BIG news in the BC wine world this past week.
Victoria announced that B.C. will allow its residents to bring in unlimited amounts of Canadian wine for personal consumption from other provinces free of the usual B.C. mark-up - as long as the wine is made at the winery with 100 per cent Canadian grown grapes and is shipped directly from the winery.
After being more than mildly cynical that anything concrete would come of #FreeMyGrapes, we're happily eating crow. Kudos to Victoria, and to Rich Coleman in particular, for going out on a limb in the hopes that other provinces (hello Ontario and Quebec) will reciprocate. After all, why shouldn't visitors to BC wineries be legally allowed to ship their purchases home - anywhere in Canada?
It's not all roses, however. Over at winelaw.ca, wine legal guru Mark Hicken is advising caution as he questions whether the change in BC's law could actually stand up in court, as it favours Canadian made wine, while Alberta and Manitoba's response to the #FreeMyGrapes bill allows for the inter-provincial shipment of all wines for personal use.
Still more good news on the B.C. wine front comes with next week's unveiling of White Spot's all VQA wine list - which marks a milestone as much for what it doesn't offer. Vancouver is a tourism destination. And visitors want to try local everything - including the wines.
For far too long, unsuspecting travellers have fallen prey to the scourge of bogus "local" drops poured in their glass under the thinly veiled disguise of Cellared in Canada wines, most of which come from just about anywhere but B.C.
It's fitting that the province's longest running casual chain - and the one most closely associated with B.C. - should so wholeheartedly embrace B.C. VQA.
As for the list itself, it's smart, with six-and nine ounce pours, and to the point (even if it is totally devoid of Riesling - horrors!). It's also reasonably priced, meaning you can enjoy an eminently drinkable $5.99 glass of Peller Estate VQA Sauv Blanc with your Okanagan Summer salad, or Inniskillin Okanagan Cab Sauv ($8.99) with your Triple O burger.
Being the last-minute kind of people that we are, a few tix remain for next week's Taste Victoria festival (July 19-22) which just gets better every year. Check out the action at www.victoriataste. com and you might be lured across the strait for the likes of Sips 'n (Sustainable) Seafood - waterside at the impossibly beautiful Inn at Laurel Point, which offers an all inclusive package. Also, take in the Main Event, a showcase under the soaring atrium of Crystal Garden that underscores the wealth of good tastes the Island has to offer, paired with B.C. drops from both sides of the water.
Mix in a leisurely program of foodie tours and some good tastings with the likes of Kurtis Kolt (EastVan Wine), and you have the makings of a stellar summer weekend.
See you there!
Belly's Budget Best
- Rudolf Müller Bunny Riesling 2011. Just when you thought we were done "critter" labels, along hops Bunny Riesling. No worries! It's a well made, off-dry, patio-friendly, low-alcohol (10%), apple, peach and mineral-toned sipper that's also Asian food-friendly.
Not complex but affordable; private stores including EW, $13.99.