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Anthony Gismondi on Wine
Tasting Notes

Tastings: February 2019

13 February 2019

Willi Schaefer Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Auslesetext
93PTS

Willi Schaefer Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Auslese 2016

Mosel, GermanyWeingut Willi Schaefer is a small family winery with a history dating back to 1121. Today's estate is a result of the work of Martha and Willibrord Schaefer, post-World War Two era. Today the property is overseen by their son Willi, who took responsibility for his first harvest in 1971, and their grandson Christoph, who joined the family business in 2002 as co-owner. Their vineyards are filled with up to 100-year-old, ungrafted vines that lie on steep slopes of Devonian blue slate. They work with low intervention, slowly and methodically, in both the vineyard and winery, settling the wines in tank and then fermenting in old, large barrels. With Himmelreich, the fruit generally leads over the minerality, which is the case here. Perfumed pear, elderflower, chamomile, pear curd, plasticine on the tight, energetic palate, light palate. There's a lightness of being here, feeling as effortless at the 7 degree palate. A fine grip and mild white honey wash through the finish. This builds with time in the glass and temperature, and will reward with cellaring. Lovely and pure.Prices: BC 55.00 375 Producer: Willi Schaefer
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Rieslingfreak No. 8 Polish Hill River Schatzkammer Rieslingtext
91PTS

Rieslingfreak No. 8 Polish Hill River Schatzkammer Riesling 2018

Polish Hill River, Clare Valley, South Australia, AustraliaNo. 8 is John Hughes' foray into pitching RS against acid. From Polish Hill's Jaeschke Vineyard, this swells with juicy acidity, buoying ripe pear, honeysuckle, lime curd, green apple, and perfumed petals up through a lengthy pink grapefruit pithy finish. Great intensity considering its seven degrees alcohol, reminiscent of great German rieslings, and certainly worthy of that peer group. 2018 was a drier season, hence the super concentrated flavours.Prices: BC 42.00 Producer: Rieslingfreak
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Rieslingfreak No. 6 Clare Valley Aged Release Rieslingtext
92PTS

Rieslingfreak No. 6 Clare Valley Aged Release Riesling 2013

Clare Valley, South Australia, AustraliaThe deeper hue stands No 6 out in a lineup of Rieslingfreak's individual rieslings. Indeed, this is a current 2013 Aged Release Riesling, from John Hughes' family Clare Valley estate. Intense honeysuckle and rubber rule the nose and linger on the palate, joined by a cast of characters including ripe pear, green apple, crystal ginger, whiffs of petrol and hints of heady brown butter. This dry Clare riesling (same as Hughes' No. 3) was aged five years prior to release, the additional lag time adding depth and shoulders to an already very impressive wine. A fantastic grippy, near toothsome texture hems the light palate, one that clocks in mightier than its 11.6 degree frame may suggest. A lovely opportunity to taste Clare with some age.Prices: BC 30.00 Producer: Rieslingfreak
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Rieslingfreak No. 5 Clare Valleytext
91PTS

Rieslingfreak No. 5 Clare Valley 2018

Clare Valley, South Australia, AustraliaWith No. 5, John Hughes nudges up into the off-dry range, pitting a soupçon of residual sugar up against the light clay soils of his family's Clare Valley vineyard. If you're busy smashing this wine, as is easy to do, you may not notice the RS at all, though it is certainly there, by way of a wound core of sweet pear fruit. Asian pear, mandarin, white peach, apricot blossom quickly fills the rest of the slender palate, one that remains elegant while being eminently friendly and likeable, right up to its snappy finish. Very much in youth, and with much time to go.Prices: BC 35.00 Producer: Rieslingfreak
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Rieslingfreak No. 4 Eden Valleytext
93PTS

Rieslingfreak No. 4 Eden Valley 2018

Eden Valley, South Australia, AustraliaNo. 4 was sourced from two vineyards in Eden, and aims to characterize the region, which it does strikingly. No 4 was a massive surprise in 2018; normally harvested three weeks after the Clare Vineyards, these vineyards were harvested one day before Clare. The two sites are between 450-500m, and a mix of sandy loam, shales, clay and quartz. Tight lime, broken stone, kisses of honeysuckle, pear skin on a dry, taut, lively palate, one strung with tension and perfectly balanced through the grapefruit pithy finish. Slender but filled with intensity, this is a highlight of John Hughes' 2018s, and show of his mastery of the grape. Well done.Prices: BC 42.00 Producer: Rieslingfreak
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Rieslingfreak No. 3 Clare Valleytext
91PTS

Rieslingfreak No. 3 Clare Valley 2018

Clare Valley, South Australia, AustraliaNo.3 classically captures Clare Valley and its heavy, red clay soils. Said grounding here is well pitched to offset the tightly wound riesling, sourced from John Hughes' family vineyard. Orange blossom, green apple, Asian pear and grapefruit is tight and pithy on this bone dry, slender, streaking Riesling. Alive. Must love acid to agree with me.Prices: BC 35.00 Producer: Rieslingfreak
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Rieslingfreak No. 2 Polish Hill Rivertext
88PTS

Rieslingfreak No. 2 Polish Hill River 2018

Polish Hill River, Clare Valley, South Australia, AustraliaTight, lean, and green, this is a sleek, slick Polish Hill riesling, tight as the limestone and shale soils. Yellow apple, lime blossom, pear skin is scented with a delicate baby powder talc and finishes with citrus sherbet. If you shy away from acid, this is not the wine (or truthfully, the grape) for you.Prices: BC 42.00 Producer: Rieslingfreak
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Kitsch Esther's Block Rieslingtext
89PTS

Kitsch Esther's Block Riesling 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaKitsch came out of the gate strong four vintages ago with their laser rieslings, as well as their packaging progress (SAXX underwear are a past enterprise of 4th gen Kelownans Ria and Trent Kitsch). They're building on their riesling roots with a pair of single block riesling released from the 2017 vintage. Esther's Block, like the sibling Maria's Block, is clone 239, planted in 2013 on the home estate's clay and limestone soils. This was whole bunch pressed, fermented in stainless over 25 days before 90 days of lees contact in tank. Tight, nervy and finely textured, this hums with energy along a narrow frame led by green apple and followed in line by apricot, peach, lime peel and closed with ginger. Concentrated, streamlined, and dryish (8.4 g/l), this is an energetic youthful riesling, the dryer of the two rieslings released in 2017.Prices: BC 25.00 Producer: Kitsch Wines
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Narrative Riesling by Okanagan Crush Padtext
88PTS

