quicksearch
Anthony Gismondi on Wine
Tasting Notes

Tastings: November 2017

19 November 2017

Clos du Soleil Grower's Series Syrah Middle Bench Vineyardtext
91PTS

Clos du Soleil Grower's Series Syrah Middle Bench Vineyard 2015

Similkameen Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis single vineyard syrah is from Keremeos' Middle Bench Vineyard, and reflects all that is dusty, stony inviting Similkameen. Sultry and slowly drawn with dusky blackberry, thorns, perfumed raspberry, violets and perfectly grippy tannins for its age through a lengthy, peppery, stylish finish. Destemmed grapes were fermented in open top fermenters for a month, punched down daily, before sixteen months in French oak of which only 12 percent was thankfully new. Production is barely 200 cases, just eight barrels in 2015, but these are special bottles. In youth, yet rich in elegance and rustically lensed. This is a must buy for the cellar and make a date for 2025.Prices: BC 32.90 Producer: Clos du Soleil Winery
Read Full Note
Laughing Stock Vineyards Amphora Syrah +26/09text
89PTS

Laughing Stock Vineyards Amphora Syrah +26/09 2016

Okanagan Falls, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis Small Cap release of Amphora is a big departure from the first three years of the project, when their two 500L terracotta clay amphorae contained white grapes to make an orange wine (viognier, roussanne). This year syrah (all Perfect Hedge Vineyard on East Bench, Osoyoos) received the natural treatment, wild fermented and left untouched, on the skins, for eight months. Textured violets, ripe plum, cassis, hints of medicinal black cherry, dusky thorns, with moderately grippy tannins lining the edges and an evident stony, concrete texture throughout. The alcohol, at 14.9 percent, is warm and little bit sweet on the finish, and is the only blip on this otherwise gentle wine. Best when decanted or opened in advance (give it a day) and allowed space. The Amphora effect here has opened up the wine, but taken away some of the power, density and weight we loved in the 2015 barrel aged syrah.Prices: BC 49.99 Producer: Laughing Stock Vineyards
Read Full Note
Creekside UnBroken Press Reserve Syrahtext
90PTS

Creekside UnBroken Press Reserve Syrah 2012

Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, CanadaHefty in bottle, form and palate, this is a full bodied, dense and powerful syrah from St. David's Bench. Four percent viognier lends a whisper of softness to this firm blend, still fist-clenched even five years along. There's an iron ring around the edges, housing severe black fruit, pitch, charcoal and thorns, with furry tannins and a slight fade to the peppercorn finish. Nine barrels were made, one new Hungarian wood and eight older French. Drink now, after a decant, and with roast beef and jus.Prices: ON 43.00 Producer: Creekside Estate Winery
Read Full Note
Narrative Syrah by Okanagan Crush Padtext
88PTS

Narrative Syrah by Okanagan Crush Pad 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaTar, desert scrub and medicinal resin lines this organically grown Southern Okanagan syrah, fermented and aged in concrete. It’s slightly reductive on the nose, but swirling your glass is helpful if you don’t do a splash decant. Wild thorns, dusky plum, green raspberry, stems, and cracked black pepper raft along the steady, juicy flow, banked with grippy, fine tannins characteristic of concrete. There's an tarry, pitchy bitterness on the finish of this youthful, medium-bodied wine which we find slightly distracting without food. It's ready, and meant, for drinking now. Best with grilled lamb or beef.Prices: BC 29.90 Producer: Okanagan Crush Pad Winery
Read Full Note
Black Hills Syrahtext
88PTS

Black Hills Syrah 2015

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaPerfumed violets float atop a base of bacon fat, blueberries, lavender and cured meats in this full-bodied southern Okanagan syrah. Ample black peppercorns crackle throughout, as does a beam of freshness before ample spicy grainy wood kicks in. This is intense, concentrated and warm but with a spirited lift that works hard to counter the density. Best with a peppercorn steak and a splash decant now, or cellar for two to three years.Prices: BC 39.90 Producer: Black Hills Estate Winery
Read Full Note
Domaine de L’Arjolle Syrah Èquilibretext
89PTS

Domaine de L’Arjolle Syrah Èquilibre 2016

Vins de Pays des Côtes de Thongue, Languedoc, South of France, FranceClassically dark purple but the with red fruit scents of currants and blueberries and fresh cracked pepper. The attack is more boisterous blackberries, pepper and savoury notes with a juicy, silky soft palate that lets the wine slide down effortlessly. There are lots of similarities between this wine and what we are doing in the south Okanagan but I must say the textures here are more pleasing and better suited to the price. The tannins are almost gone despite the obvious youth of the wine. The winery employs homemade compost and grass cover adapted to each plot to develop biological life and regulate water needs. The wine is aged in concrete vats. Food pairings are numerous including poultry, lamb, cheeses and charcuterie. The wine is 100 percent syrah grown on sandy/loamy soils in 20-year-old vineyards. Impressive value.Prices: BC 27.00 Producer: Domaine de L'Arjolle
Read Full Note
Evolve Shiraztext
87PTS

Evolve Shiraz 2016

CanadaThe folks at Evolve are as charming as their wine. In the case of the ‘16 Shiraz (note it doesn’t say syrah), the style is decidedly Australian in that soft, spicy way. Look for light peppery black fruit with mostly slippery tannins, a touch of toasted oak and plenty of soft, savoury, spicy, sweet fruit and chocolate in the finish. Ready to drink with no fuss or muss, just twist the top off and pour. Best with grilled baby back ribs.Prices: BC 38.99 Producer: Evolve Cellars
Read Full Note
Pentâge Winery Syrahtext
90PTS

Pentâge Winery Syrah 2013

Skaha Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaSkaha-based Pentâge Winery has done the aging for us, holding this structural, brooding, peppery 2013 syrah back until now when it is a welcome current release. Meaty and savoury, with cracked peppercorn, charcuterie, wild cassis, lifted blueberry, a hint of scrub, all riding a swell of acidity (at the limit) right through the lingering finish. Tannins are age-appropriately worn, straddling the youthful wood-grip stage. Yet another individual reason why syrah is a star of BC.Prices: BC 25.90 Producer: Pentâge Winery
Read Full Note
Moon Curser Syrahtext
88PTS

Moon Curser Syrah 2014

Osoyoos, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThree years on this red is beginning to peak in the glass. The fruit is soft and juicy with attractive blueberry notes, a sure sign of quality fruit. It's bright with enough acidity to keep it fresh and linear before it explodes on the palate spilling floral, pepper/chocolate/liquorice black fruit that fade into a savoury finish. Ready and fun to drink now. Should be perfect for lamb chops or hamburgers.Prices: BC 23.39 Producer: Moon Curser
Read Full Note
Moon Curser Syrahtext
87PTS

Moon Curser Syrah 2015

Osoyoos, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe syrah comes off Moon Curser vineyards on the Osoyoos East Bench and in 2015 it was grown on a single site: Bartsch Vineyard. The silica and granite soiled sites face south and west, collecting plenty of warmth from the day sun. The fruit, picked by hand on October 6, came in at 24.8 Brix, and October 9 at 27 Brix. It’s a mix of barrel and tank fermentations all matured in 225L barriques that are mostly Hungarian oak. The ’15 syrah is amped up with super ripe fruit. The blueberry notes of last year are mixed with pruney, raisin, vanilla black fruit flavours and dry peppery notes in the finish. It’s warm (alcoholic) but not really out of whack. I suggest keeping it three to five years in bottle, or serving it now with venison or wild birds.Prices: BC 23.39 Producer: Moon Curser
Read Full Note
Quails' Gate Syrah The Boswelltext
90PTS

