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Anthony Gismondi on Wine
Tasting Notes

Tastings: January 2018

23 January 2018

The Hatch Hatchchildtext
88PTS

The Hatch Hatchchild 2014

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaA nice improvement this year thanks to a fruit source change from the Oliver Inkameep Vineyard to what the Hatch boys describe as “the sandy streets of East Osoyoos”, better known as Hans Estate Vineyard. Plenty of heat units should ensure physiological or phenolic ripeness but there is no mistaking the varietal, leafy, cassis fruit aromas and flavours. The tannins are well managed and seem to be appropriate for the warm, peppery finish. Best now with cheese or grilled meats, or wait three-to-five years for the oak to settle in and the wine to find its feet.Prices: BC 33.99 Producer: The Hatch
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Painted Rock Cabernet Sauvignontext
90PTS

Painted Rock Cabernet Sauvignon 2015

Skaha Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaYou feel the heat in 2015, and while the label says 14.6 the impression is bigger, yet, and it is a big yet, there is a sense of balance here that’s been growing since 2013. The harvest began October 29 and for cabernet in the mid-Okanagan that’s about as early as it gets. Not quite as juicy as the ‘13, but you notice the finesse amid the menthol, savoury black cherry fruit and warm, brown spicing. California meets Bordeaux this year, which should please a lot of people. Fine tannin management too. Not near ready, but you could roast some meat and give it a go. Best after 2022.Prices: BC 34.69 Producer: Painted Rock Estate Winery
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Bonterra Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignontext
85PTS

Bonterra Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2015

North Coast Region, California, United StatesGritty and grippy sides house this dense, compact and short cabernet sauvignon that is all organically grown. Bitter cherry, hard pressed blackberry bush (thorns, mostly) and coffee are covered in cocoa dust and toasted oak. Simple, rustic and at this point angular. Best now with beef stew or hamburgers to help tame the tannins.Prices: BC 20.49 ON 19.95 AB 20.00 MB 20.00 SK 21.00 QC 18.60 Producer: Bonterra Vineyards
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Black Hills Cabernet Sauvignontext
88PTS

Black Hills Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaA first release for Black Hills, so I guess that explains the $100 price tag. Only one barrel was made, presumably the best of what would have gone into Nota Bene. It spent two years in new French oak and it tastes like it. There is plenty of stuffing and some savoury notes but there isn’t a lot of life in the fruit. Rich, warm, round and a touch soupy. There will be a market for this but at this price there is plenty of competition offering more finesse.Prices: BC 100.00 Producer: Black Hills Estate Winery
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Seven Stones Speaking Rock Cabernet Sauvignontext
87PTS

Seven Stones Speaking Rock Cabernet Sauvignon 2013

Similkameen Valley, British Columbia, CanadaWarm, ripe nose with earthy, olive, soya notes. The attack is similar with a jacket of grippy tannins followed by earthy, black fruit, cocoa, coffee and vanilla. Still young and needs time in bottle while the oak dominates. Serve now with a grilled steak.Prices: BC 35.00 Producer: Seven Stones Winery
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Liberty School Cabernet Sauvignontext
88PTS

Liberty School Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

Paso Robles, San Luis Obispo County, Central Coast, California, United StatesThis hits all the right notes for an easy-drinking everyday California cabernet that comes without any residual noticeable residual sugar. Look for an open expressive peppery, smoky, black olive nose flecked with cassis and earthy cedar aromas. The attack is round, the palate medium deep with ripe black fruit, chocolate, tobacco and pepper flavours. Try this with grilled barbecue meats.Prices: BC 21.99 AB 19.00 ON 19.00 QC 20.00 SK 22.00 NS 26.00 NF 22.00 Producer: Hope Family Winery
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22 January 2018

Querceto Vernaccia di San Gimignanotext
87PTS

Querceto Vernaccia di San Gimignano 2015

Tuscany, ItalyDid you know that Vernaccia di San Gimignano was the first Italian wine to be awarded Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC) status in 1966? If you did, well done wine geek. The wine was elevated to DOCG status in 1993. The wine's history in the Tuscany region is recorded back to the 13th century, though the vernaccia grape fell out of favour in the 20th century. This is 85 percent vernaccia, complemented with other local grapes, and aged entirely in stainless steel. Lemons lead the chorus of citrus, followed by almonds and wild flowers. There's an mushroom earthiness to the fine bed of lees that finishes this medium bodied white with a bitter twist.Prices: Producer: Castello di Querceto
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Falanghina del Sannio Feudi di San Gregoriotext
90PTS

Falanghina del Sannio Feudi di San Gregorio 2016

Campania, ItalyFeudi di San Gregorio hasn't been around all that long by Italian wine standards, roughly three decades, but they have made a serious impact with a plan to preserve indigenous grapes such as fiano, greco, falanghina, and aglianico, while actively looking for even more obscure varieties to bring back to life. The vineyards are set in the volcanic, sandstone and marl hills of Sorbo Serpico, not far from Mount Vesuvius. The nose and attack is spare but super fresh, with pear, lees, floral, and mineral notes. Not for everyone, but if you like exciting, refreshing, electric white wine that is a match for almost any equally fresh seafood, this is it.Prices: BC 25.49 Producer: Feudi Di San Gregorio
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Mastro Greco Campaniatext
88PTS

Mastro Greco Campania 2015

Campania, ItalyAlmonds, white blossom, quince, crystalline lemon and a fine slick of pear in this greco from Campania. Calcareous clay-loam soils at approximately 300m altitude site this lighter-bodied wine, one with three months in stainless, on lees. Bright acidity and a slight wash of salts on the finish make this particularly food friendly, especially with shellfish, scallops or endive salad.Prices: BC 25.00 Producer: Mastroberardino
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Baron di Valforte Passerinatext
89PTS

Baron di Valforte Passerina 2015

Abruzzo, ItalyPasserina is both a rare autochthonous white grape of the Marche, and a DOC/IGP for wines of the same name. It is also found in Abruzzo, Umbria and some areas of Lazio, and is so highly regarded that it has its own Campaign, sponsored by the Italian government. The Sorricchio family has owned the baronial fief of Valforte since the 13th Century, and covers 42 hectares throughout the Teramo hills. This is grown on the cooler, north-facing slopes, around 100-150m, preserving freshness and purity. Floral acacia, quince, yellow plum and tight herbal interest on a round and creamy palate, impressively aloft at 12 degrees alcohol and with a lingering herb-strung finish. This would make a lovely accompaniment to sablefish or green curries.Prices: BC 17.79 Producer: Tenuta Baron di Valforte
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19 January 2018

Finca Cuarta by Ruben Maure Ribeira Sacratext
88PTS

Finca Cuarta by Ruben Maure Ribeira Sacra 2016

Ribeira Sacra, Galicia, SpainThis is the highest expression of the “Heroic Viticulture” in Spain. Carefully harvested by hand on steep vineyard terraces, typical of this appellation, this is 50-year-old vines and was aged in French and American oak barrels for at least three months. This is entirely mencia, a grape you rarely encounter outside the Bierzo, Ribeira Sacra, or Valdeorras appellations. It was once thought to be a rogue cabernet franc clone, (it’s not), although there are similarities: savoury fruit and rich, dense, soft tannins. Finca Cuarta is on the deeper, richer spectrum with earthy, firm, dense tannins, cardamom spice and wild red fruits. Finca Cuarta is the name of the vineyard, located in the heart of the Ribeira Sacra. Viticulture here goes back to Roman times, but was expanded and refined by the monks during the Middle Ages. The many monasteries gave the ‘Sacred Shore’ its name. Good value.Prices: BC 17.99 Producer: Bodega del Abad
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Alvear Palacio Quemado Los Acilatestext
91PTS

Alvear Palacio Quemado Los Acilates 2010

Ribera del Guadiana, Extremadura and the Southwest, SpainTasted again, one year along, and this impresses as before. Finessed and fine grained, this quietly confident tempranillo / syrah comes from sustainably farmed steep slopes in Ribera del Guadiana DO, in the Extremadura region near Spain's Mediterranean coast. After a native ferment this spends one year in 500L French oak prior to one year in bottle, with little intervention and low sulphur throughout. Worn leather, cured meats, salted cherry, plum, green tobacco, smoke and burnished salts are carried with a narrow stream of acidity, framed with finely worn tannins to a lingering, gentle finish. Savoury, striking, this is drinking well now.Prices: Spain 30.00 Producer: Bodegas Alvear
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Botijo Rojo Single Estate Garnacha Tintatext
88PTS

