BRITISH COLUMBIA – BC Wine Institute released its annual Vintage Report indicating slightly lower yields and phenomenal fruit quality delivered an excellent 2017 vintage.
The professionals agree. Last week, invited media, sommeliers, wine buyers and educators gathered in Victoria and Vancouver on April 24 and 26, respectively, to taste the first BC wines of the 2017 vintage at the Wines of British Columbia’s Vintage Media Preview events.
A panel of six BC winemakers joined moderators Barbara Philip Master of Wine, and Treve Ring wine writer and sommelier, to share the successes and challenges of the 2017 vintage, and future predictions for BC wine.
“What really surprised me was the freshness and huge drinkability to the wines. The different styles and grape varieties represented all had this balance of being delicious but also representative of the regions they came from.” Noted Barb Philip MW, following the tasting seminar.
“Everyone had a very diverse experience through the 2017 growing season from the regions throughout BC,” noted Ring. “There are different challenges depending on where the vineyards were during harvest… but the quality we are seeing is impressive across the board.”
A cold winter followed by an unusually wet and cool spring saw budbreak delayed in many parts of BC generally two to three weeks later than in 2016. But as so often is the case, the warm dry weather settled in and the grapes experienced above average temperatures throughout the summer months, contributing to a well-balanced growing season.
“The result was smaller berries, which means less juice, but excellent concentration and flavour complexity,” noted David Paterson, general manager and winemaker at Tantalus Vineyards in Kelowna. Winemakers in the Similkameen Valley agreed, reiterating small clusters and excellent quality juice.
The Fraser Valley and BC interior wine regions experienced similar growing conditions, reporting lower yields but phenomenal quality of concentrated and flavourful fruit.
Lamont Brooks of the Wine Islands Growers Association said that by mid-May Vancouver Island had also experienced one of the coolest starts in the last decade. Warmer temperatures and little precipitation followed for nearly perfect conditions, and in the end, he comments, “due to the excellent fruit set, many vineyards set their all-time yield records.”
British Columbia’s 2017 vintage started cool and wet but finished with the trademark dry, hot, sunny weather. Although there may be a little less supply this year to go around, the quality of the entire 2017 vintage is exceptional, characterized by intensely flavoured, balanced, fresh wines. “What I’m most impressed with is the freshness and purity of all of these wines. They are crystal clear, bright, shining and are showing remarkably well,” noted Ring.
With the whites currently hitting the shelves to rave reviews, we can look forward to more vibrant BC wines to enjoy this season.
To view the full BC Wine 2017 Vintage Report, click here.
*Vintage Report is based on the discussion outcomes from the BC Wine Institute’s annual Winemakers’ and Viticulturists’ Forum held on December 5, 2017. Note, participation in this forum is voluntary and based on feedback from the 90 winemakers/viticulturists in attendance.