Stephen Colbert is going to hate this beverage, but White Bear Wines are pouncing on British Columbia store shelves with a roar. The line of wines, all white, are produced by Oliver-based Artisan Wine Company – an offshoot of Mission Hill – and join their portfolio of value brands. Affordable, but with a benefit: Artisan plans to donate 15% of White Bear sales to World Wildlife Funds and Tides Canada toward conservation of the Great Bear Rainforest which stretches across 21 million acres of BC’s coast.
Sadly, while bears love salmon, which goes well with Pinot Blanc, these poor bears will never experience the delicious pairing of their favorite food with this wine.
Sure, mapping the Active River Network for the Kalum, Copper and Lakelse Watersheds and identifying and mapping eelgrass habitat are worthy endeavors to support with our wine buying dollars, how about throwing a few bucks toward white bear wine appreciation?
Do we even know that white bears prefer white to red? If they had a choice, maybe the bears would prefer a ripe cabernet? It’s possible, but I have a feeling bear tastes lean toward rich, syrupy, honeyed things, like icewine, if for nothing else than the sweetness.
At least that’s what Winnie the Pooh would drink – from a honey jar – or something thick like a late harvest, mead or even a tawny port. Smokey the Bear, perhaps due to his name, is the kind of bear to quaff a fleshy, brooding syrah, petite sirah, or Cahors from a stein. Yogi Bear, on the other hand, is a flirt for many styles of wine – rosés, hearty Rhones, oaky whites – anything to catch a buzz. The Berenstain bears? Classic white zin fans. And, I’m certain the Teddy Bears drank wine coolers at their picnic.
Unlike bears in the wild, both White Bear Wines are approachable and easy on the palate. The 2008 Pinot Blanc shows lime and honeydew melon on the nose, and has a full, soft mouth of pineapple and a hint of apricot, with a long, clean finish. The 2007 Sauvignon Blanc has a fresh, spritzy nose of lemon line, celery and floral notes. There is good acidity on the zesty citrus palate, with lip smacking grapefruit on the finish. But that’s not all. A White Bear Riesling is due for release this summer, pre-hibernation time.
White Bear Wines are made from grapes grown in Kelowna, Oliver, Naramata and Osoyoos vineyards in the Okanagan Valley, and are reminiscent of wines from Artisan’s other venture, Prospect Winery. Retailing for $12.99 at BC Liquor Stores, they are perfect summer sippers for you and me, but are probably too dry for most bears.
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