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Anthony Gismondi on Wine
Tasting Notes

Tastings: January 2019

31 January 2019

Tinhorn Creek Chardonnaytext
87PTS

Tinhorn Creek Chardonnay 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaFrom Black Sage Bench's sandy soiled Diamondback Vineyard, and 21 year old vines, this was primarily whole cluster pressed into French and American oak barrels (30% new) and allowed to go through fermentation naturally, while a portion of the wine is machine harvested and fermented in stainless steel with selected yeast. By November, the winery's two new concrete tanks had arrived, and the wine was then aged one third each in oak, concrete and stainless steel for the next six months prior to being lightly fined and filtered before bottling. Full bodied and ripe with pineapple, yellow apple, melon, baked pear and ample nutmeg spicing and butterscotch swirling on the finish. Old school, ever edging forward.Prices: BC 20.99 Producer: Tinhorn Creek Vineyards
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Heinrich Chardonnay Leithabergtext
90PTS

Heinrich Chardonnay Leithaberg 2015

AustriaThis is taken from east facing limestone and schist slopes of the Leithaberg (Leitha Mountains), with the main portions taken from the Spiegel, Kirchberg and Alter Berg vineyards in Winden, and the Fügler in Jois. Grapes also come from the Edelgraben and Zwergsbreiten sites in Breitenbrunn. Certified organic, biodynamically tended, this was native fermented with a few hours on the skins and stems before resting for 21 months on its lees in large oak casks and used 500L barrels prior to bottling unfined and unfiltered. Beautify concentration, with kernel, dry popcorn, broken stones, pear skin, kisses of honeysuckle, lemon verbena and steel trailing the finish. There's a smoked stone weaving throughout, adding gravitas without weight. This is best enjoyed over the course of an evening, allowing oxygen and temperature to relax this structural wine.Prices: ON 35.55 Producer: Weingut Heinrich
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Bannockburn S.R.H. Chardonnaytext
91PTS

Bannockburn S.R.H. Chardonnay 2014

Geelong, Victoria, AustraliaSRH Chardonnay is a special 12-row selection planted in 1976, the oldest chardy vines at Olive Tree Hill Vineyard, and unique for its high proportion of marine deposits in the deep clay soils. After native ferment, this remains on lees in large French oak casks for two years. Elegant and powerful, with lemon curd, ripe yellow apple, baked pear, creme brûlée, flecked with flint and smoked stones and wrapped up in highly evident oak, still near the fore after all this time. However, the mineral vibrato on the palate strings this big wine taut to the lingering finish. Drinking well now, especially with generously flavoured white fish, pureed cauliflower or pillowy gnocchi in brown butter.Prices: BC 92.00 Producer: Bannockburn Vineyards
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Bannockburn Chardonnaytext
90PTS

Bannockburn Chardonnay 2016

Geelong, Victoria, AustraliaNow in its second vintage, this expansive Geelong chardy is drawn from their estate Olive Tree Hill Vineyard (planted 1976) and Winery Block (1981), on volcanic soils over limestone, with the average vine age around 35. The fruit was whole bunch pressed and native fermented in 500 L French oak puncheons (20 percent new). The wine spent 14 months on lees with minimal stirring and no sulphur prior to a wee bit before bottling in July 2017. Sumptuously generous, with lemon curd, eraser dust, cinnamon toast, custard all tightened with a grip of spiced oak and lengthened with a marzipan finish. Thankfully acidity buzzes throughout, managing the flesh. This is a lot of a lot, confidently so.Prices: BC 71.00 Producer: Bannockburn Vineyards
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Mac Forbes Chardonnaytext
89PTS

Mac Forbes Chardonnay 2011

Yarra Valley, Victoria, AustraliaA few six-packs of the 2011 Chardonnay made its way to our province, giving some lucky folks the chance to taste cool climate chardy with a few years under its belt. 2011 was a blend of both Yarra Junction and Woori Yallock vineyards and their mudstone clay soils. White asparagus, green hedge, Meyer lemon, lime pith, subtle white blossom from this wet, lean year. There's certainly a tightness strung throughout this vintage, one that still feels underripe (11.8 degrees) even with a welcomed honey sheen heft of age. This was native and barrel fermented (15 percent new) with twice monthly battonage until the following spring, when it was bottled with minimal sulphur.Prices: BC 37.00 Producer: Mac Forbes
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B & J Morey Sorrenberg Chardonnaytext
92PTS

B & J Morey Sorrenberg Chardonnay 2016

Victoria, AustraliaSorrenberg is a 2.5 hectare vineyard on the outskirts of Beechworth, owned by Barry and Jan Morey. Vines were planted in 1985 on the cool site's granitic soils, and the farm has been Demeter certified biodynamic since 2008. Though they've only been farming on this site for 20+ years, the family has a tradition of winemaking that stretches back over 500 years to the Mosel River in Germany. This is French barrel fermented, 25-30 percent of which in new wood, and undergoes full MLF. After ten months on lees with weekly battonage, this rested eight more months in barrel undisturbed before minimal filtration and bottling. The wood is certainly highly present, though it's in a youthful, comforting, well-integrated way. Very concentrated, with spiced layers of nougat, cream, green apple, lemon curd, fresh hazelnuts, this is a big, structural and generous white that holds its freshness through a lingering spiced sumac finish. Best experienced in a few years time.Prices: BC 70.00 Producer: B & J Morey
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Garagiste Merricks Chardonnaytext
93PTS

