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Anthony Gismondi on Wine
Tasting Notes

Tastings: February 2017

20 February 2017

Stonestreet Sauvignon Blanc Aurora Point Vineyardtext
92PTS

Stonestreet Sauvignon Blanc Aurora Point Vineyard 2014

Alexander Valley, Sonoma County, California, United StatesThe 5100-acre estate (900 acres planted) is a blend of several sauvignon blocks planted at 900 feet over rocky volcanic soils. Bright tangerine aromas mix with bay leaf and fennel, with floral notes throughout. The palate is a riot of flavour with grapefruit pith, guava, white flowers, candied lemon and a stony mineral undercurrent. It's 100 percent barrel fermented and aged in French oak for six months, yet you hardly notice it. This is delicious stuff that marks a new direction in California mountain sauvignon blanc.Prices: US 40.00 Producer: Stonestreet Winery
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Mission Hill Reserve Sauvignon Blanctext
88PTS

Mission Hill Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2015

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis reserve tier sauvignon blanc was sourced from Mission Hill's estate vineyards in Osoyoos and on Black Sage Bench. Twenty percent was fermented in French oak, where it remained for six months. This is lush and tropical, with mandarin, passion fruit and lime blossom on a creamy, bright palate (a welcome 13 percent alcohol). Ginger spicing seasons the zesty finish. A nice blend of new world tropical and old world structure and Okanagan purity; well done.Prices: BC 20.49 Producer: Mission Hill Family Estate
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Kirkland Signature Sauvignon Blanc Ti Pointtext
86PTS

Kirkland Signature Sauvignon Blanc Ti Point 2016

Marlborough, South Island, New ZealandTi Point Vineyards makes this wine for Costco and it's definitely brisk Marlborough. Fresh citrus and guava notes pervade the wine and jump from the glass with bits of gooseberry and grass. The palate is equally fresh; if anything it loses a bit of persistence through the finish. Not much to complain about here at US$6.99 if you are devoted Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc fan. Mussels anyone?Prices: US 6.99 Producer: Ti Point Vineyard
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Pascal Jolivet Attitude Sauvignontext
89PTS

Pascal Jolivet Attitude Sauvignon 2014

Loire, FranceThe Pascal Jolivet domaine owns over 120 acres of vineyards spread across the appellations of Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé. Attitude is from a single 57-acre estate located to the west of Sancerre in Touraine, and covers two distinct terroirs: Chémery, with limestone soils, and Anger sur Cher, with sandy soils. Wild yeast fermented, this carries greengage, tinned asparagus, shale and lemon thistle, lined with a cushion of herbal lees, and seasoned with white pepper. Low yields (for a VdP) has aided concentration, and buzzy minerality on the finish.Prices: BC 27.00 Producer: Pascal Jolivet
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Galerie Naissance Sauvignon Blanctext
89PTS

Galerie Naissance Sauvignon Blanc 2015

Napa Valley, California, United StatesThis wine has a very peculiar non-Napa vibe, where the nose is muted and aromas of citrus, yellow flowers and honeydew melon seep, rather jump out at you. The juice is fermented in stainless steel tanks and neutral French oak to preserve the light melon flavours that carry its creamy finish. It’s New World but we like the sophisticated approach here. Fish tacos and fruit salsa would work well.Prices: BC 40.00 AB 40.00 Producer: Galerie Wines
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NewHarbour Sauvignon Blanctext
86PTS

NewHarbour Sauvignon Blanc 2015

Marlborough, South Island, New ZealandClassic passion fruit and guava with a bright, crisp citrus thread from front to back. Friendly, ready-to-drink style that is best for chicken salads, avocado toast, or assorted shellfish, very simply prepared.Prices: BC 15.49 Producer: NewHarbour Vineyards
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Goose Bay Sauvignon Blanctext
87PTS

Goose Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2014

Moutere Hills, Nelson, South Island, New ZealandGoose Bay wines were developed for the kosher market, from fruit grown on the Upper Moutere hills near Nelson, on the South Island. The attack is classic gooseberry, passion fruit and melon, with a strong citrus undercurrent. Simple well made sauvignon blanc, with a Kosher rating.Prices: BC 20.47 Producer: Spencer Hill Wine
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Hall Sauvignon Blanctext
88PTS

Hall Sauvignon Blanc 2015

Napa Valley, California, United StatesIf you love Kiwi sauvignon blanc you probably will not be a fan of California sauvignon; to each his own. Expect a rounder, softer version of sauvignon, with a whiff of passion fruit and ripe honeydew melon. On the palate, the wine is expansive with peachy melon citrus fruit and a dusting of cut grass. The textures are creamy and round, giving it a slightly sweet finish. Try this with a spicy tuna poke.Prices: AB 28.00 Producer: Hall Wines
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17 February 2017

Fuzion Alta Torrontés Chardonnaytext
86PTS

Fuzion Alta Torrontés Chardonnay 2016

Mendoza, ArgentinaHuge florals - fragrant lime and peach blossom - throughout this off-dry and bright blend of torrontés and chardonnay from Mendoza. Bananas, candied pear and powdered lemon on the short, gingery finish. Chill well down and enjoy on a patio, or as the base for summer fruit sangria.Prices: BC 12.99 MB 12.99 Producer: Familia Zuccardi
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Soleil Blanc de Laurigatext
87PTS

Soleil Blanc de Lauriga 2015

Côtes du Roussillon, Roussillon, South of France, FranceSurprisingly this 60/40 blend of old vine (30-years-old) grenache blanc and macabeu wine spends three to six months in new oak complete with regular battonage. The nose is a mix of bright peach and pear flavours with flecks of tropical fruit and ginger with more of the same on the palate. The oak sets the tone but there is a delicacy and some underlying mineral/orange notes that keeps it all fresh.Prices: BC 23.99 Producer: Lauriga Exploitante
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Esprit de Silène Blanctext
88PTS

Esprit de Silène Blanc 2015

Languedoc, South of France, FranceIt was December 2014 that Les Domaines Paul Mas took over Domaine du Silène des Peyrals and its 57 hectares of vines. Esprit de Selene is a new blend from this historical property, located along the Joncastre stream, in the municipality of Saint-Pons-de-Mauchiens. It sits adjacent to the vineyard of Château Paul Mas, Abbey Valmagne and Domain Peyre Rose. The blend is a typical mix of grenache blanc, marsanne and vermentino, offering up a stony mineral floral mix of fruit aromas and flavours with a touch of heat and nutty bitterness in the finish. Try this with turkey, roasted chicken and creamy mushroom pasta dishes.Prices: BC 20.99 Producer: Silene des Peyrals
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Domaine de Majas Blanctext
90PTS

Domaine de Majas Blanc 2012

IGP Côtes Catalanes, Roussillon, South of France, FranceThe 30-hectare Domaine de Majas is located to the west of the Roussillion in the village of Caudies de Fenouilledes. Fully biodynamic since 2007, with Domaine Matassa's Tom Lubbe as consultant. Organic rolle, macabeu, carignan blanc vines are planted on clay-limestone soil at an altitude of 350-400 metres above sea level, fermented wild and see just a shadow of sulphur. Salted almonds and hazelnuts glide along a sizeable slick of herbal lees, lifted by a crystalline citrus. White peach, green fig, dried thyme, medicinal hued white cherry on the medium body, before mineral salts linger on the finish. Exactly what you want to drink right now with grilled anchovies or white wine and garlic mussels.Prices: BC 25.00 Producer: Domaine de Majas
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Plaimont Les Vignes Retrouvéestext
88PTS

Plaimont Les Vignes Retrouvées 2013

Sud-Ouest, FranceThis herbal-driven, lemony lighter white is a blend of gros manseng, arrufac and petit courbu, the ancestral grapes of the Pyrenean foothills. This wine is named Les Vines Retrouvées (the Rediscovered Vines) as a tribute to the grapes' history in the South West. Hedgerow, lemongrass and a ringing river stone minerality throughout, streaked with a quenching lemon rind acidity and lined with a scrubby herbal lees. Enjoy this vibrant, honest, authentic white with mussels, clams or other shellfish. Fantastic value.Prices: QC 12.00 MB 14.00 BC 15.00 Producer: Plaimont Producteurs
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Falesco Est Est Est di Montefiasconetext
88PTS

