Recently, I went on a long weekend escape on the Salish Sea, and enjoyed a bottle of Sea Star Vineyards and Winery’s aptly named ‘Salish Sea,’ a delicious wine made from Ortega and Siegerrebe grapes organically grown on Pender Island.
These are hybrid grapes originally created in Germany and known especially for their ability to handle short, wet growing seasons because they ripen early and can survive surprise frosts.
Siegerrebe is the child of Madeleine Angevine and Gewürztraminer and Ortega’s parents are Müller-Thurgau and Siegerrebe. Traditionally, neither are known to produce particularly interesting individual wines, and other versions I’ve come across have tended toward bitter flavours and flabbiness.
This Ortega-Siegerrebe blend, however, is a very happy anomaly. Winemaker Ian Baker has clearly figured out how to grow weirdo grapes adept to the Pacific west coast climate, pick them at the right moment, and create a delicate 11.5% abv wine with juicy acidity and a tasty palate out of them. Come to think of it, these grapes are cool because they are so uncool.
Pale lemon on the eyes with aromas of yellow peach, ripe apricot and lemon verbena, the palate is juicy with more Clingstone peach and pear, punctuated by lemongrass and bergamot, a pinch of green kiwi and some soft spring leaf.
Food-friendly and perfect with seafood, salads, chicken and summer fare, the Salish Sea is absolutely ….cool, and delish.