Garagiste Merricks Chardonnay 2017

Mornington Peninsula, Victoria, AustraliaWow, such a cracking chardy. From Mornington Peninsula's cool, south facing Merricks Grove vineyard and sandy loams veined with red ironstone, this is a complexed, mineral-driven, flinty and vibrant white, packing so much intensity and layers into a lean, 13 degree frame. Whole bunch pressed, this was native fermented on high solids in 500L puncheons (one new barrel used this vintage). After partial MLF, this spent ten months on lees before bottling. Green apple, flake salts, pear skin, grapefruit zest streams along the bright palate, with a hint of wood frame. Cool climate Oz chardy is stellar, and this is a star. Tasting beautifully now, but will age beautifully.Prices: BC 55.00 Producer: Garagiste Vintners
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Catena Alta Historic Rows Chardonnaytext
90PTS

Catena Alta Historic Rows Chardonnay 2016

Tupungato, Central Region, Mendoza, ArgentinaTwo single vineyards at almost 5000 feet elevation in the Andean foothills are behind the Catena Alta Historic Rows. The Adrianna vineyard's calcareous soils and cool climate bring purity of flavours and a stony minerality. The nearby, gravel-covered Domingo Vineyard in Tupungato makes up 20 percent of the blend, bringing even more freshness and minerality. The style is rich and on the edge of being old-fashioned, saved from its own intensity by the acidity and mineral notes that permeate the baked apple, orange, buttery, spicy, oatmeal lees flavours. So much potential here. Halibut, lobster and cheese all work.Prices: BC 41.65 AB 40.50 QC 40.00 Producer: Bodega Catena Zapata
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Bramito del Cervo Chardonnaytext
91PTS

Bramito del Cervo Chardonnay 2017

Umbria, ItalyBramìto is made with grapes grown at centuries-old Castello della Sala some 18 kilometers from the famed hilltop town of Orvieto. Fossils dotted clay soil is the home of this chardonnay that projects elegance and minerality on the nose and palate. 2017 had some frost issues so the crop was reduced but the quality is fine. It opens with an enticing fresh, saline, mineral nose that leads to fresh, long, citrus flavours that persist and linger but with tension and vibrancy. The ferment is mix of barrel and stainless-steel lending it more of a drink now persona. Similarly, only the barrel fermented juice goes through malolactic further keeping it fresh and vital. A perfect solution for most west coast seafood and New World restaurant wine lists.Prices: BC 34.00 ON 22.00 QC 22.95 Producer: Castello della Sala
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30 January 2019

D. Kourtakis Mavrodaphne of Patrastext
87PTS

D. Kourtakis Mavrodaphne of Patras NV

Peloponnese, GreeceThis traditional Greek sweet red wine blends 65 percent mavrodaphne with 35 percent black korinthiaki, the latter an ancient Greek variety prized for its super sweet pea sized seedless black fruit. Dried currants, prune, raisins leather is dotted with cardamom and lined with molasses, finishing short and sweet with an oxidative and sweet tobacco swing. The grapes are harvested in August and sundried before pressing and fermentation, arrested by the addition of a small quantity of grape spirit, and leaving the sugars at approximately 130g/L. The wine is then aged in oak barrels for a minimum of one year using a ‘solera' system. The House of Kourtakis is a family wine-making business that dates back to 1895. Vassilis Kourtakis was the first person in Greece to obtain a diploma in oenology. His son Mimis catapulted the Kourtakis Winery into the modern age. By the early 1970’s, they were selling 50 million bottles of Kourtaki Retsina, out-producing the next three wineries combined, and making Kourtaki a household name in Greece.Prices: MB 14.00 QC 14.75 ON 15.00 Producer: D. Kourtakis
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Toro Álbala Don Convento Seleccion Pedro Ximeneztext
93PTS

Toro Álbala Don Convento Seleccion Pedro Ximenez 1929

Sherry Jerez - Manzanilla, SpainOlder doesn't make it better. But when great age and great wine meet, there is little better in the wine world. This is a very sweet (500 g/l RS), very rare PX from Montilla. Whole bunches of PX were dried 8-10 days on mats, with 90 percent of the bunches flipped half way through. The bunches are pressed within pancakes of rusks to release their thick syrup. In the port-wine-style, distillate from the marc of the property is added to the fermenting must to bring it up to 18 degrees alcohol and killing off the remaining yeast, which rights the sugar levels as they are. The wine is left to settle in concrete for two years, after which it goes into barrel until just prior to bottling and release. Brown walnut orange in hue, with concentrated dark marmalade, raisins, thick and unctuous on the palate. This is a contemplative sipping wine, that for all its age and gravitas, comes across the palate with an effortless ease. Toro Albalá releases small lots of very old vintage-dated sweet Pedro Ximénez from time to time.Prices: ON 415.95 Producer: Toro Álbala
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Fonseca Terra Prima Organic Reserve Porttext
89PTS