Falesco Est Est Est di Montefiascone 2012

Lazio, ItalyHerbal slicked, lees-licked and lemon-lined, this medium bodied blend of trebbiano and malvasia is from the remarkably memorable DOP of Est! East!! East!!! in Lazio. Whole cluster grapes spend time in stainless steel, preserving the bright fruit. Greengage, lemon, green fig and mineral salts on the finish. Best when warmed up a bit. As legend has it, a 12th century Bishop was travelling to the Vatican for a meeting with the Pope. The Bishop sent a scout ahead to survey the villages along the route for the best wines, with directions to write 'Est' (Latin for 'It is') on the door of the inns he visited when he was particularly impressed with the quality of the wine, so the Bishop following on his trail would know where to stop for a tipple. At a Montefiascone inn, the scout was reportedly so stoked with the local wine that he wrote Est! Est!! Est!!! on the door.Prices: BC 18.00 QC 18.00 Producer: Falesco, Az. Agr.
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Altos Blancotext
86PTS

Altos Blanco 2014

Rioja, SpainSuper ripe peach, overripe melon, banana, guava on this fleshy, floral Rioja white. Lower acidity leads to a zesty lime, very warm finish. Oak treatment is obvious, creaming the palate, and weighting this down further. If you like your whites tropical, full and creamy and with lower acidity, seek this out.Prices: BC 17.00 Producer: Altos de Rioja
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16 February 2017

Jim Barry The Cover Drive Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignontext
88PTS

Jim Barry The Cover Drive Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2013

Coonawarra, South Australia, AustraliaDusty red and black fruit is drawn along a gentle stream of eucalyptus in this classic Coonawarra cab. Tobacco, black cherry, perfumed dark florals on a medium bodied, cocoa lined palate. Supple tannins gently support the whole to the lightly spiced finish. Charming and friendly, it's hard not to like this fresher cabernet sauvignon.Prices: BC 27.99 QC 28.00 Producer: Jim Barry
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Mission Hill Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (GOW)text
86PTS

Mission Hill Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (GOW) 2014

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaOne of Mission Hill's Reserve tier of wines, this cabernet sauvignon was sourced from two of their estate vineyards in Osoyoos and on the Black Sage Bench and spent 13 months in oak barrel. The wood sits around the heady density of the ripe black fruit, and in this youthful stage, still dominates the whole. Roasted coffee, vanilla throughout the ripe fruit and tuggy, earthy tannins. This requires roast beef to match.Prices: BC 25.99 ON 28.00 QC 25.25 Producer: Mission Hill Family Estate
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Cassini Cellars The Aristocrat Cabernet Sauvignon Limited Edition Milestone Vineyardstext
88PTS

Cassini Cellars The Aristocrat Cabernet Sauvignon Limited Edition Milestone Vineyards 2013

Golden Mile Bench, Oliver, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaMilestone is a single-vineyard in the south Okanagan and the wine is 100 percent cabernet sauvignon. The attack is warm and oaky with caramel and vanilla obscuring the fruit at this point. The palate is rich and spicy with savoury black fruit flecked with pepper. As your palate adjusts there are flickers of red fruit and fine acidity but this bottle needs five years of rest to relax and open up. We would suggest that less is more but at Cassini it’s full speed ahead. Serve with highly marbled grilled steaks at this point.Prices: BC 40.00 Producer: Cassini Cellars
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Two Hands Sexy Beasttext
88PTS

Two Hands Sexy Beast 2015

McLaren Vale, South Australia, AustraliaThe suggestive label hints that this McLaren Vale will be sexy and rich, but I would summarize as ripe and succulent instead. Brooding brambles, ripe wild blackberry and dark florals on a soft, velvet cushioned palate. Dark chocolate streams throughout the whole, coating the ripe tannins in the characteristic McLaren Vale way. Sweet baking spices linger on the finish. Easy drinking and easily approachable now.Prices: BC 29.99 Producer: Two Hands Wines
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Wakefield Cabernet Sauvignontext
88PTS

Wakefield Cabernet Sauvignon 2015

Clare Valley, South Australia, AustraliaMedicinal hued cherry, anise and nubuck open this Clare Valley cabernet sauvignon, permeated with a subtle mineral salts note and ample scrubby grass and herbs. A slicked palate is buffered by moderate, lightly tuggy tannins and raised with acidity to the potent anise finish. A bit elbows and knees at this young phase, best paired with herbed lamb kabobs.Prices: ON 17.00 BC 24.00 Producer: Wakefield Wines Pty
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Avalon Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignontext
88PTS

Avalon Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

Napa Valley, California, United StatesThis wine surprised us with its purity of fruit and balance. The nose is full of dark fruit, tapenade and tobacco. The attack is firm but rich and weighty with fruit from Napa County: Rutherford AVA, Oakville AVA and the Oak Knoll District AVA. The 85/15 blend of cabernet and merlot comes off a small vintage that allowed the grapes to ripen evenly. Only 30 percent new French oak adds lushness without over-powering the fruit. A very solid restaurant wine. Pair with grilled hamburgers or roasted chicken.Prices: BC 29.99 NF 29.72 AB 31.00 Producer: Avalon Winery
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Francis Ford Coppola Diamond Collection Black Label Claret Cabernet Sauvignontext
86PTS

Francis Ford Coppola Diamond Collection Black Label Claret Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

California, United StatesNamed after the Bordeaux claret style, this blackberry-scented red is all California less its Rioja fine gold netting package. Cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet franc and petit verdot are in the blend that projects soft, round, cassis and cola fruit with sweet tobacco. Modern commercial, introductory California cabernet.Prices: BC 29.49 QC 27.00 Producer: Francis Ford Coppola Presents
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15 February 2017

Black Swift Oak Street Vineyard Chardonnaytext
89PTS

Black Swift Oak Street Vineyard Chardonnay 2014

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaOak Street Vineyard is a cool, south-east facing site on the Golden Mile Bench appellation that gathers the warm morning sun and escapes the baking heat of the afternoon. You sense that from the acidity that greets you right off the top, and freshness that continues throughout. The fruit is a mix of clones 53, 76 and 96, adding more complexity to the palate. The wine is aged in new French puncheons for 14 months. The nose is a mix of aromatic pears, orange spice, melon and apples. The palate is similar with more red apple and citrus and a touch of oaky bitterness. Fine elegance here with a dash of smoke. A little more refinement, less new oak and this wine is poised to soar.Prices: BC 39.99 Producer: The Hatch
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Jason Parkes Customs Crown + Thieves Chardonnaytext
86PTS

Jason Parkes Customs Crown + Thieves Chardonnay 2015

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaYou can't like them all unless you love that oaky, soft, round, fat style of chardonnay, which according to winemaker Jason Parkes is the way his wife likes her chardonnay – and he made this for his wife. Ms. Parkes you are not alone, but rather than say its an acquired taste I feel as it I should say it’s a mostly abandoned taste. My advice is go funkier with lees, and reduce the new oak. Or crank up the acidity and go in another direction.Prices: BC 34.99 Producer: The Hatch
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Cassini Cellars Chardonnay Bella Vineyardtext
88PTS

Cassini Cellars Chardonnay Bella Vineyard 2013

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe 2013 growing season was made for chardonnay on the Golden Mile Bench. The vines are 22 years old at Bella Vineyards, and a mix of two clones. The style is friendly with just enough acidity to balance the ripe fruit, in this case red apples and peaches with a touch of citrus underneath. The wine is aged in new French and American barrels, the later lending it a slightly more open character with bits of vanilla and spice. It is ready to drink.Prices: BC 29.00 Producer: Cassini Cellars
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14 February 2017

Nik Weis St. Urbans-Hof Riesling Spätlese Saarfeilser Grosse Lagetext
91PTS

Nik Weis St. Urbans-Hof Riesling Spätlese Saarfeilser Grosse Lage 2015

Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, GermanyYou are going to love this wine from start to finish. This is a delicious, edgy riesling packed full of electric, mineral fruit, bright tropical overtones, big peach and red apple flavours and hints of pastry and baking spices. The plate is slightly zingy with a long, sweet balanced honeyed finish. Try this with spicy tuna, or spicy roasted chicken. This will live in the bottle through 2025 without problem.Prices: BC 67.00 Producer: Weingut Nik Weis St. Urbans-Hof
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Nik Weis St. Urbans-Hof Piesporter Goldtropfchen Spatlese Rieslingtext
93PTS

