Old World wineries and wine-producing regions have long influenced those growing grapes and making wine on this side of the pond and throughout the New World. Without the incredible winemaking history in Bordeaux, Rioja, Burgundy, Tuscany, the Rheingau and the like, what would our viticultural history look like? More importantly, how would the wines taste? La Stella and Le Vieux Pin are two B.C. wineries who continue to do a great job paying homage to long-cherished Old World regions with the juice that ends up in their bottles, albeit with a New World flair that harnesses their unique terroir and combines long-established and newer winemaking techniques. And they're both offering free shipping on 6 or more bottles this week only - mix and match to your heart's delight, perhaps it's three bottles from La Stella and three from LVP!
LaStella’s musically named wines recall some of the best offerings from Italy; their reds in particular recall the country’s profound Super Tuscans — those wines that first broke the rules in Chianti.
At Le Vieux Pin, meanwhile, it’s impossible not to recall some of the great wines of the northern Rhône Valley in France — especially their impressive range of Syrah and Syrah-based reds.
Here are some top picks from these two Okanagan wineries…
While many widely available Pinot Grigios might be uninspired and one-dimensional, LaStella’s Vivace is an entirely different animal. The Oliver and Similkameen Valley each contribute about one-third of the fruit in this Okanagan white, harvested in one of the warmest vintages in recent history. Bright red apple, pear, melon, and modest lemon zest notes play as well aromatically as they do on the light-plus bodied palate and remarkably long finish.
LaStella 2014 Fortissimo ($35)
A blend of 57 per cent Merlot, 21 per cent Sangiovese, 11 Cabernet Sauvignon and 11 per cent Cabernet Franc, this big B.C. red blend offers plum, anise, tomato leaf, blackberry, savoury herb and smoke notes on the nose. It's a big, juicy yet well-structured red, delivering raspberry, plum, savoury smoke, anise and blackberry flavours with medium tannin and light acidity. There's a bit of heat to the Fortissimo - overall it could be drunk now with some decanting or held for 3-5 years.
Le Vieux Pin 2015 Ava ($35)
While France’s Rhône Valley is best-known for earthy, complex reds, there are also some remarkable whites made in the region, to which Le Vieux Pin’s Ava very nimbly tips the hat. Over half of this white blend is made from Viognier; the bulk of the remainder is Roussanne, with Marsanne accounting for just eight per cent. The stone fruit, honeysuckle, floral, spice and tropical fruit notes on the nose are complex, and on the viscous, medium-bodied palate those flavours shine. It’s quite approachable now but with a few years’ aging things could get even more interesting.
Only 327 cases were made of this big, brambly B.C. red, made of 100 per cent Syrah from vineyards in the Black Sage Bench, north Oliver and south Osoyoos regions. Blackberry, raspberry, bacon fat, iron and herbal notes work well with underlying black cherry aromas; on the full-bodied palate some black olive, sage and white pepper flavours join the party as well. Very much in the style of northern Rhône reds, this is a red you can drink now or hold for five-plus years.
Ben MacPhee-Sigurdson is the wine columnist and literary editor for the Winnipeg Free Press. He’s on Twitter and Instagram at @bensigurdson.