White Delight North of the 49th


There’s a mystical land of mountains and rain forests hidden just north of the 49th parallel with a pair of miniscule valleys that will delight a fan of cool climate white wines. Let me fill you in.

Yesterday I had a chance to sample the latest releases from VQA (Vintners Quality Alliance) certified wines from the Okanagan and Similkameen valleys. VQA is an “appelation of origin” system that guarantees origin and makes sure the wines meet certain quality requirements.

I have to say there were more than my palate and time allowed, and its no wonder since there are 152 wineries that are part of the program (there are 316 wineries in all in the province of BC).

There are definitely some reds worth a high-five, and killer rosés (which I already talked about earlier – Pinot Noir expresses itself so well in the rosés from this region) but I want to highlight the whites that had me doing fist pumps. And it’s not just the steely and crisp Rieslings but also some aromatics that really make you take notice.

Lake Breeze is a winery that has an arsenal of whites, but it was their popular, Gewurz-dominant Spice Jar blend and a rare Riesling, which they’ve never done before, that led the charge.

Lake Breeze “The Spice Jar” 2015

Gloriously floral nose that whispers sweet nothings to your senses. Fans of aromatics, prepare to swoon but hold on as the acidity on the finish cleans things up neatly. This makes the Spice Jar such a winner both as a sipper and a foodie’s companion wine.

Lake Breeze Riesling 2012

breakneck acidity that’s not for the faint of heart but a jewel that will mellow out over the years. Dry, crisp and Alpine in nature, the 2012 vintage afforded so much fruot that the winery decided to make this varietal wine in addition to using it in blends.

Perseus Pinot Gris 2015

A change of pace from the hogh acidity that’s the staple of the Okanagan Valley, this Pinot Gris Is rounder with more mouthfeel. Rich and textured, citrus gives way to delicate floral and almond notes.

Culmina “Unicus” 2015

Grüner Veltliner has touched down with a twist in the Rockies. Fermented in concrete eggs and amphorae, there is intriguing and unique complexity that sets it apart from classic Grüners while still maintaining the same backbone. Dry and crisp, the rhubarb-laced finish is deliciously lingering.

Over the mountains and not so far away in the bucolic Similkameen Valley, there’s a little winery surrounded by organic vineyards that produces formidable Bordeaux-style Sauv Blanc blends.

Clos du Soleil Fumé Blanc 2015

Ripe fruit on the nose promise the tropics and yet there’s that delicate acidity on the palate that makes this wine a fantastic companion to food.

Clos du Soleil “Capella” 2014

The flagship wine at the winery, this Sauv Blanc-Semillon blend is the graceful big sister of the fumé blanc. With less Semillon to round it out, it’s crisper and cleaner yet with complexity abounds.