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Anthony Gismondi on Wine
Tasting Notes

Tastings: August 2019

16 August 2019

Intersection Unfiltered Cabernet Franctext
86PTS

Intersection Unfiltered Cabernet Franc 2015

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaRich, ripe, and roasted sums up this Black Sage Bench cabernet franc, amplified by a year in French and American oak prior to bottling, as the label alludes, unfiltered. The sediment contributes to the thickness weighing down the palate, in combination with hickory spice, green wood, smokey char, thick leather and overripe fruit. Tannins are chewy, working hard to house the massive intensity. If all you want is a powerhouse to partner with a porterhouse, this might do.Prices: BC 29.00 Producer: Parallel 49 Vineyards Limited
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Cave de Saumur Lieu Dit Les Epinatstext
86PTS

Cave de Saumur Lieu Dit Les Epinats 2017

Saumur, Loire, FranceFrom the Loire's large Alliance Loire co op, this simple Saumur rouge carries perfumed plum, blueberries, cassis, and peppery thorns along a shorter, pasty palate. Tannins are slight and sticky, holding the medium palate to a warming finish. Best with a chill and a grilled sausage.Prices: BC 20.99 Producer: Cave de Saumur
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Lock and Worth Square One Cabernet Franc V.6text
91PTS

Lock and Worth Square One Cabernet Franc V.6 2017

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaV.6 indicates the sixth version of this Naramata Bench cabernet franc, planted in 1995 on clay soils. After a native ferment, this spends close to 18 months in neutral French oak before bottling unfined and unfiltered. A slight reductive opening leads into gently smoked cassis, twine, black raspberry, dotted with mustard seed and dried blueberries. This benefits from opening in advance, and a slight chill.Prices: BC 33.00 Producer: Lock & Worth
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Church and State Cabernet Franctext
88PTS

Church and State Cabernet Franc 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaBig and bold, with ripe / overripe blackberry, dark cherry, tar, cracked black pepper, and crushed violets. There's a lovely floral note that threads throughout to a warming, nippy finish. Tannins are supple and lightly spiced from ferment in French oak, and are well supportive of the big fruit. This lumbers along the 14.5 degree palate, welcoming partnering with roast meats.Prices: BC 80.00 Producer: Church & State Winery
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Rust Wine Co. Cabernet Franctext
87PTS

Rust Wine Co. Cabernet Franc 2017

Okanagan Falls, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis is a big, wood-driven cabernet franc, that benefits from from Okanagan Falls' altitude and microclimate. This is taken from Lost Horn Vineyard's clay loam soils, and clone Davis 01, planted in 2002. This spent 13 months in French oak, 20 percent of which was new. Brooding and deep black cherry, plum, medicinal raspberry, tobacco fill the dense palate, ripe with sun-lit fruit, and spiced via toast oak. You can sense the inherent bright freshness of the fruit poking through here and there, but this is overwhelmed by the ripeness and wood at this point. Roasted beef or lamb requisite.Prices: BC 25.00 Producer: Rust Wine Co.
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Field Recordings Franctext
88PTS

Field Recordings Franc 2017

Paso Robles, San Luis Obispo County, Central Coast, California, United StatesAndrew Jones is a vine nursery fieldman, planning and planting vineyards across California. Field Recordings is his personal garagiste project from special sites and vines he's become familiar with over the years. This cabernet franc is sourced from various vineyards across Paso Robles, aged for six months in neutral French oak barriques. This is a trio of franc's intrinsic herbaceousness, with Paso's inherent ripeness, and Jones' hands-off winemaking. The result is a youthful, chillable red, with a slight carbonic spritz, medium+ acidity and ample raspberry, red currant fruit. Tannins are softly grippy on the sides and alcohol is light at 11.9 degrees. Chill and enjoy this summer.Prices: BC 45.00 Producer: Field Recordings Wines
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15 August 2019

Gini La Froscà Soave Classicotext
92PTS

Gini La Froscà Soave Classico 2015

Soave, Verona, Veneto, ItalyGini's wines are amongst the highest regarded in Soave, This organic garganega is from the Froscà cru, planted in 1955. This historic, 6 hectare vineyard is planted on calcareous and tuffaceous volcanic soils. Native ferment an aging is split between stainless steel and small oak casks. Quite concentrated and rich, yet with a welcome lightness still on the (12.5 degree) palate. Honeysuckle, white peach, apricot blossoms, and waves of ginger ride the creamy palate, aloft with a buzz of stony minerality, to a spiced finish. A masterful showing of Soave, worthy of Classico, and its cru. 1666 cases produced.Prices: Producer: Gini
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Gini Soave Classicotext
90PTS

Gini Soave Classico 2017

Soave, Verona, Veneto, ItalyFrom one of the leading organic farmers of the region, these 70 year old garganega vines are grown on volcanic and limestone soils in the historic hillsides of Soave Classico, 100-200m in altitude. After a native ferment, this spends six months on the lees in small stainless barrels, with no MLF. This carries the Classico weight, with honeysuckle, river stones and a grip of mineral salts running the sides to a lightly spiced finish. The soils and light touch are felt on the palate, one that skips along the slim frame to the end. New classic.Prices: BC 22.99 ON 29.95 QC 24.99 Producer: Gini
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Hajszan Neumann Muskateller Naturaltext
90PTS

Hajszan Neumann Muskateller Natural 2017

Weinland Österreich, AustriaA pierce of apricot and orange oil drives through elderflower, sour mash, and Asian pear on this slim, grippy, and brisk natural wine. Biodynamic, and natural, this muskateller came from the limestone, clay and chalk soils of Neuberg vineyard, on the Wiener Nussberg. The wine native fermented on skins in concrete eggs, staying there for five months, after which it was carefully racked to older 500L barrels where it remained for 6 weeks. This went to bottle without fining, filtration or sulphur. Natural is Fritz Wieninger's experimental range of wines.Prices: ON 36.95 Producer: Weingut Hajszan-Neumann
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Schiopetto Collio Friulanotext
90PTS

Schiopetto Collio Friulano 2016

Gorizia, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, ItalyThe Schiopetto family has been active in Collio for three generations, making wines as Schiopetto in 1965 when Mario Schiopetto rented a property in the hills of Capriva del Friuli. His first vineyards were planted in 1954 with friulano, and it was from these grapes that Mario produced the first single variety wine in the region. This tocai friulano comes from the same hilly Collio of Gorizia and its clay and limestone (marna) soils. This was fermented and aged in stainless for 8 months to preserve the crisp fruit. Medicinal white cherry, yellow fruits, dried citrus peel draw along this savoury wine, bedded with a lees pad and salt roasted almonds that linger on the finish.Prices: ON 38.95 Producer: Schiopetto
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San Valentino Bacaia Rebolatext
91PTS

San Valentino Bacaia Rebola 2017

Emilia-Romagna, ItalyThis grechetto gentile is from Rimini's Covignano Hills, in Emilia-Romagna, and 10 year old biodynamically farmed vines on calcareous clay soils. This was naturally fermented in stainless, where it remained on fine lees for 8 months prior to bottling. There's a lovely texture that rolls throughout this fuller bodied, concentrated wine, streaming wild herbs, meadow flowers, quince, pine nuts to a long, salted finish. Nothing feels heavy or pushed; rather this is a confident, balanced and beguiling drink. Fantastic value.Prices: ON 20.95 Producer: San Valentino
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Fento Wines Plurivarietal Rias Baixastext
90PTS

Fento Wines Plurivarietal Rias Baixas 2017

Rías Baixas, Galicia, SpainOne of winemaker Eulogio Pomares' many projects (most notably, Zarate), this is a blend of albariño, loureiro, treixadura, torontés, and godello, from the mountainous, inland, granite and slate soiled Rias Baixas subregion Condado do Tea. “Tea County” is named after the river Tea, a tributary of the Miño. Fento is Galician for fern, hence the label. These 10-15 year old vines were fermented and rested in stainless, yielding juicy yellow fruits, quince, white peach blossoms and tight, fine spicing. Volumnous in the mouth, despite its 12.5 degrees. Ample interest and intensity to take on grilled halibut or spot prawns.Prices: ON 26.95 Producer: Fento Wines
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Fento Wines Bico Da Ran Albariñotext
88PTS

Fento Wines Bico Da Ran Albariño 2017

Rías Baixas, Galicia, SpainOne of winemaker Eulogio Pomares' many projects (most notably, Zarate), this albariño master has used grapes from Rias Baixas' sub-area of Valle del Salnés, up to 300m, near the sea. Juicy yellow fruits, white blossoms, spice, pine nuts fill a medium bodied palate, to a snappy finish. I appreciate the confident, restrained style here. Good value.Prices: ON 20.95 Producer: Fento Wines
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Minimus Grüner Veltlinertext
92PTS

Minimus Grüner Veltliner 2017

Willamette Valley, Oregon, United StatesMinimus was created in 2011 by Chad Stock as a series of one-off experiments, and the line continues to be an incubator and innovator for Oregon winemaking. They source from sustainable through to biodynamic vineyards, and practice low-intervention, native fermentation, utilize various vessels, and work with numerous grapes and clones (many unique to this project). Opening with a bright, flinty flick, this GV was planted in 1977 in Vitae Springs Vineyard, high in the south Salem hills' volcanic jory soils, on own roots. It's believed to be the oldest planting of GV in America. The wine was fermented and aged for nine months in stainless, preserving the purity and crisp fruit. Lemon, meadow herbs, are scented with elderflower and kissed with flake salts that run the long, slender palate to a bright finish. Acidity is shining, well balancing the gentle lees. Lovely poise and balance in this 12.4 degree wine.Prices: ON 59.95 Producer: Craft Wine Co.
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Menade Rueda Verdejo Ecologicotext
89PTS

Menade Rueda Verdejo Ecologico 2018

Rueda, Castilla-Leon, SpainMenade is made with organic grapes that see no sulphur or copper sulphate in the vineyards. Native fermentation takes place in various size stainless tanks matched to the vineyard blocks. It is brimming with concentrated varietal and mineral aromas, pronounced white fruits and attractive herbaceous elements such as laurel, thyme and fennel (your dried desert herbs). The palate is a sea of citrus, lime, mango and nectarine in a medium-rich style. Think of this as an upscale sauvignon for the senses with the perfect yin and yang for the palate. Grilled seafood comes quickly to mind.Prices: BC 22.99 Producer: Bodegas Menade
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Gini Contrada Salvarenza Soave Classico Vecchie Vignetext
91PTS

Gini Contrada Salvarenza Soave Classico Vecchie Vigne 2015

Soave, Verona, Veneto, ItalyContrada Salverenza is all about limited production and in some cases, 80-year-old vines. The name originates from the area known as Salvarenza (Save Renza), a legend of the maid Renza who was saved from brigands by a noble knight. This particular label is made with garganega grown over limestone, hand-picked and fermented in barriques for nine months before spending another six months in bottle. The colour is golden and the nose and palate explosive with rich, ripe, mineral-led sweet fruit with tropical undertones. The finish is intense and persistent with peach and pear highlights and a touch of sea salt. Perfect now but will age through 2022.Prices: BC 57.99 ON 49.99 Producer: Gini
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Gini Soave Classicotext
89PTS

Gini Soave Classico 2017

Soave, Verona, Veneto, ItalyGarganega can be a bit of crapshoot at the best of times, but in the hands of a serious producer, it can be an experience you won’t regret. Lower yields impart a fresh citrus, honey nose and palate to this Soave that is clearly better than the pack. Best of all is the freshness and minerality that allows the wine to soar in your mouth. Creamy cheese, spaghetti olio, butter clams all work here. Ready to drink.Prices: BC 22.99 ON 29.95 QC 24.99 Producer: Gini
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Atlantis by Maetierra Albariñotext
90PTS

