Lean & Mean

As you may have heard from me before, I continue to uphold the idea that balance is the key to truly great wine. One thing that can tilt the scales either for better or worse, is the use of oak; it can contribute a great deal to the body, flavour, and maturation of wine. The use of oak in wine is a very old concept, but remains to this day a very contentious subject, sparking a love – hate relationship with many wine drinkers. Some wines are vinified in oak either vats or barrels, some wines are matured in oak either older (used) or new barrels or vats of varying sizes, some wines are both vinified and matured in oak. Sometimes the addition of oak chips or staves is used to instill some of the characteristics of oak without the $500+ per barrel cost.

Yet there are a myriad number of wines produced without the use of oak barrels, or barriques, or vats, or anything wood-like. Produced in stainless steel, glass-lined, or concrete tanks, and matured in bottle instead of barrel. These wines can offer just as much character, intensity, and pleasure as their oak-clad cousins but they tend to do so in a racier way, focusing on fruit character and the inherent structural components to keep things ‘lean and mean’. German Rieslings, New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs, Italian Pinot Grigios, and classic Chablis; there are too many to count but here are a few favourites.

Lagaria Pinot Grigio
A light bodied and refreshing dry white wine that has aromas of golden apple, lemon zest, and delicate floral notes. The palate has juicy acidity and crisp fruit character with a clean finish. This wine pairs well with kalamari, creamy pasta, or a little garlic sausage.

Churton Sauvignon Blanc
A sharp, modern-style Sauvignon Blanc from a family operated estate. Filled with aromas of tropical citrus and peppery, grassy herbaceous notes. The palate is medium-full and offers ripe gooseberry, tangy citrus, and mouth watering acidity. It makes a great match for shell fish, light seafood, or a hunk of Chevre.

Nero del Nago Corvina
A clean mid-weight red with a nose offering hints of cherry, subtle spice and a sweet leathery hint. The palate is medium bodied, with balanced structure and mouth filling flavours of red and black fruits with a trace of earth and herbs. A wine for lasagna, pork sausage, or roast duck breast.

Von Buhl ‘Armand’ Riesling
This lovely German number has an alluring aroma of floral stone fruit, citrus, and a slight stony minerality. The juicy palate offers more of the same in fruit character, (just a touch off-dry), laced with appley notes and racy acidity that pairs with almost everything from schnitzel to fondue to a sunny afternoon.


Michael Kompass

Michael is a local sommelier who operates the Blackcomb Liquor Store and Vintage Advice Consultants, and heads the Blackcomb Wine Appreciation Club since 2001.

Holiday Cheer

It is easy to become distracted during the rush of December. The population of our little mountain town triples seemingly overnight. We hear the clamour of lift lines, we see the joyous faces of children temporarily freed from the confines of schools, and we put our best foot forward to welcome another winter season. But when the snow falls thick and deep, and the hustle-bustle of the holidays is at its finest, we take comfort in the companionship of friends and family. We share together good company, boisterous conversation, food and drink, and great cheer. What better way to do that than with fine wine. It warms away a chill; it soothes a weary traveler; it calms the nerves; it whets the appetite; and of course it makes a great gift! The following are some of my favourites for happy holidays:

La Serra Moscato d’Asti – a classic, delicate and aromatic fruit-filled white, with just enough bubble and a hint of sweetness to make you want another glass. Besides, a little breakfast wine isn’t such a bad thing!

Tantalus Old Vines Riesling – a brilliant BC white wine produced in a drier style with racy acidity, crisp citrus and mineral notes. A palate loaded with nectarine, lean lemony fruit and hints of pine and slate. Great with anything from cheese plates to turkey dinners.

Hendry Block 28 Zinfandel – a long running family-run estate grown Zinfandel, offering ripe aromas and flavours of brambly berry fruit, leather, woodspice, and warm alcohol framed in French oak. A match for turkey, roast duck, or a little dark chocolate.

Domaine de Nizas Old Vines Carignan – an underappreciated red from Southern France with lots of body, dried berries, black olive and baking spice notes. Rich and robust, it will pair well with roast game or braised meat dishes.

Quinta do Crasto Vintage Port – the ultimate after dinner drink. Sweet and fortified, it virtually tastes like Christmas pudding in a glass, with a long lingering warmth that leaves you satisfied in a cozy armchair.

So whenever and however you celebrate this holiday season, as you sit with friends or gather around the festive feast. Remember to take time and enjoy a little holiday cheer.

Wishing you all the best for a happy and healthy holiday season!