We are distinctly Canadian. In summer we paddle, navigating canoes through marshes, bogs and streams, traversing lakes and meandering down rivers. In the fall we are more likely to pack up the car and drive the road to northern climes, marveling at the changing season, elucidated by fall’s bright oranges, yellows and reds.
Our taste and choice in wine follows suit. When the heat is on we look to sharp, vigorous and thirst quenching white wines. Sauvignon Blanc, Vermentino, Garganega, Riesling and Chenin Blanc. Jumping forward a month or two there will be the need for full-bodied whites; Chardonnay, Semillon, Viognier, Marsanne and Rousanne. In the autumn interim we bridge the gap with Unoaked Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Grenache Blanc.
Here are six great whites for fall and for the early stages of the coming winter cold.
The grape: Chardonnay
The history: Take away the oak influence and Chardonnay goes crisp and clean
The lowdown: Winemaker Richie Roberts is without peer for this method, at this price
The food match: Perfumed Chicken Broth , chinese dumplings
Fielding Unoaked Chardonnay 2011 (164491, $13.95) continues to will clear water talent for value. A revivalist po’ boy made of ascetic industrialism; efficient, reasonable and utilitarian. Drinks well down on the corner, with enhanced juicy fruit. All orchard fruit, all the time. Very satisfying for the coin. “Bring a nickel, tap your feet.” 87
The grape: Pinot Gris
The history: A widely planted and signature grape for B.C. due to its ability to ripen in all three of the major regions: Island, Okanagan and Similkameen Valleys.
The lowdown: This Okanagan version may be sweeter and softer than others but winemaker George Heiss Jr. has struck gold with his 2011
The food match: Warm Pulled Soft Chicken Tacos, romaine, candied bacon, caesar dressing
Gray Monk Pinot Gris 2011 (118638, $19.95, B.C. 118638, $16.99) is a purling wind of crisp, sprite Mutsu apple, honey, molasses and castile. Certainly not the pepper and spice of its Alsatian brethren but manages to lift Okanagan prurience into B.C. repartee. 88
The grape: Sauvignon Blanc
The history: The ode to Bordeaux and the Loire is fading. Kiwi SB rocketed to stardom, went through a recession and has emerged a major player
The lowdown: Marlborough at its finest
The food match: Caprese Corn Meal Galette Tart, tomato, fior di latte and basil
Wither Hills Single Vineyard Rarangi Sauvignon Blanc 2011 (288134, $21.95) coagulates sea air above Cloudy Bay, arsenopyrite and carapace to imbue the Rarangi SV with density and intensity. A white grapefruit, lime and sugar syrup sangria void of gooseberry and asparagus. A breath of Marlborough fresh air. 90
The grape: Riesling
The history: Germany’s trademark grape
The lowdown: Spätlese means “late harvest” and as a Prädikatswein it carries with it Germany’s highest quality designation
The food match: Lemon Curd Short-breads
Prinz Von Hessen Johannisberger Klaus Riesling Spätlese 2002 (295659, $21.95) of graceful, gold regal colour is a dessert wine now, for all intents and purposes. The citrus tang of acidity persists and melds into what is now a scintillating, cider apple stage. A big thanks for aging this one for us, it’s now ready to go. 90
The grape: Sauvignon Blanc
The history: From its true home in the Loire where the ancient refuse of the varietal is traced in the soil
The lowdown: Jolivet is king and this bottling is one of his finest made to date
The food match: Smoked shrimp, chive crème fraîche, garlic chips
Pascal Jolivet Les Caillotes Sancerre 2010 (287086, $31.95) starts out with subtle herbs and spice. Drifts to flint, pericarp and chalk then builds and lifts to edgy crystalline and jeweled gem. Accomplishes all its aromas and tastes with refinement. Flies away with the barrel on the longest flight imaginable for a Sauvignon Blanc. 91
The grapes: Marsanne, Viognier, Bourboulenc and Clairette
The history: Southern Rhône white blend from a house that makes some of the greatest white wine on the planet
The lowdown: Beaucastel’s “second” wine is at it’s very best in 2011.
The food match: Fresh Ravioli, sage butter, extra-virgin olive oil, reggiano parmesan
Château Beaucastel Coudoulet De Beaucastel Blanc 2011 (48892, $33.95, SAQ 449983, $30.25) may just be the lowly, new ‘second’ home of the pope (papal coach house if you will) but ahhhh…white Rhône blossoms, so many varietals, so little opportunity to taste them. This is faintly nutty like Oloroso, fragrant, and annotated for interpolations. “Smells divine,” “gorgeous colour” and “tastes great.” 90
Good to go!