Wine Reviews  

Port in a Storm

Wine: Port in a Storm, NV
Winery: Pentâge, Okanagan Falls

Why drink it? Port comes from Portugal, but “port style” wines are emerging from wineries throughout the Okanagan, and these fortified wines can vary greatly depending on the grape and winemaking – including the choice of spirit added in the process. This one is predominately Zinfandel, not a common grape in Canada. It creates a lovely, almost comforting, wine that is ripe with abundant notes of ripe cherries, raisins, dried figs and marzipan. A bit of vanilla bean and gentle tannins on the finish. It has come together over several vintages and can be sipped now, or let it age next to granny’s fruitcake.

Price: $26

Pair with: Port style wines typically pair well with certain cheeses, Stilton is a classic. If you have some cherry preserves, such as a chutney that is not super sweet, serve that with a selection of cheeses. Bake some camembert with cherry, apricot, and plum preserves on the side and have fun pairing.

Music pairing: In the Waiting Line, Zero 7


Middle Bench Pinot Blanc

Wine: Winemaker’s Middle Bench Pinot Blanc, 2017

Winery: Clos du Soleil, Similkameen Valley

Why drink it? The name, an “enclosed vineyard of the sun” is a reflection of the winery’s location in the Similkameen, wrapped by rocks and a stone wall, and often drenched in sunlight. Pinot blanc wines vary around the world – this one is light to medium bodied and elegant, with stone fruits, lychee, and subtle ripe pear notes on the nose. The palate is clean and balanced, and might remind you of a lighter chardonnay with hints of fresh lemon over flavours of crisp apples, quince and kumquats. A good wine to have on hand for an impromptu gathering of pals, with a plate of soft cheeses.

Price: $23

Pair with: Cheese tarts (subtle cheeses), or mini quiches, a mushroom frittata for bunch served with some good sourdough toast. Roast veggies and pasta dressed in olive oil, or the veggies next to a roast chicken or a gently seasoned baked or grilled trout filet.

Music pairing: Soak Up the Sun, Sheryl Crow

Foch Eh, Averill Creek

Wine: Foch Eh, 201

Winery: Averill Creek, Vancouver Island

Why drink it? It’s nice to see a winery having fun, and when this bottle was dropped in the middle of a table full of conference goers, it brought smiles to everyone as they admired the maple leaf on the label and enjoyed saying “Foch, eh?”. If you have had Foch, expect this one to be very fruity on the nose and taste buds, with aromas and flavours of raspberry jam, Nibs candy, and pomegranate. A light red wine, try it just slightly chilled. The winery aptly describes this bottle as uncomplicated, with a touch of tannin, and clearly, it is meant to simply enjoy.

Price: $22

Pair with: As the winery suggests, “casual fare such as burgers, pizza”. A grilled cheese with or without bacon, or your favourite sandwich, or pick up a berry pie from the grocery store just because you’re walking by the bakery section, and it feels like a good day for pie.

Music pairing: I Can’t Help Myself, Four Tops


Vista's Edge Cabernet Franc

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: Vista’s Edge Cabernet Franc, 2015

Winery: Mission Hill

Why drink it? Mission Hill has several tiers of wine. This, the first 100 percent Cabernet Franc bottle produced by the winery, falls under the Terroir Collection, made with, to coin a phrase, some of the “best of the best” of their grapes. And the care and attention are evident in the fresh aromas that rise out of the glass; blackcurrants and dark cherries with a bit of cigar box. It’s worth a deep breath before a sip. Balance between the tannins, acidity, and dark red fruit notes mixed with cocoa and clove brings you to an exquisitely long finish. The 2015 was tasted, the 2016 is now available.

Price: $50

Pair with: Great to drink within a year of vintage. This is a perfect red wine to bring out to pair with your grandma’s stew recipe on the first day the snow flies in winter, a tourtiere procured at an artisan food fair, a beef or mushroom Wellington, or with a cheese course.

Music pairing: Past the Mission, Tori Amos

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