Nik Weis St. Urbans-Hof Piesporter Goldtropfchen Spatlese Riesling 2015

Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, GermanySpätlese means the grapes were harvested ripe or late enough to potentially make a wine a sweeter than normal. Even so spätlese only refers to the ripeness level. It’s up to the winemaker to decide how much residual sugar is left in the wine and the final style. This Piesporter Spätlese is an opulent style with big, tropical fruit flavours, citrus, sea salt and minerals with plenty of sweet fruit (108 grams per litre) to offset its acidity at 8.9 grams per litre. Best with tarte tatin or a Weis favourite, salted caramel.Prices: BC 52.00 375 Producer: Weingut Nik Weis St. Urbans-Hof
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Tesch Unplugged Rieslingtext
89PTS

Tesch Unplugged Riesling 2014

Nahe, GermanyEstablished in 1723, Weingut Tesch is one of Germany’s classic producers, typifying the Nahe. Unplugged is driven by racy, ripping acidity, driving heady yellow fruit, green fig, white peach and honeysuckle, all cut by weathered stone and funky earthiness. Though Nahe's generosity is cut with the shearing acidity and crystalline orange peel, this is still very dense, vibrating on the finish. Not quite cohesive at this point, but still fun to drink (unlike what the dude on the label will make you think).Prices: NF 19.00 BC 20.00 Producer: Weingut Tesch
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13 February 2017

Domaine Maby Nessun Dorma Liractext
88PTS

Domaine Maby Nessun Dorma Lirac 2013

Lirac, Southern Rhone, Rhone Valley, FranceThis estate has been in the Maby family since the early 19th century, and is now run by descendant Richard Maby. Nessun Dorma, the estate's top red cuvee, is named for an aria from ‘Turandot’, made from their oldest parcels of syrah and grenache, and aged for 18 months in conncrete and new oak. Dusky violet, blackberry, anise is drawn across a textured palate, with herbal scrub, rock roses, dark espresso, cured meats and worn leather. Juicy on the mid palate, with raging, rustically grippy tannins caging the whole. Decant and enjoy now with lamb shank.Prices: BC 38.00 Producer: Domaine Maby
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Laya Garnacha Monastrell Vieilles Vignestext
88PTS

Laya Garnacha Monastrell Vieilles Vignes 2015

Almansa, Castilla-La Mancha, SpainThe weight and heft on the palate reflects both the old bush vines in this 70/30 garnacha tintorera/monastrell, and the intense heat of Alamansa. Fortunately, the altitude of the vineyards (700-1000m) and calcareous soils have laced this concentrated wine with freshness. Brooding cassis, black plum, dark florals and black liquorice are etched with scrubby resinous herbs, thorns, espresso and medicinal blackberry, all bolstered by thick and sticky tannins. This packs weight and complexity far past its price point. Bodegas Atalaya was founded in 2007 by the Gil Family of Jumilla.Prices: BC 13.99 Producer: Bodegas Atalaya
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Esprit de Silene Rougetext
89PTS

Esprit de Silene Rouge 2015

Languedoc, South of France, FranceLes Domaines Paul Mas came into possession of the 57-hectare Domaine du Silène des Peyrals in December 2014. The vineyard sits along the Joncastre stream, in the municipality of Saint-Pons-de-Mauchiens adjacent to the vineyard of Château Paul Mas, Abbey Valmagne and Domain Peyre Rose in the Coteaux du Languedoc. The terroir is classic Mediterranean scrubland countryside, scented with garrigue and soils are gravel mixed with sandstone. Expect a fresh, earthy red with the scent of plums in this syrah, grenache, cinsault blend. The palate is dry with peppery red fruits, light tannins and tobacco. A perfect wine for mushroom dishes or spaghetti Bolognese.Prices: BC 20.99 Producer: Silene des Peyrals
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Brunel de la Gardine Cotes du Rhonetext
89PTS

Brunel de la Gardine Cotes du Rhone 2015

Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Southern Rhone, Rhone Valley, FranceThe Brunel family has been making wine since the 17th century, and this Châteauneuf du Pape property, Château de la Gardine, was acquired by the négociant in 1945. Known for their singular "La Gardine" sloped bottle, this grenache, mourvèdre, syrah is a classic, typecast Côtes du Rhone. Aged in cement, this approachable bistro-perfect red is textured with anise and tobacco, seasoned with cracked peppercorns and a lick of mineral salts, and charming with alluring red liquorice and cherry friendliness. Bright and medium bodied, there is a firmness to the tannins of this young red, providing structure ideal for roast chicken. Excellent value; this is the Côtes du Rhone you want to stock up on and drink regularly over the next couple of years.Prices: BC 20.00 QC 19.00 MB 16.00 Producer: Chateau de la Gardine
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Yalumba Old Bush Vine Grenachetext
89PTS

Yalumba Old Bush Vine Grenache 2014

Barossa Valley, South Australia, AustraliaThe last time I tasted the 2014 was 18 months ago, so was happy to revisit this special Yalumba red. Old Barossa bush vine grenache, from vines planted between 1898 and 1972, were crushed as separate parcels, mostly destemmed, and utilize wild yeast to kick off fermentation. Some bunches were left on skins for three months, after which all went to barrel for maturation. An alluring, lifted floral note leads throughout, with perfumed plum, fresh cassis and wild blueberry that stretches along the palate. An herbal mustard seed note that I always get in this particular wine is still strong, here joined by highly perfumed iris and a fine dusting of white pepper. Tannins are finely sticky, in perfect proportion to the density of the fruit. Tasting lovely now, and will continue to hold for a few years yet.Prices: NS 22.00 SK 24.00 QC 19.00 BC 28.00 Producer: Yalumba Wine Company
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10 February 2017

Hester Creek Character Estate Red Blendtext
82PTS

Hester Creek Character Estate Red Blend 2015

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaRoasted: coffee, meats, branch, onions, tobacco. From first sniff to the powdery finish, this vintage of Character, a Golden Mile Bench blend of syrah, malbec and petit verdot, is fully roasted. Outside of that, you taste juicy and bitter blackberry, smoke and charcoal right to the short finish. I'm sure the fruit is great from this site; please less adulteration in the future so we can taste it. As is now, crack and pour with roasted something.Prices: BC 20.95 Producer: Hester Creek Estate Winery
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Braida di Giacomo Bologna il Bacialétext
87PTS

Braida di Giacomo Bologna il Bacialé 2012

Piedmont, ItalyThis is a blend of barbera, pinot noir, cabernet sauvignon and merlot, from Piemonte's Monferrato. In the Piemonte dialect, Il Baciale translates as matchmaker, the person who arranged marriages between members of noble families in the area, and this wine marries local barbera with French grapes. Dusky blackberry, potent leather, sweet cassis, grilled meats and thorns drawn across youthful, gritty tannins to a bitter cherry and cinnamon finish. A juicy swell on the medium bodied palate helps mitigate the rusticity, though the frisky acidity and bitter finish is best suited to hearty sausages.Prices: BC 40.00 Producer: Giacomo Bologna
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09 February 2017

Ten Minutes by Tractor McCutcheon Pinot Noirtext
91PTS

Ten Minutes by Tractor McCutcheon Pinot Noir 2015

Mornington Peninsula, Victoria, AustraliaSo named because the three estate vineyards are all within ten minutes drive by tractor. This is from the elevated McCutcheon vineyard, 160-200m, planted in 1993. Light and pretty strawberry, red currant, cherry lead this very fragrant and bright red. Light herbal notes wrap around a sapid strawberry fruit core to a slight sea salt finish. Nimble and elegant throughout.Prices: AUS 90.00 Producer: Ten Minutes by Tracktor
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Pipe'Dreams Kernertext
85PTS

Pipe'Dreams Kerner 2015

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaRipe, sweet and round, with lime blossom, pear and yellow apple. Fragrant pink floral perfume and overripe melon throughout the soft palate to a short, hot (15 percent!) finish. This is flabby and lacking verve; better hopes for an earlier pick and tighter frame next time.Prices: BC 29.00 Producer: Pipe'Dreams Estate Winery
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Fitzpatrick Family Vineyards The Unwinder Ehrenfelsertext
86PTS

Fitzpatrick Family Vineyards The Unwinder Ehrenfelser 2015

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaPerfumed orange blossoms, ripe pear, peach blossom, and a lick of anise throughout this big, full ehrenfelser from West Kelowna, supplemented with the home Greata Ranch fruit. Fifteen percent was fermented in barrique, which is apparent in the broadness of the palate. Would love to see this tighter and fresher in the future.Prices: BC 24.50 Producer: Fitzpatrick Family Vineyards
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Fitzpatrick Family Vineyards Interloper Gewurztraminertext
87PTS

