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Anthony Gismondi on Wine
Tasting Notes

Tastings: October 2018

31 October 2018

Elouan Pinot Noirtext
87PTS

Elouan Pinot Noir 2013

Oregon, United StatesThis accessible wine is part of the Wagner family, with Joseph J Wagner overseeing winemaking of this easy, entry Oregon red. Soft and downy raspberry, strawberry jam, perfumed forest berries on a sweeter, silken palate, one textured with a puff of smoke and a subtle swing of cinnamon heat. The wine was aged for ten months in a mix of new and used French oak. This medium bodied wine is for current consumption.Prices: BC 36.00 Producer: Elouan
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Joseph Drouhin Cote de Beaune Rougetext
90PTS

Joseph Drouhin Cote de Beaune Rouge 2014

Côte de Beaune, Côte d'Or, Burgundy, FranceThe fruit is all estate from a 3-hectare site, as well as from the younger vines of Clos des Mouches and other Premier Crus of Beaune that have been declassified. The vineyard density of the massal selected clones is from 10,000 to 12,500 vines. Winemaking is minimal as is the new oak, capped at 10 percent. The style is all Cote de Beaune: soft and delicate with an almost ethereal fruit ambiance. Smoke, raspberries, moss, mushrooms and a touch of oak tannins melt into the fruit. The finish is dry with hints of leather, game and balsamic. Light and playful in a way New World pinot rarely is. Drink or hold through 2023.Prices: BC 55.99 Producer: Joseph Drouhin
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Kendall-Jackson Pinot Noir Vintner's Reservetext
88PTS

Kendall-Jackson Pinot Noir Vintner's Reserve 2016

California, United StatesA solid introductory-style pinot noir packed with spicy, sweet fruit. The attack is a mix of strawberry and ripe raspberry fruit with earthy, cola notes. It is a dry, rich, warm, soft California pinot that should have wide appeal. Try it with salmon cakes or duck pizza.Prices: BC 28.99 AB 25.00 PEI 27.00 NB 30.00 ON 25.00 Producer: Kendall-Jackson Vineyards and Winery
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Siduri Pinot Noir Willamette Valleytext
91PTS

Siduri Pinot Noir Willamette Valley 2016

Willamette Valley, Oregon, United StatesI have don’t have a long history with this Oregon pinot that has been made for over two decades, but this is a quality drop of wine. It’s a terrific vintage and using a diverse mix of vineyards has woven a delicious complexity into this humble pinot. This red/black fruit jumps from the glass with a silky svelteness we don’t see in California. Flowers, minerals, forest floor and deliciously sour cherry fruit entice your palate with every sip. The finish is equally impressive with intense, long lasting flavours that linger forever.Prices: BC 44.99 AB 25.00 US 28.00 Producer: Siduri Wines
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Murphy-Goode Pinot Noirtext
87PTS

Murphy-Goode Pinot Noir 2016

California, United StatesMurphy-Goode is a solid label offering consistent quality pinot for $20. The style is round, juicy and easy-drinking, with earthy, cherry, compost, spicy notes with a touch of oak. Ready to drink and designed for fun. Simply add your favourite pizza.Prices: BC 21.99 NB 26.99 MB 21.99 Producer: Murphy-Goode
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Cambria Pinot Noir Julia's Vineyardtext
90PTS

Cambria Pinot Noir Julia's Vineyard 2015

Santa Maria Valley, Santa Barbara County, Central Coast, California, United StatesJulia’s Vineyard was named for Julia Jackson back in 1988, almost twenty years after the original fog-covered pinot noir vines were planted at the Santa Maria site over ancient soils full of fossilized seashells, shale, limestone and sand. The site is unique in that it boasts one of the longest growing seasons in California. The fruit is intense, showing ripe black raspberry and blueberry flecked with red notes of cranberry and pomegranate and classic brown baking spice. A hedonistic, California pinot noir that is rich and mouth-filling. The wine is mix of clones including: 4, 2A, 23, 667, 115, 777 and 828 that are barrel aged 8.5 months in French oak, 31 percent of which is new. Salmon, mushroom risotto, duck, spicy meatballs, roasted chicken and root vegetable are all fine matches.Prices: BC 36.99 AB 30.00 US 18.00 Producer: Cambria Estate Vineyard & Winery
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La Crema Monterey Pinot Noirtext
90PTS

La Crema Monterey Pinot Noir 2016

Monterey County, Central Coast, California, United StatesAttractive earthy loam, black plum nose that spills onto the palate. More plummy fruit and very silky tannins makes this a delicious drop. The finish is long and persistent with a spicy umami note. The grapes are cold-soaked for three days at 48°F and then punched down three times a day during the ferment and racked directly to barrel for nine months in 21 percent new French oak with no post-fermentation maceration. The rocky, windswept site is a true home for cool-climate pinot. Grilled salmon or duck confit are a fine match.Prices: BC 35.00 AB 29.00 ON 31.00 Producer: La Crema
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La Crema Sonoma Coast Pinot Noirtext
89PTS

La Crema Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2016

Sonoma Coast, Sonoma County, California, United StatesA large production pinot that is a mix of estate and grower vineyards but all within the cool, marine swept boundaries of Sonoma County. The parcels are kept separate until the final blend to capitalize on the best lots. Clones include 23, 37, 115, 667, 777, 828, Pommard, Calera, Swan and Martini. Look for an earthy wild strawberry nose with a dusting of baking spices. On the palate look for cherries, plum, pomegranate and spice. It’s aged in 95 percent French oak, but only 25 percent is new. Delicious, drinkable and authentic.Prices: BC 34.99 AB 29.00 ON 29.95 QC 28.60 NS 41.75 NB 44.95 Producer: La Crema
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Chateau de Sancerre Rougetext
89PTS

Chateau de Sancerre Rouge 2014

Sancerre, Upper Loire, Loire, FranceClassic Sancerre-style pinot, light in colour with spicy, floral, cherry, licorice aromas. The attack is dry and savoury with sour cherry, smoky, peppery, celery salt. Euro-style in that dry and elegant food-friendly way. Duck confit anyone?Prices: BC 39.99 Producer: Chateau de Sancerre
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30 October 2018

Beringer Chardonnay Private Reservetext
91PTS

Beringer Chardonnay Private Reserve 2015

Napa Valley, California, United StatesDescribed as a perfect year, the fruit was picked between August 28 and September 11 at Yountville’s Gamble Ranch in the Oakville AVA, surely the northern limit for chardonnay. This is the full meal deal, fermented in 66 percent new French oak barrels with weekly lees stirring and full malolactic leaving it soft and creamy with crème brûlée, pineapple and sweet tropical fruit. Big, rich, and yes, iconic by US standards, but this is a unique style now loved by many, as evidenced by its big Parker and Suckling scores. If you are a less is more chardonnay fan this may not be for you, but it’s what makes the wine world go round.Prices: BC 39.99 US 35.00 AB 45.00 NS 43.00 ON 44.95 Producer: Beringer Napa Valley Vineyards
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Evoluna Chardonnaytext
90PTS

Evoluna Chardonnay 2015

California, United StatesA small crop is the force behind this intense chardonnay, along with importer Kimberly Jones and Jean-Charles Boisset. It’s hard to imagine this comes from California. It’s cool coastal Sonoma from some prime vineyards but that is where the California ends. The wine is about finesse, quiet confidence, complexity and length with a little bit of pear, citrus and dried apricots. Impressive for the price. The grapes are mix of Dijon and California Heritage clones.Prices: BC 59.99 Producer: Secret Indulgence
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Kendall-Jackson Chardonnay Vintner's Reservetext
89PTS

Kendall-Jackson Chardonnay Vintner's Reserve 2016

California, United StatesKJ’s signature chardonnay is all about land. They own just about every vineyard that goes into this two million-plus case brand and it's all cool, coastal, chardonnay that chief winemaker Randy Ullom gets to work with. Here he mixes Monterey County citrus and lime flavours with the mango and pineapple flavours of Santa Barbara County, the green apple notes of Mendocino County and Sonoma County’s ripe pears. The wine is fermented and aged in French and American oak barrels and aged sur lie. Tasted several times now, the combination of freshness and roundness with a mix of papaya, pineapple and mango flavours makes this a crowd favourite. It is fully ready to drink. Try it with a chicken salad or a favourite creamy pasta dish. KJ has been America's #1 selling chardonnay for 25 years and despite its massive production it remains entirely barrel fermented and essentially handcrafted from small vineyard lots, vineyards, by the way, all owned by the Jackson family.Prices: AB 23.00 BC 23.99 ON 20.00 MB 19.00 QC 21.00 US 15.00 NB 27.50 Producer: Kendall-Jackson Vineyards and Winery
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Cambria Chardonnay Katherine's Vineyardtext
88PTS

Cambria Chardonnay Katherine's Vineyard 2015

Santa Maria Valley, Santa Barbara County, Central Coast, California, United StatesCambria Estate is led by sisters and Katie and Julia Jackson (of Jackson Family Wines) and located in the coastal Santa Maria Bench in Santa Barbara County. This cooler, fog-blanketed and limestone-laden site is planted to clones 4, 76, 96, Wente, and spent six months in wood, 83 French (the remainder American) and 21 percent new. There's a lovely lemon freshness that raises this richer white, near 15 declared degrees. Downy lees beds the palate, accented with nutmeg and hazelnut, grounded by cool pear and green apple, and lingering with perfumed vanilla. A slightly more modern take on very traditional Cali Chard?Prices: BC 35.00 Producer: Cambria Estate Vineyard & Winery
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La Crema  Monterey Chardonnaytext
89PTS

La Crema Monterey Chardonnay 2016

Monterey County, Central Coast, California, United StatesMonterey's cooler climate brings this Cali chard some brightness, with cool, silky lemon, French cream, green apple, tropical melon, butter, along a spiced, medium bodied core. The fruit goes into French oak (17 percent new) for fermentation (partial MLF) and seven months with monthly battonage. A weightier, forward style, but one showing some restraint.Prices: BC 34.00 AB 36.00 ON 24.00 Producer: La Crema
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La Crema Sonoma Coast Chardonnaytext
87PTS

La Crema Sonoma Coast Chardonnay 2016

Sonoma Coast, Sonoma County, California, United StatesUnlike its streamlined Monterey cousin, this Sonoma Coast Chardonnay is much broader shouldered, with red apple, lemon curd, ample baking spice, vanilla-clad oak cloaking the fuller body. There is still a line of lemon peel acidity, but this is certainly a more generous style. From across the Sonoma Coast, and a melange of clones 4, 5, 15, 17, 76, 95, 96, 809, Wente and Hyde Wente, this was barrel fermented and aged in a mix of French and American wood, 17 percent of which was new. After partial MLF, this spent eight months in barrel, with battonage every couple of weeks.Prices: BC 30.99 AB 28.99 ON 32.95 QC 26.60 MB 28.99 NF 32.87 PEI 39.69 NB 40.48 Producer: La Crema
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29 October 2018

Clos du Soleil Winemaker's Series Middle Bench Vineyard Syrahtext
92PTS

Clos du Soleil Winemaker's Series Middle Bench Vineyard Syrah 2016

Similkameen Valley, British Columbia, CanadaTreve and I both tasted this wine independently this month and as you can see we were both enamoured with it. The Winemaker’s Series highlights fruit/vineyards from outside the normal Clos du Soleil portfolio. In this case, it's syrah from the Similkameen Valley's Middle Bench Vineyard. Destemmed and fermented in small open top fermenters for a month with daily punch downs has given winemaker Michael Clark some special juice. It spends a leisurely 15 months in French oak (12 percent new) before it goes to bottle. The style is all about minimal intervention that perfectly suits this rocky site and all its minerality. The nose is red-fruited and spectacular, mixing Okanagan desert herbs, floral, red cherries, and black raspberries with just a hint of pepper and meaty, charcuterie board notes. What you notice most is the freshness and finesse and the taut acidity that keeps it linear. Surprisingly drinkable but this one will go the distance. Bravo Michael.Prices: BC 32.90 Producer: Clos du Soleil Winery
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Mission Hill Reserve Shiraztext
89PTS

Mission Hill Reserve Shiraz 2015

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe Reserve tier of wines at Mission Hill are a selection of sites and barrels that are deemed of very high quality year over year. In the very hot 2015, this was selected smartly to capture the generosity without being overwhelmed. Very perfumed and well put together, with anise, blackcurrant, cassis licked with spice and tickled with black pepper. The soft, plush, dense core is lined with grippy sides and structure ready to take on grilled meats.Prices: BC 25.99 AB 28.00 ON 27.00 QC 28.00 SK 27.00 Producer: Mission Hill Family Estate
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Quails' Gate Syrah The Boswelltext
90PTS

Quails' Gate Syrah The Boswell 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaIris, violets mark this generous, fleshy syrah, dosed amply with downy spices, hallmarked with 2 percent cofermented viognier. Perfumed blueberry, blackberry fill the palate, one with whiffs of liquorice, lavender, black pepper, and hemmed with supple though slender boned tannins. The majority of the fruit comes from the estate vineyard in West Kelowna, with the remainder from Black Sage Bench in Oliver. It was aged in 18 months in French oak. This is one of the most northern planted syrahs in BC.Prices: BC 70.00 Producer: Quails' Gate Vineyards Estate Winery
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Ex Nihilo XXX Single Vineyard Syrahtext
88PTS

Ex Nihilo XXX Single Vineyard Syrah 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe massive weight bottle does indicate at this single vineyard syrah's heft. Though the Naramata vineyard remains unnamed, we do know this powerful wine was fermented, and then aged in French oak for 22 months, and bottled with minimal filtration. Mocha and espresso lead the blackberry, black cherry fruit, filtered with charcoal, dried fig, and allspice. Tannins are plush, grained with wood, and finish with a warm flush. Ex Nihilo has never followed the Less-Is-More school of wine, and those who subscribe to the same will be in love with this.Prices: BC 80.00 Producer: Ex Nihilo Vineyards
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Vanessa Vineyard Syrahtext
88PTS

Vanessa Vineyard Syrah 2014

Cawston, Similkameen Valley, British Columbia, CanadaVanessa Vineyard grows 13 acres of syrah (clone 100 from the Rhone) and bottles it yearly as a varietal wine, although in 2014 it contains 10 percent of co-fermented viognier. The 2014 opens with a highly reductive, meaty nose, that stems both from being syrah and perhaps part from its youthfulness. On the palate the wine is expansive and rich with more savoury, meaty notes, black pepper and espresso. The attack is warm at 14.8 percent alcohol but not over the top. Roasted peppers, smoky, blackberry, resin, meat wraps up the finish in what was a warm year – growing degree days at Vanessa were 1,920. The wine is aged in new and second use, medium-plus toasted American and French oak barrels. For now, any lamb dish will get the job done. Needs decanting.Prices: BC 34.99 Producer: Vanessa Vineyard
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Mac Forbes Syrahtext
88PTS

