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Collector’s Guide: 12 of BC’s most bankable wines

July 24, 2020

They may not be as prestigious or as collectible as Bordeaux, Burgundy or Barolo but wines out of British Columbia are undeniably well made, providing serious value for what consumers are being asked to pay.

It’s a known fact that BC is a thriving wine industry that attracts talented winemakers from around the world. Each of these trained professionals has brought his or her knowledge, passion and fresh ideas towards shaping an identity and style unique to British Columbia.

Read Also: A+ for BC wine – recognizing a world-class region

In 2019, BC wineries won more than 1,000 medals in national and international competition. With each new accolade, this wine region continues to expand its reputation for quality and solidify its place among the best in the world.

BC Wine Map

Map of Okanagan Valley, BC is courtesy of Wine Folly.

BC is home to over 370 wineries, with just over 200 located within the Okanagan Valley. The valley runs north/south for 150 miles, following a chain of lakes bordered by low hills and stepped benches. The last ice age glaciers deposited a mix of gravel, silt and sand; subsequent erosion has created large alluvial fans on which crops are grown.

Warmer and more arid than Napa Valley, the Okanagan Valley gets nearly two hours more sunlight per day during the peak of the July-August growing season, with great temperature differences between day and night helping to retain freshness. More than 60 grape varieties are grown in BC, but not all are as commonly planted as the Bordeaux and Burgundy varietals, syrah/shiraz, riesling, pinot gris and sauvignon blanc.

Many Okanagan Meritage (Bordeaux style) reds are anchored by merlot, and not just because so much of that varietal is in the vineyards (merlot is the most planted red grape). When it is well grown, merlot in the Okanagan is not the soft, jammy varietal that was panned in the movie, Sideways. The varietal has good structure, vibrant fruit flavour and bright acidity; it does not need to be propped up by a lot of cabernet sauvignon.

Pinot noir is the second most panted red grape by acreage, and grown more rapidly in terms of acreage than any other widely planted red grape. It’s a varietal that is experiencing somewhat of a renaissance in recent years despite being around for decades.

And then there’s chardonnay which is very well rooted in BC, and highly worth exploring. Almost every major winery produces a chardonnay and most are quite good and worth every penny.

British Columbia

BC Wines: BC’s vineyard landscape is truly magnificent.

Like any wine region, there are varying prices that reflect varying quality levels. As you move into the more ultra-premium space, consumers can expect to pay more and with those steeper prices can come serious questions. Are they really worth the price? Will this be a wine that will age for years to come, and if so, how long? And so, as wine prices continue to increase (many by 10-20 percent each year), consumers need to know which bottles are worth spending those hard earned dollars on.

Bankability isn’t just defined as something that will increase in value over time like a blue chip stock. It can also be something that is consistent overall with its results. Something that is a sure bet, year after year. When it comes to wine, consumers should be confident in their choices – whether they wish to open their bottle immediately or allow it to age in their cellar – with quality being the most important common denominator, no matter the vintage.

With all that in mind, I’ve put together a list of 12 wines (in no particular order) that I feel represent BC’s most consistent and most collectible bottlings today. Many of these selections have been tasted – some multiple times – and have been further researched from vintage to vintage. There are no specific tasting notes included as this is not a list of specified vintage recommendations. The point of these selections is that no matter the vintage you buy, you’re bound to get superior quality.