Fitzpatrick Family Vineyards Interloper Gewurztraminer 2015

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaUnmistakably gewürztraminer, this super ripe, round and fleshy white is full of rose petals, peach and melon to a gingersnap finish. A quarter was fermented in neutral oak, and all spent four months on the lees in stainless, upping gew's generosity further - almost too far. A bitter twist on the finish helps rein this in, but I hope for more acid on this Alsatian-style white in the future.Prices: BC 24.50 Producer: Fitzpatrick Family Vineyards
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Prancing Horse Pinot Noirtext
92PTS

Prancing Horse Pinot Noir 2015

Mornington Peninsula, Victoria, AustraliaInspired by Burgundy, where owner Tony Hancy also makes wine, Prancing Horse is farmed with organic and biodynamic principles under consultation from Pascal Marchand in Burgundy and Patrick Piuze in Chablis. Deeper, stonier notes in this Red Hills South pinot, filled with raspberry, dried fruit, iron and savoury leather. Larger flake mineral salts linger on the spiced finish. Lovely structure and presence, finessed into 12.5 percent. Cellar-worthy, and drinking very well now.Prices: AUS 64.00 Producer: Prancing Horse
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Paringa Estate Pinot Noirtext
90PTS

Paringa Estate Pinot Noir 2015

Mornington Peninsula, Victoria, AustraliaPlanted 1985, this is three clones, all destemmed. Darker fruited, denser perfumed black raspberry, cherry in this full bodied pinot. You can feel the support of oak here (one year on lees in French oak, 40 percent new), propping up a dark, ripe, sweet plum core. Eucalypt kiss lingers on the spicy finish.Prices: AUS 40.00 Producer: Paringa
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Foxeys Scotsworth Vineyard Pinot Noirtext
91PTS

Foxeys Scotsworth Vineyard Pinot Noir 2015

Mornington Peninsula, Victoria, AustraliaPlanted in 1998, farmed biodynamically and fermented wild. Lovely black cherry purity throughout this long and vibrant pinot, with pink peppercorns and wild herbal notes seasoning the generous palate. Quite a bit of new oak is used here, but the concentrated fruit absorbs it very well. Medicinal herbs perfume the finish.Prices: AUS 63.00 Producer: Foxeys
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Kooyong Single Vineyard Meres Pinot Noirtext
93PTS

Kooyong Single Vineyard Meres Pinot Noir 2015

Mornington Peninsula, Victoria, AustraliaPlanted in 1997, the Meres vineyard is north facing, with exposed vines producing low vigour and low yields. More clay and sand, and less ironstone in this vineyard always produces wines with fragrant, red-fruited aromatics leading. Quiet smoked stone and gentle clove streak through a core of strawberry and raspberry, with earthy, herbal spice, and dark cocoa whiffs on the finish. Long, linear and finely textured throughout. This was fermented in wood, 25 percent new, with a small portion whole bunch, and was bottled unfined and unfiltered. Lovely complexity now in youth, that will build and deepen with cellaring.Prices: AUS 65.00 Producer: Kooyong
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Dexter Pinot Noirtext
90PTS

Dexter Pinot Noir 2015

Mornington Peninsula, Victoria, AustraliaDestemmed without crushing, after a warm fermentation, this is pressed into French oak barriques (25 percent new). Darker and fluid, this pinot noir carries pointed black raspberry, black plum, cherry along a spiced, soft palate to an oily eucalyptus finish. Chewy tannins house the young, muscular fruit. Drinking well now.Prices: AUS 43.00 Producer: Dexter
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Hurley Hommage Pinot Noirtext
90PTS

Hurley Hommage Pinot Noir 2015

Mornington Peninsula, Victoria, AustraliaFrom Balnarring, close to the sea, this wine was matured in oak (1/3 new) for 18 months before being bottled unfined and unfiltered. Generous on the palate, with bright cranberry, candied plum and red currant fruit seasoned with earthy herbal notes and buffered with ripe tannins. Drinking well now.Prices: AUS 56.00 Producer: Hurley
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Merricks Estate Pinot Noirtext
93PTS

Merricks Estate Pinot Noir 2015

Mornington Peninsula, Victoria, AustraliaLocated by the sea, near Western Port Bay, Merricks Estate was one of the first commercial vineyards, planted in 1978. Immediately the old Pommard clones give off saline, sea notes, with quenching minerality continuing the length of this medium-bodied red. Wild herbs season a pure-fruited core of raspberry, red currant and plum, until white pepper spicing caps the finish. Tannins are finely structured, balancing out the finessed fruit. Distinctive.Prices: AUS 39.00 Producer: Merricks
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Scorpo Pinot Noirtext
88PTS

Scorpo Pinot Noir 2015

Mornington Peninsula, Victoria, AustraliaIn Merricks, Scorpo's vineyards are halfway between Port Phillip Bay and Westernport and sit on reddish brown clay/loam soils of volcanic origin. A touch of reduction on the nose blows off, though this young wine is still stunted in aromatics and palate. Red florals, mushroom, red currant and rhubarb lead to a stunted finish. Would like to try another bottle in future.Prices: AUS 43.00 Producer: Scorpo
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Stonier Windmill Pinot Noirtext
92PTS

Stonier Windmill Pinot Noir 2015

Mornington Peninsula, Victoria, AustraliaThe pioneering Stonier winery first planted in Mornington in 1978, though Windmill vineyard was planted in 1996. Ample whole bunch was utilized in this wine, yielding stony raspberry, forest berries, earthy, dark florals, wild thorns across a tightly knit and lifted palate. Acidity is bright and tight, and saline notes linger on the smokey bitter cherry finish. Savoury, earthy, overt style, but one that settles down very well with bottle age.Prices: AUS 69.00 Producer: Stonier
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Yabby Lake Block 6 Pinot Noirtext
91PTS

Yabby Lake Block 6 Pinot Noir 2015

Mornington Peninsula, Victoria, AustraliaFrom Tuerong, and sandy loam over clay, Block 6 is 50 percent whole bunch, 10 days ferment and time in 500L French oak prior to being bottled unfined and unfiltered. Very round and voluminous on the palate, with ample plush tannins supporting potent red currant, raspberry, plum fruit, finishing with downy dark cocoa. Quite youthful and showy at this stage, this is a wine that will wear maturity (couple of years in the cellar) quite well.Prices: AUS 90.00 Producer: Yabby Lake International
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Montalto Tuerong Block Pinot Noirtext
89PTS

Montalto Tuerong Block Pinot Noir 2015

Mornington Peninsula, Victoria, AustraliaFrom the warmest of Montalto's plantings, this is potent, herbal, ripe raspberry and dark plum throughout, with sour cherry and earthy stalkiness entering in on the palate. You can feel the clay soils in the weighted breadth of the palate. Kirsch lingers on the finish. Though there is a lot there, this wine is a bit stunted and clumsy at this phase; hopefully it will mature and grow into its frame.Prices: AUS 65.00 Producer: Montalto
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08 February 2017

Yalumba The Guardian Shiraz Viognier Eden Valleytext
90PTS

Yalumba The Guardian Shiraz Viognier Eden Valley 2010

Eden Valley, South Australia, AustraliaThis Eden Valley shiraz is graced with 2.5 percent cofermented viognier. Sweetly spiced dark plums, chocolate covered cherries, thorny bramble berry, cracked nutmeg and cloves fill the juicy, generous palate. Older leather plumps, and plush, lightly tuggy tannins frame. Savoury Worcestershire lingers on the warm (14.5 percent) and spiced finish. Showing nice maturity and ready to drink now, especially with lamb and fennel sausages.Prices: ON 22.00 QC 23.00 BC 25.00 Producer: Yalumba Wine Company
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Finca Los Primos Syrahtext
87PTS

Finca Los Primos Syrah 2015

San Rafael, General Alvear, Southern Region, Mendoza, ArgentinaA cool growing season always seems to benefit New World syrah and in 2015 it has done just that in Argentina. We love the black pepper laced blackberry jam aromas, sweetened with heady perfumed violets and plum paste in this San Rafael syrah. The tannins are supple, as is the medium bodied palate. Black liquorice, vanilla pod, smoked meats and baking spices mark the warm finish. Juicy and approachable, especially with BBQ ribs. Super value.Prices: BC 11.00 Producer: Bodegas y Vinedos Valentín Bianchi S.A.
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Sequel Syrahtext
91PTS