Mac Forbes Syrah 2016

Yarra Valley, Victoria, AustraliaFrom the winery's silt stone and clay clad home block in Yarra Valley's Healesville, this was five percent whole bunch, native fermented and spent 11 months in French oak before being bottled unfined and unfiltered. Murky, dark, brooding fruit, with darts of anise, waves of saddle and hints of thorns, this benefits from ample decanting. Tannins are soft, as is the palate, with an undercurrent of herbs and trail of baking spices. This was the inaugural release of this wine, from a label already very well known for chardonnay and pinot noir.Prices: BC 36.00 Producer: Mac Forbes
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Clos du Soleil Winemaker's Series Middle Bench Vineyard Syrahtext
92PTS

Clos du Soleil Winemaker's Series Middle Bench Vineyard Syrah 2016

Similkameen Valley, British Columbia, CanadaFrom Similkameen's Middle Bench Vineyard, this was destemmed and fermented in small open top fermenters for a month, with daily punch downs before pressing. It then spent one month in French oak, 12 percent new, before bottling. With minimal intervention throughout to preserve the rocky site, this shows dusky plum, sage-scented cherry, black raspberry, flicks of violet, and raspy peppercorns, undercut with savoury fresh tobacco and cured meats. Tannins are firm but worked, supporting rather than interfering. Fresh and energetic, far beyond its 14.4 degrees, this savoury syrah drinks beautifully now but will evolve with bottle age.Prices: BC 32.90 Producer: Clos du Soleil Winery
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Laughing Stock Vineyards Amphora Syrah +13/10text
89PTS

Laughing Stock Vineyards Amphora Syrah +13/10 2017

Osoyoos, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe latest in the Amphora release continues on the success of last year, with syrah from East Osoyoos Bench's Perfect Hedge Vineyard tipped with 9 percent viognier. The syrah was placed whole berry into two 500L terracotta amphorae and left to ferment and rest untouched for eight months. The native ferment took a long, cool, slow five weeks, which may explain the long and seamlessly knit tannins framing this bigger red. After its time in clay, the wine was pressed off with a basket press, bottled and wax dipped. True to its 'natural wine' claim, this has no additives other than a tiny amount of sulphur, and was bottled unfined and unfiltered. Textural plums, wild blueberries, wild blackberries are stretched along the palate, lightly dusted with dark cocoa and smoked nutmeg. There's a light, faint lift of violets floating on top, which may come from the viognier. A welcome naked view of a grape that is so oft overdressed.Prices: BC 49.99 Producer: Laughing Stock Vineyards
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8th Generation Vineyard Syrahtext
86PTS

8th Generation Vineyard Syrah 2016

Okanagan Falls, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaGreen peppercorns, sapid branch, peppercorn dominates this Summerland syrah, one that feels like it's dosed with ample cabernet franc. Salt cured meats, roasted root veg, earth take over this lighter bodied syrah (12.5 degrees), one that spent one year aging in French barrique. I appreciate the freshness here, though there is not quite enough ripe fruit here to support the wood and framework. That said, if you're a massive lean franc fan, you might want to try this Summerland syrah for a change. For Wine Club members only.Prices: BC 23.49 Producer: 8th Generation Vineyard
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Black Hills Ipso Factotext
88PTS

Black Hills Ipso Facto 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis new release is a syrah based blend (60 percent), joined by merlot and cabernet sauvignon, sourced from Black Hills' vineyards in the Southern Okanagan. Bigger and broodier than its 13 degrees declared, this concentrated wine pulls charcoal, blackberry, sweet black plums, thorns, violets and cracked peppercorn along a plump palate. Tannins are tuggy and ample, reflective of 15 months in oak (10 percent American and the remainder French), one third of which was new. There's a greenness here which brings some freshness, but also stands out like aforementioned thorns, and especially at this tender age. Best with venison or fire grilled peppers.Prices: BC 49.90 Producer: Black Hills Estate Winery
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26 October 2018

Fort Berens Reserve Chardonnaytext
86PTS

Fort Berens Reserve Chardonnay 2016

Lillooet, British Columbia, CanadaThough the front label shows a Reserve Chardonnay (and new gray label), the back refers to this chardy as White Gold, which is what Fort Berens' estate chardonnay has been named in the past. Indeed, this tastes very much like the White Gold of previous years, with clove-cloaked wood, ripe lush pear, yellow apple, plump lees and rich butter, all worked onto a lemon curd palate. There are glimpses of fresh fruit here (a welcome 12.6 degrees declared), but the wood and heavy hand laden this down beyond more than one glass.Prices: BC 25.99 Producer: Fort Berens Estate Winery
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Bench 1775 Post Modern Chardonnaytext
88PTS

Bench 1775 Post Modern Chardonnay 2014

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaFrom 6-12 year old Naramata Bench vines, this was native fermented and mostly aged in stainless, with 15 percent in oak barrel, for six months. Summer corn, lees, tight lemon lace on a bed of lemon curd, this is a medium bodied white, tasting quite complete though the wood pops out a wee bit. The 2014 is a current release because winemaker / viticulturist Val Tait believes her wines are best expressed with some bottle age. It's a good opportunity to taste a fresh, maturing style.Prices: BC 22.90 Producer: Bench 1775 Winery
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Mission Hill Reserve Chardonnaytext
87PTS

Mission Hill Reserve Chardonnay 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaCreamy, ripe and built, this year's MHFE Reserve Chardy is a selection in both the vineyard and the cellar, using the top 15 percent of their vast estate vineyards and 75 percent of the same vineyard blocks year over year (Oliver, Osoyoos, and Naramata Ranch) for consistency. This was nearly 3/4 fermented and aged in oak, which is highly apparent in the toasty, vanilla, lemon curd, white peach and cracked cloves. The finish swells with gingersnap heat. This feels distinctly traditional Cali, rather than modern and striving Okanagan.Prices: BC 21.49 AB 25.00 SK 20.00 MB 22.00 ON 22.00 QC 20.00 Producer: Mission Hill Family Estate
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Five Vineyards by Mission Hill Chardonnaytext
87PTS

Five Vineyards by Mission Hill Chardonnay 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis year's 5V Chardonnay is similar to last year's, with ripe lemon, curd, creamy summer corn and toast, cut with green apple sharpness. There's a background image of orchard fruit, and a snappy spicy finish. Easy sipping, varietally-certain chardy at a great price.Prices: BC 14.99 AB 14.00 SK 16.00 NS 17.00 YK 18.00 Producer: Mission Hill Family Estate
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Laughing Stock Vineyards Chardonnay +24/10text
88PTS

Laughing Stock Vineyards Chardonnay +24/10 2017

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaRich, ripe and round, this year's chardonnay is a blend of Naramata and Osoyoos fruit, whole cluster pressed and into French oak (15 percent new) for partial MLF, lees-stirring and a stint plumping in wood. The treatments are evident with the downy, plush vanilla, pear, brioche and spice. While ample at this tender age, all the components are pretty knit together, bound by nutmeg ties and finishing with ample stony / cedar spice. Enjoy this now with richer risotto dishes, creamy bisque, or hold for a year and revisit when this quiets some. This is one of Laughing Stock's Small Cap wines, with a production of 312 cases.Prices: BC 29.00 Producer: Laughing Stock Vineyards
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See Ya Later Ranch Legacy Chardonnaytext
86PTS

See Ya Later Ranch Legacy Chardonnay 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaCreamed corn, yellow apple, cantaloupe is brightened with a spire of lemony acidity and perfumed with pear blossom and a peculiar kiss of wintermint. This feels its weekly battonage over its time in American and French oak (ten months) as well as its cushion of RS (4 g/l) to a brusque finish. The Legacy chard is a selection of the ten top barrels of the vintage. This simple drinker would partner alongside buttery clams or butter chicken.Prices: BC 22.99 AB 21.00 ON 18.00 Producer: See You Later Ranch
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Culmina Family Estate Dilemmatext
88PTS

Culmina Family Estate Dilemma 2016

Golden Mile Bench, Oliver, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaSourced from high up on Golden Mile Bench, this is from Culmina's Margaret Bench and Dijon clones 95 and 76. In 2016, this was approximately one third MLF, one third new French oak, one third stainless, and all with nine months in barrel. Yellow apple, perfumed peach, nutmeg, hazelnut, kissed with almond blossoms on a deep, creamy, downy lees core, sided with firm wood and holding ample extract on the finish. Here in youth, quite overt, but with ample rich food-pairing prowess. I'd love to see this bench with less ripeness, and more precison in future to take it next level.Prices: BC 26.00 Producer: Culmina Family Estate Winery
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JoieFarm En Famille Reserve Chardonnaytext
89PTS

JoieFarm En Famille Reserve Chardonnay 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaFull and dense with wood spice, ripe orchard fruit and buttery notes, this is a premium vineyard selection from Skaha Bluff's Con Vida Vineyard, as well as the Plein de Vie vineyard on the Naramata Bench. After sorting, soaking and gentle pressing, this was racked into French oak (20 percent new) for fermentation, half of which was native. After all underwent MLF, this aged ten months in oak. Pear, yellow apple, hazelnuts is seasoned with salt and ample spice from the wood, and fills an expansive palate, one that licks of lemon. As I've said before, this hints of Cali, and this vintage reminds me of Chile, but now feels distinctly Joie.Prices: BC 35.00 AB 38.00 Producer: JoieFarm
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Tinhorn Creek Oldfield Reserve Chardonnaytext
86PTS

Tinhorn Creek Oldfield Reserve Chardonnay 2016

Golden Mile Bench, Oliver, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis rich, ripe wine is full of sun-sweetened orchard fruits : pear, apple, along with candied tropical notes of pineapple and mango. Round and cushy, the palate is awash with spicy oak, which drags down rather than frames the southern Okanagan fruit. This is a lot of winemaking affect: whole-cluster pressed directly to barrel for fermentation in new, one-year-old and neutral French oak barrels with minimal sulphur added. Post ferment the barrels were topped then were left alone for MLF before the spring blending, after which the final cuvee was aged 50/50 between oak and stainless for 17 months. More reminiscent of old school Cali than new-wave BC.Prices: BC 34.99 Producer: Tinhorn Creek Vineyards
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25 October 2018

Bench 1775 Semillontext
91PTS

Bench 1775 Semillon 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaBlend of Osoyoos (40 percent) and Naramata fruit, and you see it in this semillon, one of the only solo sems in BC. You get a sense of the rich, oily southern Okanagan fruit, with the brighter lemon / citrus lift of mid-valley that lifts the fruit. Snappy, driving acidity, herbal-led, citrus lifted, oily and lengthy, all still so youthful, and with incredible potential for future aging. This, to me, is a shining example of Okanagan sem. Well done Val and team. More of this. Incredible value too.Prices: BC 19.00 Producer: Bench 1775 Winery
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Culmina Family Estate Unicustext
90PTS

Culmina Family Estate Unicus 2017

Golden Mile Bench, Oliver, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis new vintage nails it. From Golden Mile Bench's elevated Margaret's Bench, the 2017 blends fruit fermented in 57 percent stainless, 25 concrete egg, and 18 percent concrete amphora. The concentrated core rises with easy bright freshness and a gentle whiff of white pepper. Melon, yellow apple, green apple is all tidy with white grapefruit tightness. Drinking smartly now, this will continue to impress with bottle age.Prices: BC 27.00 Producer: Culmina Family Estate Winery
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Terravista Albariñotext
91PTS

Terravista Albariño 2017

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaLike the 2016 but better, this wine is just stupid good. Brisk with bright, youthful, electric yellow fruits, this is year four for the Terravista Albarino. 63 percent comes off the home Lone Hand Ranch with the remainder from another site I love, the Gravelbourg Vineyard, on Black Sage Road in Oliver. Limes and nectarines, bright and juicy, ridiculously tasty and unabashedly BC, this wine should scare the Spanish. Floral, stony, mineral, grassy, lemony and more, the food matches are endless. I’m guessing it's all sold out so look for this in restaurants. Brava Senka.Prices: BC 24.90 Producer: Terravista Vineyards
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CVNE Monopole Rioja Blancotext
89PTS

CVNE Monopole Rioja Blanco 2016

Rioja, SpainThe CVNE Monopole is 100 percent viura, grown in the Rioja Alta subzone, at high altitude where it is subject to the influence of the cold Atlantic Ocean. This style is dry, crisp, and elegant, with creamy, juicy mineral, limey fruit flecked with green. The finish is chalky with a salty, minerality. Surprisingly bottled under screw cap, leaving it as fresh as a daisy. The perfect west coast seafood wine. Monopole is the oldest white wine brand in Spain. CVNE, also known as Compania Viticola del Norte de Espana, has produced this wine since 1915.Prices: BC 23.99 QC 17.00 AB 19.00 Producer: Compañía Vitivinícola del Norte de Espana (CVNE)
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Cape of Good Hope Laing Semillontext
90PTS

Cape of Good Hope Laing Semillon 2015

Olifants River, South AfricaThis carries all of semillon's waxy heft and sheen, but with a stony, citrus-lined, edgy profile that talks of its place. This is from Henk Laing's farm, Trekpoort, on Skurfberg Mountain, withinin the Citrusdal Mountains (WO Citrusdalberg). These are now 50+ year old bush vines, almost 1m tall, planted on red sand and clay in in between rooibos, fynbos and apricot trees. After whole bunch pressing, this fermented in stainless before six months in neutral, large format French oak. Vibrant stone fruit - nectarine, peach, apricot peel - is scented with tropical melon, pineapple, guava, all wrapped around a waxen, expansive core, and framed with gentle wood spicing. Structural and generous, but held to a 13.5 degree declaration, this young wine well suits protein pairings now, or a couple years' rest in the cellar.Prices: BC 25.00 Producer: Anthonij Rupert
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Francesco Cirelli Vino Biancotext
88PTS

Francesco Cirelli Vino Bianco 2017

Abruzzo, ItalyThis is a new line from a familiar name in Abruzzo's natural wine circles. At Francesco Cirelli's estate Cireclli Farms, the wines are all made in amphora (illustrated by the sketched vessel on the label). Here, with this series, he purchases neighbouring organic fruit and raises it in stainless, rather than amphora, casting a different lens on his winemaking regime. The labels share the same colourful circles, but this line has the sphere standing alone, off to the side (referencing where he sources the grapes). Quince, pine nuts, lush melon, meyer lemon scent the softer palate, one that tweaks in at the sides with a lick of acidity, and finishes with a flush of southern Italian heat. Would be lovely with squashes, burrata, olive oil and salts, or any small white fishes. #glouglou.Prices: BC 25.00 Producer: Francesco Cirelli
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Fitzpatrick Family Vineyards The Unwinder Ehrenfelsertext
88PTS

