quicksearch
Anthony Gismondi on Wine
Tasting Notes

Tastings: October 2020

22 October 2020

Burrowing Owl Merlottext
89PTS

Burrowing Owl Merlot 2017

Oliver, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaFrom estate vineyards in Oliver and Osoyoos, this merlot was destemmed, cold soaked, and fermented in stainless, and then moved into barrels (mix of French, American, Hungarian, and Russian) for 14 months. True to house style, this is a big, forward, spiced red, now worn into itself with time. A leathery base beds cedar-lined cassis, black cherry, and baking spices, with tannins fairly well-integrated, though still wood-shorn. A great example of southern Okanagan, desert-imbued merlot.Prices: BC 32.00 AB 34.00 ON 29.95 Producer: Burrowing Owl Vineyards
Read Full Note
Bartier Bros. Merlot Cerqueira Vineyardtext
90PTS

Bartier Bros. Merlot Cerqueira Vineyard 2018

Oliver, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaFrom the Black Sage Bench's Cerqueira Vineyard, this Merlot (tipped with 2.7% syrah) was destemmed and fermented in stainless over 3 weeks, prior to moving into neutral 225L French barrels for 13 months. Juicy black plum, wild cassis, thorns, and tart black cherries flood the mouth, bright with acidity that lifts the near 14% palate. There's a cool stoniness that streams through this wine, bound by long, soft tannins, and finishing with a tart snap. I appreciate this merlot is bright and light on its feet, and not weighted down by rich oak and over-extraction, like many of its southern Okanagan contemporaries.Prices: BC 22.99 AB 21.99 Producer: Bartier Bros.
Read Full Note
Burrowing Owl Merlottext
88PTS

Burrowing Owl Merlot 2018

Oliver, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaFrom estate vineyards in Oliver and Osoyoos, this wine aged for 14 months in French, American, Hungarian, and Russian oak. The result, as you might expect, is a spicebox of aromatics and flavours, infiltrating a plush, full body of kirsch, cassis, and blackberries, bitter espresso, and tobacco. Tannins are firm, though well integrated, providing more structure than perhaps you're expecting from a BC merlot. This finishes dryly with ample bitter dark chocolate, welcoming pairing with grilled steak.Prices: BC 32.00 AB 34.00 ON 29.95 Producer: Burrowing Owl Vineyards
Read Full Note
Tenuta Guado al Tasso Cont'Ugotext
91PTS

Tenuta Guado al Tasso Cont'Ugo 2015

Tuscany, ItalyThis Bolgheri merlot was selected form a single parcel, Cont'Ugo, and opens with an inviting sweet, savoury black cherry, blueberry nose. On the palate, it is all about soft textures, and lush red and black fruit marked with spice and espresso, and a classic fresh mineral finish. Drink through 2025 with pheasant, quail, mushrooms, and grilled beef.Prices: BC 55.00 1500 Producer: Tenuta Guado al Tasso
Read Full Note

21 October 2020

Frind Estate Winery Bruttext
88PTS

Frind Estate Winery Brut NV

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaFrind Estate Winery is a new lakefront winery on the historic Bennett Property in West Kelowna. Markus Frind purchased the property in 2017 after he sold his company Plenty of Fish. With over 500 years of family farming history, Markus wanted to combine his two passions; technology and agriculture. He employed Erik von Krosigk, ex-of Summerhill, to make the wines. This is a blend of riesling and chardonnay, in a fresh, off-dry, traditional method fizz. A short amount of time on lees and generous bump of RS keeps this fruit forward, showing off the region's orchard bounty of pear, apple, and blossoms. Youthful and easy, take this with a brunch or sunny patio.Prices: BC 24.99 Producer: Frind Estate
Read Full Note
Elephant Island Blanc de Blancstext
90PTS

Elephant Island Blanc de Blancs 2015

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThough better known for their fruit wines, this orchard-based winery also makes a few wines from grapes, including this 2015 Blanc de Blancs from Sideshow Hill Vineyard, in Naramata. These estate chardonnay grapes were from 16 year old own-rooted vines, and spent 5 years on lees after secondary ferment, in bottle. This is a lovely, complete, and evolved bottle of fizz, with well integrated toast, brioche amidst fresh apples, lemon pith, and a refreshing salinity that cleanses the lengthy finish. Very impressive, drinking well now, and with time ahead. Only 94 cases.Prices: BC 65.00 Producer: Elephant Island Orchard Wines
Read Full Note
Monmousseau Cuvee J.M. Bruttext
87PTS

Monmousseau Cuvee J.M. Brut 2015

Touraine, Loire, FranceThe JM Brut is an 80/20 mix of chenin blanc and chardonnay that opens with an aromatic nose of nutty baked apple, pear, and citrus. The palate is similar, with a lively, lightly foamy hit of honey, citrus, almonds, and pears. Cuvée JM is made according to the Méthode Traditionnelle, with 24 to 36 months on lees. An elegant, fruity bubble that lands on the sweeter side of dry. Try this with spicy appetizers.Prices: BC 19.99 Producer: J. M. Monmousseau
Read Full Note
Palladiano Durello Spumante Brut NVtext
84PTS

Palladiano Durello Spumante Brut NV NV

Veneto, ItalyI've opened a lot of sparkling wines. A lot. This was the hardest sparkling wine I've ever opened. In fact, after trying for 10+ minutes to get the cork out, I had to enlist help, and a set of pliers. After then the cork snapped off in the bottle. So - if someone who has opened thousands of bottles of sparkling wine over the past decades can't open a simple bottle... The wine itself is amply off-dry, with garden florals, sweet pear, honey. This durello was tank fermented, with a couple of months on lees.Prices: BC 17.99 Producer: Araldica Vini Piemontesi
Read Full Note
Seven Stars Vega Sparkling Wine Fool's Gold Vineyardtext
89PTS

Seven Stars Vega Sparkling Wine Fool's Gold Vineyard 2018

Oliver, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaI was knocked out by this wine, mostly because I was expecting something perfumed and sweet, and what I got were fabulous tiny bubbles and a wonderful, fresh, fruity sparkling wine with an impressive creamy texture. Ready to drink and would be fun with slightly spicy appetizers. Well done and a fine addition to the Township line-up.Prices: BC 32.97 Producer: Township 7 Vineyards and Wineries
Read Full Note
Filipa Pato 3B Blanc de Blancs Brut Naturetext
88PTS

Filipa Pato 3B Blanc de Blancs Brut Nature NV

Bairrada, Northern Portugal, PortugalThis traditional method fizz is a blend of Bical, Cerceal, and Maria Gomes, vinified in stainless before a few months on lees after 2nd ferment. It is bottled with no dosage. Tight, zippy, and lean, this streaks across the slight 10.5% palate with light melon, lemon, meadow flowers, all riveted with marine freshness. Refreshing.Prices: ON 25.95 Producer: Filipa Pato
Read Full Note
Ciù Ciù Rymarosétext
89PTS

Ciù Ciù Rymarosé NV

Marche, ItalyThis charmat method sparkling Sangiovese rosé comes from Offida and Acquaviva Picena, in the Province of Ascoli Piceno. It spent four months on lees in the pressurized tanks prior to disgorgement, with a minor dosage. This lively, dry rosé skips along a lean, slightly grippy / skin textured palate with red currant, raspberry, and cherry blossom, taut and tart with a cranberry briskness that hums along the finish. Very impressive, and an excellent food-friendly aperitif wine.Prices: BC 30.00 Producer: Ciù Ciù
Read Full Note
Haywire The Bubtext
92PTS

Haywire The Bub 2017

Oliver, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada2017's The Bub is a blend of 55% Pinot Noir, 45% Chardonnay, 70% of which come from Summerland's Watkins Family Vineyard, and rest from Secrest, in Oliver. Primary fermentation was in a mix of stainless and concrete before bottling and secondary fermentation for 30 months prior to bottling, with zero dosage. This was disgorged in early summer 2020. Bright and tight with pear skin, citrus, wild herbs, this zips along the palate with vibrant acidity, finishing with a chalky minerality. Lovely balance, freshness, and finesse, once again claiming its space as one of BC's top bubbles.Prices: BC 30.00 Producer: Okanagan Crush Pad Winery
Read Full Note
Fitz Brut Sparkling Winetext
90PTS

Fitz Brut Sparkling Wine 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaFour years down the road, the Fitz Brut, from their Greata Ranch estate, situated between Peachland and Summerland, is still showing a bright, youthful edge. The nose has that northern cool climate subtlety with notes of pear, minerals and buttered toast. The mix is 66/26/6/2/ chardonnay, pinot noir, pinot blanc and pinot meunier, grown over stony, gravel soils. Essentially dry, Fitz is the winery’s signature bubble that is adjusted yearly to reflect 'the vintage, the people and the site.' As mentioned, the freshness expressed by a citrus, green apple entry and creamy peach and pear mid-palate gives this an energized finish. Drink now or hold even longer. Fitz spends a minimum of 24 months on its lees and is much the better for it. Good value.Prices: BC 32.99 Producer: Fitzpatrick Family Vineyards
Read Full Note
Tantalus Blanc de Blancstext
92PTS

