Swirl Around BC

Swirl Around BCWe continue to increase our knowledge and excitement about BC wines. Last week, we drove to my hometown Vancouver to attend a Wines of BC tasting, Swirl Around BC. Coming on the heels of our recent, successful Okanagan trip, we looked forward to more BC wines to experience. We were not disappointed. More than 50 wineries poured new releases that showcased the diverse terroir in BC. Our favorite wine of the day: Black Hills 2020 Ipso Facto. Two sparklers also caught our attention: Tinhorn Creek Blanc de Blanc 2018 and Tantalus Blanc de Blanc 2019. Read on for more about these and other BC wines we appreciated.

Swirl Around BC

Swirl Around BC SignAbout five years ago, Wines of British Columbia introduced us to some of the latest and greatest BC wines on the market. Subsequently, we discovered some fantastic reds, in addition to refreshing whites that the province is known for. Last week, we enjoyed delicious pours from eight wineries at Swirl Around BC: Black Hills, Poplar Grove/Monster Vineyards, Tantalus, Tinhorn Creek, Quails Gate, Mooncurser and Blue Grouse.

Swirl Around BC: Black Hills

Black Hills Ipso FactoThis beauty is our wine of the day: Black Hills 2020 Ipso Facto Cabernet Sauvignon (55%) – Syrah (45%). The winery did not pour this impressive blend during our September visit, so this was a real treat. Think dark chocolate, licorice, spices and dark fruit. And better yet, we met their winemaker and Master of Wine Ross Wise, who was busy with harvest when we were there. Ross joined the winery three years ago, bringing fresh ideas to making the wines at Black Hills. For example, some critics say the 2020 Nota Bene is the most delicious made since it debuted with the 1999 vintage. The winery’s acclaimed Nota Bene red blend put them on the map in our home many years ago. But on our recent trip, and at this event, all of Ross’ wines wowed us.

Poplar Grove and Monster Vineyards

Poplar GroveWe really enjoyed Poplar Grove signature red blend, 2018 The Legacy as well as 2019 Cab Franc. The Legacy blends 48% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Cabernet Franc, 17% Merlot, 6% Malbec and 4% Petit Verdot. As a result, textured layers of crème brûlèe, cherries, raspberries and plums follow amazing aromas of figs and caramel. This is another of our favorites at the tasting. Meanwhile, their Cab Franc has been popular from the first vintage in 1995, and the 2019 is not an exception. Poplar Grove Winery is one of the original five wineries on BC’s Naramata Bench.

Monster VineyardsIn addition, we tasted Cabs 2017 from Poplar Grove’s second label, Monster Vineyards. This is an intriguing blend of Cabs dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. This wine, as well as Red Eyed 2019 and Malbec 2020 (pictured), is approachable and affordable. The winery name honors Ogopogo, the legendary Loch-Ness-like creature said to be haunting Lake Okanagan.


TantalusTantalus Blanc de Blancs 2019 is, quite simply, a stunner. This is a traditional method sparkling wine that is 100% Chardonnay, with fine bubbles and pretty aromas that evolve in the glass. Scents of wet stone, freshly baked bread, and citrus lead into flavors of lemons, apple crisp, orange peel, and hints of grapefruit. Elegant, with beautiful acidity and salinity, this sparkler is crisp and dry, yet still has a creamy texture. We loved it. Not surprisingly, the National Wine Awards of Canada 2022 recognized this outstanding sparkler with a gold medal.

Tinhorn Creek

Tinhorn Creek Blanc de Blanc Tinhorn Creek Blanc de Blanc 2018 is the inaugural vintage of an all-Chardonnay sparkler. 2022 WineAlign National Wine Awards of Canada gave this gorgeous wine a gold. Aromas and flavors of oranges, lemons and grapefruit entice. We adored it. Meanwhile, Tinhorn’s Cabernet Franc has long been special to us. The 2020 is young, but shows great potential. On the nose, black cherries, strawberries and a hint of black pepper, followed by flavors of more ripe red fruit and rhubarb.

Swirl Around BC: Quails Gate

Swirl Around BC Quails GateQuails Gate Old Vines Foch was the first BC wine that Margot introduced to Dave more than 20 years ago, so it has a special place in our hearts. We love that wine, but we were also delighted to taste Queue 2020 for the first time. Queue comes from the Latin word cõda, which is an arrangement that punctuates the end of a symphony. Therefore, Queue is the winemaker’s composition. In other words, the 2020 is a composition of 49% Cab Sauv, 26% Syrah and 25% Merlot. It is smooth and rich, with Intense dark-fruit flavors of black cherries and licorice. Located in Kelowna, Quails’ Gate is one of Canada’s foremost family-owned estate wineries. Family farmed since 1956, they planted their first vines in 1961, and founded the winery in 1989.

Moon Curser

Moon Curser RedsWe revisited two wines that we recently tasted at Moon Curser during our Okanagan wine trip in September. Syrah 2020 displays classic BC Syrah notes of spices, dark fruits and floral notes, and quickly became one of the pillars of the winery’s portfolio. Border Vines 2020 blends six Bordeaux grapes, but is Cab-based, with layers of textured, lovely flavors and complexity. Read the full story of our visit.

Blue Grouse

Swirl Around BC Blue GrouseBlue Grouse Rosé Frizzante 2021 is a fun bubbly Gamay Noir that is a summer best-seller. Berries on the nose and the palate give a pop that made us think of sunny days by the lake. While Blue Grouse Quill Q white is a staple on our deck in the summer, this is the first time we tasted Rosé Frizzante and Pinot Gris, with aromas and flavors of apple pie, spices, caramel and butterscotch. Blue Grouse is a family-owned winery in Duncan, one of Vancouver Island’s oldest estate vineyards.

Summary: Swirl Around BC

In conclusion, we continue to increase our appreciation of BC wines as we taste standout reds, whites and sparklers from a variety of regions in the province. And we are so glad the border is open again, so we can go for a drive and pick up some on a regular basis. In addition, we are looking forward to another road trip to BC wine country next spring.

Thank you, Wines of British Columbia, for inviting us to this terrific event.

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Margot and Dave