Fitzpatrick Family Vineyards The Unwinder Ehrenfelser 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe 2017 blends estate fruit with West Kelowna's Mannhardt Vineyard in this softer, sweeter, aromatic white. Quite interesting in the grape and style is that this is led with anise, before a floral, amply peachy, slender palate. There is a whack of RS here, but it is fairly well matched by acidity, and framed by spice. Happy to see the move to entirely stainless steel in this vintage, helping to further preserve the fresh fruit. For cracking now, ideally with a melon / prosciutto platter or tea time.Prices: BC 24.50 Producer: Fitzpatrick Family Vineyards
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Narrative Gewurztraminertext
89PTS

Narrative Gewurztraminer 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis is the first gew under the Narrative label. With a gentle kiss of gingerale sweetness, this bright wine is bone dry, thankfully, with one meagre g/l RS. Brisk, astringent, lemon-laced acidity, with fresh peach, apricot, and green apple freshness on a silken, slender palate. Picked early and mostly whole bunch pressed, this had a portion destemmed for 18 hours of skin contact, before seven months on gross lees, adding winemaker Matt Dumayne's now hallmark textural element. This is a clean view of what Gew can be here, and a very welcome one. For current drinking, but will continue to evolve in bottle.Prices: BC 23.00 Producer: Okanagan Crush Pad Winery
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Hugel Classic Muscattext
0PTS

Hugel Classic Muscat 2013

Alsace, FranceCorked. Try another.Prices: BC 28.99 Producer: Hugel et Fils
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Famille Bougrier Vouvray V Chenin Blanctext
87PTS

Famille Bougrier Vouvray V Chenin Blanc 2017

Vouvray, Touraine, Loire, FranceSome friendly wines welcome, charm, at first crack, and this easy, off-dry Vouvray is one. Maison Bougrier is a family-owned négociant founded in 1885, and currently run by the 5th generation, and this export Vouvray, V, comes from clay and silex soils. Easy ripe pear, quince, citrus dominates the fuller palate, one gilded with white honey to a snappy finish. Simple, classic and delish.Prices: BC 25.99 Producer: Famille Bougrier
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20 October 2018

Black Tower Dornfelder Pinot Noirtext
85PTS

Black Tower Dornfelder Pinot Noir 2016

GermanyThis soft, slightly sweeter red is a blend of dornfelder and pinot noir, infused with gentle plummy, blackberry fruit. Tannins are negligable and there's a dusting of peppery spice on the short finish. A simple, placeless red that would be best served chilled.Prices: BC 12.99 Producer: Reh-Kendermann
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Stoneboat Pinot House Gravelbar Duettext
87PTS

Stoneboat Pinot House Gravelbar Duet 2016

Oliver, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe duet growing on the Gravelbar at Stoneboat is mix of pinotage and pinot noir. This is fresher and brighter than last year, with the dark fruited pinotage profiting from the softer, lighter pinot noir that imbues this wine. This is juicy, soft, easy-sipping red wine for lighter meat or chicken dishes. Ready to drink.Prices: BC 22.90 Producer: Stoneboat Vineyards
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19 October 2018

Burrowing Owl Meritagetext
88PTS

Burrowing Owl Meritage 2015

Oliver, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada2015 was a warm year, the warmest on record in the Okanagan, and this big red meritage well absorbs the southern desert heat. Burrowing Owl thinks ahead, or rather, behind, holding back these big reds for an extra year before release, which is always beneficial for the consumer, but a sizeable investment for the winery. Medincial cherry, wild blackberries, thorns on a brooding, dusky palate, one lined with graphite, tobacco, eucalypt, dark chocolate, and pencil lead. Tannins are plumped and plush, cushioning the black fruit to a soft, sage-dusted landing. This weighted red, nearing 15 degrees alcohol, feels its 2015.Prices: BC 45.00 AB 50.00 Producer: Burrowing Owl Vineyards
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Fitzpatrick Sudden Inversion Meritagetext
86PTS

Fitzpatrick Sudden Inversion Meritage 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaGrippy, gritty, bitter-edged black fruit is bound by coffee grinds, black pepper and toasted wood. There's a sandpaper note and feel that gobbles up the warm, ragged finish. Beef stew would be this wine's new bestie. This uses ten percent whole bunch in the 25 day fermentation, after which aging in French oak for 14 months, 12 percent of which was new, before bottling unfined and unfiltered.Prices: BC 28.50 Producer: Fitzpatrick Family Vineyards
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18 October 2018

Fattoria Selvapiana Chianti Rufina Riservatext
89PTS

Fattoria Selvapiana Chianti Rufina Riserva 1973

Tuscany, ItalyFrom the cellar. This Chianti Rufina is labelled as DOC because Chianti Rufina didn't achieve DOCG until 1984. Today Chianti Rufina extends across 750ha, making it the smallest appellation in Chianti. Selvapiana was established as a watch tower during the Medieval era, and during the Renaissance was expanded into an estate, used for noble Florentines and bishops. In 1827, Selvapiana was acquired by Michele Giuntini, and was operated by the family until 1997. Pouring a bricking brown orange hue, alluring fine brown spices, leather, blood, wild mushroom tea and waves of Worcestershire filter throughout this 45 year old wine, one based around a light miso paste palate. The medium bodied wine is seasoned by dried herbs, rock salts and tobacco, and hugged by sticky tannins to the finish. Very savoury, for current consumption and benefitting from airtime, though still very much enjoyable at present for aged wine aficionados. This vintage is currently available for purchase in Ontario.Prices: ON 219.95 Producer: Fattoria Selvapiana
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Fattoria Selvapiana Chianti Rufina Riservatext
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Fattoria Selvapiana Chianti Rufina Riserva 1980

Tuscany, ItalyFrom the cellar. This Chianti Rufina is labelled as DOC because Chianti Rufina didn't achieve DOCG until 1984. Today Chianti Rufina extends across 750ha, making it the smallest appellation in Chianti. Selvapiana was established as a watch tower during the Medieval era, and during the Renaissance was expanded into an estate, used for noble Florentines and bishops. In 1827, Selvapiana was acquired by Michele Giuntini, and was operated by the family until 1997. 1980 was not recognized as a great vintage in Tuscany, though this particular wine didn't go through MLF (the only red they've ever made that hasn't) so the acidity and staying power is beyond the norm. That bright, tight stream of acidity is highly evident, carrying blood, iodine, chanterelles, dried rose petals, worked leather, and whiffs of smoke along a narrow palate, one lined with shoe wax and framed by fine tobacco leaf tannins. Light in hue and body, this 38-year-old peek into history is ready for drinking now, and will be appreciated by those who enjoy aged wines. This vintage is currently available for purchase in Ontario.Prices: ON 183.04 Producer: Fattoria Selvapiana
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Tenuta Sant'Antonio Scaia Corvinatext
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Tenuta Sant'Antonio Scaia Corvina 2015

Veneto, ItalyThe Scaia fruit, corvina, comes of two Verona sites between 200-300 metres above sea level. The first site is medium-textured with a gravel sub-base, the second is a sandy, silty block with fossilised limestone. The ferment is all stainless steel with weekly bâtonnage until bottling. The result is a pretty, fresh, bright, juicy red that is a definite upgrade over wines of the past, including an innovative Vinolok glass stopper top. I love the floral, cherry, plumy fruit nose and palate with a long silky juicy vibrant finish flecked with black raspberries. Think risotto, meat dumplings, chicken or bean dishes.Prices: BC 21.95 QC 14.50 Producer: Tenuta Sant'Antonio
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Tenuta di Arceno Chianti Classicotext
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Tenuta di Arceno Chianti Classico 2014

Tuscany, ItalyTenuta di Arceno is spread across 1000-hectares of classic rolling hillside containing vineyards, forests and medieval stone castles. The vineyards have been replanted and expanded into a series of micro-crus relating to the property’s 12 distinct meso-climates over the last 20 years vastly improving the fruit that gets to the winery. It’s cooler year and the aromatics are front and center along with the red fruit and garrigue notes. The texture is supple with more liquorice and savoury, dried herb nuances. Wild boar pappardelle or pecorino cheese are fine matches. The mix is 85/15 sangiovese/merlot.Prices: BC 23.99 AB 23.99 Producer: Tenuta di Arceno
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Francesco Cirelli Vino Rossotext
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Francesco Cirelli Vino Rosso 2017

Abruzzo, ItalyThis is a new line from a familiar name in Abruzzo's natural wine circles. At Francesco Cirelli's estate Cireclli Farms, the wines are all made in amphora (illustrated by the sketched vessel on the label). Here, with this series, he purchases neighbouring organic fruit and raises it in stainless, rather than amphora, casting a different lens on his winemaking regime. The labels share the same colourful circles, but this line has the sphere standing alone, off to the side (referencing where he sources the grapes). This montepulciano streams blue plums, black cherries along a bitter, amaro-streaked, lighter palate, leaden with graphite-dusted tannins. The finish is fully bitter espresso, welcoming (necessitating) pairing with charcuterie or rabbit/mushroom stew.Prices: BC 23.00 Producer: Francesco Cirelli
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Tiberio Cerasuolo d'Abruzzotext
90PTS

Tiberio Cerasuolo d'Abruzzo 2017

Abruzzo, ItalyCerasuolo d’Abruzzo Tiberio is made from 100 percent indigenous montepulciano d’Abruzzo grapes. The old, original, fifty-year-old clones represent a direct link to the traditional style of Cerasuolo, albeit with a modern twist - freshness and cleanliness. The fruit comes off a specific, cooler, higher block of montepulciano that sits at 350 meters above sea level. The grapes are early picked to retain acidity and you feel it as soon as the wine hits your palate. The colour is medium dark despite a mere 20 minutes of skin contact. The aromas and flavors are very pure and mostly cherry in nature, save for a citrus twang beneath. As light and refreshing as the entry is, the flavours are surprisingly concentrated. Serve chilled for best results.Prices: BC 22.99 Producer: Agricola Tiberio
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17 October 2018

Villa Antinori Toscana Rossotext
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Villa Antinori Toscana Rosso 2014

Tuscany, ItalyThis Toscana IGT is mostly sangiovese with small quantities of cabernet sauvignon, merlot and syrah. Classic ruby red colour previews its red berry nose and plate of cherries, plums and pepper balsamic notes. The textures are supple, the tannins soft. The wine is aged in a mix of French, Hungarian, and American oak barrels for twelve months before it gets a further eight months in bottle. Try this with a lamb sausage tomato sauce and pasta. Interestingly, ‘Villa Rosso’ was first produced in 1928 by Niccolò Antinori, father of Piero Antinori and was revived by Piero Antinori in 2001 as an IGT wine made from estate fruit.Prices: BC 25.49 AB 25.00 MB 27.00 ON 25.50 QC 25.50 NB 31.50 NS 32.50 Producer: Marchesi Antinori
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Vistalba Corte C Malbec Cabernet Sauvignon Bonardatext
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Vistalba Corte C Malbec Cabernet Sauvignon Bonarda 2017

Vistalba District, Luján de Cuyo, Northern Region, Mendoza, ArgentinaBodega Vistalba was opened in 2002 in Luján de Cuyo and was set up to delve into the traditional winemaking style where wines were blended ‘corte.’ Vistalba turns out various blends with malbec, cabernet sauvignon and bonarda, with wines fermented in concrete vessels and then blended and aged in French oak barrels. I love the 13.8 percent alcohol in this 2017 cabernet sauvignon, malbec, bonarda mix. The nose is aromatic, stony, mineral with notes of violets and red fruits. The style continues to evolve down the elegance road. The textures are supple and the palate awash in vibrant plummy blackcurrant fruit with a chalky, long, exquisite finish. Mid-week it's Bolognese ready; on the weekend go with a T-Bone steak and chimichurri sauce.Prices: BC 30.00 AB 25.00 YK 22.35 Producer: Bodega Vistalba (Carlos Pulenta)
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Vistalba Corte Btext
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Vistalba Corte B 2016

Vistalba District, Luján de Cuyo, Northern Region, Mendoza, ArgentinaIt’s been awhile since we have seen this wine, and it's nice to see its evolution. Corte B is a malbec cabernet sauvignon mix from the cool 2016 vintage. The nose is intense with very pure red and black fruit reminiscent of black cherries/cassis and black raspberries with a dusting of pepper and black liquorice. The attack is stony and mineral again with the pure fruit flavours and a long, dry, floral, savoury, mineral finish. Just a baby; you can drink it now, but we would wait a decade given the huge fruit component. This would make a wonderful turkey wine for the holidays.Prices: BC 38.00 AB 32.00 Producer: Bodega Vistalba (Carlos Pulenta)
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Tomero Cabernet Sauvignontext
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Tomero Cabernet Sauvignon 2017

Mendoza, ArgentinaThe fruit is handpicked from estate vineyards at Los Alamos in the high Uco Valley, and from vines planted in a rocky, sandy loam with low fertility and low organic matter, leaving an aromatic style of cabernet sauvignon with spicy red black fruit notes. On the palate the tannins are soft, the attack spicy with cherry, cassis, a whack of licorice and pepper and a dusting of garam masala before a medium length tobacco spiced finish. Works with beef hot pot to kabobs.Prices: BC 30.00 AB 25.00 Producer: Bodega Vistalba (Carlos Pulenta)
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Tomero Cabernet Franctext
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Tomero Cabernet Franc 2016

Mendoza, ArgentinaFrom the High Agrelo region, this 13.5 percent cabernet franc entices with its savoury nose. The palate is a dark red fruit affair showing cassis and blueberries with an undercurrent of earth and peppers. The attack is medium weight showing some mid-palate sweetness and a touch of tannin balanced by an earthy, leafy finish. A solid mid-week red for anything from hamburgers to meatballs. The wine gets a three-day cold maceration to build colour and flavours without alcohol. Post ferment, only 20 percent of the wine spends eight months in French oak.Prices: BC 30.00 AB 25.00 Producer: Bodega Vistalba (Carlos Pulenta)
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Tomero Malbectext
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Tomero Malbec 2017