Fonseca Terra Prima Organic Reserve Port NV

Douro Valley, Northern Portugal, PortugalAll the rain this week got me thinking about opening a bottle of sipping port to carry me through the month. After that I was thinking certified organic might be fun and that led me to revisit the Fonseca Terra Prima, organic right down to the spirit used in its fortification. The style is drier and firmer than most ruby ports, bringing some welcome complexity in the glass. The attack is still sweet, mixing molasses, caramel, sweet cassis jam, pepper and pipe tobacco. Perfect on its own, with oven-warmed almonds or dried fruit cake or scones.Prices: SK 25.00 MB 27.00 AB 33.00 BC 28.99 QC 28.50 ON 25.00 YK 33.00 NS 31.00 Producer: Fonseca Guimaraens
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Chateau d'Orignac Pineau des Charentestext
90PTS

Chateau d'Orignac Pineau des Charentes NV

FranceThis very small chateau is owned by the head winemaker at Argadens, Yvan, who has been with the winery for more than 20 years. Over the years, he had been producing but not selling anything, accumulating cognac in barrels while producing grape juice every year. Far too busy to distill, he just let the barrels lineup until was compelled by friends and his colleagues at Argadens to bottle and sell this unique product. Made entirely differently than its contemporaries in Cognac, this Pineau des Charenes uses cabernet sauvignon and merlot in the blend, unlike Ugni Blanc, the grape used by near everyone else. Five year old Cognac is added to unfermented grape juice, killing off the yeast, and holding in the sweetness. Once the blend is complete, this goes back into barrel for four more years - another rarity. Very gentle, silken smooth, with maple kissed bacon, salts, orange essence, and a dusting of baking spice lacing the finish. A juicy swell of acidity keeps this medium bodied sweetie buoyant. Very elegant at 95 g/l RS, 18 degrees, and with no added sulphites.Serve chilled as an aperitif alongside cheeses, nuts, fruits, melon in prosciutto and pâté.Prices: BC 38.00 Producer: Chateau d'Orignac
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28 January 2019

Ochota Barrels The Mark of Cain Pinot Meuniertext
91PTS

Ochota Barrels The Mark of Cain Pinot Meunier 2018

Piccadilly Valley, Adelaide Hills, Mount Lofty Ranges, Adelaide, South Australia, AustraliaThe Mark of Cain is a new wine in Taras' stable, a small batch pinot meunier planted in 1985 in Piccadilly Valley, and named after the punk band he once toured with. Light in hue and mouthfeel, with graceful, long tannins gentle framing plum, wild raspberry, rhubarb, purple florals, and dried rosemary, lit with crunchy pink grapefruit acidity, and finishing with mineral salts. Subtle but streaming, light but lit, this is a chill-worthy charmer. And smashable.Prices: BC 50.00 Producer: Ochota Barrels
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Suertes del Marqués 7 Fuentestext
92PTS

Suertes del Marqués 7 Fuentes 2016

Tenerife, Canary Islands, SpainFrom Tenerife's volcanic soils, and hundred year old ungrafted listan negro (with ten percent tintilla), this singular wine spent eight months between concrete and neutral French oak. Medium bodied and dusky in hue, this opens with light smoke, wild raspberry, tobacco, thorns, herbal scrub and a wave of fine pink peppercorns that season a lightly muddied, authentic core. Acidity is lofty, and though slight at 13 degrees, this displays a confidence and maturity that makes it imminently charming. Amazing value.Prices: ON 22.95 Producer: Suertes del Marqués
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Suertes del Marqués La Solanatext
90PTS

Suertes del Marqués La Solana 2017

Tenerife, Canary Islands, SpainLa Solana is a single 1.5ha vineyard in northern Tenerife, between 350-450m and on clay atop volcanic soils. The family operation Suertes del Marqués organically farms 80-150 year old listán negro here, in the traditional cordón trenzado training system, employing minimal sulphur. After a native whole bunch ferment, this aged 11 months in older French oak and foudres before being bottled unfiltered. This youthful, slight wine opens with ample black pepper and a wave of reduction (give it some air time or a decanter) before moving into dark cherry, black raspberry and thorns, threaded with balsamic and housed by fine, waspy firm tannins. The finish lingers with cracked peppercorns. There's a brooding darkness in youth that should resolve with time in bottle, if the stunning 2015 (tasted same time) is any indication. Alluring.Prices: ON 29.95 Producer: Suertes del Marqués
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Pittnauer St. Laurent Dorflagentext
91PTS

