SAQ goes into Olympic mode: a showcase for Okanagan wines in Quebec (and a podcast of sorts)

The world of sports may contrast the thrill of victory with the agony of defeat, but as far as the Vancouver Olympics are concerned, there are some situations where everybody’s a winner. At least as far as BC wines and Quebec wine lovers are concerned.

This special sparkler from Sumac Ridge is included in the Olympic release, but Quebec is only getting the silver bottling

This Thursday, February 11, some 28 wines from the Okanagan will be released by the SAQ, in the specialty section and in the Signature stores. Several well-regarded wineries like Joie Farm, Burrowing Owl, Township 7 and Le Vieux Pin are in SAQ stores for the very first time. And top wines from Osoyoos Larose, Mission Hill and Jackson-Triggs, already known around these parts, are on the list as well. There’s probably never been a better time for Quebecers to discover what BC can do in the vineyards.

If you want to get totally in the Vancouver 2010 bandwagon, you’ll probably want to get a bottle of the Tribute sparkling wine devised by Sumac Ridge – the official bubble of the Winter Olympics. Funny enough, we’re only getting the Silver bottling, while the Gold bottling is staying in BC only. And if you’re on a budget, you can always get a bottle of Esprit, the official still wine of the Olympics – and you can do so with the satisfaction of knowing that it is now 100% Canadian wine, instead of the Cellared in Canada plonk that was originally sold… to support Canadian athletes. $1.25 per bottle (priced under $12) goes to the Canadian team, so there’s at least one good thing about it.

Anyway, if you want to find out more about this release, you can hear the interview I did with Sharman Yarnell on Showtime, a Saturday radio show on Montreal station CJAD. Hey, it’s kind of my first podcast, I guess.

Which wines should you try?

Below, you’ll find a list of some of the most notable wines going on sale Thursday. Most of them aren’t cheap, but they’re examples of what Okanagan winemakers do when they aim for the top. Pricing, compared to the price in BC, is remarkably variable. Oculus, a top bordeaux blend from Mission Hill, is 10$ less than in BC, yet Le Vieux Pin’s pinot noir is 10$ more than in BC. Obviously, the wineries and their agents had very different takes on profit margins and pricing policies. But when you know that wine is substantially more expensive in British Columbia than in Quebec, seeing these wines come out as more expensive here is a little… surprising.

Oculus Mission Hill Okanagan Valley VQA 2006, : 10411102, 59,75 $

Oculus Mission Hill Okanagan Valley VQA 2005, :10942456, 59,75 $

Compendium Mission Hill Okanagan Valley VQA 2006, 11262891, 37,50 $

Blind Trust Laughing Stock Okanagan Valley VQA 2007, 11262903,  34,75 $

Chenin blanc Quail’s Gate VQA Okanagan Valley 2008, 11262920, 18,90 $

Pinot noir Belle Le Vieux Pin Oliver Colombie‐Britannique, 2006, 11263210, 54,75 $

Merlot Township 7 VQA Okanagan Valley Colombie‐Britannique 2006, 11263324,  24,90 $

Merlot NK’Mip Quam Qwmt VQA Okanagan Valley 2007,  11263990, 27,90 $

Chardonnay Un‐Oaked Joie Farm Okanagan Valley 2008, 11264634,  26,90 $

Sumac Ridge Tribute Okanagan Valley mousseux, 11266269, 32,75 $

Chardonnay Burrowing Owl VQA Okanagan Valley 2007, 11264642, 33,75 $

Merlot Jackson-Triggs Sun Rock VQA Okanagan Valley 2005, 11264036,  39 $

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  1. Posted February 8, 2010 at 10:08 pm | Permalink

    Great post Remy!

    I’m going to share it on my son’s Facebook wall. He’s a BC boy living and working in Montreal and learning to love wine as much as his mother!



  2. Tim
    Posted March 12, 2010 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

    Don’t bother with the Le Vieux Pin. It is the epitome of the monster red – over-extracted, 15%+ alcohol, low-acid behemoth. Even worse that’s it’s a pinot noir.

    • Posted March 12, 2010 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

      I was indeed disappointed with Le Vieux Pin’s pinot noir. It may have looked good on release, but what I tasted didn’t have the stuffing to back up the alcohol. There certainly were better deals to be had, chiefly Joie’s chardonnay, Township 7’s sauvignon blanc and Laughing Stock’s Blind Trust, which had a very pleasant little blackcurrant/herbal streak to it.

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