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Anthony Gismondi on Wine
Tasting Notes

Tastings: December 2019

13 December 2019

Quails' Gate Old Vines Foch Reservetext
88PTS

Quails' Gate Old Vines Foch Reserve 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis almost has the character of old school Rioja with baked black fruits combined with gobs of coconut and dill from the American oak. However, it doesn't have the freshness inherent to tempranillo, and finishes short with coarse, bitter tannins. Sure, you can find this style of wine in Rioja for $20-30 as opposed to $46.99, but it's an interesting detour from the Okanagan status quo and certainly one of the top expressions of maréchal foch you're going to find. The concentration from these 50+ year-old vines is evident.Prices: BC 46.99 Producer: Quails' Gate Vineyards Estate Winery
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Tiberio  Montepulciano d'Abruzzotext
88PTS

Tiberio Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 2016

Abruzzo, ItalyTwenty years ago, in 2000, Riccardo Tiberio found an old plot of trebbiano abruzzese vines roughly 60 years old at 350m altitude, near the hillside town of Cugnolia, 40km from the sea. It was so impressive he bought the vineyards and surrounding lands, and started planting indigenous varieties matched to the various soils: montepulciano d’abruzzo, trebbiano abruzzese, aglianico, pecorino, moscato di castiglione clones, all massale, from ancient vines. Today the estate is run by his children, Cristiana and Antonio. This montepulciano is from 55 year old vines on calcarious clay soils, fermented and aged in stainless for three months. Dried roses and scrubby herbs permeate the pomegranate, red currant, strawberry jam, red liquorice that fill the medium palate. Tannins are fine and acidity is high, both key at floating the 14 degrees alcohol. Best with a slight chill.Prices: BC 25.99 Producer: Agricola Tiberio
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Stags' Leap Petite Sirahtext
92PTS

Stags' Leap Petite Sirah 2016

Napa Valley, California, United StatesThe ’16 PS is another terrific effort by winemaker Christophe Paubert. It comes from a handful of ancient vines on the estate and other sites in the north and south of Napa Valley. It’s big and rich awash in fruit, but it comes with complexity of flavours, namely black pepper, raspberries and bitter, dark chocolate. The acidity keeps the wine fresh and linear; the tannins are dense and will give it a long life, but you can drink this wine now, and that is its charm and brilliance. Winemaker Christophe Paubert also uses a small but varying mix of syrah, grenache and mourvèdre to add complexity and balance to the blend. First-class and you can cellar this more than a decade — Paubert practices traditional methods to showcase the unique nature of the petite sirah fruit. Avoiding over extraction, the wine went through a relatively short maceration period (9-12 days on average) that included fermentation, and two of these lots were co-fermented with Viognier to reinforce the floral character of the Petite Sirah. The wine aged for 12 months in American oak barrels (25% new).Prices: BC 46.99 AB 42.95 ON 58.99 Producer: Stags' Leap Winery
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Oak Bay Vineyard Fochtext
83PTS

Oak Bay Vineyard Foch 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaFoxy foch lives up to its reputation in this 2017 Oak Bay release. Tomato leaf, balsamic, stewed rhubarb, bitter cherry take over a soft, soupy palate, finishing with a pasty tug. Perhaps best taken with / in a tomato-based ragu?Prices: BC 22.00 Producer: St. Hubertus & Oak Bay Estate Winery
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Wilson Foreigner Rancho Chimiles Valdiguiétext
91PTS

Wilson Foreigner Rancho Chimiles Valdiguié 2017

Napa County, California, United StatesIntriguing obscurities abound in this Napa red, a 100% valdiguié from Rancho Chimiles in southeastern Napa County. David Wilson was inspired to launch his Napa label Wilson Foreigner after tasting a bottling his parents had home vinified from a small block of old vine valdiguié at his family’s ranch. This prolific vine, borne of southwest France, was once known as Napa Gamay, a name that wasn't corrected until 1980 (and Californians STILL continued to bottle Valdiguié as “Gamay Beaujolais” until 2009). That intrigue aside, this Bojo-ish red certainly is charming, with juicy sapid plum, pomegranate, moss, wild raspberry, spiced cherry, framed with near-negligible cedar branch tannins. Fantastic salty minerality lingers on the finish, enticing glass after glass. 30% whole cluster, this was native fermented in concrete, while MLF and aging was in neutral French oak before bottling unfined and unfiltered. There were no additions save for a touch of SO2. Charming through and through, give this a chill and enjoy liberally.Prices: BC 55.00 Producer: Wilson Foreigner
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Kamara Pure Shadow Playtext
89PTS

Kamara Pure Shadow Play 2017

Thessaloniki Area, Makedonia, GreeceDimitrios Kioutsoukis and his family decided to give up city life to be more connected to nature, moving to Thessaloniki and planting 11 ha of organically farmed vines. All of their wines are low intervention, with native ferment, no sulphur additions and bottling without fining or filtration. From sandy clay schists, at 140m altitude, this xinomavro was native fermented and aged for one year in older barrels. Intense and warming black liquorice, cassis, anise, fills the fresh palate, neatly packaged in 13.5 degrees, and housed with lightly dusty tannins. Lovely fresher view of xino.Prices: ON 36.95 Producer: Kamara Estate
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Domaine Rolet Côtes du Jura Rouge Les Grandvauxtext
89PTS

Domaine Rolet Côtes du Jura Rouge Les Grandvaux 2015

Jura, FranceThis blend of 60/40 poulsard and pinot noir is from a single, co-planted, red marl soiled vineyard called Les Grandvaux. After a stainless ferment, the poulsard ages in foudre for a year, while the pinot noir rests in Burgundy barrels. Pouring a light bricking cherry hue, the medium palate carries walnuts, baked plums, dried red currants, light nutmeg spicing down the long frame, sided with ample fine raspy tannins and buoyed by a tart, bright, cranberry acidity. The poulsard gives it a wild rusticity, while pinot's côte character adds charm. Drink now, with a slight chill, and plate of mountain cheese and charcuterie.Prices: ON 29.95 Producer: Domaine Rolet
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Montes Alpha Carmeneretext
88PTS

Montes Alpha Carmenere 2016

Valle del Colchagua, Valle del Rapel, Region del Valle Central, ChileFrom vineyards in the Colchagua Valley, this was aged in French oak for twelve months prior to bottling. If you're looking for a full-throttle carmenère this is it, combining liquered cassis and blackberry with no shortage of carmenère's inherent greenness in the form of bell pepper and green peppercorn. Medium-full bodied, with some grip to the tannins, this is surprisingly structured and clearly meant for the dinner table. Varietally correct, well made, and very reasonably priced (at least in some provinces).Prices: BC 29.99 AB 27.95 MB 23.99 ON 19.95 QC 26.00 NF 26.00 Producer: Montes Wines
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12 December 2019

Bojador Vinho Tintotext
89PTS

Bojador Vinho Tinto 2018

Alentejo, Central and Southern Portugal, PortugalWinemakers Pedro Ribeiro and his wife Catarina Vieira moved to Vidigueira, in the Alentejo, to produce wines that are true to the historical traditions of this region. This organically farmed blend of aragonez, trincadeira, and touriga naçional was foot trodden and native fermented in stainless before aging in used French oak for six months. Dusky cherry, black raspberry, medicinal red currants, mineral salts are tightly wrapped by grippy tannins. Youthful and energetic, but very finely formed.Prices: Portugal 13.00 Producer: Bojador
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Bojador Vinho de Talha Tintotext
92PTS

Bojador Vinho de Talha Tinto 2018

Alentejo, Central and Southern Portugal, PortugalWinemakers Pedro Ribeiro and his wife Catarina Vieira moved to Vidigueira, in the Alentejo, to produce wines that are true to the historical traditions of this region. This blend of organically farmed trincadeira, moreto, and tinta grossa was vinified in the traditional earthen jars (talha), native fermented and without any additions or subtractions. The wines are protected from oxygen with a layer of olive oil. Cloudy by authenticity, this medium bodied red is threaded with wild herbs, dried red currants, raspberry, wild plum, and savoury salts.Prices: Producer: Bojador
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Bojador Alentejo Brancotext
90PTS

Bojador Alentejo Branco 2018

Alentejo, Central and Southern Portugal, PortugalWinemakers Pedro Ribeiro and his wife Catarina Vieira moved to Vidigueira, in the Alentejo, to produce wines that are true to the historical traditions of this region. This organically farmed field blend of antão vaz, arinto, and alvarinho was native fermented and aged in stainless for a short stint. Perfumed lemon balm, melon, verbena, is lit with a swell of mineral acidity and calmed with a fine layer of lees. Slender, elegant, and very complete.Prices: Portugal 12.00 Producer: Bojador
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Bojador Vinho de Talha Brancotext
92PTS

Bojador Vinho de Talha Branco 2018

Alentejo, Central and Southern Portugal, PortugalWinemakers Pedro Ribeiro and his wife Catarina Vieira moved to Vidigueira, in the Alentejo, to produce wines that are true to the historical traditions of this region. As a tribute to the region they ferment their wines in impermeable clay pots called Talha, seen on the label. Ribeiro's talha haven't any lids, but keep the wine protected from oxygen by a layer of olive oil. As a tribute to the region, they ferment this wines in impermeable clay pots called Talha, seen on the label. This is a blend of Perrum, Roupeiro, Rabo de Ovelha and Manteúdo, basket pressed and fermentated in aforementioned 200+ year old talha for four months, punched down thrice daily, and then bottled unfiltered. There's an alluring subtle texture here, with roasted hazelnuts, quince, apricot oils and an exceptionally salty, lingering, bergamot-lined finish.Prices: Portugal 18.00 Producer: Bojador
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Bojador Tinto Reservatext
91PTS

Bojador Tinto Reserva 2015

Alentejo, Central and Southern Portugal, PortugalWinemakers Pedro Ribeiro and his wife Catarina Vieira moved to Vidigueira, in the Alentejo, to produce wines that are true to the historical traditions of this region. This, reserva is a gutsy, ripe blend of alicante bouschet, touriga naçional, and aragonez, spending 16 months in barrel and one year in bottle prior to release. Dark chocolate, wild blackberry, kirsch, thorns and dusky, dark plum on a grippy, fuller palate, with firm tannins lining the long frame. Drinking beautifully now.Prices: Portugal 20.00 Producer: Bojador
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11 December 2019