Narrative Riesling by Okanagan Crush Pad 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaYou wouldn't expect a bright, tight, low alcohol riesling to come from the warm southern Okanagan, but winemaker Matt Dumayne picked this Osoyoos riesling very early, which is evident in its slight 10.5 degrees. It's native fermented in stainless steel and aged eight months in concrete eggs prior to bottling. Light, subtle green apple, pear, orange rind, tight and nervy on the very light palate. There's a watery mid prior to the snappy orange finish. Fun, bright, dry, light, and surprising that this wee white came from the deep south.Prices: BC 22.90 Producer: Okanagan Crush Pad Winery
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St. Hubertus Rieslingtext
89PTS

St. Hubertus Riesling 2016

East Kelowna, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe Gebert family is taking its latest winemaking cues from their ancestors, vowing to do less to make more. It's working. The 2016 St Hubertus Riesling is awash in bright, juicy, delicious red apple fruit streaked with honey and spice, and all at a pillow light 12.5 percent alcohol. All you need do is add sunshine or a favourite spicy Chinese dish. Real wine. Real value.Prices: BC 16.75 Producer: St. Hubertus Estate Winery
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Kitsch Maria's Block Rieslingtext
88PTS

Kitsch Maria's Block Riesling 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaPotently ripe and round, with a juicy core of orange swelling the core. Off-dry, this carries a tropical fruit salad led by pineapple, guava and lime, tightened on the short finish with a noose of citrus and peach fuzz. One of two rieslings released from 2017, Maria is the sweet sister to Esther, carrying 19.8 g/l RS on its medium bodied frame. This was whole bunch pressed, had a 25 day ferment and spent 90 days on the lees before bottle. Another lens to view riesling, and an easy-drinking now one at that.Prices: BC 25.00 Producer: Kitsch Wines
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Narrative Riesling by Okanagan Crush Padtext
89PTS

Narrative Riesling by Okanagan Crush Pad 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe Narrative collection includes wines and spirits made from grapes sourced from independent growers across the Okanagan. The wines are meant to be storytellers that illustrate the Okanagan terroir and growing conditions, chiefly dry, short, and intense. Matt Dumayne has selected his riesling fruit from a warm site in Osoyoos. It’s picked early (19.5 Brix) to protect its bright fruit and acidity, fermented in stainless steel, and aged eight months in concrete egg tanks. The result is a very pleasant riesling based on balance than extreme acidity or sugar. It's not overly complex, but rather juicy and inviting and at 10.5 percent it’s getting close to being gulpable. Winery direct and private wine shops.Prices: BC 22.90 Producer: Okanagan Crush Pad Winery
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08 February 2019

Moon Curser Touriga Nacionaltext
87PTS

Moon Curser Touriga Nacional 2016

Osoyoos, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaSo much black pepper here, it's insane, infiltrating every pore of this bigger red, even after a decant. I've never known touriga nacional to present like this. Then again, this is the sole TN in BC (perhaps Canada?), so who knows what to expect, really. This is from the Osoyoos East Bench's sand, loam, granitic soils. The grapes were destemmed and fermented sans-crushing at warm temperatures in 5000L stainless, with thrice daily pumpovers before heading to French oak barrels, 25 percent of which were new. It remained there until spring 2018 bottling. This is dry and potent with extract, fruit and alcohol (14 degrees). Compact on the peppery palate, with dried blueberries, potent leather, pipe tobacco and ample potpourri. Tannins are sticky to a stuck short finish. Best taken with rustic braised beef or lamb.Prices: BC 39.99 Producer: Moon Curser
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Moon Curser Tempranillotext
88PTS

Moon Curser Tempranillo 2016

Osoyoos, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaTempranillo is a grape that loves the heat, thus, Osoyoos East Bench, first planted in 2005. The luxurious 2016 growing season yielded some spectacular raw material in the Okanagan including this tempranillo, picked at 24.9 brix and perhaps the best I have tasted from Moon Curser. The fruit is bright and spicy with a strong core of black cherry flecked with peppery spicy undertones and a dollop of toasted oak. I enjoyed the lively mid-palate and concentrated fruit that is fighting off the oak and vanilla. The texture is medium lush with equally soft tannins. Try this with grilled lamb chops or roasted pig.Prices: BC 30.99 Producer: Moon Curser
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Moon Curser Tannattext
86PTS

Moon Curser Tannat 2014

Osoyoos, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaAll of tannat's trademark tannins are on full display in this rustic red. Moon Curser was the first winery to plant tannat in BC in 2005 at their sandy soiled Osoyoos Home Vineyard in Osoyoos. Fermented warm in 5000L stainless, with thrice daily pumpovers, this then went on to age in French oak barrels (25 percent new) until spring 2016. Roasted coffee, bitter black cherry, black earth are held between hard pressed tannins, choking out the finish. Intense and overwrought, this needs equally rustic and potent foodstuffs to mitigate - think beef or lamb stew.Prices: BC 39.99 Producer: Moon Curser
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Moon Curser Petit Verdottext
88PTS

Moon Curser Petit Verdot 2016

Osoyoos, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaWild blackberries, blueberries, dark cherry, thorns, purple florals are veined with stones in this alluring, fleshy petit verdot, grown on their Osoyoos East Bench Moon Curser Vineyard and its loamy sand, silica and granite. There's a dark gravelled undercurrent that flows the length of this big red. Tannins are firm and structural, appropriately matched to the density of fruit. Drinking well now with food, though will reward with cellaring short term. This was destemmed and uncrushed, with a warm ferment in large stainless steel, pumped over three times daily. This then went into French oak, one quarter new.Prices: BC 30.99 Producer: Moon Curser
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Moon Curser Malbectext
88PTS