Sequel Syrah 2011

Columbia Valley, Washington, United StatesLong Shadows is a collective of sorts, with each wine in the portfolio made by a different winemaker. The difference here is that the winemakers are among the world's most iconic wine names, like Michel Rolland and John Duval. Sequel is made with Duval (ex-Penfolds, and maker of Grange for many years). Full bodied and silky, with dark chocolate, blackberry, perfumed florals, vanilla pod throughout the lush palate. Tannins are ample, but downy soft, to a sweet, cool mint finish. This is a lush, polished, but elegant red. Drinkable solo, but will match rare beef or lamb very well.Prices: US 60.00 Producer: Long Shadows Vintners
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Jackson-Triggs Shiraz Sunrock Vineyardtext
88PTS

Jackson-Triggs Shiraz Sunrock Vineyard 2014

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaRipe, warm, savoury black fruit is studded with peppercorns in this single vineyard shiraz. One year in French and American oak is evident here, with grippy cedar hewn tannins supporting the potent black cherry, blackberry, raspberry fruit. Acidity is on par to match the intensity throughout, while medicinal cherry lingers on the finish. This is a polished, modern style of shiraz, drinking well now.Prices: BC 27.00 Producer: Jackson-Triggs Okanagan Estate
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07 February 2017

Rodney Strong Chardonnay Chalk Hilltext
89PTS

Rodney Strong Chardonnay Chalk Hill 2014

Sonoma County, California, United StatesThe light, white ash soils of the Chalk Hills appellation is the force behind this delicious drinking chardonnay. The RS chardonnays have grown up in the past five years, offering a little less obvious fruit and more complexity. The result is they are much better with food. The palate is creamy but among the apples and honey and vanilla there are hints of nectarine, citrus and a touch of stoniness in the finish. Lobster, crab or halibut all work here. A new California less-is-more chardonnay for the reformed chardonnay drinker.Prices: ON 25.00 AB 26.00 BC 23.49 Producer: Rodney Strong Estate Vineyards
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Lake Sonoma Chardonnaytext
88PTS

Lake Sonoma Chardonnay 2014

Russian River, Sonoma County, California, United StatesWe like the freshness here that takes it out of that old style California chardonnay. There’s some oak and lees but generally the mango fruit shines through the creamy textures before the caramel, toasted oak and vanilla jump in at the end. Moving in the right direction and will be admired by California chardonnay drinkers.Prices: BC 21.49 AB 22.50 SK 28.23 MB 24.96 ON 28.00 QC 27.05 NB 26.49 PEI 27.23 Producer: Lake Sonoma Winery
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Rodney Strong Chardonnaytext
88PTS

Rodney Strong Chardonnay 2015

Sonoma County, California, United StatesFresh Fuji apple with spicy jalapeno notes mark this delicious, fresh entry-level Rodney Strong chardonnay, partially (60 percent) barrel fermented and aged. The palate is equally lively with more fresh cut apple, pear, citrus, and a touch of minerality. Love the way this wine is leaning out and becoming more and more food friendly. It’s made from a combination of estate grown and locally farmed fruit, pulled from the benchland and alluvial soils in the Russian River, Dry Creek, and Sonoma Coast appellations.Prices: BC 19.99 AB 22.00 QC 20.00 ON 20.00 SK 22.99 MB 19.99 NB 25.00 YK 26.00 NF 26.00 Producer: Rodney Strong Estate Vineyards
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Davis Bynum Chardonnaytext
91PTS

Davis Bynum Chardonnay 2014

Russian River, Sonoma County, California, United StatesWinemaker Greg Morthole’s signature of mixing his favorite blocks and clones from the River West Vineyard mark this wine. A mild winter and plenty of rain saw 2014 get off to a quick start and it stayed warm and dry. Overcast days covered the late summer and preserved acidity, while a slightly larger crop slowed down the ripening process in what turned out to be a very warm year. Clone 15 and clone 809 were up first, followed by the Wente and Spring Mountain picks. This is a delicious, fresh, complex chardonnay from a single vineyard that you hardly notice goes through 100% malolactic fermentation, and sur-lie aging with plenty of bâtonnage inside 34 percent new French oak barrels. According to Morthole, even in the warm years the best blocks are the best blocks. The citrus notes set the tone for this tropical/floral white with ripe, creamy, green apple and pear flavours and toasted brioche throughout. From halibut to veal and mushrooms, it is a great food wine.Prices: BC 30.00 ON 25.00 Producer: Davis Bynum Winery
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Rodney Strong Chardonnay Sonoma Coasttext
89PTS

Rodney Strong Chardonnay Sonoma Coast 2014

Sonoma County, California, United StatesUnder winemaker Justin Seidenfeld, the house style for chardonnay is to let the vineyard take the lead, in this case revealing a maritime site. All the fruit comes from a vineyard in the Petaluma Gap with high salinity. That leads to brighter acidity and minerality aided by water bent French oak barrels and stainless steel drums. Another warm year with an early pick, which is becoming the norm, sets up this tropical styled chardonnay. 60 percent spends 10 months in barrel (85 percent of which is new French oak). The attack is fresh, with intense red apple and tropical fruit, creamy textures and a stony, leesy mineral aftertaste. We would love to see this wine dialed up an even edgier nervousness notch. We enjoyed with pesto pasta and prawns.Prices: BC 35.00 AB 35.00 Producer: Rodney Strong Estate Vineyards
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Nielson by Byron Chardonnaytext
91PTS

Nielson by Byron Chardonnay 2015

Santa Maria Valley, Santa Barbara County, Central Coast, California, United StatesMuch like last year, but maybe even better, this wine opens with bright, crisp tropical fruit before bursting with ripe orange, mineral, apple skin, spicy lees and intense peach flavours. So delicious to drink and ready to take on any spicy savoury chicken or sushi dishes. Nielson by Byron is the next iteration of Byron Wines. To honour the area’s first true pioneer, Uriel Nielson, who planted the first commercial vineyard in 1964, the new Byron Winery will focus on small-lot single-vineyard pinot noir and chardonnay from top vineyards including Rita’s Crown, Bien Nacido and La Encantada.Prices: BC 28.99 Producer: Nielson Wines
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Inniskillin Montague Vineyard Chardonnaytext
87PTS

Inniskillin Montague Vineyard Chardonnay 2014

Four Mile Creek, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, CanadaOut from underneath a heavy cloak of oak, a peak of bright, tight, crystalline lemon fruit pokes through, though sadly, the toasty wood quickly snuffs it out to dominate this Four Mile Creek chardonnay. Over-ripe pear and white peach are studded with cloves and lashed with vanilla. Acidity works its best to carry the heft and sweetness on the palate. An earlier pick and less wood-time would really let this fruit shine. As it is now, best paired with an equally rich and generous cream pasta dish.Prices: ON 25.00 Producer: Inniskillin Niagara
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06 February 2017

Meandro do Vale Meão Brancotext
88PTS

Meandro do Vale Meão Branco 2015

Douro Superior, Douro Valley, Northern Portugal, PortugalThis blend of rabigato and arinto was slightly crushed and cooled before pressing in a traditional vertical press, after which the separate grapes were aged on lees for ten months prior to blending. Crisp and intense, with citrus, white peach, medicinal herbs on a medium bodied, highly brisk palate.Prices: Portugal 12.00 Producer: Quinta do Vale Meão
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Quinta do Crasto Whitetext
88PTS

Quinta do Crasto White 2015

Douro Valley, Northern Portugal, PortugalTwenty-plus year old gouveio, viosinho and rabigato from the Cima and Upper Douro spent time on the lees in stainless steel, yielding creamy, lees-lined base with bright, fragrant fruit on top. Lemon blossoms, pear and orange curd rule the creamy palate. Classic style of the house - just verging on that ripe/voluptuous style, but still with freshness.Prices: ON 18.00 Producer: Quinta do Crasto (Sociedade Agricola da)
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Quinta do Vale Meão Douro Redtext
92PTS

Quinta do Vale Meão Douro Red 2014

Douro Valley, Northern Portugal, PortugalThe flagship wine of the Quinta, and rightfully thought of as one of the classic Douro table wines. The 2014 Vale Meão is a blend of 55% Touriga Nacional, 35% Touriga Franca, 5% Tinta Barroca and 5% Tinta Roriz. After being crushed and cooled, the grapes were and foot trodden before vinification in stainless and maturation in oak barriques (65% new). Drinking beautifully now in youth, with a lovely refined elegance. Very complete, dense on the black-fruited, medicinal hued and sappy-tinged palate. Structured, with well integrated wood (less new in this vintage, which is a welcome move) and long tannins. Much depth and complexity in this elegant wine to last a decade easy.Prices: BC 135.00 Producer: Quinta do Vale Meão
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Quinta do Crasto Superior Brancotext
89PTS

