British Columbia winemakers are now crafting excellent pinot noir
B.C. is one of the few, blessed areas of the world capable of making fine pinot noir wines. I believe it deserves to be thought of in the “first circle” of pinot noir producing areas that include Oregon, Australia, Burgundy, New Zealand and California. There is a range of quality to be sure but that is also true of the more renowned pinot noir areas. If you are shaking your head in disagreement right now, then you haven’t tasted enough B.C. pinot noir though thus far, certainly that has been difficult to do.
British Columbia’s pinot noirs are largely unknown
Most B.C. pinot noirs are made in very small quantities, typically five hundred cases or less (often much less). As a result most of our pinot noirs are consumed in B.C. leaving nothing to export and thus become discovered in the larger wine market. Pinot noir is not only difficult to make but also relatively expensive. Making excellent pinot noir costs money.
Even in the small corner of the wine world that is B.C., excellent pinot noirs from estate grapes are found across a range of even smaller areas that include Vancouver Island, Similkameen Valley, Fraser Valley though most are found North to South in the Okanagan Valley. Small production and dispersed wine areas make it difficult for individual wineries to market their pinot noir separately. With the exception of the BC Pinot Noir Celebration, producers have not yet been working together to boost pinot noir individualy or move it forward as a defining B.C. grape.
Helping Raise the Profile of B.C. Pinot Noir
B.C. pinot noir is like an undiscovered species in the Great Northern woods: unique and marvelous but living and passing away uncatalogued and unknown except to the local residents.
The BCPinotNoir.com project undertakes several steps to help raise the profile of B.C. pinot noir both in B.C. and the larger wine world.
An ongoing impartial panel tasting and scoring of every B.C. pinot noir wine
What do B.C. Pinot Noirs taste like and how do they compare with good pinot noirs from elsewhere? There are approximately two hundred ad eight individual pinot noir bottlings in British Columbia. This counts regular, reserve, single block & other separate winery designations as individual bottlings. The first goal of BCPinotNoir.com is to taste at least one vintage of each individual bottling. Panel tastings began in January 2011 and each consists of six B.C. pinot noirs and one “guest pinot” from another top pinot noir region. Wines are scored for both quality and value and the scores as well as the panel’s unedited notes are published on the web site along with current availability where possible. So far, the panel has tasted ninety-nine different B.C. pinot noirs.
Publishing the list of all B.C. pinot noirs, ranked listings of panel tasting results and detailed profiles of each wine
Once we are half way through tasting all the wines, ranked listings of all panel tasted wines by quality, value, geography, vintage, alcohol level etc. will be published on the web site as well as a complete list of all of known B.C. pinot noirs.
Publish profiles of each wine including where possible: winemaker(s),source vineyard(s) details, age of vines, cases produced, clones involved and other technical data.
I hope the project helps to raise awareness about B.C. pinot noir, wines, wineries, vineyards & winemakers. All feedback, comments & ideas are most welcome.
Unless otherwise noted, all text and photos by Brent Gushowaty.