ONE of the more intriguing winners in this year's B.C. Lieutenant Governor Awards lineup is the well-crafted, southern Rhone-inspired Road 13 Jackpot White 2011, which artfully blends Viognier, Roussanne and Marsanne (mainly from Similkemeen) for a luscious, layered honey-and-stonefruit toned drop ($29).
As B.C.'s industry continues to mature, more winemakers are exploring different paths, often with varietals and blends that, while perhaps not that common here, are indeed well-proven in other parts of the wine world.
One of the trailblazers is Inniskillin Okanagan's Sandor Mayer, whose Discovery Series has included Marsanne-Roussanne, Tempranillo and Pinotage, among others.
All this is by way of an introduction to Terravista Vineyards, founded by former Black Hill Estate owners Bob and Senka Tennant.
After a brief respite following the sale of Black Hills, they purchased a southwest facing, rocky slope on the Naramata Bench on which to build a new winery and pursue their passion for Albarino and Verdejo, two varieties whose roots on the Iberian peninsular may be traced back several centuries.
Their inaugural 2011 Fandango Albarino-Verdejo blend sports a lively floral and citrus nose, followed by a zest-and-apple toned palate wrapped in juicy acidity that cries out for cold cuts, grilled chicken or firm cheeses (91 pts, $29).
We love the point of difference offered by this wine, as we do their 2011 Figaro that blends Roussanne and Viognier in a mouthfilling, lengthy pear-toned drop (90 pts, $23).
Unquestionably, the Tennants, who were trailblazers on the B.C. wine scene when they originally launched Black Hills Nota Bene and Alibi as premium, stand-alone blends, look well set to repeat their success.
Also not to be overlooked are the unique and distinctive labels (which really do convey the character of the wines) based on Jan BellIrving's glass art figurines. Find them at the winery, www.terravistavineyards.com.
Speaking of intriguing blends, check out Intrigue 11, a well-made value-priced, apple-toned and juicy-tasting combo of Riesling, Gewurz and Muscatel ($14.90) from talented Gray Monk assistant winemaker (and long-time Riesling specialist) Roger Wong, who now has his own winery and tasting room nearby.
(Intrigue Wines: www. intriguewines.ca. More on Roger's Rieslings in coming weeks.
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We rarely need an excuse to head over to the Cowichan Valley but the upcoming eight annual Cowichan Wine and Culinary Festival (Sept. 8-16) yields yet one more reason to explore the idyllic region, especially at harvest time.
A highlight promises to be the Sept. 9th Cittaslow potluck White Dinner "byo" potluck picnic at Rocky Creek Winery, which also stages a weekend of cooking with B.C. wines, wine and cheese seminars, a sparkling wine bar and more (Sept 15-16).
For complete details visit wines.cowichan.net
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Marqués de Cáceres Rosé 2011 (Rioja)
Here's a highly appealing, widely available rosé, which more than fits the bill for lingering, late-summer picnics.
Bright crimson in the glass with red berry and forward strawberry-rhubarb notes, with plenty of heft that will stand up to a wide range of tastes, including spicier salamis and strong cheeses. (88 pts. BCLS $16.99)