Quinta do Crasto Superior Branco 2015

Douro Superior, Douro Valley, Northern Portugal, PortugalViosinho and verdelho from the Douro Superior spent six months of battonage time on the oxoline, with 60 percent new wood and 15 percent headed with acacia barrel tops. The affect is certainly felt in this full bodied, powerful white. Herbal, waxy acacia lines the creamy body, with lemon curd, thick lees and cloves. A welcome, strong and fine backbone of acidity helps keep this voluminous wine from overwhelming at this young stage.Prices: Portugal 20.00 Producer: Quinta do Crasto (Sociedade Agricola da)
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Quinta do Crasto Reserva Vinhas Velhastext
92PTS

Quinta do Crasto Reserva Vinhas Velhas 2013

Douro Superior, Douro Valley, Northern Portugal, PortugalFrom a field blend of 25-30 different grapes, and vines over 80 years old on schist, this Reserva was foot tread in lagares before spending 18 months in barrel (65 percent new, and 15 percent American). The old vine complexity shows with layers and layers of cassis, thorns, anise, sweet tobacco and warm spices on a warming, salted, violet finish. Tannins grip firmly, confidently, though the wood certainly is present still at this young age. Needs time in bottle to fully unknit and reveal all complexities, but even at this stage, these old vines are impressive.Prices: BC 40.99 QC 37.25 AB 49.00 Producer: Quinta do Crasto (Sociedade Agricola da)
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Quinta do Vallado Douro Vinho Tintotext
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Quinta do Vallado Douro Vinho Tinto 2014

Douro Valley, Northern Portugal, PortugalThis Douro red is a blend of touriga nacional, tinta roriz, touriga franca and sousão, 20 percent of which are from vineyards over 70 years old. Aged for 16 months in a blend of 70/30 stainless steel/wood, this still has the dusky and grippy tannins of youth overriding the ripe and perfumed blackberry, black cherry and resin-laden fruit. A lovely perfumed violet throughout. Rustic and a bit chunky at this youthful time, well suited to lamb sausages.Prices: QC 19.00 Producer: Quinta do Vallado
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Quinta do Vallado Reserva field blendtext
91PTS

Quinta do Vallado Reserva field blend 2014

Douro Valley, Northern Portugal, PortugalAs the name implies, this is a field blend of old vines, at least 45 different grapes, with the majority comprised of tinta roriz, tinta amarela, touriga franca and tinta barroca, partially trodden in granite lagares. The 2014 shows a lovely freshness, confidence and complexity with layers of fresh black plum and cassis, earthy tobacco, branch and savoury notes. Dialling back the new oak in has made a big difference; this spent 18 months in French barriques, 60 percent of which were new. Drinking well now in youth with a decant, this will hold over the next decade in your cellar.Prices: Portugal 28.00 Producer: Quinta do Vallado
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Quinta do Vallado Primatext
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Quinta do Vallado Prima 2015

Douro Valley, Northern Portugal, PortugalThis may surprise you: 100 percent moscatel galego, with vines up to 50 years old, from the Douro Valley. This delicate and floral white is the first picked by Vallado each harvest, with exuberant rose aromas narrowing on the lean, light (12.5 percent) palate, joined with lemon, lime oil and ample lime blossoms. This was fermented using a process called bica aberta, lasting for nearly one month and between 14-16C. A three month stint in stainless steel finishes off this fresh aromatic. Pour with delicate Thai flavours, or enjoy as an aperitif.Prices: Portugal 10.50 Producer: Quinta do Vallado
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Monte Meão Touriga Nacionaltext
91PTS

Monte Meão Touriga Nacional 2013

Douro Valley, Northern Portugal, PortugalThis touriga nacional was grown on granite, and the ample, dusty stone tannins that structure this wine reflect the severe terrain. After crushing, the grapes were foot trodden in granite lagares before fermenting in French oak. The wine then aged for fifteen months in older French barriques. Potent blueberry, cassis, dark chocolate is perfumed with a tight and fine violet note and scented with red apple blossom perfume. Savoury cured meats and a wash of black tea bitterness linger on the severe finish. This wine is still tight but surprisingly elegant in youth, and will reward with cellaring.Prices: BC 71.00 Producer: Quinta do Vale Meão
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Niepoort Redoma Tintotext
92PTS

Niepoort Redoma Tinto 2014

Cima Corga, Douro Valley, Northern Portugal, PortugalRedoma was the first Niepoort dry Douro red. Tinta amarela, touriga franca, rufete, tinta roriz, tinto cão and more come from the schistous soils of Quinta de Nápoles as well as nearby vineyards, all averaging more than 70 years of age. When Carill doesn't make it into top wine Robustus, it goes into Redoma. This is vinified with 50 percent stalks in concrete lager before MLF and aging in old wooden foudres for 22 months. Fresher and less extracted than previous vintages (stalks in ferment? extended aging?) this still displays the firm structure of the Douro: dark cherry, wild herbal, resinous scrub, raspberry, with an undercurrent of earthy red currant and mineral salts and finely grippy tannins. Deep, lengthy and layered, with the concentration and acidity to last 10+ years easy. Beauty.Prices: QC 48.00 Producer: Niepoort (Vinhos) S.A.
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Niepoort Batutatext
94PTS

Niepoort Batuta 2014

Cima Corga, Douro Valley, Northern Portugal, PortugalBatuta is an impressive very old vine red, with fruit from Quinta do Carril, a north-facing vineyard more than 70-years-old, and also from 100-years-old vineyards near Quinta de Nápoles. This blend of tinta amarela, rufete, touriga franca, tinta roriz, malvazia preta and others fermented in stainless steel, with two months maceration and no extraction before heading to French barrel, 20 percent new, for 22 months. Finessed and structured, with lithe, bamboo-firm tannins and precise, fresh acidity driving the length of the wine. Dusky dark plum, black cherry, savoury stoniness textures throughout. Such refinement and detailing, even in this tight, young stage; it will express even more over the next decade and beyond. All this within 12.5 percent alcohol. Respect.Prices: QC 81.00 Producer: Niepoort (Vinhos) S.A.
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Niepoort Robustustext
95PTS

Niepoort Robustus 2009

Cima Corga, Douro Valley, Northern Portugal, PortugalRobustus can be thought of as the parent of Redoma. The name pays tribute to the first wine Dirk made in 1990 but never released. This wine is made in the traditional way, fermented in oak and lagares before a very long time in old, large oak to slowly soften the strict tannins, while preserving the driving schistous acidity. This 2009, their current release, spent four years in large foudres, and with select field grapes (touriga franca, tinta roriz, tinta amarela, touriga nacional, tinto cão and others) from their oldest vineyards, predominantly north-facing Carril. Deeper, richer, denser and generously concentrated, but with amazing freshness and precision. Earthy black plum, wild cassis, dried blackberry is filtered through broken stones, with gravelled smoke, black pepper, herbal scrub and mineral salts to season. Generous but shy, this robust wine impresses the extreme severity of the Douro in a finessed, memorable way. Decant and enjoy, or continue to hold. Impressive.Prices: BC 100.00 Producer: Niepoort (Vinhos) S.A.
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Niepoort Vertentetext
91PTS

Niepoort Vertente 2014

Cima Corga, Douro Valley, Northern Portugal, PortugalVertente can be thought of as the son of Batuta. By that I mean this is in the same fresh, lean vein as the exceptional Batuta, though here the wine has the energy and verve of youth. Sourced from older vineyards in Pinhão as well as Quinta de Nápoles, averaging 30-60 years, and a mix of tinta amarela, rufete, tinta roriz, touriga franca and others. This was fermented in stainless steel, with a month-long maceration, before aging in French oak (30 percent new) for 20 months. Bright and fresh, with a juicy core of wild blackberry, raspberry, herbal violets, smoked garrigue scrub and lashings of mineral salts. This has a lovely tension and energy, with a cut of acidity and tannins firm but not aggressive.Prices: BC 32.00 QC 27.00 Producer: Niepoort (Vinhos) S.A.
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Niepoort Dialogo Douro Brancotext
89PTS