Tantalus Blanc de Blancs 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaTantalus has a long history of sparkling wine that dates back to the days of the property founders, the Duliks. Pioneers are good, but I'll take winemaker David Patterson's bubble any day, especially his deft handling of this stylish Blanc de Blancs. The chardonnay begins its journey in French oak puncheons for six months before moving to its final resting place in bottle for 22 months of extended lees contact. Crunchy lemons, fresh pear, and a whack of salty, stony minerality envelopes your palate from front to back, giving the wine its elegance and understated power. Drink or hold for the next decade, the choice is yours. Serious stuff at a fabulous price.Prices: BC 27.83 Producer: Tantalus Vineyards
Read Full Note

20 October 2020

J. L. Chave Sélection Mon Coeur Côtes-du-Rhônetext
90PTS

J. L. Chave Sélection Mon Coeur Côtes-du-Rhône 2018

Côtes du Rhône, Rhone Valley, FranceFor the Domaine Chave experience, at an approachable price, look to JL Chave Selections, a négoc operation sourcing fruit from across the Rhone. Jean-Louis makes these wines to showcase what he believes to be the potential of appellations with which he works. Mon Coeur is a blend of four distinct terroir located in and around Chateauneuf-du-Pape, and approximatly equal parts Syrah and Grenache, from vines between 20-60 years. This youthful wine opens with a puff of reduction, so best to give it a little bit of airtime before tucking in. Immediately syrah's meaty, peppery, savoury notes rule, infiltrating dusky cassis, black olives, potent violets. Grenache pads out the sides, with its ripe, leathery sun-baked strawberry and cherry. Tannins are somewhat raggedy, though appropriate, and the finish is warming (also appropriate for 15%), all of which make this prime for drinking alongside grilled lamb and/or winter root veg now. A heartier, impactful C-d-R.Prices: BC 28.00 Producer: J. L. Chave
Read Full Note
Bartier Bros. Syrah Cerqueira Vineyardtext
89PTS

Bartier Bros. Syrah Cerqueira Vineyard 2018

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaFrom Black Sage Bench's Cerqueira Vineyard, this syrah was mostly destemmed (10% whole cluster) before an 18-day ferment and 17 months in neutral 225L French oak. Big and mouth-filling, with savoury freshness (that 10% whole cluster went a long way), helps buoy ripe cassis, wild blackberry, shepherd's pie, and crushed violets. Tannins are ample, lightly sticky, and well-integrated, properly supportive of the fruit. Though this is drinking very well now, it will doubtlessly improve in bottle over the next couple of years.Prices: BC 30.34 Producer: Bartier Bros.
Read Full Note
Tightrope Winery Syrahtext
89PTS

Tightrope Winery Syrah 2018

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis bright, tart, full-bodied syrah comes from the Naramata Bench, and was cofermented with 3% Viognier in a series of small lot ferments in stainless. This aged for 10 months in French oak, with a little American oak in the mix. Full and fleshy, with heaps of cracked pepper, sweet salami, seasoning the chewy and dense blackberry, perfumed violet fruit. Tannins are supple, helping draw this weighty wine to the tart, warming finish. Very much in youth, partner this now with spiced beef kabobs or grilled lamb now, or wait a couple of years to let this settle into itself. Not sure why this stelvin bottle weighs so much.Prices: BC 34.00 Producer: Tightrope Winery
Read Full Note
Bartier Bros. Syrah Cerqueira Vineyardtext
90PTS

Bartier Bros. Syrah Cerqueira Vineyard 2018

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe Bartier Syrah is grown a stone's throw from the winery, on the Black Sage Gravel Terrace's Cerqueira Vineyard. The nose is wide open, offering sweet cassis mixed with floral violet undertones and a strong minerality. The attack is savoury and silky, pushing wild silver sage scented blackberry jam through the finish. Young, round, and lively, it's gulpable now but will age for many years. The fruit is mostly destemmed (10% whole cluster) before undergoing an 18-day ferment and 17 months in neutral 225L French oak. Impressive terroir wine Mr. Bartier.Prices: BC 30.34 Producer: Bartier Bros.
Read Full Note
Pirramimma 1892 Shiraztext
88PTS

Pirramimma 1892 Shiraz 2018

McLaren Vale, South Australia, Australia1892 opens with an inviting McLaren Vale nose of ripe blueberries, black cherries, and brown spice. The attack is juicy and soft with light tannins leading to easy sipping dark fruit and milk chocolate lined with cedar and baking spices. The finish is deftly arranged to offer a touch of vanilla and plums with no added acidity poking through the back end. It is fun to drink and ready to drink. It will work equally with hamburgers, grilled sausages, or meaty pizzas.Prices: BC 25.99 Producer: Pirramimma
Read Full Note
Tightrope Winery Syrahtext
89PTS

Tightrope Winery Syrah 2018

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis Naramata Bench Syrah is cofermented with three percent viognier, presenting super fresh and bright. It was barrel aged for ten months in mostly French oak, adding a light touch of toastiness to a silky, smooth palate. The attack is savoury and tart with plenty of black pepper, floral, mineral, blueberry, blackberry. Terrific balance and styling at only 13.8 percent alcohol make this a winner for dinner now, although I suspect it will age effortlessly through 2025 under screwcap.Prices: BC 34.00 Producer: Tightrope Winery
Read Full Note
Nichol Vineyard Old Vines Syrahtext
93PTS

Nichol Vineyard Old Vines Syrah 2018

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis is the oldest syrah in Canada, planted in 1990/91 on granite bedrock at the end of the Naramata Bench. It remains one of my favourite wines to taste and track, with every year a different record of season. Elegant and finessed as ever, with rivers of black cherry, black plum, wild raspberry, black pepper, and dried violets, seasoned with scrubby Okanagan desert herbs. This savoury, understated, and confident red lingers with mineral salts. Canadian classic, drinking beautifully now, but will continue to age gracefully.Prices: BC 40.00 Producer: Nichol Vineyard
Read Full Note
Nichol Vineyard Syrah Nate's Vineyardtext
91PTS

Nichol Vineyard Syrah Nate's Vineyard 2018

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaNate's Syrah is Nichol's younger vine estate syrah, named for the owners' son, and planted in 2007-2010 on granite bedrock and glacial till. From the Beaucastel clone from WA State, these vines are dry farmed, with 2 weeks of skin contact before going into neutral barrel for 12-14 months. Shepherds Pie! Incredible peppercorns, dusky plum, flood a savoury, meaty, potent palate, with youthful black cherry, wild blackberry, and thorns. Drinking stunning now, and will over the next few years easy. Beaut.Prices: BC 28.00 Producer: Nichol Vineyard
Read Full Note
Narrative Syrah Viogniertext
90PTS

Narrative Syrah Viognier 2018

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis is a more delicate style of syrah led by perfumed, floral aromatics that are backed by plummy fruit. No doubt, the addition of viognier plays an important role. It makes for an elegant pour, that’s really quite pretty. There’s only a handful of wineries making syrah like this in the Okanagan, but it’s unquestionably a successful style. Between the freshness of fruit, relatively moderate alcohol, and fine, silky tannins, it’s easy to pour another glass. Crushable indeed. Highly recommended, and good value.Prices: BC 27.90 Producer: Okanagan Crush Pad Winery
Read Full Note
Scout Vineyard Co-fermenttext
86PTS

Scout Vineyard Co-ferment 2019

Similkameen Valley, British Columbia, CanadaCo-ferment is exactly what is states: a co-ferment of Similkameen syrah and riesling in quervi and neutral barrels. This pours a dusky, glowing, purple/crimson hue, with peppered plum, blackberry thorns, candied cherry, wildflowers, and a cut of astringent, balsamic acidity that rinses the finish. Super natty, this dry, light wine is best taken with a brisk chill.Prices: BC 28.00 Producer: Scout Vineyard
Read Full Note

19 October 2020

Testalonga Stay Bravetext
91PTS

Testalonga Stay Brave 2019

Swartland, Coastal Region, South AfricaOne of the stars of South Africa's New Wave wine renaissance, Testalonga is Craig and Carla Hawkins' personal project, dedicated to experimental wines and rescued grapes, often from old vineyards. They were the first of the Swartland Revolution collective to start their own vineyard project, back in 2015, when they moved to a farm in the northern reaches of the Swartland, nestled into the Olifantsberg mountain, called Banditskloof. With 10 days maceration, this Chenin is the introduction to Testalonga’s skin contact wines. Sourced from koffieklip over granite soils outside of Paardeberg, this deeper golden hued wine is gripped tightly, holding herbal melon, fine lees, apricot pith, mandarin peel, golden apples, to a streaming saline finish. Beauty complexities here, in this leading natural chenin.Prices: BC 40.00 Producer: Testalonga
Read Full Note
Testalonga Keep on Punchingtext
90PTS

