C.C. Jentsch The Chase 2018 B.C.

This has consistently been one of the best value wines produced in B.C. Particularly if you shop wisely! The last few vintages were Cabernet dominant but the 2018 is Merlot dominant which means it’s a softer, more plush take on a classic Bordeaux blend. The medium boded red is juicy and delicious with a generous finish and a lovely aroma of blackberries. I still think it overdelivers for the price when you’re shopping for wine to pair with pizza. C.C. Jentsch has won awards for some superb premium wines and those looking for a bargain can count on The Chase to please your palate too.

Price: $18.99 plus tax
Available: Save-On-Foods wines across B.C.
Price: $24.99 plus tax
Available: Swirl Wines in Yaletown

Bizou + Yukon Savvy Franc B.C.

If the world wide pandemic has taught me anything it’s that the wine biz has learned how to innovate. From Zoom tastings to targeted new products there’s been an element of fun added to the wine experience. Here’s one that caught my eye because it comes from one of B.C.’s best wineries. Wine in a bag is something I’d never experienced until this month. The Savvy Franc is a red blend from Summerland’s Okanagan Crush Pad. Bizou and Yukon are the winery dogs who visitors often encounter. So a little fun paired with a fresh, easy drinking blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s my new house wine that’s priced as low as $35.00 for a 1.5 litre bag. Doing the math that works out to $17.50 for each of two standard 750ml bottles. I like the wine and I like that its carbon footprint is a fraction of the glass bottle. The pour spout works seamlessly and these “pooch pouches” also come in a white blend that you can chill in your fridge. Good wine at a good price. What’s not to like?

Price: $35.00 plus tax for 1.5 litre
Available: Save-On-Foods wines across B.C.
Price: $39.99 plus tax for 1.5 litre
Available: Kits Wine Cellars on 4th Avenue in Kitsilano
Price: $40.00 includes taxes
Available: Bowen Beer and Wine Cellar on Bowen Island

Evolve Pink Effervescence B.C.

I’ve always felt a special connection to Evolve Cellars because I launched my website the same year they released their first vintage. My impression of their wines then holds true today. Evolve offers quality B.C. wine at a great price. This lovely pink sparkler proves the point. From the tiny bubbles, usually called frizzante, to the fresh fruity flavour and dry style this is a wine I enjoy year round. I taste berries in every glass…strawberries and raspberries to my palate which makes it a lovely sipper and very food friendly. I think of charcuterie as the perfect pairing for this wine.

Price: $21.49 plus tax
Available: B.C. Liquor Stores
Price: $21.99 plus tax
Available: Save-On-Foods Wines across B.C.

Blue Grouse Estate Winery Quill White 2019 B.C.

It’s always a good day when you can find a favorite wine in your own backyard. Blue Grouse Estate Winery has twice been named winery of the year on Vancouver Island. Now you can taste for yourself and see why I’m such a big fan of what’s going on in the Cowichan Valley. The Quill White is a magical blend of Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer, Schonburger and Siegerrebe. There’s a delightful fragrance on this off-dry white and flavours of lemon, peaches and orange peel. In a world awash in white blends this offering from Blue Grouse really stands out for being balanced and delicious. It is a lovely sipper on its own or pair it with your favorite seafood dish. I bet you’ll be pouring a second glass…the true test of wine enjoyment.

Available: Save-On-Foods wines across B.C.
Price: $19.99 plus tax
Available: Swirl Wines in Yaletown
Price: $21.99 plus tax

Fiore Mercato in South Granville

Apparently it was the Greek philosopher Plato who authored the phrase “necessity is the mother of invention.” If ever there was a time for invention in the wine world it’s now. The pandemic has closed restaurants and bars while others have pivoted with creativity to meet difficult times head on. Credit Matthew Landry (pictured) and the team at Fiore Mercato with an impressive reinvention that speaks to the winelover in me. There’s several options, dine-in, takeout, or buy all the ingredients from the market at the front of house and make in yourself. House made pasta, sauces, a focacia kit, olive oil, balsamic vinegars and WINE, glorious wine. Somm of the year Landry has a well chosen selection that pairs perfectly with the cuisine. It’s for sale at retail pricing that starts at under $20.00 a bottle. No need to stop off at your local bottle shop. The pasta and pizza menu shouldn’t be missed and discover that the wines of Italy go far beyond Pinot Grigio. The Vernaccia paired with squid ink spaghetti and prawns in garlic butter was note perfect. Given the difficult times facing the hospitality industry here’s an example of how they’re fighting back. All they need is our support. Cheers!

