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'Wine of the year' is Dirty Laundry Cellar Series Gamay

Gamay is certainly not a mainstream wine varietal in the Okanagan.

In fact, some of you may not have even heard of it.

Hint: it's red, delicate, light and fresh and fruity with a hint of spice.

Yet, here is Gamay -- the Dirty Laundry 2022 Cellar Series Gamay from Summerland to be exact -- being named 'wine of the year' at the BC Wine Awards at the 45th annual Spring Okanagan Wine Festival.

"This wine stood out among all entries for its exceptional quality and distinctive character, earning it the highest honour in the competition," reads the announcement from the Okanagan Wine Festivals Society.

<who>Photo credit: Dirty Laundry Vineyard</who>Mason Spink is the winemaker who crafted the 'wine of the year' 2022 Cellar Series Gamay at Dirty Laundry Vineyard in Summerland.

Two weeks ago, a panel of judges tasted and scored 370 wines from 90 wineries to come up with the BC Top 50.

On Friday, the results were announced and then the kick-off event of the spring wine fest at the Penticton Trade & Convention Centre was for the public to taste sample of the Top 50.

It's a new format for the BC Wine Awards, which in the past was called the BC Lieutenant Governor's Wine Awards and awarded platinum, gold and silver medals along with a 'wine of the year.'

The Top 50 configuration simply lists the winning 50 wines in alphabetical order by name of the winery.

The 'wine of the year' is the wine that received the highest average score of all the wines from all the judges.

</who>The wine of the year.

Act fast if you want to taste the top Gamay.

Dirty Laundry only made 250 cases of it and only 160 are left.

It is being sold only at the winery's shop for $31 with a limit of one bottle per person.

You might find the odd bottle at the BC Wine Information Centre store or Martin Street Liquor, both in Penticton.

The Gamay was crafted by Mason Spink, who has been Dirty Laundry's winemaker since 2013.

"I'm surprised the wine came in first," said Spink candidly.

"Don't get me wrong, it's a great wine and I'm proud of it and Gamay is a good variety for BC, but it's just now starting to gain popularity in BC."

Spink likes to drink the Gamay slightly chilled to further enhance its vibrant flavours and aromas of blueberry jam, sour cherry and rhubarb.

"It's a wine that jumps out at you, is refreshing and has a beautiful finish," he said.

The grapes come from Dirty Laundry's newest vineyard -- Moonells Creek at the top of Prairie Valley in Summerland.

Also to keep the wine fresh and light, it was aged for eight months before bottling in a 1,000 litre foudre barrel, which is much bigger than a traditional oak barrel, so the resulting wine develops interesting texture and complexity, not oaky taste and aroma.

The Dirty Laundry Gamay is in good company with past wines of the year like 2018 Old Vines Riesling from Tantalus in Kelowna, 2020 Lake Breeze Syrah from the Naramata Bench, 2019 Upper Bench Riesling from the Naramata Bench, 2015 Sandhill Syrah from Kelowna and 2017 Deep Roots Syrah from the Naramata Bench.

</who>Terravista Vineyards on the Naramata Bench was the only winery to place three wines in the Top 50, from left, Albarino, Fandango and Syrah.

Terravista Vineyards on the Naramata Bench was the only winery to place three wines in the top 50 -- its 2023 Albarino, 2023 Fandango (a blend of Albarino and Verdejo) and 2022 Syrah.

"As a small, family-run winery, events like this mean the world to us," said Dallas Thor, who owns Terravista with her husband Eric.

"They help us connect with new wine lovers, forge fun connections and share our passion for winemaking. A huge shoutout to our talented winemaker Nadine Kinvig and our entire team."

See the full list of the Top 50 below and at:

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