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5 Okanagan big red wines worth sampling, from wine expert Troy Townsin

06/19/2015 06:35 EDT | Updated 06/19/2016 05:59 EDT
B.C. vineyards may be renowned for their pinot gris, chardonnay and Gewürztraminer wines — but what if you prefer big reds?

"One of the most common misconceptions, although it is changing, is that B.C. doesn't have the right climate for making outstanding big red wines," said All Points West wine columnist and author Troy Townsin.

"I meet wine lovers all the time, internationally and even here in B.C. who tell me that they are not really interested in wine touring in B.C. because they only like big reds."

Big reds are full bodied, contain dark fruit flavours and generally have a higher alcohol content. 

Townsin says the quintessential big red is what's known as a Bordeaux blend, which is comprised of the five grapes allowed by law to grow in the Bordeaux region of France: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Malbec.

However, big red wines are a lot more expensive to make.

"They take a lot of the winemaker's time. There is lots of oak involved and oak barrels are very expensive." said Townsin.

"They tend to crop the vines down so you are losing a lot of fruit to have those concentrated flavours."

Townsin says the ideal place to produce this type of wine in B.C. is the central interior.

"These grapes need a lot of sun, a lot of heat units, to fully ripen. Where they can get that best in B.C. is in the Southern Okanagan Valley and the Similkameen."

"If people are out on the hunt for these big red wines, they are the areas you want to focus on."

Townsin's big red recommendations

- La Stella Fortissimo 2012 - $35

- TIME Meritage 2012- $29.90

- Le Vieux Pin Syrah "Cuvee Violette" 2013 - $30

- Clos Du Soleil Signature 2012 - $45

- Sumac Ridge Private Reserve Cabernet/Merlot 2013 - $13.09 

To hear the full interview with Troy Townsin, listen to the audio labelled B.C. red wines.

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