quicksearch
Anthony Gismondi on Wine
Tasting Notes

Tastings: February 2020

17 February 2020

Olivier Leflaive Meursault Narvauxtext
91PTS

Olivier Leflaive Meursault Narvaux 2015

Meursault, Côte de Beaune, Côte d'Or, Burgundy, FranceThis is a more restrained style of Meursault – almost Chassagne-like – with ripe lemon, well-integrated oak, hazelnut, and a floral lift. Olivier Leflaive seems to have deftly handled the heat of the vintage; the palate is still taut, with some mid-palate richness, but really nice fruit purity. There’s some tartness to the finish, which may indicate that some acid adjustment was required this year. Quite precise and elegant, it’s not exactly a steal at this price but worth seeking out for a special occasion.Prices: BC 120.00 Producer: Olivier Leflaive
Read Full Note
Davis Bynum Chardonnaytext
90PTS

Davis Bynum Chardonnay 2016

Russian River, Sonoma County, California, United StatesA year later, this wine is showing very little evolution as it remains on its ageing track. It was grown at River West Vineyard and Westside Road in the Russian River Valley, on moderately deep, well-drained soils. The clonal mix is 30 percent clone 809, 27 percent Spring Mountain, 21 percent clone 76, 15 percent clone 15, and 7 percent clone 4; aged 12 months in French and Eastern European oak barrels, 21 percent of which were new. The attack remains fresh and bright with a firm lemon citrus acidity that sets up its creamy battonage textures and complex brioche notes. A terrific wine for seafood and a firm statement that California chardonnay continues to evolve.Prices: BC 30.99 ON 29.99 AB 26.95 QC 32.75 US 22.00 Producer: Davis Bynum Winery
Read Full Note
Lake Sonoma Chardonnaytext
88PTS

Lake Sonoma Chardonnay 2018

Russian River, Sonoma County, California, United StatesSome 45% of this Russian River Chardonnay is barrel fermented in 30% French oak and 15% neutral barrels, with the remainder fermented in stainless steel. 75% of the juice goes through malolactic fermentation during the one-year ageing period. The result is a bright, fresh wine with notes of pear, pineapple, and vanilla. The palate is similar with more peach, pear, melon, and mandarin. It is an excellent match with grilled scallops, buttered clams, Dungeness crab, or pasta seafood dishes.Prices: BC 21.49 AB 22.50 SK 23.97 MB 24.96 ON 28.00 QC 27.95 NB 26.49 PEI 27.23 YK 26.65 Producer: Lake Sonoma Winery
Read Full Note
Hartford Court Chardonnaytext
94PTS

Hartford Court Chardonnay 2017

Russian River, Sonoma County, California, United StatesI love that these wines are evolving with time. The Hartford Court wines are all about artisanal winemaking from hand-harvesting at night or early morning, to whole cluster pressing, indigenous yeast, and barrel fermentation in only French oak (32% new). The 2017 Russian River Valley Chardonnay comes from a collection of small vineyards throughout the AVA, many of which are state-owned. Is it Burgundy? No, but then Burgundy is not the Russian River. That said, this is impressive “Grand Cru” chardonnay. The fruit is super intense but clean, and thankfully now linear, and less fat. Honeysuckle and jasmine, lemon-lime, pears and on and on, it culminates in a long and complex finish that makes you want to finish the bottle.Prices: BC 54.99 AB 53.99 ON 53.95 Producer: Hartford Family Wines
Read Full Note
Scar of the Sea Seven Leagues Chardonnaytext
91PTS

Scar of the Sea Seven Leagues Chardonnay 2017

Santa Maria Valley, Santa Barbara County, Central Coast, California, United StatesFriends Michael Brughelli and Micky Giugni source fruit from various vineyards in the Central Coast for their boutique minimal-intervention label Scar of the Sea. This fresh chardy comes from three blocks within Santa Maria's famed Bien Nacido Vineyard. Each block is picked and native fermented separately in a neutral barrel, where it goes through a full malolactic fermentation before ageing in barrel and steel for 17 months. The extended lees contact is evident, padding the slight palate and supporting subtly sweet lemon verbena, chalk, and stones. Tight, energetic, and mineral-driven, this finishes long in the mouth. Impressive. 150 cases.Prices: USA 38.00 Producer: Scar of the Sea
Read Full Note
Domaine Chevalier Pére & Fils Corton-Charlemagne Grand Crutext
93PTS

Domaine Chevalier Pére & Fils Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru 2017

Côte de Beaune, Côte d'Or, Burgundy, FranceMarcelle Dubois, along with his daughter and son-in-law, Emile Chevalier, inherited the estate just after WWI, and subsequent generations have continually pushed the needle forward towards higher quality wines. The domaine now covers 266 ha over Ladoix and Buisson, at the northern tip of the Côte de Beaune and the edge of the Côte de Nuits. It comes from two parcels in Corton-Charlemagne, ranging from 10-36 years' vine age. This was oak fermented and aged for 11 months in 50% new wood. Big, creamy, and rich with youthful exuberance and the aforementioned wood, which at this stage overlays the pristine lemon curd, marzipan, smoked flinty notes that are smouldering underneath - so young, and so much tightly knit power just waiting its time to unfurl here. Revisit in five years.Prices: ON 194.95 Producer: Domaine Chevalier Pére & Fils
Read Full Note