Pittnauer St. Laurent Dorflagen 2016

Burgenland, Weinland Österreich, AustriaHighly perfumed and alluring rose of wild raspberry, wild roses, pink peppercorn and mineral salts, this is organic and biodynamically farmed st. laurent selected from from the cooler, wind-swept Salzbergacker, Goldberg, and Edelgrund vineyards, all situated near the southern edge of the plateau Parndorfer Platte. Grippy, fine, firm tannins reflect native ferment and one year in used barrels, while the slightly cloudy hue tips to no filtration. Bright, finessed and smashable, this is a charming red for drinking now or short term.Prices: ON 30.95 Producer: Pittnauer
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Pittnauer Pittnauskitext
92PTS

Pittnauer Pittnauski 2015

Burgenland, Weinland Österreich, AustriaPittnauski is an organic and biodynamically farmed Blaufrankish, St. Laurent, Zweigelt, merlot blend from Rosenberg, Altenberg and Ungerberg, fermented native and matured in older French oak. This was bottled unfiltered. Big violet, talc / baby powder, finely grippy tannins, bright and elegant, with fine stones, potent purple plum, wild blueberries, wild twist of earthiness which is alluring. Tight wild blackberry lingers on the lifted finish. Smashable.Prices: ON 30.95 Producer: Pittnauer
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Ochota Barrels Texture Like Suntext
90PTS

Ochota Barrels Texture Like Sun 2018

Adelaide Hills, Mount Lofty Ranges, Adelaide, South Australia, AustraliaYes, i'm a messy colourblind, but this white on brilliant yellow label hurt my eyes with its illegibility. Thankfully for me, I'm not alone, and according to Taras Ochota, that's the point. This crazy red meets white is a blend of partially cofermented Adelaide Hills pinot noir, grenache, gamay, mourvedre, pinot meunier, gewurtztraminer, fragola, riesling and chardonnay, 50/50 destemmed / whole berry, all basket pressed to stainless for a short four month stint, and then bottled with minimal sulphur and no fining or filtration. Wild strawberry, herbal raspberry, sapid plum fills this cloudy, light crimson glass. Acidity is bouyant and tannins are slight, with a gorgeous white pepper infiltrating the light body. Charming; chill, chug, copiously. I only wish it were half the price on this market, so I could.Prices: BC 42.00 Producer: Ochota Barrels
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Suertes del Marqués La Solanatext
91PTS

Suertes del Marqués La Solana 2015

Tenerife, Canary Islands, SpainLa Solana is a single 1.5ha vineyard in northern Tenerife, between 350-450m and on clay atop volcanic soils. The family operation Suertes del Marqués farms 80-150 year old listán negro here, in the cordón trenzado training system, and with organic practices. This was native fermented in concrete (with ten percent stems) before aging 14 months in old 500L oak casks, and bottled without filtration and with minimal sulphur throughout. Said concrete grips the red currant, cherry, perfumed raspberry, sapid plum, balsamic kissed fruit, dotted with cracked peppercorns and fresh with acidity. Slight in frame, and lengthy in a smokey, peppery finish, this is my new favourite roasted chestnut wine.Prices: ON 29.95 Producer: Suertes del Marqués
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Herdade do Arrepiado Velho Tintotext
87PTS

Herdade do Arrepiado Velho Tinto 2016

Alentejo, Central and Southern Portugal, PortugalBig, overt, dusky black and blue fruits fill this soft, plushy palate of this touriga naçional. Sweet spices, cloves, fine peppery spice reflect the time spent in French oak. This is a simple, easy and accessible red for drinking now.Prices: ON 23.00 Producer: Herdade do Arrepiado Velho
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Arnot-Roberts Trousseau North Coasttext
91PTS

Arnot-Roberts Trousseau North Coast 2017

North Coast Region, California, United StatesWow. Pouring a light rhubarb hue, this perfumed trousseau was sourced from three sites across the North Coast and volcanic cobbles over river stones. Whole cluster and native fermented before 11 months in a combination of neutral French oak barrels, puncheons and foudre. Wild blueberries, fine leather, autumn berries, anise, plum with a light dusting of ash. Tannins are whisper fine and acidity is lofty, all of which welcome a chill and a chugging. Since founding their winery in 2001, childhood friends Duncan Arnot Meyers and Nathan Lee Roberts have been needle moving revolutionary producers in Cali.Prices: USA 35.00 Producer: Arnot-Roberts
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Luke Lambert Yarra Valley Nebbiolotext
92PTS

Luke Lambert Yarra Valley Nebbiolo 2016

Yarra Valley, Victoria, AustraliaPouring a delicious cloudy orange brick hue, this is one of the rare nebbiolos that excels as an expat from its native Piemonte. It comes from the rocky and granitic Denton vineyard in the hills of Yarra Valley, was destemmed and fermented wild on skins for 20 days and matured in large old oak before being bottled without fining or filtration. Worn cherry, leather, cured sweet salamis, hints of rose petals ride a slight, firm body that belies its 14 degrees. Tannins are fine, grippy, and appropriate for solo sipping or your best charcuterie platter. Darker than the '15, but just as fresh, this is a revelation.Prices: BC 70.00 Producer: Luke Lambert
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Finca Las Moras Reserva Tannattext
88PTS