CheckMate Artisanal Winery Queen's Advantage Chardonnaytext
92PTS

CheckMate Artisanal Winery Queen's Advantage Chardonnay 2016

Golden Mile Bench, Oliver, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe newest Checkmate chardonnay is Queen’s Advantage. The name is a nod to the unknown clone that inhabits Combret Vineyard, the winery’s estate plot, now considered to be among the oldest chardonnay vines in the country, planted in 1973. The gnarly old vines, deeply rooted in the Golden Mile Bench sub GI, are tapped into the calcium-carbonate coated stones buried deep into the rocky hillside site. The vineyard has been lovingly brought back to life using precision agriculture. It has taken some time for the vines to adapt to the new regime, but it was evident in 2016 that the site is beginning to express its full potential. After the super hot 2015 growing season, 2016 delivers an outstanding crop of grapes. The nose is open with peach, apricot, and honey, and showing some complexity. The style is more luxurious and rounder with flavours of butterscotch and apricot compote. The fermentation is up to 90 percent native, and the wine is aged 16 months in French oak barrels, 50 percent of which are new. It should be ready to drink in 2020 through 2025. Think crab or lobster dishes to be the early match.Prices: BC 85.00 BC 190.00 1500 Producer: CheckMate Artisanal Winery
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CheckMate Artisanal Winery Opening Gambit Merlottext
93PTS

CheckMate Artisanal Winery Opening Gambit Merlot 2015

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaI have to admit the confluence of one of hottest vintages ever (2015), meeting one of the warmest vineyards in Canada had me wondering how Opening Gambit's 85.1% merlot, 10.4% petit verdot and 4.5% cabernet franc, would work out. The site is steep, 1083 to 1437 feet above sea level, and undulating, pitching its vines in several directions. Make no mistake, this wine is hedonistic, but it’s been that way from the start. What it’s not is baked or overripe with dead fruit. The entry is fragrant with a savoury, dried-herb garrigue that permeates the wine. Black fruits rule the day, but they pale against the creamy soft tannins that welcome you to the back end of the wine. Dense and supple, it may not be a long-term cellar candidate, but there is no rush to drink this merlot before 2022. This wine continues to take me to Bolgheri with its savoury mocha, and that’s an excellent place to be. This is a showy south Okanagan red that delivers. In terms of winemaking, it is inspected cluster-by-cluster upon arrival at the winery, hand-sorted and gently destemmed before another sorting of individual berries to retain only the most pristine fruit as it heads to the fermenters for a native ferment. Post ferment the juice is gravity drained into barrels for ageing 21 months. It is here that a full malolactic fermentation takes place, gradually softening the final profile of this merlot. It is bottled unfined and unfiltered, suggesting decanting will be necessary some time down the road.Prices: BC 85.00 BC 196.00 1500 BC 480.00 3000 BC 989.00 6000 Producer: CheckMate Artisanal Winery
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CheckMate Artisanal Winery Fool's Mate Chardonnaytext
93PTS

CheckMate Artisanal Winery Fool's Mate Chardonnay 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaFool’s Mate is a blend of five south Okanagan sites and five clones: Dijon 76, Dijon 95, 809, Dekleva and Combret. Sixty percent is coming off the Black Sage Bench from Jagged Rock (nee The Barn Vineyard) and Sunset Vineyard, and the rest from Dekelva Vineyard and Combret on the Golden Mile Bench, with a small amount from Border Vista Vineyard on the Osoyoos East Bench. The secret weapon here is a single concrete egg ferment that joins the nine barrels of French oak (47 percent new) which play home to the juice for 16 months. In many ways, this is the most sophisticated wine made at Checkmate, combining so many sites, expositions, and clones. In 2016 it took full advantage of an excellent vintage to establish a freshness and tight frame that allows a richer midpalate to hang effortlessly. The predominate flavours are peach and nectarine, aided by lemon, hints of brioche, excellent minerality, and a favourable palate-cleansing saline finish. This wine was built to age, and its transformation through 2023 should be fascinating.Prices: BC 80.00 Producer: CheckMate Artisanal Winery
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CheckMate Artisanal Winery Knight's Challenge Chardonnaytext
91PTS

CheckMate Artisanal Winery Knight's Challenge Chardonnay 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaIt is year three for the Knight's Challenge label that originates in Sunset Vineyard on the Black Sage Bench. Here elevation changes and east/west row orientations present winemaker Phil McGahan with several options at the end of the growing season. The site is planted to 25-year-old vines and Dijon clones 76 and 95. McGahan likes clone 76 for its structure and organization to keep the wine taught. Clone 95 brings richness and generosity, filling out the mid-palate. The two blocks are distinctly different, allowing for separate pick dates to maintain the balance of power and acidity. Naturally occurring ferments have climbed to 69 percent, and post ferment it is aged 16 months in French oak, 46 percent new. Knight’s Challenge presents as a new world chardonnay with its creamy underbelly of stone fruits and butter. Yet, it equally sits within the bounds of a next world chardonnay with its savoury, mineral, green desert sagebrush flecks. If you like the softer, rounder upfront style of all the Checkmate labels, this is it. Crab, lobster, and truffle pasta dishes are perfect matchesPrices: BC 85.00 Producer: CheckMate Artisanal Winery
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CheckMate Artisanal Winery Little Pawn Chardonnay Barn Vineyardtext
92PTS

CheckMate Artisanal Winery Little Pawn Chardonnay Barn Vineyard 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaLittle Pawn comes off the Okanagan Highlands foothills of the Black Sage Bench, just southeast of the town of Oliver. Jagged Rock Vineyards (nee The Barn Vineyard) was planted 20 years ago on a west-facing plateau at the top of the Bench. The vineyard has a warm, west-facing tilt, and is planted to Dijon 76, and the Dekleva selection, all grown with precision vertical shoot positioning at 374 to 380 meters above sea level. The soil is highly porous fine-grained sands with little ability to retain moisture. Hence, the bunches are always small, and that means they come to the winery with big flavour. The nose offers up a bit of florality before the creamy textures seduce even the biggest doubters of south Okanagan chardonnay. The palate is showy without going over the top, aided by a blanket of spice, citrus, and the Okanagan version of garrigue led by sagebrush before flecks of mandarin orange light up the finish. Power and elegance make this an attractive choice for New World chardonnay lovers. Lobster, crab, or seafood risotto all work here.Prices: BC 110.00 Producer: CheckMate Artisanal Winery
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CheckMate Artisanal Winery Queen Taken Chardonnaytext
94PTS

CheckMate Artisanal Winery Queen Taken Chardonnay 2016

Golden Mile Bench, Oliver, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaQueen Taken Chardonnay is all about the 45-year-old vines of Dekleva Vineyard on the Golden Mile Bench. It is the coolest Checkmate site, where the old vine chardonnay is acclimatized to the true north environment, just west of the home Combret Estate Vineyard. It is planted to a chardonnay clone of unknown origin now being called the Dekleva Selection after the original family who planted it. The soils that define the Golden Mile Bench DVA and its DNA are predominantly coarse gravels. The entire winery has recently been renovated, and the 2016 chardonnays were the early benefactors of the high-end refit. There was no rush to pick in 2016, and winemaker Phil McGahan got all he could from the site. The nose is an intriguing mix of minerality, wet stones and stone fruits that draw you into the glass. The palate is intense with rich veins of nectarines and ripe red apples riding a beam of bright acidity. Texture, mouthfeel, minerality, length: it is all here, and will be through the next decade.Prices: BC 125.00 Producer: CheckMate Artisanal Winery
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CheckMate Artisanal Winery Capture Chardonnaytext
92PTS

CheckMate Artisanal Winery Capture Chardonnay 2016

Osoyoos, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaCapture is grown at the Border Vista Vineyard on the East Osoyoos Bench at 340-350 metres above sea level. It’s the warmest site Checkmate pulls fruit from, and it sits just a few metres from the United States border. In fact, you are on surveillance camera as you approach the south end of the vineyard rows up against the fence line. It’s a single block that dates back to 1997 planted to Dijon clone 76, over fine-textured, complex, low-nutrient, sandy soils. The fermentation was all in barrel, and 80 percent is performed with native yeast. 2016 was a terrific year with more typical acids leading to full malolactic fermentation with regular battonage, and 16 months in French oak, now down to 44 percent new. Water bent barrels keep the toast factor in check, allowing the bright fruit a chance to break through early on the palate. Capture is all about texture and weight but with a light hand. The butter, apples and pears give way to spice, honey and tangerine before a lightly saline mineral finish. You can drink this now, but I suggest there to five years of cellaring for best results.Prices: BC 90.00 BC 200.00 1500 Producer: CheckMate Artisanal Winery
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CheckMate Artisanal Winery Black Rook Merlottext
91PTS

CheckMate Artisanal Winery Black Rook Merlot 2015

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaBlack Rook fruit comes off the Black Sage Bench from a warm, sandy site with low vigour soils, pushed up against the Okanagan Highlands. The naturally low fertility leads to small clusters and intense black fruit, further amplified by a hot year. Big and luxurious, it was an easy decision to age all of the wine in new French oak. At this stage, it is showing youthful primary black fruit and licorice with some grippy tannins, toasted notes, and a wisp of smoke. As I've mentioned before, it is more Washington State than Bolgheri or Bordeaux in style, and not quite as polished as the rest of the group. What I do appreciate is the individuality of this wine, and the site, and the care, and attention given to it to allow its personality to shine. Give this one three to five years to pull it all together or drink now with back ribs slathered in barbecue sauce. The Black Rook mix in 2015 is 85.2 percent merlot, 9 percent petit verdot, 4.4 percent cabernet franc and 1.4 percent syrah.Prices: BC 85.00 BC 196.00 1500 BC 480.00 3000 BC 989.00 6000 Producer: CheckMate Artisanal Winery
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CheckMate Artisanal Winery Attack Chardonnaytext
94PTS

CheckMate Artisanal Winery Attack Chardonnay 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaAttack is the odd man out amongst Checkmate chardonnays. It is a co-ferment of two single vineyards, Jagged Rock (Black Sage Bench) and Border Vista Vineyard (Osoyoos East Bench), fermented and aged 16 months in a single, new French oak foudre. Unlike last year when the weather was super hot, an excellent 2016 harvest allowed all the wine to go through an acid softening malolactic fermentation. Attack opens with an attractive seashore scented breeze and a brightness that pulls you into the glass. The structure is fresh and tight with minerality and texture that is reminiscent of Chablis. Add to that flinty, saline notes flecked with strong tropical fruit and spice, and you have an impressive glass of wine. The density and persistence is top class and the complexity suggests this will age effortlessly through the next seven to ten years in bottle. Next world BC chardonnay. Serve with Vancouver Island oysters on the half shell.Prices: BC 115.00 Producer: CheckMate Artisanal Winery
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10 December 2019