Quails' Gate Syrah The Boswell 2015

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaOne of Quails' Gate's prestigious Anniversary Series in honour of the family's pioneering Okanagan ancestors, the 2015 edition of The Boswell Syrah amounted to 24 barrels total. This Westbank estate grown syrah spent 18 months in French oak, required to support the ripe intensity of the fruit. Dense black cherry is perfumed with herbs, violets, wild anise, thorns, fried sage and alluring lavender potpourri to a medicinal cassis and very bitter black coffee finish. Tannins are bracketed with grippy, persistently fine wood spicing, afforded from the barrel. This is very much in youth, and will benefit from time in a decanter and pairing with Salt Spring lamb now.Prices: BC 50.00 Producer: Quails' Gate Vineyards Estate Winery
Read Full Note
Mission Hill Terroir Collection No. 23 Crosswinds Syrahtext
89PTS

Mission Hill Terroir Collection No. 23 Crosswinds Syrah 2012

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaTasted another year along its journey this "Terroir Collection" syrah is sourced from two vineyards, one on Oliver's Black Sage Bench (69 percent) and one in Osoyoos (31 percent). Thirteen months in French oak (37 percent new) still dominates this big red, especially in the finish where it’s drying out the fruit. As before, the form and tannins are surprisingly cabernet-like, with dusty cassis, wild plum, thorns, worked leather and savoury tobacco. Tannins are dusty and lined with a medicinal, savoury, resinous tar, making more sense when you imagine the semi-desert climate conditions. Drink now, with grilled lamb, or wait another three years.Prices: BC 50.00 Producer: Mission Hill Family Estate
Read Full Note

17 November 2017

Red Schooner Voyage 4 Red Wine of the Worldtext
86PTS

Red Schooner Voyage 4 Red Wine of the World 2015

United StatesIf you enjoy the rich, ripe style of Caymus wines you will like this rich, ripe, fat interpretation of Argentine malbec. The grapes are grown in Mendoza and shipped chilled to Napa Valley before being made using the same blueprint as Caymus Cabernet. In essence, this is a super rich, warm and spicy pinot noir-structured cabernet made with malbec. Plenty of oak and vanilla with even more cassis and chocolate should have wide appeal to a certain sector of the market that likes their red wines in that big, soft, sweet pillowy style. Best with grilled meats, and in this case, with a chimichurri sauce to take in the ripe fruit.Prices: BC 64.99 AB 69.00 ON 69.95 MB 69.99 Producer: Caymus Vineyards
Read Full Note
Argento Classic Malbectext
88PTS

Argento Classic Malbec 2016

Mendoza, ArgentinaCool weather in 2016 has taught everyone a valuable lesson in Argentina: don’t be afraid of freshness. This wine was picked early to avoid the rain and given a longer maceration, and the result is a big win. Purity of fruit reigns along with savoury, juicy, red fruit and a touch of tobacco. Fragrant, tasty, affordable, solid new-style malbec almost all made in concrete. Fine with chicken or pasta with a meat sauce, and of course perfect with empanadas. The fruit is all Mendoza from Rivadavia, Junín, Luján de Cuyo, Maipú, Tunuyán and Tupungato.Prices: BC 17.49 AB 14.50 YK 16.35 MB 13.50 ON 9.00 PEI 13.49 Producer: Bodega Argento
Read Full Note
Argento Single Vineyard Finca La Cerezas Malbectext
91PTS

Argento Single Vineyard Finca La Cerezas Malbec 2015

Altamira, Valle de Uco, Tunuyán, Central Region, Mendoza, ArgentinaThe Single Vineyard Finca La Cerezas Malbec is a new label from Argento, a winery that is beginning to stretch its wings under winemaker Silvia Corti. This wine is all about place and expression of place. It’s helped by one year’s ageing in 3500L second use foudres that gently aerate the fruit, leaving fragrant, mineral, red fruit flavours perfectly connected to an electric, wet stone finish full of tension. There is but a touch of tannin here and a big future. Bravo.Prices: BC 32.00 Producer: Bodega Argento
Read Full Note

15 November 2017

Quails' Gate Cailleteau Gamay Nouveauxtext
88PTS

Quails' Gate Cailleteau Gamay Nouveaux 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe second release of the Quails' Gate gamay nouveau, or Cailleteau (pronounced kye-toe) after the French word for a baby quail, is as good as first and maybe, even better. There was never anything wrong with the concept of Beaujolais Nouveau - a chance to celebrate the vintage and the harvest by bottling wine made in one month from picking. The mistake was trying to make a local tradition a worldwide event. The juicy, delicious gamay made in the simplest of ways was never up to the challenge of travelling around the world in anything less than the Concorde. Its soft, peppery, fruity, branchy nuances and easy-sipping, slippery juicy nature demands it be consumed quickly and locally. At Quails’ Gate, the fruit was harvested on September 28, and as she did last year, winemaker Nikki Callaway has nailed the ‘Nouveau’ style. Whole clusters in a carbon dioxide rich environment has yielded a dark purple, youthful red with inviting flecks of primary, cherry/kirsch fruit with savoury, dried herbs, pepper and cinnamon. Nothing but fun. It’s winery only sales so find a friend in Kelowna to grab you a few bottles or join the Cellar Door Club and buy it at $17.99. Best with charcuterie, pâté or soft cheese throughout the holidays.Prices: BC 19.99 Producer: Quails' Gate Vineyards Estate Winery
Read Full Note

14 November 2017

Haywire Gamay Noirtext
89PTS

Haywire Gamay Noir 2016

Summerland, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaFrom the 15-hectare Secrest Mountain Vineyard, just north of Oliver, this is a higher elevation (487 metres) finely spiced and friendly gamay grown on the south-west Secrest Vineyard. The site is now in its second year of transition towards organic certification. Look for fresh herbal raspberry notes with dried thyme and sarsaparilla on the softer, juicy, red-fruited and gently tannic palate. A friendly, approachable gamay. Perfect for pork or autumn mushroom dishes. #GoGamayGo.Prices: BC 28.99 Producer: Okanagan Crush Pad Winery
Read Full Note
Chateau des Tours Vieilles Vignes Brouillytext
89PTS

Chateau des Tours Vieilles Vignes Brouilly 2015

Beaujolais, Burgundy, FranceJuicy, quenching red currant, wild raspberry and dried strawberry bristles with acidity and potent finely textured minerality in this old vine Brouilly, with vine age averaging 60 years. Tannins are taut and grippy/gritty through to the lingering cherry and dried floral finish. The frame is narrow, but intense, stuffing all of the hot 2015's 14.5 percent alcohol into a sleek frame. This is from mid slope, broken granite and skinny sandy soils, farmed sustainably and partially fermented in old oak for up to ten months. #GoGamayGo.Prices: QC 25.95 BC 30.00 Producer: Chateau des Tours
Read Full Note

13 November 2017

Beringer Paso Robles The Waymaker Redtext
86PTS

Beringer Paso Robles The Waymaker Red 2014

Knights Valley, Sonoma County, California, United StatesThe Waymaker is a ripe, spicy hedonistic blend with big blue and red fruit aromatics. The style is soft and juicy, and the fruit on the overripe with a plenty of spice, dark chocolate and a hint of residual sugar in line with its Paso Robles fruit makeup. The wine is aged in oak barrels for 16 months before bottling. Simple, ready to drink red.Prices: BC 35.00 NB 30.00 QC 25.00 Producer: Beringer Napa Valley Vineyards
Read Full Note
Penfolds Max's Shiraz Cabernettext
87PTS

Penfolds Max's Shiraz Cabernet 2015

South Australia, AustraliaMax Schubert created the Penfold’s icon red Grange, hence the Max reference in what is a new tier of Penfolds wines. The style is modern and has Peter Gago’s fingerprints on it showing only medium acidity and with bright, fresh, ripe, smoky fruit flecked with toasted oak. Not particularly complex but it is easy-drinking with soft tannins and a touch of warmth in the back end.Prices: US 25.00 Australia 35.00 Producer: Penfolds
Read Full Note
Moon Curser Dead of the Nighttext
88PTS

