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Okanagan Wines at a Glance

Bruce Sanderson
Posted: August 17, 2004

  • Canada Finds its Napa: British Columbia's emerging Okanagan Valley has the makings of a serious and blossoming wine region

Wine Spectator has reviewed 115 British Columbia wines, most of them since 1999. Roughly half have rated 85 points (very good) or better on the 100-point scale, with one ice wine earning an outstanding 91 points.

Ice wine has been the most successful style of wine from British Columbia to date; eight of its top 18 wines are ice wines. This mirrors the situation in Ontario's Niagara Peninsula, Canada's other important wine region.

The Okanagan Valley's best dry wines are its white varietals: Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc. The red varieties have not met with the same success, but our most recent tastings show improved quality, particularly from new plantings in the southern end of the Okanagan. The most common varietals reviewed are Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, and blends of these grapes.

Mission Hill, particularly the Reserve line, Quails' Gate and Sumac Ridge stand out as the best wineries among those we've reviewed.

Although not widely available in the United States, the white and red varietals from British Columbia cost about $10 to $35. Ice wines are more expensive, priced between $50 and $70 per half (375ml) bottle.

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