Botijo Rojo Single Estate Garnacha Tinta 2014

Aragon, SpainGarnacha from IGP Valdejalón, in north eastern Spain's Zaragoza, Aragon, this small batch garagiste garnacha is from a single, dry-farmed vineyard above 400m. Low intervention throughout, and from 40+ year old vines, this spent time in concrete (plus 5 percent in 3-year-old barrels). Finely gritty, grippy dusty tannins house wild raspberry, a cherry core, dried herbs and fine pepper on the finish. Acidity is brisk to a quick finish, reflective of the dry, unrelenting environment. An individual wine of terroir (my bottle was 31,002). Grilled sausages or winter squash would shoulder up well.Prices: AB 20.00 Producer: Epilense de Vinos y Viñedos
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Bodegas Gran Sello Tempranillo Syrahtext
87PTS

Bodegas Gran Sello Tempranillo Syrah 2015

Vinos de la Tierra de Castilla, SpainBodegas Gran Sello is one of the labels of the Spanish giant Araex, who makes wines across Spain. Gran Sello is sourced from vineyards in central Spain, and for this wine, tempranillo and syrah from Ripe and blue fruited, with generous violets scenting thick blueberry compote, blackberry jam and mint. Tannins are sticky, and stick out, an affect of four months warmish temperatures in 80 percent American and 20 percent French oak for four months. Youthful, easy, and accessible, for drinking now, especially with grilled sausages.Prices: BC 18.99 Producer: Bodegas Gran Sello
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Legado del Moncayo Garnacha Old Vines Montañatext
89PTS

Legado del Moncayo Garnacha Old Vines Montaña 2015

Campo de Borja, Aragon, SpainIsaac Fernandez is a 25 year winemaking veteran of Northern Spain, and for his Seleccion he sources grapes from 6 DOs in Northern Spain to make a range of red, white and fizz. This is 40-year-old bush vine garnacha from stony, iron-rich, red clay soils at 700m in Northern Spain's Campo de Borja. The wine was fermented in stainless and aged seven months in older French oak. Savoury and structurally fine, with black cherry, black raspberry, herbal garrigue and fine black pepper on a soft, subtle palate, slightly gripped with tuggy tannins. Youthful but charming, this is for your grilled sausages or chops.Prices: BC 23.00 Producer: Isaac Fernandez Seleccion
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18 January 2018

Gotin del Risc Bierzotext
87PTS

Gotin del Risc Bierzo 2012

Bierzo, Castilla-Leon, SpainA rare chance to taste an older Bierzo. At five years the mencia remains juicy with its characteristic mineral jacked red fruits. The attack is round but with fresh acidity from front to back. The attack is savoury and herbal with fading black cherry fruit. I would say it's held up fine and it's certainly ready to drink. Try this with lamb chops or grilled beef.Prices: BC 17.99 Producer: Bodega del Abad
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Pétalostext
0PTS

Pétalos 2015

Bierzo, Castilla-Leon, SpainCorked, try another one.Prices: BC 36.99 AB 30.00 MB 28.00 ON 22.00 Producer: Descendientes De J. Palacios
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17 January 2018

Domaine des Escaravailles Les Sablières Côtes du Rhônetext
90PTS

Domaine des Escaravailles Les Sablières Côtes du Rhône 2014

Côtes du Rhône, Rhone Valley, FranceEvery time I drink a humble Côtes du Rhône red, I chide myself for not doing it more often. Especially when it's a classic example like this. I first tasted this charming red in the UK (via The Wine Society) so when I saw it on private store shelves here in BC, I picked up a few bottles and went home to grill a chicken. If you're wondering why there's a wee beetle on the label, "escaravailles" is the Occitan name for scarab beetles. The word was also used for the black-robed monks who occupied the area’s Catholic monasteries centuries ago. The domaine has been in the Férran family since the 1950s, and today amounts to 65 hectares of vineyards, 40 of which are in the rocky, clay-limestone hillsides of Rasteau. This grenache/syrah blend comes entirely from Rasteau, and from vines between 30-50 years old. This spent time in stainless and oak barrels. Ample peppery raspberry, wild strawberry, perfumed anise and sweet salami is seasoned with herbal resinous scrub, so typical of the southern Rhone. Tannins are peppery grippy and acidity is lifted to a gentle, lingering finish. This is the typical bistro, roast chicken wine, and one that you should stock up on (as I did). Classic.Prices: BC 24.00 Producer: Domaine des Escaravailles
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Killer Droptext
87PTS

Killer Drop 2014

California, United StatesKiller Drop is made by 689 Cellars in Napa, although this mix of grenache, petite sirah, syrah and zinfandel hails from all over Northern California including Napa Valley, Sonoma, the Sierra Foothills, Lodi and Mendocino fruit. It’s a modern California red, bereft of any address or notion of terroir and packed full of sweet, super ripe, cherry/chocolate fruit. The textures are soft and warm with silky, alcohol fuelled fruit that finishes long warm and sweet. A dinner match if you like your red wine sweet.Prices: BC 55.99 MB 55.99 Producer: 689 Cellars
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Xavier Vins d'Experts Côtes-du-Rhonetext
87PTS

Xavier Vins d'Experts Côtes-du-Rhone 2015

Côtes du Rhône, Rhone Valley, FranceXavier Vignon was a leading oenologist in the Southern Rhône, making wine all around France, Oz and NZ and consulting at a number of top estates before settling in Rhône Valley, where he operates this impressive negotiant house, consults for 200 Domaines from Rhône to Languedoc, and manages one of the area's biggest laboratories. This is a blend of grenache, mourvedre and syrah from numerous sites and terroirs of the Southern Rhone, and vines averaging 40 years. Dried cassis, wild blackberry, thorny pitch is hemmed in with grippy, hard-pressed and unforgiving tannins. Rustically trimmed, this would fare best with roast leg of pork or lamb.Prices: ON 19.00 NF 22.00 Producer: Xavier Vins d'Experts
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Guillaume Gonnet Cotes du Rhone Le Reveurtext
87PTS

Guillaume Gonnet Cotes du Rhone Le Reveur 2015

Côtes du Rhône, Rhone Valley, FranceThe Gonnets bought their own plots of land in Châteauneuf du Pape in 2015 and set about making wines they hoped reflect their origin. Employing minimal interference, following the tenets of biodynamic farming, and using natural yeasts, the goal is simply wines of place. I found this wine in Costco in Hawaii and wasn’t disappointed given its $6.99 price. Le Reveur is an 80/20 grenache/syrah blend that is soft, round and elegant with a refreshing raspberry front end with a juicy, black fruit, mineral, wet stone, garrigue back end. Ready to drink and super value. Aged in concrete tanks for 12 months. Real wine at a real price.Prices: Producer: Guillaume Gonnet
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16 January 2018

1000 Stories Zinfandel Bourbon Barrel Aged Small Batchtext
86PTS

1000 Stories Zinfandel Bourbon Barrel Aged Small Batch 2015

California, United StatesRich and potent, as you might expect from the name (Bourbon aged small batch) and weight of the bottle (oof). This thick zinfandel from Mendocino and Sonoma was aged in new and used Bourbon barrels. A shellack of sweet wood and baking spice infiltrated this highly potent, thick and hot red, with heaps of blackberry jam and a dose of residual sugar. Of a certain style, and surely will have fans, but we are not of them.Prices: BC 29.99 MB 29.99 Producer: 1000 Stories
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Rodney Strong Zinfandel Knotty Vinestext
88PTS

Rodney Strong Zinfandel Knotty Vines 2015

Northern Sonoma, Sonoma County, California, United StatesWhen Rodney Strong first arrived in Sonoma in the 1960s he bought some benchland acreage on Westside Road just behind the winery that included 15 acres of old, gnarled Zinfandel vines planted in 1904. It’s still part of the Gnarly Vine label along with selected fruit from the Alexander and Dry Creek Valleys. This presents as a classic zinfandel, fruity and soft with notes of brambleberry and cocoa with a touch of spice. The attack is warm, smoky and spicy with more sweet, black fruits and licorice throughout. As comfortable as your favourite pair of shoes. Hamburgers, barbecued ribs, oven-fired pizza or a dish of roasted vegetables suits.Prices: BC 21.00 AB 22.00 ON 23.00 US 25.00 Producer: Rodney Strong Estate Vineyards
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15 January 2018