13 February 2020

Chateau Ste. Michelle Indian Wells Red Blendtext
87PTS

Chateau Ste. Michelle Indian Wells Red Blend 2016

Columbia Valley, Washington, United StatesThis is quite the blend: 54% syrah, 27% merlot, 7% malbec, 4% grenache, 3% cabernet sauvignon, 2% cabernet franc, 1% cinsault, 1% barbera, and 1% mourvedre. From "warmer sites" across the Columbia Valley. It was aged for 18 months in French and American oak (29 percent new). The result is a vinous red with loads of oak spice and brambly black fruits. Medium-full bodied, the woody notes carry through to the palate with firm, grainy tannins that dry out the finish. Overall, it's a confected style that shows a lot of winemaking. It will benefit from a fatty, medium-rare burger and a slight chill.Prices: BC 29.99 ON 22.95 NS 29.99 Producer: Chateau Ste. Michelle
Read Full Note
Pax The Vicar North Coast Red Winetext
91PTS

Pax The Vicar North Coast Red Wine 2016

North Coast Region, California, United StatesThis is Rhone meets California, via 50/50 Alder Springs grenache and Sonoma's Bedrock Vineyard mourvèdre. The grenache is high altitude, and the mourvèdre is old vines, planted in 1881. After a whole cluster native ferment, this aged in a single concrete egg for 18 months. Concentrated, yet with the candied lifted note from the whole cluster, this draws sapid plum, sweet cassis, wild blueberry, sapid cherry, purple florals, white pepper along a slow, concrete-textural palate, housed by sticky, plump tannins. For all it's heat-seeking grenache and old vine mourvèdre magnitude, this remains light on its feet, as is Pax's way.Prices: BC 75.00 Producer: Pax Mahle Wines
Read Full Note
Capçanes Peraj Petitatext
89PTS

Capçanes Peraj Petita 2017

Montsant, Catalunya (Catalonia Cataluña), SpainA Kosher wine may have never tasted so good. This simple, well made red is half grenache with varying amounts of tempranillo, merlot and syrah. The attack is floral and fresh with soft, velvety red fruits. A surprisingly pleasing hedonistic style that is well suited to slightly spicy food. It was perfect with a vegetable and pork stir fry. Kosher for Passover.Prices: BC 25.99 Producer: Celler de Capçanes
Read Full Note
Duseigneur La Chapelle Côtes du Rhône Organictext
87PTS

Duseigneur La Chapelle Côtes du Rhône Organic 2016

Côtes du Rhône, Rhone Valley, FranceThis soft, easy, simple organic Côtes du Rhône blends old vine grenache with equal parts syrah, each vinified separately in concrete before blending and bottling. Cherry, juicy plum, milk chocolate and peppery spicing floats on the palate, with light, hard-press tannins framing the sides, and an earthy forest floor basing this medium bodied red. The finish is short and pasty, best taken alongside roasted root veg or French onion soup.Prices: BC 24.49 Producer: Domaine Duseigneur
Read Full Note
L'Ancienne Mercerie Les Petites Mains Faugèrestext
88PTS

L'Ancienne Mercerie Les Petites Mains Faugères 2016

Faugères, Coteaux du Languedoc, Languedoc, South of France, FranceNathalie and François Caumette have taken over the family's 16 ha organic estate in Faugères. This is a blend of carignan, syrah, grenache noir, mourvèdre, grown on schistous soils, and split between demi-muids and concrete. Perfumed dark plum, black raspberry, sits on an easy, accessible palate, with downy tannins that close quickly on the saline finish. Showing some maturity, and best taken now alongside grilled pork or pigeon.Prices: BC 30.99 Producer: Nathalie et Francois Caumette
Read Full Note
Famille Perrin Vacqueyras Les Christinstext
89PTS

Famille Perrin Vacqueyras Les Christins 2017

Côtes du Rhône, Rhone Valley, FranceFrom the stony clay terraces of this 8ha vineyard on the Sarrians commune, and from grenache and syrah (80/20) vines averaging 50 years, this fermented and aged in a mix of foudres and large tanks of 50hL. Plush, super ripe and dense with dark cherry and black raspberry, the sticky tannins are silky, and ample, sliding the plump fruit to a warming finish. Decant and pour into large glasses alongside roasted lamb.Prices: BC 26.99 QC 24.95 ON 23.95 NF 30.00 Producer: Famille Perrin
Read Full Note
Road 13 Syrah Malbectext
87PTS

Road 13 Syrah Malbec 2017

British Columbia, CanadaSyrah and malbec (79/21) may not make for a classic blend, but when you think about it, the combination makes a lot of sense. Both varieties have a number of similarities and they can be easy to confuse in blind tastings, especially in the new world. However, in this case it’s really the oak driving the bus, with lots of espresso and raw wood character. Otherwise, the fruit is ripe and jammy, topping in at 14.7% abv. A wine for the ‘big red’ crowd, but at a price that doesn't deliver exceptional value.Prices: BC 32.00 Producer: Road 13
Read Full Note

