Rejoicing in Red: A Clutch of Good Value BC Wines

Sierhead Pinot Noir

Spierhead: an emerging, consistent contender ©Tim Pawsey

Looking to to buy for the BC wine lover in your life? Here’s a clutch of more interesting but not that hard to find wines, which individually and collectively show just how much the bar has been raised in the last few years. These bottles, beyond the run of the mill, will appeal to anyone who has a passion for for the Okanagan (or Similkameen) and are highly affordable for the value and quality they deliver. (Prices shown are from the wineries and will vary by store.)

Spierhead Pinot Noir 2013. This small east Kelowna producer has truly hit its stride, with a focus on small batch wines, all hand harvested. Bright, up front red berries are followed by a well balanced, juicy palate with raspberry and cherry notes wrapped in balanced tannins, judicious oak and a lengthy finish. A very stylish and well integrated, value priced Pinot . $24.00 91 pts.


Black Cloud Pinot Noir

Cool package, for a textbook Okanagan Pinot

Black Cloud Pinot Noir Altostratus 2011. Bradley Cooper (also winemaker at Serendipity) and Audralee Daum’s virtual winery’s sole focus is Pinot Noir.  Altostratus ‘11 sports dark berry notes and spicy hints up front with a very smooth, fruit forward entry, supple palate of dark cherry, mulberry and earthy hints, underpinned by firm acidity, with an elegant, lingering close. Distinctive Okanagan Pinot—but it also reminds me a little of Martinborough. Black Cloud is having some challenges these days, as (for whatever reason) BC Liquor Control and Licensing seems to be cracking down on this model. “We pulled our site ( awaiting direction and guidance from authorities,” says Cooper. Never mind, you can find the wine in private stores around town. And if you really want to spoil that BC wine lover sign them up for the Cloudy Day Club, which delivers three times a year. Or, buy them a magnum. Call 778-476-1655. $35, 92 pts.


Maverick's Bertus Albertyn, one to watch

Maverick’s Bertus Albertyn, one to watch

Maverick Estate Rubicon 2012. A relative newcomer to the South Okanagan landscape, however, there’s no shortage of expertise—and mature plantings—behind this family owned winery, that in the hands of winemaker-owner Bertus Albertyn consistently over delivers. Deep garnet in the glass before a palate of peppery red and black fruit, with velvet plushness from Cab Franc and structure from Cab Sauv, before a lengthy end.  Truly a well balanced blend that offers great value at $25, 92 pts.


Stag's Hollow owner Larry Gerelus

Stag’s Hollow owner Larry Gerelus ©Tim Pawsey

Stag’s Hollow Syrah 2011. Distinctive, varietal earthy gamy and blackberry aromas, with a soft, elegant entry before a palate of black fruit mingled with some smoky hints and assertive tannins. Hand picked and co-fermented with 8 percent Viognier; aged ‘sur lie’ for 17 months. Inspired by Saint-Joseph but very much Okanagan in style, says winemaker Dwight Sick. Again, superb value—at $25, 92 pts. Consider a case…


Seven Stones owner George Hanson shows off his new cellar, through custom built doors ©Tim Pawsey

Seven Stones owner George Hanson shows off his new cellar, through custom built doors ©Tim Pawsey

Seven Stones Row 128 Merlot 2011. Driving along Highway 3A, Blink and you might well miss George Hanson’s beautiful winery, just east of Cawston, which has become a Similkameen standard-bearer. If you’re in the area, drop by to be amazed by his newly built cellar. This intense Merlot (Hanson dropped 60 percent of the fruit) sports aromas of black cherry and leather followed by a plush and plummy palate, with mocha hints—and that distinctive Similkameen mineral streak, before a lengthy, polished finish. $25, 92 pts.


Oh, and I am going to sneak in a white, here, just to be polite—but again a distinctive wine as befits the company.

Terravista Figaro

Terravista—truly unique

Terravista Figaro 2013. Bob and Seneka Tennant were part of team that founded Black Hills but nowadays they own Terravista Vineyards—and make only two wines, using a handful of white varieties. They describe Figaro, a Roussanne, Viognier, Marsanne blend (just released) as their “winter white”. This, surely, is one of the Okanagan’s most unique, interesting and worthy—also value priced—whites. Aromas of white flower and peach, mouth-filling and generous but not clumsy, it coats the palate with elegant viscosity, showing orchard and stone-fruit notes with a gentle nutty hint, before a vibrant, fruity but clean finish. They say try it with Thai style chowder, roasted ling cod with caper sauce, or simply seasoned roast chicken—and we couldn’t agree more! $23.90 91 pts.

By | 2018-01-21T15:05:13+00:00 December 6th, 2014|Hired Belly's Best Wines, Top Drops, Wine|4 Comments

About the Author:

Tim has been covering the food and wine revolution for about 20 kilos. Count 15 kg alone thanks to the blossoming cuisine and wine culture of British Columbia, Canada. Tim’s hallmark is seeking out and recommending value wines from BC and around the world that offer quality at every level. He also scopes out noteworthy restaurants that live up to their promises—and often over deliver. Readers depend on the Hired Belly for his “Belly’s Best” and “Belly’s Budget Best” picks to help them find the right wine for the occasion. He writes, tweets and shoots his own images for columns in the Vancouver Courier and North Shore News. He also contributes to WHERE Vancouver magazine, as well as to several other publications. They include Taste magazine, Tidings Magazine, and Montecristo. His columns are frequently picked up by major newspapers across Canada. Tim is a frequent judge for wine competitions, such as Vancouver Magazine International Wine Awards. He is a founding judge of The BC Lieutenant Governor’s Awards for Excellence in Wine. He is frequently invited to judge at The BC Wine Awards, and others. Tim has traveled to taste in many of the world’s leading wine regions, most recently in Burgundy, Argentina and Chile.


  1. Leeann December 8, 2014 at 9:26 pm

    A nice roundup and a few new ones for me to taste – and a great photo of Larry from Stag’s Hollow!

  2. September 4, 2016 at 1:09 am

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  3. Roz Walls September 14, 2017 at 8:30 pm

    would be helpful to know where the scores of points came from, anyone can put down a number and these are very good ratings would like to know who gave them. thank you Roz

  4. Tim Pawsey September 14, 2017 at 10:05 pm

    Hi Roz, All the scores on this website are my own. Best, TP

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