Koerner Classicotext
89PTS

Koerner Classico 2017

Clare Valley, South Australia, AustraliaThis is the Koerner brothers' take on the classic Clare Valley cabernet malbec blend, made famous by the legendary Wendouree Vineyards. In the boys' modern remix however, cabernet sauvignon is splashed with 15 percent malbec, and 15 percent petit verdot, coming of off three Watervale vineyards' red clay over limestone soils. The fruit was destemmed and native fermented before moving to used barriques for 4 months before the final blend was made. Once blended, the wine was transferred to a 3 year old 700L French barrel and 1 ceramic egg for 6 months, then bottled unfined and unfiltered. Dusky blackberry, black plum, inky cassis, perfumed violets is etched with balsamic and drawn along long, sueded tannins. The mouthfeel is brooding and drawn slowly, though fine acidity easily carries the weight (13.1 degrees). Serious, though a bit sluggish.Prices: BC 50.00 Producer: Koerner Wine
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Koerner The Clare Red Winetext
90PTS

Koerner The Clare Red Wine 2018

Clare Valley, South Australia, AustraliaThis cabernet sauvignon, malbec, petit verdot, cabernet franc blend is from the brothers Koerner, always known for turning Clare on its head. Sourced from the Vivian and Bass Hill Vineyards, The Clare is the bro's idea of a modern Bx blend. Mostly whole berry, this was native fermented in open fermenters for two weeks before being pressed into tank for a few days and then racked into a mix of ceramic egg and old oak, where it rested for three months. Purple and blue florals, fleshy plum, blueberries, morello cherry, and a slick of winter cool mint glide along the slick palate of The Clare, gripped by thorny sides, and riding a wild blackberry / blackcurrant wave to a snappy finish. Tannins are soft, and acidity is bright, as intended, for drinking now in youth.Prices: BC 39.00 Producer: Koerner Wine
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Alpha Box & Dice Kit & Kaboodletext
88PTS

Alpha Box & Dice Kit & Kaboodle 2017

AustraliaThis blend of montepulciano, grenache, and cabernet sauvignon comes from Langhorne Creek and McLaren Vale. After whole bunch pressing, this was native fermented on skins and spent 6 months in a mix of stainless and old barriques. Soft, worn leather, dusky raspberry, strawberry jam are buffered with long, soft tannins and a warm tug framing the finish. There's an undercurrent of candle wax and baking spices led by nutmeg that heat the end of this wine.Prices: BC 31.50 Producer: Viottolo Pty
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Alpha Box & Dice Xolatext
88PTS

Alpha Box & Dice Xola 2012

AustraliaThis aglianico is from the alluvial red clays of McLaren Vale's Leask Vineyard. After this late ripener was destemmed and underwent an extended maceration on skins over fermentation, it rested for 3 years in oak prior to bottling. Deep and lusty on the nose, with potent perfumed cassis, ripe blackcurrant, dense leather, and perfumed rose, with swings of VA and darts of tar. Tannins are sticky and velveteen, lashed with the massive wood reflective of its time in oak. This massive wine is showing its age; ready to drink, with big meats.Prices: Producer: Viottolo Pty
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06 December 2019

Champagne Pierre Gimonnet & Fils Brut Rosé de Blancstext
92PTS

Champagne Pierre Gimonnet & Fils Brut Rosé de Blancs NV

Champagne, FranceDidier, third generation of the Gimonnet family, oversees the winemaking of their family winery, based in Cuis. This wine, like all of their chardonnay-centric wines, is laser focused. According to Didier, he wants to have a rosé that tastes like a blanc de blancs with colour. "Powerful chardonnay." This certainly succeeds. This bottling sources fruit from Cramant, Oger, and Chouilly, with an addition of 8% Bouzy still pinot noir. My bottle was disgorged in April 2019, and was based on the 2015 harvest, giving it 3 years on lees. Pouring a very pale hue, this streams cherry and raspberry, with fine tight florals along a fresh, saline palate. The finish shimmers with minerality and lingers with a bitter cherry kiss. Very food friendly, and inviting for solo smashing also.Prices: BC 69.00 Producer: Champagne Pierre Gimonnet
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Champagne Pierre Gimonnet Brut Cuis 1er Cru Blanc de Blancstext
93PTS

Champagne Pierre Gimonnet Brut Cuis 1er Cru Blanc de Blancs NV

Champagne, FranceThe only change in the latest batch and shipment of this pristine blanc de blancs is the updated label. Understated and classic, this 1er cru always impresses. Didier, third generation of the Gimonnet family, oversees the winemaking of this Côtes des Blancs grower champagne house based in Cuis. This wine, like all of their chardonnay-centric wines, is crystal crisp and bright, with driving linearity through to the lingering finish. Based on the 2015 harvest, this has 35% reserve wines from the previous 4 harvests to provide depth and complexity. Gimonnet uniquely keeps all the reserve wines in magnum under crown cap to preserve the freshness and prevent oxygen ingress. My bottle was disgorged in January 2019 at 6 g/l, and ringing youthfully. Lemon pith leads into a very chalky, grippy and taut palate, with tiny white blossoms, green apple, meringue, and a shimmery vibrance. Fresh on the attack, though the core is polished by the reserve wines, this is an excellent solo sipper as well as oyster mate. Fantastic value = my house Champagne.Prices: BC 67.00 Producer: Champagne Pierre Gimonnet
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Leclerc Briant Premier Cru Extra Bruttext
92PTS

Leclerc Briant Premier Cru Extra Brut NV

Champagne, FranceThis negoc house was founded in 1955 when Bertrand Leclerc married Jacqueline Briant. They were an early adopter of organic practices back in the 1960’s, and were one of the first to bottle single-vineyard Champagnes in the 1970’s. In the late 1980’s, Bertrand and Jacqueline’s son, Pascal, began integrating biodynamic principles and part of the production has been Demeter certified since 2003. Today, enologist Hervé Jestin, known for his biodynamics / bioenergetics oversees the wines of the house and its near 30ha of vines, plus another 20ha of organically farmed contract fruit. This is the first vintage of this cuvée, a blend of 70% pinot noir, and 15% each of pinot meunier and chardonnay, all from 2014, and sourced from four villages. The wines were native fermented, half in oak, before blending and 4 years on the lees. This was disgorged November 2018 with 2 g/l. Very finely textured, precise and energetic, with lifted cherry blossoms, lemon, green apple, and a wash of salts on the lengthy finish. Quite a refined and finessed, delicate expression of pinots, tightened with the chardonnay. Lovely, lively, and moreish.Prices: ON 89.30 Producer: Champagne Leclerc Briant
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Leclerc Briant Brut Reservetext
91PTS

Leclerc Briant Brut Reserve NV

Champagne, FranceThis negoc house was founded in 1955 when Bertrand Leclerc married Jacqueline Briant. They were an early adopter of organic practices back in the 1960’s, and were one of the first to bottle single-vineyard Champagnes in the 1970’s. In the late 1980’s, Bertrand and Jacqueline’s son, Pascal, began integrating biodynamic principles and part of the production has been Demeter certified since 2003. Today, enologist Hervé Jestin, known for his biodynamics / bioenergetics oversees the wines of the house and its near 30ha of vines, plus another 20ha of organically farmed contract fruit. This wine, making up 75% of production, is a bit of a misnomer: there are no reserve wines (it's entirely the 2014 vintage) and it's actually extra-brut, with 4/gl dosage. This blend of 40/40/40 pinot noir / pinot meunier / chardonnay was native fermented in stainless and oak (the latter 20%) before going into bottle for 3 years on lees. Weighty and confident, with yellow fruits, red apple, patisserie, and almond, closing out with a grippy and fresh finish. Lovely density and integration here. A producer to watch.Prices: QC 60.00 Producer: Champagne Leclerc Briant
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Leclerc Briant Divine Soleratext
93PTS

Leclerc Briant Divine Solera NV

Champagne, FranceThis rising star of biodynamic champagne has roots that go back generations. Lucien Leclerc founded the winery with four hectares of vineyards in Cumières in 1872. The business moved to Épernay in 1955 when Bertrand Leclerc married Jacqueline Briant, founding this négociant firm. Leclerc Briant was an early adopter of organic practices back in the 1960’s, and was one of the first to bottle single-vineyard Champagnes in the 1970’s. In the late 1980’s, Bertrand and Jacqueline’s son, Pascal, began integrating biodynamic principles and part of the production has been Demeter certified since 2003. Today, enologist Hervé Jestin, known for his biodynamics / bioenergetics oversees the wines of the house and its near 30ha of vines, plus another 20ha of organically farmed contract fruit. Cuvée Divine Solera is not released every year, and uses only estate fruit. It is a 50/30/20 blend of pinot meunier / pinot noir / chardonnay, native fermented in oak, and based on the 2007 vintage, with a reserve solera from 06, 05, and 04. This spent 48 months on lees before being disgorged with 3 g/l in September 2018. Luxurious from first sniff, with the plumpness of meringue, toasted brioche, lemon curd chisled by a taut, chalky acidity that textures the long length of the palate. Quite seamless; the dosage is perfected situated to counter the richness of fruit and autolysis. Quite a powerful and confident wine, handled extremely well.Prices: ON 168.75 Producer: Champagne Leclerc Briant
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Bruno Paillard NPUtext
94PTS

Bruno Paillard NPU 2004

Champagne, FranceThis is the premium bottling, the Nec Plus Ultra, of Bruno Paillard, with more than 10 years on the lees, plus a couple of years in bottle before release. NPU blends 4 grand cru terroirs: Oger, Chouilly, Verzenay and Mailly, all fermented in small oak barrels for 10 months, with only the first pressing utilized. The end cepage, bottled in July 2015, is equal parts chardonnay and pinot noir, and is dosed with 3 g/l. The oak aging, powerful Grand Cru fruit, and extended time on lees has resulted in a powerful, harmonies wine, full of meringue, nougat, roasted hazelnuts, burnished orange pinned with with tight wild lemon pith around the sides, and finishing with a wide wash of salts. Very vinous and highly gastronomic; drinking beautifully now. This bottle was disgorged September 2017.Prices: UK 225.00 Producer: Bruno Paillard
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Taittinger Prélude Grands Crustext
92PTS