12 February 2020

M. Chapoutier Hermitage Chante Alouette Blanctext
92PTS

M. Chapoutier Hermitage Chante Alouette Blanc 2017

Southern Rhone, Rhone Valley, FranceChante-Alouette is one-third vat fermented in large 600-litre oak barrels, and the rest is fermented in stainless steel. The fruit comes off three select sites: Le Méal, an old fluvioglacial alluvial deposit; granitic and alluvial Les Murets; and Chante-Alouette, set on loess soil with a fine layer of clay and limestone. It yields a complex marsanne. The attack is rich and powerful with expressive pear, lemon, and bitter orange notes of bergamot. The palate is long and persistent with ripe peach, butter, and almonds that linger forever. The fruit is farmed biodynamically and this wine can be aged for decades. A top-flight wine at a bargain price; serve with robust white meat dishes or cheeses. Real wine. The highly sought after appellation of Hermitage is named after the tiny chapel at its highest point, once home to hermits and later used by bird hunters, like Michel Chapoutier’s grandfather. Alouette is a kind of bird. Chante Alouette means Sing Alouette.Prices: BC 84.99 ON 89.95 QC 77.25 Producer: M. Chapoutier
Read Full Note
M. Chapoutier Ermitage Le Méal Rougetext
96PTS

M. Chapoutier Ermitage Le Méal Rouge 2012

Hermitage, Northern Rhone, Rhone Valley, FranceThe le Méal hillside fruit is 100 percent syrah grown across high terraces of shingles and clay on 50+ year old vines. The fermentation is in small cement vats, leaving supple, round, smooth sipping tannins. Chapoutier keeps only the free run juice for Le Méal, matured in new or one year old casks for 14-18 months. It was more concentrated and more accessible to taste than the L’Orée. Look for smoky blackberry jam and dense, soft tannins that preview the ability to age for 20 to 40 years and beyond. I love that black pepper and mineral underbody that keeps it balanced and fresh. A super wine that is only just beginning to open up in the bottle.Prices: BC 243.00 AB 275.00 Producer: M. Chapoutier
Read Full Note
M. Chapoutier Saint Joseph Les Granits Rougetext
93PTS

M. Chapoutier Saint Joseph Les Granits Rouge 2017

Saint Joseph, Northern Rhone, Rhone Valley, FranceParts of Saint Joseph, like Hermitage, is on elevated soil with a high granite composition that seems to lend both syrah and marsanne an authentic styling, setting those wines against the bottles from the broader appellation. The hill above the village of Tournon, across the Rhône from Tain, is almost as steep as Hermitage, facing mostly south. Old, very low-yielding vines are at the heart of this wine. It’s a fully biodynamic and organic wine with intensely spicy, black pepper, red fruits, and sweet sausage. The attack is dry and supple with juicy black cherry, and peppery, stony, mineral fruit. Only just beginning life, but its a good one to bet on ageing and becoming an impressive member of the syrah society.Prices: CDN 81.00 AB 95.00 Producer: M. Chapoutier
Read Full Note
M. Chapoutier Saint Joseph Les Granits Blanctext
91PTS

M. Chapoutier Saint Joseph Les Granits Blanc 2017

Saint Joseph, Northern Rhone, Rhone Valley, FranceChapoutier's oldest marsanne is hand-harvested off the steep granite slopes in the south of Tournon. Half of the wine is fermented in vats, the other part in big wooden barrels (600 litres) and aged on its lees from 8 to 10 months with battonage. The nose is a tour of apricots, nuts, honey, butter, lemon, and spicy, floral aromas. The attack is elegant with honey, nuts, lemon, apricot, pear skin, and ginger that finishes long and with great persistence. Drink or hold for 50 years.Prices: CDN 71.99 Producer: M. Chapoutier
Read Full Note
M. Chapoutier Hermitage Monier de la Sizeranne Rougetext
94PTS

M. Chapoutier Hermitage Monier de la Sizeranne Rouge 2014

Hermitage, Northern Rhone, Rhone Valley, FranceAll syrah, la Sizeranne grows on sandy limestone alluvial soils with varying clay content, Tournon granite, and aeolian silt, including decomposed granite from the plots located at the top of the slopes. The parcels involved blend different soils from west to east: Les Bessards, Le Méal, and Les Greffieux. It’s all vinified on indigenous yeast in concrete before ageing 18 months ageing in mostly (85%) new, one and two year old French oak barrels. Expect an inviting red fruit nose with liquorice and spice. It is surprisingly round with intense blackcurrant, peppery fruit that screams Hermitage. Roast beef or ripe cheese is a terrific match. It will age effortlessly thorough 2030. Monier de la Sizeranne comes from the name of an important Tain L’Hermitage family. This family also owned the La Sizeranne vineyard. This influential Monnier family has been around since 1790: Henri Monier de la Sizeranne, senator; Maxime Monier de la Sizeranne, painter; Maurice Monier de la Sizeranne, the man responsible for creating a version of Braille (one of the reasons why Chapoutier has Braille on its bottle labels); Robert Monier de la Sizeranne, translator of Ruskin’s book. The label displays a lion, which is the Sizeranne family crest.Prices: CDN 117.00 Producer: M. Chapoutier
Read Full Note
M. Chapoutier Crozes-Hermitage Les Varonnierstext
95PTS

