A monk, a quail and a rock walked into a park one day…
No, it’s not the start of one of my dad’s bad jokes – and he’s got plenty. I’m referring to a day in the park; specifically, Vintages in the Park hosted by the fine folks at the wine festivals and sponsored by BC Liquor Stores, Johnston Meier Insurance Group and Valley First Credit Union.
See? Bankers and insurance people¬†can be fun. Just take them to a wine tasting and watch the merriment unfold.
The setting: Father Pandosy Mission in Kelowna. The suspects: twenty or so of your favourite Okanagan wineries. The food: Okanagan Street Food. My mission: taste as many of said wineries¬†as possible¬†while retaining my glass, swag and composure. You should know by now that I’m up for a challenge – especially if it involves wine.
people doing the wine-tasting thing
On this particular occasion I brought my fella along, not only for his delightful company but also to ensure that I wouldn’t have to spit in public again. Memories of my wine-judging-spitting experience are embarassingly fresh;¬†I wanted to taste without doing the spit thing, so I figured I’d need¬†a ride home. That was a very good call because there was a ridiculous amount of tasty wines.
When presented with over 20 wineries offering multiple tastings, one does wonder where one should start. My solution: start with white wines and what’s in front of you. Work your way around until you’re back where you started. Repeat with red wines. Easy.
It was a lot of wine, and I couldn’t begin to talk about every single one I tried. That, dear readers, might lead you to guess just how much I ‘tasted’ – something a lady doesn’t disclose, like age. But I’ll share with you a few of the “You have to try this!” moments, because there were several.
Quinta Ferreira makes great wines, and one of their¬†unique white blends is a¬†Muscat/Gewurztraminer named Mistura Branca.¬†Lovely and aromatic, this is sitting-with-friends-in-your-backyard, nibbling-on-tapas wine. And it’s under $20. Winemaker Michael was on site for the pouring, so you’re getting the inside scoop when you chat with him. (Michael recommends chicken dishes with this wine,¬†but I’d also give it a go¬†by itself on a sunny day)
I stopped by to see regional sales rep AJ from Poplar Grove, and my first sample was their Pinot Gris. Delicious. Mouth-watering. Crisp, summer fruits all tumbled into a glass. Hovering just over the $20 mark, this is one of those wines that’s going to become a favourite, real quick. On our second round I tasted two reds. First was the Merlot. Hello, dolly. Blackberry meets cocoa meets cherries, all tangled up together in happy abandon. At $30 a bottle, I’d tuck one of these ones away to sleep for a bit – if I could leave it alone. Next was the Cabernet Franc. This is unique, unlike any other cab franc you’ve tasted. It’s freshly mown hay and¬†squishingly ripe red fruit.¬†Grab a bottle. Or two.
The folks at Quail’s Gate have two white wines that I am head-over-heels in love with. My fella and I both get silly about the Chenin Blanc. Honey and cream get cozy with tropical fruit, and I feel like I’m on vacation. Nice. But it’s got competition from the Chardonnay. You know I love an oak-y, creamy chard – and this delivers. Pick up the main street version at under $20 a bottle, or splurge on the Stuart Family Reserve at $30 – my heart (and cellar) has room for both.
I’m smitten by the Gray Monk Gamay – something about what they do with that grape just works. This time I tried their Rotberger. It’s a ros√©, and it has¬†the complexity of a red wine coupled with a lighter something else that dances around in your mouth. My fella was noshing on a plate of mushroom & duck confit, and what a nice companion that was with my¬†pretty ros√©. Delicious in a bottle for under $20.
What’s a wine tasting without a little bubble? Summerhill Pyramid Winery brought out the sparkling wine for the sunshine, and how appropriate. Summerhill produces five sparkling wines, so there’s bound to be one that will fit your taste and pocketbook. Prices range from $25 to $45 per bottle.
I couldn’t resist a stop at Painted Rock Estate Winery, where proprietor John Skinner radiated happiness. My heart skips a beat each time I take a sip of the Chardonnay, and if you’ve read my earlier posts you’ll know the Syrah makes me weak. John had the entire (available) portfolio out for¬†tasting, so I took full advantage. Their Merlot took Best of Varietal at festival competition. Taste it, and you’ll know why.
Before I staggered – er, walked – to the gates, I needed to visit Lindsay at Tinhorn Creek.¬†I had a sip of the Oldfield Series Merlot. As usual, I went immediately to my happy place. This baby spends a year and a half in oak, so it has some cellar life – and it’s got that smokey/peppery thing to it that seems signature of the Okanagan. Nicely done, winemaker Sandra. That’s a lady I’d like to drink with.
Music, food and wine – enjoyed outdoors in the spring sun with my fella. Seems like a pretty good way to un*wine*d.
PS: You’ve still got time to get wine-d up with the Spring Wine Festivals – click on the events tab to find out what’s happening in and around the Okanagan this week. I’ve got a few more to stagger through – er, make my way to. Perhaps you’ll join me?