The South Okanagan, viewed from Anarchist Mountain, right on the U.S. border, Tim Pawsey photo

BC Wines Stand Up in Global Tasting …

from North Shore News

Several years ago, Quails Gate co-owner Ben Stewart did something unprecedented. He held a tasting of his wines at the Four Seasons Vancouver, mixed in with comparable drops from elsewhere in the world. When the wraps came off (it was a blind exercise) it turned out that the Quails Gate wines had held their own.

It also underscored another point: that Quails Gate was in tune with wine styles, quality and comparative values from other wine regions—which, at least at the time, was not always the case with most Okanagan producers.

Last week Wines of British Columbia, with the assistance of Master of Wine (and Similkameen grape grower) Rhys Pender pulled off a similar exercise, to give a sense of how BC wines might fare beside those from elsewhere.

So, how did they do?

In a word: Well.

On occasion, critics of BC have been quick to condemn the home team for wines that they perceive to be overpriced in world terms. This may be a fair comment in the case of the hotly contested $10 to $20 price range, where it’s tough to beat value wines from the likes of Chile and Argentina. But what happens when you up the ante and start talking better quality and pricier comparisons?

Over five flights of three wines each, the BC wine generally held its own or, dollar for dollar, easily matched the value of its competitors. It’s also worth noting that when choosing the wines for comparison the organisers didn’t hold back. These were for the most part worthy competitors—and while some prevailed, it was usually at a cost.

CedarCreek Riesling 2010 (reviewed here last week) truly delivers zippy citrus value at $17.90, even beside a stalwart such as the layered St. Urbans Hof Bockstein Kabinett (Mosel, $29.99). In the Chardonnay department, to be fair, it was less convincing. But Quails Gate’s textbook Okanagan Pinot Noir ($24.99) held its own with pricier contenders from both Central Otago and Burgundy.

BC Syrah’s star has been on the rise for some time now but even at BCLS $59.99 the superbly meaty, spicy and black fruit Cornas Delas Chante Perdrix 2007 was a show-stopper. Yet at half the price ($34.99), the black pepper spiced Nk Mip Syrah 08 yielded more proof that Syrah’s foothold in the Okanagan is firm.

At the end of the day, the exercise wasn’t so much about the best ‘deal’ but more about BC’s more consistent producers being able to hold their own on the world stage, which they certainly can. And, sometimes, as in the case of Osoyoos Larose 2008 ($45), deliver considerably more, for less.