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Anthony Gismondi on Wine
Tasting Notes

Tastings: August 2017

22 August 2017

Summerhill Pyramid Winery Pinot Noirtext
88PTS

Summerhill Pyramid Winery Pinot Noir 2013

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaHow refreshing is it to taste a local pinot noir released when the winery thinks it ready to drink, rather than when it needs to be sold. It's rarely a decision of quality, but rather economics - unfortunately, too oft the case in winemaking. This organically farmed 2013 spent 33 months in neutral oak, and is showing its age gracefully, with worn leather, dried raspberry scenting subtle cherry, earthy moss and tea leaf notes. Tannins are soft and nubile, with finely powdered cinnamon lingering. Pair with wild mushroom ragout over polenta, or wild rice and cranberries. Suitable for vegetarians and vegans. To be revisited at Thanksgiving.Prices: BC 25.99 Producer: Summerhill Pyramid Winery
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Mirabel Pinot Noirtext
91PTS

Mirabel Pinot Noir 2015

Okanagan Falls, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaMirabel Vineyards winery is owned by Doug and Dawn Reimer, long-time grape suppliers from their south east Kelowna vineyard to Meyer Family Vineyards in Okanagan Falls. That wine is sold under the Reimer Vineyard moniker. The site in south east Kelowna is moderately steep with a cool, northwesterly aspect, and the soil a mix of alluvial and windblown silt over gravel. The vineyard is planted with a mix of French Pommard and Dijon clones farmed sustainably. Despite a hot growing season there is more red berries than black with flecks of brown spice and earthy/green forest floor which speaks to the site. The oak is subtle, the length medium long but balanced with a hint of minerality. There is no winery yet so the wine is made in Summerland under the tutelage of winemaker Matt Dumayne at Okanagan Crush Pad You can drink this wine now but I would wait until 2020. Anything with mushrooms would be a fine match. Production, and it’s small, is sold exclusively in Vancouver by New District. The wine was aged 11 months in Francois Freres French oak that was 30 percent new.Prices: BC 70.00 Producer: Mirabel Vineyards
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Haywire Pinot Noir Canyonview Vineyardtext
87PTS

Haywire Pinot Noir Canyonview Vineyard 2014

Summerland, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaSweet raspberry, forest berries, stewed cherry and cinnamon spicing in the 2014 Canyonview Pinot Noir (yes, current release). Light smoke, raspberry jam amidst a cloud of blurry tannins and sweet pipe tobacco, this was fermented wild and aged in concrete for 11 months. Soft, round and meant to drink now, this is appealing for an everyday pinot.Prices: BC 39.90 Producer: Okanagan Crush Pad Winery
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Haywire White Label Pinot Noir Seacrest Mountain Vineyardtext
88PTS

Haywire White Label Pinot Noir Seacrest Mountain Vineyard 2015

Oliver, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaFrom the Wise brothers' Secrest Mountain Vineyard north of Oliver, this was wild fermented and aged in concrete for 11 months. A trace reduced upon opening but ripe and sun-filled and flush with raspberry, cherry, plum frutis with a juicy swell of acidity, all bracketed by cedar and spice. Almost quaffable (there are a few grippy tannins in the backend), this is a youthful and approachable pinot that typifies the New Okanagan. Roast chicken or grilled salmon would be the match.Prices: BC 26.90 Producer: Okanagan Crush Pad Winery
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Ex Nihilo Pinot Noirtext
86PTS

Ex Nihilo Pinot Noir 2015

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe grapes come off two northern sites,Rise Vineyard and the Ex Nihilo in Lake Country, and go through a whole berry fermentation in stainless steel tanks before being aged nine months in French Oak barrels of which 20 percent are new. The nose is overripe with cooked plums and cherries that carry on to the sweetish, candied jam palate laced with vanilla. A bit too rich and lifted for us. Drink now with big spicy rich dishes.Prices: BC 36.00 Producer: Ex Nihilo Vineyards
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Ex Nihilo Pinot Noir Small Lot Barrel Reservetext
88PTS

Ex Nihilo Pinot Noir Small Lot Barrel Reserve 2015

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe small lot barrel reserve is just that: the best of the best bottled in small amounts. The blend is a mix of French clones 777,667 and 115 and the style is big and rich and spicy. The palate is a mix of ripe, jammy berry flavours, perhaps too sweet for some, that finish long, warm and spicy. There is that northern savoury undercurrent with bits of thyme and sagebrush to add complexity. The tannins are round and drinkable now. Lacks lift and freshness to be a great bottle. Serve with duck or pork.Prices: BC 0.00 Producer: Ex Nihilo Vineyards
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Howling Bluff Pinot Noir Acta Vineyardtext
90PTS

Howling Bluff Pinot Noir Acta Vineyard 2014

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaHowling Bluff has made some amazing progress over the last five years including going sustainable in a big way. No pesticides or chemical fungicides is welcomed by this writer and the plan to be a Net Zero power user by the early 2020s is impressive. Pinot noir is a big focus and winemaker Luke Smith and his son Daniel are all in. I am loving what we see in this 2014 Acta (beach) Vineyard pinot. The site is all 777 and planted on a western sloping ancient seabed. A decade of learning sees this pinot get about a year in oak, split almost evenly between new, one-year-old wood and two-year-old barrels. Sweet pinot spills from the glass redolent in cherries and strawberries, with a touch of savoury, brown spice. Soft, silky and warm it coats the palate in generous ripe red fruit. Well done.Prices: BC 35.00 Producer: Howling Bluff Estate Wines
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Howling Bluff Pinot Noir Summa Quiestext
89PTS

Howling Bluff Pinot Noir Summa Quies 2014

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaAfter 17 to 21 days of skin contact the wine is pressed off into 30 percent new, 30 percent second fill and 40 percent third fill French oak for one year. The wine is racked back to stainless steel for eight months then bottled and aged for a further 11 months. The nose is cool climate pinot with a savoury strawberry, plum fruit flecked with a touch of brown spice. The attack is fresh, the body light but balanced with a touch of sour cherry in the finish. Warm, dry and food-friendly it finishes with a wisp of smoke. Great to see this under screwcap.Prices: BC 35.00 Producer: Howling Bluff Estate Wines
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Howling Bluff Pinot Noir Century Blocktext
91PTS

Howling Bluff Pinot Noir Century Block 2014

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaIt’s our first look at the Century Block and it doesn’t disappoint. The name is an hommage to the site that was home to over 100 different apple varieties back in the 1980s. Today the vineyard is planted to clones 666 and 777. You feel the richness of theses clones on the nose and the palate, taking me toward Central Otago. The fruit spends a year in new French oak and it seems to be able soak it up without too much bother. The flavours are darker (black fruits) and deeper than the Summa Quies with a savoury, sagebrush, spicy undercurrent. Soft, warm and silky this would be the perfect wine for duck. Impressive and definitely on track to become a Naramata terroir wine.Prices: BC 75.00 Producer: Howling Bluff Estate Wines
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Laughing Stock Vineyards Pinot Noir +09/10text
87PTS

Laughing Stock Vineyards Pinot Noir +09/10 2015

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaDusky forest berries, black plum, sapid raspberries from vineyards on Naramata Bench fill this very soft pinot noir. Fifteen percent of the fruit is whole cluster fermented in the "terminator", their 2600L French oak wood fermentation tank. The wine is then barrel aged for 14 months. There's a wave of smoke on the finish, perhaps reflective of the late summer forest fires that spread smoke throughout the valley. Tannins are worn soft and gummy, housing the warm, soupy palate. The wood is well integrated, but the palate lacks a bit of freshness (a.k.a. acidity). Duck confit on a cool damp evening is the match.Prices: BC 32.99 Producer: Laughing Stock Vineyards
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Summerhill Pyramid Winery Single Vineyard Pinot Noirtext
88PTS

Summerhill Pyramid Winery Single Vineyard Pinot Noir 2013

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaDark, black raspberry, sarsaparilla and black plum fill this single vineyard pinot noir, more structured that the blended 2013 pinot noir, and a steal at only $27. Softly worn leather beds mulberry, black plum, kirsch and downy dark cherry. Tannins are toothsomely nubile and the finish fades softly into a warm, spicy, cola-lined darkness. That warmth requires something to counter - think duck, or bourbon slicked pork ribs. How lovely to taste a pinot noir when it's ready for release, rather than when the winery needs to sell.Prices: BC 26.99 Producer: Summerhill Pyramid Winery
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Blue Grouse Quill Pinot Noirtext
87PTS

Blue Grouse Quill Pinot Noir 2015

Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, CanadaFrom Cowichan Valley grapes, this is a warm, soft and somewhat soupy pinot noir. After destemming and a stainless ferment, it’s pressed to two-to-three year old barrels; 66% French and 34% American. Sour cherry, cherry jam, soya and red currant are striated with wood and finish with warm hickory. There a lot more, than less here, which masks the character of this coastal pinot noir. Pair with salmon burgers or turkey paillard.Prices: BC 19.99 Producer: Blue Grouse Estate Winery
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Blue Grouse Estate Pinot Noirtext
88PTS

Blue Grouse Estate Pinot Noir 2015

Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, CanadaEntirely Cowichan Valley, the 2015 Estate pinot is flushed out with 15 percent gamay grown on Blue Grouse's home estate. The fruit is picked and processed separately and aged for 18 months in barrel (16 percent new French oak; the balance in 2-3-year-old barrels) before being blended, fined, filtered and bottled. The nose is impressive, soft cherry, dark raspberry, brooding forest notes and worn wood all held snappy with bright acidity. The wine is perfectly, medium-bodied but the tannins are still a bit muddy and the finish still clipped. That said, a large improvement over last vintage, and a direction we hope the winery continues to pursue.Prices: BC 27.00 Producer: Blue Grouse Estate Winery
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Anthony Buchanan Pinot Noir Ashlyntext
88PTS

Anthony Buchanan Pinot Noir Ashlyn 2015

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaNamed after winemaker Anthony Buchanan’s daughter Ashlyn, this 2015 pinot noir (clone 115) is sourced from ten-year-old Sonora Pines Vineyard in Oliver. Buchanan destems but does not crush this pinot that is pre-macerated for one week and open top fermented. Post ferment and punchdown the fruit is pressed off, and settled six hours, before it's racked in French oak for 13 months. The style is Russian River rich but not out of balance. The palate is lush, the tannins soft, the fruit a mix of dark berries, some cooked, that finishes with a cover of oak and vanilla. A safe, but solid effort in a warm year. Try this with baked salmon.Prices: BC 29.95 Producer: Desert Hills Estate Winery
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Haywire Pinot Noir Canyonview Vineyardtext
88PTS

