Western Living Magazine
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Why bother avoiding superlatives when Blue Mountain is making wine this good for this cheap?
No one ever got rich making Pinot Blanc in the Okanagan.Here’s what the BC Wine Institute says about the red-headed stepchild of a varietal:Once one of the most planted white grapes in BC, Pinot Blanc has failed to find widespread popularity and acreage has declined.And that’s from the organization who’s goal is to promote wine in the Province. The grape has always lived in the shadow of it’s louder, showier sister, the beloved Pinot Gris, but if RomComs have taught us anything it’s that sometimes digging a little deeper can bring great rewards. And years of drinking examples of both have taught me that 9 times our of 10 the Pinot Blanc is the wine I prefer.There’s a few reasons for this. For starters, if someone is growing Pinot Blanc in the Okanagan they’re doing it for a reason beyond money because its waaaay easier to sell Pinot Gris or Chardonnay or almost anything other than Pinot Blanc—and you can sell those other varietals for more money. Secondly, given that Pinot Blanc is now almost a niche varietal, those growing it feel more comfortable with making the wine they want—fresher, crisper and with more acidity—whereas with Pinot Gris you gotta give the crowds what they want: juiciness and lushness and fruit (there are exceptions of course – Haywire and Roche both jump to mind).Which leads us to this bottle.I’ve never understood how Blue Mountain operates. I’ve only met winemaker Matt Mavety a few times and to say he’s a man of few words would be the height of understatement. But he and his family (father Ian and mother Jane founded the label, sister Christie handles sales and marketing) crank out amazing wine at prices that are objectively way too low like they’re on some sort of public service mission. For years their Gold Label Brut was under $25 (it’s now $27.90) and I feel like the current (welcome) flood of bubbles we have in the Okanagan rests on other vintner’s mistaken belief that you can make a decent living selling properly made bubbles for such a low tariff (spoiler alert – I don’t think you can). They also make one of the best Sauvignon Blancs in the Valley…and it’s $18.90.But the Pinot Blanc—at a measly $17.90—takes the I-don’t-know-how-they-do-it-cake cake. In a world where everyone wants juicy, this baby’s all crispness—white pear, a bit of tart apple skin and that elusive minerality. It doesn’t strive, it doesn’t overreach, it just exists on a plane of balance. If this wine were from Alsace, wine nerds would easily pony up $35 for it. But it’s not—it’s from here—so buy two bottles of it and count yourself blessed.And their Pinot Gris is pretty good too…