Moon Curser Dead of the Night 2014

Osoyoos, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaIf you like the ‘12 you going to like the 2014. Dead of the Night is a 50/50 mix of syrah/tannat grown on the Osoyoos East bench area that is the unofficial flagship red of the winery. The nose is rich and brooding with floral, black fruits drenched in earthy meaty, savoury notes and some substantial tannins. This is going to take an extra two years in bottle to settle in. If you must open it now it requires a substantial piece of roasted meat or venison to take on its tannins and the rich flavours.Prices: BC 37.30 Producer: Moon Curser
Read Full Note
Moon Curser Dead of the Nighttext
90PTS

Moon Curser Dead of the Night 2015

Osoyoos, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaDead of the Night is a 50/50 mix of syrah/tannat grown on the Osoyoos east bench area that is the unofficial flagship red of the winery. As big as syrah and tannat can be this wine remains fresh and relatively bright on the nose offering fragrant notes of dark plums and ripe blackberries. The palate is much improved showing more finesse and refined dense tannins permeated by a strong black cherry flavour. Much more elegance than we are used to here and it is welcomed in what can be a brawny red. Impressive to say the least.Prices: BC 37.30 Producer: Moon Curser
Read Full Note

10 November 2017

Haywire Switchback Organic Vineyard Pinot Gristext
91PTS

Haywire Switchback Organic Vineyard Pinot Gris 2016

Summerland, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaSage and Ponderosa pine streak through this pinot gris, always one of the top wines in Haywire's vast portfolio (and one of the top BC gris consistantly). This is from OCP's home Switchback Vineyard, with 11-year-old clone 52 vines, farmed organically, on east facing calcium carbonate-laced, gravelly soils. Potent, yet finessed, with meadow grasses, wild flowers, sage, and large flake salts texturing a savoury base of quince, pear skin and musk melon. The fine tug around the sides reflects the native ferment and aging in concrete for ten months on gross lees. An echo of medicinal lemon and honey lingers on the finish. Distinct and impressive, as ever.Prices: BC 24.90 Producer: Okanagan Crush Pad Winery
Read Full Note
Haywire Pinot Gristext
89PTS

Haywire Pinot Gris 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaLike so many successful Haywire wines, this is drawn from the cooler, higher altitude, limestone-studded Secrest Mountain Vineyard, just north of Oliver. Winemaker Matt Dumayne gets pinot gris; it's always near the pinnacle of their vast portfolio, across all levels. This, "white label", is seen as the entry level tier of the Haywire wines, and still far better than many (more expensive) contemporaries. Dusty sage is kissed with anise overtop of cool pear, lemon pith and verbena-led acidity, with a finely tuggy/grippy texture that reflects its ferment and aging in concrete tanks for ten months. Organic farming and whole bunch pressing adds to its depth. Killer value, especially with 2016 vintage.Prices: BC 22.90 Producer: Okanagan Crush Pad Winery
Read Full Note
Blue Mountain Pinot Gristext
90PTS

Blue Mountain Pinot Gris 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaA blend of two French clones and thirty-year-old vines, this was native fermented and whole cluster pressed 60/40 into stainless / wood, where it aged for eight months (the wood portion aged sur lie). Big, polished and spiced, with creamy orange blossom, fleshy pear and a firm bracing frame. This is a big, though finessed, wine, still very much in youth, and will settle and own its shape with another year in bottle. One of BC's benchmark gris, yet again. Outstanding value.Prices: BC 21.00 AB 26.95 ON 24.95 QC 24.95 Producer: Blue Mountain Vineyard & Cellars
Read Full Note
Argento Classic Pinot Grigiotext
87PTS

Argento Classic Pinot Grigio 2016

Mendoza, ArgentinaA cool year has produced one of the freshest gris yet from this talented producer. It’s a mix of Mendoza and San Juan fruit that is clean and fresh with a bright, citrus streak and a minerality that won’t quit. Quite remarkable styling for the price. The wine sits in stainless steel tanks on its lees that are stirred intermittently to keep it all fresh and help with texturw. Real wine and super value.Prices: AB 11.50 BC 17.49 NF 14.57 ON 9.95 NB 12.99 NL 14.57 PEI 12.99 ON 17.95 1500 Producer: Bodega Argento
Read Full Note

09 November 2017

BK Wines Skin n' Bones Whitetext
91PTS

BK Wines Skin n' Bones White 2016

Lenswood, Adelaide Hills, Mount Lofty Ranges, Adelaide, South Australia, AustraliaHighly perfumed, shining golden yellow hued, with bruised apricot, orange blossom, pear skin leading the streaming, delicate and savoury form. The fading musk twinkles with lemon/lime sherbet before a bright, salted, white grapefruit twist on the lingering finish. It's all wabi-sabi, on the edge riding floral/fresh, and decay, all still intriguingly leading you to glass after glass (especially at 11.8 percent). Savagnin was brought into Oz from Spain and planted as Albarino. When folks discovered the cuttings they brought over were not actually albarino, but Jura's legendary savagnin (mistakenly planted in Spain as albarino), most vintners ripped it up. Brendon Keys, a fan of savagnin and Jura, is one of the few who chose to continue with savagnin, and is one of the few to work with the grape in Australia today. This is an 'orange wine', destemmed and fermented like a red with one month on skins in fermenter before being pressed off to barrel for nine months. In the mix is one new barrel from a forest in Jura, completing the circumference of this grape's journey from Jura to Spain to Oz back to Jura.Prices: BC 35.00 Producer: BK Wines
Read Full Note
Heidi Schrock Furminttext
92PTS

Heidi Schrock Furmint 2013

Bergland Österreich, AustriaFurmint is a beautiful thing, and Heidi Schröck, a leading light of Austrian low interventionist winemaking, is a terroir transmitter for this buzzing, understated, nonchalent and chic grape. Based in Burgenland, Schröck took over her family's 10 acres in the village of Rust in 1983, where she quickly started turning out idiosyncratic wines like this from their mica slate, limestone and sandy loam soils. Their south facing vineyards shade the softly rolling hills around Lake Neusiedl, forming a sort of natural ampitheatre. Nervy and electric, with chamomile scenting ample salts, medicinal lemon, flax, smoked stones, meadow grasses and green apple crispness. A slick of honeyed lees softens the stony base and hints to the age of this wine, one that is entirely not about the fruit. An intellectual stunner now.Prices: BC 35.00 Producer: Heidi Schrock
Read Full Note
Janare Falanghina del Sanniotext
89PTS

Janare Falanghina del Sannio 2015

Campania, ItalyThis wine is always expressive on the nose, with big florals, concentrated anise, mango, quince and pear with a mineral undercurrent reflective of the limestone and clay soils in the vineyards. The palate is fresh and full with rounded corners, plenty off spice and a long persistent finish. Treve describes this wine as dense and potent but with flow and I couldn’t agree more. Buttered clams, crab and butter or even halibut would all work here.Prices: BC 19.29 AB 21.00 Producer: La Guardiense
Read Full Note
Pentâge Winery Gamay Noirtext
89PTS

Pentâge Winery Gamay Noir 2015

Skaha Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaAlluring forest berries, Italian plum, thorny blackberry, cassis jam through this darker-hued gamay noir, one owning its sun-given powers with élan. There's an alluring fine slick of mineral salts that line the palate of this medium-bodied red, with grips of herbal branch and licks of light peppercorn. The palate is soft, but not heavy, and lingers with fine smoked salts. Well done, especially with a decant or some time to expand in the glass. Best enjoyed with pork tenderloin or rabbit.Prices: BC 20.00 Producer: Pentâge Winery
Read Full Note
Moon Curser Contraband Series Arneistext
88PTS

