1,166 ACRES PLANTED (471 HECTARES)
The number one white grape variety
in terms of acreage in BC. The style of Pinot Gris in BC has been, and in many cases still is, quite varied following both the crisper, lighter, fresher style of Pinot Grigio in northern Italy as well as the richer, honeyed, off-dry and more tropical style of Alsace. The majority of BC Pinot Gris though could best be described as something fruitier and fuller bodied than the Pinot Grigio of Italy yet lighter and fresher than the wines of Alsace. Both the French and Italian names are used, often varying based on the style. They are typically dry or off-dry with a medium body and flavours and aromas of pear, honeydew or cantaloupe melon, lemon, and sometimes a little honey, minerality and baking spice.
1,132 ACRES PLANTED (458 HECTARES)
The style of Chardonnay produced in BC varies from a few unoaked versions with crisp acidity and often crisp apple flavours to world-class barrel fermented wines with complex lees, oak and fruit flavours. The naturally high acidity achieved in BC and the peach, lemon and nectarine flavours when combined with quality oak barrel fermentation and aging on lees can make for very highly regarded wines. Many of BC’s most internationally awarded wines have been Chardonnay.
646 ACRES PLANTED (261 HECTARES)
Gewürztraminer is another Alsatian variety that grows well in BC. The variety has been planted in the province for many years and continues to slowly gain popularity. Between 2006 and 2014 plantings increased by 61%. Known for generating wines with intense aromatics and fruitiness, BC with its unique climate, is an ideal location for producing such a pronounced floral variety. Ripening to high alcohol levels, often around 14%, the variety can lose acidity quickly and become a touch flabby. In BC, the natural high acidity that remains from the cool nights means this is rarely an issue. The wines typically show aromas of lychee, rose petal and ripe stone fruit, often with a touch of sweetness.
613 ACRES PLANTED (248 HECTARES)
Riesling has always been present in BC but it took a while for it to be taken seriously and the wines are increasingly building a top-quality reputation. From 2006 to 2014, plantings of Riesling grew by 86%. BC Riesling can be both the soft, fruity, off-dry style or, increasingly, a dry, high acid, intense apple, lime and mineral flavoured style that has received international attention. A few producers are also making sweeter, low-alcohol German Kabinett-style wines. Many of the Riesling wines have a great ability to age and some have been cellared for more than a decade.
403 ACRES PLANTED (163 HECTARES)
Sauvignon Blanc experienced the same popular explosion in the 1990s that Pinot Gris is experiencing today, being planted rapidly all over the world. Plantings in BC increased quite rapidly in the middle of the 2000s. The BC style benefits from the natural high acidity and fruit ripeness. Both the crisp, zingy, green bean, grass and asparagus style as well as a riper, tropical fruit, richer version can be found. Some of the most successful wines are oak fermented and blended with Semillon to make wines along the lines of white Bordeaux.
232 ACRES PLANTED (94HECTARES)
Once one of the most planted white grapes in BC, Pinot Blanc has failed to find widespread popularity and acreage has decline. BC Pinot Blanc generally has fresh acid, a medium body and characteristic apple peel flavours, and can make for some great value, characterful wines.
234 ACRES PLANTED (94 HECTARES)
The growth of Viognier from existing only as a small, local curiosity in the northern Rhône to a worldwide mainstream grape variety has been rapid and the trend has not missed BC. Viognier in BC often attains the heady scents of jasmine and stone fruit but retains freshness from the trademark crisp BC acidity. Viognier is increasingly being blended with two other Rhône varieties, Marsanne and Roussanne. Marsanne and Roussanne are not as aromatic as Viognier but share the same rich, soft texture. These blends are proving some of the most successful BC white blends in recent competitions although plantings of these blending partners are still small. Viognier is also increasingly being used to add perfume, texture and brightness of colour to Syrah when blended prior to fermentation in small amounts.