M. Chapoutier Crozes-Hermitage Les Varonniers 2016

Crozes Hermitage, Northern Rhone, Rhone Valley, FranceLes Varonniers is a small 2.55-hectare block of syrah on the west-facing mistral-whipped side of the Hermitage hill. The soil here at Varognes, its historical name, is more Hermitage than Crozes-Hermitage, adding more complexity to this version of Crozes. Varonniers contains additional fruit from the old syrah vines in the Les Meysonniers in southern Crozes-Hermitage, hence the Les Varonniers moniker, a contraction of the two vineyard sites. I love the energy in this wine. The mid-palate is alive and fresh with a mix of red and black fruit, licorice and a savoury undercurrent. Not as intense as Hermitage but certainly as complex as it gets for Crozes-Hermitage. You can age this seven to ten years with no worries.Prices: CDN 77.99 Producer: M. Chapoutier
Read Full Note
M. Chapoutier Ermitage L'Ermite Rougetext
96PTS

M. Chapoutier Ermitage L'Ermite Rouge 2011

Hermitage, Northern Rhone, Rhone Valley, FranceErmitage L'Ermite is a standalone wine representing the best of the hill of Hermitage and Chapoutier's grandest crus. The vines average over 80 years and the yields are minuscule. Look for peppery, spicy, black cherry, smoky, gamey, prune aromas laced with garrigue. The attack is powerful but elegant with a layer of complexity that persistent throughout the wine as you drink it. It is something special and not to be missed. The palate is awash in black cherry, liquorice, and minerality. It's bolder than La Meal but in the right way. It is a dissertation in syrah. Ermitage L'Ermite Rouge is 100 percent syrah, all hand-harvested from 3.8 acres atop the Hermitage hill, entirely destemmed and vinified in a small, concrete vat. Maceration runs five to six weeks before the free run juice is transferred into new or one year old barrels to be matured for 18 to 20 months. L'Ermite is a select parcel that originates from some of the most famous plots in the Rhône, including 34 hectares within the tiny Hermitage appellation.Prices: CDN 425.00 Producer: M. Chapoutier
Read Full Note
M. Chapoutier De L'Orée Ermitage Blanctext
97PTS

M. Chapoutier De L'Orée Ermitage Blanc 2012

Hermitage, Northern Rhone, Rhone Valley, FranceThere are no cru designated wines in the Rhone, but there are lieux-dits, named places that denote unique vineyard sites and plots within each appellation. Chapoutier owns some of the most famous plots in the Rhône, including 34 hectares within the tiny Hermitage appellation. Labelled Selections Parcellaires, they are simply the best from Chapoutier, of course grown organically and biodynamically. The De L'Orée moniker was the idea of Michel Chapoutier's grandfather, who selected the site at the eastern edge of Hermitage Hill. Orée means edge in French. Orée also references the colour of the wine as or means gold in French. De L'Orée is made from 100 percent marsanne with production rarely over 600 cases. It is always intense as a function of meagre yields and very high ripeness, all run through a barrel fermentation. The site is the alluvial Coteaux des Murets in the eastern part of Hermitage Hill. The nose is a mineral, stony affair with lemons and floral undertones. Intense and persistent, it is aged in new 500 litre demi-muids, but you don't feel it. It is one of the longest-living dry white wines in France.Prices: AB 315.00 QC 289.75 NS 325.80 Producer: M. Chapoutier
Read Full Note

10 February 2020

Quails' Gate Riesling Icewinetext
90PTS

Quails' Gate Riesling Icewine 2014

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis is just beginning to show some evolution, with baked tropical fruits, honey, beeswax, and lemon curd. The palate is pristine and precise, with laser-like, zippy acidity that really refreshes the palate and miraculously manages to cut through the 248 g/L residual sugar (!). This makes for an interesting comparison to the Noble One, and shows the clear stylistic differences between Icewine and botrytis-affected wines, with the former showing much more varietal character and demonstrating why high-acid riesling is so adept at making great sweet wines.Prices: BC 35.00 200 AB 35.00 200 SK 35.00 200 MB 35.00 200 ON 35.00 200 Producer: Quails' Gate Vineyards Estate Winery
Read Full Note
De Bortoli Noble One Botrytis Semillontext
92PTS

De Bortoli Noble One Botrytis Semillon 2014

New South Wales, AustraliaNow quite evolved (from a 375mL bottle), look for a medium amber colour and lots of dried orange, lemon, honey, and nuts on the nose, lacking the overt oak of a Sauternes or the racy acidity of a Tokaji. The palate is unctuous with 231 g/L residual sugar, but with surprising freshness on the palate (9.9 g/L total acidity) due to the concentrating effect of using botrytis-affected fruit. The concentration is superb, with pronounced botrytis character that shows why Noble One is one of the world’s great sweet wines. And it’s all yours at a very affordable price, too. I like this as a dessert on its own, and don’t feel like you need to finish the entire bottle in one sitting. It’ll hold in your fridge for at least 2-3 weeks.Prices: BC 39.95 375 AB 37.95 375 ON 29.95 375 QC 27.00 375 NS 33.00 375 Producer: De Bortoli Wines
Read Full Note
Niepoort Tawny Porttext
89PTS