Mendoza, ArgentinaThe ‘tomero’ label is a tribute to the noble office of the man who holds the key to Mendoza waterways, and is the one responsible for opening and closing gates to the water from the Andes Cordillera that irrigates farms and vineyards. The colour is bright with aromatic red cherries dusted with brown spices. The entry is soft, juicy and ripe with weighty but silky tannins and a smooth, easy sipping red fruit finish. Only 20 percent of the wine spends nine months in French oak. Chicken empanadas anyone?Prices: BC 30.00 AB 25.00 Producer: Bodega Vistalba (Carlos Pulenta)
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Tomero Rosétext
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Tomero Rosé 2018

Mendoza, ArgentinaThe old dark red Tomero Rosé is but a memory as year two of the pretty in pink Provençal-style is killing it. The wine has never been more appealing in the glass. In 2018 the freshness and crisp acidity is off the charts perfectly complimented by a citrus dipped strawberry and watermelon palate that again has endless possibilities. Malbec has never looked so good. The fruit grows at Finca Los Alamos in the Alto Valle De Uco, Mendoza. Bring on summer and lobster and mussels and clams and pasta.Prices: BC 30.00 AB 25.00 Producer: Bodega Vistalba (Carlos Pulenta)
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16 October 2018

Villa Maria Single Vineyard Seddon Pinot Noirtext
90PTS

Villa Maria Single Vineyard Seddon Pinot Noir 2013

Marlborough, South Island, New ZealandExpect an aromatic, red fruited, floral, herbal nose reflecting a cool pinot noir site. Seddon Vineyard sits on the southern bank of the Awatere River in Marlborough. The site is sheltered from daytime winds and warm during the day and but easily cooled in the evenings with breezes that run down the slopes of the surrounding mountains. The fruit comes from a mix of clones and pruning techniques designed to promote even ripeness. The attack is bright with black cherries, raspberries and mossy/floral highlights that lead to an alluring silky mid-palate and complex, long showy cool finish. Give this five years in the bottle or open now with foie gras or paté.Prices: BC 24.00 ON 22.00 NS 25.00 AB 22.00 MB 24.00 NF 25.00 QC 24.00 SK 26.00 Producer: Villa Maria Estate Ltd.
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Les Cordeliers Prestige Crémant De Bordeauxtext
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Les Cordeliers Prestige Crémant De Bordeaux NV

Bordeaux, FranceSometimes a wine just makes your day. One of the best surprises, no longer that common at my age, is when you come across a wine you have never seen before and it is delicious. This AOC Crémant de Bordeaux was just that. Crisp, citrus sémillon from Entre-Deux-Mers, with a mild 12 percent alcohol and generally stylish, elegant, delicious drinking demeanour. A clear jump above prosecco. What fun to sip.Prices: QC 24.95 Producer: Les Cordeliers
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Castorani Amorino Montepulciano d'Abruzzotext
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Castorani Amorino Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 2013

Abruzzo, ItalyThis Amorino is 100 percent montepulciano d'Abruzzo grown at 340 meters. The nose is fragrant with delicate notes of black cherries, plums and spice. The attack is dry and fresh with more dark cherries and plums. The tannins are low allowing the finish to go long and soft. A good match with turkey.Prices: BC 27.49 Producer: Podere Castorani
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Peter Lehmann The Barossan Shiraztext
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Peter Lehmann The Barossan Shiraz 2016

Barossa Valley, South Australia, AustraliaThe Barossan is mix of fruit from the top sub-regions across this famed valley, many of whose vines are over 100 years old. It’s unabashedly Barossa Valley, beginning with its rich, lifted black cherry aromas flecked with pepper. The attack is round, the tannins supple, the fruit dense and dark with notes of blueberries, ripe plums, chocolate and coffee. Big, showy Barossa, try this with a slow roasted cut of beef, barbecue or asado style. Shiraz for shiraz lovers.Prices: BC 23.99 ON 21.95 QC 23.95 Producer: Peter Lehmann Wines Limited
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H Thunevin Bad Boy Redtext
89PTS

H Thunevin Bad Boy Red 2015

Bordeaux, FranceThis mostly Fronsac merlot is a red Bordeaux in name but only in a totally bad boy way. The nose is ripe, the wine showy, and the oak generous. The attack is dense and lush with spicy black fruits. This is anything but the image of inexpensive Bordeaux, but it's balanced and fun to drink. California with some restraint. Great value in Quebec.Prices: BC 29.99 ON 74.00 1500 QC 25.75 Producer: Thunevin SAS
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José de Sousa Mayor Red Winetext
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José de Sousa Mayor Red Wine 2015

Alentejo, Central and Southern Portugal, PortugalThe José de Sousa Rosado Fernandes Cellar was founded in 1878, and purchased by José Maria da Fonseca in 1986. The estate is in Alentejano where the 2000-year-old Roman tradition of using ceramic amphorae to ferment wine is alive and well. The grapes are hand harvested, slightly foot crushed and destemmed by hand. A portion of ferment is done in clay with part of the must, skins and 30 percent stems at a temperature of 28C. The rest is fermented in concrete lagares. Post ferment, the wine is left on skins for two weeks followed by eleven months in new French oak. The blend is a 58/30/12 grand noir / trincadeira / aragonés. The nose has an earthy, almost oxidative bent with cedar, spicy black fruit. The texture and tannins are extremely soft with a jammy, leathery chocolate aftertaste. This wine is poised to age effortlessly and will likely change little in the bottle over the next decade. Try this with risotto and mushrooms, duck confit or grilled lamb.Prices: BC 0.00 ON 52.00 QC 52.00 Producer: José Maria da Fonseca
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El Esteco Malbectext
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El Esteco Malbec 2015

Calchaqui Valley, Salta, North, ArgentinaBodega El Esteco, founded in 1892 by David Michel and Gabriela Torino, sits at nearly 6000 feet above sea level in the Calchaqui Valley, Salta. Much like the south Okanagan, it sees little more than six inches of rain a year and abundant sunshine. This well made malbec gets a gentle cold maceration in stainless before the alcoholic fermentation. Post ferment, it spends another 25 days on skins before ageing in French and American oak blending new, one, two and three-year-old barrels for one year. The colour is inky black, the nose a mix of fresh red and black fruits. The attack is glossy with raspberry, blackberry, liquorice, and sweet tannins. There is a certain elegance that I’m going to attribute to altitude. Good value. Best with grilled meats. Ready to drink.Prices: BC 19.95 QC 22.95 NS 23.99 Producer: Bodega El Esteco
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Fontanafredda Barolo La Rosatext
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Fontanafredda Barolo La Rosa 2011

Serralunga, Cuneo, Piedmont, Italy"La Rosa" is a special interpretation of Barolo in that it comes with elegance and grace yet retains its power – classic Serralunga d’Alba. At seven years old this Barolo is just beginning to reach its plateau, one it should remain on for a decade, if not more. The texture alone will blow you away here, not to mention the subtle floral, licorice, leather notes that last minutes. Rich and dense but with finesse and complexity, drink or hold, the choice is yours. La Rosa spent two-to-three years in cask and then another 12 months in bottle before release. Real wine.Prices: BC 0.00 ON 75.00 QC 75.00 Producer: Fontanafredda
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Rolland Galarreta Tempranillo Merlottext
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Rolland Galarreta Tempranillo Merlot 2015

Ribera del Duero, Castilla-Leon, SpainFrance meets Spain in the Rolland and Galarreta project, one between winemaker and consultant Michel Rolland, and Spanish wine entrepreneur Javier Galarreta. Here, Ribera del Duero tempranillo meets merlot, albeit at a low 15 percent. The fruit grows at 915 metres above sea level where the inherent cool air extends the growing season to one of the longest periods in the area. Post ferment it spends only ten months in oak before blending. I found the 2015 to be more elegant than the 2014, with dark fruits and crushed violets at its savoury core. The grapes are 35 years old, grown on skinny soils over limestone bedrock, yielding impressive, dense, silky tannins that attract. Plenty of sweet baking spices and vanilla punctuate the finish in an effective way. A treasure trove of warmth and deliciousness. Not your normal Ribera.Prices: BC 32.99 AB 30.99 MB 25.99 NS 32.88 Producer: Bodegas y Vinedos Valtravieso S.L.
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M. Chapoutier Hermitage Chante Alouette Blanctext
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M. Chapoutier Hermitage Chante Alouette Blanc 2015

Southern Rhone, Rhone Valley, FranceAlways good, the 2015 is an exceptional bottle of Chante-Alouette, one third of which is fermented in large 600-litre oak barrels, with the remainder in vats. The fruit comes off three serious 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. This is a complex 100 percent marsanne. The attack is rich and powerful with intense pear, lemon, and bitter orange notes of bergamot. The palate is long and persistent with ripe peach, acacia, almond flavours that finish over minutes. I suspect this will age endlessly in a cool dark cellar. The fruit is farmed biodynamically. Try this with rich, powerful white meat dishes, or cheeses. Real wine.Prices: BC 84.99 ON 89.95 QC 77.25 Producer: M. Chapoutier
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Trinchero BVR Cabernet Sauvignontext
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Trinchero BVR Cabernet Sauvignon 2012

Napa Valley, California, United StatesBRV stands for Bob, Roger and Vera, all second-generation members of the Trinchero family that are the driving force behind a new commitment at the winery to raise the bar on quality, in this case to the top of the mountains. The fruit is a mix of Haystack Vineyard, located at 1500 feet above sea level on Atlas Peak in the Vacca Mountains east of the valley floor, and Cloud’s Nest on Mount Veeder, also 1,500 feet above sea level on the west side of the valley in the Mayacamas Mountains. At six years of age, the wine is expressing the quality of the 2012 vintage, one of several recent high quality vintages in Napa Valley. Expect an aromatic, hedonistic, warm nose of black fruits laced with spice and cedar. The palate is even more intense with rich, blueberry, sweet black cherries and savoury licorice flecked with light, floral, mineral notes. There’s plenty of power here, but not without some restraint. You can drink this now with a rare T-bone steak or cellar it through 2020. Well done.Prices: BC 129.99 ON 124.95 Producer: Trinchero Family Estates
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Torres Mas La Planatext
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Torres Mas La Plana 2012

Penedès, Catalunya (Catalonia Cataluña), SpainMas La Plana is forty-two years old and counting, and this cabernet sauvignon in a Burgundy bottle is all grown up. First planted in 1966, when the idea was revolutionary. A big win in Paris in 1979 with the 1970 Mas La Plana secured its future. In 2012, a very warm growing season flattened out this cabernet, building fruit, weight and power in the bottle with a touch less acid and structure. Time is healing some of that youthful bottle vigour and at this point the jammy blackcurrant fruit is losing a little fat. It’s still more of a California vintage, but that will attract as many fans or more who value rich, spicy, powerful cabernet that is more hedonistic than refined. A solid example of what global warming can do in some years. Drink before 2025. Try it now with an oven-roasted leg of lamb.Prices: BC 67.99 US 50.00 NFL 79.00 MB 65.00 AB 62.00 QC 59.00 ON 60.00 Producer: Miguel Torres Spain
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Errazuriz Don Maximiano Founder's Reservetext
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Errazuriz Don Maximiano Founder's Reserve 2015

Valle de Aconcagua, Region de Aconcagua, ChileThere’s been a shift in style at Errazuriz and it's all for the better. Winemaker Francisco Baettig was a leader in the reduction and elimination of brett over a decade ago at Errazuriz, and the tweaking has gone well beyond that field today. The latest with Don Maximiano has been a marked evolution in style, especially with its new flavour profile and highly refined textures. Red fruit and silky soft tannins have transformed this wine from a brute to a highly polished red wine and we love the effect it has on this ageing vineyard at Panquehue, allowing its unique special terroir to shine. The wine is fermented in smallish stainless-steel vats and aged in two thirds new French barriques for 22 months. You won’t find the word elegant in any of our previous Don Max notes, but this wine is all that and more. Floral, elegant, and red-fruited, brushed with dried herbs and wrapped in seamless tannins equals a whole new Don Max, and I say bravo, Francisco. I love the tension and balance here, indicating it will age effortlessly. This is a terrific Chilean blend.Prices: BC 92.99 AB 85.00 ON 84.95 QC 80.00 NS 85.00 Producer: Vina Errazuriz
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Trapiche Terroir Series Finca Ambrosia Malbectext
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Trapiche Terroir Series Finca Ambrosia Malbec 2014

Gualtallary, Tupungato, Central Region, Mendoza, ArgentinaThe own-rooted Ambrosia fruit is grown at 1307 metres above sea level has been selected to be a part of winemaker Daniel PI’s single vineyard Terroir Series. The native fermentation and maceration takes place in small concrete eggs and tanks before spending 18 months in new French oak, and another year in bottle. This has a highly attractive floral, mineral, blue and red fruited nose. The attack is fresh, almost crunchy, featuring stony, red fruit with a dusting of thyme and rosemary before finishing long with dense, supple tannins. Asado or barbecue lamb would be a perfect match if you must drink it now, otherwise cellar through 2023.Prices: BC 43.99 Producer: Trapiche
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Georges Duboeuf Chateau des Capitans Julienastext
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Georges Duboeuf Chateau des Capitans Julienas 2015

Beaujolais, Burgundy, FranceThe “Capitans” estate, named after an ancient Roman headquarters, is surrounded by a one-piece vineyard facing south/southeast. Only 20 percent of this cru is matured in oak, leaving the fruit to sing. The nose, like the wine, is pretty with a spicy, floral nose flecked with wild berries and dusty granite. The palate is more of the same. Delicious red/black raspberry fruit flecked with pepper throughout a silky, mineral, stony finish. Fresh, yet serious, and certainly capable of ageing a few years.Prices: BC 22.99 QC 19.00 Producer: Georges Duboeuf
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Poggio al Tesoro Il Seggiotext
92PTS

Poggio al Tesoro Il Seggio 2014

Bolgheri, Tuscany, ItalyThe Seggio river visible on the label is the largest watercourse in Castagneto Carducci, in the heart of Bolgheri. Over millennia the water has come down the hills of the region’s surrounding amphitheatre, bringing a wide source of ferrous minerals and alluvial debris including large pebbles to break up the heavier clay soils that run out to the sea. This rosso is a 40/30/20/10 of merlot, cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc and petit verdot. It’s the balance and the easy-drinking style that appeals, not to mention the savoury, garrigue-like, red fruit flavours and silky tannins. Vibrant, fragrant and modern, this is well priced and very Bolgheri. Aged 15 months in French oak, only 30 percent new. Any mushroom-based beef or pasta dish works well here.Prices: BC 37.43 ON 42.00 QC 42.00 Producer: Tenuta Poggio al Tesoro
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15 October 2018

