Hester Creek

Robert Summers is the winemakerat Hester Creek Winery in Oliver.

Usually every winery has a signature white and a signature red.

Hester Creek Winery in Oliver crafts two phenomenal Bordeaux-style reds that fit the signature bill – 2016 Garland ($56) and 2016 The Judge ($44).

However, with a platinum medal win for its 2017 Syrah-Viognier ($26) at the recent Wine Align National Wine Awards of Canada, Hester Creek could very well claim three signature reds.

That the platinum win is for a more affordable red is a bonus.

The smooth and elegant cherry-blueberry-violet-and-white-pepper profile of the Syrah-Viognier won judges over.

While the Syrah-Viognier is definitely a red wine, in both look and taste, it is comprised of 16% of Viognier, which is a white wine.

The combination works because the tried-and-true practice started in France’s Rhone region where Syrah and Viognier are the hallmark red and white varietals and grow side by side.

The addition of Viognier gives the wine a brighter, red colour, tames the overpowering meaty notes a Syrah can sometimes have and contributes to a silkier mouthfeel.

Meantime, Hester Creek’s more expensive reds are also wowing.

Only 350 cases of 2016 Garland were made and it is available only at the winery or online.

It contains all five of the historic varietals of a French Bordeaux, in Garland’s case, a blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13.5% Merlot, 7.5%Petit Verdot, 5.5% Malbec and 3.5% Cabernet Franc.

It’s a polished and complex wine, offering aromas and tastes of everything from blackberry, cherry and black currant to coconut, cedar and cinnamon.

This is a special-occasion wine to break out now at a celebratory barbecue or cellar it for up to a decade.

The five Bordeaux varieties are also all there in The Judge 2016, but with a makeup of 37% Merlot, 34% Cabernet Sauvignon, 26% Cabernet Franc, 2% Malbec and 1% Petit Verdot.

The wine starts with plum aromas and flavours due to Merlot leading the pack and then offers cherry, black currant, sage and malt.

Again, a special-occasion wine for now or to tuck away to enjoy in one to 10 years.

Hester Creek’s signature white is considered to be its 2018 Trebbiano ($24) because it’s a beautiful drink displaying lime, grapefruit, peach and almond.

Plus, Hester Creek is the only winery in the Okanagan to make Trebbiano, which is an important Italian varietal.

But the 2018 Hester Creek Chardonnay ($22) can give the Tribbiano a run for its money.

The Chard is the perfect balance of lemon and peaches fruit, preserved with 66% fermentation in stainless-steel tanks, and honey and butterscotch complexity, added from 34% fermentation in both new and reused French oak barrels.

All these wines were made by Robert Summers, who came to Hester Creek years ago from wine giant Andrew Peller in Niagara.

“Hester Creek faces east. Trapped summer warmth helps flavours develop slowly, and, of course, we get long hours of light in a concentrated growing season,” he said.

“The Golden Mile sits on a spectacular bench of alluvial sand and gravel and is located above the Valley floor, which means we avoid vine-damaging frost in the early spring and late fall. The soil, the climate, the light, together they give rise to that intangible magic we call terroir.”

Summers’ wine philosophy is admirable.

“It’s my goal to make wines that are approachable, but not simple, that are enjoyed by many, and still appreciated by those with discerning palates,” he said.

“What we’re aiming for, year in and year out, is consistently excellent wines that are both varietally correct, and that display the unique characteristics of this site.

Red and steak

Angus the Bull wine and TruLocal meat delivery have taken wine-and-food pairing to a whole new level.

The Australian Cabernet Sauvignon brand has teamed up with TruLocal to encourage you to try out both the wine and the meat delivery service.

Until the end of this month, you can find bottles of Angus the Bull 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon ($22) in liquor stores with neck tags touting TruLocal and providing a promotional code you can use to have four, free striploin steaks delivered to your home.

The hope is, obviously, you’ll enjoy the wine-and-steak match and buy Angus again as well as possibly start up monthly delivery with TruLocal.

To try out the partnership, I ordered the four steaks from TruLocal and they arrived the next day frozen and packed in dry ice.

TruLocal is a national service, but it sources free-run, antibiotic-free and no-added-hormones meats from local farmers for regional authenticity.

For Okanagan orders, that means the steaks came from Cashe Creek Natural Beef Co., which endorses itself as B.C. born and grazed.

To celebrate my daughter, Grace’s, 17th birthday, I tossed the defrosted steaks on the barbecue and the Angus was opened.

The two did, indeed, pair perfectly.

The steaks were tender and the wine bold with blackberry, dried grape and chocolate aromas and flavours.

Angus is brought into Canada by Andrew Peller Import Agency, a division of the company that owns wineries in Niagara and the Okanagan, including Peller Estates, Sandhill, Wayne Gretzky, Calona, Conviction,

Copper Moon, Red Rooster, Black Hills, Gray Monk and Tinhorn Creek.

Besides beef cuts, TruLocal also sells various burgers, pork, buffalo, chicken, seafood, sausages, ribs, bacon and broth products.

Going north

Wine festival is not what immediately comes to mind when you think of Prince George.

The northern B.C. city doesn’t have any vineyards or grape winemaking.

But it does have some fruit wineries and it can get a hold of wine from the Okanagan and all over the world.

As such, for the past three years, the Sip Northern B.C. Wine Festival has celebrated all things vinous with a four day party in the fall featuring 20 events.

However, for year four and beyond, Sip wanted a professional partner.

As such, Kelowna-based B.C. Wine, Cider & Spirits Festival is taking over the management and operations of the Sip, starting with the Nov. 1-4 fest.

B.C. Wine, Cider & Spirits Festival has already put on several successful Okanagan events, including the Winterland and Mile High tastings at SilverStar Mountain Resort near Vernon and Le Cirque De La Nuit in Kelowna.

In fact, Mile High was just last week and attracted hundreds to the village centre at SilverStar for outdoor tastings at 5,280 feet elevation.

Up next for the fest is Taco Vino, a Mexican-themed party Oct. 19, 7-10 p.m., at the Jaguar-Land Rover Kelowna dealership.

Tickets are $89 at BCWineFestival.com.

Tacos will be on the menu, DJ Forggy Stylz will spin the Spanish tunes, you can check out luxury cars and those pouring samples include The View Winery, Ward’s Cider, Wayward Distillery, Squeezed Winery & Distillery, Wild Goose Winery and Intrigue Wines.

Steve MacNaull is a reporter at The Okanagan Weekend. Reach him at steve.macnaull@ok.bc.ca.

Also listen to his Okanagan Wine & Dine podcast exclusively on OkanaganValleyRadio.com Saturdays at 11:15 a.m.