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Wine Reviews  

Tinhorn Creek, Oliver

Join our wine writer, Allison Markin, every week for a wine review complete with food and music pairings. Featuring Okanagan and Canadian wines, with an occasional international bottle, Castanet celebrates the bottles of our Valley and the diversity of the Canadian wine industry and influences from around the world. For current availability and pricing, consult the winery. Unless indicated, international selections are generally available at government liquor stores or private wine shops.

Wine: Cabernet Franc, 2015

Winery: Tinhorn Creek, Oliver

Why drink it? A deep, almost inky colour in the glass may fool you into thinking this is a big, bold red, but it has a youthful presence that will become more interesting with age as the elements soften and combine. There’s a lot to take in: blackberry and dark plums combine with sagebrush and a bit of cedar plank on the nose, you’ll want to swirl and sniff twice. A sip brings flavours of Bing cherries and raspberries, and hints of cocoa bean and freshly ground espresso. You’ll notice the oak treatment, but overall, a balanced wine with a lingering finish.

Price: $24

Pair with: Cab Franc is generally easy to pair, often a good wine with a selection of olives and some prosciutto to start, followed by roast pork or grilled beef. Its earthiness works well with lentil and mushroom stews or soups.

Music pairing: Once in a Lifetime by Talking Heads

Have a wine to suggest? Email Allison at [email protected]



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Tokaji, Hungary

Join our wine writer, Allison Markin, every week for a wine review complete with food and music pairings. Featuring Okanagan and Canadian wines, with an occasional international bottle, Castanet celebrates the bottles of our Valley and the diversity of the Canadian wine industry and influences from around the world. For current availability and pricing, consult the winery. Unless indicated, international selections are generally available at government liquor stores or private wine shops.

Wine: Late Harvest Muscat, 2014

Winery: Tokaji, Hungary

Why drink it? Believe it or not, you can find this Hungarian wine in a few government stores around the Okanagan, and its review came about as research for a wine tour to Hungary for a wine tourism conference. If you like sweet wines, but not ice-wine sweet, and feel like being adventurous, why not try a bottle? You’ll likely find that this is familiar if you enjoy late harvest wines, with fresh flowers and honey on the nose. Don’t expect super sweet, but an enjoyable after-dinner sip with that will make you say, “Hey, this is nice…and it’s from Hungary?"

Price: $19

Pair with: Definitely not for drinking with most dinner dishes, this is probably best sipped on its own after the table has been cleared, or perhaps with candied fruit or almonds, or an equally sweet dessert such as crème brûlée or crème caramel.

Music pairing: Budapest by George Ezra

Have a wine to suggest? Email Allison at [email protected]



Hester Creek, Oliver

Join our wine writer, Allison Markin, every week for a wine review complete with food and music pairings. Featuring Okanagan and Canadian wines, with an occasional international bottle, Castanet celebrates the bottles of our Valley and the diversity of the Canadian wine industry and influences from around the world. For current availability and pricing, consult the winery. Unless indicated, international selections are generally available at government liquor stores or private wine shops.

Wine: Pinot Gris-Viognier, 2017

Winery: Hester Creek, Oliver

Why drink it? Not a blend that immediately comes to mind for white wine, as usually these two grapes stand on their own (though a tiny bit of viognier can give syrah, a red, a nice lift). Unoaked, fermentation took place separately in steel tanks, preserving the characteristics of each grape before they came together in the final product. Bright aromas of lemon and lime combined with honeycomb notes lead to the same citrus flavours, with a bit of melon. Medium bodied, you could almost call this wine juicy thanks to the refreshing fruit-forward finish.

Price: $19

Pair with: This wine doesn’t immediately call for food, but if you have some prawns or mussels on hand, give them a citrus treatment and serve as a light appetizer before the main course. Making brunch? French toast or a nice toasted bread with honey works well.

Music pairing: Buzz Buzz Buzz by Huey Lewis and the News

Have a wine to suggest? Email Allison at [email protected]



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Ruby Blues, Naramata

Join our wine writer, Allison Markin, every week for a wine review complete with food and music pairings. Featuring Okanagan and Canadian wines, with an occasional international bottle, Castanet celebrates the bottles of our Valley and the diversity of the Canadian wine industry and influences from around the world. For current availability and pricing, consult the winery. Unless indicated, international selections are generally available at government liquor stores or private wine shops.

Wine: Red Stiletto (red blend), non-vintage

Winery: Ruby Blues, Naramata Bench

Why drink it? There’s no vintage on this red blend, as the winery starts with a base of Syrah, then blends in other reds (merlot, cabernet sauvignon, different pinots), from a couple of different vintages. Sampled last summer, this is a signature label for the winery – stiletto referencing the artisan shoe collection in the wine shop. It’s deceptively light and mildly luscious and fruity without being too bold, with subtle oak treatment and light tannins. After a swirl in the glass, your nose will detect red berries with a touch of cedar, and a pleasant mix of raspberries and light spices on the palate.

Price: $25

Pair with: Perfectly enjoyable on its own when you’re surprised by company popping by, if you happen to have smoked or candied salmon handy, that will do for an impromptu snack. For a weeknight, pair this with good stuffed meat pasta and tomato sauce from your favourite European deli.

Music pairing: Diamonds on the Soles of My Shoes by Paul Simon

Have a wine to suggest? Email Allison at [email protected]



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