In mature wine markets, such as northern Europe, the annual opening of patios and the release of summer sipper-style wines is eagerly anticipated by locals and visitors alike. Drinking rosado in Barcelona, rosé in Provence, prosecco in Verona or riesling along the banks of the Mosel is not only hip, it is a rite of passage for many as they sink into the warm days of summer.
In the two decades since The British Columbia Wine Institute (BC VQA) was founded to improve the lot of local wines, scores of British Columbia growers have come to similar conclusions releasing a plethora of summer-styled wines to accompany our short but intense warm season. Perhaps more important — and practiced around the globe — local wines pair so much better with local cuisine.
It's taken some time to pry those big reds out of the hands of wine drinkers but a willingness to experiment, at least when they are out-of-doors or feeding on appetizers, is breathing life into a whole new category of domestic labels.
In short: clean, refreshing, fruity wines that complement summer are attracting wide attention and if the label and capsule, which covers the cork and neck, looks as fresh as the ingredients (sorry, black capsules do not make me want to crack open your summer sipper), so much the better. Sweetness is a personal preference but my experience is consumers are looking for less sugar, more ripe fruit and less alcohol. Screwcap closures are almost mandatory.
Not all the labels will be familiar to you if you seldom stray from your favourite merlot or chardonnay but at the right time in the right place, chenin blanc, chasselas, gewürztraminer, siegerrebe, ehrenfelser and, now, countless white blends that mix many of the aforementioned grapes will delight your taste buds.
Summer's arrival has spurred me on to produce a valuable list of British Columbia white wines made for warm days and long nights on the patio.
Best of all, B.C. whites are relatively affordable so you can revel in your savings as you sip the coming warm, lazy days of summer away.
It's a perfect list for the cabin, or the patio and it should be relevant all summer. Hint: clip or print this list out and stick it on the refrigerator for future reference. And don't forget, lighten up and try something different for summer — you'll be glad you did.
Baillie-Grohman Pinot Gris 2011 Creston $22 Plenty of acidity livens up the green apple, flinty fruit flecked with lime rind, dried herbs and mineral notes. A delicately balanced, food-friendly and generally impressive gris. Go, Creston!
CedarCreek Riesling 2011 Okanagan Valley $18 The fruit is a blend of two northern sites. The nose is a tightly wound citrus- and lime-scented affair that follows through on the palate. Light, juicy fun yet serious, it will pair with a variety of West Coast foods.