Haywire Pinot Noir Canyonview Vineyard 2014

Summerland, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaGenerously ripe for a change which gives this pinot a chance to spread its mouth-filling wings. Lots of sweet cherries with brown spices (like Russian River) further plump this pinot up beyond its normally cool roots. The finish is long and soft with smoky sweet raspberry jam notes, sweet pipe tobacco and cinnamon. It was fermented wild and aged in concrete for 11 months giving it a soft sheen and an easy-drinking manner. Very hedonistic. Made to drink now this would be great in restaurants. Canyonview is a picture perfect little vineyard in upper Summerland, overlooking the wild Trout Creek Canyon.Prices: BC 39.90 Producer: Okanagan Crush Pad Winery
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CedarCreek Pinot Noirtext
87PTS

CedarCreek Pinot Noir 2015

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe 2015 pinot noir comes off five blocks and spent 14 months in French oak, reflective in the warm, plush and ripe palate. Raspberry jam, cassis, black plum, ripe blackberry and ample wood spice fills this dense and warm pinot, a complete swing on the spectrum from their lean, herbal and tart styles of past. Tannins are gritty and ripe, and the finish is warm. Ripe, warm, simple, juicy style you can drink now with salmon burgers or turkey paillard.Prices: BC 24.49 Producer: CedarCreek Estate Winery
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21 August 2017

Langmeil Shiraz Valley Floortext
88PTS

Langmeil Shiraz Valley Floor 2014

Barossa Valley, South Australia, AustraliaRipe, rich and structured, this Barossa shiraz spent two years in oak, 16 percent of which was new American, and the remainder older American and French. Potent blackberry, black cherry, ripe blueberry on the fleshy palate, filtered with eucalyptus and dark mocha. Tannins are sticky, but firm, and the finish echoes with kirsch and cracked pepper. Best with some sort of BBQ (winter squash, pork) to sop up the potency and alcohol (14.5 percent).Prices: BC 29.00 AB 30.00 MB 28.00 SK 30.00 QC 27.50 Producer: Langmeil Winery
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Clos du Soleil Grower's Series Syrah Middle Bench Vineyardtext
91PTS

Clos du Soleil Grower's Series Syrah Middle Bench Vineyard 2014

Similkameen Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis is the first syrah from Similkameen's Clos du Soleil, and one worthy and fitting enough for the Grower's Series range. Sultry and dusky black pepper, slight smoke and ample perfumed dark florals fill this very generous, medium bodied red. Tannins are appropriately grippy, while piercing acidity drives the savoury blackcurrant and vanilla pod to the lengthy finish. Ripe, generous and peppery, with medicinal black cherry echoing on the finish. Lovely purity.Prices: BC 20.00 Producer: Clos du Soleil Winery
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Trinity Hill Gimblett Gravels Syrahtext
91PTS

Trinity Hill Gimblett Gravels Syrah 2014

Gimblett Gravels, Hawkes Bay, North Island, New ZealandTrinity Hill was one of the first to plant on the Gimblett Gravels, back in 1993. Winemaker Warren Gibson has been overseeing the 80ha of vineyards since 1997. This wine has fruit from both Tin Shed and Gimblett Stones vineyards. 20 percent was whole bunch pressed and all spent 14 months in new and used French oak barrels and 500L oak ovals. Dusky floral, violets, black pepper, shepherds pie, pretty florals, perfumed with 3 percent viognier. Very complete on the palate, with anise, light smoke filtering the peppered and pure black cherry and blackberry fruit, ripely sweet on the core. Tannins are dusty stones and the finish is bright. Settling into its age nicely, this is drinking very well now and will continue to impress with time.Prices: Producer: Trinity Hill
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Laughing Stock Vineyards Syrah +17/09text
89PTS

Laughing Stock Vineyards Syrah +17/09 2015

Osoyoos, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaFrom The Perfect Hedge Vineyard, on Osoyoos' east bench, this sarah was fermented in three lots: the first cofermented with viognier in stainless; the second fermented in 500L open top French puncheons, and the last in The Ferminator, a large custom-built oak vessel that absorbed 80 percent carbonic maceration and 20 percent whole cluster. After fermentation, the wine spent 14 months in 35 percent new French oak. Dusky violet leaves, cassis, black peppery and cracked clove fill the smooth, streaming palate, one decorated with roasted coffee and tinged with smoke (a result of the 2015 forest fires throughout the Okanagan). This is easy to enjoy now, but with an edge that will draw in intermediate wine folk as well.Prices: BC 35.99 Producer: Laughing Stock Vineyards
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Tinhorn Creek Oldfield Reserve Syrahtext
86PTS

Tinhorn Creek Oldfield Reserve Syrah 2014

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaRoasted meats, smoked branch, resin, charcoal and black pepper fill the full palate of this Oldfield Reserve Syrah, sourced from the Diamondback Vineyard on Black Sage Bench, and the Tinhorn Creek Vineyard on Golden Mile Bench. This was co-fermented with two percent viognier before eight weeks on skins (a lot!) and pressing into French, Hungarian and American oak, one third of which was new. After 18 months in the woods, this is bottle rested for year prior to release. The wood is still front and centre here, with smoked stave, big gritty tannins and a blocky palate to a short, astringent and tight finish. Too much, of too much.Prices: BC 31.99 Producer: Tinhorn Creek Vineyards
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19 August 2017

Tall Tale Wines Syrah Nouveautext
88PTS

Tall Tale Wines Syrah Nouveau 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaCalling itself a Syrah Nouveau, this is a carbonically macerated syrah (like Beaujolais Nouveau, but registering higher on the serious meter). As natural as can be (nothing added, nothing taken away), this Osoyoos, Soft black plum, thorny blackberries, sweet cherry jam and a film of resin on the juicy palate, one with soft tannins to house. Easy drinking, this lingers with violets and fine white peppery spice.Prices: BC 28.00 Producer: Tall Tale Wines
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18 August 2017

Roche Pinot Gristext
89PTS

Roche Pinot Gris 2015

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe Roche tasting room is now open in Naramata, providing a perfect opportunity to pre-taste this pinot gris that is unlike most in the valley. The richness comes from a barrel fermentation in neutral French oak. You get the air and the lees, but not the oak. It rich and round but in a much more subtle manner, playing on ginger, pears and citrus flavours. This is food friendly and would be perfect with halibut and an orchard fruit salsa. Later this fall it would be perfect with a mushroom risotto.Prices: BC 23.40 Producer: Roche Wines
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Blue Grouse Quill Pinot Gristext
87PTS

Blue Grouse Quill Pinot Gris 2016

Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, CanadaFrom Cowichan-grown fruit, this pinot gris shows tight pear, citrus, cantaloupe and yellow apple, all kept crisp and fresh from stainless steel. There is a lining of lees to soften and cushion, making this even more approachable, especially with local scallops.Prices: BC 17.00 Producer: Blue Grouse Estate Winery
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Blue Grouse Estate Pinot Gristext
86PTS

Blue Grouse Estate Pinot Gris 2016

Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, CanadaFrom some of the oldest pinot gris vines in BC, and one of the first vineyards on Vancouver Island, this Cowichan pinot gris was 1/5 fermented in new French oak with the remainder in stainless. Crunchy pear, green apple, white peach, lemon is plumped up with cedar spiced wood before a sour apple, lemon quirt, short finish. Disjointed now, best to pour this simple white with lemon dressed calamari.Prices: BC 22.00 Producer: Blue Grouse Estate Winery
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Kris Pinot Grigiotext
87PTS

Kris Pinot Grigio 2016

Veneto, ItalyCrisp, clean and consistent year after year, this Trentino Alto Adige estate has been growing wine grapes since 1880. Kris spent its life in stainless steel to preserve the crisp, fresh fruit. Crunchy green apple, pear, light citrus blossoms finish tight and snappy, with a little bump of RS to counter the acidity, and leaving the palate lingering with pine nuts and bitter almonds. Smart buy, especially considering there are 3 million bottles made annually.Prices: BC 17.99 Producer: Franz Haas
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See Ya Later Ranch Pinot Gristext
86PTS

See Ya Later Ranch Pinot Gris 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaSweet orchard pear, golden delicious apple and light ginger ale mark this ripe, fuller-bodied pinot gris, mainly from the Thomas Ranch Vineyard just south of Okanagan Falls. Forty percent is fermented in French and American oak; the remainder in stainless steel. A bump of residual sugar floats above rest covering the fruit and shortening the length. Just too sweet for food unless its a super spicy Indian or Thai. Otherwise use as a solid base in a summer punch.Prices: BC 16.99 Producer: See You Later Ranch
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Haywire Switchback Organic Vineyard Pinot Gristext
91PTS

Haywire Switchback Organic Vineyard Pinot Gris 2015

Summerland, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThough pinot gris is the number one white grape planted in BC, this one is quite singular. From Haywire's home Switchback Vineyard in Summerland, farmed organically since 2011, this is 11-year-old clone 52 pinot gris, on east facing calcium carbonate-laced, gravelly soils. Pedro Parra and Alberto Antonini consult on this project, and this wine is a result of their precision agriculture. The entire site was GIS mapped, and farmed, harvested and processed in five distinct parts before being blended according to what the vintage and section of the vineyard provided. Native yeast ferment, full MLF and concrete tank aging (ten months on gross lees) aid complexity. Meadow grasses, wild flowers, sage and large flake salts texture pear skin and musk melon. Acidity is moderate (reflective of the sneaky hot 2015), slicked with honeysuckle and tinged with a piercing oxidative swing before the wash of salts lingering on the finish. In youth, this will build and knit with time.Prices: BC 24.90 Producer: Okanagan Crush Pad Winery
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Santi Sortesele Pinot Grigio delle Venezietext
88PTS

Santi Sortesele Pinot Grigio delle Venezie 2016

Verona, Veneto, ItalyThe grapes come mainly from vineyards in Trentino, grown on well drained alluvial soils with additional fruit from highly acclaimed zones in Friuli. The fruit is pressed, fermented and stored on its lees under a cold environment in stainless-steel tanks. Classic straw colour with green edges preview a fresh, dry elegant, floral entry of pears and dried orchard fruits. Fresh, clean and ready to drink, you can serve this with fish or summer chicken salads. In the Trentino dialect “sortesele” are 4,000-square-metre parcels of vineyards, which by tradition the heirs of an agricultural property would draw lots for. The best land went to the luckiest, thus preventing disputes between family members.Prices: AB 18.99 BC 20.99 Producer: Da Santi SPA
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Desert Hills Pinot Gristext
85PTS