Taittinger Prélude Grands Crus NV

Champagne, FranceTaittinger Prélude is a rich, full and powerful Grand Cru NV Brut of Montagne de Reims pinot noir, and Côte des Blancs chardonnay. This spent more than 5 years on the lees, and was dosed with 9 g/l. The power starts with first sniff: potent and dense strawberry, cherry brioche, raspberry and toast fill a voluminous palate, lofted with hallmark tight, Taittinger acidity, and finishing with lingering smoked spices. Expansive and deep on the full palate, but kept tight and riveting with acidity, this is a memorable and rich champagne, ready for partnering with equally rich and special dishes.Prices: BC 100.00 QC 79.50 Producer: Champagne Taittinger
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Taittinger Brut Reservetext
91PTS

Taittinger Brut Reserve NV

Champagne, FranceThis classic Brut never disappoints, always delivering a streamlined arrow of quivering acidity. This chardonnay led NV is sourced from early 40 crus in the Marne, Sézanne and Aube (half from estate vineyards), and is a mix of 40 chardonnay, 45 pinot noir, and the remainder pinot meunier. After full MLF, this spends a minimum 3 years on the lees before a dosage of 9 g/l. My bottle was based on 2014; you can see the disgorgement date code engraved in laser on the base of the bottle. Chalk, lemon, green apple, light anise skips along the medium palate, cushioned with meringue and humming with limestone minerality. The finish lingers with lemon pith, welcoming refreshing with another glass. Lovely solo sipping, as well as with food. Classic for a reason.Prices: BC 67.99 QC 59.75 MB 69.41 ON 63.00 NF 58.00 SK 69.57 NS 80.00 YK 90.00 AB 65.99 Producer: Champagne Taittinger
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Leclerc Briant Rosé Bruttext
91PTS

Leclerc Briant Rosé Brut NV

Champagne, FranceThis rising star of biodynamic champagne has roots that go back generations. Lucien Leclerc founded the winery with four hectares of vineyards in Cumières in 1872. The business moved to Épernay in 1955 when Bertrand Leclerc married Jacqueline Briant, founding this négociant firm. Leclerc Briant was an early adopter of organic practices back in the 1960’s, and was one of the first to bottle single-vineyard Champagnes in the 1970’s. In the late 1980’s, Bertrand and Jacqueline’s son, Pascal, began integrating biodynamic principles and part of the production has been Demeter certified since 2003. Today, enologist Hervé Jestin, known for his biodynamics / bioenergetics oversees the wines of the house and its near 30ha of vines, plus another 20ha of organically farmed contract fruit. The Rosé Brut is labeled NV, but this bottle is from the 2015 harvest, and a blend of 95% chardonnay (from Chouilly and Montgueux), 5% pinot noir (from Les Riceys), native fermented in stainless, with a small amount of the pinot noir fermenting in wood. The cepage rests for two years on lees before being disgorged with 5g/l (this bottle in September 2018). Light salmon in hue, this is quite vinous, with fine but persistent bubbles, red currants, cranberry tartness, and brisk astringency, wrapped around a youthful core of red fruit. A kiss of sweet raspberry lingers on the finish. Excellent food wine.Prices: ON 85.30 Producer: Champagne Leclerc Briant
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Diebolt-Vallois Prestige à Cramant Blanc de Blancs Bruttext
91PTS

Diebolt-Vallois Prestige à Cramant Blanc de Blancs Brut NV

Champagne, FranceThe Diebolt and Vallois families have serious history in the Côte des Blancs. The Vallois family has been growing vines in Cuis since the 15th century; the grandfather of current proprietor Jacques Diebolt began making estate bottled champagne at the beginning of the 20th century. Champagne Diebolt-Vallois was created in 1960, when Jacques married Nadia Vallois and merged the estate. This Blanc de Blancs blends Cramant, Chouilly, and Le Mesnil sur Oger, all fermented in stainless, then moved to large oak foudres until final cepage is determined. The reserve wines were also kept in large oak foudres. The wine spent three years on lees prior to disgorgement with 9 g/l. Ample patisserie, nougat, green apple, lemon are held in by a brace of citrus acidity that circles the growing expansive middle, finishing with a riffing citrus pith that lingers long and filagreed. This has a fine touch that reels the density in deftly, allowing for a highly drinkable rich champagne.Prices: BC 90.00 Producer: Diebolt-Vallois
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Champagne Ayala Majeur Bruttext
91PTS

Champagne Ayala Majeur Brut NV

Champagne, FranceBrut Majeur is all about freshness and elegance. The blend is 40/40/20 pinot noir, chardonnay and pinot meunier. Ayala owns 14 hectares in the heart of the Grand Crus of Montagne de Reims, and its link to Bollinger provides even more quality fruit. It is fermented in stainless steel and spends 2.5 years on lees, plus rests in the cellar for at least three months after disgorgement with a dosage of only 7g/litre of sugar. The current release is a super lively citrus affair with subtle lees mixed with harmonious honey and green apple. A terrific bottle made by cellarmaster Caroline Latrive. Excellent concentration combines with persistence to cap an impressive finish. Try this with oven warmed cheese twists or freshly shucked oysters. Brut Majeur can also pair harmoniously with every course of a meal: white fish, shellfish, poultry, or a cheese platter.Prices: BC 75.99 AB 60.00 QC 60.00 Producer: Ayala
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Champagne Bollinger Rosé Bruttext
91PTS

Champagne Bollinger Rosé Brut NV

Champagne, FranceThe multi-vintage Bollinger Rosé is a sophisticated fizz, one that brings the power of Bollinger and the amusement and juicy fruit than can be at the core of an excellent rosé. The attack is creamy with a savoury undercurrent supporting an enticing cherry-scented bubble with a bolt of acid to keep it fresh and electric. A true dinner rosé and it has the power to work with meat as well as seafood. The blend is some 60 percent pinot noir, a quarter chardonnay and the remainder pinot meunier, spending 30 to 36 months on its lees. There is an additional five to six percent still red pinot noir, and 85 percent of all the fruit is rated Grand Cru.Prices: BC 129.99 QC 99.25 Producer: Bollinger, Champagne
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Moët & Chandon Nectar Impérialtext
88PTS

Moët & Chandon Nectar Impérial NV

Champagne, FranceNectar Impérial is a demi-sec champagne with a dosage of 45 g/L, led by pinot noir (40-50 percent), pinot meunier (30-40 percent), and 10-20 percent chardonnay. It also has a significant portion of reserve wine. The nose is not dissimilar to the Imperial Brut, though the intensity is a notch lower and there’s less overall autolytic character. Medium-dry in style, as you’d expect for this category, there’s a confected quality to the palate that is almost Prosecco-like. It may not be exceptional value, but the style is worth exploring and lends itself to a range of food pairing options. I suggest trying fruit-based desserts that have a subtle sweetness, or a cheese plate.Prices: BC 75.99 AB 75.00 MB 76.75 ON 76.00 QC 75.00 Producer: Moet & Chandon
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Moët & Chandon Impérial Bruttext
89PTS

Moët & Chandon Impérial Brut NV

Champagne, FranceImpérial, Moet Chandon’s entry-level Champagne, is a blend of over 100 different base wines, of which 20 to 30 percent are reserve wines from older vintages. Not surprising for a wine of this volume, the declared varietal composition is a moving target, as each market may have a slightly different blend or disgorgement date. It’s roughly equal parts pinot noir and meunier, with 20 to 30 percent chardonnay. Is this recognizably Champagne? Yes. It has citrus and orchard fruit, brioche from some time on its lees, and hazelnuts from the reserve wine component. However, part of what makes champagne so exceptional is its mouth-filling, chalky texture and vibrant tension. And that’s what’s missing here: the flavours are present, but surprisingly dilute and thin on the palate, with the dosage taking away from the racy acidity. Consider looking elsewhere at this price point.Prices: BC 69.99 SK 65.74 MB 69.99 ON 67.00 QC 67.00 NB 71.79 NS 66.50 PEI 70.60 NL 78.99 BC 145.00 1500 AB 64.99 ON 145.00 1500 Producer: Moet & Chandon
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Krug Grande Cuvée Bruttext
97PTS

Krug Grande Cuvée Brut NV

Champagne, FranceKrug Champagne is many things, but since 1843 the Grande Cuvée has been the storyteller for this remarkable champagne house. According to its ID number, this bottle spent about seven years in Krug's cellars, finally going under cork in 2017. The 166ème Édition is a blend of 140 wines from 13 different years including 2010, the base year, and back to 1996. Reserve wines make up 42% of the final mix of 45% pinot noir, 39% chardonnay and 16% pinot meunier. Its deep golden colour and incredible small persistent bubbles preview rich aromas of citrus, flowers, dried fruits, and marzipan, and it is only the start. The palate is equally intense with hints of hazelnuts, almond brioche, citrus fruits, spice, nougat, sugarcoated jelly candy, brioche, and honey. You can serve this with anything, but If you want to stun your guests, serve it alongside chunks of old Reggiano Parmigiano.Prices: BC 285.99 AB 289.99 ON 290.00 QC 313.00 NB 280.00 NS 295.00 Producer: Champagne Krug
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Champagne Canard-Duchene Cuvée Leonie Bruttext
89PTS

Champagne Canard-Duchene Cuvée Leonie Brut NV

Champagne, FranceThis potent and powerful brut comes courtesy of a house founded in 1868, the red dominant blend of 40/40/20 pinot noir/pinot meunier/chardonnay, 25% reserve wines, a minimum of 3 years on the lees, and a dosage of 9 g/l. Rich and full on the palate, with cherry brioche, buttery croissant, red apple and blossoms, tight, grippy spices that linger on the vanilla-scented finish. This is a wine that is best enjoyed alongside food.Prices: BC 54.99 QC 53.25 Producer: Champagne Canard Duchene
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Champagne Gremillet Brut Selectiontext
89PTS

Champagne Gremillet Brut Selection NV

Champagne, FranceGenerations of Gremillets have grown up in the vines of Champagne, with the current generation Jean-Michel overseeing 40ha of south facing vineyards in the Aube. This blends 70 / 30 pinot noir / chardonnay, including approximately 20% reserve wine. This spent 18-22 months on lees prior to disgorgement. Buttery and rich, with toasted brioche, cherry, red apple and patisserie, finishing with a spiced vanillin lick. Quite big and showy, handled well.Prices: BC 70.00 Producer: Champagne Gremillet
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Champagne Deutz Brut Rosétext
91PTS

