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As longer nights and cooler days descend upon us, so does an urge to retreat indoors and spend quality time with those we care for. The weather has us reaching for our favourite comfort foods: stews, slow-cookery items, and rich flavours. In BC’s Okanagan, there’s a wine (or six) to meet those robust meals and lingering evening gatherings. Don’t get caught without one or more of these delicious delights on hand.
Where the off-dry versions lay claim to hot summer days, autumn and winter are ideal times for more serious, mineral-bursting, mouth-watering Rieslings. This grape grows like gangbusters throughout the Okanagan and Similkameen valleys, exemplifying diversity of the terroir from each locale. A helpful partner to rich flavours with some heat, the versatility of this wine – when focused on acidity and with a dollop of zest – can handle many hearty comfort foods.
Another mirror to provide a good sense of place, this grape can wear many hats: from fruit-forward and bold, to delicate and elegant. We see a variety of expressions in the Okanagan, and that’s a good thing; we’re a myriad of tiny growing regions where one style doesn’t fit all. For growing sites south of Penticton and even Okanagan Falls, a few more degrees centigrade in temperature provides a marked difference in temperament than grapes grown in the ever-so-slightly-cooler Lake Country and the central/north Okanagan.
There’s something magical about a beautiful blend, one where the winemaker puts thought into crafting a wine where the sum reaches beyond its individual parts. Bordeaux knows this, and the new world answer is the Meritage blend. Named for ‘merit’ and ‘heritage’, a meritage wine is one worthy of time in bottle. Here, style is dictated by the grapes of that vintage and carefully guided by a skilled hand in the cellar; one percent more of an element in the blend can make or break the union, with each grape adding its own unique sound to the flavour orchestra. Think of meritage as a symphony and the winemaker as its conductor: while she doesn’t make a sound, the conductor plays the largest instrument of all.
Have a favourite BC wine you love to drink in the fall? Share with us in the comments below.
Wineries and wine tours in BC’s Okanagan
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