Desert Hills Pinot Gris 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaOne of countless BC ripe, round, sweet pinot gris that are starting to look like the New Zealand labels. Sweet flavours of honeysuckle and ripe pear flavours coat the palate but there isn’t enough acidity to counterbalance that sugar in the finish. This requires something to eat that is spicy-hot, like barbecue ribs or a Thai curry to correct the Ph and make it more fun to drink. Best well-chilled and served solo on the patio.Prices: BC 19.90 Producer: Desert Hills Estate Winery
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Evolve Pinot Gristext
86PTS

Evolve Pinot Gris 2016

CanadaA fairly consistent style here with classic honey, nectarines and floral undertones. The attack is fat and juicy with ripe peach, honey and red apple fruit that in 2016 has a better level of acidity. You can quaff this solo on the patio or serve with a fresh bean or pasta salad.Prices: BC 19.99 Producer: Evolve Cellars
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CedarCreek Pinot Gristext
86PTS

CedarCreek Pinot Gris 2016

British Columbia, CanadaGingerale and yellow apple marks the 2016 gris. It’s riper, and this year feels much spicier (with ginger heat). The sweetness, 8 g/l of residual sugar and 14 percent oak adds some fat layers to the fruit but it seems to a muddle that is not entirely cohesive with the orange-laced acidity and some dry tannins. Disappointing given the year.Prices: BC 18.99 Producer: CedarCreek Estate Winery
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Ex Nihilo Pinot Gristext
87PTS

Ex Nihilo Pinot Gris 2015

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaSimilar to 2014 but perhaps even richer, with sweet pink grapefruit and pineapple notes. The mid-palate is medium heavy with weighty, round fruit reminiscent of mango and papaya and candied lemons. Clearly a tropical version of pinot gris, but with a touch of resin and spice in the finish. This could work well with fresh cheeses, grilled chicken or pork kebabs.Prices: BC 20.00 Producer: Ex Nihilo Vineyards
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17 August 2017

Summerhill Pyramid Winery Organic Marechal Fochtext
87PTS

Summerhill Pyramid Winery Organic Marechal Foch 2013

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaSummerhill's Heritage Series give sus this Foch with the rich characters of roasted meats, wild blackberry, dusky plum and thorny resin fill the palate. This spent nine months in French and American oak which has amped up the structure and mid-plate of what is a potent red. Lashings of cedar, leather, smoked meats, rock salts season the black fruit, ending with an herbal-ended clip. Best appreciated with fall menu items like roasted root vegetables and barley risotto. Ready to drink. Certified organic.Prices: BC 22.99 Producer: Summerhill Pyramid Winery
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The Grinder Pinotagetext
83PTS

The Grinder Pinotage 2015

Western Cape, South AfricaThe BCLDB continues to tell the South African wine story through wines like The Grinder but I’m not sure it’s helping the cause. The fruit is warm and sweet, covered in a smoky, earthy sauce that finishes slightly bitter. A soft simple, fleshy red that finishes warm and short. Best with hamburgers.Prices: BC 13.49 AB 14.00 NS 11.61 QC 11.81 Producer: The Grape Grinder
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Sea Star Marechal Fochtext
87PTS

Sea Star Marechal Foch 2016

Pender Island, Southern Gulf Islands, British Columbia, CanadaThis is Pender Island estate grown marechal foch "crafted in a Beaujolais Nouveau style" which we take to mean carbonically macerated. Sweetly soft strawberry and raspberry gummies on a round and juicy core, spiced with fine and potent peppery notes. This is the closest thing to a serious "wine gummy" you will ever drink, and, chilled, might be your go-to local red to enjoy this summer on the patio or boat. 72 cases made.Prices: BC 23.00 Producer: Sea Star Estate Farm and Vineyards
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Lang Vineyards Maréchal Fochtext
87PTS

Lang Vineyards Maréchal Foch 2015

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis is the blackest foch I have ever seen and the signature Lang red made from 55-year-old vines plus; said to be the oldest vines on the Naramata Bench. The nose is and the attack is sweet preview some super ripe fruit. Ripe plums and figs dominate with an undercurrent of blueberries and light pepper. This is a tomato free, full-bodied red with a long sweet ripe finish that should appeal to foch fans. Best with powerful meats like lamb or venison. Ready to drink.Prices: BC 21.00 Producer: Lang Vineyards
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16 August 2017

Ledlin Family Vineyards Cabernet Franctext
87PTS

Ledlin Family Vineyards Cabernet Franc 2015

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaA good start in a warm year fully ripened this cabernet franc, yet left its key dried leaves and black fruit fragrance. The tannins are a bit blocky and could use some finesse work but there is plenty to like about this youthful, rambunctious red. A little less obvious oak will set this northern fruit free to express the site and its full potential. For now, it is best with a T-bone steak.Prices: BC 35.00 Producer: Ledlin Family Vineyards
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Kitten Swish Here and Gonetext
90PTS

Kitten Swish Here and Gone 2015

Osoyoos, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaNano-negoc Brad Royale worked with Laughing Stock's David Enns on this cab franc, the second release. 40 percent whole cluster inclusion (with stems) while the remainder was whole berry, this spent 45 days on the skins before pressing into an older puncheon for approximately 15 months. Smoked meats, smoked herbs, ripe raspberry, dusky cherry, lined with iron and flicked with a flinty edge before this young wine ends in a downy raspberry pillow. Generous plum on the medium bodied palate, but with a beauty fine lift that streams much fresher and higher than the warming 14.5 percent. Drink now - it's for your mouth. 50 cases.Prices: AB 49.95 Producer: Kitten Swish
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River Stone Cabernet Franctext
89PTS

River Stone Cabernet Franc 2015

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe ’14 was good, but this might be better,Only tine will tell. This year the ripe black plum, cassis and wild blueberry fruit is balanced by a savoury, leafy, resiny undercurrent. The tannins are still sticky but slightly finer grained. The oak is supporting the long, black licorice notes to mark the finish. Give this a year or two to come together or serve it now with grilled beef.Prices: BC 27.90 Producer: River Stone Estate Winery
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Punto Final Cabernet Franc Reservatext
89PTS

Punto Final Cabernet Franc Reserva 2014

Mendoza, ArgentinaThe potential for cabernet franc is bright in Argentina, especially if you can achieve the floral, savoury, caraway, peppery nose they get at Punto Final. Ash-covered, black fruit aromas with smoky licorice notes preview ripe, round, soft, tobacco, coffee, black olive, blackberry fruit. Delicious stuff and ready to drink. Slow cooked lamb stew comes to mind, or a rich soft cheese. This will improve in the bottle for the next three years too.Prices: BC 23.49 Producer: Bodega Renacer
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The Hatch Cabernet Franctext
89PTS

The Hatch Cabernet Franc 2015

Golden Mile Bench, Oliver, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis captures cab franc's herbaceousness, the Okanagan's purity and generosity, and The Hatch's less-is-more winemaking style. One of their Hobo Series, this is from Mama D’s Vineyard on the Golden Mile Bench, with time in partial new American oak barrels and the remainder in neutral old French. Charming herbal and dusky plum, resinous wild blackberry and soft pepper, soft and cushioned on the voluminous palate without being obese and bloated. There's a tweak of acidity reining all in, and a tight grip of acidity on the sides to narrow to a buzzy, lifted finish. Beautifully drinkable now, ideally with pork. If my notes are correct, this has taken a considerable price leap over last year, but -amongst its Okanagan peers - is worth it.Prices: BC 34.00 Producer: The Hatch
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Liber Farm and Winery Let Me Be Franctext
88PTS

Liber Farm and Winery Let Me Be Franc 2015

Similkameen Valley, British Columbia, CanadaCola perfumes this thorny, earthy, dry-ish cab franc from this new Similkameen Valley winery. The fruit is organically farmed and projects perfumed violets, plums, dried blackberries that spill on to a textured palate with a grippy stony spice. This young red will gain favour the longer it's opened, and works well now with grilled pork or lamb chops. A promising start with true varietal character.Prices: BC 23.00 Producer: Liber Farm & Winery
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Jean-Maurice Raffault Chinon Rougetext
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Jean-Maurice Raffault Chinon Rouge 2016

Chinon, Touraine, Loire, FranceThere’s no denying the Loire style of cabernet franc, with its intense, fragrant, leafy, red fruit notes. In 2016 Raffault presents another tasty version, albeit more classic than the 2015. The elevated acidity and briary thorny notes are back to balance off the intense raspberries and cherry fruit that dominates the palate. A pepper steak is the ticket here, or lay this one away for three years. Good value.Prices: BC 22.99 Producer: Jean-Maurice Raffault
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Lang Vineyards Cabernet Franctext
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Lang Vineyards Cabernet Franc 2015

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe Lang cab franc grows in the desert heat of Osoyoos. The nose has a warm, soft fruit character with bits of dried plums and cherries. The attack is soft and round with spicy, juicy, fragrant, black fruit flavours with soft tannins. This one is ready to drink with a meaty/mushroom pasta dish or with grilled lamb chops.Prices: BC 25.00 Producer: Lang Vineyards
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Tinhorn Creek Oldfield Reserve Cabernet Franctext
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Tinhorn Creek Oldfield Reserve Cabernet Franc 2014

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe Tinhorn style is always open on the nose, here with smoky, spicy, black fruit overtones and classic cool, mossy, medicinal notes. The fruit comes off Diamondback Vineyard on the Black Sage Bench, and is aged in French oak, now twenty-five percent new. There always a hint of mocha cherry cola and vanilla in this wine that could go in favour of a purer fruit flavour but this is a good example of south Okanagan cabernet franc and one of the best we have tasted from Tinhorn. It will improve with time under screwcap in the bottle. Best bet now is Texas barbecue style ribs.Prices: BC 30.99 Producer: Tinhorn Creek Vineyards
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Lock and Worth Square One Cabernet Franc V.4text
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Lock and Worth Square One Cabernet Franc V.4 2015

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaCabernet franc shows massive potential in BC, and is one of the very best red grapes suited to the Okanagan and Similkameen (IMHO). This is from low-interventionist producer Lock & Worth, so you know you're getting a clear-lens view of the grape. From two acres planted in 1995 on clay soils on Naramata Bench, this spent time in neutral French oak for 17 months before being bottled unfined and Unfiltered. A bolstered base of black plum and grippy matte tannins supports cherry, anise, red currants, scrubby rockrose thorns. Acidity is brisk, carving all this rebellious intensity into a relatively streamlined form, the whole textured with a scratchy minerality. Tasting very well in youth now, this will continue to reveal and stretch over the next five+ years easy. Impressive.Prices: BC 33.00 Producer: Lock & Worth
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Owen Cabernet Franctext
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Owen Cabernet Franc 2011