Martin's Lane Naramata Ranch Vineyard Rieslingtext
93PTS

Martin's Lane Naramata Ranch Vineyard Riesling 2014

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaWinemaker Shane Munn hails from New Zealand but has extensive winemaking experience including stints in Burgundy, Barolo and North America. He takes a micro view of the vineyard working with individual blocks or rows of vines and employing only gravity to move the juice. In general, the riesling is hand sorted and not all the berries are crushed before they go to press (with no sulphur). The juice is settled and stirred, the ferment runs 7 to 14 days at 16 to 18C, and is aged on its lees for six to nine months adding richness and texture. We love the ultra-bright and electric style of the Naramata fruit. Juicy, inviting and delicious it is super fresh but doesn’t threaten to peel the enamel off your teeth. The wine is site-driven and the grapes makes the most of a perfect latitude: 49.67 north where they gather sunshine in the daytime and retain acidity through the cool nights. Naramata Ranch sits at the very northern end of the Naramata Bench before it runs up against the mountains on the way to Chute Lake. The site spans several elevations where the soils, or perhaps better said rocks, are a mix of red granite on the surface over granite bedrock with no grass or cover crop.Prices: BC 65.00 Producer: Martin's Lane Winery
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Martin's Lane Fritzi’s Vineyard Rieslingtext
90PTS

Martin's Lane Fritzi’s Vineyard Riesling 2015

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaFritzi’s Vineyard is a tiny single vineyard at the base of Mt. Boucherie (a dormant volcano) in West Kelowna. It is comprised of a single, warm, south-eastern facing parcel named after owner Anthony von Mandl's 101-year-old mother, and is home to pinot noir and riesling. The riesling style here is fuller and marginally softer in acidity but with intense lifts of mango/guava fruit that finishes fresh, long and silky. Love the balance here from this all 21B riesling clone planted in 1997. In general, winemaker Shane Munn hand sorts the riesling, and doesn’t crush all the berries, before they go to press with no sulphur. The juice is settled and stirred, and the ferment runs 7 to 14 days at 16 to 18C before aging on its lees for six to nine months, for richness and texture.Prices: BC 75.00 Producer: Martin's Lane Winery
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Martin's Lane Fritzi’s Vineyard Rieslingtext
89PTS

Martin's Lane Fritzi’s Vineyard Riesling 2014

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaFritzi’s Vineyard is a tiny single vineyard at the base of Mt. Boucherie (a dormant volcano) in West Kelowna. It is comprised of a single, warm, south-eastern facing parcel named after owner Anthony von Mandl's 101-year-old mother, and is home to pinot noir and riesling. In 2014 the style is flatter and fuller versus the Simes Vineyard, with softer, tropical fruit flavours that are ready to drink. This wine was made at CedarCreek during the construction of Martin’s Lane and was aged in several vessels including wood, stainless steel, and concrete. The fruit is all from the 21B riesling clone planted in 1997. In general, winemaker Shane Munn hand sorts the riesling, and doesn’t crush all the berries before they go to press with no sulphur. The juice is settled and stirred and the ferment runs 7 to 14 days at 16 to 18C, aging on its lees for six to nine months for additional richness and texture.Prices: BC 75.00 Producer: Martin's Lane Winery
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Martin's Lane Simes Vineyard Rieslingtext
91PTS

Martin's Lane Simes Vineyard Riesling 2015

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe Simes Vineyard is a steep, north-facing site in East Kelowna, with granite-based soils. Not exactly a recipe for rich wine. In fact, it’s all about cool climate characteristics, as in aromatic with bright acidity and freshness. The riesling, all clone 21B, is lively with bright lemon-lime fruit, Okanagan sagebrush and a slightly greener bent. The style is less extreme with less aggressive acidity than its contemporaries. An approachable food-friendly riesling you can drink now. Winemaker Shane Munn hails from New Zealand but has extensive winemaking experience including stints in Burgundy, Barolo and North America. He takes a micro view of the vineyard, working single blocks or rows of vines, and employing only gravity to move his wine five times through the six-level winery (a facility that tellingly does not contain a pump). In general, the riesling is hand sorted and they do not crush all the berries, before they go to press with no sulphur. The juice is settled and stirred, and the ferment runs 7 to 14 days at 16 to 18C before aging on its lees for six to nine months for richness and texture.Prices: BC 55.00 Producer: Martin's Lane Winery
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Martin's Lane Naramata Ranch Vineyard Pinot Noirtext
92PTS

Martin's Lane Naramata Ranch Vineyard Pinot Noir 2014

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThese are early days for this label, but Naramata Ranch, first planted in 2008 with several blocks added at different elevations and expositions, has become a wonderland of meso-climates for BC pinot noir. Mid-valley temperatures are just warm enough to invite the richer style of New World pinot noir while the it remains cool enough to be somewhat spare in style too. The soils, or perhaps better said rocks, are red granite rock on the surface over granite bedrock with no grass or cover crop. The aromas are savoury and earthy with juicy flavours of cranberries, red currants and smoky spicy licorice with a whiff of Ponderosa pine. It’s the elegance of this wine that attracts. The wine is made with equal parts of the three clones Pommard, 943 and 667 that spends seventeen months in extra tight grain French oak. It is bottled unfiltered, in this case, at 14 percent alcohol.Prices: BC 100.00 Producer: Martin's Lane Winery
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Martin's Lane Simes Vineyard Pinot Noirtext
93PTS

Martin's Lane Simes Vineyard Pinot Noir 2014

East Kelowna, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaWinemaker Shane Munn takes a micro view of the vineyard, working single blocks or rows of vines employing gravity to move his grapes and wine only five times through the six-level, pump-less winery. The Simes Vineyard is a steep, north-facing site with granite-based soils located in East Kelowna. The site is not exactly a recipe for rich wine. In fact, it’s all about cool climate characteristics, as in aromatic with bright acidity and freshness. The pinot noir is a mix of two clones 943 and 667 (picked two weeks apart) aged in French oak for 17 months. The result is a bright, pure fruit pinot without any makeup. Minerally, sapid, juicy and bright, the fruit quality is outstanding. Winemaker Munn is using one bunch per shoot and removing the shoulders of that bunch to arrive at 1.8 to 2.8 tons to the acre.Prices: BC 100.00 Producer: Martin's Lane Winery
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Martin's Lane Fritzi’s Vineyard Pinot Noirtext
92PTS

Martin's Lane Fritzi’s Vineyard Pinot Noir 2014

West Kelowna, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaFritzi’s Vineyard is a compact, single vineyard site that sits at the base Mt. Boucherie, a former stratovolcano or conical volcano created some 60 million years ago. Between four and six different glacial periods over the past 50 million years have eroded the volcano to produce Mount Boucherie and the soils around it. It sits 417 metres above the nearby lake, although it’s estimated to have been 2,000 metres or more back in the day. The vineyard faces south-east, giving it a warm nature, and it is named after owner Anthony von Mandl's 101-year-old mother. The vines are clone 115, and the fruit is dark fruited with round tannins that persist across the palate and through a very long finish. This will continue to improve in the bottle through 2019. Winemaker Shane Munn assesses every parcel on its own and uses numerous techniques at the crush pad including whole bunches for carbonic or intracellular fermentation to keep the fruit bright. Some 40-to 50 percent of the fruit is fermented naturally on its own yeast, and sulphur levels are kept very low. The small parcels are kept intact and are settled straight to tank.Prices: BC 150.00 Producer: Martin's Lane Winery
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12 January 2018

Marqués de Riscal Rioja Reservatext
89PTS

Marqués de Riscal Rioja Reserva 2013

Rioja Alavesa, Rioja, SpainDried cherry, subtle blackberry and fine smoke in this Reserva Rioja, showing wicking and wearing of a little age, but holding its youthful cherry core. Tannins are gritty but acidity swells, carrying this to the warming, salty finish. Reserva Riojas strike a great balance between old and new, and this classically styled one, consistently so.Prices: QC 25.00 AB 29.00 BC 29.49 Producer: Vinos Herederos del Marqués de Riscal S.A.
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Vina Real Rioja Crianzatext
88PTS

Vina Real Rioja Crianza 2012

Rioja, SpainA medium-bodied, juicy, sour red and black fruit affair with soft-ish but dry tannins. A sommelier kind of wine but less likely to win over the public at large. The nose is muted but successive sips pull you into a simple, dusty, old world red with some grippy tannins. A bit of beef or pork are all you need to settle into this youthful crianza. Finished under screwcap.Prices: BC 86.00 Producer: Compañía Vitivinícola del Norte de Espana
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Monopole Rioja Blancotext
89PTS