Moon Curser Contraband Series Arneis 2016

Osoyoos, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaArneis is an unusual grape for BC but famous in its Piemonte homeland. This is an super dry version with citrus, green apples, guava and assorted crunchy orchard fruit flavours. Tight and in some ways severe, it will push your palate to the limit which may not be a bad thing. Dry, fresh, juicy, it finished austere and clean. Use it as you would a squeeze of lemon. Oysters anyone?Prices: BC 22.52 Producer: Moon Curser
Read Full Note

08 November 2017

Van Westen Vineyards Vulturetext
87PTS

Van Westen Vineyards Vulture 2014

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaSurprisingly cool and floral on the nose with a light mix of red currants, red cherries and huckleberries. The attack is dry, the tannins sticky, with more plummy, peppery fruit flecked with bits of cumin and dried herbs. This needs food at this point to pull everything together. Try with mushroom dishes, or grilled meats or roasted game birds. Give this another year to gather itself in the bottle for best results.Prices: BC 40.00 Producer: Van Westen Vineyards
Read Full Note
Narrative Cabernet Franc by Okanagan Crush Padtext
89PTS

Narrative Cabernet Franc by Okanagan Crush Pad 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaNarrative is about the Okanagan story and its rare extreme climate: home to both arid desert landscape and cold snowy winters. This cabernet franc is built along soft, juicy lines with vibrant red briary, black fruits and round slippery tannins. The finish is fresh and spicy. The fruit is mix of sites along the Golden Mile and Black Sage benches. The wine was fermented and aged in concrete tank for 9 months prior to bottling in late July 2017.Prices: BC 21.99 Producer: Okanagan Crush Pad Winery
Read Full Note
Fort Berens Cabernet Franctext
86PTS

Fort Berens Cabernet Franc 2015

Lillooet, British Columbia, CanadaSimilar to last year, the 2015 is mostly Lillooet fruit with a top up from the Okanagan Valley. The nose is reductive upon opening, with smoky, hickory, moss, blackberry with a hint of roasted earth. The attack is fresh with earthy, roasted tomato notes and smooth black raspberry fruit. Smoky wood finish with some acidity poking through. Best with grilled meats at this point.Prices: BC 24.99 Producer: Fort Berens Estate Winery
Read Full Note
Cellar Hand Punch Down Cabernet Franctext
87PTS

Cellar Hand Punch Down Cabernet Franc 2015

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe first I have seen of this cabernet franc, it opens with a peppery briary attack. The fruit is ripe but not overdone with round and powdery, soft tannins. Juicy, fragrant, blackcurrant flavours end with a smoky, earthy undercurrent. Big and juicy, this can take on barbecue beef and or pork ribs or simply prepared lamb chops.Prices: BC 24.90 Producer: Black Hills Estate Winery
Read Full Note
Pentâge Cabernet Franc Reserve Appassimento Styletext
88PTS

Pentâge Cabernet Franc Reserve Appassimento Style 2013

Skaha Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaI can’t say I’m a fan of the process of“appassimento” outside of the Valpolicella region in Italy, and even there global warming may be rendering it unnecessary. That said, the process of partially drying the grapes has done here in BC what you would expect: concentrated sugars and increased alcohol and/or residual sugar. On the upside, it has given the wine much more complexity on the nose. Plums and raisins are the dominant bouquet and they sit on the palate with a touch of milk chocolate. If you like your red wine sweet this is it, and it’s well made. Best with cheese and chocolate.Prices: BC 34.90 500 Producer: Pentâge Winery
Read Full Note

07 November 2017

Stoneboat Pinot House Alessiotext
87PTS

Stoneboat Pinot House Alessio 2016

Oliver, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaAlessio was made for a family friend in the leaner, European style. The mix is 85/15 pinot bianco/müller-thurgau, de-stemmed and lightly crushed into the press, fermented dry and left on its lees for two months. Look for floral honeysuckle, melon with peachy/apricot pit flavours, refreshing acidity and a dry, nutty finish with a hint of bitterness. Ready to drink with your favourite sushi rolls.Prices: BC 21.90 Producer: Stoneboat Vineyards
Read Full Note
Narrative Pinot Blanctext
88PTS

Narrative Pinot Blanc 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis is the first release of Narrative Pinot Blanc, since the grape used to be blended away into Narrative white. This year they decided the wine was so tasty that it should stand alone. This was native fermented in concrete, where it rested for eight months. Ripe melon, pear, yellow apple, peach gummies in this lush, creamy, lower acidity white. There's a snap of zippy spice just closing the finish of this friendly white. Drink now.Prices: BC 23.00 Producer: Okanagan Crush Pad Winery
Read Full Note
Skaha Vineyard Pinot Blanctext
89PTS

Skaha Vineyard Pinot Blanc 2016

Skaha Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaPinot blanc is a grape very well suited to the Okanagan, and wines like this show why. Pure pear streams along the stony, salty palate, with fine sage dust spicing up the sides. The vineyard is up above Skaha Lake on steep shale slopes with fossilzed sandstone. Bright and lively in the mouth, though lined with a full layer of lees and a fuller body (13.7 percent alcohol). Balance is everything. Well done.Prices: BC 21.50 Producer: Kraze Legz / Skaha Vineyards
Read Full Note
Mission Hill Reserve Pinot Blanctext
88PTS

Mission Hill Reserve Pinot Blanc 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaWines like this prove how suited pinot blanc is to the Okanagan. Orchard pear, yellow apple, lightly lined with sagebrush and bedded with creamy lees that rolls across the full palate. Acidity is moderate, and there is a light flush of heat on the finish that makes this wine best suited to pairing with a lightly creamy tofu, risotto or chicken dish.Prices: BC 16.59 Producer: Mission Hill Family Estate
Read Full Note

06 November 2017

Stina Cuvee Whitetext
88PTS

Stina Cuvee White 2015

Coastal Croatia, CroatiaEver had Croatian wine before? Then chances are you haven't tried the grapes posip and vuguva either, the main two varieties in this Dalmatian coast blend (alongside ten percent chardonnay). Stein is one of Croatia's top wineries, and based on the island of Brač. Young vines on limestone-led soils were aged six months in stainless, and display creamy pear, ripe cantaloupe, lemon and green fig in a moderate 12 percent frame. A plump, gently honeyed cushion on the palate supports, while frisky acidity lifts. This is a natural with scallops or succulent spot prawns.Prices: BC 24.00 Producer: Jaco vino Stina
Read Full Note
Stoneboat Pinot House Gravelbar Chorustext
87PTS

Stoneboat Pinot House Gravelbar Chorus 2016

Oliver, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe Gravel Bar Chorus is an aromatic orchard of fruit stuffed into the glass. Look for melon, peach and green apple flavours with a solid stream of acidity and just a wisp of minerality which calls for another sip. The grapes come off the oldest vineyard, originally planted in 1984. Early ripening schönburger was crushed and de-stemmed then transferred with skins to tank for 48 hours then pressed. Pinot blanc and müller thurgau harvests followed shortly afterwards. Each variety was picked and fermented separately with a long, cold fermentation at 13 C, lasting 3 weeks. Blending took place in early February.Prices: BC 16.99 Producer: Stoneboat Vineyards
Read Full Note
Occhipinti SP68 Biancotext
89PTS

Occhipinti SP68 Bianco 2016

Sicily, ItalyFrom one of the world's leading natural winemakers and advocates, Arianna Occhipinti blends 15-55-year-old Moscato di Alessandria and Albanello from south western Sicily's limestone-laced soils in this biodynamic, non-interventionist wine. Native ferment, with no inputs save for a touch of sulphur at bottling. After 15 days of skin contact, this spends six months in concrete tank before it is bottled unfined and unfiltered. Slightly cloudy, light golden in hue, with white and pink blossom (slightly wilted), herbal lemon thistle, orange custard, apricot fuzz, pear skin, cold cream perfume, all on a creamy peach flan palate, slim at 12 percent and bristling with tense acidity. There's an alluring prettiness in the imperfections of this wine, so typical of her wines.Prices: BC 33.99 Producer: Arianna Occhipinti
Read Full Note
Conundrum Whitetext
85PTS