Finca Las Moras Reserva Tannat 2016

San Juan, ArgentinaI continue to be impressed by this firm, stony, blackberry, inky, juicy red that overdelivers for its minimal price. It’s tannat but in a much softer, more approachable style than you normally encounter. The palate is long and rich with warm sticky tannins and a waft of pipe tobacco. All this requires is a hamburger, or a spaghetti Bolognese dish to tame its youth. Decant and air for 30 minutes for best results. Fine value if you like your reds rich and big and youthful.Prices: BC 13.99 Producer: Finca Las Moras
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25 January 2019

Masroig Sola Fred Montsanttext
89PTS

Masroig Sola Fred Montsant 2017

Montsant, Catalunya (Catalonia Cataluña), SpainThe Masroig or “red farm” co-op was established in Montsant, the Holy Mountain region surrounding Priorat, in 1918. This samso (carignan) grown over clay and black slate is a delight to drink. It has all the floral, dried herbs and berries you could want in a red wine with moderate tannins, previewing a medium long finish. This is a wine drinker’s wine that can pump up any weeknight dinner or step in and punch above its weight on the weekend. A workhorse red for barbecue meats.Prices: BC 19.99 Producer: Cellar Masroig
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Ochota Barrels The Green Room Grenache Syrahtext
91PTS

Ochota Barrels The Green Room Grenache Syrah 2018

McLaren Vale, South Australia, AustraliaSo lovely to see Ochota Barrels back on BC shelves after a four year vintage hiatus. We've been dying for more of Taras Ochota's wines since they charmed us all at Vancouver Wine Fest during Australia's magic theme year. Bet this is the first 2018 grenache / syrah you've had. The Green Room Grenache Syrah is one of the most popular out of all his experimental and avant guard naturalist wines. This year, it's a mix of fresh, finely structural, highly smashable 92/8 grenache/syrah from The Green Room vineyard, planted in 1946 on red loamy clay over ironstone. Most of the grenache is whole bunch pressed and native fermented, spending up to 88 days on skins. After the ferment ceased, it was basket pressed to neutral barrels for two months prior to bottling unfined and unfiltered with minimal sulphur. Tight and crunchy, with sapid thorn, raspberry, plum, white pepper on the lean, 11.4 degree body. The hue is diaphanous, as are the lightly sticky tannins, both naturally and authentically expressed. The finish lingers with five spice; with a slight chill, this is a charmer.Prices: BC 40.00 Producer: Ochota Barrels
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Masroig Sola Fred Montsanttext
88PTS

Masroig Sola Fred Montsant 2017

Montsant, Catalunya (Catalonia Cataluña), SpainCrushed stones, earth, black cherries, blueberries, downy violets, anise imbue this stylish Monstant, the insider's affordable pick that horseshoe-hugs pricey Priorat. This is entirely samso (carignan), and from vines 20-40 years old, fermented cool in stainless for a short stint, to preserve the primary fruit and clicking acidity. Tannins are lightly grippy / tuggy, cushioning the medium+ bodied fruit to a salted, warming finish. From one of Spain's top co-ops, this softly detailed wine is ready for drinking now.Prices: BC 19.99 Producer: Cellar Masroig
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22 January 2019

Stag's Hollow Albarino Shuttleworth Creek Vineyardtext
89PTS

Stag's Hollow Albarino Shuttleworth Creek Vineyard 2017

Okanagan Falls, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis albariño, rare enough in BC to begin with, is a beguiling mix of bacon fat, wood spice, gravelly stones, and tropical guava, nectarine and grapefruit. Certainly now, in youth, all these parts stick out elbows and knees, though will certainly round and settle with time in the bottle. The fruit comes from Okanagan Falls' Shuttleworth Creek Vineyard and its gravelly, glacial till and silt loams. After pressing, juice was cold settled for 72 hours before racking, warming, and inoculating. Half went into two brand new concrete tanks for fermentation, while the remainder fermented in second fill French oak. The two lots were reunited after six months on lees with period batonnage. After blend, the wine was filtered and bottled. Moderate acidity, elevated alcohol (13.8 degrees) and texture derived from oak and concrete make this a bold and interesting choice.Prices: BC 18.99 Producer: Stag's Hollow Winery and Vineyard
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Stag's Hollow Tragically Vidaltext
87PTS

Stag's Hollow Tragically Vidal 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThere is wide appeal here, beginning with an enticing mix of wildflower honey that supports the limey, tangerine, orange in this off-dry white. Cleverly, a small amount of botrytis affected vidal was picked separately, fermented on its skins, and the resulting orange wine was blended back into the mix for a little added complexity. The overall blend is 85.2 percent vidal, 11.8 percent orange muscat (aromatics), 2.6 percent viognier and .5 percent marsanne (weight) picked over the month of October from Okanagan Falls and Penticton. A classic summer sipper but it’s just as useful with spicy sushi rolls or a favourite spicy noodle dish.Prices: BC 16.99 Producer: Stag's Hollow Winery and Vineyard
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Stag's Hollow Syrah Amalia Vineyardtext
88PTS