Moon Curser Malbec 2016

Osoyoos, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaFresh cracked peppercorns fill this full palate, padded out with blueberry, blackberry jam, plush plum, thorns and gripped with ample tuggy tannins. Inky in hue and in the mouth, this is an intense wine, yet holds its appeal through its perfumed purple floral fruit. There's a lovely peppery spice note on the lifted finish, belying its near 15 degrees. From Osoyoos East Bench's Moon Curser Vineyard and its loamy, sandy soils, grapes were uncrushed, cool fermented in large stainless and pumped over thrice daily. The wine then went into French oak (one quarter new).Prices: BC 30.99 Producer: Moon Curser
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Moon Curser Dolcettotext
87PTS

Moon Curser Dolcetto 2017

Osoyoos, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis is one of two dolcettos grown in BC, here planted in 2013 on Osoyoos East Bench's loam, sand and granite soiled Fernandes Vineyard. Meaning little sweet one in Italian, dolcetto is Piemontese in origin. Moon Curser smartly chose to follow their tradition of making fruity, oak-free wines for early consumption. Dusky plum, muddied blueberry, prune, cherry jam on an easy, round, medium bodied palate. There's a bitter green herbal twinge here with hard press tannins that finish with a bitter, short finish. Whole berry and cool fermented in large stainless with thrice daily pumpovers, this spent a short stint in stainless before bottle. Best enjoyed with a chill, and alongside sausage pizza.Prices: BC 24.99 Producer: Moon Curser
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Moon Curser Carmeneretext
88PTS

Moon Curser Carmenere 2016

Osoyoos, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaCarménère is a rarity in BC, planted predominantly to use in Bordeaux blends. This is one of the solo carménère, and 407 cases were made. From Osoyoos East Bench's Home Vineyard, and Stubb's Vineyard, this was fermented warm in large stainless, pumped over thrice daily and then into French oak (30 percent new). This has a violet and purple fruited perfume that I find foreign in typically dusty, earthy carmenere. Potpourri, cracked black pepper, sweet salami on the full bodied, soft and cushy cherry palate, one framed with rustic hewn tannins appropriate for the ripe, southern Okanagan fruit. Intense and bold. and challenging grape variety is truly spectacular. The 2016 Carménère is a medium to full-bodied red wine with a dark raspberry red colour. It displays an opulent nose of cherry, black pepper, violets and fennel seed. The palate also has red cherry and pepper notes but deviates from the nose with other characters like baker’s spice and black fruit. This plush wine has a medium tannin structure. This is an elegant wine that strikes a lovely balance between fruit, spice, acid and its tannic structure. It drinks well now but would also evolve nicely in the bottle over the next six to eight years.Prices: BC 39.99 Producer: Moon Curser
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Moon Curser Cabernet Sauvignontext
86PTS

Moon Curser Cabernet Sauvignon 2015

Osoyoos, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaHuge, sun-ripened and oak sweetened, this is from Saunders Vineyard on the Osoyoos East Bench. Intense cassis, blackberry jam, medicinal cherry on a heated, plush palate. Tannins are hard pressed and drying on the black espresso finish, welcoming beef or lamb proteins, and making this hard for solo sipping.Prices: BC 39.99 Producer: Moon Curser
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Moon Curser Arneistext
87PTS

Moon Curser Arneis 2017

Osoyoos, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaIt's nice to revisit this wine after a many-years hiatus, and find it's as singular as ever. Dried and fresh white florals, elderflower, honey, golden apple, dried quince on a waxen palate, nipped in with a griff of skin tannins. This spent time in stainless, fermented cool and with no MLF or battonage. Unique.Prices: BC 22.99 Producer: Moon Curser
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07 February 2019

Familia Zuccardi Polígonos Cabernet Franctext
90PTS

Familia Zuccardi Polígonos Cabernet Franc 2017

Agrelo District, Luján de Cuyo, Northern Region, Mendoza, ArgentinaThe Polígonos creed is a selection of the best lots from different mountain terroirs within the Uco Valley. The criteria includes differences in altitude, soil and climate that define the sub-regions of San Pablo, Paraje Altamira and Gualtallary. Expect an aromatic, red fruited style slightly reminiscent of Loire Valley franc. The wine is aged in foudres, limiting the oak influence, and playing on its elegance and freshness. The palate is dry and floral with an herbaceous leafy undercurrent. Not your typical Argentine red. This need time in the bottle to gather itself.Prices: BC 39.99 QC 35.95 Producer: Familia Zuccardi
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Familia Zuccardi Polígonos del Valle de Uco Malbectext
92PTS

Familia Zuccardi Polígonos del Valle de Uco Malbec 2016

Paraje Altamira, Valle de Uco, Tunuyán, Central Region, Mendoza, ArgentinaThe idea behind Polígonos is a selection of the best lots from different terroirs within the Uco Valley. The criteria includes differences in altitude, soil and climate that define the sub-regions of San Pablo, Paraje Altamira and Gualtallary. The wine is fermented and aged in concrete and presents as a bigger malbec, a mountain fruit malbec, then we normally see. The nose is somewhat austere with light floral notes. The palate is full of bright acidity with mouth filling dense, sweet tannins and black plum. A remarkable look at malbec and one that will only improve over the next decade.Prices: BC 39.99 QC 35.95 Producer: Familia Zuccardi
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Zuccardi Q Cabernet Sauvignontext
88PTS

Zuccardi Q Cabernet Sauvignon 2016

Gualtallary, Tupungato, Central Region, Mendoza, ArgentinaZuccardi Q wines use fruit from the oldest parts of the vineyard, pre-selected for quality. In this case, the cabernet sauvignon comes from Gualtallary. The cool fruit is aromatic with notes of red fruits and blueberries with a peppery, spicy, back end. It’s concrete fermented and barrel aged in French oak but not really showing much at this stage with some significant tannins yet to dispense from the cool year, one not really suited to cabernet sauvignon. Give this some time in bottle.Prices: BC 22.00 AB 20.00 Producer: Familia Zuccardi
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Zuccardi Q Malbec Paraje Altamira and Vista Florestext
90PTS