Champagne Deutz Brut Rosé NV

Champagne, FranceSince 1838, Deutz has been based in the Grand Cru village of Aÿ, just west of Épernay, and since 1983, the Rouzaud family, owners of Louis Roederer, have owned the house. In many ways, it explains the elegant styling of this pink bubble, with its red berry fruit reminiscent of cranberries and strawberries, pecan, and brown spice before a salty, mineral finish. Impressive, to say the least, and well worth checking out. Pure and fresh and elegant, it has a style that sets it apart from many in this category.Prices: BC 79.99 AB 85.00 QC 82.99 NB 80.00 NS 80.00 ON 79.99 Producer: Champagne Deutz
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Champagne Deutz Brut Classictext
90PTS

Champagne Deutz Brut Classic NV

Champagne, FranceDeutz is based in the Grand Cru village of Aÿ, just west of Épernay, and they have been there since 1838. The Rouzaud family, owners of Louis Roederer, purchased Deutz in 1983. Deutz is part of a small group of producers using only free press juice, and combined with a large percentage of reserve wine (40 percent), that adds substantial complexity and a hint of the famous goût anglais to the finish. The blend is equal parts chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier, presenting with floral, mineral notes followed by cherries, red liquorice, red apple, honey and brioche. The acid is firm and invites chicken pot pie, white fish/shellfish stew, or vegetable risotto.Prices: BC 75.00 AB 65.00 QC 60.99 NS 65.00 NB 65.90 Producer: Champagne Deutz
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Champagne Dom Pérignon Vintagetext
97PTS

Champagne Dom Pérignon Vintage 2008

Champagne, FranceGeoffroy Richard, the voice and soul of Dom Pérignon, describes 2008 as miraculous, which explains why it is the only vintage ever released out of order at Dom Pérignon. If you didn’t notice, the very fine 2009 was released last year ahead of the outstanding 2008. Freshness with muscle is the story, hence the comparisons to the excellent 1996. Sadly Geoffrey is all but retired, with Vincent Chaperon now ensconced as the Chef du Cave at Dom. Chaperon has called the wine athletic, giving us the hope his vocabulary will be as precise as Geoffrey's has been over the years. The wine is monumental from its tiny perfect bubbles to its weight and power mid-palate, and minerality to beat the band finish. I have no doubt it will cellar with ease for the next 25 years and beyond.Prices: BC 235.99 QC 250.00 ON 231.95 NS 224.00 SK 215.25 NB 210.00 YK 213.00 Producer: Dom Perignon
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Champagne Dom Pérignon Millésimé Rosé Vintagetext
94PTS

Champagne Dom Pérignon Millésimé Rosé Vintage 2006

Champagne, FranceWild raspberry, wild cherry imbues an ample salted brioche base, threaded with bergamot, red currants, dried florals, dried thyme, dried rosemary, toast, and hints of smoked salts. The palate is expansive, growing with time in the glass, while the fizz is gently, persistently pétillant rather than forwardly fizzy, contributing to this vinous, gastronomic wine. Sophisticated and expressive, Dom 2006 Rosé lingers long on the brooding, broad shouldered palate, with a vibrato that hums to a hinting bitter orange / espresso note. Pinot Noir (56%) and chardonnay is mellowed and deepened with the addition of 20% still pinot, and finished with 6 g/l dosage. This is the first time in the history of Dom Pérignon Rosé, born with the 1959 vintage, that five consecutive vintages have been released.Prices: BC 309.00 ON 356.00 Producer: Dom Perignon
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Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame Bruttext
92PTS

Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame Brut 2006

Champagne, FranceThis Grande Dame is Veuve's prestige cuvée, in homage to Madame Clicquot herself, and it carries with it all the richness of the house style, amplified. The blend is a mix of eight the house's Grand Crus: Aÿ, Bouzy, Ambonnay, Verzy and Verzenay for the Pinot Noir (53%); Avize, Oger and Le Mesnil-sur-Oger for the Chardonnay (47%). After seven years on the lees, this was dosed with 8 g/l; my bottle was disgorged in February 2017. Rich, dense and full with toasted brioche, praline, pear and ample smoked spices that season a creamy, weighted, oxidatively-slanting palate, leaving a lingering nougat in its wake. Not shy, nor needs be, this Grande Dame is worthy of its name.Prices: BC 269.99 AB 250.00 MB 226.00 ON 239.00 QC 246.00 NS 228.00 Producer: Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin
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Veuve Clicquot Brut Yellow Labeltext
88PTS

Veuve Clicquot Brut Yellow Label NV

Champagne, FranceThough the price has risen over the years, the dosage has dropped, and consistency remains solid as ever. More than 50 vineyards, and 25 to 40 percent reserve wine (from five to six vintages) goes into this blend of 50-55 percent pinot noir, 15-20 percent pinot meunier and 28-33 percent chardonnay. Light patisserie, spiced mandarin, green apple, ample spice pad the medium+ palate, starting big, but finishing short and brusquely. A friendly crowd-pleaser.Prices: BC 72.99 MB 71.49 NS 73.58 QC 70.25 ON 70.60 SK 68.97 YK 72.00 PEI 74.19 NL 76.49 NB 74.79 BC 142.99 1500 BC 39.99 375 Producer: Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin
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Veuve Clicquot Rosé Bruttext
88PTS

Veuve Clicquot Rosé Brut NV

Champagne, FranceLike its yellow label sibling, this VC rosé is one of the best selling of its type worldwide. From up to 60 vineyards, this blends 44 to 48 percent pinot noir, 13 to 18 percent meunier and 25 to 29 percent chardonnay, with 12% red wine (saignée method) and up to 40% reserve wines, depending on year. Medium peach in hue, this opens with expressive cherry, red currant, and rhubarb, sharpened with tight cranberry acidity, wrapping around a doughy core, and finishing with an astringent citrus rinse. Pretty assertive and fruit forward, and best taken with food to tame.Prices: BC 89.99 AB 85.99 ON 89.80 QC 87.50 NS 85.00 SK 83.99 MB 90.76 NL 98.48 Producer: Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin
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Veuve Clicquot Vintage Bruttext
93PTS

Veuve Clicquot Vintage Brut 2008

Champagne, FranceTasted several times now, and this label continues to deliver. Of course, it helps to be from an excellent 2008 vintage. The obvious ripeness can be halting until you begin to drink it. From the brioche, hazelnuts and red apple butter (my favourite), this is a giant of a wine, but it is not all power. Winemaker Dominique Demarville (ex-Mumm) has brought a fresher look without messing with the Veuve style. 2008 is the first vintage Veuve fermented and aged in wood since the 60s. It’s exotic with candied orange, dried apricot, and gingersnap. The mix is 61 percent pinot noir, 34 percent chardonnay, 5 percent pinot meunier from Grand and Premier Cru sites that spent six years on the lees and was disgorged in March 2015. Also new in 2008, five percent of the wines were produced and aged in wooden casks. No rush to drink this.Prices: BC 99.99 MB 97.49 QC 99.50 AB 104.99 Producer: Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin
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Louis Roederer Brut Premier Champagnetext
92PTS

Louis Roederer Brut Premier Champagne NV

Champagne, FranceThe strength of any brand is its consistent quality, and that’s what you get from the Roederer Brut year in and year out. Making high-quality champagne on an immense scale is no mean feat, but it helps to be the largest independent, family-owned and managed house (founded in 1776), managing more than 235ha of prime vineyards which supply 75 percent of its needs. Brut Premier is a 35/38/28 mix of pinot noir, chardonnay and pinot meunier, with 25 percent reserve wines aged in oak casks for 2-8 years. The blend spends 36 months on its lees. Roederer is all about elegance mixed with toasted hazelnuts, brioche, Meyer lemon, and a splash of saltwater. The finish is fresh and seems to linger forever. Dependably good.Prices: BC 73.99 MB 70.00 ON 66.95 QC 72.50 NF 79.20 AB 74.99 Producer: Champagne Louis Roederer
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Louis Roederer Brut Rosé Champagnetext
92PTS

Louis Roederer Brut Rosé Champagne 2012

Champagne, FranceLouis Roederer vintage is always an owned vines affair. In 2012 the mix was 63/37 pinot noir/chardonnay, matured in oak tuns, without MLF, where it rests for four years on the lees before spending an additional six months after disgorging in the bottle. The nose is a beautiful melange of autolytic toasted notes with rich cherry, mandarin, and apricot that belies its delicate pale pink colour. Elegance and minerality, with a favourite Treve term ‘smoked stones' that line the back end, leaving your palate fresh and ready for food.Prices: BC 96.99 QC 102.95 ON 104.95 Producer: Champagne Louis Roederer
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Taittinger Prestige Rosétext
90PTS

Taittinger Prestige Rosé NV

Champagne, FranceThis deeper hued rosé is a blend of 50/35/15 pinot noir, chardonnay, and pinot meunier, from approximately 45 crus, and utilizing 15% still wine. Salted cherry brioche, raspberry, red currant, red apple is threaded with tight pink grapefruit acidity, and finishes with a light toasty spicing. The core is padded with meringue, countered with a riveting acidity that keeps all this red fruit aloft. A natural food wine, though also lovely solo.Prices: QC 81.50 NS 97.00 BC 110.00 Producer: Champagne Taittinger
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Champagne Laurent Perrier La Cuvée Brut LPtext
90PTS

Champagne Laurent Perrier La Cuvée Brut LP NV

Champagne, FranceFirst encountered last year, La Cuvée is a revamped version of Brut NV. The update is made possible by the acquisition of excellent chardonnay vineyards in the Côte des Blancs back in 2004. With those vines now in play, the flagship Brut has been restyled to be chardonnay dominant. LP has been around since 1812, and has been a pioneer in the stainless steel fermentation process in Champagne. The blend is 55 percent chardonnay, 35 pinot noir, and 10 pinot meunier, from 110 growers, and the amount of reserve wine fluctuates between 20 and 30 percent. Best of all, the dosage has dropped three grams to 9 g/l. The nose is floral and citrus, with a touch of almond and hazelnut. There is a firm undercurrent of lemon that appeals. It would be perfect with lox.Prices: BC 88.50 QC 58.00 Producer: Champagne Laurent-Perrier
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Champagne Laurent Perrier Cuvée Rosé Bruttext
91PTS