Atlantis by Maetierra Albariño 2017

Rías Baixas, Galicia, SpainAtlantis Albariño is a part of the Atlantis series managed by oenologist Raúl Acha, producing Atlantic wines from different DOs in Spain. This juicy albariño is from a sandy soiled vineyard near the river Miño in Rias Baixas. The attack is a lemon storm with lime peel and melon, and a floral apricot blossom undercurrent. Fresh, electric, alive, and simply so much fun to sip, I forgive its unnecessary cork finish. A clear jump above less year and terrific value. Steamed clams, tuna sushi rolls, fish tacos and more, they all work with this delicious white.Prices: BC 24.99 ON 22.95 Producer: Maetierra
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Filippi Castelcerino Soavetext
91PTS

Filippi Castelcerino Soave 2017

Soave, Verona, Veneto, ItalyThe Filippi family first settled Colli Scaligeri around 1300, formally entering into wine production around 1900. The estate and surrounding woodlands rests 400 meters above sea level, and is overseen by descendant Filippo Filippi. Soave Colli Scaligeri DOC is one of five subregions of Soave, the Colli referencing this hilly zone outside of Soave Classico. This is entirely organically farmed garganega, from two exposed, volcanic soiled parcels, 70 year old vines, and fermented native and raised in stainless for six months on the lees until bottling without filtration. Tight herbs, pear, quince on a nimble 12 degree palate, laced with zippy spicing that vibrates along the slender frame. Much depth and complexity for the winery's 'entry level' wine; impressive.Prices: Producer: Cantina Filippi
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Ormarine Picpoul de Pinet Les Pins De Camilletext
88PTS

Ormarine Picpoul de Pinet Les Pins De Camille 2017

Picpoul de Pinet, Coteaux du Languedoc, Languedoc, South of France, FranceAnother year, another dollar, but this wine is worth it. Picpoul is not likely on any lists in your wine shop, but this southern French variety is a skinny, enticing food-friendly grape that makes exciting everyday wine. Fresh and citrus scented with a mix of honey, quince and ginger, its juicy grapefruit and ginger palate screams grilled fish. Serve well chilled.Prices: BC 17.99 QC 13.20 Producer: JeanJean
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14 August 2019

Tantalus Blanc de Blancstext
90PTS

Tantalus Blanc de Blancs 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis is the inaugural release of Tantalus' Blanc de Blancs, sourced from one of their estate chardonnay blocks. After fermentation and aging six months in neutral French oak barriques and puncheons, this went through secondary and spent 2.5 years on lees before disgorgement in spring 2019 with a light chardonnay dosage. Opening with a burnished, oxidative note, this moves into a base of yellow apples, baked white pear, toast, spice cake, and lemon curd, sharpened with green apple, and finishing with ample spicing. Much acidity here, cutting a swath through the dense fruit and spice. Great length and impact.Prices: BC 34.70 Producer: Tantalus Vineyards
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Tantalus Old Vines Riesling Bruttext
92PTS

Tantalus Old Vines Riesling Brut 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis is a very special wine, in very limited release, with only 100 cases made. From a few rows in their block of old 1978 heritage riesling vines, this traditional method fizz spent 2 years on lees before being dosed with Old Vines Riesling prior to corkage. The result is seamless, savoury, and pure, with decomposed stones, dried herbs, pink grapefruit pith, and frizzed lemon peel. So much tension here, driving fine, potent fizz through a long, slender palate to a lingering and persistent rock salt finish. Quite singular, and worth seeking out. Drinking beautifully now, though I expect will age masterfully. Alcohol 13.4 degrees, RS 4 g/L, pH 2.91, TA 9.2 g/L.Prices: BC 34.70 Producer: Tantalus Vineyards
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Minimus Pétillant Natureltext
89PTS

Minimus Pétillant Naturel 2018

Eola-Amity Hills, Willamette Valley, Oregon, United StatesMinimus is an envelope-pushing Oregon winery, exploring the previously known limits for grapes, regions, and winemaking in the state. Crunchy rhubarb, tart raspberry, cider apple in this bright, lively and fresh pét-nat rosé from Eola-Amity Hills' Jubilee Vineyard. From young dolcetto vines, this disgorged ancestral method finishes dryish, tart and crisp, with red currant, wild raspberry and light florals. Energy abounds; this seriously fun fizz is pretty smashable. What more would you like in a pét-nat (save for a more affordable price?)Prices: ON 54.95 Producer: Craft Wine Co.
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Champagne Marie-Courtin Résonancetext
90PTS

Champagne Marie-Courtin Résonance 2014

Champagne, FranceThe Domaine is run by the feisty and energetic Dominique Moreau and is named for her Grandmother Marie Courtin. The estate covers about 2 ha in Polisot, near the Seine River in the southern Aube, and is planted to mostly pinot noir. She farms biodynamically, ferments natively, ferments and ages in stainless before transferring to bottle for secondary ferment, and bottles with zero dosage. This cuvée is from 40+ year old vines, and was disgorged in April 2018. There's a slight oxidative kiss to the textural red fruit, led by cherry and braced with rhubarb, cranberry, raspberry brioche to a lingering red currant finish. More savoury and earthy than fruity, and an authentic look at pinot noir in the Aube.Prices: BC 80.00 Producer: Champagne Marie-Courtin
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Indigenous World La'P Cheettext
83PTS

Indigenous World La'P Cheet 2018

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaFrom the Okanagan's second First Nations owned and operated Indigenous World winery, this charmat fizz is an off-dry blend of cabernet sauvignon and gamay. La'p Cheet is the Okanagan Syilx word describing the light sparkling off the water. Sharp rhubarb, cranberry, crab apple run the frothy palate, with high acidity that works to offset the candied sugar note. Short and disjointed, this needs some work to come up to the high calibre of its BC bubble peers.Prices: BC 24.99 Producer: Indigenous World
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Indigenous World Ho-We-Nam Ho-We-Nemtext
86PTS

Indigenous World Ho-We-Nam Ho-We-Nem 2018

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaFrom the First Nations' owned and operated Indigenous World winery, this is a charmat method fizz of pinot auxerrois. Ample sweetness meets ripe pear, lychee, applesauce, peach gummies, and pink florals on a frothy and bright palate. Best suited to light fruit desserts.Prices: BC 18.99 Producer: Indigenous World
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Fitz Blanc de Noir Sparkling Winetext
90PTS

Fitz Blanc de Noir Sparkling Wine 2015

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThough 2015 was a scorcher year, this well made, tight, bright and brisk fizz shows Fitzpatrick Family Vineyards' talent for sparkling. Entirely estate pinot noir, this traditional method wine spent a minimum of 36 months on lees. The red fruit is gentle but present, with light cherry, young raspberry, red apple, pink grapefruit, and a pop of tart cranberry acidity. The briskness is tamed with a slick of lees on the palate and a slight 5.2 g/L residual, buffering the natural acidity. Structure and acidity makes this a great partner for food, though works lovely as a solo sipper as well.Prices: BC 42.50 Producer: Fitzpatrick Family Vineyards
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Fitz Blanc de Blancs Sparkling Winetext
90PTS

Fitz Blanc de Blancs Sparkling Wine 2015

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaTight, taut, racy and purposeful, the 2015 Blanc de Blancs from sparkling-focused Fitzpatrick Family Vineyards speaks volumes for focus. By this I mean that it's obvious the winery is putting effort into its fizz, from vineyard management to harvest through to bottling, all making a big difference for this zippy wine, especially in a hot vintage like 2015. From their estate Greata Ranch, this chardonnay spent 36 months on the lees, and was dosed with 3.1 g/L. Focus it certainly has in the glass as well, with lemon, light brioche, green apple, stones, sagebrush, and riveting acidity running the length of the linear palate, to a brisk, chalky finish. A more severe style for acid-freaks, like me.Prices: BC 42.50 Producer: Fitzpatrick Family Vineyards
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Church and State Sparkling Pinot Gristext
87PTS

Church and State Sparkling Pinot Gris 2017

Saanich Peninsula, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, CanadaFrom Church & State's Saanich Peninsula vineyard, their original home site, this is a charmat pinot gris, bright, fresh, and lightly floral. Pink blossoms, pear, melon skip along the energetic palate to a snappy, lightly bitter finish. A great local aperitif.Prices: BC 24.90 Producer: Church & State Winery
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Singletree Merryfieldtext
88PTS

Singletree Merryfield 2016

Fraser Valley, British Columbia, CanadaMerryfield is a traditional method fizz of chardonnay and pinot noir, sourced from their Mr. Lehman estate. This spent 24 months on lees to build texture and complexity. Biscuit, frizzed lemon, fennel, orange is sharpened and brightened with lemon pith, and wrapped around a green apple core to a bittersharp finish. Fine dry style well suited to a wide variety of foods.Prices: BC 18.50 Producer: Singletree Winery
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Seaside Pearl Magnolias Estates Cabernet Foch Rosé Sparklingtext
86PTS

Seaside Pearl Magnolias Estates Cabernet Foch Rosé Sparkling 2018

Fraser Valley, British Columbia, CanadaFrom the Fraser Valley's Seaside Pearl winery, this is a darker hued, lightly fizzy rosé of the hybrid cabernet foch. Here a big bump of residual sugar cloaks the earthy / foxy character of the grape, resulting in candied cherries and blueberries, light florals and pear gummies on a frothy palate. The finish is snappy and bright. Well suited to a brisk chill and brunch or light berry desserts.Prices: BC 25.00 Producer: Seaside Pearl Farmgate Winery
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Seaside Pearl Daffodils Sparkling Winetext
86PTS

Seaside Pearl Daffodils Sparkling Wine 2018

Fraser Valley, British Columbia, CanadaFrom Fraser Valley's Seaside Pearl winery, this is the hybrid petite milo transformed into fizz. Frothy peach, candied orange, lime pith on a crisp, off-dry palate, finishing snappy and bright. Easy, moderate-alcohol (12.6) fizz best suited for brunch or light fruit desserts.Prices: BC 25.00 Producer: Seaside Pearl Farmgate Winery
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Crowsnest The Nest Pinot Auxerrois Chardonnay Rieslingtext
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Crowsnest The Nest Pinot Auxerrois Chardonnay Riesling NV

Similkameen Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe Nest is a sparkling wine from Similkameen's Crowsnest Vineyard, and a blend of pinot auxerrois, chardonnay, and riesling. There's a good dose of residual here, resulting in the orchard fruits expressing themselves like a candied necklace. Orange, peach, melon, apple in abundance on the medium-bodied palate to a snappy finish. Chill well and pour with light fruit desserts.Prices: BC 21.99 Producer: Crowsnest Vineyards and Barcello Canyon
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13 August 2019

Château Pesquié Silica Rougetext
94PTS

Château Pesquié Silica Rouge 2017

Ventoux, Southern Rhone, Rhone Valley, FranceSilica Rouge is the latest Pesquié red and the third single-vineyard wine by Alexandre and Frédéric. The terroir is sandy (if you haven't guessed from the name) and it's a blend of mostly grenache (90 percent) with 10 percent cinsault. Post ferment, 30 percent is aged in concrete eggs while the remaining 70 percent is aged in more substantial, older oak demi-muids to keep the wood to a minimum. The nose is fantastic, bolder than the Artemia with lifted black cherries and strawberries laced with black licorice and violets. The palate is dense with rich but rounded tannins. The finish is long, and the textures silky. Power and finesse is a rare combination, but it’s all here in a very vibrant package. Surely a statement for both Ventoux and biodynamic grape growing.Prices: BC 54.99 AB 47.99 ON 67.95 QC 59.75 Producer: Château Pesquié
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Château Pesquié Ascensiotext
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Château Pesquié Ascensio 2017