Zuccardi Q Malbec Paraje Altamira and Vista Flores 2016

Valle de Uco, Tunuyán, Central Region, Mendoza, ArgentinaFrom high altitude sites in the Uco Valley, the two Q, quality blocks, used here are in Altamira and Vista Flores. The wine has a terrific demeanour, soft and generous on the palate but as winemaker Sebastian Zuccardi likes to say, “with no sweetness.” The wine is native fermented and spent 20 days on skins before going through a mix of concrete and oak aging to build structure. I love the floral tones, the ripe fruit blue and black, and the suave tannins that combine effortlessly to add layers of flavour to this malbec. Food friendly and ready to drink, though you could cellar this a decade. Fine value, but unbelievably not listed in government stores.Prices: BC 22.99 QC 20.00 NF 22.00 NS 21.99 Producer: Familia Zuccardi
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Zuccardi Fosil Chardonnaytext
92PTS

Zuccardi Fosil Chardonnay 2017

Mendoza, ArgentinaFosil is chardonnay from San Pablo in the Valle de Uco, Mendoza. The grapes are whole cluster pressed and fermented with indigenous yeasts in concrete vessels. There is no malolactic fermentation and all the ageing is done in concrete vats. This wine is all about texture and minerality. The style is tighter than most other Argentine chardonnays, or most of the New World for that matter. The palate is a citrus affair with bright acidity and creamy lees, making for delicious drinking. Winemaker Sebastien Zuccardi chose the cooler San Pablo Area to plant a massal selection of chardonnay vines plus some clone 548, given its cool location only a couple hundred meters from the Andes Mountains. A wine to watch.Prices: BC 61.99 Producer: Familia Zuccardi
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Zuccardi Q Chardonnaytext
91PTS

Zuccardi Q Chardonnay 2017

Tupungato, Central Region, Mendoza, ArgentinaThe Q-range stems from an old family practice of marking with the oldest uniform plots of each vineyard that yield exceptional quality batches with a "Q" for Quality. This wine is sourced from two vineyards: the limestone laced soils of Gualtallary & El Peral at Tupungato in the Valle de Uco, Mendoza. The nose is an enticing, fragrant, lemon dance with sea salt, lees and wet stone notes. After direct press, this was native fermented in a mix of concrete and 20 percent oak, aged on its lees with no malolactic fermentation; the latter is done to keep the energy up in this white. This wine is all about texture and lees with a creamy mix of pears, peaches and very refined toast that finishes with a film of citrus covered cashews. Simply delicious. Bravo.Prices: BC 22.99 Producer: Familia Zuccardi
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06 February 2019

Rutherford Ranch Reserve Cabernet Sauvignontext
90PTS

Rutherford Ranch Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2016

Napa Valley, California, United StatesThick, potent and hefty, this structural cabernet is sourced from the Oak Knoll appellation and two estate vineyards in the Rutherford appellation, Franklin and Abela. Dark and muscular, with sinewy, sticky tannins, dark chocolate, cassis, black cherries to a savoury, dried floral finish. Cellar-apt. Giant red, best met with giant beef.Prices: ON 49.95 Producer: Rutherford Wine Company
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Rutherford Ranch Cabernet Sauvignontext
88PTS

Rutherford Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon 2016

Napa Valley, California, United StatesThe 2016 Rutherford Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon was aided by 7 percent malbec, 4 percent Merlot, 3 percent Petite Sirah, and one percent petit verdot, the blend spending at least one year in French and American oak. Chewy oak tannins house sweet ripe cassis, cherry jam, thorns, pitch and leather, finishing with spice and a kirsch kiss. Potent and big, but not overtly so, and ready for drinking now alongside grilled meats.Prices: BC 46.75 AB 40.99 ON 39.95 Producer: Rutherford Wine Company
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Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignontext
89PTS

Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon 2015

Napa Valley, California, United StatesA warm, early ripening growing season is reflected in the style of 2015 Napa cab. The nose is fragrant offering black plum fruit and black pepper in spades with a dusting of dried herbs. Full-bodied in the Mondavi way, with fine-grained tannins, minerals and coffee grinds, all with a hint of charcoal. This will be a fine mid-term red, say three to five years from the vintage, and that makes it ready to drink now with a fire-grilled steak.Prices: BC 39.99 ON 37.95 NF 38.50 NB 37.00 NS 56.95 SK 36.00 MB 44.00 PEI 40.00 US 20.00 Producer: Robert Mondavi Winery
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Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignontext
88PTS

Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon 2015

Napa Valley, California, United StatesSoft, plush, deep and dusky, with ripe black fruit (blackberries, cassis, cherries, plums) that drag slowly along the brooding palate, sticking to the potent charcoal-lined tannins surrounding the wine. A bed of leather, and dusting of peppercorns and black bodum grinds complete this mouth filling, full-bodied red, one with heft necessitating partnering with the biggest of red meats.Prices: BC 39.99 ON 37.95 NF 38.50 NB 37.00 NS 56.95 SK 36.00 MB 44.00 PEI 40.00 US 20.00 Producer: Robert Mondavi Winery
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Wolf's Head Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignontext
90PTS

Wolf's Head Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

Napa Valley, California, United StatesFrom Calistoga's rich volcanic red soil, this is a dense, compact blend of deep cassis, leather, dusty gravels, tobacco, black cherry and spiced cedar. Tannins are plush and the finish is long and spicy. This is a structural, savoury wine that has a raft of acidity to counter the richness and heft. Drinking well now, especially with grilled beef.Prices: BC 79.99 Producer: Wolf's Head Vineyard
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Avalon Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignontext
88PTS

Avalon Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2015

Napa Valley, California, United StatesKirsch, wild blackberry, leather, cherry open this approachable, balanced and moreish Napa cab. Structural and savoury, with grippy / gritty tannins from the 14 months split between French and American oak, and ripe, sun-warmed fruit from vineyards sourced in Rutherford, Oakville and Oak Knoll AVAs. There is a 15 percent tip of merlot that aids in the drinkability. Best with BBQ. The plastic cork has to go.Prices: BC 35.99 NF 29.72 AB 31.00 Producer: Avalon Winery
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05 February 2019

