Isn’t it nice when a new month begins on Monday? Like another new beginning and a fresh start to the week and month ahead.
Aside from the International wine tasting itself and an exceptional wine pairing dinner to celebrate wines from Uruguay (the festival focus this year was on South American wines), this is the first time during VIWF that I attended two master classes to do with wine making. The first was called “Defining the Root of BC Terroir” and the second was “California Wines: An Era in the Making.” Very fitting since I spend my time divided between BC and California and enjoy wines from both places when in each location.
These classes were very educational because no matter how much you enjoy drinking the wines from the Province of British Columbia and the State of California, both areas are very different in the way they make wine because of factors like weather, location and what kinds of grapes are best to grow in each unique location. Congratulations to anyone becoming an actual sommelier. There’s just so much information to take in on every level if you’re so inclined.
The wineries in discussion are focusing on exceptional quality over quantity rather than mass produced wines.
Defining the Root of BC Terroir – a bit about the class
Being grounded is where it all begins. This masterclass featured 11 British Columbia wines from across the province. The professional panelists took a deep dive into the unique growing conditions of each wine growing region’s distinct terroir. The discussion touched on what BC winegrowers are doing in the face of climate change to continue making exciting quality wines with a sense of place; from terroir that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. The class was sponsored by Wines of BC. Our panelists were the individual wine makers and our moderators were Maude Renaud-Brisson (Apéro Mode) and Christina Hartigan (Wine Director at AnnaLena. AnnaLena Court of Master Sommeliers.)
Featured wines for tasting and analysis were:
Unsworth Vineyards (Cowichan Valley; Vancouver Island): Charme de L’ile Rosé NV
Bench (Naramata, Okanagan) 1775 Viognier 2021
Nk’Mip Cellars (Osoyoos) Pinot Blanc 2021
Ex Nihilo Vineyards (Okanagan Valley) Pinot Noir 2020
Chronos (Okanagan Valley) Cabernet Franc 2020
Osoyoos Larose (Osoyoos) Grand Vin 2012
Lake Breeze (Naramata) Reisling 2018
Moraine Estate Winery (Penticton) Syrah 2020
Laughing Stock Vineyards (Naramata) Syrah 2020
Corcelettes Estate Winery (Keremeos) Syrah 2020
Cedar Creek Estate Winery (Kelowna) Platinum Jagged Rock Syrah 2020
As you can see, we sampled three different syrahs from the exact same year but in different locations to taste the distinction between the three. In another post I’ll talk more about this.
California Wines: An Era in the Making
California’s unique geology, soil and climate combine to create multi faceted and expressive wines. Leading educator Elaine Chukan Brown unearthed secrets behind the region’s complex and distinctive wines. Sharing how California’s wine industry is committed to creating a sustainable future. She spoke about the science behind the soil, climate and geology. Some vines have a harder time searching for water; unlike BC. Fascinating! We tasted what makes California wines unique. As much as I favour Cali Chardonnay, there were none for the tasting. It is well known that California produces award winning chards but they preferred to focus on the lesser known Cali Sauvignon Blancs for our tasting. Which was a good thing because I’m familiar mostly with Sauvignon Blancs from New Zealand and these were right up there. In the couple hours we were there I scribbled down so much information that I’ll have to share some of it in another post down the road. Sponsored by California Wines. Featured wines:
RAEN Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast 2019
*WALT Pinot Noir, Gap’s Crown 2018
Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Blancs NV
Spottswoode (Napa) Sauvignon Blanc 2021
**Ridge Vineyards Geyserville Zinfindel 2019
Dry Creek Vineyard (Sonoma) Dry Creek Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2020
Black Stallion Estate Winery Limited Release Zinfindel, Napa 2019
Pahlmeyer Jayson (Napa) by Pahlmeyer Merlot 2017
Chappellet (Napa Valley) Signature Cabernet Sauvignon 2018
***Robert Mondavi Winery to Kalon Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2019
*Gap’s Crown Vineyard is located in the heart of the Petaluma Wind Gap area of the Sonoma Coast Appellation. Gentle slopes, heavy fog, and rocky soils produce these exquisite wines of great depth and richness.
**Geyserville is home to the oldest vines farmed in California. The “Old Patch” section of the vineyard contains vines that are more than 130 years of age.
***Between Highway 29 and the western hills of Oakville, in the heart of Napa Valley, there is a vineyard called To-Kalon, “the place of highest beauty.” Two roadside signs signal arrival, but like all mythic places its exact shape is hard to define. FYI – Mondavi is leading the way with farming electric – already they have six Monarch Tractors.
In closing; I have to say that tasting the wine and loving wine in general is only part of the whole experience. As you can see from the notes above, no two wines are alike. I’m very fortunate to have been all over beautiful British Columbia stopping at wineries along the way in and around the Okanagan Valley, Lake Country, Osoyoos, Vancouver Island and Fraser Valley. Same for California: Napa, Sonoma & Sonoma County, Lodi, Paso Robles, Temecula and Santa Barbara. It’s all very breathtaking. And yes; I’ve sampled plenty.
I highly recommend taking master classes during any wine festival if they’re offering them. It was extremely educational and you get to sample a handful of outstanding wines.
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