Ventoux, Southern Rhone, Rhone Valley, FranceAscensio is one of three single vineyard labels made at Château Pesquié alongside Artemia and Silica. Its name celebrates the tradition of the ascent of the Mont Ventoux which goes back to the XIVth century. It also symbolizes the magic of altitude terroirs. Ascensio is only produced in tiny quantity (less than 3000 bottles) and only in exceptional vintages. The grapes, 95 grenache and 5 syrah, are grown over a limestone-driven site. There is no wood involved, and all ageing is in concrete. The fruit is late picked in October and only partially destemmed leaving 30 percent whole-cluster. It is a giant wine with a rich and overpowering nose of black raspberries, dark plums, licorice, mineral, and dried herb notes. Like all the Pesquie wines, it manages all its intensity by remaining fresh and vibrant. There is no rush to drink this remarkable wine but if you must, think of equally rich dishes like bœuf bourguignon or venison.Prices: BC 99.99 AB 95.00 ON 125.00 QC 99.75 Producer: Château Pesquié
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Château Pesquié Edition 1912mtext
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Château Pesquié Edition 1912m 2018

Ventoux, Southern Rhone, Rhone Valley, FranceÉdition 1912m is a nod to Mont Ventoux, standing 1912 meters above the sea and said to be the last real mountain of the Alpes chain, and commonly referred to as the Giant of Provence. My first look at this wine revealed a super fresh, red-fruited affair dusted in garrigue, and ready to drink. Bright red berries mixed with violet notes and southern French wild herbs makes an intriguing and elegant glass of wine. Ventoux is one of the coldest areas of the southern Rhone, and the freshness in this wine reflects it. The blend is close to 70/30 grenache /syrah, but there are traces of cinsault and carignan in the mix. The vinification is in stainless and concrete tanks for fifteen days, and none of the wine sees oak. Perfect for pizza, it will also perform well with charcuterie, meat pies, empanadas and chicken salads. There is fine value here.Prices: BC 22.00 AB 17.49 ON 17.95 QC 15.70 Producer: Château Pesquié
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Château Pesquié Quintessence Rougetext
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Château Pesquié Quintessence Rouge 2018

South of France, FranceThe Quintessence Rouge is an 80/20 blend of syrah/grenache the Chaudiere family began in 1990 from tightly selected plots of 50+ year old, south-facing vines that sit between 250-350 meters above sea level over a mix of clay and limestone. The yields are impressively low at 30-35 hectolitres per hectare. A traditional maceration runs three to four weeks with pumpovers for aeration before the blend is aged twelve to fifteen months in a mix of stainless steel and cement. 2017 is very dark, reminiscent of Bing cherries, dried thyme, and black olives. The palate is rich and meaty with more black fruits, licorice and black pepper flecked with orange peel. A serious Ventoux at a very fair price. Think venison, wild boar, or turkey as matching menu items. There is no rush to drink this label. It can effortlessly age five to seven years in your cellar and will be even better in 2025. Again the freshness and vitality of this organic red is beguiling.Prices: BC 33.00 AB 30.00 ON 42.95 QC 24.15 Producer: Château Pesquié
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Château Pesquié Ventoux Les Terrassestext
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Château Pesquié Ventoux Les Terrasses 2018

Ventoux, Southern Rhone, Rhone Valley, FranceThe Pesquié Ventoux red grows at roughly 300 metres on various estate terroirs along the hillsides of Mount Ventoux. The stony limestone soils flecked with iron oxide sands and clays offer up a refreshing wine that is organically grown and will be Demeter certified biodynamic next year. The mix is 60/40 grenache/syrah macerated 15 days and then aged for several months in stainless steel and cement. Expect ripe and fleshy black raspberry, black cherry, mulberry tempered by a mineral crushed stone undercurrent and a clean peppery finish. Again the Pesquié freshness adds to this attractive, round, easy-sipping red that has all the hallmarks of serious Rhone reds, built with an extra dose of drinkability.Prices: BC 19.99 AB 18.99 ON 21.95 QC 17.55 Producer: Château Pesquié
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Château Pesquié Ventoux Terrasses Rosétext
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Château Pesquié Ventoux Terrasses Rosé 2018

Ventoux, Southern Rhone, Rhone Valley, FranceThe Pesquié Rosé is a 50/40/10 mix of cinsault / grenache / syrah fermented in stainless steel tanks and held at a low temperature for a few hours. It sees no oak. The colour is Provençal perfect, the nose bright and full of red berry/citrus scents. The attack is similar to the nose, fresh and glossy with a mix of raspberries flecked with a litchi/orange/gooseberry undercurrent. The acid is perfectly balanced by the sweet and bitter fruit flavours. An excellent wine for the dinner table all summer.Prices: BC 19.99 AB 18.30 ON 21.95 QC 18.95 Producer: Château Pesquié
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Château Pesquié Terrasses Blanctext
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Château Pesquié Terrasses Blanc 2018

Ventoux, Southern Rhone, Rhone Valley, FranceThe Chaudière family use “Terrasses” on their signature red and white blends to honour the work done by their ancestors, carving terraces into Pyrennes hillsides around the winery. The poor limestone soil, once underwater, is the perfect medium for growing grapes. In this case, it's a 40/20/20/20 mix of viognier / roussanne / clairette / white grenache. The wine sees no oak, and there is no malolactic fermentation to keep it as fresh as possible. The nose is a riot of floral and citrus notes that spill onto a similarly fresh palate where lemon grapefruit, mandarin, lime rind and sea salt continue the run of freshness and vibrancy. Perfect for vegetarian menus, it will also work with a variety of shellfish, light seafood and cheese. A stylish, super value white. More, please.Prices: BC 23.99 AB 15.95 QC 19.05 Producer: Château Pesquié
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12 August 2019

Château Pesquié Quintessence Blanctext
89PTS

Château Pesquié Quintessence Blanc 2018

South of France, FranceQuintessence Blanc is the top white at Pesquié. It is produced in tiny amounts (4000 and 5000 bottles) and is shaped to be an elegant expression of roussanne. The mix is 80/20 roussanne /clairette, with traces of viognier. The grapes are picked and processed separately, with the roussanne fermented and aged in wood for five months, while the clairette remained in stainless steel vats. There is no malolactic fermentation, and both varieties are aged in concrete for another six months. The nose opens with complex, fresh florals spiked with pineapple and brown spices. There is terrific minerality here translated in a big way by the clairette. Rich and balanced, it is the salty notes that sell this wine and take it to another level. Best with rich dishes like truffle risotto.Prices: BC 28.49 AB 26.99 QC 28.85 Producer: Château Pesquié
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Château Pesquié Artemiatext
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Château Pesquié Artemia 2017

Ventoux, Southern Rhone, Rhone Valley, FranceOne three single-vineyard wines produced at Pesquié, Artemia is impressive beginning with its deep opaque, purple-black colour. In 2017 the mix was 75/25 syrah/grenache, the latter bringing a fresh floral character to the wine to soothe the bold syrah. It was grown at 1400 metres above sea level on mostly limestone soils, giving the wine a bony undercurrent. There is real power here with perfectly vibrant black fruits dusted in garrigue and flecked with a subtle white pepper note. It’s very pure and for a minute, Northern Rhone-like. A modern look at high-end Ventous through an organic/biodynamic lens. Cellar this a decade with no worries.Prices: BC 99.99 AB 95.00 ON 125.00 QC 99.75 Producer: Château Pesquié
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Northern Lights Bumbleberrytext
89PTS

Northern Lights Bumbleberry 2020

CanadaBumbleberry pie is a Canadian institution, akin to a mixed berry pie originating from the Maritimes. You need a minimum of three kinds of berries, and in the case of this fruit wine, it is a mix of blueberry, raspberry and saskatoon berries. The nose is rich and jammy with intense dark fruit and a brisk undercurrent. The texture is soft, and the style approachable. Think venison or duck as a pairing. Well done and very pure.Prices: BC 18.99 375 Producer: Northstar Winery
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Northern Lights Cranberrytext
88PTS

Northern Lights Cranberry NV

CanadaIt’s year three for the Cranberry label at Northern Lights Estate Winery, and this wine has my attention. Its more of a holiday release, but get in line to make sure you can order it come the holiday season. Like Beaujolais Nouveau, it’s released in the third week of November. It’s whole berry fermented, and the fruit is supremely pure with a savoury cedar, Christmas tree twist. There is an illusion of sweetness held firmly in check by the cranberry’s innate acidic character. Impressive wine and perfect for turkey.Prices: BC 19.99 375 Producer: Northstar Winery
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Northern Lights Estate Seduction Strawberry Rhubarb Winetext
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Northern Lights Estate Seduction Strawberry Rhubarb Wine NV

British Columbia, CanadaNo significant changes here. As before, it reminds me of an off-dry rosé, just shy of sweet. There’s an undercurrent of citrus to keep it from being cloying. A rhubarb red blush in the glass, it shows opulent tropical fruit notes with some of the spicy litchi you find in gewürztraminer. Anything spicy would work here given the sweetness, but I am leaning towards sausage or even a chicken curry. It could work with cake and fruit desserts too. Serve well chilled for best effect.Prices: BC 17.99 Producer: Northern Lights Estate Winery
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09 August 2019

Intersection Alluvia Merlottext
88PTS

Intersection Alluvia Merlot 2015

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaIn 2007, Intersection planted one block of merlot across two distinct soil types: a fine, thin plot of dry silicate sand; and the alluvial wake of the ancient Tinhorn Creek system. For three years they vinified one wine from the block, but in 2012 they divided the field by soil and formed the Silica and Alluvia Merlots, harvested in tandem and vinified the same (aged in tight-grained French oak, 30% new, bottled unfiltered). This is a massive wine, even for the record-breaking heat of 2015, clocking in at 15.7 degrees declared. There's a definite burn as this goes down, warming the grilled meats, cedar, raspberry and crushed stones. Tannins are long and slightly fuzzy / grippy through a lengthy finish. Lovely savoury flavours here, but far too hot and overwhelming for more than one glass.Prices: BC 28.90 Producer: Parallel 49 Vineyards Limited
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Rust Wine Co. Similkameen Valley Merlottext
87PTS

Rust Wine Co. Similkameen Valley Merlot 2016

Similkameen Valley, British Columbia, CanadaLike their syrahs, Rust has released a series of merlots in 2016. This is from the southern Similkameen Valley's Lazy River Vineyard, and its rocky, gravelly soils. That sun bears thick on the palate, with intense tobacco, red currants, lusty cherries and raspberry. Tannins are furry, reflecting the 18 months in French oak, 30% new, and finishes with a lingering sandpaper grip. This is a very warming 15 degree red, necessitating food. Great flavours and structure, but just needs be dialled down a notch or two to find elegance.Prices: BC 35.00 Producer: Rust Wine Co.
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The Velvet Devil Merlottext
86PTS

The Velvet Devil Merlot 2016

Columbia Valley, Washington, United StatesRipe, dusky, and plush with eastern Washington sunshine, the 2016 vintage of The Velvet Devil blends 10% cabernet sauvignon and 1% malbec into the merlot, and takes grapes from numerous AVAs. The lot was whole berry fermented with native yeast, and then into French oak for 10 months (30% of which was new). Mocha, blackberry jam, red currant, light florals, and plush plum fill the plump palate, cut with a very tart and sharp acidity, leaving this finishing short and somewhat disjointed. For immediate consumption.Prices: BC 16.99 MB 21.00 NS 19.00 ON 20.00 AB 19.00 Producer: Charles Smith Wines
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Indigenous World Merlot Single Vineyardtext
87PTS

