The Wine List: Ready for Riesling

Does B.C. have a signature grape variety?

There are as many opinions on that as there are people tending the vines, but here’s a metric that I like: what wine do industry people pour for international winemakers to show the potential of our terroir?

It’s riesling. Other varietals aren’t even close. The Germanic grape that so many consumers still associate with the sickly sweet dreck of their youth (Black Tower, anyone?) turns out to be perfect for our short growing season and high diurnal shift (that’s the difference between the high and low temperature on a given growing day). The result is a riesling that’s a near-perfect complement to the food we eat here—serious high natural acidity meets a hint of sweetness and spice, pairing perfectly with Thai, Japanese and West Coast cuisine. You name a dish and I’ll find you a local riesling: the Taylor Swift to your dinner’s Travis Kelce. And unlike tickets to see either half of that couple, it’s relatively cheap.

The Riesling Project  2022

The Reisling Project, $65

This is a cheat, because choosing chef Angus An and sommelier Kurtis Kolt’s collab with Orofino and Tantalus allows me to name two gold-standard wineries, two gold- standard people and two gold- standard growing regions (Kelowna and Cawston). I’ll lean in further and note that the 2023 partnership—joining forces with natty stars Pamplemousse Jus and Scout Vineyard—drops later this spring.

Synchromesh Storm Haven

Synchromesh Storm Haven 2022, $32

Winemaker Alan Dickinson is one of the masters of B.C. riesling, and this very low-alcohol (8.2%) bottle shows his confidence in making an off-dry style (there’s quite a bit of residual sugar here). He’s right to be confident—the wine still has effortless balance thanks to a focused acidity.

Martin’s Lane Simes Vineyard

Martin’s Lane Simes Vineyard 2022, $55

I gushed about Shane Munn’s pinot a few issues back, and please know I’m loathe to repeat myself, but the Martin’s Lane team is using the same cost-is-no-object approach with this both pricey and undervalued wine that is crafted for a long—like, decade-plus—slumber in your cellar to emerge as a global paragon. Electric on the palate, insanely good.

Graphic of wine being poured into a glass

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