Monopole Rioja Blanco 2015

Rioja, SpainThis one hundred percent viura from Rioja is grown in the Rioja Alta subzone, at higher altitude, and subject to the influence of the cold Atlantic Ocean. This is an elegant white with creamy, juicy mineral limey fruit flecked with ripe melons. The finish is smooth and chalky with more minerality. Made fresh, bottled fresh and under screw cap; one can only lament all those years it was sold under cork. Seafood anyone?Prices: BC 27.00 QC 17.00 AB 19.00 Producer: Compañía Vitivinícola del Norte de Espana
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Cvne Rioja Crianzatext
88PTS

Cvne Rioja Crianza 2012

Rioja, SpainThe first wine of this winery was named Cvne after its initials. The grapes from La Rioja Alta are an 85/15 mix of tempranillo/ garnacha tinta and mazuelo. The ferment is in stainless steel followed by malolactic fermentation then 12 months in American oak barrels. The nose is red fruited with floral (violet) nuances. Similar flavours are on the palate with just a touch of vanilla and balsamic. Solid if a bit ordinary, but yields were low in thanks to another drought year. Best with grilled sausages or lamb.Prices: BC 21.00 QC 15.55 ON 16.95 MB 17.01 AB 19.95 Producer: Compañía Vitivinícola del Norte de Espana
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Marqués de Riscal Finca Torreatext
88PTS

Marqués de Riscal Finca Torrea 2015

Rioja Alavesa, Rioja, SpainYouthful juicy and approachable, with strawberry, cherry, raspberry, perfumed violets, seasoned with toasted cinnamon and nutmeg, and bracketed with earthy, fine tannins. The palate is cushy and the finish is warm. This youthful Rioja is a blend of tempranillo and graciano fermented in small French oak vats where it remains after MLF for 18 months. Modern style, as reflective of the stylized label showing the plots surrounding the winery where the grapes are sourced. Excellent, approachable introduction to Riscal.Prices: QC 25.00 AB 29.00 BC 57.50 Producer: Vinos Herederos del Marqués de Riscal S.A.
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Rioja Vega Gran Reservatext
91PTS

Rioja Vega Gran Reserva 2009

Rioja Alavesa, Rioja, SpainThe Gran Reserva 2009 hails from an excellent vintage. The style is pleasantly modern, as in clean and fresh, with intense, spicy, licorice-coated black fruit. Yet as big as it is, there is a sense of finesse and styling after 29 months in oak and 36 months in bottle. It’s a bit warm but it’s a Gran Reserva and it carries itself as such. I love the price. Rioja Vega has been producing quality wines for more than 125 years and is the only winery in the Rioja region that has the right to use word Rioja in its name. Lamb osso buco would be a fine match.Prices: BC 44.94 AB 55.00 ON 43.00 Producer: Rioja Vega
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Palacios Remondo La Vendimia Riojatext
90PTS

Palacios Remondo La Vendimia Rioja 2016

Rioja, SpainAlvaro Palacio can do anything, as illustrated by this delicious drop of garnacha and tempranillo from his home estate in Rioja Baja. There is a richness and roundness of texture that enthralls but without overwhelming the drinker. Juicy, earthy, red-fruited and spiked with mulberries and floral cherry notes that just keep pulling you back to the glass. So much so, before you know it the bottle is gone. La Vendimia, 'the harvest,' is a delicious joven, a young Rioja, made for simple foods. The fruit sits at some 500m and the estate-owned 10-to 40-year-old vines have been grown organically since 2003. Drink now with lamb, veal or even fish, or hold through 2019.Prices: BC 25.00 AB 24.49 ON 15.95 QC 17.55 MB 17.99 Producer: Palacios Remondo
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11 January 2018

Marqués de Riscal Rioja Gran Reservatext
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Marqués de Riscal Rioja Gran Reserva 2007

Rioja Alavesa, Rioja, SpainOnly produced in the best vintages. Perfumed and elegant, with finely worn tannins, aged wood, cardamom, earthy autumnal flavours, fine dusting of cinnamon and pepper on the lingering finish. 80+ year old vines go into this Gran Reserva, from both estate vineyards and contract growers. After the tempranillo, graciano and mazuelo is fermented and select lots blended, it goes in French oak casks where it will remain for between two and a half and three years, followed by a further three years in the bottle prior to release for sale.Prices: BC 59.95 AB 55.00 ON 43.00 Producer: Vinos Herederos del Marqués de Riscal S.A.
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Marqués de Riscal Rueda Blancotext
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Marqués de Riscal Rueda Blanco 2016

Rueda, Castilla-Leon, SpainLean, clean and crisp, this is a fruity, steely 85/15 blend of verdejo/viura, fermented in stainless to preserve the bright fruit. Tight citrus and pear blossoms, green hedge and hints of almond on the light, juicy palate to a warming finish. This is a natural, simple white for grilled squid and like tapas.Prices: BC 15.99 ON 10.95 AB 12.99 Producer: Vinos Herederos del Marqués de Riscal S.A.
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Finca La Emperatriz Viuratext
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Finca La Emperatriz Viura 2016

Rioja, SpainThis is a blend of plots inside what is a single estate; there is no outside fruit used here. About a foot and a half of white pebbles over sandy loam seems the right fit for these 100 percent, 60-year-old viura vines. A short, cold maceration sets the stage for a cool ferment followed by two months on fine lees. Look for quiet/delicate white fruits with watery citrus, pear, floral notes. Bright, soft and ready to drink, and coming out of a strong vintage.Prices: BC 19.99 ON 18.50 Producer: Bodegas La Emperatriz
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Finca La Emperatriz Rioja Crianzatext
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Finca La Emperatriz Rioja Crianza 2013

Rioja, SpainA mild, wet winter led to an early budbreak followed by continuous rains throughout the growing season. Fungal diseases like mildew and oidium required immediate attention throughout the year, one that was salvaged by a warm, dry, September, at least at higher altitudes. In what is the real gift of bad years, the top two Finca Emperatriz wines were abandoned in 2013, leaving some of the best fruit to bolster the regular labels. The crianza is a blend of ten plots covered in large white pebbles to a depth of about 40cm. The vineyards, between 15 and 65 years old, are a mix of bush vines and trellis, yielding a respectably low 40 hl/ha. It’s 95 percent tempranillo with a bit of garnacha and viura, all aged 14 months in American (80 percent) and French (20 percent) barriques before spending another year in bottle. After all that, the wine is delicious. A classic mix of red and black fruit flavours with little, if any, obtrusive oak. The texture is dense but soft with more floral, mineral, red fruit that stay fresh through the finish. A prefect wine for chicken, turkey or pork dishes.Prices: ON 23.95 Producer: Bodegas La Emperatriz
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Ramon Roqueta Garnacha Blanca Tina 21text
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Ramon Roqueta Garnacha Blanca Tina 21 2016

Catalunya (Catalonia Cataluña), SpainLove the freshness here, not to mention the floral, stony, mineral notes throughout. Bits of quince, pear, green apple and dried herbs keep it all interesting on entry and across the palate. Simple, delicious wine, and the kind of wine that builds a wine palate. The finish is fresh and delicate and perhaps best of all, pure. The perfect shellfish wine, although I loved it with fish tacos. Could we not grow this in the Okanagan?Prices: BC 18.00 Producer: Ramon Roqueta
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Pata Negra Rioja Reservatext
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Pata Negra Rioja Reserva 2012

Rioja, SpainThere's a lovely firm presence to this Reserva Rioja, with structured black fruit, anise, graphite and wood smoke wrapped around a sweet chocolate cherry core. The ten percent graciano in this blend adds an alluring lift and lightness, while the tight, gritty wood-hewn tannins hold it all in. Well built, and ready to drink now with pork tenderloin.Prices: BC 19.99 Producer: Marqués de Carrión Wineries of J García Carrión
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Antaño Rioja Crianzatext
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Antaño Rioja Crianza 2014

Rioja, SpainThis is entry-level Rioja with a skinny, acidic profile to prove it. Dry, earthy, spicy notes with a dry, acidic back end call for food and quickly. We suggest grilled sausages, perhaps in a tomato sauce. Ready to drink.Prices: BC 12.99 Producer: Vinos de Familia Garcia Carrion
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Vivanco Crianza Riojatext
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Vivanco Crianza Rioja 2012