St. Francis Cabernet Sauvignontext
88PTS

St. Francis Cabernet Sauvignon 2015

Sonoma County, California, United StatesFrom hillsides across Sonoma, this full bodied cab is rich with tobacco, thorny blackberries, liquorice and cherry jam, though for all its ripeness and heft, it is thankfully dry. Tannins are thick and sticky to a chocolate mocha dusted finish. Drink now, with lamb or beef.Prices: BC 32.99 QC 32.50 ON 34.95 AB 32.95 Producer: St. Francis Vineyards and Winery
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Wente Vineyards Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Charles Wetmoretext
86PTS

Wente Vineyards Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Charles Wetmore 2014

Livermore, San Francisco Bay, California, United StatesPlush and mouth filling, with velvet tannins supporting the rich and sun-ripened black and red fruits. There's a savoury leathery note to this bold wine that provides cab's proper gravitas. Cassis, baked plums, dark chocolate, cedar on the intense palate, with toasty wood spicing. The wood is enveloped into the density of the fruit, making this ready for drinking now, with beef. This single vineyard cab (Charles Wetmore Vineyard) comes from Livermore Valley's clay hillsides and gravelled alluvial fans, between 460-735ft. This aged for 20 months in 40 percent new French oak. This is splashed with petit verdot, petite sirah, and malbec.Prices: BC 31.99 Producer: Wente Vineyards
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Liberty School Cabernet Sauvignontext
87PTS

Liberty School Cabernet Sauvignon 2015

Paso Robles, San Luis Obispo County, Central Coast, California, United StatesWarm, thick and dense with southern California sun, this is lined with leather and filled with ripe cherries and kirsch. Tannins are ample, a bit raggedly grippy, housing the plush, round and velveteen fruit to a sticky finish. Welcoming and accessible, especially with beef braises and roasts. Easy.Prices: BC 21.99 AB 19.00 ON 19.00 QC 20.00 SK 22.00 NS 26.00 NF 22.00 Producer: Hope Family Winery
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Mettler Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignontext
86PTS

Mettler Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

Lodi, Central Valley, California, United StatesThis thick, opaque, near black pour is from Lodi, and feels every single decimal of its 15.6 degree declared frame. Twelve percent petite sirah joins this blend, with the cabernet selected from four blocks of French clones. The whole spent 16 months in barrel prior to release. Chewy black fruit, blackberry syrup, ripe black cherry, dark molasses, peppercorn, smoked wood and medicinal cherry coat the palate of this monster, bound by sticky tannins and finishing with that swell of heat that lingers in the lungs. If you think more is more, you may be interested in this. Especially if you're serving BBQ ribs.Prices: BC 46.00 Producer: Mettler Family Vineyards
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Beringer Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignontext
89PTS

Beringer Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2015

Knights Valley, Sonoma County, California, United StatesPotent red and black fruits fill this rich yet restrained Knights Valley cabernet sauvignon, owned and farmed by the Beringer family since the mid 1960s. The cobbled alluvial soils and special site of the 600 acre Knights Valley vineyard led the winery to use it as a designation on a Beringer label in 1974, and the family was instrumental in garnering official AVA status for the area in 1983. This sees small parts cabernet franc, merlot and petit verdot blended into the cabernet sauvignon, kept in barrel for 16 months (30 percent new), layering savoury cherry, mocha, leather, blackberry along the plush, long palate. Tannins are smoothed and perfectly pitched for the fruit. For drinking now.Prices: BC 46.99 AB 47.00 SK 35.50 MB 47.00 ON 45.00 QC 37.10 NL 49.98 Producer: Beringer Napa Valley Vineyards
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Broadside Cabernet Sauvignontext
88PTS

Broadside Cabernet Sauvignon 2015

Paso Robles, San Luis Obispo County, Central Coast, California, United StatesHerbal edged, this shows a brighter, red fruit-led cabernet, this coming from Paso Robles and kept to a respectable 13.5 degree size. Anise, tobacco, cherry and raspberry are held by grippy, sinewy tannins and ride a slick wave of acidity to the snappy finish. Appreciate the fresher, lighter hand. Do not appreciate the plastic cork - it deserves better.Prices: BC 39.99 BC 20.99 375 AB 39.00 MB 50.00 QC 44.75 Producer: Broadside
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04 February 2019

Galerie Plenaire Cabernet Sauvignontext
91PTS

Galerie Plenaire Cabernet Sauvignon 2015

Napa Valley, California, United StatesPleinaire is a reference to the French painters' method of painting outdoors (en plein air), which developed around the same time as Napa's first European-style vineyards in the 1800s. It also plays to the styling of this cabernet sauvignon that tries to stay within itself using complex vineyard sites and soils to create some mid-palate mystery. It’s still Napa rich and powerful with deep, dark abundant fruit but there is a core of acidity and freshness that leads to a structured wine with a long, dry finish. The fruit is sourced from St Helena, Spring Mountain, Atlas peak and Yountville. Best with grilled meats at this youthful stage.Prices: BC 83.99 Producer: Galerie Wines
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Lander Jenkins Cabernet Sauvignontext
87PTS

Lander Jenkins Cabernet Sauvignon 2017

California, United StatesSweet rich, ripe red fruit fill this round, rustic cali cab, one filled with a kirsch, licorice and eucalypt cordial and framed with sticky tannins that makes this ready to drink now, especially with grilled meats. Fruit from across California was blended for this wine.Prices: ON 19.95 Producer: Rutherford Wine Company
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Morgan Bay Cellars Cabernet Sauvignontext
86PTS

Morgan Bay Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon 2016

California, United StatesBig, ripe and rich, with stewed red berries flushing out the full palate. Juicy plums, raspberry jam, purple flowers, baked cherries are housed with sticky, ample tannins and finish with toast and vanilla. Easy, sweetish, big and fruity = drink now.Prices: BC 14.49 AB 14.49 Producer: Rutherford Wine Company
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James Mitchell Cabernet Sauvignontext
81PTS

James Mitchell Cabernet Sauvignon 2016

Lodi, Central Valley, California, United StatesSimple, sweet, soft Lodi cabernet sauvignon, with notes of baked plum, cherry, mocha on a cardboard core. Tannins are smoothed negligible, wrapping around a plush palate, and finish that is short, confected and dumbed down.Prices: BC 18.29 MB 19.00 AB 18.00 Producer: James Mitchell Winery
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Trim Cabernet Sauvignontext
85PTS