Champagne Laurent Perrier Cuvée Rosé Brut NV

Champagne, FranceLa Cuvée Rosé, perennial rosé fizz favourite, is as much recognizable for its distinctive bottle shape as for its smouldering taste. Entirely pinot noir, this was sourced from 10 crus in Montagne de Reims, spent up to three days in contact with skins before bleeding off (saignée), and spent a minimum of 60 months on lees before a disgorgement around 9 g/l. Creamy raspberry, strawberry tart, is scented with ample cherry blossoms, seasoned with smoked stone, and freshened with tart red currant acidity to a brisk bitter cherry finish. Upfront and present, this is a forward and memorable pink fizz.Prices: BC 95.99 BC 229.99 1500 QC 99.75 QC 199.95 ON 99.95 ON 214.99 1500 AB 109.99 Producer: Champagne Laurent-Perrier
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Champagne Bollinger Special Cuvée Bruttext
92PTS

Champagne Bollinger Special Cuvée Brut NV

Champagne, FranceThe Bollinger house style is rich and powerful. The blend is 60/25/15 pinot noir/ chardonnay/ pinot meunier, with a small amount of reserve wine spanning 15 years. Fifty percent of this cuvée ferments in oak casks, and you can’ t miss the rich, toasted hazelnut nose that draws you into the glass. Add some red fruits, and creamy texture, and you end up with a long, expansive food-worthy sparkler with equally compelling acidity that captures the imagination. As good as this is now, you can effortlessly age it a decade. Also available in 1.5 litre and .375 litre formats.Prices: BC 75.99 MB 80.25 ON 78.95 QC 76.25 PEI 74.95 NB 79.95 NS 79.95 Producer: Bollinger, Champagne
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Champagne Lacourte Godbillon Premier Cru Rosétext
92PTS

Champagne Lacourte Godbillon Premier Cru Rosé NV

Champagne, FranceChampagne Lacourte-Godbillon is run by husband-and-wife team Richard Desvignes and Géraldine Lacourte, who took over the Écueil estate from Lacourte’s parents in 2006, and began converting it to organics and biodynamics. They are the ninth generation of Champagne growers to run the estate, and they are the third generation to bottle and sell under their own label. Situated in the northwestern part of the Montagne de Reims, this rosé is 25 year old pinot noir vines, and the blend includes 10% aged in oak. Based on the 2013 vintage, this also has 20% reserve wines from 2012, and the blend spent four year on lees before disgorgement and 6 g/l dosage. Pouring a lovely orange pink hue, this streams grapefruit and blood orange throughout, with a savoury iodine allure and a slight griff of texture. Acidity is riveting, carrying the wild strawberry and cherry to a lengthy finish. This achieves savoury finesse, which is not a common combo in rosé champagne.Prices: France 55.00 Producer: Champagne Lacourte Godbillon
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Champagne Lacourte Godbillon Mi Pentestext
93PTS

Champagne Lacourte Godbillon Mi Pentes NV

Champagne, FranceChampagne Lacourte-Godbillon is run by husband-and-wife team Richard Desvignes and Géraldine Lacourte, who took over the Écueil estate from Lacourte’s parents in 2006, and began converting the 8ha to organics and biodynamics. They are the ninth generation of Champagne growers to run the estate, and they are the third generation to bottle and sell under their own label. Situated in the northwestern part of the Montagne de Reims, this pinot noir comes from 40 year old vines across different parcels, mid-slope (Mi Pentes) = best sites. This was based on the 2015 vintage, with 31% reserve wines from 2014, and fermented 20% in 228L barrel from their own forest in Écueil. After 31 months on the lees, this was dosed with 3 g/l, and spent 6 months in the bottle prior to release. Big red fruit, youthful cherry rule powerful in the palate, backed by brioche and nougat, and braced with an amazing riffing acidity to counter the power. Impressively handled and drinking now, and will continue to mature in your cellar.Prices: UK 65.00 Producer: Champagne Lacourte Godbillon
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Champagne Lacourte Godbillon Premier Cru Terroirs d'Ecueiltext
92PTS

Champagne Lacourte Godbillon Premier Cru Terroirs d'Ecueil NV

Champagne, FranceChampagne Lacourte-Godbillon is run by husband-and-wife team Richard Desvignes and Géraldine Lacourte, who took over the 8ha Écueil estate from Lacourte’s parents in 2006, and started using organic and biodynamic practices. Géraldine is the ninth generation of Champagne growers to run the estate, and they are the third generation to bottle and sell under their own label. Situated in the northwestern part of the Montagne de Reims, this NV is a blend of 85 pinot noir / 15 chardonnay with vines averaging 35 years, and is based on the 2015 vintage, with 43% reserve wines. Stainless fermented, with no MLF, it spent 31 months on lees, and was disgorged in January 2019 at 5 g/l. Red apple, marshmallow pads the medium palate, held taut with riveting acidity. A kiss of cherry and strawberry lingers on the very lengthy finish.Prices: USA 50.00 Producer: Champagne Lacourte Godbillon
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Taittinger Nocturne Sectext
89PTS

Taittinger Nocturne Sec NV

Champagne, FranceSweet champagne is a small market, but it has its place. Nocturne follows the Taittinger Brut formula but gets a much higher dosage of sugar at 17.5 g/l plus another twelve months on the lees in bottle. The additional bottle development is the key to settling the sweetness factor into the wine, as opposed to on it. It is still on the Sec scale, as it's modestly sweet. The fruit is a mix of ripe pear and ginger spices with low acidity, translating it into a smooth sipping nightclub bubble, or one that you could serve with spicy sushi rolls. Open, drink, and have fun.Prices: BC 80.00 QC 72.00 ON 65.95 Producer: Champagne Taittinger
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Taittinger Prestige Rosétext
90PTS

Taittinger Prestige Rosé NV

Champagne, FranceTaittinger vinifies 85% of the blend as white wine, with the remainder vinified as red, to keep the elegant house style. The cuvée is 50/35/15 pinot noir, chardonnay, and pinot meunier from nearly 45 crus, including some reserve wines. Look for an elevated floral nose with notes of crushed raspberries and cherries that spills onto the palate. The acidity is Taittinger fresh despite some nine grams per litre dosage, leaving a smooth finish. Try this with a charcuterie plate or a favourite carpaccio dish.Prices: QC 81.50 NS 97.00 BC 110.00 Producer: Champagne Taittinger
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Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancstext
97PTS

Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs 2007

Champagne, FranceCan the 2007 Blanc de Blancs be better than 2006? The folks at Taittinger think so, along with much of the trade who know the two vintages well. It has all the hallmark Taittinger traits: lemon zest, green apples, chalk, minerality, a luxurious creamy mousse with an electric wire of acidity running through the entire wine. It’s the purity and the elevated heights of the essence of chardonnay that set it apart from the norm. It was disgorged and topped up at nine grams dosage after spending nine years-plus on its lees. The finish is super long flecked with sea salt, ginger and honey. Not near ready to drink, and if well-cellared, it will keep through 2027. Textbook blanc de blancs, and the standard by which all others should be measured.Prices: AB 245.00 QC 459.25 1500 NS 200.00 BC 256.00 Producer: Champagne Taittinger
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Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Rosétext
95PTS

Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Rosé 2007

Champagne, FranceThe Comtes Rosé is only produced only in exceptional years, and then only with Grand Cru grapes. The mix is chardonnay (30 percent) from Côte des Blancs and pinot noir (70 percent) from Bouzy. The final blend has 15 percent pinot noir added as a still red wine before spending at least eight years on its lees. Production is tiny, and only the very best of the free-run juice makes it into the bottle. The colour is super pale salmon, and the nose is fresh and exuberant expressing strawberries, raspberries and cranberries supported by a creamy brioche note. An elegant, tight, electric stunning pink bubble that has everything you could want in a rosé Champagne. It should effortlessly age a decade. Superb with most fish dishes and select Chinese dishes.Prices: QC 276.25 Producer: Champagne Taittinger
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Taittinger Prélude Grands Crustext
93PTS

Taittinger Prélude Grands Crus NV

Champagne, FranceThis fuller, more luxurious version of Taittinger is equal parts Grand Cru pinot noir (Montagne de Reims) and Grand Cru chardonnay (Côte des Blancs), aged for 60+ months on lees, and bottled with less than 10 grams of sugar at dosage. The attack is dense with creamy, buttery brioche notes mix with a whiff of toasted nuts before a floral, spicy undercurrent kicks in. It is one complex sparkling wine with impressive lees, all held in check by Taittinger’s signature bead of acidity. I love the value offered here between the Brut Reserve and Vintage Taittinger. Most seafood, and the richer the better, will work here.Prices: BC 100.00 QC 79.50 Producer: Champagne Taittinger
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Taittinger Brut Reservetext
91PTS

Taittinger Brut Reserve NV

Champagne, FranceTaittinger proudly “considers it an honour to produce a Brut champagne every year without exception". And with 288 hectares of vineyards across Champagne, you can see it is in excellent shape to cope with anything climate change can throw its way, at least so far. Brut Réserve is a blend of chardonnay (40%), pinot noir and pinot meunier (60%) wines from over 35 different vineyards that are aged a full 36 months on its lees and often longer. The high proportion of chardonnay, unique among fine nonvintage champagnes, is what sets this wine apart from so many others. Floral honey, baked pear, strawberry, and citrus draw you into the glass. The attack is elegant and persistent with more of the same. Serve with just about anything. The 3D 'hologram effect' of bubbles on its gift-packaging is the icing on the cake if you are looking for a great gift.Prices: BC 67.99 QC 59.75 MB 69.41 ON 63.00 NF 58.00 SK 69.57 NS 80.00 YK 90.00 AB 65.99 Producer: Champagne Taittinger
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Champagne Guy Charlemagne Brut Classictext
89PTS

Champagne Guy Charlemagne Brut Classic NV

Champagne, FranceChampagne Guy Charlemagne was founded in 1892 in the heart of the Côte des Blancs. The estate today covers 15 hectares of vineyards, and is overseen by Philippe Charlemagne. They use only their own grapes, in this case, 50/50 chardonnay / pinot noir from their chalky/clay vineyards in Sezanne (the only cuvée of the house that doesn't come from the Côte des Blancs).This was vinified in stainless before going into bottle, where it spent two years on the lees before dosage with 8 g/l. Massive plump marshmallow, meringue, bread dough, red apple fill the cushy core. Quite expansive and toasty, and finishing a bit vanilla shortbread, courtesy of the dosage. If you like your champagnes plump and rich and a tad sweetish, look here.Prices: BC 57.99 ON 57.99 Producer: Champagne Guy Charlemagne S.A.S.
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Champagne Vilmart & Cie Grand Réserve Brut Premier Crutext
92PTS