Stag's Hollow Syrah Amalia Vineyard 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaJust a hint of reduction upon opening, partly tipping the hat to syrah, partly to screw cap, but one that dissipates quickly. The nose has that classic smoked charcuterie character with floral, savoury black fruit to back. Sourced from Amalia Vineyard, a sandy/loamy site on the west bench of Osoyoos, this was whole-berry fermented, using partial native yeasts, with 15 days of skin contact before pressing into French oak where it remained for 14 months on lees prior to bottling without fining or filtration. The attack is a light, juicy, smoky affair with plum and wild blackberry on the palate, lined with lightly sapid tannins and dotted with peppercorns. Tannins are moderate, as is the length. Grilled lamb chops would be a fine match for its moderate 13.5 percent alcohol.Prices: BC 25.99 Producer: Stag's Hollow Winery and Vineyard
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Stag's Hollow Pinot Noir Stag's Hollow Vineyardtext
89PTS

Stag's Hollow Pinot Noir Stag's Hollow Vineyard 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaConsider this, if you will, as the more masculine version compared to their Shuttleworth Creek Vineyard pinot. This estate grown fruit expresses the effect of a warmer, west-facing aspect. Sonoma-esque, with its richer fruit profile and darker fruit led by ripe black cherries, all still with fresh BC acidity. This was particularly impressive at the 2018 Lieutenant Governor's Wine Awards. The grapes were destemmed and nearly all whole berries were cold soaked for 48 hours. The brooding starts via punching down by hand three times daily, gradually tapering off as the tannins build. The free run and press juice (after 11 days of skin contact) is aged in 228 and 300-litre French oak barrels; only 13 percent are new. Round and ripe and silky, and if you're a fan of the bigger (14.2 degrees declared), darker style, this can be fun to drink. Superb value. Hard to believe longtime winemaker Dwight Sick has left – he has left big shoes to fill by Associate Winemaker Keira LeFranc.Prices: BC 21.99 AB 26.00 Producer: Stag's Hollow Winery and Vineyard
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Stag's Hollow Pinot Noir Shuttleworth Creek Vineyardtext
89PTS

Stag's Hollow Pinot Noir Shuttleworth Creek Vineyard 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaA mix of six Dijon clones from Shuttleworth Creek Vineyard is the backdrop for this showy New World pinot that overshadows the 2015. Again, the style is juicy, the fruit ripe with rich, candied black cherry and black tea notes atop a leafy undercurrent, and a dusting of spice, smoke and tannin. It seems warmer than 13.5, but if you like your pinot with some punch, this one is for you. Not super complex, but hedonistic. Best with duck confit or even Beijing duck. Drink or hold through 2020.Prices: BC 21.99 AB 26.00 Producer: Stag's Hollow Winery and Vineyard
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Stag's Hollow Tempranillotext
85PTS

Stag's Hollow Tempranillo 2015

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThree vineyards are involved here: the leathery earthy fruit of the estate vineyard; the brighter fresher style of Shuttleworth Creek; and the savoury dark fruit from Ramuda that gets an extra year of careful bottle ageing in the cellar at the winery. To me, the 11/4 addition of cabernet sauvignon and petit verdot crushes the tempranillo fruit, leaving it more of a simple, red blend with a bit too much oak. It’s bottled unfined and unfiltered but it’s a bit soulless. Red to drink and I suggest smoked, barbeque grilled meats or vegetables.Prices: BC 25.99 Producer: Stag's Hollow Winery and Vineyard
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Stag's Hollow Albarino Shuttleworth Creek Vineyardtext
91PTS

Stag's Hollow Albarino Shuttleworth Creek Vineyard 2017

Okanagan Falls, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe 2017 Albarino is a gem, taking home a platinum medal at the National Wine Awards of Canada. The 2017 is showing a touch more weight than the 2016, and will appeal to as many folks as it might annoy if you like the leaner style, but it's not important as this is a delicious bottle of wine. This year there is a real purity of fruit, with more peach and citrus with nectarine skin undertones. There is some partial barrel ferment here in second fill French puncheons, some in stainless steel, before all the wine goes to concrete for six weeks of battonage to increase texture and weight. I love this with a Margherita pizza, but shellfish is an equally compelling match. Real wine.Prices: BC 18.99 Producer: Stag's Hollow Winery and Vineyard
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21 January 2019

Selbach-Oster Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Riesling Spatlesetext
93PTS

Selbach-Oster Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Riesling Spatlese 2016

Mosel, GermanyI’ve always thought that Spatlese weighs in at the most captivating levels of sugar and acidity and this lively, full-flavoured wine is a prime example. It’s the delicacy and the richness that can takes your breath away. The nose is a mix of bright orange/apricot and honey. The same notes spill across the palate with sweet limes, peaches and lemon custard. Long, persistent, mineral, saline and refreshing you can drink or hold this through 2050 and beyond. Super quality and value.Prices: BC 39.95 375 Producer: Weingut Selbach-Oster
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Selbach-Oster Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslesetext
94PTS