Synchromesh Cabernet Franc Turtle Rock Farmstext
90PTS

Synchromesh Cabernet Franc Turtle Rock Farms 2014

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaRetasted over one year later. This cabernet franc is from Naramata's Turtle Rock Famrs, and entirely whole cluster fermented before spending twenty months in entirely new French oak. The single barrel selection just gobbles up the wood; this massive wine certainly benefitted from the two years in bottle to settle down the tannins in this wine. Resinous and black with cherry, wild blackberry, dusky spice and dried savoury herbs. There's a thread of medicinal / sarsaparilla tickling this wine. Tannins are sticky, welcoming a requisite partnering with lamb or beef after a decant.Prices: BC 50.00 Producer: Synchromesh Wines Inc.
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Synchromesh Tertre Rougetext
90PTS

Synchromesh Tertre Rouge 2016

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThough Alan Dickinson and Synchromesh is legend for riesling, they also produce high quality reds, like this cabernet franc / merlot blend from Naramata's Turtle Rock Farms. The 2016 was packaged under the white label, and is a blend of 66 merlot and 34 cabernet franc, 30 percent of which saw new French barrels for 20 months. The cab franc is entirely whole bunch, giving a whole new fresh and brisk dimension to this wine, one under the previous and sun-bloated 2015 was a bit heavy. In contrast, this is positively smashable, with duskier wild blackberries and blue plums, graphite-lined fine tannins and a sketching of textural spices to a lifted, perfumed, bitter cassis finish. Lovely reflection of vintage variation and direction.Prices: BC 40.00 Producer: Synchromesh Wines Inc.
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Synchromesh Turtle Rock Farms Tertre Rougetext
88PTS

Synchromesh Turtle Rock Farms Tertre Rouge 2015

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaNot the best year for reds, being the hottest ever on record in the Okanagan. Unlike the moderate and long lived 2014, this year clocked in at 14.5 degrees. A 50/50 blend of merlot and cabernet franc from Naramata's Turtle Rock Farms. The cabernet franc was 70 percent whole cluster this year, belying big, deep, thick and plush black fruit and ample ripe tannins. There's a welcome modicum of fresh acidity to counter the intensity, though this giant wine is best suited to giant red meats and drinking now.Prices: BC 40.00 Producer: Synchromesh Wines Inc.
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Synchromesh Turtle Rock Farms Tertre Rougetext
92PTS

Synchromesh Turtle Rock Farms Tertre Rouge 2014

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThough Alan Dickinson and Synchromesh is legend for riesling, they also produce high quality reds, like this blend of merlot and cabernet franc from Naramata's Turtle Rock Farms, a site resting on an ancient lakefront. This is a brooding, dark, deep, plunging blend of 55 merlot / 45 cabernet franc (the latter whole cluster), with heady wild blackberry, spearmint and dark chocolate. This muscular and elegant (think ballerina) red spent twenty months in 45 percent new wood, bottled without fining or filtration, and then two years in bottle pre release. Drinking beautifully now, and cellar worthy.Prices: BC 40.00 Producer: Synchromesh Wines Inc.
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Synchomesh Storm Haven Vineyard Pinot Noirtext
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Synchomesh Storm Haven Vineyard Pinot Noir 2016

Okanagan Falls, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThough Alan Dickinson and Synchromesh is legend for riesling, they also produce high quality reds, like this estate single vineyard pinot noir. This is clones 667 and 115 from the home vineyard site's lower half. Beauty black plum, wild blackberry, black cherry, thorns, pervade this darker, gritty, grippy pinot, framed with black tobacco tannins, and seasoned with cracked black pepper. A muscular, brooding style (albeit a welcome 12.6 degrees), entirely whole cluster and after time in all new French oak.Prices: BC 65.00 Producer: Synchromesh Wines Inc.
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Synchromesh Cachola Family Vineyard Cabernet Franctext
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Synchromesh Cachola Family Vineyard Cabernet Franc 2017

Okanagan Falls, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThough Alan Dickinson and Synchromesh is legend for riesling, they also produce high quality reds, like this single vineyard cabernet franc. Cachola Family Vineyards is a 2.5 acre site north of Oliver, tucked into the gravelled clay base of a steep slope. Similar to 2014 in its aromatic intricacies, and slightly cloudy with its authenticity, this draws smoked berries, dusky forest, wild mushroom, pipe tobacco along an angular, savoury palate. This reminds me of a Loire / Douro lovechild, and in my opinion, the best Cachola Franc to date. This spent ten months in barrel, one quarter of which was new.Prices: BC 28.00 Producer: Synchromesh Wines Inc.
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Synchromesh Storm Haven Vineyard Gibson Block Rieslingtext
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Synchromesh Storm Haven Vineyard Gibson Block Riesling 2015

Okanagan Falls, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaSynchromesh, and founder / winemaker / powered by riesling inspirer Alan Dickinson, has earned the title as THE riesling producer in Canada, on par with the best anywhere. Storm Haven is their home estate vineyard in Okanagan Falls, a stunning biodiverse site perched on outflow from a mountain pass, and nestled at the base of Peachcliff Mountain. It's easily one of the top sites planted in BC. This is a special bottling off Gibson Block, young vines planted in 2013 and from the warm, steep, rocky, decomposed granite area in the SW corner of the vineyard. This carries lovely gentle honey with evolved, fine tannin and faint whiffs of smoke scripting the generous, waxen texture. Brown butter and salts are subtle and well placed, with botrytis working its noble magic. Fantastic depth, interest and length from the scrabble site, resulting in a disctincty savoury wine. PH 2.92, TA 9.225, RS 24. 11.11 degrees.Prices: BC 30.00 375 Producer: Synchromesh Wines Inc.
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Synchromesh Wines Storm Haven Vineyard Whole Cluster Fermenttext
91PTS

Synchromesh Wines Storm Haven Vineyard Whole Cluster Ferment 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaSynchromesh, and founder / winemaker / powered by riesling inspirer Alan Dickinson, has earned the title as THE riesling producer in Canada, on par with the best anywhere. Storm Haven is their home estate vineyard in Okanagan Falls, a stunning biodiverse site perched on outflow from a mountain pass, and nestled at the base of Peachcliff Mountain. It's easily one of the best sites planted in BC. This brand new Whole Cluster Ferment was an experimental project that Alan made to prove he didn't like skin contact riesling. Turns out he was wrong. This was a specific pick of Gibson Block, from the hotter SW corner area of their home vineyard. After whole cluster ferment and a week on the skins (zero additives), this was gently pressed to finish in tank, where it spent nine months on the lees. Flint, smoke scent this bone dry, savoury wine, one with a bitter English cider bite, lining of candle wax, and texture by way of broken stone. Like licking flint. A fascinating alternative expression of the legendary site, and total departure from Synchomesh's characteristic style. PH 3.4, TA 9.6, 11.8 degrees.Prices: BC 40.00 Producer: Synchromesh Wines Inc.
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Synchromesh Riesling Storm Haven Vineyardtext
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Synchromesh Riesling Storm Haven Vineyard 2016

Okanagan Falls, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaSynchromesh, and founder / winemaker / powered by riesling inspirer Alan Dickinson, has earned the title as THE riesling producer in Canada, on par with the best anywhere. Storm Haven is their home estate vineyard in Okanagan Falls, a stunning biodiverse site perched on outflow from a mountain pass, and nestled at the base of Peachcliff Mountain. It's easily one of the top sites planted in BC. This wine is always a highlight, and the 2016 is singing. Juicy and nimble, this is a driving, energetic wine, humming with broken savoury salts. This is not about the fruit. Bacon fat, pear skin, mineral salts skip along the palate with vibrant, but laser like focus and drive. Tasting incredible now in youth; can't wait to see how this develops with time in the bottle. 9.2 degrees, pH 2.81, TA 11.063, RS 38.03.Prices: BC 35.00 Producer: Synchromesh Wines Inc.
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Synchromesh Wines Four Shadows Vineyard Rieslingtext
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Synchromesh Wines Four Shadows Vineyard Riesling 2017

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaSynchromesh, and founder / winemaker / powered by riesling inspirer Alan Dickinson, has earned the title as THE riesling producer in Canada, on par with the best anywhere. Four Shadows Vineyard sits on the southern end of the Naramata Bench, facing Penticton. Alan works with two blocks of riesling from the sloping site. The 2017 feels dialled back in framework than the 2016 (less RS here), with Asian pear, tangerine, mandarine and heaps of spice that textures the svelter palate, and skips up the energy and acidity. There is a chalky finish that is alluring and moreish. RS 45.14, TA 8.4, pH 2.89, 9.79 percent.Prices: BC 28.00 Producer: Synchromesh Wines Inc.
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Synchromesh Wines Four Shadows Vineyard Rieslingtext
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Synchromesh Wines Four Shadows Vineyard Riesling 2016

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaSynchromesh, and founder / winemaker / powered by riesling inspirer Alan Dickinson, has earned the title as THE riesling producer in Canada, on par with the best anywhere. Four Shadows Vineyard sits on the southern end of the Naramata Bench, facing Penticton. Alan works with two blocks of riesling from the sloping site. The 2016 is round and expansive in the mouth, textured with much honey, talc, red apple, ripe pear, fine dusted spice. Noticeably Auslese in style, with honeycomb flesh bedding a strip of green apple acidity that runs through the finish. 2.89pH, TA 8.85, RS 52.22, 11 degrees.Prices: BC 23.00 Producer: Synchromesh Wines Inc.
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Synchromesh Wines Thorny Vines Rieslingtext
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Synchromesh Wines Thorny Vines Riesling 2017

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaSynchromesh, and founder / winemaker / powered by riesling inspirer Alan Dickinson, has earned the title as THE riesling producer in Canada, on par with the best anywhere. Thorny Vines vineyard is at the very southern end of the Naramata Bench, facing north and planted to 21B in 2010 on fertile heavy clay. Juicy, with medicinal lemon, white cherry, pear, laced with grapefruit pith, and cored with mandarin. Slight earthy, savoury botrytis lick to my palate, with some honey crisp crunchy BC apple acidity profiling. Alan has now dialled in this property, and it shows. Fantastic now, and for a lengthy future. 61 g/l, TA 9.9, pH 2.86, 9.38 percent.Prices: BC 26.00 Producer: Synchromesh Wines Inc.
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Synchromesh Wines Thorny Vines Rieslingtext
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Synchromesh Wines Thorny Vines Riesling 2016

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaSynchromesh, and founder / winemaker / powered by riesling inspirer Alan Dickinson, has earned the title as THE riesling producer in Canada, on par with the best anywhere. Thorny Vines vineyard is at the very southern end of the Naramata Bench, facing north and planted to 21B in 2010 on fertile heavy clay. Juicy, buoyant, energetic pear, white grapefruit, melon, eraser is drawn along textural, elastic lees to the finish. Acid is absolutely cranked over last year, and the vineyard is shining. TA 10.125, pH 2.77, RS 53.35, 9.6 degrees.Prices: BC 26.00 Producer: Synchromesh Wines Inc.
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Synchromesh Wines Bob Hancock Rieslingtext
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Synchromesh Wines Bob Hancock Riesling 2017

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaSynchromesh, and founder / winemaker / powered by riesling inspirer Alan Dickinson, has earned the title as THE riesling producer in Canada, on par with the best anywhere. Though third generation Naramata farmer Bob Hancock marked his last vintage in 2017, Synchromesh still has use of the fruit for the time being, which is a blessed thing. In Alan's hands, the 3.5 acre gravelled clay / calcium carbonate south facing site of self-rooted 21B riesling vines quivers with energy in 2017, pulsing lovely lime pulp, lemon verbena, pear, quince, honey, ginger and apricot blossom along the fine grained but potently spiced elastic palate, right through the lengthy finish. 9.62 percent, pH 2.79, TA 11.23, RS 47.2 g/l. 220 cases. The site sold, but Alan will still be farmingPrices: BC 28.00 Producer: Synchromesh Wines Inc.
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Synchromesh Wines Bob Hancock Rieslingtext
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Synchromesh Wines Bob Hancock Riesling 2016

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaRetasted. 2017 was third generation Naramata born and raised farmer Bob Hancock's final vintage, and the name Alan Dickinson, Synchromesh founder and winemaker, gave the special vineyard. Bob had seven decades' familiarity with the site, tucked up the north end of Naramta Bench and adjacent to his family's homestead. The 3.5 acre south-facing site is sloping gravelly clay and calcium carbonate, planted to self-rooted 21B Riesling vines. Lovely verbena, gingered pear, peach, yellow apple, is laced with fine spicing and swelling with juicy acidity. Still very much in youth, and with lengthy staying power, just like its namesake. pH 2.79, TA 9.975. RS 38 g/l. 442 cases.Prices: BC 26.00 Producer: Synchromesh Wines Inc.
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Synchromesh Rieslingtext
90PTS

Synchromesh Riesling 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaSynchromesh, and founder / winemaker / powered by riesling inspirer Alan Dickinson, has earned the title as THE riesling producer in Canada, on par with the best anywhere. This is the vineyard's blend of four properties they work with, dominated by Bob Hancock and Four Shadows, and supplemented with Thorny Vines and Storm Haven vineyards. Juicy and welcoming, but not dumbed down, this is the best 'entry level' wine on our market (and at an exceptional price / quality ratio). This young, vibrant wine is scented with pear drop, yellow apple, quince, and light tangerine, zipping along to a snappy, satisfying finish. 9.54%, pH 2.83, TA 10.35, RS 42 g/l.Prices: BC 23.00 Producer: Synchromesh Wines Inc.
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Synchromesh Riesling Storm Haven Vineyardtext
94PTS

Synchromesh Riesling Storm Haven Vineyard 2017

Okanagan Falls, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis is the premium riesling from Canada's riesling specialist. Storm Haven is Alan Dickinson's home estate vineyard in Okanagan Falls, a stunning biodiverse site perched on outflow from a mountain pass, and nestled at the base of Peachcliff Mountain. It's easily one of the top sites planted in BC. Low intervention in the vineyard and winery, this was picked in three stages to best express the site. Driving limey minerality, apricot, white peach is held taut with a tight brace of acidity and rasp of broken stones. The palate is absolutely electric with riveting acidity, easily and nimbly carrying the RS along the sleek palate to a lengthy finish. Rainwater freshness and allure in youth (this is just a wee baby), this vintage of Storm Haven will be one that ages beautifully and for a very long time. 8.7 degrees, pH 2.77, TA 11.4, RS 53.5 g/l. 186 cases.Prices: BC 40.00 Producer: Synchromesh Wines Inc.
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12 October 2018