Testalonga Keep on Punching 2019

Swartland, Coastal Region, South AfricaOne of the stars of South Africa's New Wave wine renaissance, Testalonga is Craig and Carla Hawkins' personal project, dedicated to experimental wines and rescued grapes, often from old vineyards. They were the first of the Swartland Revolution collective to start their own vineyard project, back in 2015, when they moved to a farm in the northern reaches of the Swartland, nestled into the Olifantsberg mountain, called Banditskloof. This organic Chenin Blanc is from Pieketberg sandstone, planted 1961. After a whole bunch press, 2/3 fermented in foudre, with the rest in stainless. After blending, this moves to wood and stainless to rest. Pouring a hazy yellow hue, this streams with tight lime pith, underripe melon, fine earthy lees, a saline wash, and light lemon peel friskiness. The photo is one Craig’s brother took in Cambodia. This is their largest production line, and fantastic value for a natural chenin (even way over here in Western Canada).Prices: BC 40.00 Producer: Testalonga
Read Full Note
Domaine Vendange Roussette de Savoie Madame de M...text
90PTS

Domaine Vendange Roussette de Savoie Madame de M... 2017

Savoie, FranceDomaine Vendange was founded in 2015 in Combe de Savoie, on the foothills of the Massif des Bauges. The Domaine extends over 10 hectares on south facing slopes, and focuses on local grapes Jacquère, Altesse, and Mondeuse. This altesse (aka roussette) is from 20 year old vines in the silty clays around the winery, was fermented in stainless where 1/3 underwent MLF, and then aged in a mix of older barrels and stainless for 10 months. Nimble and shining, with tight elderflower, hawthorne, subtle wild rose, and bergamot oil, this streams the slight palate to a stone dust finish. A lovely, savoury, salted wine that transmits its place. Can't get much better than that.Prices: Producer: Domaine Earl Vendange & Fils
Read Full Note
Chateau Moncontour Vouvray Sectext
87PTS

Chateau Moncontour Vouvray Sec 2019

Vouvray, Touraine, Loire, FranceThis dry(ish) sec Vouvray sees chenin's want for honeyed notes, with the slick of blossom honey that covers the stone, red apple, lees filling the creamy, brief palate. Gives a solid, though basic glimpse of the riches that Vouvray can achieve.Prices: BC 25.00 Producer: Chateau Moncontour
Read Full Note
Hajszan-Neumann Nussberg Grüner Veltlinertext
90PTS

Hajszan-Neumann Nussberg Grüner Veltliner 2018

Wien (Vienna), AustriaWeingut Hajszan Neumann is located at the foot of the Nussberg and the district of Grinzing, with 20 hectares of certified biodynamic vineyards spread across the mineral rich weathered limestone soils. After a short maceration on skins, this was native fermented in stainless, where it remained until the following spring. Smoked flintiness permeates the sleek palate, joined with streams of elderflower, hawthorn, river stones, white pepper, with earthy yeast playing a strong supporting role. Super savoury, this is certainly a wine of place.Prices: BC 34.00 Producer: Weingut Hajszan-Neumann
Read Full Note
Loimer Kamptal Grüner Veltlinertext
91PTS

Loimer Kamptal Grüner Veltliner 2019

Kamptal, Niederösterreich, Weinland Österreich, AustriaCarrying on his family's winemaking tradition, after studying oenology at Austria’s Klosterneuburg University and working in Germany and Napa, he took over the winery from his father in 1997. His 80 hectares of vineyards began conversion to biodynamics in 2006, and all are certified today. Unlike most of his peers, Fred vinifies his wine to dryness, like this concentrated, stony, older vine grüner from vineyard around Langenlois, growing on loess and gneiss soils at 200-400m. Predominantly fermented and aged in large stainless tanks (5% in large oak barrels), this rested 4 months on lees before blending and bottling. Wet rock rules this bright, shining GV, with green apple, Asian pear, lemon rind streaming along the palate. Ample white pepper infiltrates the palate, already buzzing with soils.Prices: ON 22.95 Producer: Weingut Loimer
Read Full Note
Ormarine Picpoul de Pinet Les Pins De Camilletext
87PTS

Ormarine Picpoul de Pinet Les Pins De Camille 2019

Picpoul de Pinet, Coteaux du Languedoc, Languedoc, South of France, FranceOne of the consistents from Languedoc, this Picpoul de Pinet has been a regular feature on our shelves for years, and for good reason. This picpoul runs white peach, pear, greengage, and lemon verbena along a slim, yeasty palate, to a brief finish. Best taken with steamed clams with this tipped into the broth.Prices: BC 17.99 Producer: JeanJean
Read Full Note
Lieu Dit Chenin Blanctext
91PTS

Lieu Dit Chenin Blanc 2017

Santa Ynez Valley, Santa Barbara County, Central Coast, California, United StatesLieu Dit is a partnership garagiste operation between two friends: Justin Railsback, sommelier; and Justin Willett, winemaker. They came together to produce low intervention wines in cooler Santa Barbara County, using only Loire Valley grapes. From Santa Ynez, this was native fermented in both tank and barrel, before moving to neutral French oak for 7 months on lees, prior to a short stint in stainless before bottling. The captures chenin's wet stone sleekness, woven through subtle quince, bosc pear, downy lees, flake salts, and honeysuckle. There's a delicate vibrato on the finish that lures back, as does the welcome 12% alcohol. Smart, bright, and vibrant, this is New California, thankfully.Prices: BC 40.00 Producer: Lieu Dit
Read Full Note
Lieu Dit Melontext
90PTS

Lieu Dit Melon 2018

Santa Maria Valley, Santa Barbara County, Central Coast, California, United StatesLieu Dit is a partnership garagiste operation between two friends: Justin Railsback, sommelier; and Justin Willett, winemaker. They came together to produce low intervention wines in cooler Santa Barbara County, using only Loire Valley grapes. This older vine melon comes from the lauded Bien Nacido region, an ideal place to capture the grape's marine-trinsic nature. Crisp and bright with lemon pith, river stone, a fine slick of lees, and a fine chalky definition that lingers on the finish. This lithe wine clocks in at a welcome 11.7%, ideal for cracking into with freshly shucked oysters. Well done capturing the spirit of this Atlantic grape, off the Pacific.Prices: BC 40.00 Producer: Lieu Dit
Read Full Note

16 October 2020

CedarCreek Platinum Block 2 Single Vineyard Pinot Noirtext
90PTS

CedarCreek Platinum Block 2 Single Vineyard Pinot Noir 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe 2017 season yielded smaller berries, clusters, and yields, leading to excellent quality fruit. On the palate, you can sum that up as high flavour concentration, moderate alcohol, and balance. The site itself sits on the lower slopes of Home Block vineyard on Lakeshore Road in Kelowna. The block’s clay soils originate from the immense Lake Penticton's post-glacial sediment, the ice age predecessor to Okanagan Lake. The 27 year old vines appear to love the terroir, yielding less spice and more dusty soft tannins shaping a fine mouthfeel from front to back. Look for plummy, dark cherry with a dusty, stony, mineral underside. Impressive and fun to drink now, although I suspect it will keep through 2023 and beyond. Mushrooms, salmon, and pork will all work here. The wine is fermented in and spends four weeks in concrete before ageing 12 months in French oak barrels.Prices: BC 54.99 Producer: CedarCreek Estate Winery
Read Full Note
Quails' Gate Stewart Family Reserve Pinot Noirtext
90PTS

Quails' Gate Stewart Family Reserve Pinot Noir 2018

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe Stewart Family Reserve is the winery's flagship red. The fruit comes off the slopes of Mt. Boucherie, adjacent to the winery in West Kelowna. Each year only the finest blocks make it to the Reserve, that totals just under 14,000 bottles. There is a hint of smoky reduction in the nose, so be sure to give this some air once you crack the screwcap to allow its earthy, cedar cherry with a streak of spicy new oak to breakthrough. The attack is similar, with mineral, savoury, black raspberry with just enough acid pushing back across the length of the palate to keep it balanced. Just a baby but should be just fine as it unfolds. Likely best between 2023 and 2027. It's a perfect turkey wine, but will work with pork and mushrooms too.Prices: BC 51.99 AB 49.99 MB 56.50 ON 54.95 QC 48.00 SK 59.99 Producer: Quails' Gate Vineyards Estate Winery
Read Full Note
Spierhead Pinot Noir Cuvéetext
92PTS

Spierhead Pinot Noir Cuvée 2018

East Kelowna, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaA mix of clones in the Golden Retreat Vineyard in Summerland is the source of this delicious pinot noir owned by Spierhead. Winemaker Grant Stanley has brought his intense style to the winery, and the results are impressive. The attack is awash in blueberries, blackberry and lively juicy red and blue fruit that mesh with an earthy, mushroom, spicy undercurrent. A full-on cool climate northern pinot with personality. Well done. Another marker that points to Summerland being a pinot noir hotbed.Prices: BC 40.00 Producer: Spierhead Winery
Read Full Note
Blue Grouse Estate Pinot Noirtext
90PTS

