The BC wine industry is growing so fast, it's getting harder to keep up with new wineries appearing on the scene. When we used to count the wineries in dozens instead of hundreds (we’re pretty much at the 300 mark), the learning curve was a gentle slope. But now, this writer has to put in extra effort just to keep a basic handle on what’s going on! This matter came to the surface about a month ago, when I had the opportunity to travel to New York City, with the B.C. Wine Institute and a handful of B.C. wineries -including Bordertown Vineyards & Estate Winery, this month's featured vineyard for the wine club. One of their wines unexpectedly became a star of the evening.
We enjoyed a media lunch and public dinner at James Beard House, along with a walk-around trade tasting the following day. At the helm of the James Beard House kitchen was Vancouver-based chef Ned Bell, a national champion of sustainable seafood from our rivers, lakes and oceans. The seafood-centric menu would be a cinch with our local wines, right? Our gleaming sparkling wines, minerally dry Rieslings, crisp Chardonnays and buoyant Pinot Noirs would dovetail well with any menu Ned put together.
But a challenge popped up - it looked like we were going to put forward some big rugged reds, too. As you may imagine, beyond our borders there’s still an assumption that Canada only makes icewine or light, aromatic wines. Here in British Columbia, two of our favourite grape varieties are Syrah and Cabernet Franc, and both were due to make a showing.
I learned that Bordertown Vineyards & Estate Winery was coming along on the trip. Mohan Gill’s Osoyoos-based estate winery has only been around since 2015, but his family are no spring chickens in our region. They have been growing quality grapes for other wineries for over twenty years, and their winery’s freshman status hasn’t stopped them from beginning to fill up the trophy shelf. In fact, they nabbed a coveted Lieutenant Governor’s Award of Excellence for their 2013 Living Desert Red.
Back to James Beard House and the big red conundrum. As I tasted their wines in advance, I found myself absolutely adoring the Bordertown 2014 Cabernet Franc. Rich and concentrated dark berry fruit mingles with forest floor notes, cloves and cardamom, and a good lashing of earthy character. Long story short, it wouldn’t likely be served with fresh oysters or a ceviche.
Ned Bell’s dish to go alongside was a British Columbian wild salmon, mushrooms, celery roots and hearts, with a black truffle dressing. Now, I’ve enjoyed the guy’s food for years, and had all the confidence in the world that the pairing would sing. But I’d be lying if I said that most in the room had the same confidence. There were more than a few murmurs of, “So, how’s that going to work?”
When the wine was poured and the dish was served and we all tucked in, a mild hush permeated the room, until we all had the same revelation at once. The fruitiness and richness of the wine hit those same characteristics in the salmon, but the revelation was the black truffle component - so on-point with the wine’s earthy character, matching the weight with ease! Of all things, the salmon and Cabernet Franc became the favourite pairing of the room, with many marveling over the next hour at how they were so delightfully surprised.
Now it’s time for you to have your own revelations and surprises with Bordertown Estate Vineyards & Winery. Join My Wine Canada’s Wine of the Month Club by this Monday, May 15th, and you’ll receive an assortment of Bordertown's award-winning wines right to your door, with tasting notes and food pairing suggestions, too. There are a few different tiers with the club, and it makes a fantastic gift!
For more information on My Wine Canada’s Wine of the Month Club and Bordertown Estate Vineyards & Winery, click here!
Kurtis Kolt is a Vancouver-based wine consultant, writer, competition judge and enthusiast. Track him down at KurtisKolt.com, or on Twitter and Instagram @KurtisKolt.