Introduction by Nikki Bayley
Pinot Noir, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris… same grape but not the same name? Or different grapes with slightly varied names? Figuring out what’s up with Pinot can be complicated, so I asked wine educator Mireille Sauve of the Wine Umbrella to explain. “Pinot is particularly susceptible to mutation and often does it spontaneously in the vineyard; during harvest, we sometimes see grapes that are half white and half red! The different varieties of Pinot essentially came from the same grape — but then mutated into different varieties.” In B.C., we are blessed with some of the most delicious examples of these Pinot varieties, which beautifully express the terroir where they are grown. We asked some of Whistler’s best sommeliers about their Pinot pick and what they recommend you pair with it. Happy sipping!
Phantom Creek Estates
Pinot Gris 2018
As summer begins, I start to get excited about pulling many a cork on — in my opinion — the finest Pinot Gris in all of British Columbia. Located in the picturesque Okanagan Valley, the state-of-the-art Phantom Creek Estates, nestled in opulence, is producing a luxuriant and delectable Alsatian-inspired wine.
Phantom Creek Estates is using the best-grown naturally farmed and carefully selected fruit from two idyllic vineyard blocks. They slowly ferment their wine for several months with the use of indigenous yeasts and partially age in gorgeous traditional Alsatian oak casks, with the additional use of stainless steel. The result is a wine full of richness with multiple layers of complexity: a delicious, luscious texture of ripe fruit; notes of pear and apple; and intriguing hints of spice, with a wonderful lingering finish.
With the last rays of sun on your face and this glass of perfectly chilled Pinot Gris in your hand, the seafood is plentiful and perfectly paired on our comfortable, sun-soaked patio for happy hour. We look forward to sharing this experience with you.
Bearfoot Bistro, 604-932-3433
Pinot Noir 2017
From B.C.’s treasured Okanagan Valley emerges a project conceived from the ground up to grow and craft exceptional Pinot Noir. Its state-of-the-art, gravity-fed winery is a site to behold, a true passion project from owner Anthony Von Mandl.
Okanagan Pinot Noir is unique in its expression, sitting somewhere between a French and an Oregon wine in style. The fruit is riper than a French Burgundy, but retains more acidity than an Oregon Pinot Noir.
I’ve had the pleasure of tasting through all the offerings from the winery, and all are amazing, but I felt this was the one that paired best with our menu. At our last wine dinner with Martin’s Lane, we paired the wine with a lightly smoked duck breast with confit and preserved cherries, truffle and red wine jus. It was the star of the show.
Other great pairing options would be grilled B.C. salmon or chicken. I find the slight char from the grill and the smoke infusion really works well with the cherry and strawberry notes of the wine.
Manager and Wine Director
Araxi Restaurant & Oyster Bar, 604-932-4540, araxi.com
Pinot Blanc 2020
Blue Mountain Vineyard and Cellars in Okanagan Falls crafts some of the best single-varietal expressions in British Columbia. With a strong focus on viticulture and refined winemaking processes, their wines continue to evolve vintage after vintage, showcasing the unique expressions from the Okanagan that we all love.
Pinot Blanc may not be as fashionable as Pinot Gris. However, this grape can make for a real crowd-pleaser when given the right treatment with a pleasing mix of structure, pretty aromas, and distinctive varietal characteristics.
This wine is an excellent example of a B.C. Pinot Blanc, with beautiful aromas of freshly sliced peaches, crushed apricots, and notes of white lilies. It shows a broader structure with welcome acidity, alongside a palate of mixed citrus flesh, stone fruits, and a hint of minerality, making it a perfect wine for food pairing or even as a patio sipper. Try this with linguine, manila clams, fresh lemon, parsley, and olive oil.
Wild Blue Restaurant + Bar, wildbluerestaurant.com