Blue Grouse Estate Pinot Noir 2017

Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, CanadaClassic Vancouver Island pinot noir. Delicate, pale, low alcohol (12 percent) by pinot standards, high acidity and freshness to beat the band. The fruit is decidedly red as in raspberries and pomegranate, with cedar, floral, spicy notes with light tannins. It's a pretty style, an intellectual style of pinot noir that will entice curious wine drinkers. It will work with any dish that is creamy or packing a bit of fat, be it salmon or a creamy, mushroom risotto. A stylish Vancouver Island pinot that makes a statement about a special place.Prices: BC 37.99 Producer: Blue Grouse Estate Winery
Read Full Note
Blue Mountain Reserve Cuvée Pinot Noirtext
90PTS

Blue Mountain Reserve Cuvée Pinot Noir 2018

Okanagan Falls, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe Reserve Cuvée is a mix of three estate vineyards with an average age of 34 years and a blend of four clones: 113, 114, 115, and 667. It is all hand-harvested, destemmed, and lightly crushed into open top tanks. The settled wine is moved into a mix of barrels from new to four year old wood for ageing. It is clearly more intense than the Estate Pinot, denser in colour, weight, aromas and flavours. Look for black cherry, black raspberry with smoky, reductive, meaty, mushroom undertones that suggest some decanting time is in order. The finish is already smooth and silky, so it should be ready to drink by 2022 at the latest. Experience tells us it ages effortlessly. Try this with a savoury stuffed turkey or a mushroom risotto if you need to open it now.Prices: BC 45.00 Producer: Blue Mountain Vineyard & Cellars
Read Full Note
Blue Mountain Single Vineyard  Block 23 River Flow Pinot Noirtext
92PTS

Blue Mountain Single Vineyard Block 23 River Flow Pinot Noir 2018

Okanagan Falls, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaBlue Mountain revamped its pinot noir program in 2017, choosing to add three single vineyard labels that are really more like individual blocks. Block 23, or River Flow, is a north facing, eastern sloping section of vineyard planted to Dijon clones 113 and 114. It is own rooted, and now 26 years old. The winemaking is more or less that same as the Reserve: destemmed fruit undergoes a 3 week maceration, gentle pigeage, and native fermentation before transferring to new through 4th fill 228L French barrels, where it remains for 17-18 months. The style is fresher and cooler than Gravel Force but with similar meaty, barnyard undertones. The red fruit notes and more prominent acidity give it a brighter, more elegant style. Still young, this will age for six to eight years with little problem. Serve now with a splash decant and roasted chicken.Prices: BC 55.00 Producer: Blue Mountain Vineyard & Cellars
Read Full Note
Blue Mountain Single Vineyard Block 14 Gravel Force Pinot Noirtext
93PTS

Blue Mountain Single Vineyard Block 14 Gravel Force Pinot Noir 2018

Okanagan Falls, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaBlue Mountain revamped its pinot noir program in 2017, choosing to add three single vineyard labels that are more like individual blocks. Gravel Force is Block 14, named after the numerous small, round stones mixed into the light clay that spreads over an old, dry river bed. The attack is full and beefy, reflecting the west and south-facing vineyard that gets a hefty sun dose. The thirty-one year old clones that go into the wine are 115 and 667. Like last year, the style is fairly opulent, even muscular, with a prominent earthy, barnyard nose that previews a ripe, black cherry palate with considerable freshness and a long silky finish. It’s amazingly concentrated and long for wine with 13 percent alcohol. It is best served now after a splash decant but will hold through 2025 and beyond.Prices: BC 55.00 Producer: Blue Mountain Vineyard & Cellars
Read Full Note
Blue Mountain Single Vineyard Block 9 Wild Terrain Pinot Noirtext
93PTS

Blue Mountain Single Vineyard Block 9 Wild Terrain Pinot Noir 2018

Okanagan Falls, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaBlue Mountain revamped its pinot noir program in 2017, choosing to add three single vineyard labels that are really more like individual blocks. Block 9, or Wild Terrain, was planted in 1998 over flat and rolling terrain with numerous expositions to the southwest that build complexity. The clones are 667 and 114, and the plantings are well over two decades old. The wine opens with a savoury, desert scrub undercurrent mixed with damp earth and spice. The ferment natural, and there are gentle barrel to barrel rackings during the ageing process. Wild Terrain is perhaps the ripest of three single block labels, with notes of sweet raspberries mixed with savoury, spicy sagebrush, cranberry, and cherry that persist through a long finish. A touch of salt and minerals adds complexity to the finish. Let this age for five years. Definitely unique.Prices: BC 55.00 Producer: Blue Mountain Vineyard & Cellars
Read Full Note
CedarCreek Platinum Clone 667 Pinot Noirtext
90PTS

CedarCreek Platinum Clone 667 Pinot Noir 2018

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaCedarCreek’s pinot noir clonal set allows armchair winemakers to take an in-depth look at the palette of pinot noir. Each clone brings its own character, with clone 667 best known for its darker fruit profile and more tannic structure. And this certainly tastes true to that archetype. This is not a shy pinot; the fruit has an elevated ripeness and density to it, with the body to match, but the palate still maintains a nice freshness. It does this despite being a bit blocky. The tannins are firm and grainy at this point and it probably needs at least another two years to settle in bottle and allow the oak to further integrate. Winemakers often blend clones because they each bring something unique and complementary to the glass. Now it’s your turn to decide.Prices: BC 135.00 Producer: CedarCreek Estate Winery
Read Full Note
CedarCreek Platinum Clone 777 Pinot Noirtext
91PTS

CedarCreek Platinum Clone 777 Pinot Noir 2018

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaClone 777 is one of three separate single clone pinot noir releases from CedarCreek this vintage, that provide a window into the differences between a trio of French Dijon clones 777, 667, and 115. All three are growing on the silty loamy soils of CedarCreek, high above Okanagan Lake inside the Home Block Vineyard. They were all fermented and aged similarly, making comparison an interesting prospect. A dampness and forest floor undercurrent mixes from front to back here, with smoky, herbal, black fruit. The flavours persist on the palate with the help of a dusting of baking spices and oak. This wine is built for rich bird/game dishes or autumnal mushroom menu items. A lot is going on here, and should appeal to those who prefer the more rambunctious New World style. Clone development is the physical process of identifying beneficial traits in individual grapevines or vineyards, taking cuttings from those vines, including budwood, and then propagating it over several growing seasons until you have a good reservoir of the parent material. The clones in these releases are all Dijon Clones, developed at the University of Dijon from the 1950s onwards.Prices: BC 135.00 Producer: CedarCreek Estate Winery
Read Full Note
CedarCreek Platinum Clone 115 Pinot Noirtext
92PTS

CedarCreek Platinum Clone 115 Pinot Noir 2018

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaClone 115 is one of three separate single clone pinot noir releases from CedarCreek this vintage that provide a window into the differences between the trio of French Dijon clones 777, 667, and 115. All three are growing on the silty loamy soils of CedarCreek, high above Okanagan Lake inside the Home Block Vineyard. They were all fermented and aged similarly, making comparison an interesting prospect. The 115 presents entirely differently from the more boisterous 777. It has a much more elegant demeanour with more red fruit, a little brighter acidity, and very silky textures. It is attractive, to say the least. Salmon seems like the go to match here, or perhaps a favourite cauliflower soup recipe.Prices: BC 135.00 Producer: CedarCreek Estate Winery
Read Full Note
Laughing Stock Vineyards Pinot Noir +28/09text
89PTS

Laughing Stock Vineyards Pinot Noir +28/09 2018

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe 2018 vintage brings some evolution to Laughing Stock's pinot noir program. Unlike previous vintages, this is predominantly sourced from Okanagan Falls, specifically Arterra's Thomas Ranch Vineyard. The winemaking is still true to Laughing Stock's hedonistic house style, but the partial use of whole cluster fermentation has added some stemmy complexity to complement the lush black fruits, with the oak also dialled back a notch. The palate is suave and almost glycerous, with supple tannins that will make this an easy pour for fans of ripe New World pinot noir.Prices: BC 36.99 Producer: Laughing Stock Vineyards
Read Full Note

15 October 2020

Summerhill Pyramid Winery Summerhill Vineyard Pinot Noir Demeter Certified Biodynamictext
86PTS

Summerhill Pyramid Winery Summerhill Vineyard Pinot Noir Demeter Certified Biodynamic 2018

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaFrom their estate vineyard planted in 2000, this was native fermented in an older oak foudre before moving to stainless for MLF and a few months' rest, prior to bottling unfined and unfiltered. Balsamic, dark plum, tart sour cherries flood a downy palate, with smokey / soft tannins guiding this to a short, tart, drying finish. Best taken with some fire grilled mushrooms or pork kabobs.Prices: BC 35.00 Producer: Summerhill Pyramid Winery
Read Full Note
Summerhill Pyramid Winery Estate Grown Biodynamic Pinot Noir Demeter Certifiedtext
86PTS

Summerhill Pyramid Winery Estate Grown Biodynamic Pinot Noir Demeter Certified 2019