Indigenous World Merlot Single Vineyard 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaWinemaker, Jason Parkes (known of The Hatch) has his hand in the wines at Indigenous World, and you can taste it in this merlot. It’s medium-weight, on the elegant side, and dry. There are light aromas of vanilla, dried and intense black cherry, and a touch of brown spice. The fruit is bursting to get out, but the wine is restrained and lengthy with a layer black fruit laced with licorice and a touch of coffee bean.Prices: BC 26.99 Producer: Indigenous World
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Lock & Worth Merlot Grey Labeltext
88PTS

Lock & Worth Merlot Grey Label 2018

Oliver, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaFrom a biodynamically farmed vineyard in Oliver, this new Grey label merlot is for the export market and their Naramata tasting room only. Whole berry picked and on skins for three days, this was fermented in stainless before three months in old wood. After a swing of reduction, this veers into sherry vinegar, wet meadow herbs, light cassis, plum, tart blackcurrant and light leather, all seasoned with ample salts and camp smoke. Best with a chill.Prices: BC 22.00 Producer: Lock & Worth
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Intersection Alluvia Merlottext
89PTS

Intersection Alluvia Merlot 2015

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaIf you didn't know the vintage, it wouldn’t take you long to notice the 15.7 percent alcohol by volume, and the sheer weight and warmth of this merlot, and think 2015. For those of you who love your reds hedonistic and luxurious, this is it. The nose and palate combine rich meaty black fruit flecked with cedar, black raspberry and a welcome touch of minerality to lift the finish just enough to keep it interesting. Big, black, and savoury, this is for the adventurous. Lamb is the key to success here. In 2007, Intersection planted a single block of merlot across two soil types: silicate sand and alluvial rubble. For the first three vintages the fruit was vinified together, but by 2012 they had begun to make two wines off each soil type, releasing Silica and Alluvia. They are still made in the same manner and aged in French oak (30% new).Prices: BC 28.90 Producer: Parallel 49 Vineyards Limited
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Tightrope Winery Merlottext
89PTS

Tightrope Winery Merlot 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaTightrope is the right name for this wine, one that treads a fine line of fruit and acidity. Naramata is a sweet spot for merlot, revealing its cooler, mineral, fruit side with blueberry, black raspberry, and dark plum. The textures are smooth, the tannins and alcohol in check, leaving an elegant, ready to drink red but with some complexity. A perfect simple chicken or pork wine.Prices: BC 30.00 Producer: Tightrope Winery
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Upper Bench Merlot Limited Release Estate Growntext
88PTS

Upper Bench Merlot Limited Release Estate Grown 2015

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe “estate-grown” UB merlot is a more intense style with a slightly tighter style than the regular label. The nose is aromatic, with desert savoury, black fruit notes that spill on onto the palate. Its slightly cooked super-ripe, black cherry/blackcurrant fruit flavours present with some lifted, volatile notes marking what was a very hot vintage. Similar to last year the texture is chewy in texture. Drink now and in the mid-term with grilled sausages or a meaty pizza.Prices: BC 41.50 Producer: Upper Bench Winery
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Upper Bench Merlot Limited Releasetext
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Upper Bench Merlot Limited Release 2015

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThree picks: September 24, September 29 & October 15, yielded about four tons per acre and a bright savoury, spicy black cherry nose. The attack is similar, with glossy textures and oaky undertones offset by bright blackcurrant/black cherry fruit. It’s round and mouth-filling a crowd-pleaser style with along warm cocoa menthol black fruit finish. It spends 18 months in 30 percent new oak, and it needs some time to shed the apparent oak and sweet fruit finish, but the tannins are much softer this year. Best with grilled beef or pork at the moment - it will come around in the bottle.Prices: BC 32.30 Producer: Upper Bench Winery
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The Velvet Devil Merlottext
88PTS

The Velvet Devil Merlot 2016

Columbia Valley, Washington, United StatesOpen, savoury black fruit aromas lead to an attack that's glossy smooth, but with ripe black fruit and soft, dense, deep tannins. The style is changing here, becoming more refined and less oaky. 2016 continues to turn down in intensity and sweetness, and dial up the savoury undercurrents. The fruit is grown on several sites including one of the oldest vineyards on the Wahluke Slope, planted in 1997. The blend is 89/10/1/ merlot, cabernet sauvignon and malbec, all aged ten months in 30 percent new oak. Rady to drink and terrific value for red wine lovers.Prices: BC 16.99 MB 21.00 NS 19.00 ON 20.00 AB 19.00 Producer: Charles Smith Wines
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C.C. Jentsch Small Lot Series Merlottext
88PTS

C.C. Jentsch Small Lot Series Merlot 2015

Oliver, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaA hefty red from a warm 2015 vintage, the Small Lot Merlot is barrel-aged for seventeen months to round out edges and disperse some tannins. Job accomplished. The attack is warm and peppery and more New World this year. The palate is firm with dark cherry fruit, cocoa and pepper, with a mocha coffee finish. Serve with charred beef or wild birds. The winery suggests Chinese food as well, and I think that’s an exciting choice.Prices: BC 35.90 Producer: C.C. Jentsch Cellars
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Crowsnest Family Reserve Merlottext
87PTS

Crowsnest Family Reserve Merlot 2014

Similkameen Valley, British Columbia, CanadaI enjoyed this wine two years ago, and it’s ageing just fine, demonstrating the Similkameen Valley’s penchant for freshness and acidity, resulting in this brighter, more elegant version of merlot. Red fruits, soft tannins, and pepper set up the attack followed by a medium weight, cool cranberry and black cherry red. Perfect for roasted chicken or a mushroom pasta dish. Ready to drink.Prices: BC 21.90 Producer: Crowsnest Vineyards and Barcello Canyon
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Lock and Worth Merlottext
90PTS

Lock and Worth Merlot 2018

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis year's merlot is a radical departure from 2017, and I'm digging where this is at currently. 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. Soft, perfumed cherry, salted cherry, raspberry, scrubby herbs, meadow grasses, are touched with a whisper of smoke and haunting, fine tannins. There's a swell of acidity to carry this to the finish, lingering with dried florals. Chill and enjoy.Prices: BC 22.00 Producer: Lock & Worth
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08 August 2019

Ferdinand Wines Rosétext
88PTS

Ferdinand Wines Rosé 2018

Mendocino - Amador - Sonoma Counties, North Coast Region, California, United StatesCanned dry vintage-dated Napa rosé wha? Yup! Welcome to BC, Ferdinand Wines. Everybody loves pink, especially when it's serious, like this tempranillo pink from Amador County's Shake Ridge Vineyard. The vineyard is around 500m and on red volcanic soils, studded with quartz, basalt, and share. Early picked fruit, whole cluster pressing, native yeast ferment, and canning unfined and unfiltered has created this light peach-hued pink, with strawberry, raspberry, cherry on an easy, slender and slick palate to a spiced finish. Picnic-perfect, and proper pink fun.Prices: BC 15.00 375 Producer: Ferdinand Wines
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Montagu Cellars Rosétext
88PTS

Montagu Cellars Rosé 2018

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis rosé marks the return of much-missed Montagu Cellars, an insider cult wine made by beloved BC sommelier and restaurateur Tom Doughty. The bespoke winery was established in 2004 with Three Barrel Merlot, and that wine was the project's focus until 2010 when Tom suffered a massive brainstem stroke, nearly died, and had an extended and unexpected break from his career to concentrate on his recovery. Now that he has recovered and is back active in the wine industry, he has revived Montagu Cellars, this time working in conjunction with Michael Bartier of Bartier Bros., to produce this rosé. This peach-hued pink is a singular one at that, blending 58% gewürztraminer, 34% chardonnay, 4% merlot, and 2% muscat ottonel. Ripe strawberries, perfumed peach, pear, lychee is full on the plump palate, scented with exotic spices and dusted with sagebrush. Though off-dry, this is held aloft with juicy acidity through to the snappy finish. Welcome back Tommy.Prices: BC 20.00 Producer: Montagu Cellars
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Sperling Pinot Noir Rosétext
89PTS

Sperling Pinot Noir Rosé 2018

East Kelowna, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaCertified organic. Pale salmon colour, this pinot noir rosé only undergoes a 2-3 hour cold soak prior to pressing. It’s quite restrained, with delicate wild strawberry and pink grapefruit as well as a leafy note. Dry in style, it's well balanced with fresh acidity and lovely precision. The worst thing you can do is serve this too cold; take it out of the fridge at least 30-40 minutes before opening. Excellent value.Prices: BC 20.00 Producer: Sperling Vineyards
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Chic Fille Pinot Noir Rosétext
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Chic Fille Pinot Noir Rosé 2018

Skaha Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaCorked.Prices: BC 30.00 Producer: JoieFarm
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Thornhaven Rosétext
85PTS

Thornhaven Rosé 2018

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaPouring a deep blush hue, this mid-sweet rosé blends pinot noir, pinot meunier and syrah into a strawberry jam, floral, orange, glycerol-laden pink. There's a gentle swing of acidity before a snappy, short finish. Chill this very well and enjoy this summer if you like your old school pinks sweet.Prices: BC 18.00 Producer: Thornhaven Estates Winery
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River Stone Malbec Rosétext
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River Stone Malbec Rosé 2018

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaAs in previous years, this is a deep, glossy, glycerol-laden pink from the southern Okanagan, absorbing some estate River Rock vineyard malbec. This was partial whole berry, cold soaked for up to 48 hours, fermented cool in stainless where it remained for three months on the lees before it was back sweetened (with unfermented must), and bottled. The sweetness is evident, via strawberry jam, white chocolate, tayberry, lemon and pear on a juicy, shorter palate. The whole is cloying, and I wish this was a dryer, sharper, less made wine to bring it fully into modernity.Prices: BC 22.90 Producer: River Stone Estate Winery
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LaStella Lastellina Rosatotext
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LaStella Lastellina Rosato 2018

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis is a blend of 66 percent cabernet franc, 30 percent merlot, and 4 percent sangiovese sourced from vineyards throughout the South Okanagan. The wine was made using a combination of saignée and direct press methods. Medium salmon in colour, it has quite a savoury nose with herbs, spice, and wild strawberry. Although the winery describes this as off-dry, it is perceptibly dry - and only 3 g/L residual sugar. At only 12.6 percent alcohol, it is a very drinkable style, which also provides a lot of interest. Recommended.Prices: BC 22.90 Producer: LaStella
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Seaside Pearl Magnolias Estates Cabernet Foch Rosétext
86PTS

Seaside Pearl Magnolias Estates Cabernet Foch Rosé 2018

Fraser Valley, British Columbia, CanadaI'm really digging winemakers coming up with new and different ways to use marechal foch, like this. A deeper, darker hue (more like a light red), this foch comes from Fraser Valley's Mount Lehman, and it's left off-dry, the sugar well pitched against the grape's herbal / twine notes. Sour cherry, cranberry, and rhubarb sit on the short palate, to a crab apple finish. Chill well and crack this summer.Prices: BC 22.00 Producer: Seaside Pearl Farmgate Winery
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Tightrope Winery Rosétext
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Tightrope Winery Rosé 2018

