Based near Oliver on the Golden Mile Bench, Hester Creek Estate Winery has recently launched its “Select Vineyards” Cabernet Merlot, an equal mix of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot. This classy Bordeaux blend, delightfully smooth and oh-so-easy to sip, has flavours of cassis, black cherry, plum and clove. At $25, this is an excellent choice for a posh dinner of steak or pork chops. (Note: the government liquor stores use the out-of-date term “Selected Barrels” on their website and their in-store aisle labels for this wine.)
Surprisingly dry for a wine from South Africa’s sun-drenched Western Cape region, the 2019 Spier Signature Merlot is certainly juicy enough, with a medley of red and black fruit flavours—including cherry, plum and cassis—alongside a hint of baking spices. Full-bodied and boasting a decent finish, this would be ideal with grilled foods and hearty pastas such as spaghetti alla puttanesca. Uncomplicated and undeniably tasty, this easy-drinking Spier is good value at $17.
There’s general agreement that Pinot Gris is B.C.’s most successful white wine, and the one from See Ya Later Ranch offers quite a bit of flavour and charm for $23. Just off dry, this zestily refreshing sipper combines stone fruit notes complemented by hints of papaya and grapefruit. Nicely oaked and well balanced, it is great with chicken, salmon and various cheeses. (And if you like your humour on the wry side, take the time to research how See Ya Later Ranch got its name.)
France’s Côtes du Rhône region produces premium wines that are still more or less affordable, and members of the celebrated Guigal family are among the area’s leading “Rhône Rangers.” The E. Guigal Côtes du Rhône, a classic blend of 50 per cent Syrah, 40 per cent Grenache and 10 per cent Mourvèdre, is robust yet elegant, well balanced and very good value at $30. Alongside dark fruit flavours there are peppery herbal notes, a lick of licorice and some minerality. Medium-bodied and aromatic, this lushly intense wine would be brilliant with rich meats and roasted vegetables. (All prices include tax.)