Peller Okanagan (Similkameen?) Dry Riesling

Eagle-eyed observers will know that Peller Okanagan Dry Riesling heralded in this year's garlic crop!

A few insiders will know that Peller Okanagan Dry Riesling heralded in this year’s garlic crop!

If you move really quickly you can buy Andrew Peller Private Reserve (VQA) Dry Riesling for just over $11 at BC Liquor Stores.  Believe me, as they say “while stocks last”, it’s worth it. I can’t say for sure (as I don’t have my notes handy) but I’m fairly sure that had we tasted this wine in this year’s LG Awards, it would have been a contender.  It has varietal characteristics of apple, grapefruit and stone fruit with a hint of mineral and a wonderful, juicy fruit-acid balance. 90 pts.

The fancy pricing (it used to be around $16-$17) may be connected to the introduction of the Wayne Gretzky Okanagan brand, which Peller acquired in 2011.

I’m sure the branding gurus have all kinds of good reasons in slapping the Great One’s name on the bottle. But I often wonder how much the folks back in Ontario really care about the Okanagan wines and where they come from.

For instance, my hunch is that the Riesling that I just bought (and you should too, if you read fast enough) is at least in part from Andrew Peller’s Similkameen Rocky Ridge Vineyard—which is how it should be labelled and, quite honestly, priced up there with the likes of good Riesling from elsewhere.  Andrew Peller was a pioneer in BC wines, and quite visionary in planting that vineyard—but rarely acknowledged.

Granted, Peller’s BC  story has had its share of ups and downs. And no offense to the good deeds of the Wayne Gretzky Foundation, which receives a small share of each bottle sold. Over the last few years the BC winemaking team, under Howard Soon, has done a remarkable job of turning things around, winning a ton of accolades for the Peller name.  But is it now on shaky ground? Will we soon be seeing cases of Wayne Gretzky Riesling making their way to Oiler Country?  Only time will tell.

In the meantime, you might want to run out and grab some of that Dry Riesling 2011—before I do!