The Wine Umbrella 70/40 $22

There are great wines and there are wines made for charity and frequently never the twain shall meet. The problem is one of focus: charity wines, unsure of who their audience might be, have to appeal to as broad a swath of the population as possible. That means you smooth out all the angles, polish up all the curves and if the result is not exactly distinctive, neither is it offensive to the good-hearted consumer.

This “charity” wine is not that€”this baby is distinctive. For starters it blends Cabernet Franc (70%) with Pinot Noir (30%) which is a bit of an out-there blend (it’s used once in a blue moon in the Loire and in the tiny French Appellation of Fiefs Vendeens, but other than that I’ve not only never seen it, I’ve never even heard of it). Usually when New World winemakers come up with out-there blends my alarm bells go off, but in this case winemaker Mireille Sauvé is not one for stunts.

She’s actually managed to channel the earthy lightness of a well-made French table wine that seems impossible for most Okanagan wineries. It’s the type of wine you enjoy when you’re sitting at a wine bar in Paris and lament that you can never find light, character-driven wines likes this at home. Most New World winemakers would be nervous about letting the inherent green-ness in the Cab Franc shine through, but Sauvé embraces it and tempers only slightly with the Pinot. And then doesn’t monkey with it with new oak and the like.

It’s a bold move but it’s not surprising given that the wine is from the Wine Umbrella Project, which is the latest iteration of the BC chapter of Les Dames D’Escoffier charitable endeavours. These are industry women who know wine and food and evidently have no interest in playing it safe (in addition to the 70/40 they’ve also released a super hipster bone-dry zero-dosage sparkling wine€”a Pinot Blanc/Riesling blend that’s right on point). They’ve raised over $37,000 so far with the wine project and these two bottles€”all profits go to their charitable work€”and will no doubt push that total higher. 

The wines are just being released now so keep an eye out for them at local restaurants and private wine stores€”charity rarely tastes so authentic.