Conundrum White 2015

California, United StatesNo big change here. A sweet, floral fruit salad nose and flavour profile attracts a wide audience creating a Conundrum of sorts for dry white wine drinkers. Sweet pear and gooseberry, dusted with baby powder finishes soft and round with a push of vanilla and heat. Napa, Monterey, Santa Barbara and Tulare Counties go into this off-dry white. Although the blend is never disclosed, we are guessing the mix includes chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, sémillon, muscat canelli and viognier, aged in stainless, new and used French oak. Chill well and serve solo with spicy dishes.Prices: BC 24.99 ON 24.95 QC 23.55 AB 24.99 SK 28.99 MB 24.99 NS 26.80 NB 24.99 NFL 26.26 PEI 26.49 Producer: Caymus Vineyards
Read Full Note
Sperling Market Whitetext
88PTS

Sperling Market White 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaLively, bright and fresh with lime blossom, juicy apple and brisk acidity, with intensity impressive for a delightful 10.5 percent. Nectarine fuzz lingers on the finish. This is a blend of germanic varieties including pinot blanc, bacchus and riesling. A joyous white, well made, at a great price; I wish more of our white blends followed this lead.Prices: BC 15.99 Producer: Sperling Vineyards
Read Full Note
Black Hills Aliastext
86PTS

Black Hills Alias 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaAlias is a new wine from Black Hills but hardly a new formula. The what’s-left-in-the-tank fruit salad white mixes 30 percent riesling, 28 percent pinot blanc, 19 percent gewürztraminer, 9 percent schoenberger, 8 percent muscat, 6 percent ehrenfelser that thankfully isn’t too sweet. Still, you can expect a tropical barrage of fruit flavours held by a candied orange, pineapple, guava and passionfruit. There is enough acidity to keep it all together in the finish. A beach white you can chill down and serve with spicy sushi rolls.Prices: BC 21.65 Producer: Black Hills Estate Winery
Read Full Note

05 November 2017

Black Hills Nota Benetext
88PTS

Black Hills Nota Bene 1999

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis note comes from a 17-wine vertical tasting held in Osoyoos, British Columbia on Saturday September 30. Each of the bottles tasted were in good physical condition although clearly some of the older, formative years are now past their best. Working through 17 vintages of Nota Bene makes it clear that better viticulture, older grapes vines, new facilities and better wine knowledge has improved the all-round quality of the current Nota Bene labels when compared to its humbler beginnings. The 1999 was a peppery, spicy, earthy tobacco affair and now it’s a dry, peppery, tarry, licorice tobacco affair, almost Barolo-like, showing signs of oxidation. We noted it was nearly mature in 2004 so it is no surprise where it’s at today. A curiosity at best that needs drinking. The blend 64% merlot, 26% cabernet sauvignon and 10% cabernet franc was bottled with 13 percent alcohol. Winemaker Rusty FigginsPrices: BC 28.00 Producer: Black Hills Estate Winery
Read Full Note
Black Hills Nota Benetext
86PTS

Black Hills Nota Bene 2000

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis note comes from a 17-wine vertical tasting held in Osoyoos, British Columbia on Saturday September 30. Each of the bottles tasted were in good physical condition although clearly some of the older, formative years are now past their best. Working through 17 vintages of Nota Bene makes it clear that better viticulture, older grapes vines, new facilities and better wine knowledge has improved the all-round quality of the current Nota Bene labels when compared to its humbler beginnings. The 2000 Nota Bene is a 52/25/23 blend of cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, and merlot with 14 percent alcohol. It’s one of the darker wines in the lineup sporting a light smoky licorice nose now with almost no fruit left. The palate is tired and showing some oxidation with mostly cedar, tobacco earthy flavours at this point. Well past its prime. Winemaker Rusty FigginsPrices: BC 28.00 Producer: Black Hills Estate Winery
Read Full Note
Black Hills Nota Benetext
87PTS

Black Hills Nota Bene 2001

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis note comes from a 17-wine vertical tasting held in Osoyoos, British Columbia on Saturday September 30. Each of the bottles tasted were in good physical condition although clearly some of the older, formative years are now past their best. Working through 17 vintages of Nota Bene makes it clear that better viticulture, older grapes vines, new facilities and better wine knowledge has improved the all-round quality of the current Nota Bene labels when compared to its humbler beginnings. The 2001 NB is a 46/35/19 blend of cabernet sauvignon/ merlot/cabernet franc at 14 percent alcohol. The nose is a mix of cooler, root vegetable, smoky licorice notes. Back in the day it was one of the hardest young NBs and while the tannins have dissipated the dry cedar, peppery olive notes persist. Happy to see these days gone. Winemaker Rusty Figgins.Prices: BC 28.00 Producer: Black Hills Estate Winery
Read Full Note
Black Hills Nota Benetext
89PTS

Black Hills Nota Bene 2002

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis note comes from a 17-wine vertical tasting held in Osoyoos, British Columbia on Saturday September 30. Each of the bottles tasted were in good physical condition although clearly some of the older, formative years are now past their best. Working through 17 vintages of Nota Bene makes it clear that better viticulture, older grapes vines, new facilities and better wine knowledge has improved the all-round quality of the current Nota Bene labels when compared to its humbler beginnings. The 2002 was one of the better early wines from Nota Bene that has morphed into a soft, round, easy-sipping red with a sweet candied (volatile) fruit finish. A good example of the sum of the parts exceeding the individual blend of 48/37/15 blend of cabernet sauvignon/ merlot/cabernet franc at 14.5 percent alcohol. No real savoury notes at this point just dry and herbal. Ready to drink with roasted meats. Winemaker Senka Tennant.Prices: BC 31.95 Producer: Black Hills Estate Winery
Read Full Note
Black Hills Nota Benetext
88PTS

Black Hills Nota Bene 2003

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis note comes from a 17-wine vertical tasting held in Osoyoos, British Columbia on Saturday September 30. Each of the bottles tasted were in good physical condition although clearly some of the older, formative years are now past their best. Working through 17 vintages of Nota Bene makes it clear that better viticulture, older grapes vines, new facilities and better wine knowledge has improved the all-round quality of the current Nota Bene labels when compared to its humbler beginnings. The 03 Nota Bene mix is classic, 46/34/20/ cabernet sauvignon, merlot and cabernet franc and it was one of the cleanest on the nose since the start. Today, one of the warmest ever years in the Okanagan, has given the wine a tarry, Barolo-like nose with smoky, olive tobacco notes. Over time the wine has mellowed and is showing more spice but without deepening in complexity or length. Ready to drink. The eight-year-old vineyard yielded a mix of 46/34/20/ cabernet sauvignon, merlot and cabernet franc at 14.5 percent alcohol. Solid. Winemaker Senka Tennant.Prices: BC 31.95 Producer: Black Hills Estate Winery
Read Full Note
Black Hills Nota Benetext
87PTS

Black Hills Nota Bene 2004

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis note comes from a 17-wine vertical tasting held in Osoyoos, British Columbia on Saturday September 30. Each of the bottles tasted were in good physical condition although clearly some of the older, formative years are now past their best. Working through 17 vintages of Nota Bene makes it clear that better viticulture, older grapes vines, new facilities and better wine knowledge has improved the all-round quality of the current Nota Bene labels when compared to its humbler beginnings. One of the lighter wines in the tasting it has evolved like many before it into a round soft, sweetish red that is ready to drink. The alcohol is carrying it at this point but it is enjoyable to drink. Lacks complexity but its one of the first to show refinement in structure and length. The 2004 is a 46/36/18 blend of cabernet sauvignon / merlot and cabernet franc. Winemaker Senka Tennant.Prices: BC 36.90 Producer: Black Hills Estate Winery
Read Full Note
Black Hills Nota Benetext
89PTS

