RHYS PENDER MW Rhys is a Master of Wine who combines his time writing, judging, teaching, consulting and dirtying his boots at his Little Farm Winery. Named by Western Living as a “Top 40 Foodie Under 40” in Western Canada, Rhys also runs Wine Plus+, a wine school, and judges wine competitions nationally and internationally.
There is something for every taste with the wines offered in BC, and with April being BC Wine Month, why not challenge yourself to explore that diversity?
O f the many great wines in the world, those from British Columbia (BC) can stand proudly among them in terms of both quality and value. BC wine also delivers diversity, as vineyards now dot the southern parts of the province from the islands to the Kootenays and north to the Shuswap and Thompson Valleys. There is something for every taste with the wines offered in BC, and with April being BC Wine Month, why not challenge yourself to explore that diversity? Not only will you support the local wine scene, you will also learn more about BC wines and be treated to some delicious local pours. Sitting at the edge of latitudes where wine production is possible, there is a tendency to think of BC wine as purely cool climate. And while this is true of regions like Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands, Fraser Valley and the Shuswap Valley, others such as the Okanagan and Similkameen Valleys and Lillooet can be surprisingly warm. Thanks to the looming Coast Mountain Range that rises sharply, stripping moisture from wet weather coming off the coast, the interior of BC is dry and sunny, which shapes the wines it produces. Diverse Climates, Diverse Regions
The coastal regions maintain a moderate year-round climate resulting in wines that are light, fresh, vibrant and delicate. The interior regions enjoy hot summers from long, sun-filled days thanks to the rain shadow and northerly latitude but are punctuated by cool temperatures at night, resulting in some of the largest diurnal temperature shifts in the world. For grapes, this means long hours to build flavour and sugar, along with more tannins in the red grape skins, while the cool nights maintain fresh, natural acidity. For the wines, this means fruit-driven, ripe and intensely flavoured wines balanced by refreshing acidity and structured, age- worthy reds. These are the hallmarks of BC wine: freshness, brightness and fruitiness with good acidity—attributes that aren’t easily achieved and are highly sought after by global competitors. Diverse Climates Means Diverse Range of Grapes Because of the varied growing conditions across the province, there is a long list of grapes that could succeed. While there was once a clamour from media and industry to focus on just a few grape varieties, it now seems accepted that
each region (and even sub-region within) might find its own niche. There is just too much diversity to oversimplify. Red vs.White The split between red and white grapes leans slightly to the red side (53/47), with Merlot being the most planted variety. BC Merlot can be more structured than offerings from many global regions, thanks to the long hours of sunlight that build up the tannins, making for bold, flavoursome wine. Most Planted Reds After Merlot, the second most planted red in BC is Pinot Noir, growing rapidly in acreage and now a significant variety in regions across the entire province. Coastal Pinot Noir tends to be fresh and crunchy, with vibrant red fruit, silky texture and a light body. Interior Pinot Noir will be firmer, more structured and with more black cherry notes, the heaviest versions coming from the South Okanagan Valley. Next in acreage come Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Syrah. Cabernet Sauvignon is firm and powerful with black fruit and sage notes, while Cabernet Franc at its best is a medium- bodied, elegant, floral, fruit-driven and silky textured red. BC Syrah has
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