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaFrom their estate vineyard planted in 2000, this was native fermented in an older oak foudre before moving to stainless for MLF. Half was then rested for 3 months in neutral oak before being blended back into tank, and bottled unfined and unfiltered. Pouring a cloudy hue, this coats the palate with tart black cherry, sour plum, ample twinges of balsamic, with soft tannins to a sour finish with a kiss of smoke. High acid, this is quite natty, and needs some fat or protein to fill out the leanness.Prices: BC 35.00 Producer: Summerhill Pyramid Winery
Read Full Note
Hillside Heritage Series Pinot Noirtext
89PTS

Hillside Heritage Series Pinot Noir 2018

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaIn 2017 this Naramata Bench pinot has a touch of elegance and restraint that is always a good place to start in the New World. Juicy raspberry fruit previews a slightly darker, drier, black cherry palate with earthy, spicy notes. The textures are appropriately silky and provide the medium for the complex soya, cherry, earthy, savoury finish. Impressive for the price, and while you could cellar this for a year or two, drinking it now is a definite possibility. Roasted chicken would be a fine match.Prices: BC 30.00 Producer: Hillside Winery
Read Full Note
Mission Hill Estate Series Pinot Noirtext
87PTS

Mission Hill Estate Series Pinot Noir 2018

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe Estate Series Pinot is farmed sustainably, from sites across the Okanagan Valley, yielding lightly aromatic black cherries with light dusty tannins and brown spicing. Simple, fresh, with a light, tart undercurrent and a mid to short finish. Ready to drink. Try this with a pulled pork sandwich.Prices: BC 22.99 Producer: Mission Hill Family Estate
Read Full Note
Fern Walk Pinot Noirtext
86PTS

Fern Walk Pinot Noir 2019

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaFern Walk Pinot is a simple, earthy, light strawberry version of the variety, with fairly prominent acidity that accentuates the dryness in its finish. A very simple version of pinot noir best served with a bit of fat like salmon or pork to take on the acidity and cleanse the palate.Prices: BC 18.99 Producer: Fern Walk Vintners
Read Full Note
Tightrope Winery Pinot Noirtext
90PTS

Tightrope Winery Pinot Noir 2017

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe Naramata sweet spot in the middle of the Okanagan Valley seems tailor made for pinot. Lok for spicy, cherry, raspberry, black cherry, even riper than last year. The palate is satiny soft and the pinot mouthfilling and sweet but with a balancing undercurrent of earthy, rooty, spicy notes that keep it all together through a long persistent finish. Impressive texture and length, and only 13.7 percent alcohol. Sonoma, lookout. A perfect wine for Thanksgiving or Christmas turkey dinners. Fine value.Prices: BC 31.00 Producer: Tightrope Winery
Read Full Note
Therapy Pinot Noirtext
91PTS

Therapy Pinot Noir 2018

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaWinemaker Jacq Kemp has done an admirable job pulling Therapy Vineyards into the future, first in the vineyards and now in the bottle. In 2018 her pinot noir opens with an intense, vibrant, cool climate aroma featuring fresh red fruits with a floral underbelly. On the palate, more fresh raspberry, cranberry, rhubarb notes with a dry, spicy finish. A hardly noticeable 46 percent new oak fills out the final picture of a well balanced, medium weight pinot that hails from Naramata Bench and a Summerland vineyard across the lake. The winemaking includes a ten day cold soak, and fermentation in small batch fermenters. The small fermenters allowed the pinot noir to be pushed and pulled in different directions, aiding in this wine's overall complexities. Once fermented and pressed, the wine rested in French oak barrels. Food friendly.Prices: BC 25.99 Producer: Therapy Vineyards
Read Full Note
Mirabel Estate Pinot Noirtext
90PTS

Mirabel Estate Pinot Noir 2017

East Kelowna, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaMirabel Vineyards is owned by Doug and Dawn Reimers, long time grape growers in south east Kelowna. If the Reimer name sounds familiar, it because this vineyard has appeared on several famous BC labels, including Meyer and Foxtrot. The vineyard's name is Mirabel, and since the 2016 vintage, the Reimers have taken full control of their fruit to sell it under the Mirabel Vineyards label. The site is moderately steep with a cool, northwesterly aspect, and the soil a mix of alluvial and windblown silt over gravel. The vineyard is planted with a mix of French Pommard, and Dijon clones farmed sustainably. The wine is made at Okanagan Crush Pad by winemaker Matt Dumayne. Dumayne is a purist and non-interventionist, and the style is reserved, with spicy, rooty, earthy flavours and a modicum of black cherry and brambleberry. More Oregon than California, it is perfectly suited to mushroom, salmon, or duck dishes. Drink or hold through 2023.Prices: BC 32.00 Producer: Mirabel Vineyards
Read Full Note
Blue Mountain Estate Cuvée Pinot Noirtext
88PTS

Blue Mountain Estate Cuvée Pinot Noir 2018

Okanagan Falls, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe new single block program, and the well-established reserve program, leaves the estate pinot as the recipient of younger vine fruit, although even they are a dozen years old at a minimum. It is a mix of French clones 114, 115, 667, and 777, in an understated, somewhat reductive style, with savoury, sour red fruit dusted with tannin and spice in a dry finish that barely sits above 13 percent. Proper for its price and a solid introduction to BC pinot noir.Prices: BC 35.00 Producer: Blue Mountain Vineyard & Cellars
Read Full Note
Stag's Hollow Pinot Noir Shuttleworth Creek Vineyardtext
89PTS

Stag's Hollow Pinot Noir Shuttleworth Creek Vineyard 2018

Okanagan Falls, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaA mix of Dijon clones from Shuttleworth Creek Vineyard is the star behind this stylish pinot noir. The attack is juicy, the fruit ripe but with earthy, sour cherry, black cherry, and black tea atop spicy forest floor, trailing into a dry, dusty, smoky finish. Its delicacy comes from only 13.6 percent alcohol, which allows all the pinot complexity to shine. It is fun to drink and ready to drink. Try this with grilled salmon and fall vegetables. Drink or hold through 2022.Prices: BC 27.00 AB 26.00 Producer: Stag's Hollow Winery and Vineyard
Read Full Note
Stag's Hollow Pinot Noir Stag's Hollow Vineyardtext
90PTS

Stag's Hollow Pinot Noir Stag's Hollow Vineyard 2018

Okanagan Falls, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe Stag's Hollow is always a slightly bigger pinot than the Shuttleworth Creek version, given its advantage of a warm west facing aspect. The nose is fresh and clean with vibrant cherry and plum that spills across the palate. Again lively and lithe, the juicy red fruit mixes with licorice and cola, before a long, mouthfilling, balanced finish. Stag's Hollow Estate Vineyard is home to the oldest pinot vines at Stag's Hollow. Now at 26 years of age, they deliver a complex mix of co-fermented Dijon clones 115 and 667. Turkey would be a fine match.Prices: BC 27.00 AB 26.00 Producer: Stag's Hollow Winery and Vineyard
Read Full Note

14 October 2020

Mayhem Fortified Gewürztraminertext
89PTS

Mayhem Fortified Gewürztraminer 2018

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaFrom Naramata's Cellarsbend Vineyard, these gew grapes were whole bunch pressed and fermented down to 19 brix before the sugar level was arrested with the addition of 93% alcohol. It was then moved to barrel for 20 months' rest, including one summer spent outside in the heat, evaporating water, and concentrating the wine. This pours pale yellow hue, much like a dry white, but that's where the comparison ceases. From first whiff, this is a fragrant, focused, concentrated wine, with ample orange blossom, marmalade, apricot jam, golden raisin, caramel, and gingersnap. The fuller palate is glossy and smooth, and amply sweet, with a lingering anise / apricot glow. At 18%, a little goes a long way. Try pairing this, chilled, with pumpkin pie.Prices: BC 30.43 500 Producer: Meyer Family Vineyards
Read Full Note
Bartier Bros. Gewürztraminertext
88PTS

Bartier Bros. Gewürztraminer 2019

Summerland, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaFrom Summerland's Lone Pine Vineyard, this is a moderate style of gew, showing some of the grape's intrinsic peach / apricot / floral richness, but tempered with a bitter citrus and pear skin bent. The end result may appeal to those who prefer a richer, honeyed gew, as well as to those looking for a dryer snappy style. The finish is snappy and bright with a splash of sweet, welcoming a chill and some spicy foods.Prices: BC 19.00 Producer: Bartier Bros.
Read Full Note
Tightrope Winery Pinot Noir Fleet Roadtext
90PTS

Tightrope Winery Pinot Noir Fleet Road 2018

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaOne of two pinot noirs from 2018 comes from their estate Naramata Bench Tightrope Vineyard and the adjacent Garage Vineyard. After destemming, a 5-day cold soak, and native ferment, this was aged in French oak (30% new) for 10 months before bottling. This is a bright, finely textured pinot, offering raspberry, ripe strawberries on a leather and forest spices bed. Acidity is bright and cran-twinged, and the tannins are long and lightly grippy, guiding this medium+ pinot along a silken palate. Drinking very well now, and will evolve over the next few years.Prices: BC 35.00 Producer: Tightrope Winery
Read Full Note
Tightrope Winery Pinot Noir Rubistext
89PTS