Catena Alta Malbectext
91PTS

Catena Alta Malbec 2015

Mendoza, ArgentinaCatena Alta is a mix of historic rows within the Catena family estate vineyards, scattered from Lujan de Cuyo to the southern Uco Valley. Dense black plum, blackberry with licorice/mineral undertones and perfectly plump tannins. A stylish, highly polished red wine with the perfect freshness and length for asado (barbecue) beef. As enticing as it can be now, this will age effortlessly for 7 to 10 years.Prices: BC 55.99 AB 58.50 SK 55.99 MB 55.99 Producer: Bodega Catena Zapata
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Catena Zapata Malbec Argentinotext
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Catena Zapata Malbec Argentino 2015

Mendoza, ArgentinaA giant malbec capable of owning the Argentino moniker, this is all old vines from Catena’s Nicasia and Angelica vineyards, with origins reaching back to pre-phylloxera, mother, or ‘Catena’ cuttings from more than one hundred years ago. It begins with 20 percent whole cluster fruit and 80 percent whole berries going directly into 225-500-liter new French oak to ferment for 30 days and then age for 18 months. I love this cool vintage which really helps to express the moody, deep, malbec. The palate is dense with plush tannins, and chiseled, stony, sweet black fruit loaded with texture and length. It’s bottle unfined and unfiltered, but it’s all finesse in 2015. Cellar this for a decade if you have the patience.Prices: BC 129.99 AB 129.00 SK 129.99 MB 129.99 Producer: Bodega Catena Zapata
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Catena Zapata Adrianna Vineyard White Bones Chardonnaytext
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Catena Zapata Adrianna Vineyard White Bones Chardonnay 2015

Gualtallary, Tupungato, Central Region, Mendoza, ArgentinaThe Adrianna vineyard is located at almost 1450 metres elevation in the Gualtallary sub-district of the Tupungato region. Like White Stones, White Bones comes from select rows within Block 1 of Adrianna Vineyard layered with calcareous deposits and limestone as well as fossilized animal bones, remnants of a river that used to pass through the region. It’s all chardonnay, cold settled and wild yeast fermented in stainless steel and French oak for up to three months. It's a rinse and repeat of White Stones but with even more complexity and substance. The nose is an intense mix of floral notes mixed with native high scrub and a strong jarilla character. I love the precision of citrus and acidity with a dash of salt, quince and green fig. White Bones sits only 100m away from White Stones, but this is the jewel of Argentine chardonnay. Electric to say the least.Prices: BC 119.99 AB 122.99 SK 119.99 MB 119.99 Producer: Bodega Catena Zapata
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Catena Zapata Adrianna Vineyard White Stones Chardonnaytext
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Catena Zapata Adrianna Vineyard White Stones Chardonnay 2015

Gualtallary, Tupungato, Central Region, Mendoza, ArgentinaWhite Stones comes from a highly select 27 rows within Block 1 of the Adrianna Vineyard. Under those vines is a gravel field of oval white stones. There’s not a lot of soil at 1450 metres above sea level in the Gualtallary sub-district of Uco Valley's Tupungato region. Poor shallow soils, not a lot of rain, cool nights, warm days, well, you get the picture: heaven for grapevines. It’s all chardonnay that is cold settled for half a day in stainless steel tanks before fermentation in French oak barrels for anywhere from 45 to 95 days. Battonage and partial malolactic see it through 12-16 months in 2nd, 3rd and 4th use French puncheons. The minerality is off the charts but it comes with a creamy palate and bright acidity, and a mix of quince, clover, honey, salt and minty sagebrush. Impressive world-class chardonnay from Argentina.Prices: BC 108.99 AB 110.27 SK 108.99 MB 108.99 Producer: Bodega Catena Zapata
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Catena Zapata Adrianna Vineyard River Stones Malbectext
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Catena Zapata Adrianna Vineyard River Stones Malbec 2013

Gualtallary, Tupungato, Central Region, Mendoza, ArgentinaThe River Stones Vineyard is a 2.6-hectare parcel of alluvial origins covered with oval white stones left over from an ancient riverbed. With a bare 12 inches of topsoil, the stones provide fabulous drainage and act as a temperature gauge, retaining heat through the early evening after a warm day and keeping the vineyard cool after a cool night. Think stony, bony Bordeaux or malbec with impressive aromatics and a well-defined structure. Floral, mineral and highly distinctive, this is a wine for collectors. After a wild yeast ferment, this spends 24 months in barrels of varying ages, dictated by each vintage. Extreme altitude, at 1366 metres above sea level, best describes Adrianna Vineyard, planted by Nicolás Catena Zapata in 1992 in the hopes of finding the coolest site to grow vines in Mendoza. The Winkler classification, a method developed in California to track degree days at which the vine grows, places Adrianna between zone 1 and 2, or somewhere between Burgundy and a very cool part of Bordeaux. Undaunted, the Catena family planted the Adrianna Vineyard with cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay cuttings from France, and malbec taken from Lot 18 of their 75-year-old Angélica vineyard. Over time, the cabernet proved to be less interesting, but the malbec and chardonnay excelled in minerality, density, weight and mouthfeel. Plenty of sunlight, slow to rien, and lower potential alcohol makes Adrianna an ideal vineyard site for serious, age worthy wines.Prices: BC 150.00 Producer: Bodega Catena Zapata
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Catena Zapata Adrianna Vineyard Mundus Bacillus Malbectext
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Catena Zapata Adrianna Vineyard Mundus Bacillus Malbec 2014

Gualtallary, Tupungato, Central Region, Mendoza, ArgentinaExtreme high altitude, 1366 metres above sea level, best describes Adrianna Vineyard, now perhaps the wine world’s most studied piece of dirt. Nicolás Catena Zapata planted the Adrianna vineyard in Gualtallary in hopes of finding the coolest site in Mendoza where wines would grow. The Winkler classification, a method developed in California to track degree days at which the vine grows, places Adrianna between zone 1 and 2, or somewhere between Burgundy and a very cool part of Bordeaux. Undaunted, the Catena family planted the Adrianna Vineyard with cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay cuttings from France, and Malbec taken from Lot 18 of their 75-year-old Angélica vineyard. Over time, the cabernet proved to be less interesting but the malbec and chardonnay excelled in minerality, density, weight and mouthfeel. Plenty of sunlight, slow ripening, and lower potential alcohols makes Adrianna an ideal vineyard site. The Mundus Bacillus ’14 comes off a 1.4-hectare parcel at 1390 metres altitude, riddled with limestone and marine deposits that date back millions of years ago. The well-drained limestone layers are particularly rich in rhizobacteria or microorganisms said to embolden vine roots from stress, allowing them to absorb nutrients, hence "mundus bacillus terrae" or "elegant microbes of the earth." The style is reserved and tight-fisted. The deep rock beds yield a dusty, stony, floral, mineral, red wine with extreme elegance. Higher acidity and an embarrassment of tannins combine to suggest this wine will have a very long life. Already complex, it can only get better. Bravo.Prices: BC 329.00 AB 353.34 SK 329.00 MB 329.00 ON 350.00 Producer: Bodega Catena Zapata
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Catena Zapata Adrianna Vineyard Fortuna Terrae Malbectext
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Catena Zapata Adrianna Vineyard Fortuna Terrae Malbec 2014

Gualtallary, Tupungato, Central Region, Mendoza, ArgentinaAt 1366 metres above sea level, extreme high altitude best describes Adrianna Vineyard, now perhaps the wine world’s most studied piece of dirt. Nicolás Catena Zapata planted the Adrianna vineyard in Gualtallary in 1992 in hopes of finding the coolest site in Mendoza where wines would grow. The Winkler classification, a method developed in California to track the degree days at which the vine grows, places Adrianna between zone 1 and 2, equivalent to somewhere between Burgundy and a very cool part of Bordeaux. Undaunted, the Catena family planted the Adrianna Vineyard with cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay cuttings from France, and Malbec taken from Lot 18 of their 75-year-old Angélica vineyard. Over time, the cabernet proved to be less interesting but the malbec and chardonnay excelled in minerality, density, weight and mouthfeel. Plenty of sunlight, slow ripening, and lower potential alcohol makes Adrianna an ideal vineyard site. Fortuna Terrae, or luck of the land aptly describes this 5-hectare parcel Adrianna Vineyard where the deep soils support numerous species of native vegetation that in turn attract beneficial insects, birds and foxes that provide balance to the site. I love the freshness of this aromatic red wine that fully supports the silky, dense, sweet tannins that never quit on the palate. The balance is as impeccable as the fruit, and despite its power, it has a fun, juicy, feel in the mouth. Drink now with a T-bone steak or hold a decade or two because it will cellar effortlessly.Prices: BC 134.99 AB 134.99 SK 134.99 MB 127.16 Producer: Bodega Catena Zapata
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Catena Malbec High Mountain Vinestext
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Catena Malbec High Mountain Vines 2016

Mendoza, ArgentinaThis malbec is a blend of four high mountain estate vineyards from 920 meters to 1450 meters, overseen by Laura Catena and chief winemaker, Alejandro Vigil. Over the years Catena has shed some oak in favour of fruit, and it looks good on this wine. In 2016, a short season plagued with rain brought many challenges, although a crop load that was half the normal kept quality in check, and the cool weather in the end may be a blessing. At a mere 13 percent alcohol, it's a blast from the past, albeit a light one. The palate is a mix of violet and red plums. It’s a midweight year you can drink already and is well-suited to restaurants.Prices: BC 23.99 AB 23.63 ON 19.95 NS 24.00 NB 23.29 PEI 24.00 SK 25.99 NF 23.90 MB 23.00 Producer: Bodega Catena Zapata
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11 October 2018

JoieFarm En Famille Reserve Pinot Noirtext
90PTS

JoieFarm En Famille Reserve Pinot Noir 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe 16 ‘reserve’ mixes two prime BC pinot locations: Naramata and Summerland across ten different clones. It’s all small lots that are pressed to barrel for an eight-month sleep in 40 percent new oak. The nose is on the dark fruit, black raspberry, black cherry side that spill onto the palate with an earthy, spicy, smoky finish. Still youthful with some light tannin to disperse this won’t be ready for prime time until 2020. Solid.Prices: BC 40.00 Producer: JoieFarm
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Five Vineyards by Mission Hill Pinot Noirtext
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Five Vineyards by Mission Hill Pinot Noir 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaNice improvement here, offering cleaner fruit on the nose with earthy spicy flecks. The attack is round and ripe but with a strong, earthy, spicy, licorice undercurrent. Ready to drink and should be fine with chicken salads, salmon burgers or a favourite creamy cheese. Fair value at under $20 for an introductory style pinot.Prices: BC 18.99 AB 17.99 SK 18.00 MB 17.00 ON 16.45 NB 19.00 NF 20.00 Producer: Mission Hill Family Estate
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Ex Nihilo Pinot Noirtext
88PTS

Ex Nihilo Pinot Noir 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaEx Nihilo is finding its groove in Lake Country as evidenced by this whole berry fermented pinot noir that spends nine months in American and French oak. The wood is a big part of its style, adding a softness and richness to the fruit that is reminiscent of Sonoma but with a bit more finesse. The nose and palate are a pretty mix of plummy, spicy cherry with super silky tannins throughout. Friendly, warm, juicy pinot, attractively light in hue and body (12.7 degrees) that you can drink now. Think pork, rabbit or duck.Prices: BC 38.00 Producer: Ex Nihilo Vineyards
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Mac Forbes Pinot Noirtext
91PTS

Mac Forbes Pinot Noir 2017

Yarra Valley, Victoria, AustraliaPouring a diaphenous light cherry hue, this is an elegant, lifted and pure pinot, intense with red fruit and light spice, but light and bright on the peppery palate. The Yarra Valley Pinot, their 'entry level' tier, blends declassified barrels from each of their single vineyard wines: Coldstream, Woori Yallock, Yarra Junction, Seville, Wesburn and Hoddles Creek, and four clones. Ten percent whole bunch, and partial foot stomped, this spent up to 30 days on skins, before 11 months in oak prior to being bottled unfined and unfiltered. Earthy cherry, raspberry, moss, whiffs of tobacco swell with an easy rise to the finely pepper smoked, spiced finish. Bright acid, tannins are whisper fine, more a suggestion to house the slight body. Twelve degrees alcohol, this is best with a light chill, this is a beauty example of where Yarra pinot is now. BC should pay attention to this.Prices: BC 36.00 Producer: Mac Forbes
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Blue Mountain Pinot Noirtext
89PTS

Blue Mountain Pinot Noir 2016

Okanagan Falls, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe regular pinot is a mix of fruit from estate vines as young as 10-years-old and topping out at the 32-year mark. The complexity comes from many places including six different clones, in this case de-stemmed before going through a native yeast ferment. There’s a bit more French oak showing now, but this will be a good one. It’s slightly reduced on the nose so be sure to decant it or swirl it in the glass to get started. Look for a pale pinot colour, plummy, sweet black raspberry fruit with an alluring tobacco undercurrent. The tannins are muted the texture silky and slippery through the finish. You could drink this now, but we suggest another 12 months in the bottle to allow it to settle in. Fine quality.Prices: BC 30.00 AB 30.00 ON 30.00 QC 30.00 Producer: Blue Mountain Vineyard & Cellars
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8th Generation Vineyard Pinot Noirtext
89PTS

8th Generation Vineyard Pinot Noir 2016

British Columbia, CanadaFrom the winery's estate Summerland vineyard, this is the 667 clone, fermented on the skins, before one year in old and new French oak. Dark raspberry, dark cocoa, ripe forest berries and ample truffles on a sultry, shaded, softer palate win fine-grained tannins and buoyed by a swell of acidity. Star anise tickles the finish. Impressively managed for a richer style pinot that will continue to mellow and complex with time. Serve with duck breast or coq au vin made with pinot noir.Prices: BC 23.49 Producer: 8th Generation Vineyard
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Inniskillin Okanagan Pinot Noir Dark Horse Estate Vineyardtext
87PTS

Inniskillin Okanagan Pinot Noir Dark Horse Estate Vineyard 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaIt’s been fifteen years since we last saw this wine and clearly it has improved. It has an attractive ripe pinot nose with juicy, spicy, black fruit aromas and flavours. It’s the texture that attracts: soft, chalky, and slippery, it is a rustic yet easy-sipping red. The finish is lightly sweet with just enough earthy, vegetal, pinot funk to hold your interest. Ready to drink.Prices: BC 21.99 Producer: Inniskillin Okanagan Vineyards Inc.
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Morandé Pionero Pinot Noir Reservatext
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Morandé Pionero Pinot Noir Reserva 2017