Selbach-Oster Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese 2016

Mosel, GermanyZeltinger Sonnenhur is a top grand cru site. Old vines are at the heart of this wine whose grapes are block and then bunch selected. The nose is full-blown even at this young age and laced with red apples, guava, orange, lime and hints of botrytis. The palate is an enticing mix of pears and limes rich in acidity followed by honey, mango, orange flavours. Concentrated with finesse, acidity and supreme balance. You can drink this right now, but we know that 20-30-40 years down the road this will be a whole other animal. Real wine. Super value.Prices: BC 28.99 375 Producer: Weingut Selbach-Oster
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Selbach-Oster Riesling Zeltinger Himmelreich Riesling Kabinett Halbtrockentext
92PTS

Selbach-Oster Riesling Zeltinger Himmelreich Riesling Kabinett Halbtrocken 2015

Mosel, GermanyNot a lot of change here in bottle after more than a year, suggesting it is rock solid. The Zeltinger Himmelreich Kabinett Halbtrocken comes with a fresh, yeasty, wild nose with dried herbs and spice. The attack is an intense stream of juicy citrus and spicy orchard fruit that is simply mouth watering. Selbach says “it's heavenly good, or if you drink enough of it you might get to heaven.” Cool, delicate, persistent and with a stony lick of mint and minerality, reflecting the steep slate slopes of Himmelreich. Ready to drink but will hold effortlessly for a decade. A real winner.Prices: BC 29.99 Producer: Weingut Selbach-Oster
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Selbach-Oster Pinot Blanctext
90PTS

Selbach-Oster Pinot Blanc 2017

Mosel, GermanyThis is a very pretty pinot blanc grown on slate. The fruit as originally destined to be part of the Sekt program at Selbach but has made its own way in the bottle. Floral, steely, green apple skin and intense quince nose. Round, fresh, bright with lovely delicacy and minerality throughout its juicy palate. It’s made in 2000 litre ovals and 1000 litre foudres to preserve its electric Mosel fruit. Food friendly and your choices are almost endless. Think halibut or pork and black bean sauce.Prices: BC 31.99 Producer: Weingut Selbach-Oster
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Selbach-Oster Riesling Bruttext
89PTS

Selbach-Oster Riesling Brut 2014

Mosel, GermanyJohannes Selbach loves Champagne, so it is no surprise he has tried to emulate the precision and complexity of méthode champenoise in his riesling sekt brut. This sat on tirage between 18-24 months. It’s beginning to show some age in a good way, with some of the brightest notes yielding to older, more complex esters, still floral but less exuberant. Nectarines and apricots with lime leaf mark the palate of a fizz you might say is moving into the aged gout Anglais style. This was a perfect start for Dim Sum lunch. Time to drink up.Prices: BC 35.99 Producer: Weingut Selbach-Oster
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Selbach Riesling (Fish Label)text
89PTS

Selbach Riesling (Fish Label) 2016

Mosel, GermanyWhat does one say about the 2016 vintage in Germany? Balance, balance, balance, perhaps best expressed by well-known US commentator and importer Thierry Theise who says the vintage is “neither a fruit driven, nor floral driven, nor mineral driven, nor acid driven vintage – it is all of these." In the case of this friendly Selbach Mosel blend, there is touch less electricity or bright acidity in 2016, but there is more weight and flavour. It’s still juicy and packed with ripe nectarines and lemons, making it eminently enjoyable now. Incredible value and you can pair it with anything.Prices: BC 16.99 Producer: J & H Selbach
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20 January 2019

Rinaldini r'Osé Lambrusco Rosatotext
88PTS

Rinaldini r'Osé Lambrusco Rosato NV

Emilia-Romagna, ItalyThe Rinaldini farm was established in the late 1960s as a popular restaurant, located at the foot of the Matilda hills, halfway between Emilia-Romagna and Parma. The family made the decision to save their ancient vines, otherwise facing extinction, by creating traditional method sparkling wines. Today Paola Rinaldini helms her family’s winery, continuing the winery's strong name for quality, characterful Lambrusco, using ancient grapes and methods. The r'Osé is made from 80 percent lambrusco marani and 20 percent lambrusco salamino, from Calerno di Sant'Ilario d'Enza. This undergoes secondary fermentation in tank (cuve close) for a fresh and fragrant drink-now, ripe pink of strawberry, red apple, cherry, and pomegranate, cleansed with a cranberry acidity and bedded by a creamy palate.Prices: BC 25.00 Producer: Rinaldini
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The Eyrie Vineyards Rosé of Pinot Noirtext
89PTS

