues above, I’m seeing this heat wave through rose coloured (wine) glasses. One of my favourite BC rosés from last year thankfully pulled a repeat with their latest vintage. Lock & Worth Cabernet Franc Rosé 2014 has the same palest hue, delicate wild strawberries, minerality and orange pith I recall, though with a touch more padding on the mid palate this year. Welcome maturity, finesse and drinkability.
Always exciting to see a Tasmanian wine on our shelves, and even more so when it’s this delish. Devil’s Corner Tasmania Pinot Noir 2014. With Intoxicating florals, exotic spices, minerality, iron, dried forest and a fresh palate textured with stony grip, this savoury wine is a fantastic new addition to our market.
Some times you’re in the mood for light and quaffable, and sometimes you’re in the mood for serious, contemplative, can’t-look-away wine. Weingut Bründlmayer Kamptaler Terrassen Grüner Veltliner 2009 is definitely the latter. Now with a bit of age (and fortunately a vintage still found on our shelves), this wine shows Brundlmayer’s strength in consistently crafting complex and mineral-driven grüner veltliner, built to age. A complex stunner – especially when poured with herb, fennel and white wine-laced moules frites.
WineAlign in BC
In addition to our monthly Critics’ Picks report, we also publish the popular shortlist 20 Under $20, as well as the BC Wine Report, a look at all things in the BC Wine Industry. Lastly, Anthony Gismondi closes out each month with his Final Blend column – an expert insight into wine culture and trends, honed by more than 25 years experience as an influential and global critic.