Trim Cabernet Sauvignon 2016

California, United StatesI'm a bit confused as to the name of this wine. Trim, meaning slight, slim and narrow, feels the opposite of this Cali Cab, declared at 14.2 degrees. Sweet, ripe, candied black and red fruit is potent and thick on the palate of this Cali red. Overripe, and rich with blackberry pie, amply dosed with potpourri, nutmeg and cinnamon. Tannins are light and softened, and the finish is short and very warm. A commercial wine for drinking now.Prices: BC 20.00 Producer: Trim Wines
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Omen Cabernet Sauvignontext
87PTS

Omen Cabernet Sauvignon 2017

California, United StatesOmen is one in a very long series of (oft) monosyllabic labels of "California Cabernet" or "California xxxx". The back label notes that Omen "This Is A Good Sign". And, to be honest, I entirely agree. These are self-identifying clues as to exactly what to expect from these overweight reds. And for wine drinkers looking for ripe, dark, potent, baller, sweetish red wine on the shelf, clues make these easy to pick out. The back label also notes the ingredients here: grapes, yeast and oak. Oxford comma pains aside, I would bet my last greenback that there are much more adjuncts here. All that said, this is one of the drier Cali Cabs in this peer group, and deserves much more than what the marketing department spun. Potent blackberry, cherry jam, red liquorice, black olive on a oak-drawn palate, with tannins softened (by nothing identified on the label), and finishing with a pasty, stuck finish. To aid drinkers, this "Pairs great with BBQ". 14.3 degrees alcohol declared.Prices: BC 44.99 AB 27.99 Producer: Atlas Wine Company
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Chop Shop Cabernet Sauvignon Superior Gradetext
82PTS

Chop Shop Cabernet Sauvignon Superior Grade 2012

California, United StatesSelf identifying back label of "Superior Grade Cab For Prime Cuts", and an appellation of California and a declared alcohol of 14.3 degrees is a pretty good indicator of what to expect: sweet, ripe, black fruited, sweet, wood influenced, soft, candied, short, warm, sweet. Tannins and finish are negligible, as are any chance this could receive a Real Wine seal. I truly reckon your Prime Cuts deserve better than this.Prices: BC 25.61 AB 21.95 Producer: Winc
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McManis Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignontext
84PTS

McManis Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2016

California, United StatesThis rich, mouth filling red is sourced from California, spent up to six months in French and American oak and is primed for current consumption. Ripe black and red fruit, vanilla, cola is pressed with cedar plank tannins that finish choppy and pasty on the warm finish. Light smoke / toast notes suggest pouring alongside grilled burgers or sausages.Prices: BC 23.99 MB 22.99 ON 19.95 QC 18.35 NS 21.99 NB 21.99 PEI 21.99 Producer: McManis Family Winery
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Murphy-Goode Cabernet Sauvignontext
86PTS

Murphy-Goode Cabernet Sauvignon 2015

California, United StatesSweet, soft, succulent and spiced, this is an easy-sipping cabernet sauvignon with rich cherry, raspberry jam, strawberry jam and cedar. Tannins are worn soft, and the finish is tidy, both inviting drinking now and for a wide audience.Prices: BC 21.99 AB 18.99 MB 22.99 Producer: Murphy-Goode
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01 February 2019

Fowles Farm to Table Pinot Noirtext
88PTS

Fowles Farm to Table Pinot Noir 2017

Victoria, AustraliaWith fruit sourced from across Victoria, this is a lighter bodied, darker fruited, floral pinot noir. After native ferment, this matured for five months in French oak (75 percent new). Amazingly, little to none of that new oak rears here, just all of the fruit and floral purity. Bright and crunchy red currant, cranberry, strawberry are framed with fine tannins, scented with violets and wild herbs, and finish with peppery spice. Lovely approachable and smart pinot for drinking now, and as the label suggests, it is very food friendly.Prices: BC 17.99 Producer: Fowles Wine
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Acacia Carneros Pinot Noirtext
89PTS

Acacia Carneros Pinot Noir 2016

Carneros, Napa Valley, California, United StatesAcacia has been making single vineyard labels for over 30 years, but this wine is a blend of fruit from two windswept, cool, estate vineyards in the Los Carneros American Viticultural Area (AVA): Lone Tree Vineyard from the rolling hills surrounding the winery; and Winery Lake Vineyard, a couple of miles away. Both sites are home to a diverse set of clones and soils. The fruit is dark by BC standards but cool and earthy with a mix of soft, silky, black and red fruits over a spicy, plummy underside. Ready to drink. Perfect for grilled salmon or duck sausage.Prices: US 28.00 BC 34.99 NB 34.99 Producer: Acacia Winery
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Meyer Family Vineyards Pinot Noir McLean Creek Road Vineyardtext
90PTS

Meyer Family Vineyards Pinot Noir McLean Creek Road Vineyard 2017

Okanagan Falls, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaMeyer Family Vineyards are known for their pinot noir and chardonnay, in particular, their single vineyard selections, like this one. McLean Creek Road Vineyard is their Okanagan Falls estate, with its sloping alluvial and glacial gravels and sandy loams. Five Pommard and Dijon clones (114, 115, 91, 667, 777) were farmed organically, plot by plot. Destemmed and native fermented with gentle hand plunging, this then went into French oak (25 percent new) for 11 months prior to bottling unfined and unfiltered. Lusty dark raspberry, plush cherry, sarsaparilla wrap around a ripe core, the generous expansiveness afforded by the Pommard clones. Leather, spiced cedar seasons this to a gently warming finish. Still very much in youth, this will reward with cellaring.Prices: BC 40.00 Producer: Meyer Family Vineyards
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Bannockburn Vineyards Serré Pinot Noirtext
91PTS