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaFrom the cellar. Owen was a 100 case run from Okanagan Crush Pad's Okanagan Wine Campus Program, which was awarded to the Vancouver Sommelier of the Year. For Owen Knowlton, the well-deserved recognition came in 2011. And what did he pick? Cabernet Franc, from Cerqueira Vineyard. This shows cab franc's massive potential in BC. This has worn its years very well, with burnished cassis, dark plum, wild blackberry, thorns, with supple, worn and earthy tannins. There's still a grippy tannic frame, but it is slight and yielding to the mustard seed finish. Acidity is bright, body is moderate (13.6% and reflective of the cool vintage) and drinkability is now. Cheers, Owen.Prices: Producer: Okanagan Crush Pad Winery
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15 August 2017

LaStella Fortissimotext
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LaStella Fortissimo 2015

Osoyoos, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe ’15 Fortissimo is a 63/17/11/9 mix of merlot, cabernet sauvignon, sangiovese and cabernet franc and it's impressive from the get go. Large format puncheons and Hungarian/Slavonian oak have set the fruit free and the high level of merlot has kept the tannins manageable. The attack is juicy with bright black cherry fruit over a savoury underbelly, tobacco notes and even a touch of Italian earthiness. Veal osso bucco or roast lamb are classic matches. Love the new-found finesse here; it’s on the right road now. You can drink this now but it will be better in three to five years.Prices: BC 29.99 Producer: LaStella
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Monte Creek Ranch Ranch Hand Red Reservetext
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Monte Creek Ranch Ranch Hand Red Reserve 2015

British Columbia, CanadaRanch Hand Red comes off the Monte Creek Ranch in the south Thompson Valley. The mix of grapes has changed since last year and is a little more mainstream in 2015 with 47 percent merlot, 35 percent frontenac noir and 18 percent cabernet sauvignon. It’s fresh with super bright acidity, maybe too much, followed by a brown spices, dried herbs and more floral red cherry fruit. Serve with slow cooked braised beef or venison now or leave it in the bottle for another year.Prices: BC 29.99 Producer: Mission View Estate
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Laughing Stock Vineyards Blind Trust Red +10/09text
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Laughing Stock Vineyards Blind Trust Red +10/09 2015

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaYou won't know the varietal make up of Blind Trust until you cut and peel the capsule, revealing the mix. This vintage is 44/34/19/3 merlot/malbec/cabernet sauvignon/cabernet franc from Osoyoos and Naramata, with 15 months in French oak barrels, a quarter of which were new. Sweet, ripe and full bodied, with potent cassis, kirsch, blackberry jam and dusky peppery violet drawn across smoked charcoal and a full bodied palate. Tannins are plush, making this easy wine a welcoming pour now. Make sure you pour with a meat rich enough to counter the 15 percent alcohol.Prices: BC 26.99 Producer: Laughing Stock Vineyards
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See Ya Later Ranch Ping - Meritagetext
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See Ya Later Ranch Ping - Meritage 2015

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaSmoked meats, charred thorns, ripe blackberries bedded by thick, ripe plum in this bland of merlot, cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc. Fourteen months in French and American oak barrels upped the wood-bound structure and stave-sticky tannins of this big red. Four grams residual sugar makes it go down easy, particularly with big, peppery steaks.Prices: BC 24.99 Producer: See You Later Ranch
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14 August 2017

Howling Bluff Pinot Noir Rosé Three Mile Creek - Acta Vineyardtext
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Howling Bluff Pinot Noir Rosé Three Mile Creek - Acta Vineyard 2016

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaHowling Bluff employs the saignée or bleeding method to make its pinot noir rosé that has a pinkish red hue. The fruit comes off Three Mile Creek and Acta Vineyard which might explain its full-bodied character. The nose and palate are strawberry sweet; the textures are soft and silky before a citrus undercurrent clicks in to freshen the finish. Ready to serve with a favourite charcuterie dish.Prices: BC 20.00 Producer: Howling Bluff Estate Wines
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Chateau de Nages ButiNages Rose Organictext
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Chateau de Nages ButiNages Rose Organic 2015

Costières de Nîmes, Languedoc, South of France, FranceButinages is part of the Gassier family which speaks volumes to its roots and vision. The nose fresh, the textures crunchy, and the fruit a summery mix of rhubarb, watermelon and citrus with just a hint of caramel in the finish. It’s medium rich, creamy and silky but with some pepper and citrus to keep it lively and frankly gulpable. Ready to go all summer especially for those late afternoons on the a patio or deck.Prices: BC 25.00 AB 20.00 MB 20.00 Producer: Chateau de Nages
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Liber Farm & Winery Rosétext
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Liber Farm & Winery Rosé 2016

Cawston, Similkameen Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis brand new Similkameen winery, on the slopes overlooking Similkameen River and named for the Roman god of wine, focuses on small lot organic wines. Liber is one of the oldest organic farms in BC, dating back to the 1960’s. Seven acres were planted to chardonnay and merlot in 2007. This deep pale, punchy merlot saignée rosé streams along the palate with fine pink peppercorn spice, hints of thorny blackberry, strawberry jam and kirsch-kissed cherry. Finishes dry, short and snappy and a bit hot, this is best enjoyed chilled with your summer salmon burgers.Prices: BC 22.00 Producer: Liber Farm & Winery
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Domaine de la Rosiere Jongiuex Rosetext
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Domaine de la Rosiere Jongiuex Rose 2016

Savoie, FranceThe Domaine de la Rosiere Rosé is 100 percent gamay made from vines that are south-west facing over limestone-clay slopes. The grapes are picked ten days ahead of the rest of harvest, explaining the mouthwatering, piquant aromas and flavours. The skins are quickly pressed off to produce a pale, pink colour. The wine is not only dry but it gets to spend some 90 days on its fine lees adding texture and complexity. Red currants, citrus, strawberries, and minerality rule the day. Food-friendly.Prices: BC 20.99 Producer: Domaine de la Rosiere
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CedarCreek Platinum Block One Pinot Noir Rosétext
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CedarCreek Platinum Block One Pinot Noir Rosé 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis pale pink pinot noir rosé is from a single estate block (Block 1), fermented over 28 days in stainless steel. Full bodied and plumped with glycerol, this is wild strawberry jam, tight raspberry and rhubarb pie, striated with peppery spice to a snappy finish. A bump of sugar and alcohol suggest this is a rosé that is best served with food ideally something with a bit of kick to temper the sugar. These grapes deserve a drier fate in our estimation.Prices: BC 24.95 Producer: CedarCreek Estate Winery
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Vanessa Vineyard Rosétext
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Vanessa Vineyard Rosé 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaIf you want to know why 2106 whites were so good it was all about the weather: no heat spikes and a long growing season. The growing degree days in Cawston from April to October of 2016 were 1,521, well above the local twelve-year average of 1,320. The winemaking is saignée, or bleeding the tanks, in this case mostly syrah (68) and merlot (32) after six hours of skin contact. It’s about as rich a rosé as you can get, more Tavel than Provencal led by a savoury, spicy nose offering a mix of dark berries and candied currants. Soft and round but lacking the electric, mineral notes of the region’s white wines. Try this with Peking Duck, or grilled sausages.Prices: BC 22.99 Producer: Vanessa Vineyard
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Evolve Rosétext
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Evolve Rosé 2016

CanadaLove the Provencal-pink colour. The nose is mix of super ripe strawberries and watermelon with a burnt taffy undercurrent. If you like your rosé sweet this is the one for you. Chill it down and enjoy it on a warm patio.Prices: BC 20.99 Producer: Evolve Cellars
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11 August 2017

Mission Hill Reserve Merlottext
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Mission Hill Reserve Merlot 2014

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaWe can do merlot in BC when we put our mind to it and it can be hedonistic too. Ripe, full, dusty cherry fruit flecked with pepper and espresso notes mark a full-flavoured palate. The reserve level merlot contains bits of cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon, petit verdot all grown in the Okanagan south in Oliver and Osoyoos. It spends 13 months in French and American oak adding more texture. Solid and will improve in the bottle over the next two years. Best with lamb or beef dishes.Prices: ON 26.00 BC 24.99 SK 25.00 Producer: Mission Hill Family Estate
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LaStella Maestoso Solo Merlottext
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LaStella Maestoso Solo Merlot 2014

Osoyoos, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaMaestoso is one hundred percent merlot and the flagship red at La Stella. The style is a tip of the hat to the great Italian Masseto made by the Ornellaia folks. The blend of two vineyards, one in Osoyoos and one on the Golden Mile Bench is at the heart of this wine that while dense and structured is brimming with blueberries and Bing cherry fruit in 2014. The attack is spicy with more red and blue fruits, rich tannins and a warm smoky minty youthful tobacco back end. A T-bone steak would be the perfect match. The fruit comes off a mix of sites in Osoyoos Lake District and Golden Mile. It spends 18 months in 100 percent French oak barrels, 33 percent new, 56 percent second fill and 11 percent neutral oak.Prices: BC 89.99 Producer: LaStella
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Stag's Hollow Merlottext
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Stag's Hollow Merlot 2014

Okanagan Falls, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaMerlot is the most planted red grape in BC, and so often I ask myself "why?" The rare wines like this remind me why we can't paint all merlot with the same thick oaky plum brush (but seriously BC, don't do so much!). That said, this wine has 5 percent petit verdot added in, perhaps as the saving grace. The 2014 is half whole cluster, entirely fermented in wood (50/50 French and American) before being racked to barrel for 18 months prior to bottling unfined and unfiltered. Alluring perfumed plum, cassis, herbal blackberry, thorn is lifted with an easy, effortless acidity, bracketed with tightly gritty, fine tannins.Prices: BC 19.00 Producer: Stag's Hollow Winery and Vineyard
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Bartier Bros. Merlot Cerqueira Vineyardtext
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Bartier Bros. Merlot Cerqueira Vineyard 2014