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaA pinot noir rosé with a splash of barbera (6.5%), the grapes were sourced from Naramata and left on the skins for 1-2 days prior to being pressed. A pale pink colour, this has restrained ripeness that leans towards the citrus and crunchy red fruit end of the spectrum, with some spice notes adding complexity. This, in combination with the modest 12.5% alcohol and zesty acidity, makes for a highly drinkable rosé. You can tell Tightrope takes their rosé seriously. No need to serve this too chilled.Prices: BC 25.00 Producer: Tightrope Winery
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Harper's Trail Rosétext
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Harper's Trail Rosé 2018

Kamloops, British Columbia, CanadaThe colour is a glorious light copper à la Provencal, and the wine delivers as much in the glass. This pink is just off-dry, so it should stand up to food with a bit of spice. I suspect it will be widely consumed on a sunny patio thanks to its strawberry pear flavours that slide down easily. Chill thoroughly and enjoy all summer and into the fall, especially out-of-doors.Prices: BC 18.90 Producer: Harper's Trail Estate Winery
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Clos du Soleil Rosétext
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Clos du Soleil Rosé 2018

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaMade from malbec, the fruit was grown specifically for this rosé from La Côte Vineyard. Interestingly, the fruit was not harvested until November 5, but comes in at only 12.4% alcohol. After a 20-hour cold soak, the fruit was pressed and then fermented and aged in stainless steel for just over four months. Don't be misled by the neon pink colour. On the nose it’s quite restrained, with fresh strawberry and pomegranate as well as a herbal, smokey quality. At only 2.1 g/L residual sugar, the ripe fruit gives a perception of sweetness on the attack, but it’s well balanced with fresh acidity. With this modest alcohol level, you'll want more than just a glass. Serious, well-made, and well-priced.Prices: BC 21.90 Producer: Clos du Soleil Winery
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Jean-Luc Colombo Cape Bleue Rosétext
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Jean-Luc Colombo Cape Bleue Rosé 2018

Condrieu, Northern Rhone, Rhone Valley, FranceThe innovative approach of the Colombos, Jean Luc and Anne, in Cornas has been described as “nothing short of revolutionary.” The pair have taken a similar tact further south in the Mediterranee IGP with their Cape Bleue Rosé. The vines grow over stony, limestone soils in the hills above the bay of Marseille (the area next to Provence). The influence of the sea, sun, and lake provide for hot days and cool nights, a key to high acidity. The grapes are subjected to a 10-hour cold soak until the perfect pale pink colour is achieved. The ferment is cold and slow, lasting three weeks. Expect a fresh floral nose flecked with watermelon and mango. The palate is dry with fresh cherry and raspberry to the finish. Ready to pour on the patio.Prices: BC 28.99 ON 20.99 QC 17.55 Producer: Jean-Luc Colombo
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07 August 2019

Blanville Haut-Blanville Horustext
88PTS

Blanville Haut-Blanville Horus 2014

Languedoc, South of France, FranceChâteau Haut-Blanville is a family-owned wine estate founded in 1997 by Béatrice & Bernard Nivollet. Their goal was to find unique vineyard sites and produce single parcel, low-intervention wines when most of the local wineries were producing volume and bulk. They now own 70ha of vineyards, and make a range of single site wines, as well as regional blends like this. Horus is a blend of 50% syrah, 40% grenache, and 10% cinsault, with from from both their estate and from neighbours. The lots were fermented separately in stainless, with the syrah aging for 7 months in old barrique prior to the final blend. Woodsy florals, plums, cherries rule this medium-bodied red, floored with stones and herbed salami. Tannins are finely grippy, well pitched to house the sun-drenched fruit. No overripeness here; a juicy, spicy red, well suited for grilled sausages.Prices: ON 19.99 Producer: Chais de Blanville
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Octota Barrels One Eight Six Grenachetext
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Octota Barrels One Eight Six Grenache 2018

McLaren Vale, South Australia, AustraliaOne Eight Six refers to the 186 days on skins this grenache spent. From the same Blewitt Springs site as the beloved dry farmed Fugazi Grenache (planted 1946), this small lot of 288 bottles was subject to more of Taras Ochota's experimental side, to a very positive result. Whole bunch fermented in a headless puncheon, where it remained on skins until it was basket pressed off, and bottled unfined and unfiltered. So smooth and linear it comes across nebbiolo-esque (really), with earthy raspberry, kisses of sarsaparilla, graphite and plum. Fine spice and ample texture in the mouth provide interest, and an effortless swell of juicy acidity creates smashability. Supple and moreish.Prices: BC 100.00 Producer: Ochota Barrels
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Savage Wines Follow The Linetext
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Savage Wines Follow The Line 2015

Western Cape, South AfricaRetasted three years along, and wonderfully so. Duncan Savage (unofficial leader of the Zoo Cru) sources fruit from maritime vineyards, typically at altitude, for his low-interventionist wines. This is a blend of cinsault, grenache and syrah from Darling and Piekenierskloof, of which 20 percent goes whole bunch into large format French oak. Time has shaped this finer than ever, with any exuberance from youth shed, and emergent is scrubby herbs, raspberry, wild strawberry sliding along a slender palate. There's a lovely fine detailing here, with tannins that are purposefully pencilled like bamboo, and acidity which is nonchalantly bright. Best enjoyed with a light chill, and a few hours ahead of you.Prices: BC 45.00 Producer: Savage Wines
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Ochota Barrels A Sense of Compression Grenachetext
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Ochota Barrels A Sense of Compression Grenache 2018

McLaren Vale, South Australia, AustraliaViolets, wild blueberry, dusky plum, red currants flow through this McLaren Vale old vine grenache, leathery thick with sun, but bright with authenticity. Tannins are lightly sticky, and well primed for housing the fruit. There's a splash of gew in here to add florality, not to mention originality. This wine was a joint project between Taras Ochota and Maynard Keenan of US Supergroup, Tool. After they established a friendship at Keenan's winery in Arizona, the sharing of both musical and vinous ideas culminated in this cult hero wine collaboration. 606 bottles produced.Prices: BC 84.00 Producer: Ochota Barrels
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The Chocolate Blocktext
89PTS

The Chocolate Block 2017

Swartland, Coastal Region, South AfricaBoekenhoutskoof was established in 1776, and today is under the care of celebrated winemaker Marc Kent. 2017 is a blend of 64% syrah, 14% grenache, 11 cinsault, ten cabernet sauvignon and 1% viognier and is the third edition to originate in Swartland. The intensity is off the charts in this drought year, but Kent feels Swartland is better suited to deal with drought conditions and yields better quality fruit. There are still some sweet chocolate notes in the mix along with burnt earth, black cherries, and smoke. It’s a big red with power and just enough acidity to keep it going in the back end. A modern style syrah blend reminiscent of the south of France.Prices: BC 40.99 Producer: Boekenhoutskloof
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Ochota Barrels The Fugazi Vineyard Grenachetext
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Ochota Barrels The Fugazi Vineyard Grenache 2018

McLaren Vale, South Australia, AustraliaYou can feel the dry-farmed, old (71 years) bush vines and ironstone / gravel / red clay soils in this light but potent grenache. medicinal and mineral leaden, with ferrous, medicinal cherry, wild raspberry, reships, graphite, leather lined, to a white pepper dusted finish. Tannins are bamboo fine, and perfectly sited to the After a native ferment this spent up to 80 days on skins and stalks, 80% whole bunch, in barriques for 6 months, with random battonage. Drinking beauty now, but with time to go in cellar.Prices: BC 54.00 Producer: Ochota Barrels
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Thornhaven XVtext
87PTS

Thornhaven XV 2018

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe XV opens with a reduced nose of meat and pepper over blackberry and cherry. The blend is an unusual mix of roughly 60/40 syrah and cabernet franc. The attack is lifted with red fruits and fairly prominent acidity, and the finish is fresh and peppery. Pork tenderloin is the fit for the moment; otherwise, this needs more time in the bottle.Prices: BC 34.00 Producer: Thornhaven Estates Winery
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Road 13 GSMtext
88PTS

Road 13 GSM 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaBig wood-driven spices and camp smoke open this grenache, syrah, mourvèdre blend, with grapes sourced from the Similkameen and Okanagan valleys. the grenache and mourvèdre were cofermented along with syrah skins from an earlier fermentation. Ample cap management was followed by basket pressing into old and new French oak where it stayed until late spring when joined by the syrah. The peppery, meaty, lusty syrah rears its head in the middle, along with potent violets, blackberry jam, cured meats, and lusty ripe plum. This is a big, spicy and potent wine best enjoyed with fire grilled veg and / or red meat.Prices: BC 35.00 Producer: Road 13
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La Croix Belle Caringoletext
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La Croix Belle Caringole 2017

Vins de Pays des Côtes de Thongue, Languedoc, South of France, FranceLa Croix Belle's vineyards are on the outskirts of Montpellier. This domaine has been family owned for over 200 years, with Francoise and Jacques Boyer taking control of the property in the late 1970s. Ripe black raspberry, thick and soft cherry, tobacco, olive, leather, and dried herbs mark this rustic, wild, easy blend of syrah, merlot, and carignan. Tannins are smoothed and the fruit is clean via time in stainless. For current drinking.Prices: BC 17.99 Producer: Jacques y Francois Boyer
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Domaine de Cébène Les Bancèlstext
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Domaine de Cébène Les Bancèls 2015

Faugères, Coteaux du Languedoc, Languedoc, South of France, FranceBrigitte Chevalier, a highly rated name within winemaking circles, makes wine described in the French press as the perfect, textbook example of Faugères. Her modus operandi is cooler sites in the Languedoc, organic grape growing, and careful vinification. Les Bancèls grows on two parcels planted over schist: organic syrah and grenache that is situated north and northeast; the mourvèdre vines face south. Expect a fresh, red and black-fruited wine with white pepper, classic garrigue and schistous minerality. No oak, just authenticity. Super value. Les Bancèls is a local term designating the schist terraces where many of the Domaine de Cébène vines grow.Prices: BC 28.99 Producer: Domaine de Cébène
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Front Row Shiraz/Mourvedre/Viogniertext
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Front Row Shiraz/Mourvedre/Viognier 2016

Swartland, Coastal Region, South AfricaThis Swartland blend of shiraz, mourvèdre, and viognier is thick and plump on the warming palate, with sweet blackberry, ripe plum, mocha, strung with grippy / sticky tannins to a very drying finish. Best taken with grilled meats to meet those tannins and ripeness. Simple and ready to drink.Prices: BC 13.99 Producer: Stefan Basson
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Pirramimma Ironstone GSMtext
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Pirramimma Ironstone GSM 2016

McLaren Vale, South Australia, AustraliaIronstone is a powerful and weighty Pirramimma GSM blend of 60% grenache, 35% shiraz, and 5% mourvèdre from McLaren Vale. The mighty bottle is adorned with a golden medal shield, adding more weight to an already massive everything. Mulberry, blackberry jam, cassis, perfumed violets, peppercorns and baking spices fill the plump, ripe red. Tannins are nubby soft, and acidity is low, welcoming most folks, as well as a juicy grilled steak.Prices: AB 61.50 Producer: Pirramimma
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Stag's Hollow Renaissance Grenachetext
91PTS

Stag's Hollow Renaissance Grenache 2017

Okanagan Falls, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaWinter kill is the only issue holding grenache in check across Canada, but with climate change, it’s clear BC could be a home away from home for this fantastic European variety. The nose is all wild cherries this year with a dusting of white pepper, and it spills across the palate. Its red fruit is equally intense, again led by expressive wild strawberries and black cherries dusted in savoury dried herbs. The finish is ridiculously juicy and peppery. Seriously good. The oak is French but hardly noticeable amongst the silky texture. It has finished under a beautiful glass Vinolok closure, so it can never be corked.Prices: BC 35.00 Producer: Stag's Hollow Winery and Vineyard
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06 August 2019