Niepoort Dialogo Douro Branco 2015

Douro Superior, Douro Valley, Northern Portugal, PortugalOne of the Fabulous Wines series, Dialogo is enjoyed around the world (Branco and Tinto) under many different names. The line was begun in 2004 when Dirk wanted an appealing Douro label for the German market. Working with his designer, they devised a whole comic storyboard label called FABELHAFT. After the success in German markets, Dirk developed labels for many other countries including Canada (Dialogo), Drink Me (UK), and Twisted (USA). As you can expect with such a global spread, this is a bright, accessible and easy to like wine. From numerous higher altitude vineyards around the Douro, this is rabigato, códega do larinho, gouveio, donzelinho, viosinho and others, averaging 40-60 years. Fifteen percent was fermented in French oak, with the remainder in stainless vats for eight months. Tight and shiny citrus, a light slick of lees and wild herbs / bitter lemon ringing on the finish. Youthful, highly quaffable, while still interesting - even more impressive with this reach, and at this price.Prices: QC 17.00 Producer: Niepoort (Vinhos) S.A.
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Niepoort Dialogotext
89PTS

Niepoort Dialogo 2014

Douro Valley, Northern Portugal, PortugalOne of the Fabulous Wines series, Dialogo is enjoyed around the world (Branco and Tinto) under many different names. The line was begun in 2004 when Dirk wanted an appealing Douro label for the German market. Working with his designer, they devised a whole comic storyboard label called FABELHAFT. After the success in German markets, Dirk developed labels for many other countries including Canada (Dialogo), Drink Me (UK), and Twisted (USA). As you can expect with such a global spread, this is a bright, accessible wine. Youthful raspberry, blackberry, wild blueberry, thorns ride a juicy and jubilant palate, brought back to earth by earthy, savoury and youthfully fierce, fine tannins. Based on touriga franca, tinta roriz, touriga nacional, tinta amarela and tinta barroca, the destemmed grapes fermented in stainless, where 95 percent remained for a year (the remainder in older French oak barrels). This achieves enough savoury seriousness while achieving juicy drinkability - no small feat.Prices: BC 20.00 QC 15.85 Producer: Niepoort (Vinhos) S.A.
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Quinta do Crasto Superior Dourotext
90PTS

Quinta do Crasto Superior Douro 2013

Douro Valley, Northern Portugal, PortugalCrasto Superior is where the portfolio really starts complexing with the reds, with a mix of field blend old vines and the intriguing sousão blended with touriga nacional, touriga franca, tinta roriz. This comes from Crasto's Douro Superior estate, Quinta da Cabreira, and spent one year in French oak. The wood is felt, but matches the potency of the cassis, cherry, raspberry and blackberry. Tannins are chewy and ripe and ample. Red medicinal fruit weaves throughout, a resinous herbal note permeates the concentration, and lingers on the finish. Youthful, dense and powerful now, and best enjoyed with some time in cellar or a decant and roast lamb.Prices: BC 35.00 Producer: Quinta do Crasto (Sociedade Agricola da)
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Quinta do Crasto Douro Tintotext
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Quinta do Crasto Douro Tinto 2014

Douro Valley, Northern Portugal, PortugalAlways consistent, this is twenty+ year old tinta roriz, tinta barroca, touriga franca and touriga naçional, aged in stainless steel (and five percent oak barrels). Strident tannins draw black plum, black cherry, stony cassis, espresso and quiet violets along the structured palate. Tannins are fine, but grippy, supporting the cassis fruit to a bitter black cherry and candied violets finish. Young, will refine further with a couple of years bottle age. Pour now with lamb.Prices: BC 19.99 QC 20.00 ON 16.00 Producer: Quinta do Crasto (Sociedade Agricola da)
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Flor de Crasto Douro Vinho Tintotext
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Flor de Crasto Douro Vinho Tinto 2014

Douro Valley, Northern Portugal, PortugalFlor de Crasto is a youthful, fresh and juicy red that captures the schistous soils of the Douro Valley. This is 10-14 year old grapes, destemmed, fermented and aged in stainless. Tight and grippy, with subtle cassis, thorns and scrubby florals on the tight, taut frame. Tannins are gritty and acidity is bright, all befitting the 13.5 percent alcohol. Ready to drink now with lamb or beef kabobs.Prices: BC 18.00 Producer: Quinta do Crasto (Sociedade Agricola da)
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Van Zellers Dourotext
88PTS

Van Zellers Douro 2013

Douro Valley, Northern Portugal, PortugalA slight reductive note introduces this rustic, youthful red, before blueberry, raspberry, dough, soft blue plum, cracked peppercorn and violet leaves overtake. Balsamic streams along downy tannins, to a riff of smoked stones on the finish. This is a blend of predominantly touriga nacional, touriga francesa, assisted by other local grapes, alluringly ready to drink now, with pork chops.Prices: QC 18.25 BC 27.00 Producer: Lemos & Van Zeller
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Quinta Vale do Maria Vinha do Franciscatext
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Quinta Vale do Maria Vinha do Francisca 2014

Douro Valley, Northern Portugal, PortugalIn 2004, the year of Cristiano van Zeller's daughter Francisca’s 18th birthday, they planted Vinha da Francisca (Francisca’s Vineyard) with several different grapes, one of which is Tinta Francisca. This grape variety was introduced to the Douro in 1756 at Quinta de Roriz – which belonged to the van Zeller family until 2009. Joining tinta francisca is sousão (50 percent), rufete, touriga nacional, touriga franca, and a mystery grape. Foot trodden and fermented in lagares before time in French oak barrels. Reductive and tar notes blow off, followed by thorns, dusky cassis, black plum, black pepper and carried by beauiful freshness. Red fruit entwines throughout. Though tannins are heady and fierce at this young stage, there is great focus and drive in this elegant wine.Prices: QC 100.00 Producer: Lemos & Van Zeller
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Quinta Vale do Maria Vinha do Riotext
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Quinta Vale do Maria Vinha do Rio 2014

Douro Valley, Northern Portugal, PortugalCristiano van Zeller divides his vineyards into parcels, and Vinha do Rio (the river vineyard) is their oldest, at over 100 years old and made up of a field blend of 29 varieties (49 percent of which was tinta barroca). Resting at lower altitude, near the river Torto, this was foot trodden and fermented in lagares before being racked into new French oak casks. Fine earthy, savoury dried cassis, dried blueberry and dark cherries is lifted with highly perfumed violets, fleshy plum and a driving bead of acidity. Lovely red fruit, scrubby herbs weave throughout the juicy palate, framed by strident, yielding tannins, to a peppery finish. Drinking well now with a decant, this is really meant to cellar for at least five years, and upwards from there.Prices: QC 160.00 Producer: Lemos & Van Zeller
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03 February 2017

Painted Rock Cabernet Franctext
91PTS

Painted Rock Cabernet Franc 2014

Skaha Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaWhen you taste this cabernet franc, you have to ask yourself why anyone bothers trying to ripen cabernet sauvignon in BC? You will love the smoky, dusty, savoury aromas that jump from the glass. Plums and cherries dominate the chocolate and coffee for a change suggesting less wood, older wood, less time in wood, better wood? But really, it doesn’t matter, it all works. What is key here in the savoury, spicy tobacco finish is the dense but fabulously silky, tannins. Ooh la la, hedonistic and if you must, you can drink it now. We would wait five years but if you have a steak and some chimichurri sauce, or a leg of lamb, well get at it.Prices: BC 44.99 Producer: Painted Rock Estate Winery
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The Hatch Cabernet Franctext
88PTS

The Hatch Cabernet Franc 2014

Golden Mile Bench, Oliver, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaRipe, deep and round, with sweet dark raspberry, dark cherry jam, thorny brambleberry and ample sweet baking spice throughout. This spent 14 months in neutral oak, framing the sun-ripened fruit with supple tannins to a bittersweet chocolate finish. This generous cabernet franc comes from Mama D's Vineyard on the Golden Mile Bench, and is well suited to grilled lamb or pork.Prices: BC 24.99 Producer: The Hatch
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02 February 2017

Davis Bynum Pinot Noir Jane's Vineyard Clone 23text
91PTS

Davis Bynum Pinot Noir Jane's Vineyard Clone 23 2014

Russian River, Sonoma County, California, United StatesJane’s Vineyard a well-drained, nutrient poor gravelly, Huichica loam site seldom delivers big yields. The vines get water stressed because of the drainage and lack of root depth so they are watched daily. Clone 23 also known as the Mariafeld clone from Switzerland, stood apart in 2014 topping the French Dijon clone leaving the DB team to say it was the best ever and only on of two lots chosen out of 24 from Jane’s Vineyard to go to bottle separately. Look for dark fruit with strawberry highlights, earthy minerality and delicious silky tannins across the back end. The ferment begins with native yeasts, which come in on the grapes from the vineyard and is 36 percent new oak. Mushrooms dishes come to mind here.Prices: AB 35.00 BC 40.00 Producer: Davis Bynum Winery
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Concha y Toro Marques de Casa Concha Merlottext
89PTS

