The Go Drink Me Campaign: Finding the Loire in the Okanagan

The Okanagan wine region needs our help... and it starts with our choices at the liquor store. Here's a trio of made-in-B.C. subs for your favourite Loire-region bottles.

We’re coming off a series of years—fire, bad frost, killer frost— that has absolutely floored the Okanagan wine region and there’s no two ways about it: if you care about having a local wine industry, then they’re going to need your support. And the most obvious and easily attainable choice is to supporting your local wineries through your consumer dollars.

It’s an idea I wholeheartedly support, but I’ve got to admit it gives me some trepidation in reality. I think I’m like many local wine lovers in saying, yes, I love B.C. wine, but I also love the wine from around the world. The prospect of staying away from Barbaresco, or mature Bordeaux or Rioja—to name just three—fills me with dread.

So here’s an idea here to lessen that fear, while supporting our local industry: a series of cheat sheets that, should you so choose, will scratch the itch of a certain wine region by subbing in B.C. wines. These are bottles that will ably stand in for some of the world’s historic wine regions… all made close to home.

Think of it like this: you’ve grilled some lamb chops for a special Friday night and, as is your practice, you plan to pair it with a Merlot dominant wine from Bordeaux (as classic a pairing as there is). But we’re going to step and guide you to some Okanagan wine options that are more than up to the challenge.

Are you a bad person if you really can’t give up your Troplong Mondot? Of course not. And I know even many of us hardcore supporters won’t totally forego other wine regions. But if we all reach for a local alternative just a few more times this year, it could the the difference between disaster and salvation for our wineries.

First up: the Loire, one of the largest wine regions in France and home to an immense range of different wines. You have the steely Sancerre from the Eastern part of the region, salty Muscadet from the west, juicy Cab Franc in between. And it’s one of the birthplaces of the natural wine movement to boot. But there are winemakers in B.C. who clearly love it as much as we do—here are three who’ll transport you there for the time it takes to crack a bottle.

You Crave: Vouvray

You Sub: Da Silva Chenin Blanc 2022 $36

Chenin’s spiritual birthplace is the Loire and (with apologies to South Africa), it is here where the criminally under-appreciated grape reaches its highest calling. We grow very little Chenin in the Okanagan, which is crazy, because the little we do make is almost always amazing and for me, this elegant bottle from Da Silva—green apples, quince, lanolin—hits the same high points than a great wine from Vouvray might give you. It also sits a nice low alcohol percentage, something that can’t be said for many New World Chenins.

You Crave: Chinon or Bourgueil

You Sub: Free Form Cabernet franc 2019 $35

Cabernet Franc is emerging as one of the signature grapes of the Okanagan, but most of the expressions tend towards the bold, muscular style one encounters on the Right Bank of Bordeaux. But the Cab franc in the Loire is a different beast: savoury, juicy, low in alcohol. And this organic offering from Free Form hits all those light notes with an explosion of freshness in the glass with some lovely crunch for ballast. It also skews natural, one of the other themes from the Loire. And finally Cab Franc has more resistance to cold than its offspring Cabernet Sauvignon, so we may be seeing more of it in the future.

You Crave: Sancerre

You Sub: Township 7 Sauvignon Blanc 2022 $25

Okay, this one is tricky because the Sancerre loves are a very particular group. On the plus side, many of our Sauvignon Blancs already skew a bit more towards the more crisp peach and less towards the more grassy examples from New Zealand. On paper, this choice from Township 7 seems odd… it’s grown in hot Oliver, which is not at all similar to Sancerre, but 2022 started out very cold. The wine also has some small amount of barrel fermentation, again not that common in Sancerre. But it does deliver some of the hallmarks: crisp acidity, gooseberry, citrus peel that I love in a nice Sancerre and does saw at a considerable lower price to boot.