Niepoort Tawny Port NV

Douro Valley, Northern Portugal, PortugalFrom three schistous soiled vineyards in the Douro and vines upwards of 30 years, this is a blend of Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinto Cão, Tinta Francisca, Tinta Amarela, Sousão, Tinta Roriz, fermented in lagares with foot treading, and aged in small oak casks for 3.5 years. Mouthfilling and welcoming, with dried raisins, dark butterscotch, caramel kisses and hints of dark cocoa. The sweetness is held in check, thankfully, by a striving acidity. Beauty for drinking now.Prices: ON 17.95 Producer: Niepoort (Vinhos) S.A.
Read Full Note
Niepoort Dry Whitetext
90PTS

Niepoort Dry White NV

Douro Valley, Northern Portugal, PortugalThis dry white is a blend of Côdega, Rabigato, Viosinho, Arinto and Gouveio from Douro's Covelinhas and Pombal vineyards and vines upward of 30 years. After fermentation in open lagares, this aged in small old oak casks for 3.5 years before release. It is on the drier side of White Ports, with a lovely wash of salinity that counters the golden raisin, savoury marmalade, honeysuckle, dried oolong tea, broken stones, salt-roasted almonds, finishing with creamy warming marzipan notes. Lovely solo sipping (on the rocks) and ideal for a Port Tonic. Fantastic value.Prices: ON 17.95 Producer: Niepoort (Vinhos) S.A.
Read Full Note
Hester Creek Late Harvest Pinot Blanctext
88PTS

Hester Creek Late Harvest Pinot Blanc 2018

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe old Block 4 pinot blanc planted in 1968 is the perfect medium for this dessert-style wine. At 72 grams per litre of residual sugar, it’s plenty sweet, but the handpicked, sorted, and whole-cluster fruit comes with a freshness that keeps it lively on the palate. 2018 was a crazy year that ended early and cool, adding to the acidity and ripeness of this mid-weight juicy peach, orange, pear sweetie that is ready to drink. The winery chef suggests you serve it with poached honey peaches and a blue cheese crumble with caramelized walnuts.Prices: BC 18.95 200 Producer: Hester Creek Estate Winery
Read Full Note
CedarCreek Platinum Riesling Icewinetext
90PTS

CedarCreek Platinum Riesling Icewine 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe Platinum Riesling Icewine is all handpicked during the night, in this case on December 27, 2017, when the temperature was -10 C. Gently pressed over 36 hours, it is fermented in large oak vessels. The nose is a mix of the classic new shower curtain, with bright notes of tangerine, apricot, and white flowers before the sugar kicks in and enraptures the taster. Aged cheese, bacon and blue cheese, charcuterie, foie gras on crostini, it all works here. Chocolate would be equally at home with this wine. Fine quality.Prices: BC 53.00 375 Producer: CedarCreek Estate Winery
Read Full Note
Fonseca 10 Year Old Aged Tawny Porttext
91PTS

Fonseca 10 Year Old Aged Tawny Port NV

Douro Valley, Northern Portugal, PortugalThe Fonseca 10 Year Old comes by its tawny colour naturally, spending ten years ageing in Portuguese pipes. These ten years in casks sculpts its spicy tea and walnut nose with pungent rancio, cedar, and cherry notes. The front end is mellow with spiced fruitcake, walnuts, golden raisin compote and black tea. A smooth, silky, extended finish that persists for minutes. Youthful, but ready to drink.Prices: BC 39.99 AB 40.00 QC 34.75 Producer: Fonseca Guimaraens
Read Full Note
Fonseca Bin No 27 Finest Reserve Porttext
88PTS

Fonseca Bin No 27 Finest Reserve Port NV

Douro Valley, Northern Portugal, PortugalAs famous as Fonseca Vintage Port is, you can multiply those drinkers by thousands who when it comes to Bin 27. It was launched more than 40 years ago in Britain but has become a particular favourite in North American. The market was searching for a no-fuss port with some power and fruit, right up Fonseca’s driveway. The goal was “a smooth, full-bodied and densely fruity blend in a style known at the time as 'vintage character' but usually known today as a finest reserve". The firm was in the habit of naming its crusted ports using bin numbers and Bin 27 was born. Little has changed today. The attack is sweet and spicy with a touch of fire, sugared blackberry, cassis, dark cocoa, black tea, and finished with black pepper. Christmas pudding comes to mind.Prices: BC 23.99 MB 17.00 NS 23.00 SK 23.00 NB 24.00 Producer: Fonseca Guimaraens
Read Full Note
Fonseca Vintage Porttext
96PTS