Oliver, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaWinemaker Michael Bartier likes to wax lyrically about Cerqueira Vineyard and the Black Sage Gravel Bar (the best bench name in BC). The vineyard has a gentle west-facing slope. The soils are dense loam topsoil above gravel with limestone (calcium carbonate) covered granite, quartz, and basalt cobbles throughout a deep profile. Michael says “irrigation and ground water accept minerals from these rocks, and in turn, deliver these to the vines, causing a profound effect on the grapes.” The vines age nine to eleven years old. The result is some mighty fine merlot treading the stony/silky line with a pure, fresh savoury, black cherry salty fruit flavour, while assimilating the oak. Impressive and steak worthy. The grapes were harvested October 24 and 29 at 24 Brix. Maceration took place over 45 days in small open top stainless steel fermenters. Punch downs were used to extract the skins as gently as possible. The fermenters were pressed to tanks and then to barrels to complete fermentations. The barrels were racked twice over the next 12 months, and bottled January 2016.Prices: BC 21.99 AB 21.99 Producer: Bartier Bros.
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Hillside Merlot Hidden Valley Vineyardtext
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Hillside Merlot Hidden Valley Vineyard 2012

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe Hidden Valley Vineyard is tucked away up behind Hillside on a south-west facing bowl shaped site that catches the sun. It’s similar in texture to Dickinson but this label has more savoury sage and spice elements threading through the black raspberry and black cherry fruit. The finish is long and licorice laced with a beautiful, mineral/stony textured finish. The Hillside single vineyard merlots are important wines that speak to the site and the sub-appellation. Try this with lamb. The wine spends 16 months in barrel, of which 33 percent is new American oak.Prices: BC 30.00 Producer: Hillside Winery
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Hillside Merlot Dickinson Vineyardtext
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Hillside Merlot Dickinson Vineyard 2012

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaDickinson Vineyard is part of the Hillside single vineyard series. The site sits above the road en route to Naramata. The aromas and flavours are slightly richer and darker than the Goja’s Vineyard, beginning with more black cherries, dark chocolate and savoury/cedar notes flecked with brown spice. The tannins are perfectly silky at this point. It is ready to drink. The fruit was given a 13-day cold soak prior to ferment to generate more fruit flavours. After 31 days of skin contact and going through malolactic fermentation in oak the wine gets 14-months barrel maturation in new (28 percent) French and older French and American oak barrels. Love the balance, weight and finesse here. Perfectly mature.Prices: BC 30.00 Producer: Hillside Winery
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Ex Nihilo Merlottext
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Ex Nihilo Merlot 2014

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe grapes were all handpicked at Seacrest Hill Road Vineyard in late October and fermented in La Garde stainless tanks. The juice spent some 40 days on the skins before ageing 18 months in one and two-year-old French oak barrels. The style is rich and round with warm spicy briary, black fruit reminiscent of Sonoma County with a plummy vanilla undercurrent. A fine improvement here and will be a hit with the hedonistic crowd who love the richer, fatter style of merlot. Best with grilled meat.Prices: BC 36.00 AB 43.00 Producer: Ex Nihilo Vineyards
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Tinhorn Creek Oldfield Reserve Merlottext
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Tinhorn Creek Oldfield Reserve Merlot 2014

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaTinhorn Creek has always been known for its merlot. The 2014 Oldfield Reserve is full and expansive with mocha, smoked blackberry, resin and dark, fertile soils, overridden with a sweet, vanilla wood spice and rough hewn wood structure. Partial wild ferment, partial whole berry, after 6-8 weeks the wines are pressed to French oak barrels where they go through MLF and 18 months aging. This is on the rustic, rough and ready for BBQ side at this stage.Prices: BC 26.99 Producer: Tinhorn Creek Vineyards
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Vanessa Vineyard Merlottext
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Vanessa Vineyard Merlot 2014

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe blend is 85/15 merlot (clone 181) /cabernet franc (clone 331). This is another nice improvement for this property although I’m not sure picking at 30 brix and generating 14.9 percent alcohol is necessary. Nonetheless, this ten-year-old site is clearly coming into its own. The nose is bright and stony with black fruits predominating. It’s not as thick as you might think, with cabernet franc freshening the mid-palate with some spice and lift to what is a solid red wine. Just a baby but give this another three to five years in the bottle and it will blossom.Prices: BC 34.99 Producer: Vanessa Vineyard
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Hillside Merlot Gjoa Vineyardtext
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Hillside Merlot Gjoa Vineyard 2011

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe Gjoa Vineyard sits just below the winery along the lower Naramata Bench and was first planted in 1995. The mature vineyard fruit neatly meshes with Hillside winemaker Kathy Malone’s philosophy to make “bench” only wines. The nose is fresh with red fruit plum aromas and mocha coffee undercurrent. Similar flavours spill on to the palate with a long, spicy, mineral undercurrent and now mostly silky tannins. Ready to drink with roast beef. Its aged 13 months in barrels; new (14%) American and older French oak.Prices: BC 30.00 Producer: Hillside Winery
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Hillside Merlot Dickinson Vineyardtext
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Hillside Merlot Dickinson Vineyard 2011

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaDickinson Vineyard is part of the Hillside single vineyard series. The site sits above the road en route to Naramata. The aromas and flavours are slightly richer and darker than the Goja’s Vineyard beginning with more black cherries, dark chocolate and savoury/cedar notes flecked with brown spice. The tannins are perfectly silky at this point. It is ready to drink. The fruit was given a 13-day cold soak prior to ferment to generate more fruit flavours. After 31 days of skin contact and going through malo-lactic fermentation in oak the wine gets 14-months barrel maturation in new (28%) French and older French and American oak barrels. Love the balance weight and finesse here. Perfectly mature.Prices: BC 30.00 Producer: Hillside Winery
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Desert Hills Merlottext
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Desert Hills Merlot 2012

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaLook for a savoury, spicy nose with hints of soya and oak. The attack is slightly rustic with a warm, spicy black fruit with peppery, okay notes and dry tannins in the back end. Best with now with grilled meats. Simple non-descript style.Prices: BC 24.90 Producer: Desert Hills Estate Winery
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Lock and Worth Merlottext
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Lock and Worth Merlot 2016

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThough merlot is the most planted red grape in BC, it's by no means the best red grape for this province. That said, there are no merlots like this singular one: light bodied, cloudy, textural and intriguing. From low interventionist producer Lock & Worth, this unfined and unfiltered merlot was planted in 1995 on a sandy 2 acre site on the Naramata Bench. Destemmed and with five days on the skins, this was basket pressed, fermented and aged in neutral French oak for seven months. Savoury with wild plum, wild blackberry, black cherry, thorns on a light, bright, softy dusky tannin palate to a white pepper finish. Acidity is bright, effortlessly nonchalant, like this quietly and subtlety confident wine. This is merlot as a whisper instead of a shout - again, a rarity in BC (and most places in the world).Prices: BC 22.00 Producer: Lock & Worth
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Stag's Hollow Merlottext
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Stag's Hollow Merlot 2014

Okanagan Falls, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaIt’s been a while since we have seen this wine, but a decade on it is more interesting. Winemaker Dwight Sick adds 5 percent petit verdot to the mix to darken and spice this mid-valley merlot. Half the fruit goes into the ferment whole cluster. It spends 18 months in 50/50 French and American oak before it is bottled unfined and unfiltered. The attack is fresh with plummy red fruit flavours, medium acidity and spice with slightly sticky tannins. The sweet American(?) oak leaves a sheen over the finish that subdues the wines energy. Ready to drink. Best with grilled meats.Prices: BC 19.00 Producer: Stag's Hollow Winery and Vineyard
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Tinhorn Creek Oldfield Reserve Merlottext
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Tinhorn Creek Oldfield Reserve Merlot 2014

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe ‘14 Oldfield Reserve opens with boisterous aromas of smoke, earth, black fruits and milk chocolate, mixed with sweet vanilla and oak. Partial wild ferment, and partial whole berry has upped the fruit factor heading into an 18-month slumber in French oak barrels. It remains on the more rustic side but the intensity and fruit is better expressed than in previous versions suggesting it should age well through 2019. Best now with lamb.Prices: BC 26.99 Producer: Tinhorn Creek Vineyards
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10 August 2017

L'Opaline Rosetext
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L'Opaline Rose 2016

Coteaux Varois, Provence, South of France, FranceJust a hint of colour draws you toward the glass. Think watermelon, pink grapefruit and wild strawberries on the nose and palate. There is an illusion of ripe fruit (sweetness) but the acidity is bright and fresh and it keeps the wine together through its fresh, spicy finish. Refined and ready to drink.Prices: BC 21.99 Producer: Pure Provence SARL
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Roubine La Vie en Rosetext
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Roubine La Vie en Rose 2016

Côtes de Provence, Provence, South of France, FranceRoubine has that million dollar, super light Provençal pink colour. This historical property was once owned by the Templar Knights until 1307. On offer here is a super fresh, elegant, barely-fruited, almost watery rosé made from syrah, grenache, vermentino and cabernet sauvignon. Do what the French do and serve it with tomatoes, or fish, or chicken, or alongside a charcuterie plate of cheese and meats.Prices: BC 22.99 Producer: Chateau Roubine
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09 August 2017

Champagne Marie Demets Tradition Bruttext
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Champagne Marie Demets Tradition Brut NV

Champagne, FranceThe Demets family has been growing vines in in Gyé sur Seine in the heart of the Côte des Bar since the 1950s. In the early 1970s they started to think of releasing their own wines, which was a dream realized in 1987, their first vintage. Entirely pinot noir, this spent two years on the lees and has 9 g/l dosage. Floral red currant and cherry fills this expansive and generous fizz, based on a lightly toasty palate, and seasoned with wild blackberry and hawthorne. The texture is a tad rustic, calling out for pairing with lighter pork or duck dishes.Prices: BC 51.00 Producer: Champagne Marie Demets
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Gruet Blanc de Noirstext
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Gruet Blanc de Noirs NV

United StatesToast overrides raspberry, cherry in this New Mexican misnomer blanc de noirs, a blend of 75/25 pinot noir/chardonnay. Oak aging further ups the toastiness here, as does 24 months on the lees. This is a coarser textured fizz, able to handle smoked pork ribs or baked beans (for reals). On its own, lacks finesse.Prices: BC 35.00 Producer: Gruet Winery
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Bellenda Prosecco Spumantetext
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Bellenda Prosecco Spumante NV

Treviso, Verona, Veneto, ItalyThis is an easy, simple and direct Extra Dry Prosecco DOC from Treviso, the entry-level fizz from this moderately large and successful producer. Light florals, light pear, light sweetness, short on the toasty finish. this is pleasantly fine Prosecco, suitable for toasting and tea, when you want for something for everyone (well, unless they are wine geeks). Overpriced, in this market, IMHO, for the quality.Prices: BC 24.50 Producer: Bellenda
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Gruet Bruttext
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Gruet Brut NV

