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Red Rooster Riesling, Okanagan Valley, VQA 2011
Once overlooked, riesling has become one of B.C.’s best whites, with its characteristic scent of rain on warm stone imparting an immediate sense of place. Naramata winery Red Rooster’s 2011 vintage took honours for the Light White category in our 2013 wine awards. Winemaker Karen Gillis takes Oliver-grown fruit and highlights apricot and orange blossom aromas, followed by pure tangerine, peach, and pineapple flavours, steely with razor-sharp acidity and a lightly oily finish. Open on a summer evening-it’s fresh and delicious with a plate of salty, smoky charcuterie and cheese.
Balthasar Ress Hattenheimer, Schützenhaus Riesling, Kabinett 2011
Hattenheimer is the village and Schützenhaus the vineyard in the Rheingau region that produces this German classic. Pale straw, with a bold oily nose and a blast of honeysuckle to tickle the palate, then loads of peach, apricot, and pineapple fruit, sweetly honeyed, with a strong shiver of lemon and lime. All the juicy fruit stays fresh and bright under screw cap while the modest 10 percent alcohol works both as apéritif and with dinner. Especially successful with the sweet/salty/ sour flavours of Southeast Asian food like Thai beef salad, stir-fried spot prawns with chili, or pork larb with toasted rice.
The restaurant and wine director at West reckons he was born into hospitality. We recognized him in 2011 as our Sommelier of the Year, for which he was invited to make a wine, the Owen, released this month, with Okanagan Crush Pad
What’s involved in this project? My fingerprint is on the wine start to finish: the choice of variety, vineyard, winemaking technique, the label-with the help of long-time customer, artist Rodney Graham-the sales, everything.
What did you choose? Cabernet franc, my personal Okanagan favourite, with a Loire approach aiming for finesse, medium body, dry, even chalky character. Then a little cabernet sauvignon and merlot to round it out.
What’s different about making your own rather than making a wine list? My list is based on wines I know, wines that are tried and true, that naturally balance West’s regional, sustainable food. Making my own was nerve-racking.