Monday, August 24, 2009

A Desert Riesling

157. 2007 Nk'mip Riesling (VQA Okanagan)

This isn't the first Nk'mip wine that we've added to The List; however, I didn't get a chance to talk much about the winery with the earlier entry. I love the whole background of the winery and how, when it was established in 2002, it was the first aboriginal-owned winery in North America.

The Osooyoos Indian Band has a long history of growing grapes for wine in the Okanagan. As one of the larger stakeholders in the neighbouring lands, the Band either grew the grapes for sale or leased out their lands for production. In fact, the Band has played an instrumental role in the ability of Vincorp (the parent company behind Jackson Triggs) to set up shop. That long-term relationship proved beneficial to the Band when they decided to start up their winery.

The Band had been turned down by the provincial government on its application for a casino licence. The winery was a fallback position and Vincorp provided a lot of the knowledge and assistance needed for the Band to take its next step. Nk'mip's facilities and production have seen a steady progression and they now boost a beautiful winery and tasting room, not to mention that they are one of the larger producers in the province - with about 18,500 cases last year. There aren't that many wineries in BC that produce over 10,000 cases.

We were lucky enough to try the Nk'mip Riesling in its first vintage about, I think, four or five years ago. It might have been the first BC Riesling that turned my head and had me think of the varietal as a serious go-to wine for the province. Thing is that there wasn't a lot being produced and you could only buy it at the winery itself - if they had any left.

There's a bit more being produced nowadays but it's still not an easy find. That's probably not that much of a surprise when they can say that this 2007 vintage won a gold medal at the 2008 Canadian Wine Awards and won silver (Best in Class) at the International Wine & Spirit competition in England. Crisp and dry, this Riesling isn't going to be confused for the wines that passed as Rieslings in BC 20 years ago.

I hope to be able to continually find a bottle or two of this Nk'mip as we continue on our quest.

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