United StatesThis is the house brut of Mew Mexico's Gruet, a pleasant and friendly blend of 75/25 chardonnay/pinot noir, lees-aged for 24 months. Crisp green apple, lees, light toast fills the medium bodied palate, one that finishes bright and snappy, if a bit bitter. Great value, easy sipping, and bonus points for conversation factor.Prices: BC 35.00 Producer: Gruet Winery
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Champagne Drappier Blanc de Blancs Bruttext
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Champagne Drappier Blanc de Blancs Brut NV

Champagne, FranceThe Drappier family has been farming Champagne since 1808, with 100ha, mostly around the village of Urville (pinot noir country). This blanc de blancs has a twist: 5 percent pinot blanc (also known as blanc vrai), to give it a bit of floral creamy roundness on the palate. The house use of minimal sulphur and 2-3 years sur lattes post bottling is signature, as is their aging of the liqueurs d’expédition in oak casks, then in demijohns for more than 10 years for concentration and added complexity. This brut is crisp and bright, with a doughy, yeasty, lees-lined cushion on the palate. There's a faint mushroom funkiness atop red apple, subtle pink florals, but bright and brisk acidity, snappy on the finish.Prices: France 40.00 Producer: Champagne Drappier
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Chateau des Charmes Blanc de Blancstext
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Chateau des Charmes Blanc de Blancs 2014

Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, CanadaThis St. David's Bench sparkler flows focused and streamlined over a bed of stones. Two years on the lees provides lovely structure to the pear, yellow apple, ginger biscuit notes. Acidity is frisky but a generous dosage (12.9g/l) ensures it approachable now. Impressive Ontario fizz.Prices: Producer: Chateau des Charmes
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Gruet Brut Rosétext
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Gruet Brut Rosé NV

United StatesYes, from New Mexico. Gruet was founded in 1984, and specializes in traditional method fizz, with roots dating back to the family's Champagne house in Bethon. This saignée rosé of pinot noir has 2 percent still pinot noir added for hue, and spent twenty four months on the lees. Fruity, bright, brisk and dry, with riffing cherry, red currant laying on a fine layer of lees. This prickles with acidity on the zesty finish. A big step up from the last time I tasted this two years ago.Prices: BC 35.00 Producer: Gruet Winery
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Benjamin Bridge Bruttext
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Benjamin Bridge Brut NV

Gaspereau Valley, Nova Scotia, CanadaAs unique as the story behind this iconic Canadian winery, this NV is from BB's Gaspereau Valley estate vineyard, and a blend of L’Acadie, Vidal, Seyval, Pinot Noir, and Chardonnay. Highly pointedly and pinkly perfumed: think pink florals, pithy pink grapefruit, tight pink lady apples. Sharp and brisk on the lively palate, but all high toned florals (the l'acadie and vidal and seyval). Lime pith lingers on the finish, textured with pear skin. The raging acidity easily carries the 13 g/l dosage, leaving it barely and pleasingly off-dry. The Benjamin Bridge reserve library of sparkling wines spans over 13 years and includes blending components from its inaugural 2002 vintage all of which contributes to the house style.Prices: BC 30.00 Producer: Benjamin Bridge
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08 August 2017

Meyer Family Vineyards Pinot Noir Reimer Vineyard Kelownatext
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Meyer Family Vineyards Pinot Noir Reimer Vineyard Kelowna 2015

East Kelowna, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaEast Kelowna is home to this juicy, spicy, pinot noir that has mostly survived the heat of 2015. The nose is mix of ripe black cherries sprinkled with mineral notes and just the right amount of toasted oak. There is a touch of that earthy, sour cherry, Oregon thing going on in the back end with enough acidity to make it all work. The vineyard is moderately steep with cool northwesterly aspect, and the soils slightly heavier alluvial and windblown deposits making up a silt loam overlaying a gravel loam. Drink all fall with smoked chicken, grilled salmon or mushroom risottos.Prices: BC 40.00 Producer: Meyer Family Vineyards
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Meyer Pinot Noirtext
89PTS

Meyer Pinot Noir 2015

Okanagan Falls, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis wine is quickly gaining a following for its juicy fruit and price. It’s not perfect in 2015; it’s a bit funky showing some volatility with a touch of Bretty barnyard, but none of it overwhelms the fruit. The minimal intervention at Meyer clearly filters (bad word I guess) down to this entry level pinot. It bears an Okanagan Valley designation and blends fruit from the home property Mclean Creek Road Vineyard in Okanagan Falls, Reimer Vineyard in South East Kelowna and two East Kelowna sites. It’s destemmed and cold soaked before a long, warm fermentation. It is all hand plunged and post maceration it spends ten months in 100 percent older seasoned French oak barrels. Like last year, cran-cherries and raspberry fruit rule the palate with a silky mouth-filling, finish. Perfect with salmon or duck or mushroom pastas. California and New Zealand meet BC.Prices: BC 25.00 Producer: Meyer Family Vineyards
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Meyer Family Vineyards Pinot Noir McLean Creek Road Vineyardtext
89PTS

Meyer Family Vineyards Pinot Noir McLean Creek Road Vineyard 2015

Okanagan Falls, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaA richer version of the 2014, with much darker, blueberry aromas and characters but still with enough acidity to keep it fresh. The attack is firm and relatively dry with a pleasant, savoury, rustic undercurrent and firm but accessible tannins. There is no need to rush to drinking this but it is kind of fun to gulp now. If you don’t cellar this through 2020 try it with barbecue pork. Mclean Creek Road Vineyard is on the home site. Its relatively steep slope faces south, west and northwest and sits over a mix of stony/sandy alluvial and glacial deposits. The vines mix five different Burgundian clones, both Pommard and Dijon, on three distinct blocks. Each block is managed separately using organic principles.Prices: BC 40.00 Producer: Meyer Family Vineyards
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Meyer Chardonnaytext
88PTS

Meyer Chardonnay 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe Meyer Okanagan chardonnay is a mix of estate fruit from McLean Creek Road (1994) in Okanagan Falls and Old Main Road (1996) in Naramata. The winemaking is simple: it’s cold settled for two days then racked of the solids (heavy sediment) to a stainless steel vessel for a month-long ferment followed by a four-month rest on the lees. The methodology of sites, vine age and production methods is designed to create an early drinking, fresh, tasty, regional chardonnay. Like last year, this wine surprises with its richness and flavours for the money, and will have wide appeal. Ready to drink. Try this fresh cracked crab or a lobster sushi roll.Prices: BC 20.00 Producer: Meyer Family Vineyards
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Meyer Family Vineyards Chardonnay McLean Creek Road Vineyardtext
90PTS

Meyer Family Vineyards Chardonnay McLean Creek Road Vineyard 2015

Okanagan Falls, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis chardonnay had been settling into a reliable pattern along the lines of slightly skinny, fresh, complex, and long. In 2015 the warmer weather has added some extra honey and texture to the mix. The nose is still nutty the fruit bright, maybe more red apple than green but with enough acidity to keep it interesting. The finish is all hazelnut, butter and melon fruit flavours. What it has is a sense of complexity and length in the glass. Crab, halibut and lobster all come to mind, but it may surprise you with a steak. The McLean Creek Road Vineyard, owned by the Meyer family, is in Okanagan Falls. It has a steep southerly aspect; the soil is a mix of gravel and sandy loams farmed in two separate blocks. It’s mostly fermented in stainless steel before finishing the ferment in French oak (18 percent new) and then remaining unstirred for 11 months on its lees as it goes through a natural malo-lactic fermentation. It’s bottled unfined and unfiltered.Prices: BC 33.00 Producer: Meyer Family Vineyards
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Meyer Family Vineyards Chardonnay Tribute Series Hawksworth Young Chef Scholarship Old Main Road Vineyardtext
91PTS

Meyer Family Vineyards Chardonnay Tribute Series Hawksworth Young Chef Scholarship Old Main Road Vineyard 2015

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaIn 2015 one of the earliest bud-bursts on record heralded what would be a warm year in the Okanagan. The Old Main Road Vineyard, where they have been using organic farming practices since 2013, was perfectly ripe at 22.5 brix, on September 7, some 50 days earlier than the previous year. Only the purest juice is used, again all handled in a minimalist manner and transferred into 100 percent French oak (22 percent new) to complete fermentation. The wine is left sur lees for 11 months without battonage. It’s a bigger style as you might guess, more Sonoma Coast than Burgundy, but still fresh and a lot of fun to drink. The nose is a melange of seashore scents, sweet lemon with toasted notes and rich textures. In the end the acidity keeps it all together. Fine value. The 2015 Tribute will take the shape of a $5,000 bursary to the Hawksworth Young Chef Scholarship Foundation, a Canadian non-profit culinary foundation, the Hawksworth Young Chef Scholarship, was created in 2013 to recognize and inspire young Canadian chefs, whilst promoting professionalism and culinary excellence within the hospitality industry.Prices: BC 33.00 Producer: Meyer Family Vineyards
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Meyer Family Vineyards Pinot Noir Micro Cuvée McLean Creek Vineyards - OK Fallstext
91PTS

Meyer Family Vineyards Pinot Noir Micro Cuvée McLean Creek Vineyards - OK Falls 2015

Okanagan Falls, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe Micro-Cuvée is best of the bunch most years, although rivalled by the Old Block in 2015. There is only 110 cases of it, all grown at McLean Creek Road. The Micro Cuvée is winemaker Chris Carson’s personal selection of his best barrels, what he terms the “most harmonious blend” of McLean Creek Road Vineyard. The grapes are Pommard Clone 91. Carson used all French oak, 50 percent new, and it is aged for eleven months. This is unabashed New World pinot eerily reminiscent of Central Otago. The entry is silky, the textures smooth, the flavours are a mix of forest floor, earth, dark plums, cherries and dried sagebrush. Persistent and lengthy. In 2015, mild spring temperatures forced one the earliest ever recorded budburst in mid-April, pushing the prime ripening period into the hottest days of the growing season which was an issue for some producers. Harvest began on the 7th of September. On the upside, the fruit was disease free and ripe.Prices: BC 60.00 Producer: Meyer Family Vineyards
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Meyer Family Vineyards Chardonnay Micro Cuvée McLean Creek Road Vineyardtext
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Meyer Family Vineyards Chardonnay Micro Cuvée McLean Creek Road Vineyard 2015