Bannockburn Vineyards Serré Pinot Noir 2015

Geelong, Victoria, AustraliaSerré is French for tightly packed, referring to the very high density vineyard meant to replicate conditions of Grand Cru Burgundy. This is Bannockburn's pinot pinnacle, a block of own-rooted MV6 (yes, the same cultivar that was propagated from the cuttings that James Busby sourced from Clos Vougeot in the 19th century) planted in 1984 and 1986. This was 15 percent whole bunch, native ferment for 19 days prior to pressing to French hogsheads (20 percent new) for 15 months, then racked into older hogsheads to settle prior to bottling. Fragrant and haunting black raspberry, dark cherry, smoked wild herbs, spiced rhubarb flow along the focused, finessed and lengthy palate, deftly framed by fine, firm tannins. The finish is long and salt rinsed, welcoming investigating with glass after glass. Beauty drinking now, but will continue to shine with cellaring.Prices: BC 97.00 Producer: Bannockburn Vineyards
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Bannockburn De La Terre Pinot Noirtext
88PTS

Bannockburn De La Terre Pinot Noir 2013

Geelong, Victoria, AustraliaDe La Terre - of the earth - is an estate plot selection of clones 114 and 777, on volcanic topsoils, mixed clay and sands over limestones. This high density planting on an east facing slope was inspired by Burgundy. Earthy it most certainly is, with mossy forest, mushroom and tomato plant notes that infiltrate the whole of this concentrated, medium bodied red. Stewed plums, dried roses, five spice, bay leaves and sapid thorns float atop, housed by iron-dusted, lightly sticky and very lengthy tannins. Perhaps its the age of this wine, but I'm missing the freshness this Geelong pinot so rightfully deserves. This was whole bunch pressed and aged in hogshead barrels for 20 months before bottling unfined and unfiltered.Prices: BC 78.00 Producer: Bannockburn Vineyards
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Bannockburn Vineyards Pinot Noirtext
90PTS

Bannockburn Vineyards Pinot Noir 2016

Geelong, Victoria, AustraliaBannockburn was amongst the first to plant vineyards in the Geelong region, and now farm hectares of vines situated on three separate sites within their home estate. This is sourced from plots, blending clone MV6 with 114, 115 and 777, planted in 1976, 1997 and 2007. Native fermented, and 20 percent whole bunch, this spent 15 months in hogshead barrels, 20 percent new, before bottling. Proper autumnal, with forest floor, smoked cedar, bough, ripe raspberry tightened by sour red currant acidity, and lined with a cherry leather palate. Tannins are cocoa dusted and fine. Lovely elegant pinot of place.Prices: BC 71.00 Producer: Bannockburn Vineyards
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Mayer Granite Pinot Noirtext
92PTS

Mayer Granite Pinot Noir 2017

Yarra Valley, Victoria, AustraliaThis pale cherry hued pinot noir is, as the name suggests, drawn from granite soils in the Upper Yarra Valley. There are two such vineyards in Yarra Valley; this one is Swallowfield. Native fermented in small open fermenters, this spent three weeks on skins before pressing off and leaving on lees all year, then bottled without fining or filtration, and with minimum sulphur. Fragrant raspberry, cherry blossoms, anise, and ripe wild strawberries are filled in with forest moss and floor, bound together with potent spicing and fine smoke. Though light in hue and body (at a charming 13 degrees), this feels intense and concentrated in the mouth, the finely textured, stony, firm tannins drawing this through a warming cardamom and clove finish. Elegant and finessed, very much in youth, this is ready for drinking now and will also be with a few years in the cellar.Prices: BC 79.00 Producer: Mayer
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Garagiste Terre de Feu Pinot Noirtext
91PTS

Garagiste Terre de Feu Pinot Noir 2016

Mornington Peninsula, Victoria, AustraliaOnly 60 dozen were made of this special reserve wine from Barney Flanders, sourced from 20-year-old vines in one corner of the impressive Merricks vineyard. Terre De Feu is a small lot release above and beyond his single vineyard wines. Entirely whole bunch, lightly foot trodden and native fermented in two barrels (one brand new) where it spent ten months before being bottled unfined and unfiltered. Alluring from first whiff, with exotic cinnamon, pink pepper, star anise, rhubarb, sarsaparilla, sweet tobacco, black raspberry gently hemmed in with nubby tannins. There's a wild, sapid texture to the palate via the whole bunches that adds another dimension to the wine, one that trails off with campari allure. Very much in youth, and very much Mornington.Prices: BC 91.00 Producer: Garagiste Vintners
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Garagiste Merricks Pinot Noirtext
91PTS

Garagiste Merricks Pinot Noir 2017

Mornington Peninsula, Victoria, AustraliaDark raspberry is dosed with sarsaparilla in this Merricks Grove pinot noir, one shaded darker than many Mornington pinots, but with a very light and gentle touch. This was partial whole berry, and partial whole bunches, fermented separately and native, and then blended together for a long, relatively hands-off approach. Post ferment, this spent ten months in 300L barrels (20 percent new) before being bottled unfiltered. Sensual and silken, with forest floor, dried plum and kisses of wild blueberry that finish with cinnamon and amaro. Tannins are near negligible save for a slight muddiness, and acidity is fine but lofty.Prices: BC 54.00 Producer: Garagiste Vintners
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Kitsch Pinot Noirtext
89PTS

Kitsch Pinot Noir 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaKitsch came out of the gate strong four vintages ago with their laser rieslings, as well as their packaging progress (SAXX underwear are a past enterprise of 4th gen Kelownans Ria and Trent Kitsch). A smart hire of somm Grant Biggs as winemaker has solidified the winery as one to watch. This is from G Spot Vineyard in East Kelowna, clones 828 and 115, and silty loam over sand and clay. This was ten percent whole cluster, with an 18 day maceration and stainless ferment before eight months in French oak. Slightly smoked forest berries, earth, cedar, leather, black cherry, wild raspberry on a stencilled, yet supple palate. Acidity is cran-bright, and tannins are featherweight. For immediate consumption, hopefully with wild mushroom risotto.Prices: BC 40.00 Producer: Kitsch Wines
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Kitsch 5 Barrel Pinot Noirtext
89PTS