Liquidity Wines Reserve Chardonnaytext
89PTS

Liquidity Wines Reserve Chardonnay 2017

Okanagan Falls, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe Reserve Chardy is clone 76 from their oldest estate block, planted in 1994. This was whole cluster pressed and barrel fermented with daily lees stirring, and 23% new barrels. After partial MLF (60%), this aged on lees for 11 months. Creamy and rich, though with fine structure, this is filled with an Okanagan orchard of crisp pear and apple, along with lemon curd, and toasty spices. Certainly more serious drop than their Estate Chardonnay, and worthy of your local crab dishes.Prices: BC 52.00 Producer: Liquidity Wine Ltd
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Liquidity Wines Estate Chardonnaytext
88PTS

Liquidity Wines Estate Chardonnay 2017

Okanagan Falls, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe 2017 Estate Chardy is clone 76, planted in 1994 and 2009, whole cluster pressed and barrel fermented in French oak (14%) new. After partial MLF, the wine was aged on lees with regular batonnage for 9 months before blending and bottling. Medium-bodied and fruit orchard sweet, with yellow apples, baked pears, lush peach, and toasty spices on a creamy, custardy palate. There's not a huge amount of acidity here, and there is a blip of RS, making this very friendly and accessible now.Prices: BC 29.00 Producer: Liquidity Wine Ltd
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Hester Creek Chardonnaytext
87PTS

Hester Creek Chardonnay 2018

Golden Mile Bench, Oliver, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaRipe and fruit sweet, with golden pear, yellow applesauce, caramel and toasty spice. From their Golden Mile Bench estate vineyard, this was whole cluster pressed and fermented in French oak (20% new) with the remainder in stainless, all of which spent 8 months with battonage before blending and bottling. Soft and easy in the mouth, with the aforementioned fruit sweetness, this is a friendly, albeit very older style of chardy.Prices: BC 21.99 Producer: Hester Creek Estate Winery
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Fitzpatrick Family Vineyards Big Leap Chardonnaytext
88PTS

Fitzpatrick Family Vineyards Big Leap Chardonnay 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaFrom a single block on their Greata Ranch estate, this was native fermented in French oak (25% new) where it remained on lees for 10 months, with partial MLF. Bright and joyous with meyer lemon, pear, gentle lees, and fine spice. The wood is very well integrated, leaving its mark by way of a soft ginger spice on the finish. Acidity is moderate, as is the body, making this an easy, friendly, welcoming and youthful chardonnay for your summer.Prices: BC 24.50 Producer: Fitzpatrick Family Vineyards
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Privata Chardonnay by Ex Nihilo Vineyardstext
88PTS

Privata Chardonnay by Ex Nihilo Vineyards 2017

Lake Country, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaPrivata is the top of Ex Nihilo's tier, sourced from estate Lake Country fruit. This was fermented and aged in French barrels for 10 months, with weekly battonage. As per house style and the above, this is a full bodied white, creamy with lees, and spiced with wood. Pineapple, baked pear, peach and vanilla flood the slow palate to a orange zest finish. Reminiscent of Sonoma Coast.Prices: BC 32.00 Producer: Ex Nihilo Vineyards
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Bret Brothers La Soufrandière Mâcon-Vinzellestext
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Bret Brothers La Soufrandière Mâcon-Vinzelles 2016

Maconnais, Burgundy, FranceSince arriving on the Burgundy scene in 2000, the limestone-sculpted wines of the brothers Jean-Philippe and Jean-Guillaume Bret have garnered much acclaim. From 40 year old vines at 200m altitude, this parcel is a recent addition to Bret Brothers' holdings. In 2014 they were able to purchase this 12 acre parcel adjoining their iconic Clos de Grand-Père. Historically, this had been an integral part of the Clos, but was detached during legacies of the early twentieth century. This was the last vintage of the organic / biodyanmically farmed wine solo, before it joined into Clos de Grand-Père for the 2017 vintage. This spend nine months in older oak prior to bottling. Ripe white cherry, pear, is brightened with shining lemon, grapefruit pith along a plump, lees-lined, medium+ bodied palate.Prices: BC 50.00 Producer: Bret Brothers
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Tantalus Chardonnaytext
90PTS

Tantalus Chardonnay 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe Tantalus Chardonnay is their number one white wine label, more intense than The Bear, grown on younger vines. The attack is attention-getting with a bright splash of citrus and minerality with notes of green apples, pears, wet stones all with a touch of flint. The finish is reasonably lean with spice and some toasted oak poking through the back end. Food-friendly and ready to drink but this will keep for three years or more under screwcap. The original plantings of the Oppenheim clone went in the ground in 1985, followed by younger components of Dijon clones, planted in 2007 and 2013. After a native ferment, it's aged ten months in oak barriques and puncheons, 30 percent new. Impressive style.Prices: BC 27.83 Producer: Tantalus Vineyards
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Blue Mountain Reserve Chardonnaytext
91PTS

Blue Mountain Reserve Chardonnay 2016

Okanagan Falls, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis wine gets more sophisticated every year thanks to vines that are now 27-years-old. Just under two-thirds of the fruit is barrel-fermented and aged in a mix of 30/70 stainless steel and French oak – the latter a mix of new through four previous fills. The nose is très French/Chablis-like, with a fraction of toast and a blast of fine lees. The fruit is vibrant with citrus, pears and green apples dominating before that nutty complexity kicks in. A joy to drink and very food-friendly. One to age for three to five years. Consistently excellent, it is well worth the money.Prices: BC 29.90 AB 31.95 Producer: Blue Mountain Vineyard & Cellars
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Hester Creek Chardonnaytext
88PTS

Hester Creek Chardonnay 2018

Golden Mile Bench, Oliver, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaA big chardonnay but with some elegance this year - honeyed and lemon with bits peaches and cream corn mark the nose. The palate is warm spicy and creamy with some fine lees notes, light toast and touch of mineral. The GMB chardonnay is estate sourced from a single-bunch-per-shoot vine to increase concentration. It's hand-harvested, cluster pressed, and the free-run juice is cold settled for five days. Post ferment the barrels were stirred weekly until it completed malolactic fermentation. Some 34% was barrel fermented in French oak (20% new and 14% older barrels), and 66% went into stainless steel aged and stirred on its fine lees for eight months. It’s a blockbuster style, but the peak is reign in this year, and the acidity is better. Try this with crab or halibut.Prices: BC 21.99 Producer: Hester Creek Estate Winery
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Liquidity Wines Reserve Chardonnaytext
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Liquidity Wines Reserve Chardonnay 2017

Okanagan Falls, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaLiquidity’s Reserve Chardonnay is always more intense than the Estate, thanks to more new oak (23 percent). The attack is rich and creamy with supporting notes of lemon curd, spice, and baked apples before a nutty, leesy mineral finish. A touch old school but will have its fans. The reserve is all clone 76, exclusively from their oldest block planted in 1994. Lobster, halibut in butter sauce, or crab all come to mind.Prices: BC 52.00 Producer: Liquidity Wine Ltd
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Liquidity Wines Estate Chardonnaytext
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Liquidity Wines Estate Chardonnay 2017

Okanagan Falls, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaA fun chardonnay with peach, apricot, pear, citrus wrapped in a leesy mineral scent that tempers the fruitiness. The palate is medium-weight with light nutty vanilla notes mixed with more orchard fruits. Balanced, if a touch sweet, this is a crowd-pleasing style that is best served with creamy seafood dishes. It is all clone 76 chardonnay planted in 1994 and 2009 at the winery’s Allendale Vineyard. It was barrel fermented in only 14 percent new French oak; the remaining wood was three to eight years old. Forty percent of the wine went through malolactic fermentation, and it was all aged on lees in barrel for nine months before blending and bottling. Excellent value.Prices: BC 29.00 Producer: Liquidity Wine Ltd
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05 August 2019

Rust Wine Co Similkameen Valley Syrahtext
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Rust Wine Co Similkameen Valley Syrah 2016

Cawston, Similkameen Valley, British Columbia, CanadaBe warned: Rust Wine Co. put out three syrahs in 2016. There's this one, from Similkameen, and sibling syrahs from the south Okanagan, and Golden Mile Bench. This is the superior sib, showing south Cawston's wind swept rocky soils' aptitude for the grape. Red fruit rules here, with savoury cherry, dusty raspberry, kirsch, red and black pepper ruling a full, smooth palate. Tannins are worn smooth, and the finish is very warming, taking away from the elegance of the palate. Meet that with a rack of lamb, however...Prices: BC 37.00 Producer: Rust Wine Co.
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Road 13 Syrah Malbectext
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Road 13 Syrah Malbec 2017

British Columbia, CanadaAmple cracked black pepper opens and infiltrates this big, rustic syrah / malbec blend. Dried blueberries and purple florality showcase malbec's lift, while roasted meats, boysenberry and that peppery spice shout syrah. The varieties were destemmed and fermented separately in French oak before the final blend. Tannins are a bit stalky to a warming, sharp finish, all of which welcome partnering with grilled pork or beef burgers.Prices: BC 32.00 Producer: Road 13
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Hester Creek Syrah Viogniertext
89PTS

Hester Creek Syrah Viognier 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaOften viognier splashed into syrah is a gimmick, or worse, a disjointed mess. Here, it works, with 16% viognier joining the Black Sage Bench and Golden Mile Bench syrah. In classic Rhone style, the two were cofermented and then aged in oak (60/40 American/French) 30% of which was new. Silky and plush cassis, blueberry, cured sweet sausage, violets, vanilla flow seamlessly on the full palate, the power and warmth of the southern Okanagan subdued into a 13.9 degree package. Tannins are worn soft to a lingering peppery finish. Best partnered with grilled lamb burgers.Prices: BC 25.99 Producer: Hester Creek Estate Winery
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Church and State Syrahtext
86PTS

Church and State Syrah 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis year's Coyote Bowl Syrah is massive, absorbing all of Coyote Bowl Vineyard's southern Okanagan heat, and reflecting it via dried blueberries, ripe blackberries, plum compote and ample spice. Aging in French oak adds structure and hickory / wood spicing, both of which require roasted meat dishes to handle. There's a flush of warmth on the 15.5 degree declared finish that is overwhelming. Too much of too much here.Prices: BC 52.00 Producer: Church & State Winery
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Le Vieux Pin Syrah Cuvée Violettetext
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Le Vieux Pin Syrah Cuvée Violette 2017

Oliver, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaCuvée Violette is the youthful, pretty, perfumed, purple fruited and coquettish sister of the LVP syrah family (which is growing every year it seems). This year, the southern Okanagan fruit was co-fermented with a wee splash of 0.5% viognier. For the first time, new concrete tulip vats were added to the ageing vessels along with large oak botti and French oak barrique. Classic syrah: with minimal reduction upon opening, leading to roasted meats, crushed violets, dark soils, grilled plums, cracked peppercorns, housed by plump tannins to a very peppery finish buoyed with a grapefruit pith acidity. So well put together, and drinking beautifully now, especially with a slight chill — a BC classic.Prices: BC 26.99 Producer: Le Vieux Pin
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Le Vieux Pin Dead Man Lake Syrahtext
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Le Vieux Pin Dead Man Lake Syrah 2016