Rioja, SpainThere's a charm to young, northern Spanish reds, especially with some age to it. This current release (on our market) Crianza is modern styled, with soft raspberry, leather and perfumed plum, with moderate smoke infiltrating and vanilla potent on the bitter-edged finish. This tempranillo aged sixteen months in French and American oak, and the shellacked grip of wood brackets the sides. This would be great with lamb meatballs on polenta.Prices: BC 18.50 Producer: Bodegas Dinastia Vivanco
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Marqués de Cáceres Crianzatext
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Marqués de Cáceres Crianza 2013

Rioja, SpainThis youthful Rioja charms with gobs of dark cherry, peppery spice and ample cedar-hewn tannins. Sanded wood and cinnamon bark coats the youthful and juicy palate, one with raggedy tannins but youthful exuberance. Best met with lamb sausage or kabobs.Prices: BC 17.99 MB 17.99 QC 18.25 NS 20.79 NF 20.98 AB 17.60 Producer: Marqués de Cáceres
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Luis Canas Reserva Riojatext
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Luis Canas Reserva Rioja 2012

Rioja, SpainThere was a time when inexpensive Rioja was a no-go zone. Today the results are much more reliable, as is the case with this youthful Reserva, dark in colour, fresh on the nose, and soft in texture. The attack is a smoky, red berry affair with a touch of minerality and a slight grip around the edges calling for food. The texture is dense, even fleshy, with a long, dry, savoury roasted cacao back end. One to enjoy after 2020 but if you must drink it now think lamb chops, meatballs, or a hard textured young cheese.Prices: BC 30.00 SK 26.97 NB 33.99 Producer: Bodegas Luzon
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El Petit Bonhomme Blancotext
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El Petit Bonhomme Blanco 2016

Rueda, Castilla-Leon, SpainCanadian Nathalie Bonhomme is behind this 100 percent verdejo made in collaboration with Miguel Gil of Bodegas Juan Gil. The 2016 Blanco is particularly fruity with fresh, peachy mango fruit and nutty nectarine. Fresh, well-made, ready-to-drink white for seafood or summer salads. Super value.Prices: BC 13.49 MB 14.99 QAC 15.00 Producer: Nathalie Bonhomme Vins
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Hacienda Lopez de Haro Rioja Reservatext
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Hacienda Lopez de Haro Rioja Reserva 2013

Rioja, SpainPencil shavings filter throughout this denser, riper Rioja Reserva, with bigger sweet tobacco smoke clouding the view of the dark cherry cordial core. Black plum, blackberry jam, medicinal cherry is spread thick on the palate, with dense tannins shouldering this all in to a balsamic finish. Feels sunbaked, especially on the warming finish. From Spain's innovative Vintae project, this is a blend of tempranillo and graciano from terraced soils in the area of San Vicente de la Sonsierra, La Rioja, that has seen twenty months in French and American oak. Ragu would be a fitting, hardy match for this.Prices: BC 22.99 AB 18.99 MB 19.99 Producer: Vintae
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La Garnacha Salvaje del Moncayotext
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La Garnacha Salvaje del Moncayo 2015

SpainVintae is a dynamic, young and innovative family project involving seven wineries in six different Spanish DOs. José Miguel Arambarri Terrero, together with his sons Ricardo and José Miguel, and winemaker Raúl Acha, seeks out interesting terroir, and in the case of this wine, old garnacha vines. They aim to create authentic, affordable wines with modern, approachable and interesting packaging. These old bush vines come from the mountains of Moncayo, in Aragon and northern Navarre. Medium bodied and downy soft, with raspberry, forest berries, anise on a generous strawberry jam core. Fine cinnamon and nutmeg spicing on the moderate finish. This is approachable, savoury, not dumbed-down, and ready for your chicken thighs or root vegetables.Prices: BC 21.90 Producer: Vintae
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Honoro Vera Riojatext
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Honoro Vera Rioja 2016

Rioja, SpainFresh, stony resiny nose with fragrant black plums, raspberries, and a dusting of violets. The attack is juicy with round, succulent red fruit reminiscent of freezer raspberry jam. The acidity is persistent and in balance with supple tannins. This is the New Rioja but it's done in a respectful way. Pair with lamb chops for a traditional match or barbecue ribs for a more rustic backyard dinner. It is all tempranillo fermented over two weeks in stainless steel and with ten percent on to spend five months in French oak. The alcohol is a modest 13.5 percent alcohol.Prices: BC 21.99 Producer: Gil Family Estates
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Principe de Viana Edición Limitadatext
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Principe de Viana Edición Limitada 2012

Navarra and Basque Country, SpainDried earth, dried cherry, raspberry runs along light, dusty tannins to a quickly faded finish. This is a blend of tempranillo, cabernet sauvignon and merlot from three vineyards in Navarra that spent 14 months in wood (three quarters French and the remainder American). The fleshy generosity on the palate is hemmed in with some stern tannins and scented with chrysanthemums and a lick of mint. Still presenting in youth, but with tannins thankfully worn, this shows best with pork roast.Prices: BC 24.99 NS 21.99 Producer: Bodegas Principe de Viana
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Sarmentero Ruedatext
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Sarmentero Rueda 2016

Rueda, Castilla-Leon, SpainThis is 100% verdejo aged in stainless-steel that opens with subtle citrus notes with a touch of grass and pear. The attack is refreshing with more white flowers mixed with lemon, green apple and lime rind, finishing clean and light. An honest, refreshing seafood wine for buttered clams, cracked crab or chicken salad.Prices: BC 26.99 Producer: M. Amparo Repiso Vallejo
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10 January 2018

Castaño Monastrell Ecológicotext
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Castaño Monastrell Ecológico 2016

Yecla, Valencia and Murcia, SpainThe Castaño folks look to solved their minor reduction problems with screwcaps at the introductory end of their lineup. Fresh, earthy, blackberry notes are the story of this organic monastrell from Yecla. Juicy black plums, and black cherry jam flavours with a dusting of cocoa finish the story of what is a solid fair value, rustic red. Burgers, ribs, flank steak are all fine matches.Prices: BC 11.49 AB 12.00 NB 12.00 Producer: Familia Castaño
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Familia Castaño Hécula Monastrelltext
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Familia Castaño Hécula Monastrell 2015

Yecla, Valencia and Murcia, SpainJuicy youthful blue fruits (berries, plums) fill this fleshy monastrell from Yecla, in south eastern Spain. The Castaño family owns more than 410ha in the Yecla DO, and 80 percent of those are planted to monastrell. This wine comes from sandstone and limestone soiled Las Gruesas and Pozuelo vineyards, located 750m above sea level and averaging 38 years of age. It was stainless fermented, then aged for six months in oak 80 percent French, 20 percent American), half of which were new. Modern and accessible, ready to drink now, with soft worn tannins, anise and fine, grippy tannins calling out for grilled ribs.Prices: BC 16.00 AB 16.00 YK 17.00 ON 14.00 NB 17.50 Producer: Familia Castaño
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Gloria de Moya Monastrelltext
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Gloria de Moya Monastrell 2015

Valencia and Murcia, SpainBodega De Moya was the long-awaited dream of Belgian businessman Yves Laurijssens, who left his factories behind and followed his wine passion to the mountains tucked behind Valencia. The poor, sandy soiled vineyards range from 800-950m, and he works with vines (predominantly bobal) up to 95 years old. This is 23-year-old monastrell from 550m that has spent one year in French oak. Soft plush black plum, blackberry with stretched, tight tannins to a bitter chocolate finish. Youthful and ready for drinking now with your meatballs and polenta.Prices: BC 24.00 Producer: Bodegas Casa de Moya
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Sofia de Moya Bobaltext
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Sofia de Moya Bobal 2015

Valencia and Murcia, SpainBodega De Moya was the long-awaited dream of Belgian businessman Yves Laurijssens, who left his factories behind and followed his wine passion to the mountains tucked behind Valencia. The poor, sandy soiled vineyards range from 800-950m, and he works with vines (predominantly bobal) up to 95 years old. Sofia is the eldest of the trio of bobals, with vines 72-95 years old and altitude of 850m. Ten percent cabernet sauvignon and two percent merlot finishes off this full, complexed wine, one that has been structured by fermentation and 18 months aging in new French barrels. Sultry and brooding, this youthful wine is still dense and compact at this stage, but will slowly relax and open with time. Blackcurrant, anise, wild mint, dried sage and resinous thorns are swiftly carried with a stream of acidity across sticky tannins to a lingering, salted, warming finish. Impressive; decant now with prime rib or lamb rack, or cellar for five+ years.Prices: BC 45.00 Producer: Bodegas Casa de Moya
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Maria de Moya Bobaltext
91PTS