Black Hills Nota Bene 2005

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis note comes from a 17-wine vertical tasting held in Osoyoos, British Columbia on Saturday September 30. Each of the bottles tasted were in good physical condition although clearly some of the older, formative years are now past their best. Working through 17 vintages of Nota Bene makes it clear that better viticulture, older grapes vines, new facilities and better wine knowledge has improved the all-round quality of the current Nota Bene labels when compared to its humbler beginnings. The 2005 is beginning to show an upgrade from better oak and more new wood. Better tannin management also lends it a greater overall finesse. Round ripe and easy sipping the spicy tobacco notes sit over a long chalky finish. The ’05 is a 43/37/20 blend of cabernet sauvignon / merlot and cabernet franc at 14.7 percent alcohol. Winemaker Senka Tennant.Prices: BC 37.00 Producer: Black Hills Estate Winery
Read Full Note
Black Hills Nota Benetext
89PTS

Black Hills Nota Bene 2007

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis note comes from a 17-wine vertical tasting held in Osoyoos, British Columbia on Saturday September 30. Each of the bottles tasted were in good physical condition although clearly some of the older, formative years are now past their best. Working through 17 vintages of Nota Bene makes it clear that better viticulture, older grapes vines, new facilities and better wine knowledge has improved the all-round quality of the current Nota Bene labels when compared to its humbler beginnings. In 2007 Black Hills was sold by the original founders and became a limited partnership venture adding additional resources to the winery’s bag of tricks. The blend is a 46/39/15 mix of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and cabernet franc at 14.7 percent alcohol. This is a beefier version of 2006 with black cherry fruit and cassis that turns into a savoury, espresso, pipe tobacco affair, with a roasted tomato dusty finish. Graham Pierce co-chair the vintage with Senka Tennant.Prices: BC 53.00 Producer: Black Hills Estate Winery
Read Full Note
Black Hills Nota Benetext
80PTS

Black Hills Nota Bene 2008

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis note comes from a 17-wine vertical tasting held in Osoyoos, British Columbia on Saturday September 30. Each of the bottles tasted were in good physical condition although clearly some of the older, formative years are now past their best. Working through 17 vintages of Nota Bene makes it clear that better viticulture, older grapes vines, new facilities and better wine knowledge has improved the all-round quality of the current Nota Bene labels when compared to its humbler beginnings. A tough year that hasn’t really improve in the bottle. Dry, tight, light bodied and tart. with light, dry tannins. One to let go. The blend is a 48/41/11 mix of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and cabernet franc at 14.2 percent alcohol. Winemaker Graham Pierce.Prices: BC 53.00 Producer: Black Hills Estate Winery
Read Full Note
Black Hills Nota Benetext
91PTS

Black Hills Nota Bene 2009

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis note comes from a 17-wine vertical tasting held in Osoyoos, British Columbia on Saturday September 30. Each of the bottles tasted were in good physical condition although clearly some of the older, formative years are now past their best. Working through 17 vintages of Nota Bene makes it clear that better viticulture, older grapes vines, new facilities and better wine knowledge has improved the all-round quality of the current Nota Bene labels when compared to its humbler beginnings. Finally, a vintage with phenolic ripeness that has converted the perennial green notes at Nota Bene into a savoury, plummy, black fruit red with a long, delicious aftertaste. The tannins are dense but sweet and it makes all the difference. Certainly, among the best of the first decade. The blend is a 46/38/16 mix of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and cabernet franc at 14.1 percent alcohol. Winemaker Graham Pierce.Prices: BC 53.00 Producer: Black Hills Estate Winery
Read Full Note
Black Hills Nota Benetext
87PTS

Black Hills Nota Bene 2010

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis note comes from a 17-wine vertical tasting held in Osoyoos, British Columbia on Saturday September 30. Each of the bottles tasted were in good physical condition although clearly some of the older, formative years are now past their best. Working through 17 vintages of Nota Bene makes it clear that better viticulture, older grapes vines, new facilities and better wine knowledge has improved the all-round quality of the current Nota Bene labels when compared to its humbler beginnings. A super cool year always brings out the dill, herbal, leafy notes at Nota Bene as does 57 percent cabernet sauvignon. The years have shed some of the resiny roasted tomato notes leaving a simple soft ready to drink red that might be best served with a roast pork. The blend is a 57/32/11 mix of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and cabernet franc at 14.1 percent alcohol. Winemaker Graham Pierce.Prices: BC 53.00 Producer: Black Hills Estate Winery
Read Full Note
Black Hills Nota Benetext
88PTS

Black Hills Nota Bene 2011

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis note comes from a 17-wine vertical tasting held in Osoyoos, British Columbia on Saturday September 30. Each of the bottles tasted were in good physical condition although clearly some of the older, formative years are now past their best. Working through 17 vintages of Nota Bene makes it clear that better viticulture, older grapes vines, new facilities and better wine knowledge has improved the all-round quality of the current Nota Bene labels when compared to its humbler beginnings. Another cool offering where the dill marks the cassis through. The finish is dry and resiny if there is bright light you can sense the tannins management is under control and the textures are soft and slippery. Ready and waiting for a warmer year. The blend is a 5o/40/10 mix of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and cabernet franc at 14.0 degrees alcohol. Winemaker Graham Pierce.Prices: BC 53.00 Producer: Black Hills Estate Winery
Read Full Note
Black Hills Nota Benetext
91PTS

Black Hills Nota Bene 2012

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis note comes from a 17-wine vertical tasting held in Osoyoos, British Columbia on Saturday September 30. Each of the bottles tasted were in good physical condition although clearly some of the older, formative years are now past their best. Working through 17 vintages of Nota Bene makes it clear that better viticulture, older grapes vines, new facilities and better wine knowledge has improved the all-round quality of the current Nota Bene labels when compared to its humbler beginnings. It is the first time in more than a decade merlot has taken the lead in the blend and frankly the wine is much better for it. Softer textures and rounder mouthfeel preview a delicious, balanced, black-fruited red with a savoury smoky, graphite undercurrent. The wine was aged in an 80/20 mix of French and American oak. The best yet. The 2012 Nota Bene blend is 35/57/8 merlot/cabernet sauvignon/cabernet franc at 14.5 percent degrees alcohol. Winemaker Graham Pierce.Prices: BC 53.00 Producer: Black Hills Estate Winery
Read Full Note
Black Hills Nota Benetext
91PTS

Black Hills Nota Bene 2013

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis note comes from a 17-wine vertical tasting held in Osoyoos, British Columbia on Saturday September 30. Each of the bottles tasted were in good physical condition although clearly some of the older, formative years are now past their best. Working through 17 vintages of Nota Bene makes it clear that better viticulture, older grapes vines, new facilities and better wine knowledge has improved the all-round quality of the current Nota Bene labels when compared to its humbler beginnings. I’m a fan of the 2013 reds and this Nota bene is falling into shape on cue although its years from its peak. Savoury, peppery, tobacco notes flecked with black olive, coffee and vanilla entice. The attack is BC fresh with elegant, slightly lean but reasonably smooth tannins. On the palate more coffee, black pepper, black olive, tobacco and inky black fruit go long and firm. This needs a few more years but if you must drink it now it should be perfect with a grilled steak. A stylish Nota Bene. The 2013 Nota Bene blend is 49/40/11 merlot/cabernet sauvignon/cabernet franc at a perfect 13.7 degrees alcohol.Prices: BC 53.00 Producer: Black Hills Estate Winery
Read Full Note
Black Hills Nota Benetext
92PTS