Fonseca Vintage Port 2017

Douro Valley, Northern Portugal, PortugalQuinta do Panascal is the heart of this terrific release, and it was the first Fonseca quinta to start picking on 6 September. The opening is highly attractive and frankly a little less boisterous than Fonseca can be in most vintage years. Don’t be fooled. The legendary black fruit and minty floral notes swirl about the wine. As lush as the attack is, there is a wonderful counterbalance to the plenty in the glass: a stony, mineral, undercurrent followed by an unexpected level of dryness in the finish. As much fun as it is to drink now, it will easily wait 20-30 years for the ultimate expression of the year and the property.Prices: BC 159.00 AB 149.00 ON 143.00 QC 140.00 MB 125.00 SK 129.00 Producer: Fonseca Guimaraens
Read Full Note
Croft Vintage Porttext
96PTS

Croft Vintage Port 2017

Douro Valley, Northern Portugal, PortugalBack to back vintages in Port is a rare as it gets but it will be fun to follow 2016 and 2017 as they head down the road for the next 50-100 years. It’s a highly seductive Croft in 2017, now fully restored to its former glory under the hands of Fladgate Partnership. Dense, rich, dry, and packed with sweet tannins, this juicy, youthful black and red-fruited port is exotic, intoxicating, and only a baby. One of the rewards of ageing is you can better identify those wines that will go the distance and this is one of them. Climate change challenges notwithstanding, I love this wine picked on 31 August, the earliest start date for over 70 years.Prices: BC 125.99 AB 120.00 ON 126.00 Producer: Taylor Fladgate Partnership
Read Full Note
Taylor Fladgate Vintage Porttext
97PTS

Taylor Fladgate Vintage Port 2017

Douro Valley, Northern Portugal, PortugalDry best describes the 2017 vintage. April and May were warm, and June was sweltering, all leading to an early crop that was picked beginning September 1, the earliest since 1945 at Taylor. The excellent news is harvest temperatures were mild with cool nights providing ideal fermentation conditions. Typically opaque at this stage, the nose is at once opulent and polished filled with floral violets, dried wild herbs and hints of black raspberry. On the palate, its power and muscularity are restained, but seemingly ready at a moment's notice to ignite the long, linear finish. Savoury, fruity and dry at once, it is a complex creature in need of 20 more years in the bottle. Again following this and 2016 is going to be fun for decades. You will not be disappointed.Prices: BC 169.99 QC 156.00 NL 155.00 AB 169.00 Producer: Taylor Fladgate Partnership
Read Full Note
Quevedo Tawny Porttext
85PTS

Quevedo Tawny Port NV

Douro Valley, Northern Portugal, PortugalThis is an entry-level Tawny port that is youthful on the one hand, but with with stewed, oxidized notes likely indicative of a rushed élevage. The palate is even more aldehydic with bitter coffee ground notes leading to an astringent finish. Try this slightly chilled with blue cheese.Prices: BC 24.99 Producer: Vinhos Oscar Quevedo
Read Full Note

05 February 2020

M. Chapoutier Marius Grenache Syrahtext
87PTS

M. Chapoutier Marius Grenache Syrah 2018

Languedoc, South of France, FranceMarius is a blend of grenache and syrah from the Languedoc-Roussillon. Michel Chapoutier named the wine after his grandfather Marius, and then went about making delicious drinking, highly-affordable red wine. The fruity, open, pleasant, red-fruited grenache is the foil to the power and structure of the syrah. Post ferment, the wines are racked several times and left to mature without any sulphur on fine lees, to solidify the wine's complex elements. Each variety is kept separate to achieve the best possible blend. This juicy, garrigue-dusted red over-delivers for its price and complexity. It is a food-friendly red perfect for grilled chicken kabobs or lamb chops.Prices: ON 11.95 QC 14.60 Producer: M. Chapoutier
Read Full Note
M. Chapoutier Les Arènes Cornastext
93PTS

M. Chapoutier Les Arènes Cornas 2016

Cornas, Northern Rhone, Rhone Valley, FranceThe vineyard is on the slopes inside the village of Cornas, partly on decomposed granite known locally as "gore", and partly on clay and calcareous alluvial deposits. Black plum, roast pepper, savoury, floral notes are mixed with curry, barnyard, and prune, and this is only the beginning. The palate is equally impressive with its bright, fresh demeanour of peppery, mineral, dense black and red fruit, liquorice, and spiced plum. The ageing is 80/20 in French oak and concrete. An excellent cheese wine for after dinner, or cellar for ten to fifteen years. “Les Arènes” (sands) comes from the term “Arènes granitiques” (granitic sands), a geological phenomenon that arises with the decomposition of granite caused by water and wind, giving the soil a sandy nature. The Cornas appellation name comes from the Celtic for “Burnt Land.”Prices: SK 42.97 NB 59.99 Producer: M. Chapoutier
Read Full Note
M. Chapoutier Chateauneuf-du-Pape La Bernardine Rougetext
90PTS

