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Wine Reviews  

Howling Bluff, 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: Sauvignon Blanc-Semillon, 2017

Winery: Howling Bluff, Naramata

Why drink it? The signature white blend of this slightly off the beaten path winery along the Naramata Bench, sauvignon blanc and semillon together is a classic seen in old world wine regions, but here is a fresher, distinctly Okanagan version. The sauv portion gives it a lift of acidity with pleasant notes of freshly sliced grapefruit, citrus peel and tart apples, while the sem portion provides a bit of weight and elegance with a smooth and satisfying mouthfeel. Enjoy a glass on the newly built deck at the winery, with a peek-a-boo view to Okanagan Lake, or watch for the winery’s extensive cameo in the movie, The Orchard while enjoying a bottle.

Price: $20

Pair with: If watching the above noted film, make some popcorn clarified butter and go easy on the salt. If sitting in your own patio, a plate of soft cheeses with a sprinkling of roasted almonds and slice of tropical fruits. At dinner? Lightly spiced Asian-inspired dishes.

Music pairing: Spoonful by Howlin’ Wolf

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



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Liquidity, Okanagan Falls

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: Rosé, 2017

Winery: Liquidity, Okanagan Falls

Why drink it? You can practice your pronunciation of Dornfelder, a German grape with dark skins usually used for red wine, and Zweigelt, an Austrian grape also usually used for reds. Bringing these two together for a pink wine results in a dry yet refreshing rosé that has just enough tannin and body to satisfy a wine lover who “only” drinks red wine. A swirl in the glass releases aromas of fresh rhubarb and raspberries on the vine, with some floral notes. On the taste buds, bright red berries and cranberries, and a lingering finish of citrus and just a hint of fresh vanilla bean and Swedish Berry candies.

Price: $25

Pair with: Like most rosés, simply sipping on the patio on a hot day is the norm. But break that habit with a salad of butter lettuce, feta, and strawberries, or a flat bread done on the grill with béchamel sauce topped with fresh herbs, mild mushrooms and slices of grilled chicken.

Music pairing: Rock Me Amadeus by Falco

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



Monte Creek, Kamloops

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: Hands Up Red (blend), 2016

Winery: Monte Creek Ranch Winery, Kamloops

Why drink it? Your probably-familiar Merlot, which is just over 80 percent of this red blend, and Cabernet Sauvignon, but at two percent, it is provides a tiny bit of earthiness. The rest of the bottle? Marquette, a hardy hybrid grape that thrives in a cold climate (Minnesota lays claim to it), and Frontenac Noir (again Minnesota). The latter provides a truffle mushroom tone on the nose, complemented by red fruits and mellow herbaceous notes of the Merlot. Medium bodied with many flavours to explore, the tannins give this bottle a nice classic structure.

Price: $17

Pair with: Pick a protein and throw it on the grill. A lean skirt steak, medium rare, with a side of sautéed mushrooms and a classic caesar salad. Meatless Monday? Grill a couple of gigantic portobello mushrooms and make your version of a veggie burger.

Music pairing: Half As Much by Hank Williams Sr.

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



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Elephant Island, 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: Stellaport, Non-Vintage

Winery: Elephant Island, Naramata

Why drink it? This is your LAST CHANCE to get this exquisite fruit wine that has, quite literally, been in the making for 15 years. Made in the solera style, a Spanish technique common to ports and sherries, the “mother barrel” (in this case, from 2001), is the beginning, then each year half of the vintage is bottled, and half is reserved for the next vintage. Apologies to the winery for borrowing their tasting notes, but they say it best: “elegant and rich…butterscotch, caramel, coconut and vanilla from prolonged barrel aging providing the perfect complement to the still fresh note of July-ripened Naramata cherries.

Price: $45

Pair with: The flavour of deep, ripe, cherries dipped in dark chocolate is the hallmark of this wine, so a selection of dark chocolates is a given. As with sweet wines, a contrasting flavour such as an aged cheese is a delight, or simply savour this taste of the Naramata Bench on its own.

Music pairing: Cherry Cherry by Neil Diamond

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



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