Valle de Casablanca, Region de Aconcagua, ChileThe grapes come from the cool, marine-influenced, sandy clay soils of Belén Vineyard in Casablanca. The vineyard is high-density (10,000 plants/hectare), the grapes are machine harvested (note the price), but there is berry selection at the winery. There is a three-day cold soak followed by traditional gentle pump overs to near dryness. It’s stored in stainless steel tanks with 25 percent aged in used French oak barrels for 3 months. The nose is a mix of red fruits and tea with a whiff of dried herbs and forest floor. Light, fresh, and juicy this is fun to drink. Perfect with chicken or pasta dishes or a favourite Asian noodle dish. Only 13 percent alcohol.Prices: BC 12.99 Producer:
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JoieFarm Pinot Noirtext
90PTS

JoieFarm Pinot Noir 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe 2016 JoieFarm Pinot Noir is the best yet. Structured and assured, but with finesse and vibrancy that easily carries the darker fruit. Black cherries lead, while gently smoked plum, sweet tobacco spice, autumn forest filter through the medium, fleshy body to a tight, smoke ringed finish, welcoming partnering with well cured jamon, duck, or pork rillettes. This blends fruit from Summerland, Naramata and Penticton mixing up four clones in the blend. Many small fermentation lots, plus gentle pressing and barrel fermentation and aging in various larger format sizes of wood (new wood enters in puncheons only) results in the dialled in complexities of this distinctly JoieFarm, and BC, pinot noir.Prices: BC 26.00 Producer: JoieFarm
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Mt. Boucherie Pinot Noirtext
86PTS

Mt. Boucherie Pinot Noir 2016

Similkameen Valley, British Columbia, CanadaSimilkameen Valley is the home of this robust pinot noir with an earthy, forest floor nose. The ’16 has some grippy upfront tannins that sit on a core of blacker fruits flecked with raspberry and spice, leading to a dry, stony finish. I would give this time in the bottle to soften or serve it with rustic mushroom/chicken dishes.Prices: BC 25.00 Producer: Mt. Boucherie Estate Winery
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10 October 2018

Culmina Family Estate Merlottext
88PTS

Culmina Family Estate Merlot 2014

Golden Mile Bench, Oliver, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis is the second straight merlot release from Culmina following the 2013. Medicinal black cherry, pitch, thick blackberry make up this brooding and unyielding red, one that spent 16 months in French oak, 15 percent of which is new. Coffee, espresso, balsamic end tight and bitter on the finish. Certainly a strong and structural wine that is meant for aging and / or red meats.Prices: BC 31.00 Producer: Culmina Family Estate Winery
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Burrowing Owl Merlottext
88PTS

Burrowing Owl Merlot 2015

Oliver, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaMerlot is the most planted red grape in BC, though most examples make me question why. Burrowing Owl, however, has been consistent in delivering an accessible, plush merlot since day one. This year's reflects the massive heat of 2015 vintage, showing already a browning in hue. This incarnation comes from estate vineyards in Oliver and Osoyoos, and spends 18 months in French, Hungarian, American and Russian barrels, approximately one quarter of which were new. Ripe and thick, with plum, black cherry, cassis, black coffee, bittersweet cocoa, and striated with sagebrush scrub. Tannins are sticky-supportive to a medicinal cherry finish. Classic BOV, ringing in at nearly 15 degrees alcohol, and best partnered with equally rich beef stew.Prices: BC 30.00 AB 34.00 ON 29.95 Producer: Burrowing Owl Vineyards
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Bench 1775 Merlottext
88PTS

Bench 1775 Merlot 2014

Osoyoos, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaA lesser seen new release from the 2014 vintage, which is generally a welcome sight as big reds are released far too early, far too often. This single vineyard merlot is showing a bit of wear around the edges, with well-worn, bitter black cherry, espresso, dried sage emerging after a big plume of reduction airs off (decanting helps). Tannins are cedar firm (from one year in French oak), yet showing evident signs of bottle age, and acidity is still grapefruit tight to support this nearly 15 degrees wine. Somewhat disjointed solo; best taken with roast beef or venison. This fruit comes from Osoyoos' Oxbow Vineyard.Prices: BC 29.90 Producer: Bench 1775 Winery
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Ex Nihilo Merlottext
88PTS

Ex Nihilo Merlot 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe nose has an unexpected beguiling, medicinal, red/black fruit aroma with a savoury undertone. The attack is more the Ex Nihilo we know, rich and round with big sweet, California-like stylings. The dense, rich fruit grown on the Black Sage Bench is aged 20 months in a mix of French and American oak. The palate is brimming with minty, cherry, blackcurrant, blackberry fruit laced with spice. This will need a few years to age but you could drink it now with lamb osso buco or slow cooked pork dishes.Prices: BC 36.00 AB 43.00 Producer: Ex Nihilo Vineyards
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Van Westen Vineyards Vivre la Vietext
89PTS

Van Westen Vineyards Vivre la Vie 2015

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaLike 2014 with a bit more heat but the nose is fragrant and inviting. The attack is perfumed and spicy with violets, ripe black cherries and dark, rich, black fruit. Cassis, black plums and spice mark the mid-palate and finish with a touch of balsamic. It seems a bit soft on entry, but after that it just builds on the palate. Fun, if not complex, you can drink or hold for another 24 months.Prices: BC 30.00 Producer: Van Westen Vineyards
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Rust Wine Co Merlottext
88PTS

Rust Wine Co Merlot 2016

Golden Mile Bench, Oliver, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis big, rich, ripe merlot is almost enough to match the heft of its ginourmous, overweight bottle. And working your way through the wax on the cork, 1/2 centimetre thick, will certainly work up an appetite for this toothsome, chewy red. Sourced entirely from the Golden Mile, this is lined with cedar and filled with perfumed violets, ripe red cherries, kirsch and baking spices. Tannins are ample but plush, working to cushion all this weight. You can enjoy this hedonistic red solo, or with your rare beef tenderloin.Prices: BC 35.00 Producer: Rust Wine Co.
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09 October 2018

Van Westen Vineyards Violetatext
90PTS

Van Westen Vineyards Violeta 2015

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe warm 2015 growing season has had a positive impact on this rich, dense showy red. The nose is marked by black fruit aromas and pepper. The attack is juicy and plump, the tannins dense but refined giving it structure through the finish. Impressive already and this will improve in the bottle over the next five years. WE served with a whole roasted savoury chicken and it was a perfect match. Hey Mendoza, look out.Prices: BC 30.35 Producer: Van Westen Vineyards
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Domaine Capelanel Amphut Sebastien Dauliactext
90PTS

Domaine Capelanel Amphut Sebastien Dauliac 2012

Cahors, Sud-Ouest, FranceThe warm 2015 growing season has had a positive impact on this rich, dense showy red. The nose is marked by black fruit aromas and pepper. The attack is juicy and plump, the tannins dense but refined giving it a firm structure through the finish. Impressive already and this will improve in the bottle over the next five years. We served with a whole roasted savoury chicken and it was a perfect match. Hey Mendoza, look out.Prices: BC 42.99 Producer: Domaine de Capelanel
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Château Les Croisille Calcairetext
91PTS

Château Les Croisille Calcaire 2014

Cahors, Sud-Ouest, FranceFrench malbec has a spotty history in Cahors unless you loved the monster, black editions that were the norm in the 70s and 80s and persist among some producers today. We lean more toward the refined offerings. Germaine Croisille is one such grower and family in its third generation making beautiful malbec with finesse and style. The vineyards are 30 to 25 years old on limestone soils and you can feel it throughout the wine and its understated fruit, light licorice and pepper and its sensational chalky textures. This is a bargain for wine geeks. Real wine.Prices: BC 32.99 Producer: Château Les Croisille
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Tonel 78 Barrel Select Malbec - Bonarda Barrel Selecttext
88PTS

Tonel 78 Barrel Select Malbec - Bonarda Barrel Select 2015

Mendoza, ArgentinaThe Tonel 78 Barrel Select is a 50/50 mix of malbec and bonarda, the latter giving it an attractive, juicy, character in the mouth. The two varieties are fermented separately before they are blended and aged in oak for 12 months. The nose is a mix of plums and licorice the palate almost identical with soft, floral, fruity textures that finish dry. A solid ready-to-drink red you can serve with grilled meats.Prices: BC 24.69 Producer: Bodega Los Toneles
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Tonel 22 Malbectext
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Tonel 22 Malbec 2016

Mendoza, ArgentinaA cooler year has leaned this label out in a good way. Soft and slippery on entry, its peppery black fruit is carrying less sugar making it more sippable and table worthy. This is a ready-to-drink, basic hamburger red malbec that sells for less than $16.Prices: BC 15.99 Producer: Bodega Los Toneles
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08 October 2018

Ex Nihilo Rieslingtext
88PTS

Ex Nihilo Riesling 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaEx Nihilo sits near 50 degrees north in cool-climate Lake Country, British Columbia, and in 2017 the late hanging fruit was picked after a winter snowstorm and freezing temperatures. The normally lean style is much richer with yellow fruits and spätlese style residual sugar giving it an off-dry demeanour, but with enough acidity in the finish. Soft and round, this would be best served with spicy dishes to tame a bit of the sugar. Think barbecue pork or a Thai curry.Prices: BC 25.00 Producer: Ex Nihilo Vineyards
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Bassermann-Jordan Riesling Trockentext
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Bassermann-Jordan Riesling Trocken 2016

Pfalz, GermanyBeauty balance here in this trocken (dry) riesling from the Pfalz. Native fermented, and additive-free, this streams river stones, pear skin, lime pith, lemon verbena and kiwi along a light and dancing palate. The palate is lined with a thin sheen of honey, yet tight and taut with a tangerine line of acidity. Fine spice lingers on the lip smacking finish. A lovely alternative lens for Pfalz' typical richness.Prices: BC 27.00 Producer: Bassermann-Jordan
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Rieslingfreak No. 5 Clare Valleytext
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Rieslingfreak No. 5 Clare Valley 2017

Clare Valley, South Australia, AustraliaWhat a difference a spoonful of sugar makes. Sourced from the same Clare Valley family vineyard as Riesling No. 3, but from lighter soils than the No. 3's heavy red clays, which shows in the brightness and lift of this wine. This just off-dry riesling fills out the slender palate with pear flesh, kefir lime pulp, apricot, Asian pear, light exotic spice, all tightened with lime pith and kissed with honeysuckle and brulée. There's a wash to the mid that trails to the pineapple rind finish. The blip of 11-15 g/l RS is well matched by the taut, limey acidity acidity. So much wine, at only 10 degrees. Impressive now, and for future drinking.Prices: BC 26.50 Producer: Rieslingfreak
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Rieslingfreak No. 4 Eden Valleytext
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Rieslingfreak No. 4 Eden Valley 2017

Eden Valley, South Australia, AustraliaThe 2017 No. 4 Riesling was sourced from three vineyards in Eden, and is representative of the region's crushed stone, talc and lime-laden character. Subtle on the nose, and still reserved on the palate, this youthful wine is quite closed upon opening, with key lime, lime pith, pear skin, Asian pear, yellow apple poking out when the glass warms some, finishing with kisses of anise. Bone dry, with a talc dusting, this has racy acidity holding tight the palate taut and long. Hinting at the potential to come, this dry, savoury / severe wine well shows John Hughes' deft hand and touch with the grape.Prices: BC 26.50 Producer: Rieslingfreak
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Rieslingfreak No. 3 Clare Valleytext
91PTS

Rieslingfreak No. 3 Clare Valley 2017

Clare Valley, South Australia, AustraliaRieslingfreak No.3 is harvested from John Hughes' Clare Valley family vineyard, and its heavy red clay soils. The expansiveness from the clay well offsets this racy, bone-dry wine, tempering the acidity with a modicum of flesh on the palate. Orange blossom, tangerine, Asian pear, white grapefruit, quince and apricot fuzz fill the slender, lengthy frame, lingering on the finish.Prices: BC 26.50 Producer: Rieslingfreak
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The Chase Block 11 Rieslingtext
89PTS

The Chase Block 11 Riesling 2017

Lake Country, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaI love the simplicity and balance of this wine, letting you appreciate it for what it is: a very drinkable riesling. The nose is fresh with classic young riesling fragrance, in this case, green peach and grapefruit. The attack is juicy and the red and green apple slides down seamlessly, constantly calling you back to the glass. The acidity is understated but real, allowing for 20 grams of natural residual sugar to be present but hardly noticeable. A giant food-friendly wine. The fruit comes off Block 11 of the Carrs Landing Vineyard and even then, from selected rows. A terrific effort by winemaker Adrian Baker.Prices: BC 21.00 Producer: The Chase Wines
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Rieslingfreak No. 2 Polish Hill Rivertext
89PTS

Rieslingfreak No. 2 Polish Hill River 2017

Polish Hill River, Clare Valley, South Australia, AustraliaStony, chalky and locked-fist tight, this bone dry riesling is scented with lime pith, white grapefruit, underripe quince. This really shows Polish Hill's limestone and shale soils through its tight, refined frame, one that streams a rivlet down the racy palate. Flint licks the finish. This severe styled, lively wine is not for everyone, but it is for acid freaks. Like me.Prices: BC 33.00 Producer: Rieslingfreak
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Moraine Rieslingtext
89PTS

Moraine Riesling 2017

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaMoraine riesling is entirely Naramata Bench fruit, of which nearly half is estate grown clone 49. It’s all whole bunch pressed and wild fermented in three batches over four weeks, six weeks, and nine weeks at very cool temperatures (under 13C). The result is a juicy, fresh white with a lot of tension pushing off the fruit sugars in one direction and the citrus acidity in the other. It’s a mineral, stony, citrus affair you could serve with a favourite curry.Prices: BC 22.00 Producer: Moraine Estate Winery
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8th Generation Vineyard Riesling Classictext
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8th Generation Vineyard Riesling Classic 2017

Summerland, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis, the winery's Classic Riesling, is 32-year-old estate Okanagan Falls fruit, grown on sandy soils. Some early sulphur turns to broken stones, lime pith, bitter orange and earthiness along a medium palate, finishing with a burst of bittersweet lime and with crunchy acidity. This is dry, but constrained and at 13 degrees alcohol, leaving one feeling hemmed in. Perhaps with age this will relax some; certainly old vine riesling has the goods to go the distance. At present, this is a vibrant choice for lightly spiced and citrus-fragrant dishes.Prices: BC 20.00 Producer: 8th Generation Vineyard
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8th Generation Vineyard Riesling Selectiontext
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8th Generation Vineyard Riesling Selection 2016

Summerland, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe 8th Generation Selection begins in early August at veraison when they take fourteen rows and thin the crop to one cluster/one bud. The 31-year-old vineyard then puts its entire energy into ripening that fruit. The style is lively, the acidity bright but with ripe yellow fruit flavours that keep it all in balance. A slow native yeast ferment continues into January adding complex layers of flavours. There’s the perfect mix of fruit and acidity here and a whack of minerality. A versatile food wine that will work with just about anything.Prices: BC 25.49 Producer: 8th Generation Vineyard
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Culmina Family Estate Decoratext
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Culmina Family Estate Decora 2017