Champagne Vilmart & Cie Grand Réserve Brut Premier Cru NV

Champagne, FranceThough no longer technically a grower champagne because Vilmart & Cie sources some grapes, they are certainly in the same authentic, hands-on, small-scale league. This is a 70/30 pinot noir/chardonnay cuvée (not to be mistaken with their Grand Cellier, which reverses the grapes in the mix). This bottle was based on the 2015 vintage, with reserve wines from 13 and 14, and 1er cru grapes from Rilly-la-Montagne, with vines averaging 35 years. All of Vilmart's base wines ferment in large oak foudres for 10 months prior to secondary fermentation in the bottle, and none see MLF. This was dosed with 9 g/l before release. Quite tight and lively, thanks to no MLF, but with a gentle cushion, thanks to the aging in oak. Biscuit, lemon dough, green apple is bright and lively on the medium palate, the acidity holding this taut and vibrant through the chalky finish. Lovely completion throughout. Disgorged in July 2017.Prices: BC 70.00 Producer: Champagne Vilmart & Cie
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05 December 2019

Lakeside Cellars Syrahtext
86PTS

Lakeside Cellars Syrah 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaFrom Hahn Vineyard, on Osoyoos' East Bench, this was fermented and aged in new and 2nd fill American oak for 24 months prior to bottling. It's a recipe that Lakeside Cellars seems to employ for all of its big reds, and one that just amplifies the wines beyond need. Overripe fruit is redolent with big baking spices, toasted cedar, and smoke, weighting down the full body. Tannins are worn soft, and the alcohol (14.2% declared) warms up the finish. Too much heavy winemaking here, which is a pity.Prices: BC 26.00 Producer: Lakeside Cellars
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CedarCreek Platinum Haynes Creek Single Vineyard Syrahtext
89PTS

CedarCreek Platinum Haynes Creek Single Vineyard Syrah 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis inaugural vintage of Platinum Syrah pays homage to the now-10-year-old Syrah vines at Haynes Creek. Winemaker Taylor Whelan takes a similar approach to his syrah that he does with pinot noir. It is wild fermented with 25 percent whole bunches to build floral, spicy aromatics. One percent whole bunch viognier is added to fix colour and to help lift aromatics. It spends 14 months in large French oak puncheons to further encourage a softer, fruity style. The colour is deep, the attack soft and floral with a light meaty peppery finish. A New World syrah with a sweet fruit character that is more Washington State and California, than Northern Rhone. You can drink this now with grilled lamb.Prices: BC 49.99 Producer: CedarCreek Estate Winery
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RockBare McLaren Vale Shiraztext
90PTS

RockBare McLaren Vale Shiraz 2017

AustraliaRockbare is made from select blocks of vines from the NE corner of McLaren Vale harvested during the first two weeks of March. The ferment is done in stainless steel and matured in 25 percent new and 75 percent older French and American oak hogsheads, and some older large-format French oak vats for 14 months. The colour is inky black, and the massive, juicy fruit palate is an intense mix of mulberries and blueberry jam, chocolate and espresso. There is just the right level of acidity to keep it fresh. We love the winery recommendation that you serve it with Korean barbecue meats.Prices: BC 37.99 Producer: Rockbare
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Jim Barry The Lodge Hill Shiraztext
89PTS

Jim Barry The Lodge Hill Shiraz 2016

Clare Valley, South Australia, AustraliaOld vines (42 years old) at elevation (500 m) gives the Lodge hill a leg up on many of its competitors. Ther ea hint of acidity under the candied black fruit nose flecked with black and blue, berries and a dollop of cocoa. The finish is minty with a touch of curry and light tannins that will allow you to enjoy this classic now or cellar it for a handful of years. Lamb is the classic match, but pork would be equally desirable.Prices: BC 37.99 AB 30.00 ON 21.95 Producer: Jim Barry
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Yalumba Samuel's Collection Barossa Shiraztext
87PTS

Yalumba Samuel's Collection Barossa Shiraz 2017

Barossa Valley, South Australia, AustraliaSamuel's Collection is a new tier for Yalumba, said to celebrate the “heritage, longevity, and estate” established by its founder Samuel Smith. The wine style is new as well, according to head of winemaking Louisa Rose, who says wine drinkers are seeking more youthful, generous and fresher wines. This candied blue fruit hits that mark, but one wonders what’s wrong with this generation of wine drinkers who prefer simple, quaffable shiraz to the blockbuster powerhouses that define the Barossa. I guess it’s up to you to see whether you want this style or not. I am lukewarm on this venture. Ready to drink.Prices: BC 29.98 Producer: Yalumba Wine Company
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Road 13 Jackpot Syrahtext
89PTS

Road 13 Jackpot Syrah 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaRoad 13 takes their Jackpot Syrah to another level of ripeness, clocking in at 15.3% abv on the label. It’s really more shiraz-like in style, with jammy black fruits and white pepper that will you have you thinking Barossa. Just replace sagebrush for Australia’s eucalyptus. The tannins are quite polished, and the wood more in the background, making this approachable even just two years after the vintage. I don’t know if weight and opulence is the future of Okanagan syrah, but there’s no denying that this is an enjoyable pour all the same.Prices: BC 43.48 Producer: Road 13
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Black Swift Vineyards Hans Estate Syrahtext
89PTS

Black Swift Vineyards Hans Estate Syrah 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaHans Estate Vineyard is located on the East Osoyoos Bench, just below where the fruit for Mission Hill's iconic Oculus is grown. A brooding syrah at 15% abv with opulent black and blue fruits and no shortage of American oak, this is straight out of the old school Australia playbook. Medium-full bodied, it’s a broad, plush wine that provides hedonistic drinking pleasure that will pair perfectly with the upcoming winter months. Very good length, though not exactly a steal at this price. Decant if enjoying now, or give it a couple of years to allow the oak to further integrate.Prices: BC 59.99 Producer: The Hatch
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Poplar Grove Syrahtext
87PTS

Poplar Grove Syrah 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaA blend of 95 percent syrah and 5 percent malbec, this was sourced from Poplar Grove's Haynes Creek Vineyard in Osoyoos. The fruit is surprisingly evolved for the 2016 vintage, showing restrained dried black fruits with lots of wood. Unfortunately this is masking some of the varietal character. In short, a soft, easy red wine to drink now.Prices: BC 35.95 AB 48.99 Producer: Poplar Grove Winery
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Tightrope Winery Syrahtext
90PTS

Tightrope Winery Syrah 2016

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaTasted again at The Judgement of BC, where it finished first overall, this Naramata syrah is the perfect reflection of moderate mid-valley temperatures and a coferment with six to seven percent viognier. The style is fresh and more critical balanced. It was fermented in small lots after a five day cold soak, collecting colour without alcohol, and then barrel aged for ten months, in mostly French oak. The nose is floral, with violets spilling onto its black cherry, blueberry, tobacco palate. The finish is silky, ripe, savoury, and best of all, elegant.Prices: BC 36.95 Producer: Tightrope Winery
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Penfolds Shiraz Kalimna Bin 28text
90PTS

Penfolds Shiraz Kalimna Bin 28 2016

South Australia, AustraliaBin 28 is a multi-regional blend that is a “showcase of warm climate Australian shiraz” and what it can do in American oak. Yes, this will appeal to fans of ripe, oaky reds, but there’s still Penfolds’ hallmark elegance and traditional sensibilities. Blackberry compote and iodine combine with espresso and vanilla from the oak, which is harmoniously integrated at this stage. It’s not as powerful as you might think at first sniff, more medium-bodied than full, with grainy tannins from the wood, and moderate acidity. I find the fruit character already slightly evolved, so I’m hesitant to recommend this for the cellar, but it makes for a fine pour now.Prices: BC 49.99 ON 49.99 Producer: Penfolds
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Wolf Blass Grey Label Shiraztext
90PTS

Wolf Blass Grey Label Shiraz 2013

McLaren Vale, South Australia, AustraliaThis pours a dense purple hue, with little to no sign of age. It’s a full-throttle style of shiraz, and an interesting contrast to the Penfolds Bin 28, with jammy blackberry and black raspberry, menthol, and gobs of oak from aging in a combination of 58 percent French and 42 percent American barrels for 18 months. Full-bodied and quite concentrated, this has a plush texture with just enough acidity to keep everything in balance. Drinking well now, this will continue to hold for the next 4-5 years, but the oak will increasingly overshadow the fruit with time.Prices: BC 35.99 AB 37.00 ON 37.00 Producer: Wolf Blass Pty Ltd
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CedarCreek Platinum Haynes Creek Single Vineyard Syrahtext
89PTS

CedarCreek Platinum Haynes Creek Single Vineyard Syrah 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaFrom 10-year-old vines at CedarCreek's Haynes Creek Vineyard, this checks nearly all of the boxes in terms of modern syrah winemaking: a dollop of viognier; use of whole clusters, fermentation by indigenous yeasts; and maturation in large oak puncheons. It is quite youthful, showing some confected carbonic character (presumably from the whole-cluster bunches) with juicy black fruits and loads of floral and spicy aromatics. There is density and weight, but without sacrificing freshness and elegant, structured tannins that will allow this wine to age gracefully for 5+ years. Good length.Prices: BC 49.99 Producer: CedarCreek Estate Winery
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Road 13 Syrahtext
88PTS

Road 13 Syrah 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis pours an inky purple but needs a moment to get over some initial reductive notes. It’s quite youthful at this stage, and even with time in the glass it’s shy to open up. At the moment, it’s all about dense dark fruits and chocolatey oak. That said, underneath there’s some savoury complexity, with meat and violets that I think will come to the foreground with time, allowing this to be more varietally expressive. However, it will always be a rich, bold expression of syrah (14.7% abv). It could also benefit from some time for the grippy tannins to soften (a hallmark of the 2017 vintage, it seems). Give this a long decant if you're going to open it anytime soon; I revisited my opened bottle two days later and it was drinking quite nicely.Prices: BC 25.00 Producer: Road 13
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Stag's Hollow Syrah Amalia Vineyardtext
88PTS

Stag's Hollow Syrah Amalia Vineyard 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaFrom Amalia Vineyard on the Osoyoos West Bench, this was fermented with one ton of dried, lignified stems, which provides a sappy, spicy quality that works well with the floral and red fruit character of this wine. Well balanced and refreshingly fresh in this line up of syrah, it’s medium-bodied and decidedly moreish, if not overly complex or long in length. Fine value and a worthwhile exploration of stem inclusion and syrah’s savoury side. Best served lightly chilled.Prices: BC 26.00 Producer: Stag's Hollow Winery and Vineyard
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Lakeside Cellars Syrahtext
86PTS