Maria de Moya Bobal 2015

Valencia and Murcia, SpainBodega De Moya was the long-awaited dream of Belgian businessman Yves Laurijssens, who left his factories behind and followed his wine passion to the mountains tucked behind Valencia. The poor, sandy soiled vineyards range from 800-950m, and he works with vines (predominantly bobal) up to 95 years old. Maria, the middle of the trio of bobal wines, is from 43-year-old vines from 850m altitude and with a year in French oak. A splash of five percent cabernet sauvignon and four percent merlot flushes out the moderate palate, one spiked with a rise of acidity. Fermented in both stainless and wood for one month, the free run juice was transferred to French oak (35 percent new) for one year. Wild blackberry, black cherry and inky plum with a perfumed dried floral, blue fruited fragrance and lick of wild sage/rosemary/mint on the fresh, lightly salty finish. This is a dense wine to be sure (those bobal tannins) but with an impressive rise of freshness. I like this charming medium bodied red with beef shank, lamb chops, or meaty grilled mushrooms. Drinking well now, but will age well short term.Prices: BC 29.00 Producer: Bodegas Casa de Moya
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Justina de Moya Bobaltext
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Justina de Moya Bobal 2015

Valencia and Murcia, SpainBodega De Moya was the long-awaited dream of Belgian businessman Yves Laurijssens, who left his factories behind and followed his wine passion to the mountains tucked behind Valencia. The poor, sandy soiled vineyards range from 800-950m, and he works with vines (predominantly bobal) up to 95 years old. Justina is one of three bobal-dominant wines produced (this splashed with 7 percent cabernet sauvignon and three percent syrah). Four months of oak nurtures these 15-25-year-old vines, the youngest in the winery's bobal trio. Dense crimson berry, cassis, wild black cherry, leather, with raspy peppercorns. Tannins are sticky and dense (as per bobal) but acidity is bright, reflective of altitude. The finish is short and sweet on this youthful, approachable wine.Prices: BC 21.00 Producer: Bodegas Casa de Moya
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Julia de Moya Monastrelltext
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Julia de Moya Monastrell 2015

Valencia and Murcia, SpainBodega De Moya was the long-awaited dream of Belgian businessman Yves Laurijssens, who left his factories behind and followed his wine passion to the mountains tucked behind Valencia. The poor, sandy soiled vineyards range from 800-950m, and he works with vines (predominantly bobal) up to 95 years old. Julia is 45-year-old monastrell from 550m that has spent 18 months in French oak. Structured and brooding black fruit, with gritty, hard-pressed tannins framing the blue plum core. This finishes with bitter black cherry and dark chocolate.Prices: BC 21.00 Producer: Bodegas Casa de Moya
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Pasion de Bobaltext
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Pasion de Bobal 2015

Utiel-Requena, Valencia and Murcia, SpainCrimson cherry, red currant, twine smoke fill the round and chewy palate of this youthful red from DO Utiel-Requena, in Spain's southeast. This is 100 percent bobal, native to the region and making up 90 percent of all plantings. The grape's thick skins suit the sunbaked region, and the rusticity of this wine, though its wood-streaked tannins and ripe, dried fruits, mirror the environment. There's a lick of sweetness on the finish. Pour this rustic, fuller red with equally rustic foods: meat pie, sausages, tripe.Prices: BC 17.99 AB18.49 0.00 NFL 22.68 Producer: Bodega Sierra Norte
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09 January 2018

Altos De Torona Triple Varietaltext
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Altos De Torona Triple Varietal 2016

O Rosal, Rías Baixas, Galicia, SpainThe soils of Rías Baixas are mostly uniform in profile based on granite. The cool wet, coastal climate also supports a mineral-rich combination of clay, silt, sand and gravel with limited amounts of organic material and extremely elevated levels of minerality. The Altos di Torona Rosal is a mix of three grapes, Albariño, Loureiro and Caiño Blanco harvested separately and matured over their fine lees post ferment for 120 days. The nose is quietly aromatic, with notes of stone fruits mixed with tropical melon fruits. Fresh and lively, the palate is all citrus with nectarine, chalky, and ginger notes. I love the delicate styling and intense flavours that cry out for roasted chicken, sushi and spicy food.Prices: AB 28.00 BC 28.99 QC 23.00 Producer: Bodegas Altos de Torona
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Davila O Rosaltext
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Davila O Rosal 2015

O Rosal, Rías Baixas, Galicia, SpainDavila is a mix of Albariño, Loureiro and Caiño Blanco from north western Spain's Rias Baixas and its cooler, marine-influenced clay, silt and sandy soils. This spent four months on the lees in stainless before bottling. Crisp and tight citrus blossoms, melon, tight pear, juicy nectarine on a subtle palate. This is well suited to spot prawns or sushi.Prices: BC 22.49 Producer: Adegas Valminor
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Vionta Albariñotext
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Vionta Albariño 2016

Rías Baixas, Galicia, SpainFleshy peach, apricot fuzz, pear fills this albariño from Rias Baixas, in the north west of Spain. A sheen of anise slicks the pillowy palate, to a lightly spicy, gingersnap finish. An easy, joyous wine best suited to coconut prawns.Prices: ON 26.99 Producer: Freixenet
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08 January 2018

Elefante Primero Tempranillotext
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Elefante Primero Tempranillo 2015

Castilla-La Mancha, SpainOld-ish bush vines (25-32 years), limestone, marl and sandstone from 510 to 610 metres and a 92/8 mix of tempranillo and garnacha overcomes a garish label to offer a super value barbecue red. 2015 was a hot, dry vintage in Spain but this red was moderated by the high altitude of Manchuela and the age of the vineyards before a bit of rain, and a cooler fall, brought everything back to life at harvest. Much of the fruit was aged in stainless steel before six months seasoning in French and American oak. The secret is some twenty percent Rioja tempranillo aged in French oak that is added to the blend three months before bottling. The nose is clean and aromatic, the palate is rich and dark, with floral fruits, soft tannins and just a hint of game in the mix. Open, splash decant, and pour all year round by the barbecue.Prices: BC 14.99 Producer: Real Compañía de Vinos
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Castillo de Almansa Reservatext
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Castillo de Almansa Reserva 2013

Almansa, Castilla-La Mancha, SpainDark, earthy and rustic, the Castillo de Almansa Reserva is a blend of tempranillo, monastrell, and garnacha tintorera, matured in American oak for a year. Leathery and sinewy, with smoked wood, roasted beets, dried florals, gritty tannins and a hard-pressed palate to a clipped finish. Requires roasts (root veg, pork, beef, pasta) to meet.Prices: BC 12.29 AB 12.99 ON 12.95 QC 12.50 NS 14.00 MB 13.99 Producer: Bodegas Piqueras
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Riscal 1860 Tempranillotext
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Riscal 1860 Tempranillo 2016

Castilla-Leon, SpainSmoked wood, stewed forest berries, wood spice in this youthful Vino de la Tierra from Castilla y Leon. 85 percent tempranillo is aided by 10 percent syrah and 5 percent cabernet sauvignon, all spends its life in stainless. Rustic, rooty and ragged, with earthy raspberry, cherry, and smoked wood lingering on the finish. Beef stew ready.Prices: BC 16.00 AB 14.00 QC 14.75 ON 11.45 Producer: Vinos Herederos del Marqués de Riscal S.A.
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Juan Gil Blue Labeltext
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Juan Gil Blue Label 2015

Jumilla, Valencia and Murcia, SpainThe Juan Gil ‘Blue Label’ is a 60/30/10 mix of monastrell, cabernet-sauvignon and syrah that spends 18 months in French and American oak barrels. The monastrell vines are very old and grown at 700 meters altitude. The colour is opaque, the nose a mix of toasted oak (too much really) with earthy, lead pencil, spicy black fruits and chocolate flavours. The finish is long and smooth with balsamic notes. New World Spain. This will need time to settle into itself. If you must open it now, think grilled beef, duck, pork or meaty/mushroom pasta dishes.Prices: BC 48.99 NS 48.99 Producer: Juan Gil Bodegas Familiares
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Laya Garnacha Monastrell Vieilles Vignestext
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Laya Garnacha Monastrell Vieilles Vignes 2016