Golden Mile Bench, Oliver, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaIn 2016, Le Vieux Pin released a series of small lot single vineyard syrahs, Dead Man Lake being one of them. Sourced from a volcanic / sedimentary soiled vineyard on the entrance to the Golden Mile Bench, this rested 19 months in neutral French oak before being bottled unfined and unfiltered. After a wave of reduction (give this some airtime), dusky violets, plums, cherries ride the medium+ palate, seasoned with medicinal cherries, leather and peppery spicing. The texture is fine, and the aromatics purple and pretty; this reminds me of LVP's Cuvée Violette. Drinking lovely now, especially with a slight chill, and will hold for a few years in the cellar.Prices: BC 29.00 Producer: Le Vieux Pin
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Le Vieux Pin Syrah Airfieldtext
90PTS

Le Vieux Pin Syrah Airfield 2016

Osoyoos, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaIn 2016, Le Vieux Pin released a series of small lot single vineyard syrahs, Airfield being one of them. Only 50 cases were made of this Osoyoos West Bench syrah, sourced from loamy sand and granite, and aged for 19 months in used French barrique. There is a gentle expansion and ripeness on the red fruited palate, though it's studded with structure via the granite and finely firm bracketing of sticky tannins. There's a lovely texture running the length of this syrah to a warming, spiced finish. More deep dives into single terroirs, please. Enjoyed with a slight chill.Prices: BC 29.00 Producer: Le Vieux Pin
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Hester Creek Syrah Viogniertext
91PTS

Hester Creek Syrah Viognier 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaA mix of sites from Black Sage and the Golden Mile Bench for the syrah, while the viognier comes off two vineyards in Osoyoos. In the traditional Rhone style, the two varieties were sorted, destemmed and co-fermented in an Italian-style Ganimede fermenter and left on the skins for 17 days. It was aged another 14 months in 60% American and 40% French oak, of which 30% was new oak. The wine is a vivacious red with excellent acid and silky, refined tannins. The palate is ripe with floral, ripe cherries and blueberries and a lick of minerality to keep it all aligned. Impressive and should age through 2021. I like the idea of lamb burgers. Fine value.Prices: BC 25.99 Producer: Hester Creek Estate Winery
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Porcupine Ridge Syrahtext
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Porcupine Ridge Syrah 2017

Swartland, Coastal Region, South AfricaOne of the more consistent SAF syrahs available in Canada, an export market that remains a dumping ground for some of the cheapest wine made in South Africa. Boekenhoutskloof Porcupine Ridge is an exception, and this easy-sipping peppery, blueberry flavoured syrah with just a hint of scorched earth is ready to drink. Flank steak is a suitable match here.Prices: BC 16.99 AB 17.00 SK 17.99 MB 17.99 ON 15.00 YK 19.00 QC 18.00 Producer: Boekenhoutskloof
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Boekenhoutskloof Syrahtext
91PTS

Boekenhoutskloof Syrah 2015

Swartland, Coastal Region, South AfricaThe Boekenhoutskloof Syrah has expanded its reach with two properties in Swartland, tapping new terroir: rocks and decomposed mica schist soils. The grapes are kept separate and ferment naturally in concrete tanks. Post ferment the wine ages in traditional 2500-litre foudres and 600-litre demi-muids for up to 18 months. The nose is an intriguing mix of complex aromas suggesting black fruits, black olives, and mineral wet stone notes. The attack is similar with silky tannins working in tandem with a dusting of garrigue. A bit too big to sip solo, it would be best served with grilled beef or lamb. Rhone-like.Prices: BC 59.99 QC 55.50 Producer: Boekenhoutskloof
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Vinologist Shiraztext
88PTS

Vinologist Shiraz 2017

Swartland, Coastal Region, South AfricaCape winemaker Marc Kent made his mark with syrah at Bookenhoutskloof, but this label from Swartland is an intriguing adventure. The style is very different, with more vivacious, cleaner fruit with delicious scented plum and cherry. There’s smoke and leather but above all freshness this is a silky, savoury red that dances across the palate. Simple and very well made, and a super value. Load up for the barbecue.Prices: BC 12.99 Producer: Helderberg Winery
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Nk'Mip Cellars Qwam Qwmt Syrahtext
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Nk'Mip Cellars Qwam Qwmt Syrah 2016

Osoyoos, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe 2016 Qwam Qwmt (reserve) is the best yet from winemaker Randy Picton. There is plenty of power in 2016 but with a little less heft and more elegance than the 2015. It returns to a more elegant version in this stylish vintage offering up an intriguing mix of peppery blueberries with a smoked meat undercarriage, and that unmistakable dusting of desert sagebrush. Balanced and set for long life, you could leave this alone for a decade, or serve it now with a roasted leg of lamb. Impressive.Prices: BC 34.99 Producer: Nk'Mip Cellars
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Seaside Pearl The Connaught Syrahtext
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Seaside Pearl The Connaught Syrah 2016

Similkameen Valley, British Columbia, CanadaA rare syrah from the Similkameen Valley, offering a mid-weight, well-balanced attack. The style is firm with some drying tannins, but I like the stony, mineral, black fruit just beginning to open up on the palate. The finish is firm and dry with peppery notes, but all in all, this is very pleasant syrah you could enjoy with lamb sausages, chops, or a mushroom pasta dish. Ready to drink.Prices: BC 25.00 Producer: Seaside Pearl Farmgate Winery
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Tightrope Winery Syrahtext
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Tightrope Winery Syrah 2016

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaAn all Naramata syrah reflecting moderate mid-valley temperatures, and a co-ferment with six to seven percent viognier gives us a pleasant, drinkable style that is very food-friendly. It was fermented in small lots after a five-day cold soak, collecting colour without alcohol. It was barrel-aged for ten months, in mostly French oak. The nose is highly perfumed with violets followed by black cherry and blueberry. The finish is silky soft, ripe, and savoury.Prices: BC 35.00 Producer: Tightrope Winery
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Valle Secreto Vineyards and Winery First Edition Syrahtext
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Valle Secreto Vineyards and Winery First Edition Syrah 2016

Valle del Cachapoal, Valle del Rapel, Region del Valle Central, ChileFirst Edition is hand-harvested syrah from the Cachopoal Valley at elevation amongst the foothills of the Andes, 80 kilometres south of Santiago. It is fermented in stainless steel and aged for 12 months in French oak barrels. You can expect a vibrant, bright style here, with a great deal of boldo or wild dried herbs in the mix of red fruits, pepper and lively acidity. Ther is a tug of tannins in the back end, so it needs a few years to pull it all together. Exciting effort and worth laying down a few bottles to see how it finally turns out. Try it now with lamb or pork dishes.Prices: BC 37.98 Producer: Valle Secreto Vineyards and Winery
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Yangarra PF Shiraz No Added Sulfitestext
92PTS

Yangarra PF Shiraz No Added Sulfites 2017

McLaren Vale, South Australia, AustraliaHappy to taste the latest vintage of this delicious syrah made like very few, if any, around the world. Delicious, textural, fruity and soft, it soars from the glass. The tannins are light and pillowy, supporting but never interfering with the fruit. It’s delicious and ready to drink. If you want to geek out, well, PF Shiraz is made from grapes grown without herbicides, fungicides or synthetic chemicals. It is made without additions of any kind: no sulphur (preservative), acid, tannin or finings. There is no barrel ageing and the alcohol, at 14.5%, is natural. Wow. The shiraz is grown at Kangarilla, McLaren Vale from 18-22-year-old vines that sit between 150-180 metres above sea level. The 100 hectares of vineyards at Yangarra are divided into 35 individual blocks spread amongst 70 hectares of creeks, native vegetation and natural corridors. Every block is different, be it aspect or subtle variations of the sand and ironstone soils. This wine is grown primarily on the sandy sites. The PF Shiraz blocks are among the first blocks to be picked and are said to often be low in sugar and high in natural acidity. Whole berries are double sorted, lightly broken and dumped into small open-top fermenters. A few days of cold soak precedes a natural yeast fermentation and a rigorous regime of plunging and drain to return a perfect extraction.Prices: BC 42.99 Producer: Yangarra Estate Vineyards
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C.C. Jentsch Syrahtext
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C.C. Jentsch Syrah 2016

Oliver, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaWinemaker Amber Pratt made 817 cases of this impressive syrah grown on the Golden Mile and Black Sage benches in a 60/40 ratio. Post ferment it spends 16 months in French and American oak barriques. Its sweet flavours belie its one percent residual sugar, but the balance from earthy, savoury, Okanagan desert spicing keep it juicy and complicated in the mouth. Look for a bit of black pepper, licorice, plums and leather; far from its peak. You can drink it now with rich dishes. Grilled beef and venison come quickly to mind.Prices: BC 31.90 Producer: C.C. Jentsch Cellars
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Rufus Stone Heathcote Shiraztext
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Rufus Stone Heathcote Shiraz 2016

Victoria, AustraliaThis Heathcote Shiraz is planted on an ancient stripe of Cambrian (greenstone) soils, providing structure to these vines. These vines were planted in 1994. The destemmed fruit was split into 10 lots and between open and closed top fermenters, aged in French oak (20% new) for 18 months. Ample and soft baked plum, cassis, blackberry stem, kirsch, thorns, charcoal, and ample oak notes fill a very plump, sun-baked palate. Tannins are soft, acidity is low and ripe sweet fruit is high. Old school, but still has many friends. In the year 1100, an errant arrow fired by Sir Walter Tyrrell killed King William Rufus II. The infamous "accident" is marked by the Rufus Stone.Prices: BC 26.99 Producer: Tyrrell's Wines Pty., Ltd.
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Vanessa Vineyard Syrahtext
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Vanessa Vineyard Syrah 2015

Cawston, Similkameen Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe Vanessa Syrah is estate-grown in the Similkameen Valley. It’s co-fermented with a small amount of viognier in the classic Northern Rhône style. The blockbuster warm 2015 vintage is almost all free run with minute amounts of press juice added to the final mix. It’s aged 20 months in new and second use American and French oak barrels that were medium-plus toast. 2015 is much improved on the nose, with little or no reduction this year. It’s typically expansive with intense savoury, black pepper and a twist of espresso. The attack is smooth and warm but not overpowering, with rich plummy fruit, dried black cherry and floral, stony, dusty, peppery notes in the back end. Would love to see an all-French oak version of this wine to see just how Rhone-ish it can be.Prices: BC 34.99 Producer: Vanessa Vineyard
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Jean-Luc Colombo Cornas Les Terres Bruléestext
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Jean-Luc Colombo Cornas Les Terres Brulées 2016

Cornas, Northern Rhone, Rhone Valley, FranceThis cuvée, Terres Brûlées, or burnt earth, is a nod to the origin of the village Cornas. The Cornas appellation, created in 1938, remains one of the spiritual homes of syrah. The Jean-Luc Colombo blend involves twenty separate blocks of vines and sets itself apart from the New World with an electric acidity that runs through the entire wine. Floral-scented coffee beans mix with white pepper and red fruit shape this complex red, one that is very food-friendly. A classic Cornas that will age effortlessly for a decade and requires a hardy meal. Impressive.Prices: BC 105.99 Producer: Jean-Luc Colombo
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Mac Forbes Syrahtext
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Mac Forbes Syrah 2017

Yarra Valley, Victoria, AustraliaFrom the winery's silt stone and clay based home block in Healesville, this was five percent whole bunch, native fermented before 11 months in French oak, bottled unfined and unfiltered. Dusky plum, wild cassis, thorns and dried violets dart throughout this fresh, buoyant wine, threaded with fine peppercorns, and bound by fine tannins. There's a lovely earthy forested element to this wine, finishing with a kiss of resin. Chill lightly, drink copiously.Prices: BC 36.00 Producer: Mac Forbes
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02 August 2019

