British Columbia’s Winning Wines in Whistler
Discover select wines of British Columbia and the best dishes to pair them with at the dinner table.
Wine tasting—it’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it. And that somebody, at least at Four Seasons Resort Whistler, is Riley Krieger-Mercer. As the Resort’s sommelier, he’s charged with sipping and swishing wines from all over the world to put together a wine list worthy of Four Seasons discerning clientele.
From Napa Valley Chardonnay to French Bordeaux to Spanish Tempranillo, Krieger-Mercer pulls the best from wineries far and wide, large and small, well-known and still under-the-radar.
But despite his international expertise, the wines closer to home really make this Saskatchewan native’s palate sing. Below, Krieger-Mercer shares his passion for British Columbia’s boutique wines—those with production of fewer than 10,000 bottles per label—with a list of his personal favourites:
Wild Goose Autumn Gold 2007, Okanagan Falls
Wild Goose was the first ever “farm gate” winery in the province, opening the doors to British Columbia boutique production winemaking. It continues to raise the bar for aromatic white wines in the Okanagan Valley. The Autumn Gold offering is an Alsace-inspired blend of Riesling, Gewurztraminer and Pinot Blanc that’s crisp, clean and very aromatic. This wine is a great match to summer salads, light appetisers or spicy Asian cuisine with its racy acidity and rich apricot, honeysuckle and baked apple flavours.
Laughing Stock Pinot Gris 2008, Naramata Bench
Laughing Stock’s name derives from the fact that founders David and Cynthia Enns once worked in the financial services industry, combined with their light-hearted approach to winemaking. But don’t let the name fool you, there are some seriously good wines coming from this label. Their 2008 Pinot Gris is a medium-bodied wine full of bright fruit with a vibrant citrus nose and tropical flavours of lychee and kiwi. This wine can hold up to roasted chicken, local wild salmon with yuzu butter or bacon-wrapped scallops.
Cedar Creek Platinum Reserve Pinot Noir 2006, Kelowna
Arguably one of the best Pinot Noirs produced in British Columbia, Cedar Creek’s Platinum Reserve continues to gain focus with each vintage. From the wine itself to the winery’s overarching philosophy—“Respect the land, honour tradition, pursue perfection”—they stay very true to their word. The 2006 shows aromas of cranberry, strawberry, cherry, coffee, mocha and spice on the nose with flavours that pair well with grilled filet of wild Coho salmon or game birds like quail, pheasant and Cornish game hen. If you choose this wine, be sure to drink it at a perfect 16C in a nice large bowl-shaped Burgundy glass.
Kettle Valley Rock Oven Red 2006, Naramata
Named in honour of the Kettle Valley Railway that historically linked Naramata to the rest of Canada, Kettle Valley is known for its premium small-production red wines. In their Rock Oven Red, this 50 percent Shiraz–50 percent Cabernet Sauvignon blend is packed with aromas of chocolate, mocha, espresso, anise, blueberry, violet, cocoa, plum, cherry, cloves and finely ground pepper. This wine is the perfect match to a nice juicy medium rare steak or game cuts like bison short ribs or venison loin.
Nk’Mip ‘Qwam Qwmp’ Merlot 2007, Osoyoos
Nk’Mip Cellars is the first Aboriginal winery in North America. Although its grapes are sourced from several different vineyards, a consistent high-quality style—achieved by winemaker Randy Picton—makes their wines a must-try when travelling through British Columbia.
The grapes used in this Merlot came from the Nk’Mip desert where cacti and wild sagebrush grow, and sure enough a distinct aroma of sage comes through. Among the sage flavours, there are also qualities of plum, cassis and fresh tobacco—layered with clove and cocoa—leading into a concentrated toasty finish. Grown in the hottest part of Canada, this is a great warm-climate Merlot that will stand up to any juicy steak or rack of lamb.