Almansa, Castilla-La Mancha, SpainThe heft in the bottle reflects the density of this wine, a blend of old bush vine garnacha / monastrell from Almansa. Fortunately, the altitude (700-1000m) and soils (calcareous) has kept a flush of freshness. Dusky blackberry, charcoal smoke, black liquorice tug along with thick tannins on a soft, brooding palate, lingering with black espresso and a medicinal scrub. This concentration, as savoury-lined as it is, requires red meats to meet. Solid value.Prices: BC 14.49 Producer: Bodegas Atalaya
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Alaya Tierra Old Vinestext
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Alaya Tierra Old Vines 2015

Almansa, Castilla-La Mancha, SpainWhile the grey silver labelled Laya may be common to you, the top tier, gold leaved Alaya may not be. As soon as you tip the overweight bottle (OMG, muscles) into your glass you get a sense of the concentration. This is low yielding old bush vine garnacha, from crappy limestone soils 1000m up in Almansa. This was fermented in stainless before MLF in new French and American oak, where it sat for 15 months before bottling. Almost opaque, with uber-ribe and sweet dusky black cherry, ribena, anise dusted with violet leaves, soft black pepper and worn leather. Tannins are cushy and the palate is cushier, propped with the sweet spice of new wood. At a whopping 16 percent alcohol, this rivals most ports; certainly not a breezy lunching sipper.Prices: BC 45.99 Producer: Gil Family Estates
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Alvaro Palacios Camins del Priorattext
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Alvaro Palacios Camins del Priorat 2016

Priorato, Catalunya (Catalonia Cataluña), SpainHow much do I like this wine? A lot. The blend is 40 percent grenache and 30/20/10 cinsault, cabernet sauvignon and syrah. Camins del Priorat presents a kaleidoscope of flavours from savoury, spicy dark cherries to cassis, cloves and a touch of roasted tomato and licorice but never out of balance - that quality that makes you want to finish the bottle. Beef pork, lamb or turkey pies, it all works here along with older, hard cheeses.Prices: BC 36.99 QC 28.45 MB 28.15 Producer: Alvaro Palacios
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El Petit Bonhomme Tintotext
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El Petit Bonhomme Tinto 2016

Jumilla, Valencia and Murcia, SpainLikely the best I have tasted by winemaker Nathalie Bonhomme when it comes to her introductory Jumilla red, mixing monastrell, garnacha and syrah from bush vines grown in southwest Spain. The monastrell comes off 25-year plus bushvines bringing depth of flavours, and she guards those flavours with minimal oak ageing: five months in French and American oak. The juicy, almost grapey 2016 is full of fruit and pepper with a savoury, liquorice, ripe raspberry/cherry flavoured finish. Lamb chops, ribs, burgers or grilled chicken all work here. Super value and this will only get better in the bottle all year.Prices: BC 13.49 AB 17.49 MB 14.99 Producer: Nathalie Bonhomme Vins
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El Grand Bonhomme Cuvee Especial Tempranillotext
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El Grand Bonhomme Cuvee Especial Tempranillo 2012

Castilla-Leon, SpainThis is a giant, "El Grand", I guess, tempranillo from the province of Zamora with a somewhat lifted, near volatile nose, so give it some tine in a decanter to blow off some steam. The tempranillo spends 16 months in one and two-year-old French barrels. Think big, with rich tannins and jammy, black cherry, licorice fruit. Canadian Nathalie Bonhomme makes the wine in a modern style, all the while respecting the tradition of old vines and vineyards. This one needs time, three to five years to reach its peak.Prices: BC 31.50 Producer: Nathalie Bonhomme Vins
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Mas Donis Old Vinestext
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Mas Donis Old Vines 2015

Montsant, Catalunya (Catalonia Cataluña), SpainThe grenache, merlot and syrah are vinified separately in stainless steel tanks and aged nine months in a mix of new to five-year-old French and American oak barrels. The vines are as much as 50-years-old growing in a mix of alluvial and stony, mineral granite soils along with limestone and slate. The nose is muted with dry undertones and notes of wild black fruits and leather. The entry is dry, with peppery, gamey, black cherry, mineral flavours. The finish is warm, dry and rustic. A fine earthy, full-bodied red wine for a mid-week cassoulet, stew or hamburger. Needs another two to three years in bottle to settle into itself.Prices: BC 24.99 Producer: Celler de Capçanes
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Yuntero Selección Gran Calidad Tempranillo Reservatext
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Yuntero Selección Gran Calidad Tempranillo Reserva 2010

La Mancha, Castilla-La Mancha, SpainChewy and dark fruited tempranillo from La Mancha reflects all of the sunbaked rusticity of the region. Tobacco, black cherry, earthy cassis is stretched across the palate, buffered on the sides with sticky, bitter-edged tannins. From a local co-op, this is just the edgy rustic red you want with your grilled sausage.Prices: BC 14.99 Producer: Coop. Jesus del Perdon
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05 January 2018

Narrative Riesling by Okanagan Crush Padtext
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Narrative Riesling by Okanagan Crush Pad 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaWinemaker Matt Dumayne shepherded this Golden Mile Bench riesling from vineyard to bottle employing a native yeast ferment in a concrete tank before extra ageing in stainless steel. The wine is bright, and as Treve would say, joyous and juicy, with the perfect mix of complexity and sweetness. The plate is mildly tropical with pineapple/pear red apple fruit that remains intense from front to back, all the while balanced by its minerality and acidity. The Narrative line is to be a pure or natural view of the Okanagan, at a fair price, and as we have said before this riesling is their poster child.Prices: BC 22.90 Producer: Okanagan Crush Pad Winery
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Black Swift Riesling Kirkjian Farmtext
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Black Swift Riesling Kirkjian Farm 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe deep clay soils of Kurkjian Farm make what winemaker Jason Parkes would term a more muscular, intense riesling with a pronounced firm, dry acid bent. The four-acre vineyard located in East Kelowna, just below Summerhill Winery, is certified organic. As noted previously its bone-dry styling reminds us of the Clare and Eden Valleys. Again, the electric East Kelowna, salty, mineral style carries the day, suggesting this wine will keep for years in the bottle. Love the style and so will food lovers.Prices: BC 27.99 Producer: The Hatch
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Roche Arometext
88PTS

Roche Arome 2016

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaHighly perfumed peach, apricot, lime sherbet, orange blossom on this light palate. Lime oil acidity is laced throughout, lifting the aromatic blend to a gossamer finish. One of the rare lighter bodied (12 percent), dry aromatic white wines of BC, and a welcome trend.Prices: BC 17.90 Producer: Roche Wines
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Deinhard Riesling Piesportertext
87PTS

Deinhard Riesling Piesporter 2015

Mosel, GermanyAlways pleasant and fresh, an attractive just off-dry riesling offers up floral, red apple and orange flavours flecked with minerality. It simply delivers for the price without overreaching, and it's food friendly too. Perfect for spicy tuna sushi, fish cakes or barbecue. Big value.Prices: SK 14.00 NS 15.00 BC 13.79 Producer: Deinhard KG Koblenz
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04 January 2018

Fort Berens White Goldtext
88PTS

Fort Berens White Gold 2015

Lillooet, British Columbia, CanadaLillooet chardonnay is the base for this premium Fort Berens label. The nose is open and rich, reminiscent of an earlier time in California, save for the green apple fruit, the toasted caramel notes of new barrels, and a swath of creamy lees that take over on the nose and palate. The wine spends six months in new French oak with twice-monthly battonage which is probably a bit too much for the Lillooet fruit. That said, many will enjoy the tropical, pineapple, citrus flavours with a twist of butterscotch and all at only 12.5 percent alcohol. Try this with butter based fish dishes or young, creamy cheeses.Prices: BC 25.99 Producer: Fort Berens Estate Winery
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Bachelder Willamette Valley Chardonnaytext
90PTS