Kitsch 5 Barrel Pinot Noir 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaKitsch came out of the gate strong four vintages ago with their laser rieslings, as well as their packaging prowess (SAXX underwear are a past enterprise of 4th gen Kelownans Ria and Trent Kitsch). A smart hire of somm Grant Biggs as winemaker has solidified the winery as one to watch. This is their higher tier pinot noir, still sourced from their East Kelowna G Spot vineyard and clones 828 and 115. This, however, was native fermented, with 35 percent whole cluster before a twenty day maceration in stainless and aging in French oak (80 percent new) for eight months. As the name alludes, only five barrels were made. Darker and more structural shades of red than their standard pinot noir, this is bursting with lusty raspberry, morello cherries, wild strawberries, and forest floor, framed with textural tannins, and finishing with dusky pipe tobacco and light smoke. Lovely intensity and finesse in a darker shade. Well done.Prices: BC 69.00 Producer: Kitsch Wines
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Mission Hill Reserve Pinot Noirtext
88PTS

Mission Hill Reserve Pinot Noir 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaIt's been a good while since I've tasted the Reserve Pinot Noir from Mission Hill, the last vintage being the 2013. A lot has changed in four years, chiefly Darryl Brooker being now in charge of operations of the winery group, and the most welcome move. The reserve tier sources from the top 15 percent of estate vineyards, with an impressive 75 percent return rate to site year over year. This vintage sees 77 percent from estate vineyards in Lakeshore, and the remainder from Naramata, all with 11 months in French oak. Tight, lean and punchy, with cranberry / pomegranate on a strident frame, one with smoothed, smoked, cedar tannins. There's a pinch of bitter red fruit and balsamic on the finish that makes this wine preferred with oil / fat to flush out.Prices: BC 28.00 AB 26.00 ON 25.00 QC 26.00 MB 28.00 Producer: Mission Hill Family Estate
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Blomidon Pinot Noirtext
88PTS

Blomidon Pinot Noir 2017

Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia, CanadaVery small amounts of this estate pinot noir was made, all entirely sourced from their Woodside Road Vineyard, and with time in French oak. Supple and smooth, with shining cranberry acidity, woodsy forest berries and peppery nutmeg and cinnamon spicing. The body is medium, as are the lightly sticky tannins, supported but never overwhelmed by the aforementioned wood. Enjoy with a slight chill and a braised turkey leg or mushroom dish.Prices: Producer: Blomidon Estate Winery
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Rathjen Cellars P + Gtext
91PTS

Rathjen Cellars P + G 2016

Vancouver Island, British Columbia, CanadaRathjen nails what many island wineries miss : bright, crisp, fresh, lighter-bodied wines from island fruit. P+G is a perfect example of just that. A blend of pinot noir and gamay, hinting at that other marginal cool climate region of Burgundy, and their Passe-Tout-Grains tradition of blending the two lighter reds. This was native fermented and aged in older French oak before being bottled unfined and unfiltered. Pouring a light red hue, this is aloft with bright cherry, herbal raspberry, perfumed plum, rasped with fine peppercorns. Acidity is brisk and crunchy and the body is comfortably lean at 12.7 degrees. Such a lovely example of island reds, and what others might aspire to. Impressive.Prices: BC 23.00 Producer: Rathjen Cellars
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Martin's Lane Fritzi’s Vineyard Pinot Noirtext
92PTS

Martin's Lane Fritzi’s Vineyard Pinot Noir 2014

West Kelowna, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaFritzi's is a special site in the MHFE portfolio, named after owner Anthony Von Mandel's mother. It's located at the bast of Mt. Boucherie, a dormant volcano, in West Kelowna. This pinot is from a single block of the oldest vines, planted to clone 115 and on granitic soils. After a native ferment, this spent 17 months in French extra tight grained oak. Savoury, and muscular, with tight, dark black fruit and firm, fine tannins. This structural wine is coursing with energy in youth, and will reward with cellaring. This is the inaugural vintage of this wine.Prices: BC 150.00 Producer: Martin's Lane Winery
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Martin's Lane Simes Vineyard Pinot Noirtext
92PTS

Martin's Lane Simes Vineyard Pinot Noir 2014

East Kelowna, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaSimes is a cooler, steep, north-facing vineyard in East Kelowna, with granite-based soils, and planted to pinot noir clones 943 and 667. The northern aspect is rare, giving this already cooler site some additional freshness. After a native ferment, the two clones (picked a couple weeks apart) were aged in extra tight grain French oak for 17 months (18 percent new) before being bottled unfiltered. This is the inaugural vintage for this wine, one of three single vineyard pinot noirs released in 2014. Reserved and tight black fruit, cherry is stencilled with fine grained spices and granite to a pencil lead finish. Tannins are firm, and there is great energy tucked into this youthful wine, ready to evolve with cellaring. Proper cool climate pinot noir, and an impressive one.Prices: BC 100.00 Producer: Martin's Lane Winery
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Martin's Lane Naramata Ranch Vineyard Pinot Noirtext
91PTS

Martin's Lane Naramata Ranch Vineyard Pinot Noir 2014

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaOne of a trio of single vineyard pinot noirs released in 2014, this is sourced from the volcanic soiled Naramata Ranch vineyard, at the far north end of the bench, and a mix of Pommard, 943 (the newer Dijon clone with small, oval berries and long bunches) and 828. After native ferment, this rested 17 months in French extra tight grain oak before bottling unfiltered. Generous on the elegant blue-fruited palate, with plum, boysenberry, black cherry, light kisses of smoke and black pepper. Tannins are softly silty, housing well the youthful fruit. Drinking very well now, and will age.Prices: BC 100.00 Producer: Martin's Lane Winery
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Synchromesh Storm Haven Vineyard Pinot Noirtext
88PTS

Synchromesh Storm Haven Vineyard Pinot Noir 2017

Okanagan Falls, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThough Alan Dickinson and Synchromesh is legend for riesling, they also produce high quality reds, like this estate single vineyard pinot noir, a blend of clones 777, 114 and 667. Alan made the decision to bottle this under the white label in 2017 because he incorporated some of his younger fruit in the mix, planted in 2014. Entirely different from the brooding, muscular 2016, this youthful, wild wine carries light earth, tight plum, raspberry and a rinse of VA, bundled in a light (10.6 degree), grippy style. Charcoal dust lingers on the finish. Entirely whole cluster, this rested in 50 percent new oak to counter the sharpness, smartly. Fun to drink now with a chill, and one to watch in future; unique for the Okanagan.Prices: BC 28.00 Producer: Synchromesh Wines Inc.
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