Tightrope Winery Pinot Noir Rubis 2018

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaOne of two pinot noirs from 2018, this comes from Naramata Bench's Rubis Family Vineyard. After destemming, a 5-day cold soak, and native ferment, this was aged in French oak (30% new) for 10 months before bottling. Dark plum, bright black cherry glides along a gently plump palate, spiced with sasparilla and sultry baking spices. Tannins are long and supple, guiding this to a slightly warming finish—best alongside proteins to match, like duck or pork tenderloin.Prices: BC 35.00 Producer: Tightrope Winery
Read Full Note
Hillside Gewürztraminertext
89PTS

Hillside Gewürztraminer 2019

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaIf you had a shortlist of gewürztraminer wants, the Hillside version grown on the Naramata Bench would tick all the boxes. The nose is fragrant with a touch of Alsace, exotic fruits, tangerine in its fragrant spicing. The style is off-dry but with plenty of freshness to balance the litchi, tangerine, ripe pink grapefruit. Last year I called it a party-in-a-glass, and I stand by it again in 2019. Makes for a fun patio sipper. Sip this at a cool temperature or match up with a favourite curry or spicy South Asian dish.Prices: BC 21.00 Producer: Hillside Winery
Read Full Note
Pfaff Gewurztraminertext
87PTS

Pfaff Gewurztraminer 2017

Alsace, FranceTextbook entry-level Alsace gew consistently, which is why many wine students will be familiar with this label. This year's incarnation is as before: honey, lychee, marmelade, apricot on a wide, softer, sweeter palate, with ample lashings of ginger spicing. Simple stuff, chill well down.Prices: BC 21.99 Producer: Cave Vinicole de Pfaffenheim & Gueberschwihr
Read Full Note

09 October 2020

Free Form Vin Gristext
90PTS

Free Form Vin Gris 2019

Summerland, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaFor the first time in 2019, Free Form Vin Gris comes from Garnet Valley Ranch. It is made the same as the previous two vintages: whole bunch pressed and native fermented in concrete, where it underwent full MLF and rested for six months on lees prior to bottling unfiltered, with a wee amount of SO2. Tight and focused, with gooseberry, quince on a slick, sleek palate, with ample energy and verve. The finish lingers with a bergamot note, and ample mineral salts. Well done, yet again; this wine will only improve with time in bottle.Prices: BC 26.90 Producer: Okanagan Crush Pad Winery
Read Full Note
Free Form Vin Gristext
90PTS

Free Form Vin Gris 2018

Summerland, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis Vin Gris is 40 year old vines pinot noir from Summerland's Heckmann Family Vineyard, managed by Summerhill. Whole bunch pressed, this was native fermented in concrete, where it underwent full MLF and rested for six months on lees before being bottled unfiltered with a wee amount of SO2. Super textural, very long in the mouth, finishing with quince and a caramelized and salted orange note on the finish. Super juicy, bright, textural and long, this is a gem.Prices: BC 26.90 Producer: Okanagan Crush Pad Winery
Read Full Note

08 October 2020

Painted Rock Malbectext
90PTS

Painted Rock Malbec 2018

Skaha Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe Painted Rock Malbec (clone 589) covers one acre. It opens with an opaque purple colour and a sweet black fruit nose of blackberries, black cherries, and cassis with a light underlying floral component. The attack is juicy and full of ripe black fruit and soft tannins after 18 months in 30 percent new oak. A cooler year has brought a better balance to this wine, and with no volatility: two things that left 2017 a bit wanting. It's still a rambunctious effort but with some civilized edges. Cellar for 5-7 years before you begin to explore its future.Prices: BC 39.99 Producer: Painted Rock Estate Winery
Read Full Note
Clos de los Sietetext
91PTS

Clos de los Siete 2017

Valle de Uco, Tunuyán, Central Region, Mendoza, ArgentinaMichel Rolland, the world-renowned Bordeaux winemaker, partnered with other Bordeaux families to develop seven vineyards on 2,000 acres in the Uco Valley of Mendoza. The plan was to have an ambassador wine made with fruit drawn from across the project with Rolland blended Clos de Siete each year with the vintage he was given. Clos de los Siete is a single wine, a blend of malbec, cabernet sauvignon, merlot, syrah and a little petit-verdot and cabernet franc has drawn interest in the rest fo the project wines coming out of the individual estates. The styling is all Bordeaux, polished and elegant. It represents France and Argentina's best, offering restraint and rich, powerful black fruit with a strong sense of terroir. The tannins are dense but supple and will only disappear as time slips away. It’s a delicious wine at a fair price that you need to decant at the moment or that you can cellar or five to seven more years until it reaches its peak.Prices: BC 26.99 AB 19.95 ON 23.95 MB 24.99 Producer: Clos de los Siete
Read Full Note
Culmina Family Estate Malbectext
89PTS

Culmina Family Estate Malbec 2016

Golden Mile Bench, Oliver, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis malbec is planted on Arise Bench, on the Golden Mile Bench, one of three benches at Culmina. After traditional fermentation, it spends 16 months ageing in French oak, of which 17 percent is new. The attack is elegant and sophisticated, followed by dusty mineral and licorice with plenty of texture and mouthfeel. Still, the fruit is curiously backward at this moment. There are faint hints of blueberries and blackberries, but the dryness and earthy savoury notes are dominating. I like this wine, but it is going to need time to develop fully. Best now with grilled beef.Prices: BC 39.00 Producer: Culmina Family Estate Winery
Read Full Note
Burrowing Owl Malbectext
91PTS

Burrowing Owl Malbec 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaPredominantly from Osoyoos' estate Eva vineyard, and the remainder from the home vineyard in Oliver, this was aged in a mix of French, American, and Hungarian oak, with 32% new wood, where it remained for 18 months. Quite structural, with a very peppery, green note that colours the savoury cherry, wild blueberry, darkly perfumed raspberry that permeates the palate. Quite fine and elegant, with long, finely grippy tannins to the finish. Well done.Prices: ON 40.00 Producer: Burrowing Owl Vineyards
Read Full Note
Graffigna Malbectext
88PTS

Graffigna Malbec 2018

San Juan, ArgentinaGraffigna has produced wines from higher altitude Andean vineyards since 1870, and this malbec carries on that tradition with malbec sourced from Tulum (700m) and Pedernal Valley (1400m) in San Juan. Soft layers of juicy cherry, raspberry, crunchy plum fruit float along a savoury edged palate, with bright acidity with finely raspy tannins to hold all in place. Not the longest finish, but come on, at under $13 (on sale until Oct 31), this is about as good as it gets.Prices: BC 14.99 On 13.95 Producer: Bodegas Y Vinedos Santiago Graffigna
Read Full Note

07 October 2020

Tenute Falezza TF Rossotext
89PTS

Tenute Falezza TF Rosso 2014

Veneto, ItalyThe Falezza family is making classic Veronese wines, and this rosso is no exception. A blend of corvina Veronese, corvinone, rondinella, molinara and oseleta presents a round, juicy, warm, soft manner. Expect a nose of dry, earthy fragrant cherries and more of the same on the palate where the plummy/cherry fruit flecked with spice finishes medium-long with soft tannins, leather and licorice notes. Ready to drink and a perfect spaghetti red for Wednesday night.Prices: BC 31.05 Producer: Azienda Agricola San Felice SRL
Read Full Note
Castello di Roncade Cabernettext
88PTS

Castello di Roncade Cabernet 2018

Veneto, ItalyThis estate was founded in 1508, and the current family has owned the historic property since the early 1900’s. The entire estate is farmed organically. Cabernet blends 70% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Cabernet Franc, matured in large neutral oak for 8-9 months. The cherry, raspberry fruit is hemmed in with lashes of sapid green branch, and dusted with peppercorn. Tannins are soft and lightly sticky to a shorter finish. A lean, green, bright (12.5%) version of cabernet, reminiscent of Loire Franc.Prices: BC 25.00 Producer: Castello di Roncade
Read Full Note
Le Volte dell' Ornellaiatext
91PTS

Le Volte dell' Ornellaia 2017

Tuscany, ItalyLe Volte is Bolgheri-based Ornellaia's red blend, featuring a mix of two-thirds merlot, 20 percent sangiovese, while the remaining 12-14 percent is cabernet sauvignon. The attack is typically generous with rich blackberry and blackcurrant, freshened and lifted by an undercurrent of wet stone minerality and spicy balsamic notes. In 2017, a dry year, the grapes struggled to gain size but yielded intense fruit. Ornallaia Director of Wines, Axel Heinz, is all about complexity without forsaking any generosity whenever possible, and he did it in 2017. The grapes are fermented separately in small steel tanks before spending ten months partly in used Ornellaia barriques and cement tanks. There is no stone left unturned. Drink or hold through a decade and beyond. Good value.Prices: BC 32.99 AB 35.00 QC 30.00 ON 30.00 NS 33.00 Producer: Ornellaia
Read Full Note
Nari Rossotext
87PTS