Golden Mile Bench, Oliver, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaDecora, from the Latin for beautiful, comes off Margaret’s Bench at 595 meters above sea level. The 2017 is a beautifully crafted style showing much more finesse than previous versions. It’s extremely delicate, with fleeting mineral floral undertones and scents of orchard fruits. The attack is stony with grapefruit pith and more mineral, chalky, stony notes. Not as intense as a great Mosel, but definitely tracking in the right direction. Very drinkable and well balanced; oysters on the half shell please. A super bargain, so back up the truck.Prices: BC 21.00 Producer: Culmina Family Estate Winery
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Culmina Family Estate Susser Riesling No. 005text
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Culmina Family Estate Susser Riesling No. 005 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis wine is extremely food-friendly, and at Culmina they pay attention to potential matches, suggesting a sweet-savoury chèvre tartelette with new season vegetables, or cut fruit and chicken liver mousse. The fifth release in the “Number Series” opens with an aromatic orchard fruit nose with flecks of lemon, melon and honey. The off-dry palate is delicate but rich in stone fruit flavours with fine underlying acidity. The fruit comers off Block X2, a cool corner of vines on Arise Bench planted to clone 21. The 'Susser' tag is a direct translation of the German for sweeter and it more than adequately reflects the overall final impression of this tasty white.Prices: BC 30.00 Producer: Culmina Family Estate Winery
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Summerhill Pyramid Winery Riesling Organic Vegantext
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Summerhill Pyramid Winery Riesling Organic Vegan 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaOld vines (riesling clone 21B planted in 1978) and certified Demeter biodynamic vineyards are at the heart of this riesling, fermented outdoors with the ambient vineyard yeasts in the Summerhill Vineyard in 2017. The fruit is whole cluster pressed and fermented cold and left with a healthy dose unfermented sugar to counter its naturally crisp acidity. It’s off dry, but vibrant with complex notes of honey, lemon, peach and river stones. Love the intensity, and while it's on the sweet side it only needs a spicy, savoury turkey dish to set it right.Prices: BC 22.00 Producer: Summerhill Pyramid Winery
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Harper's Trail Riesling Thad Springs Vineyard Silver Mane Blocktext
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Harper's Trail Riesling Thad Springs Vineyard Silver Mane Block 2017

Kamloops, British Columbia, CanadaThe Silver Mane Block takes it up a notch in 2017. It’s less sweet, albeit still off-dry, but the mix of pears, peaches, apples and citrus taste more complex with a touch of earth and ginger in the finish. I like this with a curry bowl or spicy Thai noodles. Kamloops is stretching its legs. Good value.Prices: BC 19.90 Producer: Harper's Trail Estate Winery
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Harper's Trail Riesling Thad Springs Vineyard Pioneer Blocktext
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Harper's Trail Riesling Thad Springs Vineyard Pioneer Block 2017

Kamloops, British Columbia, CanadaThere’s a slight lift in energy here this year otherwise it remains a solid label like its previous edition. The nose is a mix of orchard fruits with a dusting of sagebrush and citrus. There’s better weight an style this year but with some extra phenolics that dry out the back end. Solid and ready to drink try this with pork or chicken dishes.Prices: BC 19.90 Producer: Harper's Trail Estate Winery
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The View Rieslingtext
89PTS

The View Riesling 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis is an interesting take on BC riesling. It's super dry with over the top acidity that will either have you running for the hills or opening a second bottle. I think the latter. It is a crisp, fresh, electric white with bright, lemon-lime notes and that zesty, mineral finish. A bit more fruit balance will make this a superstar label. A vegetarian and vegan delight, the winery suggests pairing it with Miss Vickie’s Salt & Vinegar chips which gives you a clue of how edgy this dry white is.Prices: BC 17.95 Producer: The View Winery & Vineyard
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04 October 2018

Falletto di Bruno Giacosa Barbaresco Asili Riserva Red Labeltext
94PTS

Falletto di Bruno Giacosa Barbaresco Asili Riserva Red Label 2004

ItalyFrom the cellar. Bruno Giacosa has been producing some of the most sought after wines out of Piedmont since 1961. The Red Label Reserva isn't produced every year, only when the winery deems a vineyard and wine worthy. All the other wines of the vintage are released under the white label. Thus, when you are lucky enough to find a Giacosa Red Label, scoop. In 2004, it was decided that the Barbaresco Asili was red label worthy. Pouring a bricking hue, and benefitting with decanting, this reveals intoxicating complexities of spices, leather, worn wood, dried currants, truffles and hints of anise on a lengthy, finely supple palate, one striated with 14 years in bottle, but still tight with drive and energy to carry it another decade. Notes of sarsaparilla, dried black tea, worn tobacco leaves season this contemplative, finessed wine through the lengthy end. This was bottle 6193. Sadly, Bruno Giacosa passed away earlier this year at age 88, still running the 44ha estate, winery and cellar with his daughters Bruna and Marina.Prices: US 369.00 Producer: Bruno Giacosa Falletto
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Finca Las Moras Reserva Tannattext
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Finca Las Moras Reserva Tannat 2016

San Juan, ArgentinaThis big, brooding tannat benefits from airtime, so decant or open well in advance (I went for a full day). Wild blackberry, black cherry, inky plum cloak a juicy core, fired by sun-warmth and housed with sticky tannins. Pipe tobacco, espresso and purple florals tie this up, finishing with a wash of sea salts and kept afloat with a wave of blue-stone acidity. For all its potency, and warming finish, this is a respectable 13.5 degrees.Prices: BC 13.99 Producer: Finca Las Moras
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03 October 2018

Costaripa RosaMaratext
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Costaripa RosaMara 2016

Lombardy, ItalyThis attractive rosé is from Valtènesi DOC, a subzone of the Riviera del Garda Classico DOC, near Lombardy's Lake Garda. This is a blend of estate groppello, marzemino, sangiovese, and barbera, macerated with skins (giving that striking orange peach hue) before 30 percent or so goes into small oak casks and the remainder into stainless for six months. They seem to be going for the Provençal feel, from the distinct bottle to the silken mouthfeel. Bitter cherry, strawberry, rose petals, red currants, mandarin are infiltrated with a resinous herbal scrub before finishing with bitter bergamot tea and grapefruit pith. The mid palate is plump with lees, though the silken mouthfeel and length keeps this savoury, dry wine sleek. A lovely unexpected find, and one suited to smoked / oily fish.Prices: BC 29.95 AB 24.90 QC 20.90 Producer: Costaripa
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Francesco Cirelli Vino Rosatotext
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Francesco Cirelli Vino Rosato 2017

Abruzzo, ItalyThis is a new line from a familiar name in Abruzzo's natural wine circles. At Francesco Cirelli's estate Cireclli Farms, the wines are all made in amphora (illustrated by the sketched vessel on the label). Here, with this series, he purchases neighbouring organic fruit and raises it in stainless, rather than amphora, casting a different lens on his winemaking regime. Savoury strawberries, raspberry jam, boysenberry fill a juicy core, bright with fruit purity and not with ripeness.Prices: BC 25.00 Producer: Francesco Cirelli
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Rust Wine Co. Pinot Noir Rosétext
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Rust Wine Co. Pinot Noir Rosé 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaRust Wine Co. opened a year ago, taking over what was Rustico Farm and Cellars for their tasting room, and making small lot, single vineyard wines from Golden Mile, Okanagan Falls, South Cawston, and West Osoyoos. This is a deeply pink hued rosé of pinot noir, from West Kelowna's Mt. Boucherie Estate Vineyard. Planted in 1999 on clay loam with glacial till and volcanic scrub, this was raised in stainless. Glycerol lined palate of strawberry jam, orange, ripe raspberries, with a noticeable bump of RS and shaking of cinnamon spice on the finish. I hope to see the fruit more, and winemaking less in the future, but I look forward to tracking this project.Prices: BC 25.00 Producer: Rust Wine Co.
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Two Rivers of Marlborough Isle of Beauty Rosétext
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Two Rivers of Marlborough Isle of Beauty Rosé 2017

Marlborough, South Island, New ZealandTwo Rivers Rosé is one of New Zealand’s most popular pinks and is constantly sold out Down Under. The wine has a pale copper colour and is made in the traditional Mediterranean style. The nose is fresh and clean with citrus, orange blossom aromas sprinkled with dried herbs. The attack is similar with a light, fresh, watery, salty, citrus flavour profile that draws you back to the glass. It’s an easy bottle to finish with mussels, fish cakes or charcuterie.Prices: BC 24.99 Producer: Tscharke
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02 October 2018

Ex Nihilo Pinot Gristext
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Ex Nihilo Pinot Gris 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaAt Ex Nihilo the style is on the riper, richer side and the 2017 is no exception. The nose is mix of honey, pink grapefruit and pineapple that tumbles onto the palate. The finish is long and weighty with ripe, tropical fruits and candied lemon. Ready to drink. Try this with a spicy jalapeno scallop dish or Thai fish cakes.Prices: BC 20.00 Producer: Ex Nihilo Vineyards
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Willakenzie Estate Pinot Gristext
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Willakenzie Estate Pinot Gris 2017

Willamette Valley, Oregon, United StatesThe 420-acre winery estate was founded in 1992 at Yamhill-Carlton. Willakenzie takes its name after the sedimentary soil on the estate no doubt deposited by the nearby Willamette and the McKenzie that merge in Eugene. The nose is an open, mineral, lime affair and those traits follow onto the palate. The palate is creamy and ripe finishing on the warm side. It is mostly fermented in stainless steel with just a small amount barrel fermented fruit to add texture and complexity. The mix is 95/5 pinot gris/pinot blanc. Ready to drink. Try this with a favourite curry.Prices: BC 27.95 Producer: Willakenzie Estate
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Van Westen Vineyards Vino Grigiotext
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Van Westen Vineyards Vino Grigio 2017

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaTypical bright, fresh Naramata orchard fruit leading with apple blossoms, dried apricot and citrus notes. The attack is lean and mineral with green apple, green melon flavours with a touch of bitterness. The finish is creamy with a sweet melon undercurrent. Try this with spicy appetizers.Prices: BC 20.00 Producer: Van Westen Vineyards
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Blue Mountain Pinot Gristext
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Blue Mountain Pinot Gris 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThey have this recipe dialled, creating a dependable and reliable white year over year. This year's gris is from 31-year-old vines and two French clones, grown on their Okanagan Falls estate. No big changes here although it seems riper if not sweeter than perversions which will likely only increase demand. Whole cluster pressed, this was fermented in a blend of stainless, foudre and oak barrels of varying sizes. The barrelled wine spent six months on the lees, while the stainless wine (39 percent) was racked after fermentation. The two were blended in early summer, and now released. Lovely polish and elegance to the palate, with creamy pear, lemon, green apple, kisses of orange and a bracket of tight spicing. Confident, quietly so, this is drinking well now but will deepen and reward for another couple of years in the cellar.Prices: BC 21.00 AB 26.95 QC 24.95 Producer: Blue Mountain Vineyard & Cellars
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CedarCreek Platinum Block Single Vineyard Pinot Gristext
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CedarCreek Platinum Block Single Vineyard Pinot Gris 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaBlock Seven is 100 percent pinot gris grown on stony sections of the vineyards that produce more concentration and a riper profile. In 2017 winemaker Taylor Whelan decided to push the intensity and ripeness of sugars and phenolics to new levels hoping to make a weighty Alsace style. The grapes were whole bunch pressed, the juice was fermented using organic yeasts in oak barriques, French oak puncheons and concrete eggs and finished in an off-dry style (18 grams/litre) - where the sugar was asked to take on the acidity and phenolics. The nose and palate are all about ripe pears with spicy, sweet red apples. If you like opulence or you are tackling a rich spicy dish, this wine will work. Ready to drink.Prices: BC 29.99 Producer: CedarCreek Estate Winery
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CedarCreek Pinot Gristext
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CedarCreek Pinot Gris 2017

British Columbia, CanadaThe CedarCreek pinot gris is a 50/50 mix of 90 percent estate fruit from south and north of Penticton, which no doubt helps with volume, if not the vitality of this wine. Winemaker Taylor Whelan uses 30 percent neutral oak to add texture and mouthfeel, but truth be told it could use a bit more acidity and freshness. The attack is a mix of ripe fruit salad notes with a hint of butter and spice. A mid-week white for a sunny patio or appetizers. Best well chilled.Prices: BC 18.99 Producer: CedarCreek Estate Winery
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01 October 2018

Mac Forbes Chardonnaytext
90PTS

Mac Forbes Chardonnay 2017

Yarra Valley, Victoria, AustraliaYarra Valley's Mac Forbes is one of the Aussie vanguard proving the worth of appreciating and understanding terroir and site over brand. He works with a number of single vineyards across Yarra. This, however, his 'entry tier' chardonnay blends fruit from Healesville, Hoddles Creek and Woori Yallock vineyards, all in the Yarra Valley. It's still an exciting drop, wound with lemon-laced acidity and accessible with white / yellow fruits, a moderate lees-decked and fennel scented palate, and ample cracked stony spice through the lengthy finish. Native fermented in barrel, this remained ten months in older oak and was bottled without fining.Prices: BC 36.00 Producer: Mac Forbes
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Silver Heights Family Reserve Chardonnaytext
90PTS

Silver Heights Family Reserve Chardonnay 2015

ChinaImpressive reserved nose of melon and apples with a floral undertone. The oak is perfectly managed; it is aged six months in new French (Burgundy) oak barrels. The palate is linear with fine freshness, lime/grapefruit tones and a firm lemon undercurrent. There is a purity of fruit and light toast with a touch of minerality. Elegant, but not as complex as you would expect for the price. A very good start. I look forward to watching this label progress in the years ahead.Prices: BC 53.99 Producer: Gaoyuan Silver Heights Vineyards
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Beringer Founders' Estate Chardonnaytext
86PTS

Beringer Founders' Estate Chardonnay 2016

California, United StatesIt’s gratifying to see the subtle changes in this wine - less oak and way less butter and baked apple fruit in exchange for freshness and a touch of lees for texture. The attack is round and smooth sipping, but it tastes like chardonnay with a mix of red apples, honey and guava: friendly, easy-sipping and a perfect match with vegetarian pizza.Prices: BC 16.49 AB 17.00 NB 17.00 MB 17.00 ON 17.00 QC 20.50 Producer: Beringer Napa Valley Vineyards
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