Thursday, September 18, 2014

COLOR: BC wine tasting at Canada Place, Sept 2014

It's always a good afternoon when I get to meet with friends, and how much better could it be than meeting those self-same friends in the hallowed halls of Canada Place with a banquet hall full of BC wine, artisanal cheese and handcrafted chocolate?

Simple answer: it doesn't!

the unfatigueable Michael Bartier
the unfatigueable Michael Bartier
Yesterday I was fortunate enough to sample through the Fall releases from some of the best wineries in our little corner of the winemaking world; ripe Viognier, lip-smacking Sauvignon Blanc, elegant Chardonnay... the list goes on. And through it all I was  welcomed with warm smiles (like Michael Bartier's).

It was too short a time for such a dizzying array and by the end of the afternoon I found myself more then a little chagrined; what had I missed?! There were still tables I hadn't even visited, much less made the time to speak with the viticulture masters ensconced there. But, as fate would have it, there was a terrific experience waiting for me to wrap things up... a quick interview with Jak Mayer from Mayer Family Vineyards (

Jak has been involved in the BC wine industry for years now, and has brought international recognition with him: the likes of Jancis Robinson, Stephen Spurrier and Decanter Magazine know a bit more about BC's capacity to produce world-class wines because of the work of Jak Mayer and his dedicated team. Obviously, I had questions for this man that three hours of tasting BC wine had only accentuated.

Stay tuned for that article coming shortly but, since I've let the cat out of the bag, I'll share perhaps one of the most important subjects we touched on. I asked Jak:
"More developed appellations... are they important to the BC wine industry and will we see them in our lifetimes? Currently there are 5 appellations that cover an area larger than France: can we progress to sub-appellations? Mayer Family Vineyards certainly takes care to put the name of the individual vineyards on its labels!"

"Yes, they are important - but not the most important thing that we in BC need to focus on. Let's be honest; most wineries here simply don't know enough about their land to even begin a sub-appellation process. People are still trying to figure out what grows best where and that process takes time. Nothing can change that. But what we can do is recognize that with such a (relatively) small growing area and expensive land, bulk wines are not the future of BC. We as a collective need to show the world our quality - not quantity."

** British Columbia is larger in square acres then France and Germany together, though it has total area of planted vineyards at approximately 10,000 acres/4,000 HA compared to France at 850,000 HA**
And in a heartbeat, I understood what had happened for me that afternoon: I had witnessed yet another level of quality being presented by BC winemakers. Sauvignon Blanc on the same level as some of the best work in the Leyda region of Chile, intricately developed Chardonnay to rival California or Burgundy, sparkling Blanc-de-Noirs that dollar-for-dollar are easily equal to the sublimely quaffable products of Champagne.

If the rest of the wine-world could be characterized as Goliath then BC can start to be seen as David; for this speck on the northernmost tip of the grape-growing map is showcasing time and time again wines that match the efforts of much "mightier" magnates. If you haven't yet tried wine from this region, small wonder; Algeria produces more wine the BC does. But your search may yield great rewards my friends... enjoy the slideshow!

Many thanks to the Wine BC and to the innumerable wineries, winemakers and merchants who took the time and expense to put together a brilliant afternoon.

As always you can find more recipes, free wine reviews and my notes
on premium distillates and cigars:
on Twitter @AStudentofWine

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