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For the Pinot lovers to those who love bubbles—here's your holiday wine list.
Ten years ago, a roundup of special bottles for gifting might have been lucky to include one, maybe two bottles of B.C. wine, sprinkled among the international superstars that would impress the recipient. What a difference a decade makes—today, creating an all-B.C. list is a piece of cake, and narrowing it down to a half-dozen winners is the real trick. The reality is that the strides the local wine industry is making continue to be of the exponential variety: clone selection, continued improvements in winemaking techniques and an ongoing deep dive into our unique terroir is producing wines that stand shoulder to shoulder with the world’s best.
Poplar Grove Cabernet Franc 2015 3L, $191
Nothing says I love you like a double magnum. Poplar has an amazing selection of older wines in large formats at incredible prices (this wine was $38 for 750 ml when it was released five years ago!) and this behemoth is big in both size and power. 2015 was a hot year and this wine is ripe and bursting with rich dark fruit. For your pal who likes Caymus or Aussie shiraz with a slab of grilled beef, here’s your B.C. wildcard for a winning hand of bold reds.
Township 7 Sirius 2015, $80
I feel I could win a year’s worth of (wine) bar bets with this bottle, which underscores a true statement: some of the best sparkling wine in North America is being made in the Fraser Valley. Exhibit A is this traditionally made, classically conceived, lovingly aged stunner that will have even the most ardent Francophile nodding with appreciation. Fine bubbles, toasty round texture, elegant finish. A winner.
Plot Wines Orange No. 4 2022, $30
Being local is at the heart of the natural ethos, and thankfully we no longer have to look to France and Slovenia for low-intervention winners. This orange wine from Plot is a gateway for natty newbies: it’s made mostly (89 percent) of agreeable gewürztraminer that keeps it juicy but not angry, and there are lovely notes of savoury tea leaves and underripe nectarine.
Martin’s Lane Naramata Ranch 2015, 2016, 2017, $300
It is a truly wonderful time to be a pinot lover. There are plenty of B.C. bottles that could stand proud beside Oregon and California’s best, but even in these bountiful times Martin’s Lane stands apart for its combination of ambition and excellence. This three-bottle vertical highlights the wonderful purity at play here: dark black cherry jousting with savoury herbs and a minor in freshness. A mic-drop of a gift.
Osoyoos Larose Le Grand Vin 2019, $58
I’m not sure there’s ever been a B.C. winery with more focus than the 20-plus-year-old Osoyoos Larose: they specialize in classical expressions of a Bordeaux-style wine. It’s never too ripe or too cloying or too big. And if you really love someone, they have a pricey new wine club that offers both stellar back vintages and large-format bottles to those who share their passion for all things Bordelaise.
Quails’ Gate Rosemary’s Block Chardonnay 2021, $60
This is close to the priciest chard in B.C. (Missions Hill’s excellent Perpetua is $5 more) but it’s still a bargain when you compare it to its global competition in California and Burgundy. And here you get a bit of both—some of the creaminess and roundness of Napa, paired with an ever-present vein of acidity and some of the crunchy minerality of France… and it’s built to age easily for seven to 10 years.
BONUS GIFT: The Greatest Glasses Around
In a time where great glassware is so pervasive that you can buy Riedels at Winners, the ethereal, so-light-they-might-float-away glasses from Austria’s Gabriel-Glas ($189 for a set of two) are a revelation. They’re so unobtrusive that you truly feel like there’s no barrier between you and the wine, and they are still dishwasher safe… but try to hand wash them if you can.
This story was originally published in the November 2023 issue of Vancouver magazine.