Black Hills Nota Bene 2014

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis note comes from a 17-wine vertical tasting held in Osoyoos, British Columbia on Saturday September 30. Each of the bottles tasted were in good physical condition although clearly some of the older, formative years are now past their best. Working through 17 vintages of Nota Bene makes it clear that better viticulture, older grapes vines, new facilities and better wine knowledge has improved the all-round quality of the current Nota Bene labels when compared to its humbler beginnings. A brooding black hue, this vintage of Black Hills' iconic Note Bene is another evolution in style. Now in its sixteenth vintage, it is gifted (wisely) an additional six months of barrel aging, with the aim for that extra layer of integration and softening of the massive tannin this wine carries in youth. It sure looks like a win to me, though the best years of this wine's life are yet to come. The 52/33/15 blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot and cabernet franc (all Oliver estate fruit) at 14.9 percent alcohol is tightly wound but with dense, sweet tannins and plenty of smoky roasted black cherry fruits. This needs a decade in the bottle or a three hour decant before serving it with lamb or venison. Winemaker Graham Pierce.Prices: BC 53.00 Producer: Black Hills Estate Winery
Read Full Note
Black Hills Nota Benetext
91PTS

Black Hills Nota Bene 2015

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis note comes from a 17-wine vertical tasting held in Osoyoos, British Columbia on Saturday September 30. Each of the bottles tasted were in good physical condition although clearly some of the older, formative years are now past their best. Working through 17 vintages of Nota Bene makes it clear that better viticulture, older grapes vines, new facilities and better wine knowledge has improved the all-round quality of the current Nota Bene labels when compared to its humbler beginnings. The 2015 is perhaps the best example of the new Nota Bene with is hedonistic rich fruit, brooding dense sweet tannins and powerful alcohol. The seventeenth vintage, like last year was given an additional six months of barrel and it looks good on it. The 56/38/6 blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot and cabernet franc (all Oliver estate fruit) came in at 14.8 but it feels higher. Still super young with smoky, black cherry, cassis laden fruit and vanilla this is a monster Nota Bene that will need a full decade to settle into its groove. Winemaker Graham PiercePrices: BC 53.00 Producer: Black Hills Estate Winery
Read Full Note

04 November 2017

Black Hills Nota Benetext
89PTS

Black Hills Nota Bene 2006

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis note comes from a 17-wine vertical tasting held in Osoyoos, British Columbia on Saturday September 30. Each of the bottles tasted were in good physical condition although clearly some of the older, formative years are now past their best. Working through 17 vintages of Nota Bene makes it clear that better viticulture, older grapes vines, new facilities and better wine knowledge has improved the all-round quality of the current Nota Bene labels when compared to its humbler beginnings. The 2006 has the benefit of a new winery being added to the mix. It’s a cooler year and those tarry Barolo notes are everywhere. This is old Bordeaux with bit of brettanomyces and smoky, meaty, tobacco, savoury notes. Perfect for roast lamb. The 2006 mix is a 47/37/16 blend of cabernet sauvignon / merlot and cabernet franc at 14.7 percent alcohol. Winemaker Senka Tennant.Prices: BC 43.00 Producer: Black Hills Estate Winery
Read Full Note
Trapiche Tres 14text
91PTS

Trapiche Tres 14 2011

Vista Flores, Valle de Uco, Tunuyán, Central Region, Mendoza, ArgentinaTres 14 may seem a strange name for a premium, high-altitude, old-vine malbec from Vista Flores in the Uco Valley. That is, until you realize that Trapiche head winemaker, Daniel Pi's last name is the same as 3.14, which written out = tres 14. Memorable, yeah? Just like the wine made from own-rooted, 20+ year old vines, planted 1000m up on clay and silty soils. This is a very small lot (garage series) wine that was fermented and aged in second-use French and American oak for nine months. Potent and perfumed wild blackberry, plum laced with heady violets on a silken palate bounded with a stony grip. The wood is eaten up by the fruit, leaving a lingering dose of saltiness and light wood spicing on the finish. Drinking very well now, but will continue to age effortlessly for a few years.Prices: BC 45.00 Producer: Trapiche
Read Full Note
Trapiche Gran Medalla Malbectext
89PTS

Trapiche Gran Medalla Malbec 2013

Valle de Uco, Tunuyán, Central Region, Mendoza, ArgentinaGran Medalla was introduced to celebrate the winery's 125th anniversary, and remains a benchmark estate wine. From three plots of sandy loam soils at their Finca Los Arboles vineyard in the Uco Valley, Mendoza, this was native fermented in a concrete vat before 18 months into 80 percent new French oak barrels. The 2013 was a great vintage in Mendoza; this is showing lush, plush, mature fruit, with black currants, thorny cassis and violet leaves, held firm with grippy tannins. Quite potent and dense, thick with anise on the full palate, with a flush of heat on the spicy finish that requires red meats to tame. Old school style, modernized.Prices: BC 23.00 Producer: Trapiche
Read Full Note
Trapiche Terroir Series Finca Ambrosia Malbectext
91PTS

Trapiche Terroir Series Finca Ambrosia Malbec 2013

Gualtallary, Tupungato, Central Region, Mendoza, ArgentinaThe Ambrosia on the label refers to the grower of this Malbec from Gualtallary, Tupungato in Mendoza, reflective of the Terroir Series tier. The tier began in 2003 to honour the Trapiche grape growers. This site is at 1300m, on calcium carbonate soils, and with own-rooted vines twelve years in age. After native ferment in concrete, this spends eighteen months in new French oak barrels, followed by another year in bottle prior to release. Lovely blue fruit, with potent cassis and crunchy, brisk acidity and grippy sides. There's a seasoning of wild thyme that runs throughout, up to dark chocolate and espresso lingering on the lengthy finish. Expressive and long, this drinks very well now but will continue to mature easily for another 7+ years.Prices: BC 42.99 Producer: Trapiche
Read Full Note
Trapiche Gran Medalla Chardonnaytext
89PTS

Trapiche Gran Medalla Chardonnay 2015

Valle de Uco, Tunuyán, Central Region, Mendoza, ArgentinaGran Medalla was introduced to celebrate the winery's 125th anniversary, and remains a benchmark wine of the estate. Some of the highest vineyards in the world are found in Argentina, so it's always a wonder to me that people are surprised to find fresh whites and reds. This vineyard, in Los Árboles, Uco Valley, Mendoza, is at 1236 meters above sea level, on sandy, calcium-carbonate studded soils, so you can imagine the brightness found inherently. Fermented with native yeasts, this was whole bunch pressed and split between French barrel and concrete (eggs and vats) for fermentation and nine months on the lees (twice weekly battonage) before being blended and returned to bottle for at least one year prior to release. The ample battonage slows on the weight of the palate, with thick lees bedding ripe pear, cashew, perfumed lemon curd. Juicy throughout, to a lemony finish. A powerful, stately chardonnay in an older style. I'd love to see less battonage and lighter wood use to really let this special site shine.Prices: MB 26.00 PEI 33.00 BC 23.99 Producer: Trapiche
Read Full Note
Trapiche Perfiles Chardonnaytext
92PTS

Trapiche Perfiles Chardonnay 2015

Gualtallary, Tupungato, Central Region, Mendoza, ArgentinaSome of the highest vineyards in the world are found in Argentina, so it's always a wonder to me that people are surprised to find fresh, vibrant whites. If you doubt me, pour this, from the calcareous-rich soils of Gualtallary at 1300m. Perfiles translates as "profiles", and this tier aims to capture the profile of a single grape on a single soil, with minimal winemaking to unmask the site. This was destemmed, gently pressed and cold settled before going through malolactic fermentation in older French foudres, where it rested its lees for three months. Salty and grippy, with fine, savoury-hued lees and a stream of minerality throughout its long form. Bright lemon acidity and energy to the lively finish, which lingers with mineral salts. A beauty, and one that shows the potential of white grapes at altitude in Argentina. More like this please.Prices: BC 21.99 Producer: Trapiche
Read Full Note
Trapiche Iscay Malbec Cabernet Franctext
92PTS