Nari Rosso 2019

Sicily, ItalyAn atypical blend of nero d’avola (80%) and petit verdot (20%), this has simple, juicy black fruits accented by subtle, spicy oak from three months in French barriques. Medium-bodied, it’s surprisingly soft and approachable, but still dry, though there is some tartness to the finish. A fine everyday sipper, best enjoyed with a light chill alongside tomato-based pasta dishes. A steal at $9.80 in Quebec.Prices: BC 14.99 QC 9.80 Producer: Firriato
Read Full Note
Donatella Cinelli Colombini Il Drago e le 8 Colombetext
88PTS

Donatella Cinelli Colombini Il Drago e le 8 Colombe 2014

Montalcino, Siena, Tuscany, ItalyThis is quite a savoury Tuscan blend of sangiovese (60%), merlot (20%), and sagrantino (20%), which is very much on the oxidative side of the spectrum, even for Italy. Expect sundried tomato, sandalwood, leather, and not a lot of obvious fruit at this point of its life. There’s a notch more verve to the palate, though the fruit's not overly concentrated or dense, with grainy tannins that dry out the finish. Drink now.Prices: BC 29.99 AB 39.99 Producer: Donatella Cinelli Colombini
Read Full Note
Ciù Ciù Bacchus Picenotext
87PTS

Ciù Ciù Bacchus Piceno 2019

Ascoli Piceno, Marche, ItalyBacchus is equal parts Montepulciano and Sangiovese, grown in mixed clay soils 300m on the Marches hills surrounding the towns of Offida and Acquaviva Picena, in Ascoli Piceno province. This unoaked red is printed for drinking now, with bright dark cherry, fleshy dark plum, mulberry, and tart balsamic filling a round, supple palate. There's a spritz to the palate, making this somewhat disjointed against the ample, ripe, and sticky tannins that house this to a baking spiced finish. Pour with fire roasted beets and / or rabbit rillettes.Prices: ON 17.95 Producer: Ciù Ciù
Read Full Note
Maeli Rossotext
89PTS

Maeli Rosso 2017

Veneto, ItalyMaeli is owned by the 21st generation of Bisol brothers, Gianluca and Desiderio, and is nestled in the Euganean Hills’ volcanic, chalky slopes. The organic winery is directed by winemaker Elisa Dilavanzo. This blend of Merlot, Carmenere, and Cabernet Sauvignon comes from the volcanic and chalky hills of Veneto's Colli Euganei. After a native ferment, 30% of the wine was aged in neutral oak barrels, with the remainder in stainless and cement tanks. Deeply coloured, this youthful, energetic, and rich Italian red is full of fragrant dark mulberry, violet, fresh basil, and dark chocolate spicing on a deep palate. Tannins are ample and grippy, with a dusty grip to the sides. This powerful red is best served with equally rich meat pastas or braises.Prices: ON 25.95 Producer: Maeli
Read Full Note
Monte del Frá Bardolinotext
88PTS

Monte del Frá Bardolino 2018

Verona, Veneto, ItalyBardolino borders the more familiar appellation of Valpolicella, but the style and grape varieties are similar. A blend of 65 percent corvina and 30 percent rondinella, with a small dollop of sangiovese, this is a juicy red that will go down easy with a slight chill. The tannins are negligible, the alcohol modest at 12.5% abv, and the sappy brambly fruit is front and centre. If you're in the mood for a light-bodied red and want to further explore Italian wine, you've found the right bottle. Recommended.Prices: BC 16.99 Producer: Monte del Frá
Read Full Note

06 October 2020

Culmina Cabernet Sauvignontext
89PTS

Culmina Cabernet Sauvignon 2016

Golden Mile Bench, Oliver, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaFrom their Golden Mile Bench estate's Arise Bench, this cabernet sauvignon was aged for 16 months in French barrels (50% new). Classic cab on the nose, with savoury cassis, graphite, fragrant cedar, and ripe, medicinal cherry filling the compact, concentrated frame. You can feel the sun warmth here in the slight plumped raisination of the fruit. That said, the altitude and cab's inherent bones keep this upright. Tannins are firm, and well integrated into the deep fruit, finishing with a gentle swell of warmth. Drinking well now, and should do so over the next couple of years in your cellar.Prices: BC 39.00 Producer: Culmina Family Estate Winery
Read Full Note
Culmina Family Estate Merlottext
88PTS

Culmina Family Estate Merlot 2016

Golden Mile Bench, Oliver, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaSun and wood plump with green tomato / tomato leaf, plum, bitter cherry, tart raspberry, leading to medicinal kirsch on the finish. Tannins are ample, and a big ragged, giving a cedar hewn grip to this big, warming red. Somewhat disjointed at this stage, definitely requiring lamb or venison to partner.Prices: BC 35.00 Producer: Culmina Family Estate Winery
Read Full Note
Culmina Cabernet Franctext
88PTS

Culmina Cabernet Franc 2016

Golden Mile Bench, Oliver, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaFrom their Arise Bench, on the Golden Mile Bench, this intense red was fermented and aged in French oak (22% new) for 16 months. Savoury throughout, with graphite, cedar stave, and toasted oak seasoning the brooding black cherry, bitter cassis, and ample lashings of cracked clove and nutmeg. Tannins are large and pretty polished, but still a bit ragged in youth, benefitting from decanting and a pouring alongside lamb or venison.Prices: BC 38.00 Producer: Culmina Family Estate Winery
Read Full Note
Culmina Family Estate Malbectext
89PTS

Culmina Family Estate Malbec 2016

Golden Mile Bench, Oliver, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaFrom Arise Bench, on their Golden Mile Bench vineyard, this malbec aged for 16 months in French oak (17% new). Polished and smooth, as is the Culmina way, this is plush with ripe blueberries and super ripe blackberries, and seasoned with nutmeg and allspice. That said, all is held back some, and shy at present, hinting that this big red could use some more time in bottle to show its malbec nature. Tannins are well managed, showing a bit at the end, but nothing that a rare steak or lamb chops couldn't tame at this point.Prices: BC 39.00 Producer: Culmina Family Estate Winery
Read Full Note
Culmina Cabernet Sauvignontext
89PTS

Culmina Cabernet Sauvignon 2016

Golden Mile Bench, Oliver, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaMerlot may be the red grape most commonly associated with the Golden Mile Bench, but this reminds us that we shouldn't overlook cabernet sauvignon. From vines planted in 2009 on Arise Bench, this fruit is oozing with ripeness, in combination with a savoury edge of dried herbs and cedar, that manages to hold up to the chocolate and toast of aging in 50% new French barriques. Medium-full bodied, this is fully extracted and densely packed with tannins but they're still plush and smooth thanks to extended time on skins post-fermentation. It makes this approachable now, though you'll want a hearty protein, but will be even better in 5 years.Prices: BC 39.00 Producer: Culmina Family Estate Winery
Read Full Note

02 October 2020

O'Rourke's Peak Cellars Riesling Block Eleventext
89PTS

O'Rourke's Peak Cellars Riesling Block Eleven 2019

Lake Country, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaBlock Eleven is Clone 21B riesling, originating from Germany’s Mosel Valley. The fermentation stopped when 84 percent of the sugar had been transformed into alcohol, leaving 32.3 grams of residual sugar to instil a natural sweetness and flavour intensity to the wine. Don’t fear, it's not that sweet because the natural acidity is extremely bright, giving it a sense of balance, shuttling back and forth between racy acidity and sweet fruit. In the Mosel, the fruit and the wine tend to be crunchy, which is very similar to what we have here in the northern Okanagan Valley at Carrs Landing. The tropical pineapple, mango, guava are offset by the green apple, savoury, sour candy, and lemongrass. Very food-friendly, especially with Asian dishes with a bit of heat, or try it with a ham and pineapple pizza.Prices: BC 28.00 Producer: O'Rourke's Peak Cellars
Read Full Note
O'Rourke's Peak Cellars Fieldling Block 26 Field Blendtext
90PTS

O'Rourke's Peak Cellars Fieldling Block 26 Field Blend 2019

Lake Country, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaBlock 26 is a field blend inspired by the winery’s Block 26 planting at Carrs, of pinot gris, riesling, and gewürztraminer. The block is picked once, and all three varieties are co-fermented. The result is like a little bit of lightning or electricity in the bottle. Look for peach, apricot, red apple, nectarine, pear, and melon rind. Floral, bitter, mineral, savoury, and fruity on the mid-palate and dry in the finish, and you have a winner. The ultimate blend is a 53/32/15 mix of pinot gris, riesling and gewürztraminer. A terrific wine for most vegetarian dishes.Prices: BC 24.00 Producer: O'Rourke's Peak Cellars
Read Full Note
O'Rourke's Peak Cellars Rieslingtext
88PTS

