As one of the largest wine producers in British Columbia, Mission Hill needs no introduction.
The wines are ubiquitous on store shelves, and their iconic bell tower winery is besieged by tourists every summer. No, what Mission Hill needs is a reintroduction. If you haven’t tried these wines in a while, it’s time to take another look.
New wineries continue to pop up across the Okanagan at a furious pace, including within Anthony von Mandl’s own Iconic Wineries of British Columbia family. There is CheckMate Winery on the Golden Mile Bench, Martin’s Lane in West Kelowna, and a nascent project in the works on the Black Sage Bench. But Mission Hill has not been left in the dust.
Under winemaker and president Darryl Brooker, who came over from CedarCreek in 2015, Mission Hill is making some of its best wines to date. Their Legacy Collection portfolio, which includes Oculus, Compendium, Quatrain, and Perpetua, could easily go toe-to-toe with any winery in the valley.
What’s better, these are truly world-class wines that could and should compete on an international stage. I don’t mean at wine competitions. Rather, I’m talking about the battle that really matters: on retail shelves where you have to fight and earn each purchase.
Brooker has a clear vision for each of the wines in the Mission Hill portfolio and has gradually implemented changes over the past five years to get there. He has done so with an international mindset, cognizant of how the wines will fit within the larger wine world and not just the Okanagan.
Take Perpetua, Mission Hill’s top chardonnay. The 2018 vintage exemplifies the stylistic evolution under Brooker: restrained ripeness, less new oak, and more reductive winemaking. This isn’t a reinvention of the wheel; those are common buzz words throughout the wine industry right now. The difference is that Brooker isn’t just saying it because that’s what critics and somms want to hear. Instead, he’s delivered a relevant, modern chardonnay that will turn heads.
That’s not to say the work is done, though. Oculus may be the portfolio's flagship and a small fortune at $160, but I find it continues to underwhelm. The latest vintages of Compendium (a cabernet sauvignon-led blend) and Quatrain (a syrah-dominant blend) are much more compelling and Next World in character. And relative bargains at $80 each.
Mission Hill has long been a leader in the Okanagan. But it wasn’t always about the wine. Now Brooker is making sure it is.
Recently we tasted through the current releases from Mission Hill's Legacy Collection. We've included tasting notes for previous vintages to illustrate the subtle changes over time.