M. Chapoutier Chateauneuf-du-Pape La Bernardine Rouge 2016

Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Southern Rhone, Rhone Valley, FranceLa Bernadine is mostly grenache with ten percent of syrah and mourvedre, explaining why so much red fruit can be found on the nose. Chapoutier describes this wine in terms of ripe red cherries. Add licorice and garrigue as well. Like most Chapoutier wines, there is the terroir lurking everywhere. The attack is generous with dense tannins tracking toward a more opulent, softer style, less about refinement, and more about power. The palate is a mix of juicy raspberry/black plum fruit with flecks of orange, wet stony minerality, licorice, more garrigue, and savoury, roasted pepper. 2016 looks like a wine that will be better consumed mid-term, around 2023. That said, Chapoutier remains indifferent about vintages, saying, “each year tells its story. Under the Chapoutier biodynamic farming regime, it is usually a story worth tasting.”Prices: BC 52.99 AB 44.95 MB 53.99 QC 51.95 Producer: M. Chapoutier
Read Full Note
M. Chapoutier Belleruche Côtes du Rhône Rosétext
88PTS

M. Chapoutier Belleruche Côtes du Rhône Rosé 2018

Côtes du Rhône, Rhone Valley, FranceChapoutier practices débourbage, allowing the juice to settle for 24 hours, gently imparting its colour to the wine. Expect a perfectly pale salmon colour, previewing an inviting floral red fruit nose. It’s so fresh and juicy with bright citrus, strawberry, watermelon, bergamot and a light dusting of pepper. While it would be fine at the beach, it will be equally capable at the dinner table alongside a charcuterie plate. Love the wine and the price. The fruit, night-harvested, is mostly grenache with cinsault, then syrah comes from the right bank of the Rhône, from vines planted in loess and sandy soils.Prices: BC 21.99 MB 17.99 Producer: M. Chapoutier
Read Full Note
M. Chapoutier Crozes-Hermitage Les Meysonniers Blanctext
91PTS

M. Chapoutier Crozes-Hermitage Les Meysonniers Blanc 2018

Crozes Hermitage, Northern Rhone, Rhone Valley, FranceLes Meysonniers is not a single plot but a collection of sites located on the lower slopes and the flats just south and east of the hill of Hermitage. The soil is composed of Isère River sedimentary soils, and large, round pebbles. The 20- 40-year-old vines are at the centre of this Crozes-Hermitage Blanc, a 100 percent marsanne that is 90+ percent stainless steel fermented. Expect a pale yellow colour with flecks of green. Floral and quince wafts from the glass, with a creamy, brioche, nutty finish. An electric wine that is all Chapoutier. The name of the Crozes-Hermitage appellation comes from the Latin “Crozem,” which means ”Croix” in French. ”Croix” has two meanings: cross or intersection. Certified organic since 2012.Prices: CDN 34.99 Producer: M. Chapoutier
Read Full Note
M. Chapoutier Belleruche Côtes du Rhône Rougetext
89PTS

M. Chapoutier Belleruche Côtes du Rhône Rouge 2018

Côtes du Rhône, Rhone Valley, FranceBelleruche has always been a classy little Rhone red that punches above its weight, and the story continued in 2018. The site is a jumble of terroirs, including pebbly clay, soils with layers of stones, clay terraces and silty-sand. The grapes are vinified in concrete and stainless steel tanks for 3-4 weeks. The nose is a rush of savoury black cherry, anise, with a lick of iron. The fruit mix is grenache and syrah, the attack is juicy with white pepper and black fruit before a touch of meatiness and garrigue fill in the back end. It is a great weekday red and a label that should be on a lot of restaurant lists. Grilled lamb, beef, mushrooms, and more will work well. Back up the truck.

VIDEO: Tour the hill of Hermitage and learn more about the M. Chapoutier philosophy.
https://youtu.be/mz7EQ5RweZk
Prices: BC 18.99 AB 17.99 ON 17.99 QC 17.95 Producer: M. Chapoutier
Read Full Note
M. Chapoutier Crozes-Hermitage Les Meysonniers Rougetext
90PTS

M. Chapoutier Crozes-Hermitage Les Meysonniers Rouge 2017

Crozes Hermitage, Northern Rhone, Rhone Valley, FranceAlways one of the very best value Crozes-Hermitage, Les Meysonniers comes off the lower slopes and the flats south and east of the hill Hermitage. The vines are a quarter-century old and are 100 percent organic. Chapoutier says the vineyard's soils allow the roots to go deep, tapping minerality you do not see in other Crozes-Hermitage. Vinifying and ageing it in concrete further enhances its natural flavours. The nose is a full-frontal assault of red and black plum with persistent, gentle spicing, and a twist of garrigue. That said, the attack is elegant and measured with a meaty, peppery, savoury finish. The winery describes the Meysonniers Rouge as a "bistro-nomic" red made for home cooking. I agree, and suggest pork or lamb to pair now and over the next decade.Prices: BC 28.99 AB 28.49 MB 29.95 QC 27.65 Producer: M. Chapoutier
Read Full Note