Bachelder Willamette Valley Chardonnay 2013

Willamette Valley, Oregon, United StatesSourced from a few sites in the northern Willamette and vinified at Carlton Winemakers Studio (alongside like minded garagistes), this was barrel fermented with native yeast before 18 months rest in wood (15 percent new French oak, the rest 1-5 years old), and blended just prior to bottling. In Bachelder's Burgundian-toned way this carries a slick of flint throughout the generous form, tinged with lemon balm and verbena on a creamy, stone-fruited, popcorn base. A sea salt snap tightens the whole and rings on the finish. Poured blind I probably wouldn't say Willamette, but I would say Bachelder.Prices: ON 25.00 BC 35.00 Producer: Bachelder
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Concha y Toro Marqués de Casa Concha Chardonnaytext
89PTS

Concha y Toro Marqués de Casa Concha Chardonnay 2016

Valle del Limari, ChileThis is extreme Chilean chardonnay from Limari’s Quebrada Seca Vineyard just 29 kilometers from the Pacific Ocean. It’s grown on silty clay soils, rich in calcium carbonate and under cool temperatures. Just five percent of the wine underwent malolactic fermentation. Winemaker Marcelo Papa has been pushing the “Marques” range away from the predictable, super-ripe, over-extracted, too much new oak style to a fresher juicy that better represents the grape and the land. Five percent of this wine goes through an acid-flattening malolactic ferment and it spends only 11 months in French oak barrels, now of varying sizes. The attack is svelte with vibrant tropical fruit aromas and flavours before a creamy mid-section kicks in to provide some balance. There is some elegance here but the oak seems more dominant this year and it struggles to work with fruit. Best with richer creamy pastas or roasted chicken.Prices: BC 22.99 AB 20.00 QC 18.60 ON 19.95 Producer: Vina Concha y Toro S.A.
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Kendall-Jackson Chardonnay Vintner's Reservetext
89PTS

Kendall-Jackson Chardonnay Vintner's Reserve 2016

California, United StatesKJ has been America's #1 selling chardonnay for 25 years and despite its massive production it remains entirely barrel fermented and essentially handcrafted from small vineyard lots, vineyards, by the way, the Jackson family owns. It’s all cool, coastal fruit from a mix of top clones. KJ’s signature label is all about land. They own every vineyard that goes into this two million-plus case brand and it's all cool, coastal, chardonnay that chief winemaker Randy Ullom gets to work with. Here he mixes Monterey County citrus and lime flavours with the mango and pineapple flavours of Santa Barbara County, the green apple notes of Mendocino County and Sonoma County’s ripe pears. The wine is fermented and aged in French and American oak barrels and aged sur lie. Soft, round and fresh, it is fully ready to drink. Try it with a chicken salad or a favourite creamy pasta dish.Prices: AB 23.00 BC 23.99 ON 20.00 MB 19.00 QC 21.00 US 15.00 NB 27.50 Producer: Kendall-Jackson Vineyards and Winery
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La Crema Chardonnaytext
90PTS

La Crema Chardonnay 2015

Sonoma Coast, Sonoma County, California, United StatesDespite one of the earliest ever picks, the coastal fruit remains fresh with floral, lemon, green apple, honeydew, pear and spice aromas and flavours. Richly textured and concentrated, with balanced acidity that drives a lingering finish. There is only 19 percent new oak in the mix and the wine spends seven months in wood except for a small amount of juice kept in stainless steel to maintain freshness. The fruit is sourced from multiple vineyards spread across the Sonoma Coast AVA including the estates of Saralee's, Laughlin, Fulton, Shiloh, Carneros Hills West and Durell. The clones include 4, 17, 76, 95, 96 and 809 and the soil is mostly free-draining sandy loam. Very solid, and reliable label.Prices: BC 30.99 AB 28.99 ON 32.95 QC 26.60 MB 28.99 NF 32.87 PEI 39.69 NB 40.48 Producer: La Crema
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Sterling Vintner's Collection Chardonnaytext
87PTS

Sterling Vintner's Collection Chardonnay 2016

California, United StatesNice to see a sensible introductory chardonnay that isn’t oaked to death. Fresh notes of green apple with a touch of resin and creamy notes of apples with subtle buttery lees. Soft, round, warm entry with a hint of sweetness. Ready to drink and fair value.Prices: BC 14.49 Producer: Sterling Vineyards
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Painted Rock Chardonnaytext
90PTS

Painted Rock Chardonnay 2016

Skaha Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe 2016 PR Chardonnay is a blend of three pick dates from the estate chardonnay block to manage the fruit flavours. The first two picks, 80 percent of the fruit, is aged six months in French oak (55 percent new). The final harvest or 20 percent is aged in stainless streel. In 2016 some 60 percent of the wine underwent malolactic fermentation to build mouthfeel without making the wine too fat. This is the freshest chardonnay we have tasted form the property, replete with creamy guava, apple, pear with enough acidity to keep it fresh through the dry, salty mineral finish. Well done. Skaha chardonnay is in the game.Prices: BC 30.49 Producer: Painted Rock Estate Winery
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Liberty School Chardonnaytext
88PTS

Liberty School Chardonnay 2015

Central Coast, California, United StatesThe Liberty School chardonnay is whole-cluster pressed and chilled for 1 – 2 days prior to a barrel fermentation and spending six-eight months in both neutral French and American oak barrels. The freshness and elegance surprises despite the intensity of the citrus and pineapple fruit flavours with a hint of butterscotch. Again, impressive for the price and a good introduction to California chardonnay that isn’t sweet.Prices: BC 21.99 AB 19.00 QC 19.00 NB 26.00 ON 18.00 Producer: Hope Family Winery
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Chateau St. Jean Chardonnaytext
89PTS

Chateau St. Jean Chardonnay 2015

Sonoma County, California, United StatesAlways a safe choice we think CSJ has upped the ante a bit in 2015 going a little more juicy and fresh. Still attractive, with a ripe, lemon, honey, spicy lees nose. On the palate, the attack is fresh with more citrus, red apple pear fruit with just enough well-managed oak to let you know it's there but without interfering in the finish. Perfect for crab or scallops or seafood pasta dishes. Let’s hope the style continues to evolve in this direction.Prices: BC 19.99 AB 19.00 ON 18.95 QC 20.00 Producer: Chateau Saint Jean
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Black Hills Chardonnaytext
88PTS

Black Hills Chardonnay 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaA welcome change over the supercharged 2015. There is much better fruit and oak balance here with a subtler hazelnut, peach and mango flavour profile. The lees are creamy but doesn’t dominate the flavour profile revealing fresher red apple notes with just a hint of baked pear on a very spicy finish. Lobster, fresh cracked crab and creamy brie all work here. A new direction?Prices: BC 29.90 Producer: Black Hills Estate Winery
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Concha y Toro Marqués de Casa Concha Chardonnaytext
87PTS

Concha y Toro Marqués de Casa Concha Chardonnay 2016

Valle del Limari, ChileRipe, round and creamy on the palate, with ample toasted wood dominating, followed shortly thereafter by a tropical fruit basket of pineapples, guava and bananas. Creamsicle coats the palate to the shorter, vanilla finish. Amazing winemaker (Marcelo Papa), amazing site (Limari), amazing vision (coastal, cool climate), but the bottle I had was distinctly Old School.Prices: BC 22.99 AB 20.00 QC 18.60 ON 19.95 Producer: Vina Concha y Toro S.A.
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Sacred Hill Reserve Chardonnaytext
89PTS

Sacred Hill Reserve Chardonnay 2016

Hawkes Bay, North Island, New ZealandIn 2016, the cool growing season in Hawkes Bay finished in a storm of heat and dry conditions, perfecting ripeness in the vineyard. The nose is a fragrant mix of citrus and hazelnuts. The palate is round and creamy with sweet lemon pie, orange and mineral flecks and vanilla undertones. The fruit comes off the famed Riflemans Terraces and is all barrel fermented in French oak barriques. A touch old style but well made.Prices: BC 26.99 ON 40.00 Producer: Sacred Hill
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Black Swift Vineyards Hart Street Vineyard Chardonnaytext
90PTS

Black Swift Vineyards Hart Street Vineyard Chardonnay 2016

East Kelowna, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe Hatch is behind this Black Swift release from a single vineyard site in east Kelowna that is the coolest and the most northern of their chardonnay labels. It’s a terrific addition to their goal “to create the first exclusively single vineyard, multi-regional wine project in British Columbia; one which seeks to capture the diversity of our young, but exceptional region.” Winemaker Jason Parkes assessed the site and the fruit and was inspired to emulate the Chablis style. In fact, it’s a good play given the delicate textures here and that long clean subtle palate with just a hint of lemon, sage and salty wet stones. More acid would be the final solution.Prices: BC 43.00 Producer: The Hatch
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