Fiore Mercato is on West 12th Avenue in the South Granville neighborhood.

Mt. Boucherie Pinot Noir B.C. 2018

I think i can safely say this is the best priced B.C. Pinot Noir I’ve tasted this year. However it depends on where you buy your wine. I found it for just over $20.00 but also discovered one major retailer charging more than $29.00! So just as important as the taste is the price. What drew me in was first the aroma followed by an earthy, savoury wine that really impressed me. There’s cherries on the nose and the palate, good acidity along with an intensity I didn’t expect. The perfect companion for mushroom risotto, grilled salmon or a roast turkey sandwich. Hello Thanksgiving!

Price: $20.89 plus tax
Available: Save-On-Foods wines across B.C.
Price: $24.99 plus tax
Available: Swirl Wines in Yaletown and winery direct
Price: $29.00 plus tax at Legacy Liquor in Olympic Village

Haywire Pinot Gris B.C. 2019

I’ve made no secret of my love of the wines from Okanagan Crush Pad. Haywire was my introduction but I’ve also enjoyed Narrative and Free Form that are also produced at the Summerland winery.
The Pinot Gris has always been a favourite and the 2019 vintage is hitting all the right notes for me. In the glass it’s a beautiful pale yellow which is a hint of what you’re about to enjoy. This is a wine of subtlety and restraint. Yet one that rewards you from first sip.
The aroma of stone fruit gives way to flavours of pears and peaches. There’s a tinge of lemon and a little toasted note and a medium finish which i really enjoyed. For those who seek out acidic styles of pinot gris this is a refreshing alternative. To me it’s all about the fruit and Haywire has used grapes from four different vineyards in the 2019 vintage. This should be your go-to summer white whether it’s to sip on the deck or pair with sockeye salmon off the grill.

Price: $21.99 (plus tax)
Available: Save-On wines across B.C.
Price: $24.26 (plus tax)
Available: Marquis Wine Cellars on Davie street
Price: $24.99 (plus tax)
Available: Swirl wines in Yaletown

Okanagan Crush Pad Narrative Rose B.C. 2019

About six years ago I asked a B.C. wine insider what he thought was the dominant characteristics of our wine. He summed it up with just two words. Fresh. Juicy. Those words stuck with me and often when I’m tasting a B.C. wine I can’t avoid thinking…how bang on. The Narrative Rose from Okanagan Crush Pad is the latest. A pretty salmon pink in the glass this Rose is made from Pinot Noir. That gives you a lovely fruity aroma followed by a savoury, bone dry wine with good acidity and a long finish. You can pair this with almost any of your summer favorites. Right now you can grab it from the winery in the magnum size for $30.00. That works out to about $15 bucks each for the equivalent of two 750ml bottles. Keep checking back because there will be the standard size bottle released soon and when it hits retail outlets in Vancouver I’ll update my review. P.S. I love the new label.

Price: $30.00 (plus tax) 1.5l
Available: www.okanagancrushpad.com

Spier Signature Chenin Blanc South Africa 2019

To taste Chenin Blanc is to love it. I don’t know of a better way to sing the praises of this South African gem. Spier has crafted a wine that is lush and polished and at a price that beggars belief. It’s on sale for $12.99 until July 4th! Find me a white of comparable quality for a better price and I’ll quaff the bottle on the steps of City Hall. What you’ll get from the Signature Chenin Blanc is a crisp, fruity wine loaded with flavours of apples and pears. Beautifully balanced it really delivers incredible value. Pair it with goat’s cheese salad, grab and go suishi or just chill a couple of bottles and invite friends over to gulp it down. I say again, this is a crazy good value!

Price: $12.99 (plus tax) until July 4th
Available: B.C. liquor stores

Provence Marinaside is back!

I think most of us have a few favourite restaurants that have become like a second home. Provence Marinaside is that for me. As a wine writer I sought out places that moved the wine dial because I wanted to encourage followers to taste more often. Provence is a winelover’s dream. So I’m delighted to see them reopen while closely following safety protocols. I’ve posted some other photos on my social media accounts so please check them out. The reopening menu has plenty of familiar dishes, both appies and mains. As always the wine list, although pared down, has great options as befits an award winning restaurant. (Pictured) That’s SeaStar’s superb rose paired with the delicious crusted goats cheese salad.
The expanded patio and restaurant have physically distanced tables and the servers are cleaning them carefully after each guest. So if you’re tired of your own cooking and ready to venture out here’s where you’ll find me! Provence Marinaside is at the end of Davie street in Yaletown.