LaStella Espressivotext
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LaStella Espressivo 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaLike its sibling, Fortissimo, the Espressivo is a Tuscan-inspired red blend, identified by its dominant cabernet sauvignon mix, (its sibling is merlot-based), followed by merlot, cabernet franc, and sangiovese, all sourced from the home vineyard on the Osoyoos west bench in the southern Okanagan. After 20 months in Slavonian and French oak barrels, puncheons, and botti the 2016 Espressivo expresses very ripe, soft, plump fruit, with plush plum, blackberry jam, thorns and mild baking spices. It is ready to drink, think rabbit or roasted mushroom dishes or you could hold it through 2020. Impressive.Prices: BC 39.99 Producer: LaStella
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Treana Cabernet Sauvignontext
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Treana Cabernet Sauvignon 2016

Paso Robles, San Luis Obispo County, Central Coast, California, United StatesCabernet Sauvignon has played a significant role in the Hope Family viticultural history, and this Treana cab is an ode to some who influenced winemaker Austin Hope: his father Chuck Hope, his uncle Paul, and Napa Valley winemaker Chuck Wagner. The mix is 90 percent cabernet sauvignon with merlot, petit verdot and petite sirah filling in the back 10 percent. It’s typically dark, in fact opaque, with rich, ripe, powerful aromas of black currants and blackberry jam. It’s warm, and you feel the heat, but it has a sense of elegance the belies its alcohol and power. I love the tobacco, clove, and cinnamon-spiked black fruit with well managed, softish tannins and a wisp of smoke. Impressive. Drink or hold through 2025.Prices: BC 39.99 US 30.00 Producer: Hope Family Winery
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Ex Nihilo Nighttext
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Ex Nihilo Night 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe Night is Ex Nihilo's ode to Bordeaux, mixing cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc and merlot all grown on the warm Black Sage Bench. Usually, the Ex-Nihilo style has been more powerful, but I like the direction this wine is moving in, showing more red fruits, balance, and elegance, at least as much as you can do in the south Okanagan. The attack is rounded out three years down the road with floral, crushed cassis, cherry and wild raspberry peppered with spice. It's ageing slowly and well, and should peak through 2025.Prices: BC 50.00 Producer: Ex Nihilo Vineyards
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Nk'Mip Cellars Talontext
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Nk'Mip Cellars Talon 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe harvest for white wines began September 1st, the earliest ever at Nk’Mip. The weather eventually cooled off mid-month allowing the winemaking team to wait until October 3 before taking the reds. The best blocks were picked from October 13 through November 3. The wine is dominated by 44 percent syrah with an 18/13/13/10/2 mix of cabernet sauvignon, malbec, merlot, cabernet franc and pinot noir. The attack is rich with peppery, juicy, black fruit that persists throughout the finish. The structure is invitingly round but with enough acidity to keep it all fresh and well balanced. Hearty dishes work here, like pasta with beef or mushrooms, grilled lamb, or a simple T-bone steak. Excellent value. Try with fusilli with artichoke hearts and parmesan cream, roasted lamb and a variety of grilled meats. Talon is named for the mythical Thunderbird by North America’s first Aboriginal owned and operated winery.Prices: BC 23.00 Producer: Nk'Mip Cellars
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Black Hills Nota Benetext
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Black Hills Nota Bene 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaIt's hard to believe that this year's Nota Bene is the 18th release of this once super iconic, now firmly established, Okanagan red blend. This vintage blends 45% cabernet sauvignon, 41% merlot, and 14% cabernet franc from their Sharp Rock and Double Black Vineyards in the southern Okanagan. The blend spent 18 months in French barrique, 30% of which was new. Just bottled and newly released, this opens with a wave of reduction, which I let sit until the following day when I retasted. It's still present, along with potent and intense smoked meat, dense cassis, violets, bittersweet chocolate, and toasted wood. Tannins are furry, but appropriate for the 14 degree declaration. At this early stage, I'll give it intensity, and can see it's obviously quite purposefully made, though it's overwhelmingly so. The warmth on the finish demands grilled beef or lamb.Prices: BC 59.90 Producer: Black Hills Estate Winery
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Black Hills Nota Benetext
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Black Hills Nota Bene 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe super youthful 2017 Nota Bene is about to be released. The blend is cabernet sauvignon dominant at 45 percent, mixed with 41 percent merlot and 14 percent cabernet franc. As rich as the wine is, there are red fruit characters on the nose and palate painted with a savoury south Okanagan sagebrush and spice. The attack is similar with more resiny, red and black fruit that are tight and linear before the oak takes over the back end. The tannins are well-managed despite their youth, and present with an elegance we have come to expect from Black Hills over the past few years. There is no rush to drink this wine, which brings us to the question of why it is on such an early release path. At some point, this wine should be given more time to rest and gather itself in the bottle at the winery, and consumers and the accountants are just going to have to wait. It’s only fair to the wine and its fans. Buy and hold for a decade is my recommendation today.Prices: BC 59.90 Producer: Black Hills Estate Winery
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Township 7 Reserve 7text
89PTS

Township 7 Reserve 7 2016

Oliver, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe latest Reserve 7 remains merlot dominant, with fruit coming from mostly Okanagan Falls and Naramata (56%), and containing all five classic Bordeaux varieties including cabernet franc (29%), cabernet sauvignon (14%) from Osoyoos, and 1% malbec and petit verdot. The attack is full-bodied with cedar and cassis predominating on the nose, and some of that south Okanagan sagebrush underneath. The palate is weighty with near jammy blackcurrant fruit, black plums and more cedar and vanilla. Still youthful and only beginning to come together, there is no rush to open this before 2020. Lamb is the dinner choice. 658 cases produced.Prices: BC 35.97 Producer: Township 7 Vineyards and Wineries
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Da Silva Cabernet Syrahtext
88PTS

Da Silva Cabernet Syrah 2014

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe classic Aussie blend looks good in pale blue with fruit grown on the Oliver Medial Moraine and the Black Sage Bench. The attack is round and soft with rich plummy black fruit. This was barrel aged 36 months in a 50/50 mix of French and American oak, the latter seemingly adding some sweet character to the finish. Still, the touch is refreshing and light, leaving the wine stylish and fun to drink now, and I suggest with a favourite BBQ rib recipe.Prices: BC 22.00 Producer: Da Silva Vineyards and Winery
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Cono Sur Organic Cabernet Sauvignon Carmenère Syrahtext
87PTS

Cono Sur Organic Cabernet Sauvignon Carmenère Syrah 2017

ChileFive years along from the 2012 vintage you can feel the improvements in winemaking and viticulture, even in what is essentially a commercial label. The nose is classically spicy with roasted pepper and savoury leather notes. The attack is more juicy, less soupy, with a moderately tannic palate. A solid mid-week hamburger red.Prices: BC 15.99 AB 14.00 ON 14.00 QC 15.45 SK 14.00 YK 16.75 Producer: Viña Cono Sur
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Pirramimma Pirra Cabernet Merlottext
89PTS

Pirramimma Pirra Cabernet Merlot 2016

McLaren Vale, South Australia, AustraliaCool is a relative term, but in 2016 you could describe the vintage as moderate for Australia, bringing brighter fruit to the sorting table. Five different vineyards made it into this classic Oz blend that is designed to be drunk on shipment. The attack is full-bodied with ripe, warm, juicy, black fruits with jammy textures. The finish is smooth and long with spicy highlights. Best with ribs, hamburgers or lamb chops. Good value and widely available at a fair price.Prices: BC 19.99 Producer: Pirramimma
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Santa Julia Reserva Malbec Cabernet Franctext
89PTS

Santa Julia Reserva Malbec Cabernet Franc 2017

Valle de Uco, Tunuyán, Central Region, Mendoza, ArgentinaThey call this the mountain blend because the malbec and cabernet franc grow in the Uco Valley at 954 metres and 1402 metres above sea level. The result is super pure fruit with a peppery, savoury undercurrent, and firm tannins that line the walls of this wine through the finish. Red fruit, a Zuccardi signature, pops from the glass, reminiscent of plums, black raspberries with a dusting of spice. Reliable, affordable and ready to drink with grilled beef but you can hold this another five years and expect it to improve further. Crazy value but won't be easy to find.Prices: BC 15.00 Producer: Familia Zuccardi
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01 August 2019

Hester Creek Pinot Gris Viogniertext
86PTS

Hester Creek Pinot Gris Viognier 2018

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis blend of pinot gris and viognier is exclusively sold at Save-On-Foods throughout BC. The grapes come from Oliver and Osoyoos, and left with nearly 10 g/l residual sugar to make a soft, floral, easy sipper with pink blossoms, pink grapefruit, pear drop. Friendly and accessible. Chill well.Prices: BC 17.99 Producer: Hester Creek Estate Winery
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Kitsch Block Partytext
88PTS

Kitsch Block Party 2018

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaIt's a block party all right, with 60% chardonnay, 25% riesling, 10% pinot gris, and 5% pinot noir, each sourced from one of the five estate blocks. Pear, nectarine, orange and kiwi are lined with lees, and sunny with easy acidity. Well knit together, this will be a party favourite this summer.Prices: BC 21.00 Producer: Kitsch Wines
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Quails' Gate Chasselas - Pinot Blanc - Pinot Gristext
88PTS

Quails' Gate Chasselas - Pinot Blanc - Pinot Gris 2018

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis BC summer favourite is the #1 selling BC VQA white wine in the province, and this is a mainstay on patios and restaurant wine lists. Tight and frisky, this vintage is 60% Chasselas (the first vinifera planted on their estate), 20% Pinot Blanc, and 20% Pinot Gris, all harvested and fermented separately in stainless, and then blended. Fresh pear, gentle citrus, honeydew melon is rafted with piquant zesty pithiness and a rise of acidity. Chill and crack and find a patio.Prices: BC 17.99 MB 18.99 SK 22.69 QC 20.05 NB 19.99 NL 19.99 Producer: Quails' Gate Vineyards Estate Winery
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JoieFarm A Noble Blendtext
89PTS

JoieFarm A Noble Blend 2018

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaNoble Blend was always pleasant, but a lot of sweetish white blends are. In 2017 the style shifted a bit and in 2018 we see a much more interesting electric white wine that is better suited to food. It’s still based on the Alsace classic whites of Edelzwicker, or Gentil. I love the freshness, the lime leaf, pure pear and spice that sits on the nose of this gewürztraminer, riesling, pinot blanc, pinot auxerrois and muscat blend. As good as the aromatics are, the juicy palate with its drier sheen and peppery finish is just so much more fun. Less cloying, more dramatic. Perfect for mussels, clams or fish tacos.Prices: BC 25.90 Producer: JoieFarm
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Hester Creek Character Pinot Gris Gewurztraminertext
86PTS

Hester Creek Character Pinot Gris Gewurztraminer 2018

Golden Mile Bench, Oliver, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaFruity, friendly and off-dry, with near 10 g/l RS to encourage easy sipping, this is a blend of pinot gris and gewürztraminer. Green apple, pear, white peach fill the juicy palate, snapping to attention on the quick finish. Best enjoyed well chilled, with a patio and sunbeams.Prices: BC 17.95 Producer: Hester Creek Estate Winery
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Bordertown Living Desert Whitetext
83PTS

Bordertown Living Desert White 2015

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaIt would have been interesting to taste this a few years ago, but unfortunately it's now fairly tired and not showing a lot of fruit on the nose. Off-dry, the acid just isn't there to keep this in balance. A wine that could be appealing in its youth.Prices: BC 18.00 Producer: Bordertown Vineyards and Estate Winery
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