(A view from the top of the Pinotage Block)
The intensity of the Okanagan summer is beginning to ramp up this time of the season, and our grapes are beginning to benefit from the averages of thirty degree temperatures during the day with big diurnal swings in the evenings. This unique aspect of our climate allows the grapes to produce big fruity flavors while preserving crucial acidity levels that balance the wine and produce flavor profiles that are highly unique to the Okanagan terroir. Today, I was lucky to attend the second session of the BC Wine Institute’s Wine Ambassador program. The session focused on the many micro-climates and the many as of yet unrecognized regional growing designations which range from warm desert subregions, to cool climate sub-regions spanning from the southern O.K. Falls/Similkameen valley all the way up to Lake Country in the north end. The session also highlighted how these micro-climates and the multitude of wines that are able to be produced within them might be complicating factor for B.C’s international wine branding, but that emphasis must be placed on creating official designations for these sub-regions in order so they may be recognized for what they do best, in place of one generic branding of the Okanagan as a whole. I agree that the creation of smaller appellations or designations would be most helpful in pointing people in the right direction while also allowing for specificities that do not blanket over the subtle nuances present within these unique sub-climates. Over all I found the session quite helpful in providing some talking points to bring up in the tasting room that are specific to the Okanagan.
With the long weekend come and gone (HAPPY 150 CANADA, EH) and my Canada Day hangover finally fully dissipated, I just now have time to reflect on the more recent developments around the winery and the vineyard. The vineyard blocks are in full swing and seem to be growing by the foot everyday (I exaggerate, slightly), so now is the time to begin wrangling those rambunctious growths by lifting up the support wire and by tucking stray canes into neat rows. I haven’t spent nearly as much time out in the vineyard with the ramping up of tourist season and the long weekend warriors, so for the last six days I have had the pleasure of being part of the never ending waves of bachelorette parties, yoga retreats, and a veritable mixture of foreigners and locals looking for their next glass of Okanagan wine! The diversity of visitors always keeps me on my toes and my wits sharp, but that makes it all the more fun and enjoyable to keep on researching the world of wine.
(A view of the baby grapes on Block 13 – Pinotage)
As I’ve been studying for the first level WSET one of the more interesting aspects has been the idea of food and wine pairings, and the complicated nature of selecting the right dish for the right wine, or vice versa. Most surprising, for myself at least, was the idea of umami as a difficult pairing that most often needs an added element – salt, acidity, sugar etc – to create a pleasing effect when paired with wine (wine that should be equally rich in flavour and in depth of body). Another surprise was the idea that a sweet dessert can actually enhance the bitterness and tannic levels present in a wine, something I experienced first hand last night as I tossed a mouthful of milk chocolate peanut butter M&M’s then took a sip of my Pinotage Merlot blend, which is usually quite fruity and smooth but with the present of the sweet milk chocolate was quite brutally diminished and replaced with an unpleasant bitter quality paired with a bitingly dry mouthfeel. Needless to say, I taught myself a practical lesson that will most definitely be remembered and applied to future wine pairings!
As the 15th of July (the date of the WSET course) approaches fast all I can think about is the camping trip/wine and cider touring I have planned for next week! It is going to be a beautiful getaway for myself, the boyfriend and the dog as we make our way towards the north of the Okanagan, where I’ve planned several stops along the way including Ex Nihilo in Lake Country, The BX Press in Vernon as well as a couple of small production cool climate wineries in the Enderby area including Larch Hills and Waterside Wines. Next blog post I have planned to be a recap of the trip and any notable places and wines we experienced along the way!
xoxo Babbling Bottles