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Aug 2, 2013 06:10 AM

In British Columbia: "Gape Growers Brace for Syrah Decline"

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  1. I realize that this is about clone problems, but I think of Syrah as a warm weather grape. What are they doing with it in such a northely location?

    Frankly I'm not fond of wines made with warm weather red grapes where's it just too cold. BC in my opinion should be cultivating Pinot Noir and Gamay as in Switzerland.

    6 Replies
    1. re: collioure

      Hmmm . . . the Northern Rhône is not exactly considered a warm climate. And the Okanagan is not exactly freezing, either.

      How many wines from the Okanagan have you tried?

      The southern part of the area is, in some respects, "desert-like," while even in the north, it doesn't get much precipitation. The average rainfall is only some 10-12 inches (25-30 mm) a year in the northern part, and half that in the south. During the growing season, daylight can stretch from 5:00 am to after 10:00 pm, with daytime temperatures rising as high as 100+° F (40° C).

      I'm just sayin' . . . .

      1. re: zin1953

        Gee, BC could pose a serious threat to the Jamaican bobsled team, or Eddie the Eagle.

        1. re: zin1953

          It gets plenty hot in Valence in the summertime, Jason. The so-called "Northern" Rhône is not in northern France. A little more than 100 miles from the Mediterranean, at the same latitude as Bordeaux.

          Now I haven't had a wine from BC. However, I am reminded of my experiences with Irouléguy, the Basque appellation on the north (wrong) side of the Pyrenees. My references told me to try the reds and I did, unimpressively. A few years later I tried one of the rarer whites. Bingo! Better than Jurançon.

          Perhaps there's a microclimate in Okanagan that supports warm weather red grapes. Aftter all it's not that far from Spokane, but it's up at 1000 feet in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies. So, until I see a bunch of their reds with high ratings, I am a doubter.

          1. re: collioure

            >>> I haven't had a wine from BC <<<

            Yeah, I always dismiss the wines I've never tasted, too. Saves so much time . . .

            / / / / /

            The Northern Rhône is COOLER than many of the locations here in California, for example, where Syrah is planted; cooler than La Mancha, in Spain; cooler than the Barossa in Australia, which is famous for its Shiraz; and cooler, even, than the Southern Rhône (yet they still have some Syrah planted there, too!).

            But as always, YMMV -- and usually does.

            1. re: zin1953

              It's a warm weather grape, Jason. It propspers here at 42.7° N. Valence is about 45° N. Okanagan is aboout 55° N.

              It does get hot in Okanagan during the summer day, but it also gets very cool at night.

              I looked for some references on their wines and didn't find any. So I remain a doubter.

        2. re: collioure

          Doesn't sound like you've ever visited the Okanagan Valley. Red varietals can be grown pretty much around the lake though the best regions are the southern part of the valley in and around Oliver and Osoyoos.

          The clone issue is bad news for me because BC makes up a good part of my annual purchases and if they have to rip and replant, it will be a long while before the producers identify the most appropriate clone and vinification methods.

        3. I tried a couple of British Columbia syrahs in 2008 when I visited Vancouver. Not good. I can't say they were representative.
          The wines that showed the best were those similar to what they plant in Slsace.

          3 Replies
            1. re: wally

              He surely did. Typo with first letter.

              Yes, Riesling is often planted at northern latitudes.

            2. re: SteveTimko

              They were representative. BC hasn't figured out what works yet or how to work with it (other than badly aping Alsace). Ontario's a bit further ahead. Both have incredible potential, but at this point, it hasn't been realised. Often, I wonder if they care to.

              Don't buy it. They charge incredible prices for wines that Chile or South Africa would be embarrassed to release.

            3. The Okanagan will not be able to make a world class wine for the next 15 years, to be generous. It's an incredibly complex (climate-wise) growing region populated by three types: massive corporations, retired professionals (made their money) who are trying this because they consider themselves sophisticated, and some who actually know what they're doing. The latter comprise about a tenth of percentage point and are usually forced by finance to sell to their grapes to the former. Okay, I'm being a bit unfair, but not by a lot.

              There is much more to tell, but this is just a post to a website. Unfortunately, the internet is full of praise for Canadian wine by marketing concerns, a few nationalists and overpaid "journalists." Makes the subject tough to research.

              I say this as a Canadian: don't bother with Canadian wines just yet.