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10 B.C. Chardonnays to pair with Thanksgiving turkey

Chardonnay all day!  BC produces a beautiful range of Chardonnays
Chardonnay all day! BC produces a beautiful range of Chardonnays

#Chardonnayism is one of my hashtags because I am a die hard fan. For those of you who joined the ABC (Anything But Chardonnay) party during the woeful days of this fantastic grape’s exile period due an awful trend of over-oaking back in the day, I implore you to give it another go. Chardonnay is a beautiful grape and our local BC wine scene is creating gorgeous expressions of this world-renowned variety. And, Chard + turkey dinner = awesome, so buy Chardonnay for your feast this weekend. #Chardonnayallday

10 Tantalizing B.C. Chardonnays to serve at Thanksgiving:

CheckMate's Little Pawn

1. The king pin of all B.C. Chards for me (or should I say my Queen?) is Checkmate Artisanal Winery. Located in Oliver, there are five different Chardonnay labels handcrafted by winemaker Phil McGahon to choose from and all are supreme. Any one of these would be pure luxury with your turkey (prices are luxury too - from $85-$125).

La Frenz on the Naramata Bench a premium destination for Chardonnay
La Frenz on the Naramata Bench a premium destination for Chardonnay

2. La Frenz Winery in Naramata was making primo Chardonnay way before it became cool again (probably how I became an early disciple of owner/winemaker Jeff Martin). Delicious Chards with very distinctive terroir from his beautiful Naramata Bench vineyards
2017 Reserve Chardonnay ($25.13):
The 2017 Reserve Chardonnay exhibits beautiful aromatics fragrant with white nectarines, jasmine, cashews and chamomile tea. The palate has great concentration, volume and purity of fruit. Notes of poached pears, cantaloupe and baked apple pie are highlighted and lead to a complex but focused midpalate. A long finish of graphite/flint, roasted hazelnuts and brioche is provided with a fine line of acidity. The palate is very rich, honeyed and textural.

3. I remember turning up as the very first customer at Meyer Family Vineyards' door waving my Chard flag back in 2010. Proprietor Jak Meyer focusses on producing Burgundian varieties — Pinot Noir and Chardonnay — and he and winemaker Chris Carson create a lineup of beauties. There are five different Chard labels to choose from – ranging from the high-end Micro Cuvee at $56.72 to the affordable Okanagan Valley Chardonnay at $17.49. I asked Jak what he would pair and he picked their Steven’s block Chardonnay ($24.45). Jak explains, "Because turkey has a lighter flavour and taste, our unoaked Chablis-inspired Steven’s Block would be best. Fresh, crisp and dry so as not to overpower the turkey with oak or buttery flavours.”

TIME Chardonnay
TIME Chardonnay

4. The McWatters family knows how to make wine and their expression of Chardonnay is a winner.  The urban winery setting in downtown Penticton shares the space with sister winery Evolve Cellars making this a destination tasting room.
2014 TIME Winery Chardonnay ($22.99)
Luscious aromas of pineapple, vine-ripened melon, and honeysuckle, with a palate of citrus and tropical flavours. Buttery characteristics balance a bright acidity, with butterscotch and vanilla lingering in an elegant finish.

O'Rourke's Peak Cellars Chardonnay

5. The name O’Rourke has become a buzz word in wine country as they continue to expand and announce the most exciting updates for their two wineries. The first winery Peak Cellars has been in full operation for a couple of years and is at full capacity so the the new production facility at their bohemeth O'Rourke Family Estates winery will be ready to share the load next year.

2016 Peak Cellars Chardonnay ($30.00) Aromatic with notes of fresh cut peach, ripe nectarine, ripe citrus and spicy oak. The palate is medium bodied with a chalky texture and balanced acidity and is perfectly complimented by flavours of juicy stone fruits with a hint of short bread.

6. Brand new on the B.C. wine scene, Frind Estate Winery is in West Kelowna is located right on the waterfront. With legendary local winemaker Eric von Krosigk in place, the launch has been a grand success.
Frind Premier Chardonnay ($37.99) Made in a Burgundian style, this wine is elegant and complex with aromas of peach, white flowers, and lightly roasted nuts. On the palate, a mouth-watering freshness is balanced with subtle toasty notes and a lengthy, mineral finish.

Little Farm Chardonnay
Little Farm Chardonnay

7. Little Farm Winery in the Similkameen is small but mighty. Run by a woman with huge talent and passion for her craft, Alishan Driedeger is a mom, farmer, baker, winemaker and grape whisperer and is creating low intervention and low manipulation natural wines on her home vineyard.
2016 Chardonnay has a complex nose combining savoury toasted almond, butter and bread dough lees notes with lemon, peach and nectarine. The palate shows a lovely, almost creamy, texture from the neutral oak and lees ageing before the trademark racy, crisp, mineral acidity kicks in and lasts through a long, electric finish.

vinAmite wines
vinAmite wines

8. vinAmité Cellars in Oliver is all you would ever want in a small family run winery. Warm and welcoming, the Coulombe offers respite and great wines.
vinAmité Chardonnay: Aromas of brioche, toasted almonds and honey are further enhanced and confirmed with the rich tastes of lemon meringue pie, green apple and baking spices. With a touch of butterscotch on the finish, this Chardonnay is balanced with fourteen months of French oak, for pure elegance.

Little Engine Winery Chardonnay Gold Series
Little Engine Winery Chardonnay Gold Series
Image Credit: submitted

9. Little Engine Wines makes it hard to choo-choose (sorry) so I asked tasting room manager Jonathan Yee to pick which of their Chardonnnays to best pair and he picked the Gold Series. Jonathan explains, “Why our Gold Series Chardonnay? Because of its supreme balance and complexities aged 21% in new French oak barrels (the remainder in 2nd- & 3rd-fill barrels) for 16 months, it is a great example of incredibly high-quality estate-grown chardonnay in the hands of a great winemaker (Scott Robinson). Citrus and tropical fruit, a great backbone of acidity balanced with elegant oak nuances, a wonderfully silky texture.”

10. South Kelowna's Spearhead Winery with rockstar winemaker Grant Stanley behind the label, is producing fabulous wines. Pinot Noir reigns here (also divine with turkey) but they also have a lovely Chardonnay.

Spearhead Winery in South Kelowna is making premium wines
Spearhead Winery in South Kelowna is making premium wines

2017 Chardonnay Clone: Premium Chardonnay made from prized blocks of low yielding clone 95, a superior clone originating from the Côte d’Or, France. Complex aromatics with layers of ripe citrus and stone fruits mingling with marzipan and nutty oak elements. Rich and creamy on the palate with fresh mineral acidity; soft textures with strength and underlying power. /

Schell Wines Wren Chardonnay - loves beach time and fall dinner parties.
Schell Wines Wren Chardonnay - loves beach time and fall dinner parties.

Then of course, there is Schell Wren Chardonnay…yes, it’s our family label! I love Chardonnay so much, that my brothers and I decided to make our own. The Wren Chardonnay is, if I dare say, delicious and will be a treat with turkey dinner. Available at Urban Liquor Store in Guisachan Village in Kelowna.

Do raise a glass to our amazing community of food and drink makers in B.C. at your harvest table.

Remember: “Thanksgiving is a joyous invitation to shower the world with love and gratitude.”
-Amy Leigh Mercree

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