04 February 2020

Culmina Family Estate Hypothesistext
90PTS

Culmina Family Estate Hypothesis 2014

Golden Mile Bench, Oliver, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis year's Hypothesis blends 45% cabernet sauvignon, 33% merlot, and 22% cabernet franc from estate vineyards on the Golden Mile Bench. This spent 16 months in French barrel, 30% new, which was a welcome shift lower. A current release now, this is just starting to unravel itself from its tightly knit cocoon, and still welcomes a decant or time in glass. Savoury, this has a potent green desert herbaceousness that spines this full bodied red, padded out with savoury black cherry, cassis, shaved cedar, and cracked nutmeg. Tannins are ample and furry, housing the dense fruit through a spiced cake / roasted coffee finish.Prices: BC 46.00 Producer: Culmina Family Estate Winery
Read Full Note
Clos du Soleil Estate Reserve Redtext
92PTS

Clos du Soleil Estate Reserve Red 2015

Similkameen Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe Estate Reserve Red and White symbolize the pinnacle of Clos du Soleil's portfolio and their Keremeos estate vineyard. This vintage blends 57% cabernet sauvignon, 17% merlot, 16% cabernet franc, 8% malbec, and 2% petit verdot into a layered, expressive, bigger red, one with elegance and finesse. Each variety was harvested and native fermented separately, and matured in French oak for 15 months prior to the final blend. Once blended and integrated in tank for 2 months, the wine was bottled unfined and unfiltered. The additional bottle aging prior to release is beneficial; this is a serious red ready for drinking now (new release 2015), with waves of red currant, graphite, dusty stone, leather, pine, cracked cedar, and ripe fragrant plum on a slightly textural / pencil shavings dusted palate. Tannins are firm but worn just soft on the edges with time, giving this the structure to counter the very hot 2015 (which pokes its head through at points), partner with roasted red meats, but also the considered elegance for solo sipping. Ageworthy, and a classic Similkameen summary.Prices: BC 53.00 Producer: Clos du Soleil Winery
Read Full Note
Clos du Soleil Signaturetext
92PTS

Clos du Soleil Signature 2016

British Columbia, CanadaThis year's Signature, an aptly named flagship blend, mixes cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet franc, petit verdot, and malbec , with fruit from various vineyards in the Similkameen Valley. Each block was harvested separately, destemmed and native fermented in concrete before moving to French oak for 15 months aging. Signature is a barrel blend of the best. This year violets and pencil shavings rule the palate, bolstered by juicy black plum, black pepper, toasted cedar. The medium+ palate is firm with tannins, while the palate has a gentle softness that counters very well. A lovely finessed balance and depth in such a young wine, one that will reward with cellaring, and shows the excellent 2016 vintage perfectly.Prices: BC 39.90 Producer: Clos du Soleil Winery
Read Full Note
Quails' Gate The Allisontext
87PTS

Quails' Gate The Allison 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis is a blend of 61 percent syrah and 39 percent cabernet franc sourced from Osoyoos, aged in neutral oak for 20 months. The fruit is fairly muted, verging on tired, and doesn't show a lot of obvious character from either variety. Medium-bodied, it has soft acidity with coarse, bitter tannins. All in all, it's a solid pour for a cold Tuesday night; just give it some help at the dinner table with a hearty protein. Drink now.Prices: BC 24.99 Producer: Quails' Gate Vineyards Estate Winery
Read Full Note

03 February 2020

Quails' Gate Old Vines Foch Reservetext
87PTS

Quails' Gate Old Vines Foch Reserve 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada50+ year old estate marechal foch grapes are treated to a lavish new American oak barrel treatment, probably the only thing that could stand up to these sinewy, dense, concentrated hybrid grapes. Sour cherry jam, prune, baked tomato, green branch and whole peppercorns play off the spiced vanilla / toasted wood. Yes, this is intense, and yes, this is disjointed. Give it a little time in bottle to come together, and then pair with your favourite tomato braised beef / root veg stew.Prices: BC 46.99 Producer: Quails' Gate Vineyards Estate Winery
Read Full Note
Quails' Gate Old Vines Foch Reservetext
88PTS

Quails' Gate Old Vines Foch Reserve 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaCertainly a unique wine for BC, this old vine (50+ yo vines) marechal foch comes from Quails' Gate home estate vineyard, was fermented with selected French yeasts and matured in new American oak. The spicy power of the wood plays well against the resinous / raisiny prune character of the grapes and this wine. Dark chocolate, baked plums, stewed forest berries are cut with a sharp green tomato note, leaving this intense wine somewhat disjointed on the finish. Tannins are slight and sticky. As usual, makes for a great beef / root veg stew accompaniment.Prices: BC 39.94 Producer: Quails' Gate Vineyards Estate Winery
Read Full Note
Quails' Gate Old Vines Fochtext
87PTS

Quails' Gate Old Vines Foch 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaFrom Quails' Gate's Osoyoos Vineyard, this was fermented and aged in a combination of neutral French and American oak for 20 months. (The Reserve version has a substantial kick of new oak, in comparison.) The style comes across slightly forced, arguably more zinfandel-like than foch, with dense, jammy dark fruits and cola. Medium-full bodied, this is quite soft and round, with grainy tannins and a slightly stunted, bitter finish from the 14.5% abv. I like this slightly chilled as it brings out a bit more freshness, but it's a solid winter red nonetheless. Bring out the burgers.Prices: BC 25.99 AB 24.99 ON 27.00 Producer: Quails' Gate Vineyards Estate Winery
Read Full Note