Pinot noir's evolution continues in the province.
The wines from a greater variety of regions and terroirs show more refinement and focus. With each vintage, the tide of quality is lapping higher and higher.
A range of intermingled factors are at work here. The most obvious one is simply vine age. We are thirty years from the reinvention of the B.C. wine industry in the early nineties, so more and more vineyards are showing what they are capable of delivering.
Related to this is the emergence of single vineyard wines. These special pinot noir terroirs, identified over time, are pulling away from the pack.
Winemaking and vineyard management are central to pinot's progress. A thirty-year industry is also three decades of accumulated experience and expertise for those who grow and vinify it. Earlier on, there was a tendency to treat pinot noir as just another red and to vinify in a more standardized way, including a wood aging program that masked pinot noir's more elegant subtleties.
Pinot noir is not a heartbreaker, but it does need to be handled with care. Winemakers are increasingly tracking pinot noir to better express its terroir and learning how to accommodate and encourage its erratic genius. Evidence of this accumulated skill and a new focus has been the arrival of new wineries, which, with the advice of consulting winemakers, are creating impressive, individual expressions of pinot noir in their first few vintages.
The proof of all this is in the glass. The wines are growing more focused, refined, balanced and subtle. They range from the airy, red-fruited soprano to the deep tenor and are finding their way to excellence. There is plenty still to do, but the road ahead looks bright.
Here are some of the wines that impressed us this year. Longevity is also one of the measures of wine quality. Some promising pinot noirs will not break early in the first three years but will hit their stride over time. A few of those later bloomers have been included as well.