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When people think about famous North American wine producers, California is the first place that normally comes to mind. But their Canadian neighbors to the north are creating many of the best North American wines, period. Some of the hottest Canadian wines originate from British Columbia, where vineyards abound. The province has the right climate and geography to accommodate amazing vineyards. The wines created there are gaining global recognition. In 2017 alone, the province’s vineyards accumulated numerous medals in both national and international competitions. Anyone looking to sample some of Canada’s best wines need look no further than British Columbian wines.
The Ideal Location
British Columbia is an utopia for winegrowers. This is because so many of its regions have better terroir than most the rest of the country. As Madeline Puckette of Wine Folly explains, “terroir” is an indicator of how the terrain, climate, and soil of an area will affect the taste of wine made there. The select regions of BC with established vineyards provides growers with a more than ideal environment. This includes factor such as low risk of frost, elevated terrain, suitable soil, and long growing degree days. As a result, this led to the establishment of more vineyards in the province.
Types of British Columbian Wines
The different growing conditions in the province’s regions lead to diversity in grapes. As a result, these regions each produce an assortment of varietals.
- Similkameen Valley: Cabernet Franc, Gamay Noir, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Cabernet Sauvignon, Riesling
- Gulf Islands: Maréchal Foch, Ortega, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir
- Fraser Valley: Bacchus, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Siegerrebe, Chardonnay
- Vancouver Island: Siegerrebe, Ortega, Pinot Gris, Maréchal Foch, Pinot Noir
- Okanagan Valley: Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer, Riesling, Pinot Gris, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon
The combination of soil quality, temperatures, and terrain give the province an advantage over others.
Getting Familiar With British Columbian Wines:
The only real way to know just how remarkable British Columbian wines are is to try them. Because there are so many to choose from, it’s difficult to just pick a few. To make it easier, look over some of the top tested and reviewed brands from the best Canadian wineries.
- Quail’s Gate The Boswell Syrah, 2015– As Beppi Crosariol of The Globe and Mail describes, this red is a delight. The palate of blackberries, plums, along with underlying hints of oak, provides a rich drinking experience.
- Township 7 Cabernet Sauvignon, 2015– With sharper, fuller tastes than other reds, this wine boasts an enjoyable mix of flavors. You’ll taste traces of mint and cedar, accompanied by fuller bursts of black currants and black olive.
- Vanessa Vineyard Right Bank, 2014– Ripe flavors of red berries and cherries, along with hints of spice and chocolate, make this a smooth, classy drink perfect for the evening.
- Secrest Mountain Vineyard Haywire Gamay Noir Rosé, 2016– The nose of this rosé carries strawberries and cherries. On the palate you’ll find citrus and berries. This is a perfect wine for warm spring days.
- Barn Vineyard CheckMate Artisanal Winery Attack Chardonnay, 2014– This white has very crisp citrus, summery flavors with underlying tangs of salt and ginger. It’s a refreshing drinking experience and goes well with chicken or seafood dishes
More Wine Picks!
- Similkameen Valley Bench 1775 Malbec, 2014– On the nose you’ll find floral, blueberry, and fennel. On the tongue there’s spice and plum. This is a great wine to pair with beef or pork.
- Skaha Bench Painted Rock Syrah, 2014– This floods your palate with the combined flavors of licorice, curry, pepper, along with a floral hint. It’s a choice selection for barbeques.
- Golden Retreat Vineyard Spierhead Pinot Gris, 2016– This is perfect for people who want a refreshing wine. Crisp, sweet citrus flavors make it a perfect partner for spicy chicken dishes.
- Qwam Qwmt Riesling Icewine– Made by British Columbia’s only First Nations owned and operated winery, this icewine is a terrific dessert wine. It boasts citrus, baked apple, and tropical fruit flavors. As Charlene Rooke of Passport 2017 points out, this wine’s strong finish and even acidity make it one of the best Canadian icewines.
- Sperling Vineyards Natural Amber Pinot Gris 2015– A delicate orange in the glass, this is a natural wine made with no additives or filtration. A memorable palate and nose make it a good wine to pair with seafood or to drink by itself.
Uncorking the Best
As far as Canadian wines go, it’s safe to say that some of the best come from British Columbia. The combination of soil quality, temperatures, and terrain give the province an advantage over others. British Columbia isn’t the only place in the country with large wineries, but those it is home to are award-winning. To truly understand just how Canada competes with the rest of the world when it comes to spirits, it’s best to start with the wines of British Columbia.