Concha y Toro Marques de Casa Concha Merlot 2014

Puemo, Valle del Cachapoal, Valle del Rapel, Region del Valle Central, ChileThis is a blockbuster style merlot that makes the most of its ripe fruit and savoury undercurrents. The nose is aromatic with pure, ripe plum and bits of savoury bay leaf throughout. The palate mixes more bay leaf, and dense rich plummy fruit flecked with chocolate and spice. The finish is packed full of dense sweet tannins that finish glossy and well, merlot-like. Really well done for the price and perfect for any grilled meat course. Super value.Prices: BC 20.99 AB 19.00 SK 24.00 ON 18.00 QC 20.00 NB 25.00 NS 25.00 NF 22.00 Producer: Vina Concha y Toro S.A.
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Marionette Merlottext
85PTS

Marionette Merlot 2014

British Columbia, CanadaMarionette is a new BC winery located in Salmon Arm and run by a young couple with winemaking experience in France, Spain and the UK. Amanda and Jamie returned to BC and founded Marionette two years ago, focussing on low intervention wines. This juicy merlot was sourced from a single vineyard in Keremeos, spent time in stainless and was bottled unfiltered. Youthful blackcurrant, herbal green raspberry, black plum and a subtle medicinal cherry note are framed by soft tannins on a lean, slightly spritzy palate and end with fine salts and a wash of heat. Ernest and keen.Prices: BC 22.00 Producer: Marionette Vineyards and Winery
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Pipe'Dreams Merlot Reservetext
82PTS

Pipe'Dreams Merlot Reserve 2014

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaSmoked meats, overripe and sweet black fruits and roasted stems fill this full-boded red. This new Oliver winery has plucked ex-Sumac Ridge winemaker Mark Wendenburg, and the similarities in style are overt. Tannins are soft and dark chocolate powdery, the result of 24 months in two-year-old Kentucky American Barrique Oak barrels. The char is felt on the hot finish, requiring equally ample grilled meats to match. Expensive for an antiquated and assertive style of wine.Prices: BC 40.00 Producer: Pipe'Dreams Estate Winery
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Pipe'Dreams Merlottext
84PTS

Pipe'Dreams Merlot 2014

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaSweet, ripe and smoked black fruits dominate this merlot, quickly backed up with dried figs, shoe polish and medicinal cherry. This new Oliver winery has plucked ex-Sumac Ridge winemaker Mark Wendenburg, and the similarities in style are obvious. Over-ripe, rich, primary and wooded, with sweet, soft, polished tannins atop a mocha base to the short sweet and hot finish. Simple, commercial, sweet oaky red.Prices: BC 29.00 Producer: Pipe'Dreams Estate Winery
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Mission Hill Reserve Merlottext
88PTS

Mission Hill Reserve Merlot 2013

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaRich black peppery plums, dense cassis, espresso fills this reserve merlot, sourced from Mission Hill's Osoyoos and Black Sage Bench vineyards and a result of 13 months in French and American barrel. Tannins are plush and grainy, enough to support the richness of sun-ripened fruit to the warm finish. A wave of savoury dried desert herbs helps tie this to place. Best enjoyed with lamb or beef shank.Prices: ON 26.00 AB 24.00 BC 24.99 SK 25.00 Producer: Mission Hill Family Estate
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Nk'Mip Cellars Qwam Qwmt Merlottext
87PTS

Nk'Mip Cellars Qwam Qwmt Merlot 2014

Osoyoos, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaSoft and plush and ripe and sweet, as merlot is expected to be when it's coming from the the deserts of Osoyoos and picked mid/late October. Eighteen months in French oak further ups the concentration and provides a wooden cradle for the potent fruit, led by inky black plum, ripe blackberry and cassis before tobacco and nutmeg spicing. Heaps of chewy tannins are downy clad, craving rare steak and blue cheese potatoes.Prices: BC 24.99 Producer: Nk’Mip Cellars
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Villa Teresa Merlot (Organic)text
86PTS

Villa Teresa Merlot (Organic) 2015

Veneto, ItalyBlack raspberry and plum open this light, organic merlot from Veneto. Candied cherry and blackberry gummies carry through on the palate to a short, powdery finish. This is a simple, light style that would be a good match to salami sandwiches.Prices: BC 14.49 Producer: Vini Tonon s.r.l.
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Rodney Strong Merlottext
89PTS

Rodney Strong Merlot 2013

Sonoma County, California, United StatesRodney Strong Vineyards has been growing merlot since the early 1970’s in Geyserville, the heart of Alexander Valley. Today the fruit comes off three vineyards in the Alexander Valley. The 2013 season was more or less perfect from its dry, frost-free spring to a summer of no heat spikes and a warm, rain free autumn. The nose and palate are lush with plenty of dark plums and baking spices with just a light chocolate dusting in the finish. There is just enough tannin, albeit silky, to give this delicious-drinking-now merlot some elevated status. A great match with grilled vegetables, Italian-style sausages or veal chops. It spends 16 months in 50/50 French and American oak barrels.Prices: BC 24.95 AB 24.95 ON 23.95 YK 24.00 MB 21.95 QC 25.00 Producer: Rodney Strong Estate Vineyards
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Nielson by Byron Pinot Noirtext
90PTS

Nielson by Byron Pinot Noir 2014

Santa Maria Valley, Santa Barbara County, Central Coast, California, United StatesThe Nielson Vineyard, located in the eastern foothills of the Santa Maria Valley, lies just south of the famous Bien Nacido Vineyard. It boasts mature vines of carefully selected clones of pinot noir planted by Uriel Nielson back in 1964. Today it is owned by Jackson Family Estates. The wine is aged 15 months in French oak, thankfully only 15 percent is new. This is unabashed California pinot noir with black cherries and smoky cinnamon, clove notes. The palate is rich and the fruit dense, with similar smoky, black cherry fruit flavours. All the blocks are harvested separately to allow the winemaker a wide choice of flavours and styles. The use of ten percent whole cluster keeps the wine fresh and juicy. Delicious drinking style that’s fun now with grilled chicken or salmon.Prices: BC 35.00 Producer: Nielson Wines (old Byron Winery)
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Mission Hill Reserve Merlottext
86PTS

Mission Hill Reserve Merlot 2014

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaDense and ripe, with roasted sweet black plums, roasted coffee, roasted meats throughout. This reserve tier merlot (aided by cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon, petit verdot) was grown in estate vineyards in both Osoyoos and just further north, on the Black Sage Bench. The 13 months in French and American oak is evident through the strident, bitter tannins, finishing with an astringent espresso burn (14.5 percent). Overly brash and aggressive in this youthful state, and requiring richer meat dishes to tame.Prices: ON 26.00 BC 24.99 SK 25.00 Producer: Mission Hill Family Estate
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01 February 2017

Monte Creek Ranch Blueberry Winetext
0PTS

Monte Creek Ranch Blueberry Wine NV

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canadafaulted, retaste.Prices: BC 15.99 Producer: Monte Creek Ranch
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The View Pinotagetext
86PTS

The View Pinotage 2014

Oliver, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaI'm not a big fan of pinotage but for some reason it would appear we can do better in the Okanagan than all the commercial crap that is listed in BC from South Africa. Case in point this offering from The View. It has fresh, cherry/coffee grind aromas; the palate is soft and juicy with wild, savoury black cherry fruit and dried spices. Food-friendly and ready to drink, try this with barbecued pork or chicken.Prices: BC 21.00 Producer: The View Winery & Vineyard
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Emandare Vineyard Marechal Fochtext
88PTS

Emandare Vineyard Marechal Foch 2014

Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, CanadaEmandare sits on a south-facing terraced hillside tucked beside Cowichan Valley's Mount Prevost. All of their wines are estate grown, and dry farmed organically, with minimal intervention. The dark cherry hue is mirrored on the tight, fresh palate, along with wild blackberries and a bitter cherry, cinnamon bark twist on the finish. Fourteen year old marechal foch was splashed with 14 percent cabernet foch, all destemmed and wild ferment before a year in neutral French oak. Tannins are smooth and fine, and acidity has a gently buoyant swell. This was bottled without fining or filtration, leaving a lingering pleasant texture. An impressive showing for a risky project, and a pleasant and highly drinkable view of marechal foch, so often overworked and unpleasant.Prices: BC 23.00 Producer: Emandare Vineyard
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