THE Hired Belly never tires of tracking B.C.'s wine industry, especially the arrival of new producers.
Planting your own vineyard requires healthy doses of optimism, a ton of knowledge, unbridled passion and not a little cash, regardless of how big - or small - the project.
One recent highlight was a chance to taste the first release from Similkameen's aptly named Little Farm Winery, the labour of love undertaken by wine guru Rhys Pender (Master of Wine) and his partner Alishan Driediger.
In 2009 the couple planted Riesling and Chardonnay at their small vineyard in Cawston and got to twist the tops off the first bottles this past week.
We'll caution that the quantities available are extremely small. But if you're a fervent follower of all things B.C., you'll want to get your hands on the steely, crisp, lime, calcium and mineral packed high acid 2011 Riesling, which, by all indications, shows tremendous promise ($29.99).
An even smaller amount of 2011 Chardonnay (equally mineral with complex layers of grapefruit, apple and almond hints, also $29.99) was made, but if you move really fast you still might be able to order some in a mixed case online at littlefarmwinery.ca. By the case sales only.
These are stellar drops that not only merit attention in their own right but are also milestone testaments to the ever-growing potential of the Similkameen Valley.
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Hot off the press comes Had a Glass 2013, the latest compendium of good value wines (all under $20), as chosen by Province "WineGuy" James Nevison, who penned this one on his own since former cohort Kenji Hodgson left town to grow his own biodynamic grapes in France.
This generous pocket-sized tome is packed with great recommendations (many of which have appeared here as Belly's Best picks) and all of which are available at BC Liquor Stores. In short, if you're a wallet watching wine lover (and who isn't these days?), for under 20 bucks ($19.95, Random House), it's a deal.
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The second annual Everything Wine Food & Wine Festival (Oct. 17, 7-9 p.m.)
Everything Wine's highly popular, action-packed tasting soirée delivers a range of tastes from around the world paired with local, seasonal bites, live entertainment and more, not to mention a fun and well-informed crowd. Ti $30 plus HST, from Everything Wine or online at everythingwine.ca.
B.C. Craft Beer Month, (until Oct. 31)
For dedicated hopheads, there's no better time to be a brew lover than October, which is Craft Beer Month. Brewmasters, pubs and restaurants come together across the province with keg tappings, tastings and dinners - in short a wealth of events to celebrate all-natural beer.
Testament to the growth of craft brewing is that some 50 microbreweries are taking part, from the Island to the Okanagan and even farther afield. The best way to check out what's happening and order tix?
Get the app from craftbeermonth.ca.
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Belly's Best : Clos de Los Siete 2009
This truly well-balanced Michel Rolland-made wine is indicative of what's happening in Argentina as Malbec moves to the next level, literally. Higher elevation plantings yield ideal conditions, including wide diurnals (the difference between day and nighttime temperature), that account for well-balanced ripeness and acidity.
With its lifted aromas of red and black fruit, juicy but not extracted fruit forward style, plum and cassis, elegant mouthfeel, harmonized tannins and mineral hints, this definitive blend of Malbec (57%), Merlot (15%), Cab ($15%), Syrah (10%) and Petit Verdot (3%) delivers superb value ($BCLS $22.99, 91 pts.)