The SOMM Journal

April / May 2016

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Page 85 of 108

Bella is tiny (less than 1,500 cases produced each year). Bella is new—so new that there still are no signs off the main road running along Okanagan Valley's Naramata Bench, where you turn up a bumpy, winding, unpaved path through a wooded gully and around a hill to the door of a rustic winery, barely qualifying as a shed. And Bella is owned and operated by an ex-sommelier from British Columbia's tiny Oliver named Jay Drysdale, who, in his former career, harbored such an abiding love for British Columbia (his award-winning wine lists were notorious for being "100% B.C.") that he decided to specialize in a type of wine that he believes crystal - lizes all the qualities that make British Columbia special: ancestrale style sparkling wines, primarily au naturel. Popping off the crown cap stopping his 2014 Bella Méthode Ancestrale Rosé, we listened to Mr. Drysdale to wax philosophical on his craft while pouring his gently effervescent pink sparkler : "I use crown caps rather than traditional cork because it encourages user friendliness," he starts off saying. "Why would I want the opposite? "I don't mind using the word 'natural' because I don't do anything to this wine beyond guiding it through its finish. It is 100% Gamay from an organic single vineyard in Westbank [near West Kelowna in the cooler, upper end of Okanagan Valley]. I like Gamay, rather than Pinot Noir, for this area—the grapes give a beautiful, bright strawberry perfume, which is only enhanced by the natural yeastiness from the primary fermentation. A wild-yeast fermentation is started in a neutral barrel, then transferred into bottles by gravity flow to finish fermenting, then riddled and dis - gorged, no filtration. The taste is pure and sharp, with additional flavors of the lees and particulates from the original pressing—as close to the fresh taste of the Gamay grape as you can get." Drysdale followed up with a taste of his fresh-off-the-lees 2015 Bella Méthode Ancestrale Rosé, which exuded stunningly fresh strawberry and tingly, just- squeezed pink grapefruit sensations. "There's a real red wine-ness to this vin - tage," Drysdale notes, sharing his impressions, "a distinct earthiness . . . round, super-light, lively . . . true Gamay." But there are dangers, Drysdale confesses, to walking the wild side. "I did eight barrels of wild-fermented Gamay, and the rest with conventional yeast. Only two of the eight barrels actually 'worked,' but I much prefer the results. For me, this is an ultimate expression of British Columbia fruit and vine - yards—so worth the risk!" { }  85 Unvarnished Truths: Okanagan Crush Pad Winery Not far from the getaway hotels and "beaches" of Summerland, along the western shores of Okanagan Lake, Okanagan Crush Pad is leading the way towards an unabashedly proclaimed "new Okanagan" style of wines. They are back - ing it up with their certified organic viticulture, statement winemaking and the wines bottled under their Haywire and Narrative labels, not to mention that of their seven (currently) custom-crush winery/clients. Tucked among their ten-acre Switchback Organic Vineyard, Okanagan Crush Pad Winery is dominated by concrete tanks of seemingly every size and shape, from 2,000-liter black eggs to rows of 5,000-liter gray uprights, looming like Easter Island mo`ia. Says "Tasting Lounge" Manager Mike West, who eloquently speaks for owners Christine Coletta and Steve Lornie: "We've gone to the extreme, mov - ing towards concrete, more and more away from wood or even steel. By producing wines 'untouched' by intrusive winemaking methods or containers, we hope to capture what makes our vineyards and grapes distinctive. It's about letting our microclimate and terroir have a say." The aptly named 2013 Haywire Canyonview Vineyard "Raised in Concrete" Pinot Noir con - tributes to that story—an angular, bony style of the grape, sharply etched with acidity, while billowing with strawberry fragrance and dried- leafy notes swinging from scrubby pyrazine to sprigs of sweet, wild pennyroyal. Like the Here are snapshots of four of B.C. producers who are turning convention on its head as we speak—and sip. Turning The Tables Former somme- lier Jay Drysdale is proprietor- winemaker at tiny Bella Wines. (inset) Crown-capped sparkling rosé at Bella Wines. Ancestrale Offerings: Bella Wines PHOTO: RANDY CAPAROSO PHOTO: RANDY CAPAROSO Mike West (Tasting Lounge Manager Mike West and Sparkling Winemaker Jordan Kubek at Okanagan Crush Pad.

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