By Brandon Little
Photography: Jeremy Spruston
Venue: Pane Vino Pizzeria
There was no cutting of the ribbon, just a small crew setting up and drinking coffee on a gorgeous Summer morning. We were surrounded by grapes and bottles of wine on the patio of Pane Vino Pizzeria in Oyama.
As most of you may know, including us, drinking coffee before you taste wine isn’t the best idea, but hey, it was nine in the AM and we were pumped to get drinking...I mean tasting.
How do we like to start our special events? With sparkling wine, AKA bubbles, of course! Bubbles are a great way to celebrate and they’re great for every day drinking… there’s honestly no bad time for bubbles. The Battle of the Okanagan is our first wine event and that requires a celebratory start! We decided to evaluate the three most iconic bubbles in the Okanagan which is such a treat, so a big THANK YOU to the wineries who sent us their bottles!
Our guest judge is Saffron Quist; co-owner of Do the Okanagan, and let me tell you, she is fierce when it comes to her wine evaluations. Saffron loves white wine and also is the one who invited me to be a part of the DTO Team, so I’m super happy she wanted to take in the Bubbles/Pinot Gris round.
Pane Vino Pizzeria opened May 15th, 2019 and we are all about supporting new local businesses. I was here a few weeks back and noticed their picnic tables in the back surrounded by an arbor of grape vines crawling all over the place. It feels like you’re in Italy. What a perfect spot! I had their margarita pizza and it was was perfect.
Oyama is only a 10-minute drive from Vernon after you leave the city limits -or- right after Winfield if you’re coming from Kelowna. It’s at the north end of Lake Country, on that gorgeous piece of land that divides Kalamalka Lake and Wood lake, right beside Gatzke’s fruit stand. In my humble opinion, I think Oyama is one of the best views in the Okanagan when you’re travelling along highway 97. A must see for our tourists.
We tasted, rated and scored each of these wines blind. This post will provide you with a description of each bottle, who won and what the winners’ score was, however it won’t tell you the scores for the other two, you’ll need to visit our Instagram page to see the results.
#1 TRADNAT KING CHARDONNAY BRUT
Winery: Bella Wines
Region: Naramata Bench
Why was it selected? They are exclusively sparkling wine specialists (and don’t do anything else). I don’t know any other winery like it in the valley. Their wine tasting experience is unique as well, with a wall of different champagne glasses collected over the years and you get to choose one for your tasting. It’s pretty cool!
We all agreed the aromas weren’t over bearing and they definitely were refreshing and fruity. Mostly green apple, pear, and lemon. The taste was interesting, immediately we were hit with the taste of coffee -strange eh? It took a few sips for the Tim Hortens flavour to exit.
After the taste of coffee disappeared, we found the wine was quite dry, medium + acid, and the bubbles were small, delicate, fluffy, and the wine was light bodied, yet lively. Our ratings across the board were pretty much the same.
#2 Cipes Blanc de Blanc
Region: Kelowna - Mission
Why was it selected? So many different great varieties of sparkling wines at Summerhill including older vintages. Next time you’re there, try their bubbles tasting. I had their 1996 Cipes Traditional Cuvee last time and literally was blown away.
This had aromatics of bruised fruit or bruised apple. All three of us had the same experience. Lime or lime zest. Very dry, tart, like strong lemonade, high acid, a whiff of petrol, crisp minerality, soft and crisp mousse and showing a bit of age with a short finish. With all the flavours and textures it definitely was the most complex of the three.
#3 Odyssey White Brut
Winery: Gray Monk
Region: Lake Country
Why was it selected? I had this once at the winery based on a staff recommendation and honestly, I loved it! They don't’ have much for selection for sparkling wine, but what they do have is exceptional and refreshing.
This was an experience! The bubbles were super aggressive (big and vigorous). The aromatics were shy with lots of citrus, petrol, grapefruit, peas, and sour dough. The longest finish of the bunch and very palette cleansing, leaving you with the taste of green apple and a tad chalky. Out of all the wines tasted, this was the most unique mouth experience.
-THE HIGHEST SCORE-
The ratings on the wines were all very close, but there was one that stood out, not by much, just ONE point that separated it from second place, which is a fine line when you’re talking about scores out of a potential of 15 points!
Winner is wine #1 !!!
Bella NV “TRADNAT” KING CHARDONNAY BRUT
with an average score of 10.7/15
I thought our morning coffee would’ve destroyed our palette, but because the pours were big enough, it only took a few minutes before we had a clean tasting experience. The winner wasn’t much of a surprise, but it really was anyone’s game, especially with the scores being so close and our guest judge put a spin on things, like I said earlier, she’s fierce.
The bubbles were so soft and gentle and that really sold us. The King Chardonnay Brut goes through its fermentations over the course of two years, which is why it’s a NV (Non-Vintage). Which is different compared to the other two. It combines two different vintages of Chardonnay picked from the very same plot of land on the estate.
Congratulations to Bella. To everyone out there who’s a sparkling wine fan, this is a place you need to visit next time you’re in Naramata.
This was a great start to our event. Next to come, results from the Pinot Gris round.