| AFFORDABLE WINES TO SPREAD HOLIDAY CHEER |
Stick with Regional Specialities Most know to seek Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa or rosé from Provence. Nearly every wine-growing region has a speciality, primarily determined by its climate and which particular grapes thrive in cool or warm conditions. The Okanagan Valley is no different, specializing in a handful of flagship varieties. The top three most planted red varieties are Merlot, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon. Pinot Noir grapes, which are notoriously difficult to grow, have thin skins and are more suitable to ripen in northern sections of the valley where there is less likelihood of sunburn. The south, which experiences desert-like conditions, is where more robust grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot grow with ease. The white grapes popular in the Okanagan are slightly more versatile through multiple valley pockets. Chardonnay, the world’s most popular white grape variety, is the second-most planted across British Columbia. And drum roll, please, the first is Pinot Gris, which accounts for more than 25 percent of the province’s white grape plantings. Be Bordeaux-Inspired Bordeaux is the largest wine-growing area in France, accounting for 700 million bottles of wine annually made by 8,500 producers across 54 appellations. It can be confusing, particularly its archaic classification system, which began in 1855. If Bordeaux isn’t in your budget, to find similar styles from other more affordable regions, get to know the grapes. Bordeaux-style blends comprise mainly Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, with smaller amounts of Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec. So, if Bordeaux is out of your price range, look for similar compositions from other wine-growing regions.
CHÂTEAU DE PIERREUX RÉSERVE DU CHÂTEAU BROUILLY France $28.99 161117 Elegant floral notes open to strawberry and blueberry aromas with a thread of minerality. Expect great acidity with a round mouthfeel and silky tannins through the finish.
BODEGAS PEIQUE RAMON VALLE BIERZO MENCÍA Spain $27.99 88060 This 100 percent Mencía wine is bursting with dark plum and blackberry aromas. Light wafts of dried, sweet grass linger through a textural palate of expressive acidity and lengthy finish.
CLOS DE LOS SIETE MENDOZA RED Argentina $29.99 128710 This wine comprises mainly Bordeaux grapes, leading with Malbec, and exudes dark berry aromas with hints of dark chocolate, gravel and baking spice. It is nicely layered and smooth.
LANGUEDOC ROUSSILLON ORANGE GOLD France $29.99 456710 A refined blend of seven white grapes, fermented 10 to 15 days on skins, giving marmalade and white flower aromas. A generous body erupts with dynamic finesse.
PHANTOM CREEK ESTATES PINOT GRIS BC VQA $27.99 58485 This 100 percent Pinot Gris from Okanagan Falls showcases creamy characteristics from a portion aged in oak. Notes of dried ginger and honey lend an intriguing profile.
SEGURA VIUDAS HEREDAD CAVA BRUT RESERVE Spain $34.99 94912 Light touches of biscuit and floral mingle with lemon and honeysuckle aromas. Persistent bubbles and hints of minerality lead to a thoughtful and elegant finish.
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