How many times have you arrived at a holiday gathering only to be served the same wines? I mean, there’s more to the wine world than just Merlot and Chardonnay, right?
This season, we encourage you to venture (slightly) beyond your comfort zone, and explore a few of these left-of-centre varietals that are sure-fire crowd pleasers. Available to order directly from the wineries themselves, here are three to try, all from British Columbia, where winemakers continue to boldly experiment, usually with delicious results:
1) Evolve Cellars 2016 Viognier ($19.99) winery direct
For those that like a fuller-bodied white wine, but want to try something other than Chardonnay, Viognier (pronounced Vee-oh-nee-ay) is famous in France’s Loire and Rhone Valleys and is gaining a loyal fanbase in BC, California, Australia and South Africa. Evolve Cellars, based in Summerland, BC, released their first Viognier this year. Citrus and stone fruit flavours, balanced with uplifting acidity, lead to a long finish. Considering a gathering with Indian or Thai food? Serve this and your guests will be very impressed.
2) Singletree Winery 2016 Grüner Veltliner ($17.30) winery direct
Groovy Grüner is a white wine grape originally from Austria. Typically, these wines are dry, pale, high in acidity, but with distinct notes of pepper and upfront floral notes. Singletree Winery, a small family-farmed estate from BC’s lush Fraser Valley, released their inaugural edition from the 2016 vintage. Seeking to preserve the bright aromatics and citrus notes, the winemaker fermented the juice in stainless steel before bottling. The result is a wine that delivers lip-smacking tropical fruit notes and a smooth finish. We loved it on its own, but it could also work with an herb roasted chicken, fresh cheeses, or a vast array of mixed salads.
3) Haywire 2016 Gamay Noir ($26.90) winery direct
Wine lovers that have tried the famous wines of Beaujolais know that those wines are made from the Gamay grape. A relative of Pinot Noir, the grape produces light to medium-bodied wines with a rich, red fruit characteristic, sometimes imparting notes of earth, sweet spice, candied banana and bright red berries. Haywire’s version is packed with fresh and savoury notes that make it a great pairing with duck confit, cheese and mushroom dishes.