Have you ever had a great experience somewhere, only to return years later and find that things just weren’t the same?
I remember enjoying an excellent visit to Chaberton Estate Winery three years ago. Not wanting to get my hopes up too much, I set the bar a bit lower for my return earlier this month. After all, it couldn’t get much better than that first experience, could it?
Oh yes it could. In fact, it was exceptional.
General Manager Brian Ensor took me through a tour and tasting at the winery’s Langley, B.C., facility that concluded with a first-class dinner and reasonably priced wines that should have Whatcom County residents lining up for reservations. But before I get too far, let’s start with the grapes.
Chaberton Estate is home to about 50 acres of estate-grown grapes in its cooler-climate, Fraser Valley location. The bacchus grape is responsible for about a third of the total plantings, and Ensor says the wines it yields are among Chaberton’s best.
The winery also produces wines from a number of warm-weather varietals, such as Chardonnay, Syrah, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon, sourced from the Okanagan and Similkameen valleys in eastern British Columbia.
Together, they contribute to a sizable production totaling about 48,000 cases annually, making it the fourth-largest winery in the province.
After spending time in the tasting room and retail store, visitors can have lunch or dinner at the adjacent Bacchus Bistro, where Executive Chef Ashley Chisham provides a small but sumptuous menu designed to complement a wine list that consists almost exclusively of Chaberton wines.
Here’s a small sample of some of the wines I tasted during my most recent visit. Note that all prices are in Canadian dollars at the tasting room, excluding taxes:
2013 Reserve Bacchus ($15) – This lovely white wine displays stone fruit and white flower aromatics, generous flavors of peach, tangerine and citrus, and a spicy/semi-sweet finish. The 2013 Reserve Dry Bacchus ($15) replaces the sweetness with refreshing, laser-sharp acidity that is absolutely astounding.
2011 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon ($21) – Dark berry and plum flavors predominate, with touches of toasted oak and cocoa powder on the slightly textured finish. Try it with the restaurant’s signature dish, beef bourguignon.
2012 Reserve Meritage ($24) – This blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and cabernet franc is big on black cherry and currant aromas and flavors that extend into a surprisingly soft finish.
Chaberton Estate Winery and Bacchus Bistro are easily accessible via the Blaine truck and Lynden border crossings, and only about an hour’s drive, plus border wait time, from Bellingham.
For a complete list of the winery’s releases, along with hours, directions and restaurant information, go to chabertonwinery.com.