O'Rourke's Peak Cellars Riesling 2019

Lake Country, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaWinemaker Stephanie Stanley has stuff a wide range of fruity aromatics into her Carrs Landing, Okanagan Valley riesling, filling the wine glass full of lemon, lime, pear, grapefruit, honey, and bright floral notes. The palate is quite similar, awash in friendly sipping, mostly dry, lime, lemon, pear and honeydew melon, all lined with an appealing mineral bed. Pick your favourite match from chicken to Margherita pizza, spicy Thai, Mexican, and more. It is very versatile. Well done and at a very affordable price. Stock up.Prices: BC 21.00 Producer: O'Rourke's Peak Cellars
Read Full Note
O'Rourke's Peak Cellars Pinot Noir Rosétext
88PTS

O'Rourke's Peak Cellars Pinot Noir Rosé 2019

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaExpect a northern 50 degrees plus rosé with an enticing light pink colour and rhubarb, cranberry, pomegranate aromas. The palate is a similar mix of cool red fruits, including raspberry and cranberries, with a hint of licorice and a squeeze of nectarine. Bright full flavours with pinot delicacy will work with a variety of menu items. Grapes come off several blocks grown over soils with a lot of clay, adding smoothness to the finish.Prices: BC 21.00 Producer: O'Rourke's Peak Cellars
Read Full Note
O'Rourke's Peak Cellars Pinot Noirtext
90PTS

O'Rourke's Peak Cellars Pinot Noir 2018

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis was my first go at the point noir since its inception. We have had early glimpses at some early releases but nothing like this. As the project in Carrs Landing unfolds, it is clear this will be the cornerstone red wine at O’Rourke’s Peak Cellars. In 2018 the pinot came with a wealth of vitality. The nose has an earthy forest floor style of aromatics, a little Oregon, a little New Zealand and a lot of BC. Dark red cherry fruits dominate with bits of dark chocolate, desert scrub, spice, and floral notes. The textures are equally alluring, and the complexity attracts from front to back. On the palate, the wine continues to build with darker fruit flavours, and more rooty, cedar and bitter marmalade notes. Impressive young and not near ready, but you can enjoy this now or wait for it to come around over the next three to five years.Prices: BC 32.00 Producer: O'Rourke's Peak Cellars
Read Full Note
O'Rourke's Peak Cellars Gewurztraminertext
88PTS

O'Rourke's Peak Cellars Gewurztraminer 2019

Lake Country, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis is a fun white wine with all Gewurztraminer's keynotes, including rose petals, orange blossoms, spice, and ginger. The palate follows on with similar, smooth flavours after three months of barrel ageing. In the end, there is a little stamp of BC savoury desert scrub to add complexity and depth. The winery suggests serving it with Singapore noodles, Korean bibimbap, vegetable curry, or Thai red duck curry. Good value.Prices: BC 21.00 Producer: O'Rourke's Peak Cellars
Read Full Note
O'Rourke's Peak Cellars Unoaked Chardonnaytext
87PTS

O'Rourke's Peak Cellars Unoaked Chardonnay 2019

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe notion of unoaked chardonnay is all about purity, freshness and exciting aromatics. In this northern 50° N wine, you get a clean, dry, fresh style, and it comes with pineapple, sweet melon, and peachy/pear undertones. It’s an orchard of flavours and fun to drink. Like most unoaked wines, it lacks a midpalate and some of the creamy textures I find so attractive, but there is a place for a wine this well made, and there will be a market for it too. Ready to drink.Prices: BC 22.00 Producer: O'Rourke's Peak Cellars
Read Full Note
O'Rourke's Peak Cellars Chardonnaytext
88PTS

O'Rourke's Peak Cellars Chardonnay 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaIn 2017 the chardonnay was entirely barrel fermented and aged in French oak for 11 months (20% new). Right off the top, you get notes of vanilla and butterscotch mixed into that northern green apple scent, mixed with citrus and minerals. On the palate, there is an immediate softness and more creamy, buttery notes with very light toast. A fresh, medium-weight, simple, forward style that is ready to drink.Prices: BC 30.00 Producer: O'Rourke's Peak Cellars
Read Full Note
O'Rourke's Peak Cellars Grüner Veltlinertext
90PTS

O'Rourke's Peak Cellars Grüner Veltliner 2019

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaWe continue to be impressed by early grüner veltliner releases in BC, and the O’Rourke's Peak version demonstrates how electric it can be. Fresh, savoury, and full of citrus-drenched melons and gooseberries, this is a joy to sip. A herbal, mineral, peppery finishe adds some complexity to an excellent young effort. Go Carrs Landing; a perfect wine for vegetarian and vegan dishes, or for those who like elegant wines.Prices: BC 24.00 Producer: O'Rourke's Peak Cellars
Read Full Note

01 October 2020

Oliver Twist Pink Cadillac Rosétext
87PTS

Oliver Twist Pink Cadillac Rosé 2019

Oliver, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe label kind of gives away what style of wine this is. This year's fun and easy blend is cabernet sauvignon, syrah, cabernet franc, malbec, and petit verdot: basically you get the feeling this is whatever that doesn't fit in somewhere else in the portfolio. Pouring a deeper pink hue, this glosses along the palate with watermelon, strawberry jam, and orange. A fuller rosé, at 14%, this requires a brisk chill and some burgers and chips to match.Prices: BC 20.00 Producer: Oliver Twist Estate Winery
Read Full Note
Château d'Antugnac La Closerie des Lys Les Fruitières Rosétext
90PTS

Château d'Antugnac La Closerie des Lys Les Fruitières Rosé 2019

Limoux, Languedoc, South of France, FranceThis pale rosé blends syrah, cinsault, grenache, and merlot from Limoux. The Château's vineyards are in the Pyrenean foothills, and from vines from 300-600m. They have 272 acres, planted to 13 varieties. Fruit for the rosé comes from the highest elevation plots, hence the inherent freshness here. Wild strawberries, grapefruit, orange, and watermelon ride a slender, juicy frame, finishing snappy and bright. Lovely food-friendly or solo sipping pink.Prices: BC 17.99 AB 15.49 Producer: Collovray & Terrier
Read Full Note
Tightrope Winery Rosétext
89PTS

Tightrope Winery Rosé 2019

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis deeper-hued pinot noir rosé has a strange blending partner: barbera. The grapes were left with skins for a couple of days prior to pressing, hence the deeper tone of pink. Raspberry, strawberry, tangerine, florals is cut with a brace of cranberry that tightens the glycerol-padded palate. This punchier rosé finishes with some salty spices and a juicy snap that welcomes all matter of foodstuffs.Prices: BC 22.00 Producer: Tightrope Winery
Read Full Note
Di Lenardo Le Nuvole Uvaggio Rosatotext
88PTS

Di Lenardo Le Nuvole Uvaggio Rosato 2017

Friuli-Venezia Giulia, ItalyThis salmon/peach hued rosado comes from merlot from Friuli-Venezia Giulia, at the foothills of the Alps. This was stainless fermented and aged for 3 months with regular bâtonnage. Quite silken and glycerin, in that Provençal model, with strawberries and rosehip gliding along the palate to a snappy, subtly spiced finish. For enjoying now, especially with seared albacore, or roasted peppers / rosé sauced pastas.Prices: BC 22.00 Producer: Di Lenardo Vineyards
Read Full Note
Mirabel Rosé of Pinot Noirtext
89PTS

Mirabel Rosé of Pinot Noir 2019

East Kelowna, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaOn the deeper edge of pale, this French-inspired east Kelowna pinot noir is a mix of estate Pommard and Dijon clones, done by saignée, and left on skins for 6 months. Juicy strawberry, raspberry, mandarin is woven with spices, and bedded with a thicker cloud of lees, finishing with a rhubarb twist. A polished and elegant style, this can hold its own against a flight of French rosé, any day.Prices: BC 21.00 Producer: Mirabel Vineyards
Read Full Note
Free Form Rosétext
90PTS

Free Form Rosé 2019

Osoyoos, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaLike the 2018, this year's Free Form Rosé is cabernet franc off Osoyoos' Sekhon Family Vineyard, native fermented in concrete where it remained on lees for a few months. Pouring an attractive shining paler hue, this is a beautifully salted, savoury, bone-dry rosé, finely grippy from time in concrete, and teeming with fine grained spices, wild strawberry, raspberry, and dessert herb edginess. Food and solo-sipping friendly.Prices: BC 26.90 Producer: Okanagan Crush Pad Winery
Read Full Note
F Foxly Rosétext
89PTS

F Foxly Rosé 2019

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaA wet, cool end to the growing season and increasing bird pressure finished off a year of low yields, brightened by the debut of F Foxly Rosé, produced primarily from skin contact pinot gris sourced from several sites in both the Okanagan and Similkameen Valley. The final colour, light salmon, orange/pink, was tweaked with a splash of Zweigelt. All the components are fermented separately to dryness and aged in stainless steel through winter before the blend was put together and aged further until May. The nose is a pleasant mix of blood orange and peach that spills across a palate into peaches, strawberries, watermelon, and a mineral underside. Creamy but crisp, this is fun to drink and takes me more toward the Provençal style. Ready to drink.Prices: BC 23.00 Producer: Foxtrot Vineyards Ltd.
Read Full Note