Living in B.C., we’re so lucky to have so much within just a few hours’ drive: mountains, oceans, lakes, wilderness, desert and even wine country. One of my favourite things to do in the summer is to drive up to the Okanagan and spend a day touring around to wineries.
I just returned from my annual Okanagan vacation, and I learned something that surprised me. My favourite wines (the ones I tended to purchase as my favourite after tasting all the others) tended to be blends.
We’ve been programmed to think that a good wine must come from a single varietal. But the truth is, single varietal wines are a relatively new invention, and wine blends of different kinds of grapes were always the norm up until a hundred or so years ago.
“Blending varietals is the ultimate way that a winemaker can ‘play’,” said Bradley Cooper, who is the current winemaker for Serendipity Winery, and who has his own label, Black Cloud. “You get to control the levels of sweetness and acidity by blending the best properties of different kinds of grapes.”
Bradley’s favourite white wine blend for summer sipping? “Sauvignon blanc and Semillon. Classic French but often done better in the New World. McWatter’s Collection does a great one.”
Here are my 5 picks for BC/Okanagan white wine blends, which are all perfect served at between 9-11 degrees Celsius. All of these wines are priced around the $20 mark.
Wild Goose Autumn Gold: A blend of Riesling and Gewürztraminer, finished with grape juice, this fruit-forward wine has notes of apple and pear, along with stone fruit. It’s sweet, but not too sweet–and has a nice, off-dry finish.
Liquidity White Blend: One of the newest wineries in the Okanagan, located in Okanagan Falls, this blend consists of Chardonnay, Viognier, and Pinot Gris. It bursts with citrus flavours, like grapefruit and lime.
Noble Ridge Mingle: Primarily Pinot Gris, but with a little unoaked Chardonnay and some Gewürztraminer, this honey-coloured wine features notes of peach, apple and reminds you of a sunny day in the tropics.
Hidden Chapel, St. Vincent: A charming little winery on the way out to Oliver (they have an actual mini-chapel up in the woods behind the winery), this blend (named for the patron saint of wines–my kinda guy) is about 2/3 Riesling and 1/3 Viognier. This one features lots of green apple and pear flavours.
8th Generation Confidence: This wine is different than the rest. First off, it’s a rosé, which means that it has some red grapes in the blend to give it that gorgeous, salmon-pink colour. Secondly, it has carbonation added, so it further adds to special occasions by making bubbles dance on your tongue. This frizzante consists of Merlot, Pinot Noir, Dunkelfelder, Pinot Gris, and Viognier, and has notes of strawberry, pink grapefruit and cranberry.
What’s your favourite summer sipping wine to enjoy outdoors?