PERFECTLY POTABLE: New crop of VQA wines provides interesting choices

Robert Moyes gives the rundown on some of the season’s tastiest wines

One of the tastiest heralds of spring is Bloom, the B.C. Wine Institute’s annual showcase of the newest crop of VQA (Vintner’s Quality Alliance) wines.

This year’s launch was preceded by an informative tasting seminar led by author and international wine judge Treve Ring. A skilled and knowledgeable host, her overall assessment was that the 2017 vintage was “stellar.” Ring said the vineyards had lower yields – resulting in well-balanced wines with complex flavours. In short, there are many reasons to toast an important, well-run industry that pours over $2 billion into the B.C. economy.

There were a few hundred wines being poured, so here’s a merest handful of highlights. Wild Goose is a reliable producer and both their Pinot Gris and the hugely popular Autumn Gold (a blend of Riesling, Gewurztraminer and Pinot Blanc) are perfect patio sippers. CedarCreek impressed with its crisp Pinot Gris, while Church & State delivered a delectable, great-value Meritage red blend.

There were notable wines only available at private shops like Vessel, Cascadia, Spinnakers, and Everything Wine. Hillside Estate has long produced a deliciously off-dry, slightly exotic winner from Muscat Ottonel, an obscure French varietal. Stag’s Hollow does clever and tasty things with several under-sung varietals including Albarino, a lush white of Spanish origin; and Dolcetto, an Italian red grape that here jumps out of the glass with vividly fresh flavours. And Desert Hills uses 90% Merlot in their yummy Rosé.

Some of the most celebrated wineries rarely sell their wines through the LDB or private shops, so if you want to enjoy the likes of Burrowing Owl, Black Hills, or La Frenz you can pay a premium in restaurants, mail order via their “wine club” or take a road trip and buy direct from the wineries (and maybe have a great onsite lunch or dinner while you’re there). Cheers!

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