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaNo one expected the heat of 2015 and unless you were growing cabernet sauvignon, I’m sure no wants to see it again in the Okanagan. It’s warm years like 2015 that point to the wealth of sites available to wineries to make wine up and down the valley. The Micro Cuvée is only produced in top years and is based on specific barrel selections. In this case winemaker Chris Carson chose one new French oak puncheon from the Troncais forest and one one-year old puncheon from the Allier forest. This chardonnay is on the edge of being Napa-like, with rich, nutty, spicy fruit flavours. It’s a bigger, warmer year but there is enough acidity and texture to keep your interest. Try this with a full-blown piece of brie, or a rosemary scented roasted chicken.Prices: BC 60.00 Producer: Meyer Family Vineyards
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Meyer Family Vineyards Chardonnay Stevens Block Old Main Road Vineyardtext
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Meyer Family Vineyards Chardonnay Stevens Block Old Main Road Vineyard 2016

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaOh my, this is the real thing. 2015's early start backed off in July, and the cooler temperatures have yielded some terrific white wines across the valley. The harvest at Old Main Road Vineyard started September 26 at 23 brix. The one acre Stevens Block was planted in 2006 to the French clones 4 and 5 on the steepest and coolest part of the Naramata Vineyard. It’s been farmed organic since 2013 and like all the winemaking at Meyer, little is done to the fruit. The ferment was long (60 days) and cool and the result is a somewhat tight, linear entry, almost a Chablis cru style with super bright fruit and a vein of electricity from front to back. Super youthful and fresh this should develop well over the next three to five years. Try it now with seafood pasta dish or grilled halibut.Prices: BC 28.00 Producer: Meyer Family Vineyards
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Meyer Family Vineyards Pinot Noir Old Block McLean Creek Vineyard - OK Fallstext
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Meyer Family Vineyards Pinot Noir Old Block McLean Creek Vineyard - OK Falls 2015

Okanagan Falls, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaIn 2015, mild spring temperatures forced one of the earliest ever recorded budbursts in mid-April that pushed the prime ripening period into the hottest days of the growing season. This was an issue for some producers. At Meyer, harvest began on the 7th of September. On the upside, the fruit was disease free and ripe. Chris Carson keep sits simple at Meyer. The fruit is gently de-stemmed via gravity into small open top fermenters and allowed to cold soak., followed by an indigenous yeast ferment peaking at 30C. Gentle hand plunging of the must is performed throughout before the free run juice is transferred to 100 percent French oak barrels (22 percent new) for 11 months. In 2015 the fruit has been deftly handled keeping it fresh and lively with floral undertones and bright dark cherry fruit with flecks of mineral mud. Finesse and length is the holy grail of pinot and it's apparent here.Prices: BC 50.00 Producer: Meyer Family Vineyards
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04 August 2017

Mt. Boucherie Gamay Noirtext
86PTS

Mt. Boucherie Gamay Noir 2016

Similkameen Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe nose is screwcap reduced at this point, leaving mostly earthy, spicy notes. The fruit is all Similkameen but suffering from a fairly pronounced reduced character. More earthy, barnyard, meaty, peppery red fruit on the palate with a soft, slightly sweet fruit in the finish. Give this twenty minutes in a decanter after opening.Prices: BC 21.00 Producer: Mt. Boucherie Estate Winery
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Hillside Gamaytext
87PTS

Hillside Gamay 2013

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaDry, tight cran-cherry style gamay with a mix of earth and floral notes on the nose. The attack is fresh with more earthy, dried cherry fruit flavours. Not as charming as most Beaujolais but nothing a piece of grilled chicken wouldn’t smooth out, or give it another year or two in bottle. Definitely a less-is-more style.Prices: BC 30.00 Producer: Hillside Winery
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Domaine des Billards Saint-Amourtext
89PTS

Domaine des Billards Saint-Amour 2015

Beaujolais, Burgundy, FranceAll of the welcoming fruitiness and friendly generosity of Saint Amour is on full display here, with wild violets, cherry blossoms, raspberry, red liquorice and a lick of kirsch lining the medium-bodied palate. From the lieu-dit of Les Billards, this is 50-100-year-old, sustainably farmed vines, mid-slope on older alluvial soils: heavy clay over weathered granite. This was on skins for 12 days (under a weighted grill) before up to six months in a mix of older foudres and cement, affording a welcoming textural tannin element to buffer the perfumed and gentle red fruit. A beauty. #GoGamayGo.Prices: BC 26.49 Producer: Héritiers Loron
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Desert Hills Gamaytext
88PTS

Desert Hills Gamay 2016

Osoyoos, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis is textbook gamay: fresh sweet fruit with a raspberry/strawberry undercurrent and some spice. The textures are soft and round, and very sippable. The hedonists will like the style, but the cork dorks will want just a little more minerality and little less fruit. Ready and fun to drink now. Try it with your favourite pizza or chicken dish.Prices: BC 19.90 Producer: Desert Hills Estate Winery
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03 August 2017

Harper's Trail Field Blend White Thad Springs Vineyardtext
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Harper's Trail Field Blend White Thad Springs Vineyard 2016

Kamloops, British Columbia, CanadaRiesling and chardonnay make sense on paper, freshness and richness, but it’s no easy dance. Harper’s Trail pulls it off showcasing orchard fruits and green apples on the nose that keep it fresh and lively before mixing pear and melon flavours on the palate. It’s ripe, and you can taste a bit of residual sweetness in the finish. Chill this down and serve it on the patio or put it to work with some spicy appetizers. Good value.Prices: BC 17.00 Producer: Harper's Trail
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Hillside Bistro Whitetext
88PTS

Hillside Bistro White 2016

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaIn winemaker Kathy Malone’s words, “The summer of 2016 graced us with the perfect conditions for growing aromatic whites.” The first edition of Hillside Bistro White is all that and more. Naramata Bench sourced gewürztraminer and muscat were fermented cool in stainless steel and the result is delightful. Just off-dry, orange-scented and flavoured this refreshing, stylish white is the perfect patio sipper, especially with hand held bites or tapas with a bit of spice. Perfectly delicious, ready-to-drink sunshine and fruit in a bottle.Prices: BC 20.00 Producer: Hillside Winery
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Liber Farm and Winery Hello Sunshinetext
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Liber Farm and Winery Hello Sunshine 2016

Cawston, Similkameen Valley, British Columbia, CanadaNew Similkameen winery Liber Farm sourced the viognier, pinot gris and gewürztraminer from Naramata Bench for this blend. A blast of reduction on the opening, before a clipped sweet and sour palate, with green apple, sour apple and some powdered grapefruit notes. This is much less successful than their estate Similkameen wines.Prices: BC 19.00 Producer: Liber Farm & Winery
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Liber Farm and Winery Sauvignon Blanc Semillontext
87PTS

Liber Farm and Winery Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe brand new organic Liber Farm & Winery in the Similkameen sources fruit from Oliver for this wine, a blend of sauvignon blanc and semillon (the latter is some of the valley's oldest sem vines). This medium bodied wine shows much more of the punchy savvy passionfruit, with pink grapefruit, brisk acidity, apricot, bracketed and striated by time in new French oak. A slick on the palate tips to semillon, and tarragon and big spicing on the finish tells of time in wood. Pair with bolder dishes.Prices: BC 22.00 Producer: Liber Farm & Winery
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Kanazawa Nomutext
88PTS

Kanazawa Nomu 2014

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis is one big rich wine with the addition of orange muscat, naturally fermented but stopped early to bring some residual to the blend and balance off the acidity of the viognier and semillon. The viognier dominates, bringing richness while sémillon adds length and freshness and helps to dry the finish. Floral citrus, grapefruit and a dollop of yellow fruits come together to make the wine work. Serve chilled with your favourite sushi rolls.Prices: BC 25.00 Producer: Kanazawa Wines
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Lang Vineyards Bravo Whitetext
87PTS

Lang Vineyards Bravo White 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaAnother 2016 winner, in this case a summer sipper from old vine riesling, gewürztraminer, schönburger and muscat grapes. This is intense with very tropical notes, featuring pink grapefruit, limes and melons remains fresh. A touch heavy in the Alsace way, but pair this up with Indian or Thai curries and you won’t be disappointed. Fragrant, tasty and just a hint frizzante, this is ready to drink.Prices: BC 18.00 Producer: Lang Vineyards
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Blue Grouse Quill Dry Whitetext
86PTS

Blue Grouse Quill Dry White 2014

British Columbia, CanadaThe Quill ‘Dry White’ is a blend of grapes from the Cowichan Valley and the Okanagan in 2014 and mostly from Oliver and Kelowna. The mix is 48/40/3/9 pinot blanc, pinot auxerrois, pinot gris/müller-thurgau and siegerrebe/gewürztraminer and sauvignon blanc, all stainless-steel fermented. A bright and lively blend of Okanagan and Vancouver Island grapes. The style is light and bright with muted citrus fruit aromas and flavours in a juicy, light easy-sipping white. Well-made and priced fairly.Prices: BC 18.00 Producer: Blue Grouse Estate Winery
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CedarCreek The Senatortext
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CedarCreek The Senator 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis is a new release from CedarCreek, an easy drinking, if unconventional blend of chardonnay and sauvignon blanc. The good news is its lean and snappy entry and smooth creamy finish. The mix spends about a month in 85 percent stainless steel and 15 percent neutral French oak to come together. Spicy and round with white peach, pear and apple over a thick bed of lees. A bit warm and heavy on the finish but nothing a Santa Fe chicken salad couldn’t take on.Prices: BC 18.99 Producer: CedarCreek Estate Winery
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02 August 2017

Bonnet-Huteau Vignerons Muscadet Sèvre et Maine La Tarcière sur Lietext
88PTS

Bonnet-Huteau Vignerons Muscadet Sèvre et Maine La Tarcière sur Lie 2015

Muscadet, Pays Nantais, Loire, FranceWhite honey, stones, tight peach in this light, lean Muscadet Sèvre et Maine, from organic vines 15-30 years old on schist and gneiss. A fine lining of earthy lees helps the light body (11 percent), glide along fine nuttiness, pear skin and wild kernel notes. This is a subtle, watery, quiet wine, slicked with lemon pith on the lemon pithy finish.Prices: Producer: Bonnet-Huteau Vignerons
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Stag's Hollow Vidal - Orange Wine Stag's Hollow Vineyardtext
88PTS