Lakeside Cellars Syrah 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaLakeside Cellars is a relatively new winery based on the eastern shore of Lake Osoyoos. There’s certainly the ripeness of the South Okanagan here, clocking in at 14.2% abv, but more pronounced is the American oak from a 24 month élevage. Worse, the palate is quite disjointed, combining muddled fruit with unintegrated, tart acidity. Not unfairly priced, but just falls short of the mark.Prices: BC 26.00 Producer: Lakeside Cellars
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Falernia  Single Vineyard Titón Reserva Syrahtext
90PTS

Falernia Single Vineyard Titón Reserva Syrah 2014

Valle de Elqui, ChileThe Titón Vineyard was planted on its roots from 2000-2003, providing Falernia with a unique piece of terroir-based syrah in Elqui. Normal temperatures are on the cool side, seldom above 25C, with nighttime temps of 10C that are often combined with foggy mornings. That said, Titón is a dry site that sits about 350 metres above the Pacific Ocean, and a mere 18 kilometres from the coast. The grapes are handpicked and cold-soaked for three days before fermentation, and only ten percent of the wine is aged in premium French oak barrels for ten months before finishing and bottling. The result is a stunningly elegant version of syrah, rich in dark, mellow fruit and with notes of black pepper and black olives. Soft, round and eminently sippable. I believe the balance to be so perfect it will age a decade or longer. The winery suggests grilled lamb and eggplant, I am heading to the kitchen right now to prepare that. Delicious.Prices: BC 28.99 AB 24.99 Producer: Vina Falernia
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03 December 2019

Giovanni Rosso Nebbiolo Langhe Rossotext
92PTS

Giovanni Rosso Nebbiolo Langhe Rosso 2016

Piedmont, ItalyI often say to cabernet sauvignon drinkers that eventually they will make their way to nebbiolo, the great Italian grape variety used to make Barolo. Here is a wine that will hasten the transition. I’m not sure there is a better wine under $30 in the BC market. It’s better than last year and last year it was terrific. The nose is captivating with its fragrant rose petal and licorice notes. The colour and weight are pinot noir-like, and the palate is deliciously juicy and forthcoming from front to back. You can drink this now or cellar three to five years and beyond because it is perfectly balanced. Brava to Giovani Rosso and its commitment to making serious nebbiolo at all levels. Back up the truck. Consider this a top match with your holiday turkey dish.Prices: BC 27.99 ON 30.00 Producer: Giovanni Rosso
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Bruno Giacosa Dolcetto d'Albatext
91PTS

Bruno Giacosa Dolcetto d'Alba 2018

Alba, Cuneo, Piedmont, ItalySeamless, as is expected from Giacosa. From select vineyards in the villages of Neive, Neviglie, Treiso and Alba, this youthful red was fermented and aged in stainless for 7 months. Finesse from the start, this opens with scented red florals, cherry, red currants, wrapped around a salted plum / cherry core, and finishing with a kiss of mineral salts and kirsch. Tannins are whisper fine, barely outing the perimeter of this medium-bodied red. There's a lightness and effortless here which makes drinking now easy. That said, the articulation of this wine means it will happily cellar over the next couple of years. Amazing value.Prices: ON 38.95 Producer: Bruno Giacosa
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Casale del Giglio Cesanesetext
88PTS

Casale del Giglio Cesanese 2016

Lazio, ItalyThe last time I had this wine, I was impressed with its soft, juicy, authentic Italian styling, smooth but dry. Cesanese comune is one of many indigenous Italian grapes with low-yielding and spindly bunches, grown primarily in the Lazio region, and rarely seen outside of it. Cinnamon on the nose reappears on the sweet feeling palate, but this time around, the tannins are silky and inviting, adding a bit of flesh but without the grip. Quaffable red plum and cherry fruit grab all the attention mid-palate before a soft, warm peppery finish. The perfect spaghetti red with a bit of class. Bolognese anyone?Prices: BC 23.99 AB 25.40 ON 22.99 Producer: Casale del Giglio
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Batasiolo Barolotext
91PTS

Batasiolo Barolo 2015

Piedmont, ItalyBatasiolo Barolo has always been one you can drink young thanks to its refined elegance and delicate styling. Look for a lightish colour, cranberry, red cherry, violets, with bright acidity and a long, subtle floral finish with a little bit of a dry, resiny bite. A long way from the 1970s, this wine has a bright future and an excellent today. Complex and even better with food.Prices: BC 37.99 AB 27.99 MB 39.99 ON 32.00 QC 32.85 PEI 33.95 NB 36.95 NS 36.50 Producer: Beni di Batasiolo
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Fontanafredda Barbera d'Albatext
88PTS

Fontanafredda Barbera d'Alba 2017

Piedmont, ItalyAs mentioned last time out, this is a fun juicy red that has been a consistent performer over the years. A barbera from the hillsides of Langhe and Monferrato, it’s as clean as ever with a pleasant and frankly intense black cherry, black raspberry, licorice nose that spills onto the palate. The acidity is prominent, but in check, and the tannins are mostly silky thanks to six months in oak barrels and Slavonian casks to add a touch of weight and texture. It will age three to five years, but it’s ready to drink too. Best with mushroom, pork, or wild boar. Good value.Prices: BC 21.75 NS 24.99 Producer: Fontanafredda
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Travaglini Gattinara Riservatext
90PTS

Travaglini Gattinara Riserva 2013

Gattinara, Piedmont, ItalyThe Travaglini family rules and represents Gattinara, with nearly 60% of all the vineyards in the small DOCG, located in the rocky foothills of the Monte Rosa range of northern Piemonte. Today Cinzia, great-granddaughter of Clemente, manages operations, and her husband Massimo Collauto is chief winemaker. The distinctive sloped bottle was designed to fit naturally in the hand and catches sediment during decanting. TreVigne refers to the 3 historic vineyards of the family where these vines grow. Sourced from the iron-rich reddish soils of the appellation, and up to 350m altitude, this nebbiolo fermented in stainless before 30 months in Slovenian oak casks (20% spends 10 months in French barriques) prior to blending and resting in the bottle 8 months. Ferrous veins run through this appropriately aged wine, streaking along leather, dried cherry, salted herbs, faint smoke, and dried florals. There's an earthy mushroom note that darts in and out alluringly, and makes me think of cracking this with wild mushroom braises.Prices: BC 53.00 Producer: Giancarlo Travaglini
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Rivera Il Falcone Castel del Monte Rosso Riservatext
90PTS

Rivera Il Falcone Castel del Monte Rosso Riserva 2013

Puglia, ItalyRivera was founded by the Corato family in the late 1940's, and son Carlo has been overseeing the estate since the early 1980's. The property represents Puglia in the prestigious Instituto Grandi Marche. Based on the main grape of Puglia's Castel del Monte, nero di troia, this aged 14 months in French oak, and then a further year in bottle before release. Layers of cherry, mulberry, raspberry, leather, anise, and sweet tobacco filter through a gently worn palate, with tannins long and finely grippy to the cocoa dusted finish. This medium bodied red is mellow and integrated; drinking very well now, and well suited to braised rabbit or game bird.Prices: BC 29.99 Producer: Azienda Vinicola Rivera S.P.A.
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Produttori del Barbaresco Barbarescotext
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Produttori del Barbaresco Barbaresco 2015

Piedmont, ItalyIn 1958, the priest of the village of Barbaresco foresaw that the only way small properties could survive was by banding together, so he gathered together 19 growers and founded the Produttori del Barbaresco. From its humble beginnings making the first three vintages in the church basement, Produttori del Barbaresco has grown into a 50+ member co-operative with more than 250 acres of nebbiolo vineyards in the Barbaresco appellation. This feels every inch of nebbiolo's grip, with raging, ragged tannins housing ripe plum, thorny wild blackberry, raspberry, and roses. Even opening a day in advance doesn't tame the tannins here (and the wash of Brettanomyces doesn't help), but perhaps a meaty pasta dish would do the trick.Prices: BC 50.99 Producer: Produttori del Barbaresco
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Renato Ratti Ochetti Langhe Nebbiolotext
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Renato Ratti Ochetti Langhe Nebbiolo 2016

Langhe, Cuneo, Piedmont, ItalyGive this some air time. Dried florals, dried scrubby herbs (lavender, rosemary, oregano) wrap around a ripe plum and cherry core, flocked with velveteen plumpness, but gripped with nebbiolo's characteristic youthful tannins. Pouring a bricking hue, this has a vein of earthy, natural, texture through to the sticky finish. Best taken with a lusty tomato sauced meat / mushroom pasta dish.Prices: BC 33.00 Producer: Renato Ratti
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02 December 2019

Wiengut Wieninger Nussberg Grüner Veltlinertext
91PTS

Wiengut Wieninger Nussberg Grüner Veltliner 2017

Wien (Vienna), AustriaFrom Nussberg's limestone-laden soils, this is a crisp and focused GV, quivering with lemon pith, river stones, pear skin, and kissed with quince and elderflower. The finish echoes with minerality. You've the slight generosity (for Austria) of the region, tucked up against Vienna, but the raciness of the the soils, and the winery's deft touch. Drinking beautifully now.Prices: ON 28.95 Producer: Wiengut Wieninger
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Wieninger Wiener Grüner Veltlinertext
89PTS

Wieninger Wiener Grüner Veltliner 2017

Wien (Vienna), AustriaFrom the wine region touching Vienna's borders, Wien, this grüner veltliner carries the region's warmth (for Austria, that is), showing pear, lemon, white peach, Rainier cherry on a bed of river stones. The finish is mouthwatering and moreish. This is a subtle, harmonious GV, suitable for a wide variety of foods, and folks.Prices: ON 24.95 Producer: Wiengut Wieninger
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Nigl Gärtling Grüner Veltlinertext
88PTS

Nigl Gärtling Grüner Veltliner 2018

Niederösterreich, Weinland Österreich, AustriaGartling is a style of wine, akin to some Vinho Verde, where there is dissolved CO2 remaining in the wine purposefully to give it a slight spritz. This is a light 11.5 degree wine, with subtle hints of white florals, elderflower, Asian pear, gooseberries. The spritz is ever so noticeable, dissipating quickly in the glass, and leaving a spritely, fresh mouthfeel. Suitable for light sashimi, and delicate salads.Prices: ON 23.95 Producer: Nigl
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