Howard gave us a really great run down of the vineyards they draw their grapes from and it was really interesting to see the variance of temperature, climate, and varieties being grown. He was very generous with his time talking about the challenges of growing grapes like Sangiovese and Barbera in the Okanagan. He showed us pictures of the cliffs at the base of the vineyard that hold in the heat to allow the Italian varieties to ripen. Really interesting.
We tried a number of their wines, all listed locally, and found out that Sandhill has made a very thoughtful point of ensuring that their wines are the same price across this varied and enormous country. So, a $17.99 Pinot Gris at the Winery is a $19.99 Pinot Gris at our local Liquor Store. Now THAT takes forethought, budget planning, and good brand sense. Kudos to Sandhill.
We started with the Pinto Gris which is a steely/flinty wine with a nice mix of fruit and acid. We really liked it and it is a great drinker for upcoming patio season. After that it was on to a partially barrel-aged Pinot Blanc ($17.99). There was an absolutely perfect amount of oak on this wine. If you know anything about us, you know that we aren't scared of oak on white wine. This one is great. A nice mouth feel and good balance are the highlights on this wine.
A standout for sure.
Up next was a Viognier ($24.99), which had all the nice things that Viognier provides like body and an almost creamy mouth feel. If you like a good Chardonnay you will like this wine. It is not exactly like French Viognier but still has all the good characteristics.
For the Reds, we started with the Sangiovese ($29.99) and yes it is Canadian Sangiovese and delicious at that. Mama Mia! Typically on the thin side it still packs a flavour wallop. Great red fruit and structure were highlights along with a really nice nose that makes you think of it's Italian heritage.
Immediately following that was a Barbera ($29.99). That's right, another Italian variety and this one was had just as much punch on the palate. However, this one was a bit more aromatically challenged with hardly any real notes coming out of the glass even after the bottle had been opened for a while. It tasted great but without the extra oomph from a nice bouquet it falls a little flat. After that, was the Sandhill Small Lots Three. They make a Small Lot Blend called One, Two, and Three ($34.99) and the Three is their version of a Super Tuscan and the Sangiovese and Barbera being blended in the best way. It is delicious and brings the best of both together. We really liked it, though the Sangiovese on its own was our favorite red. Finally, was a Syrah ($23.99) and that was a nice closer. It bit more body and fruit were the hallmarks of the Syrah and it was a really nice tasting wine.
All in all it was an awesome event to learn more about the wealth of riches the Okanagan has when it comes to growing grapes and making wine. We've had some great BC wines in the past (see Tinhorn Creek) and we have some in our racks we haven't tasted yet. So more adventures to come.
Special thanks to Mark DeWolf of the Chronicle Herald for the invite and Adelle Lyon from Andrew Peller for hosting.
These are wines worth trying so if you can get them where you are do it.
Keep on tasting!
Chris & Shannon