Trapiche Iscay Malbec Cabernet Franc 2011

Valle de Uco, Tunuyán, Central Region, Mendoza, ArgentinaThis wine was the first started by winemaker Sergio Case when he joined Trapiche 18 years ago. It is 65/35 blend of malbec/cabernet franc from their vineyards in Cruz de Piedra, Maipú, and in Altamira, Uco Valley. Biscay was intended to be an elegant, "European style" red, and I reckon they've succeeded. Destemmed fruit is fermented in small concrete vats it spends a year in new French oak before the blend, and then back to barrel for an additional six months and into bottle for two years. This savoury wine is very fine and precise, with lifted and direct minerality that runs through the spicy finish. Wild plum, herbal cassis, bittersweet dark chocolate, thorns and a fine wash of dark violets fill the palate, finishing with lingering orange pith.Prices: BC 53.00 NS 47.35 Producer: Trapiche
Read Full Note

03 November 2017

Augey Bordeaux Blanc Sauvignon Blanc Semillontext
87PTS

Augey Bordeaux Blanc Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2016

FranceLove how consistently good this wine is for the price and it is a bargain. The fruit is a mix of sauvignon blanc and sémillon. The attack is ripe with mouth-filling lemongrass, lime and tangerine aromas flavours flecked with minerals and herbs. Very quaffable sweet lime flavours mixed with gooseberry and kiwi that fill out the finish. Try this with spicy sushi or a favourite Indian take-out dish. Very good value in an introductory style Bordeaux white.Prices: BC 13.29 Producer: Caves de Rauzan
Read Full Note
Condor Peak Sauvignon Blanctext
86PTS

Condor Peak Sauvignon Blanc 2016

Mendoza, ArgentinaClean, fresh, tropical fruit nose with a green, herbal undercurrent. The attack is similar with pineapple, apple, citrus fruit and a reasonably smooth, dry finish. Simple, tight and dry; well-suited to shrimp ceviche or sushi rolls. Chill well. Good value.Prices: BC 10.49 Producer: Andean Vineyards
Read Full Note
Haywire Free Form Natural and Unfiltered Whitetext
87PTS

Haywire Free Form Natural and Unfiltered White 2016

Summerland, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaPiercing apricot pith, peach pit, orange oil and grapefruit in this Free Form natural orange wine from Haywire. Though the palate is ripe downy pear and lees-clad, the finish is bitter sharp with medicinal / herbal citrus oils and resin. A more extreme version than previous vintages that will takes some getting used to. The fruit is from Summerland's Waters & Banks Vineyard, fermented using native yeast in stainless steel tanks where it aged on skins for nine months. It was pressed and left to rest for an additional two months before bottling in August 2017.Prices: BC 34.90 Producer: Okanagan Crush Pad Winery
Read Full Note
Emmolo Sauvignon Blanctext
87PTS

Emmolo Sauvignon Blanc 2015

Napa Valley, California, United StatesThis is more Napa than sauvignon blanc, which could be a good thing but in this case, maybe not. Light tropical fruit aromas and flavours with some herbal notes mark this middleweight white that is more gulpable than suited to food. You could say it's elegant, but in the end, for the price, it's lacking a bit of authenticity. Of course, on a warm day on a hot patio…Prices: BC 39.00 AB 27.00 MB 27.99 ON 27.95 QC 27.95 NFL 35.95 NB 33.99 Producer: Emmolo Wines
Read Full Note
Veramonte Sauvignon Blanctext
88PTS

Veramonte Sauvignon Blanc 2015

Valle de Casablanca, Region de Aconcagua, ChileThis has always been one of the best, simple Veramonte labels. For the price, this wine is delicious and should be the perfect advertisement for Casablanca sauvignon fruit. The style is refreshing with juicy green apple/grapefruit flavours with a hint of ripe guava and mango and a lively mineral streak in the finish. A fresh versatile chicken/seafood white. Good value.Prices: BC 13.49 Producer: Veramonte Estate
Read Full Note

02 November 2017

Donkey & Goat Carignanetext
90PTS

Donkey & Goat Carignane 2015

Mendocino County, California, United StatesFrom 75-year-old organically-farmed carignan vines, this is from Testa Vineyards' sandstone and loam soils in Mendocino, just over 520m in altitude. After a 10-day maceration, this spent an additional ten months in neutral French oak before being bottled unfined and unfiltered. Dusky plum, raspberry, mineral, black cherry, dried thyme is carried with fine, persistent acidity, lifted and bright, all with a persistent perfumed over hue of wild bush blueberry. Bottled unfined and unfiltered (an overt cloudiness) this has a grippy duskiness on the lingering finish. A lovely pour, though wish it was about half the price.Prices: BC 50.00 Producer: Donkey & Goat
Read Full Note
Vigno Undurraga Old Vines Dry-Farmed Carignantext
89PTS

Vigno Undurraga Old Vines Dry-Farmed Carignan 2011

Valle del Maule, Region del Valle Central, ChileDense and thick anise, potent leather, black licorice, and ample kirsch, blackberry, dried black plum in this dry-farmed, old vine carignan from Maule. There's a fragrant dusky potpourri spicing this potent, ripe, dense, thick and seductive palate, with thankful quench of acidity and concentrated salty wash on the hot finish. Requires equally dense red meats to match the intensity. Decant for maximum enjoyment, and then pair with lamb.Prices: MB 37.98 Producer: Vina Undurraga
Read Full Note

01 November 2017

Stratus Cabernet Franctext
91PTS

Stratus Cabernet Franc 2014

Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, CanadaPotent and dense, with grilled meats, blackberry thorns, black cherries, pitch on a bed of dark, moist humus soils. This Niagara-on-the-Lake wine spent approximately 18 months in French oak, one quarter new. Tannins are firm, but fine, and while the oak is evident, it always takes a background role to support the perfectly ripe (at 12.7 percent) fruit. I reckon that cabernet franc is Ontario's red card, and wines like this drive that home.Prices: ON 38.00 Producer: Stratus Vineyards
Read Full Note
Tawse Laundry Vineyard Cabernet Franctext
92PTS

Tawse Laundry Vineyard Cabernet Franc 2013

Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, CanadaThis organic Lincoln Lakeshore cabernet franc is now coming into its own, ruling the branchy, earthy, cigar tobacco, salty raspberry freshness inherent in cabernet franc. And in the process, proving that cab franc is a signature red of Ontario. Red florals, cherry, ample salts is grounded with an herbal thorniness and buoyed by a swell of acidity. Tannins are softening (vs tasting six months ago), melding into a persistent tug to a tight finish. Eighteen months in French oak provided the structure, and Lincoln Lakeshore's long, gentle slopes have formed the curves. This isn't at height yet: give this a year or two in the cellar to really emerge.Prices: ON 32.00 Producer: Tawse Winery
Read Full Note
Argento Reserva Cabernet Franctext
89PTS

Argento Reserva Cabernet Franc 2015

Mendoza, ArgentinaI love the aromatics on this wine, that in cool 2015 are even more emphatic. Like the previous vintage, the style is fresh, the nose pure, the textures supple on entry. The fruit is an effusive mix of blue and red fruits flecked with savoury dried herbs. Juicy and soft, the texture and length are amazing for the price. Serve with roasted chicken, quail, pork or mature hard cheeses. Impressive.Prices: BC 20.99 Producer: Bodega Argento
Read Full Note