We’re nine months into this pandemic and I’ve been writing a little less than usual, but drinking a lot more. What about you? Yeh, that’s what I thought.
However, I have made a concerted effort to support local wineries and distilleries during this trying time. Part of this has led to a true awakening for myself – not least because in looking closer to home for inspiring libations, I have found some treasures.
Here is one of those finds which you’ll want to enjoy as soon as possible if you live in Canada (they’ll ship to any province). Mike Rathjen of Rathjen Cellars has produced this elegant red from Cowichan Valley and Saanich Peninsula grown Gamay Noir, Maréchal Foch, and Pinot Noir grapes. Sixty percent of it was crushed, destemmed, and fermented on the skins, just as most red wine is made.
But the remainder underwent carbonic maceration. That’s how Beaujolais is traditionally made – whole clusters of grapes are sealed into a vessel, and the fermentation begins from the inside out instead of the other way around. This creates a fruitier, lighter bodied red with softer tannins.
Indigenous yeast finished off the fermentations, then the unfined, unfiltered wine was blended and placed in barrel for two years to naturally clarify and stabilize it. As Mike states, “…Time is the best low intervention winemaking tool.”
A translucent ruby, the Bunker Red has a fruity nose and palate with ripe mulberry, blackberry, Damson plum, and light soy sauce with cedar frond. Soft tannins round it out, and overlay a long finish.
Its mouthwatering acidity, and slender alcohol allow it to be super food friendly. It’s a delicious companion to pistachio encrusted salmon with maple syrup and soy sauce marinade. Or add it to your Christmas table to complement any roasted turkey with fresh herbs and tangy cranberry sauce. It’s so versatile, it can pair equally well with sausage, chicken, or even something spicy – we enjoyed it with Spanish rice, and its gentle tannins would easily allow it to deal with the heat in Szechuan dishes.
Usually in this part of the world, we are told we shouldn’t attempt red wines because the marginal climate results in lower alcohol and lighter body reds. However, as Mike points out, “With the moderating effect of the maritime climate, we’re getting some serious hangtime out in the vineyard…This results in red wines that are neither thin nor green, but that have ripe fruit flavours, great colour and good length.”
Bingo! Totally West Coast, and a true wine of place, this is a wine that over delivers, and makes me proud to be a Canadian wine lover.
Pick it up at the winery, or any of the local stores that carry Rathjen Cellars products, including from Leslie at Caddy Bay Liquor Store in Victoria, BC.