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Wine Reviews  

Van Westen, 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: Violeta (Malbec), 2015

Winery: Van Westen, Naramata

Why drink it? There is something distinct about wines from the Naramata Bench, a certain ruggedness blended with elegance, perhaps? This Malbec is a reflection of that, with rustic characteristics of pepper and spice notes with noticeable, but not overbearing, tannins. As the wine ages, or with decanting a couple of hours before dinner, the ruggedness evolves into a softer sip, still with the intrigue of tobacco and leather, but the dark plum and cherry notes come forward, almost paying tribute to the orchards in the area. Rich, warm, with hints of fruitcake on the second (or third) glass.

Price: $35

Pair with: Roasted or grilled game meat along with a side of lightly seasoned autumn root veggies, even roasted tomatoes may work based on the winery’s tasting notes. A savory blueberry sauce can take the place of cranberry sauce this coming holiday season, for a change.

Music pairing: Big Man on Mulberry Street, Billy Joel



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Baillie-Grohman, Creston

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: Gewürztraminer, 2017

Winery: Baillie-Grohman, Creston

Why drink it? Yes, wine is being made on the edge of the Kootenays in Creston, where the focus is most definitely what works in a cool climate, like “gew”. A recent award winner as Best of Varietal at the Okanagan Wine Festivals, the first thing you’ll notice is a slight pinkish hue to this wine, owing to skin contact (the grape skins have a rosy-purple colour). Next are the vibrant aromas of ginger, spice, and a floral note on the nose. Then a sip or two brings out flavours of dried apricots, lychee, and maybe a bit of candy…red licorice? A nice finish that lasts longer than expected wraps this up.

Price: $21

Pair with: Something a bit spicy, such as a curry or Thai dishes. Try an Indian-spice cauliflower soup on a cool day, or another dish that embraces ginger. A vegetarian flatbread with a couple of varieties of mushrooms and dots of a mild soft cheese, but no tomato sauce.

Music pairing: Rose Garden, Lynn Anderson



Rustic Roots, Similkameen

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: Santa Rosa (plum), 2017

Winery: Rustic Roots, Similkameen

Why drink it? Plum wine. Fruit wines are not for every palate, but if you think this will be a cloying and sweet “fruit bomb," you should be pleasantly surprised by this organic dessert wine from the Santa Rosa plum. The fruit itself has a deep, rich flavour, expressed in the aromas of strawberries, rhubarb, and freshly squeezed lemons. There is some sweetness reminiscent of good red liquorice, but it is tempered with tastes of citrus, a bit of dark chocolate and coffee, and a bit of spice. The bonus of visiting the winery is shopping the organic fruit stand plus a selection of condiments and preserves.

Price: $25

Pair with: With holiday visitors coming soon, impress them with and “Okanagan Mimosa” — add this to a glass of local bubbly to start brunch, or to a plum sauce for a main course of game meat or duck, or pair it with a dessert (lava cake?) with dark chocolate as the main ingredient.

Music pairing: Apple Blossom, White Stripes

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



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Quails’ Gate, West Kelowna

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: B.M.V. Riesling, 2017

Winery: Quails’ Gate, West Kelowna

Why drink it? It’s not often (or perhaps ever), that an age-worthy Riesling comes along in the Okanagan, but this barrel-fermented version can be enjoyed now or in a couple of years. Beautiful aromas of peach blossoms and the scent of a fresh rain storm on warm asphalt will remind you of a Germanic Riesling, and the off-dry style is balanced with sharp green apple and lime zest. Those flavours mingle with Okanagan stone fruits, “zippy” acidity that leads to a lengthy finish and a rich mouthfeel, thanks to the barrel treatment. Unique, and sure to elicit an, “oh, that’s different," comment or two.

Price: $30

Pair with: An accidental snack of salted cashews and sunflower seeds worked well, but if you’re not rushing out the door, steelhead trout with a side of basmati rice or another mildly-spiced dish will be delightful, as will a course of soft cheeses as a finale to dinner.

Music pairing: Forever in Blue Jeans, Neil Diamond

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



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