Stag's Hollow Vidal - Orange Wine Stag's Hollow Vineyard 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaOrange is the new white per winemaker Dwight Sick although I’m guessing it won’t sell quite as well as white wine. The orange comes from extended, open-top (oxidative) skin contact, in this case three weeks. The vidal is 30 years old and harvested at peak ripeness. The fruit is drained and basket pressed into stainless steel where it spends another six weeks on full lees before it’s racked and bottled without any fining or filtration. The wine is dry with terrific acidity, the fruit is muted with mostly citrus highlights that will go well with food. It’s an acquired taste but of the many in the market this is among the cleanest and the freshest. It will be fun to see how this wine develops.Prices: BC 21.99 Producer: Stag's Hollow Winery and Vineyard
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Culmina Family Estate Wild Ferment Gruner Veltliner No. 002text
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Culmina Family Estate Wild Ferment Gruner Veltliner No. 002 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaCulmina has a series of one-off wines from the best of its research and development from any given vintage that they call the Number Series. The second release, Nº 002 Wild Ferment Grüner Veltliner 2016, is made with minimal winemaking inputs, employing only natural yeasts to start a nearly two-month long fermentation. It’s all 6th leaf fruit from Margaret’s Bench. The ferment was 59 days long on the lees in stainless steel barrels. The fermentation stopped naturally at 5.42 g/L of residual sugar adding a gentle flush of sugar to a fresh, well-balanced palate full of savoury, spicy, nutty tones and creamy, yellow fruits. Easy sipping and the perfect foil to slightly spicy dishes.Prices: BC 37.00 Producer: Culmina Family Estate Winery
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Janare Falanghina del Sanniotext
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Janare Falanghina del Sannio 2014

Campania, ItalyExpressive florals dominate this concentrated falanghina from Sannio, drawn from limestone clay soils and at 300-400m. A potent anise note streams throughout, drawing mango, quince, ripe pear along the full, lagging palate, one bracketed by fine spice and finishing briskly with a snap of acid. Dense, potent, but with flow, this would partner well with richer shellfish dishes.Prices: BC 19.29 AB 21.00 Producer: La Guardiense
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Reflets Muscadet Sur Lie Sèvre et Mainetext
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Reflets Muscadet Sur Lie Sèvre et Maine 2014

Muscadet, Pays Nantais, Loire, FranceRighteous Muse is a negotiant label that produces wines from California, New Zealand and France. This is their offering from Muscadet, in Loire's Pays Nantais. Earthy wild herbs, meadow grasses, salted lemon and mushroom on the lean, slimmer, lees-lined palate. The funk here is slight, but noticeable, not from cork (screw cap for the win) but most likely from some off lees. That said, this works with cockles or roasted asparagus.Prices: BC 21.00 Producer: Vignobles Verdier
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Hillside Gewürztraminertext
88PTS

Hillside Gewürztraminer 2016

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaWinemaker Kathy Malone seems to have her finger on the juicy, fresh style that perfectly suits this off–dry gewürztraminer, packed full of pink grapefruit, orange, kiwi and ginger. It’s a blend of six Naramata sites including the Hillside owned Hidden Valley Vineyard, and it’s made for summer. Fine value too.Prices: BC 22.00 Producer: Hillside Winery
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Blue Mountain Pinot Blanctext
91PTS

Blue Mountain Pinot Blanc 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaHow is this possible Blue Mountain? Thirty-year-old estate vines (two German clones) farmed sustainably, cropped low, fermented wild in stainless and older French oak, aged on lees until the following spring, and then bottled. and it's intense yet restrained, with perfumed pear, lemon blossom, white peach and a snap of Asian pear acidity keeping everything taut and riveting. A vibrato of stony minerality rings throughout to a spicy, bright finish. And, this wine is a mind-boggling $18, when it could easily be and best wines double its price. The top pinot blanc I've tasted from Blue Mountain, and easily the best in Canada, if you've avoided "pinot blah", find this.Prices: BC 17.90 AB 23.95 Producer: Blue Mountain Vineyard & Cellars
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Ormarine Picpoul de Pinet Les Pins De Camilletext
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Ormarine Picpoul de Pinet Les Pins De Camille 2016

Picpoul de Pinet, Coteaux du Languedoc, Languedoc, South of France, FranceNo big change here except for the constant BCLDB price creep, in this case up four dollars over four years. That said, when everyone is drinking rosé or sauvignon blanc you can be sipping picpoul and looking like the ultimate wine hipster. Fresh and citrus scented with a mix of honey, quince and ginger, all of which fades into its juicy grapefruit and ginger palate. Grilled fish or assorted charcuterie work here. The perfect advertisement for “try something different.”Prices: BC 16.49 MB 12.99 Producer: JeanJean
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Road 13 Marsanne Low Yield Winestext
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Road 13 Marsanne Low Yield Wines 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaIt's been a couple of years since I last tasted Road 13's Marsanne, and it remains as striking and intense as ever. Fermented in French oak barrels (one third new) where they remained with monthly battonage until the following spring bottling. Two percent viognier is splashed in for additional seasoning. Only 75 cases were made, so if you find it, grab it. Intense perfumed gooseberries, passionfruit, quince, rosewater, marzipan rides a waxy palate, full-bodied, but thankfully held taut with pink grapefruit briskness. Like a rhino, this is big and lumbering (in theory), but picks up speed and glides (impressive 13.6 percent) once it gets moving.Prices: BC 24.00 Producer: Road 13
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Stag's Hollow Albarino Shuttleworth Creek Vineyardtext
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Stag's Hollow Albarino Shuttleworth Creek Vineyard 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaStag’s Hollow is providing some real competition for the very fine Terravista Albariño made mostly from Naramata Bench fruit. The difference is in weight and acidity, with the Stag’s Hollow Okanagan Falls fruit showing a tighter, leaner, thread of pear, melon with a citrus, licorice undercurrent. Winemaker Dwight Sick does some partial barrel ferment here in 500L French puncheons but with no malolactic fermentation to keep it fresh. Six weeks' battonage gives it just the right texture to please without overwhelming your palate. A clean, bright version made for local seafood or a Margherita pizza.Prices: BC 20.25 Producer: Stag's Hollow Winery and Vineyard
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Umani Ronchi Casal di Serra Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Superioretext
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Umani Ronchi Casal di Serra Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Superiore 2016

Marche, ItalyVerdicchio is born with a brightness and a freshness that props up its nutty fruity buttery tones. The attack is clean offering bits of peaches, guava and the all-important minerality that keeps it on the rails. A simple, delicious, food wine that pairs well with seafood, pesto pasta and or grilled vegetables. Super value too.Prices: BC 17.99 ON 17.00 QC 19.00 NF 19.00 Producer: Umani Ronchi
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Blue Mountain Pinot Blanctext
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Blue Mountain Pinot Blanc 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaElectricity is not a word you associate with pinot blanc but maybe after 31 years Matt Mavety has found the secret. There's help from what is becoming a great white wine vintage (2016) and two old German clones but more likely it is the winemaking or is that no winemaking. The wine is wild fermented and aged in stainless (55 percent) and older, neutral French oak (45 percent) before it spends five months on its lees prior to going to bottle. There is fine concentration but with admirable restraint. Citrus, pears and peaches all on the cool side mark the nose and palate washed with a stony minerality. It's the best BC pinot blanc I have tasted ever and at $18 it is a super bargain. Back up the truck.Prices: BC 17.90 AB 23.95 Producer: Blue Mountain Vineyard & Cellars
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01 August 2017

Tantalus Chardonnaytext
89PTS

Tantalus Chardonnay 2015

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaA Tantalus their Next World chardonnay is cross between the New and Old. It’s darker than you might expect but the nose is fresh and lemony with a mix of apricot and melons and toast and vanilla. The fruit is off Block 6 a site with an eastern aspect along the northern side of the home vineyard. The fruit is a mix of 1985 Oppenheim vines and a 2007 part of Dijon clones. In a blazing warm year, you can see and feel a bit of the heat but there is enough texture and complexity to hold your interest. It’s all wild fermented and aged in French oak, including 30 percent new French oak puncheons and barriques. You can drink this now but we would suggest another year in bottle to really let it blossom.Prices: BC 26.00 Producer: Tantalus Vineyards
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Liber Farm & Winery Everyday Chardonnaytext
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Liber Farm & Winery Everyday Chardonnay 2015

Cawston, Similkameen Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe first release from this new Similkameen winery, the estate vineyard for Everyday Chardonnay comes from the banks of the Similkameen River. Stainless preserves the crisp freshness and cool fruit, revealing tight pear, pineapple, green apple on a lean frame, with a bump of sugar and cracked spices on the warm finish. Simple, clean, bright and ready for this summer.Prices: BC 18.00 Producer: Liber Farm & Winery
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Hess Select Chardonnaytext
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Hess Select Chardonnay 2014

Monterey County, Central Coast, California, United StatesRich, creamy, spiced wood in this ripe, full Monterey chardonnay. Red apple, pineapple, pear, wood and a snap of acidity before a rush of warmth on the finish. This is a simple, easy Cali chard for the masses (and for drinking now).Prices: BC 17.49 ON 21.99 Producer: The Hess Collection Winery
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Mission Hill Perpetua Chardonnay Osoyoos Vineyard Estatetext
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Mission Hill Perpetua Chardonnay Osoyoos Vineyard Estate 2015

Osoyoos, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis wine gets better every year. In 2015 winemaker Darryl Brooker has slipped in 25 percent mid-valley juice from the spectacular Naramata Ranch Vineyard at the cool northern edge of the Naramata Bench adding another layer to its cool, chiseled, floral, mineral style. Most the fruit comes off three individual blocks of Dijon clones inside an eastern Osoyoos vineyard estate located right at the US border. It was a warm year but Brooker seems to have been able to reign in the heat and keep Perpetua on track. The fermentation and ageing process is now a triumvirate of French oak, concrete eggs and stainless steel that lasts about 15 months and includes hand-stirring of the lees every two weeks. A very pure expression of chardonnay with subtle pear, citrus lime and oak. Drinkable now but will age through 2020.Prices: BC 49.99 AB 54.01 MB 50.00 Producer: Mission Hill Family Estate
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Tantalus Juveniles Chardonnaytext
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Tantalus Juveniles Chardonnay 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe vines are only four years old, hence the ‘Juveniles’ moniker, but this wine suggests a bright future for this single-vineyard, estate chardonnay. It was all handpicked and vinified in small lots and it was wild fermented in a combo of stainless steel and neutral barrels. The attack is fresh with a good mix of texture and flavours mostly bright lemon mixed with spice and a stony mineral aftertaste. It’s the juicy character that invites at the moment and we love the screwcap. The price is crazy good. Back up the truck.Prices: BC 17.30 Producer: Tantalus Vineyards
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