The Eyrie Vineyards Rosé of Pinot Noir 2017

Willamette Valley, Oregon, United StatesMakes sense that Jason Lett, son of Papa Pinot, would make a pinot noir rosé distinctly classic modern Oregon. By that, I mean this dry, medium bodied, peach-hued rosé feels current, while steeped in tradition. Organically dry farmed pinot noir from Dundee and Eola-Amity were purpose picked and fermented in a variety of stainless and neutral oak vessels (2/3, 1/3) and then blended into six months' rest in the latter. Wild strawberries, perfumed raspberries, morello cherry and sweet cranberry sauce kisses fill the medium palate, one with no RS, but a natural sense of pretty fruit sweetness on the round, creamy palate. Provence elegance meets Willamette generosity, resulting in a drink now with all folks kind of wine. Plus, Jason painted the artwork gracing the label himself.Prices: USA 25.00 Producer: Eyrie Vineyards, The
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Culmina Family Estate Anniversary Series Bobbie Burgers Rosé Winetext
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Culmina Family Estate Anniversary Series Bobbie Burgers Rosé Wine 2017

Golden Mile Bench, Oliver, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaBobbie Burgers Rosé is the result of a collaboration between Culmina's Triggs family, and British Columbian artist Bobbie Burgers. The Masters Gallery in Calgary describes Burger as being known for her luscious bouquets, blow up botanicals and pastoral landscapes which focus on sumptuous colour and wild movement. To be honest, this all cabernet franc rosé has little of Burgers' in it. A fading orange colour previews a fresh, inviting tart pink with gentle savoury red fruit tones. It was aged in oak but you would never know it, and frankly it’s not very franc but fear not. This is the real thing and should be drunk soonest. There was so little I’m guessing it was quickly dispersed to club members but you may find it in the odd restaurant, and if you do, grab it.Prices: BC 35.00 Producer: Culmina Family Estate Winery
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Mateus Rosétext
87PTS

Mateus Rosé NV

Douro - Bairrada, PortugalMateus Original is a light, fresh, barely frizzante rosé with a pale raspberry colour and a fresh, breezy uncomplicated fruity nose. It’s a blend of baga, rufete, tinta barroca and touriga franca, that makes for a glass of fun. This is ready to go for patio season and now, drum roll please, it's under screw cap. Hurrah! Serve with bright sunshine and most any foods.Prices: BC 9.99 SK 11.73 MB 9.99 ON 10.45 QC 9.50 NB 9.45 NS 10.45 PE 10.50 NF 9.54 NL 13.60 BC 15.99 1500 Producer: Sogrape Vinhos de Portugal, SA
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Domaine de Pellehaut Harmonie de Gascogne Rosétext
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Domaine de Pellehaut Harmonie de Gascogne Rosé 2017

Cotes de Gascogne, Sud-Ouest, FranceDomaine de Pellehaut, one of the oldest estates in the Gers, has been owned and managed by successive generations of the Béraut family for over 300 years, today overseen by brothers Mathieu and Martin Béraut. This pale saignée rosé is ever so slightly inching paler along the colour spectrum, with 2017 at a lighter pleasant spring salmon hue. Faint cherry, strawberry, light red apple blossoms all wrap around a slightly off-dry, pretty fruit core. This is a blend of merlot, syrah, malbec, pinot noir, cabernet sauvignon, and tannat.Prices: BC 14.50 Producer: Domaine de Pellehaut
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Culmina Family Estate Saignée Rosétext
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Culmina Family Estate Saignée Rosé 2017

Golden Mile Bench, Oliver, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis stylish rosé blends juice from the winery's best Bordeaux blocks, marrying 56 percent merlot, 19 cabernet sauvignon, 14 percent malbec, and 11 percent cabernet franc 2017, all from Arise Bench. After two-six hours skin contact, Saignée was fermented and matured in stainless steel tanks and casks. Lovely silken roses, strawberries, on a glycerol slicked palate, one with a pretty lift of perfumed fruit but still weighted down by alcohol and sugar. Luxury Provençal in styling.Prices: BC 24.00 Producer: Culmina Family Estate Winery
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19 January 2019

Rutherford Ranch Sauvignon Blanctext
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Rutherford Ranch Sauvignon Blanc 2017

Napa Valley, California, United StatesThis is an intriguing mix of sweet grapefruit and bitter guava along with refreshing acidity aided by a modest level of alcohol at 12.5 percent. The ferment is cold and done in stainless steel which holds onto all the bright, citrus characters that arrive at the winery. Modern California SB that gets it done on a warm day.Prices: ON 25.95 Producer: Rutherford Wine Company
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Bench 1775 Estate Sauvignon Blanctext
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Bench 1775 Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2017

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaRipe, round and warm with pear butter, honey, white peach, apricot fuzz and tropical guava notes. This is a plump blend of five picks from the Naramata home estate vineyard, two of which were partially aged in barrel. There's a giant limey zestiness that buzzes through this expansive wine, one thankfully slender at 13.3 degrees. Not the normal BC savvy.Prices: BC 25.90 Producer: Bench 1775 Winery
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Benjamin Bridge Sauvignon Blanc Hand Craftedtext
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Benjamin Bridge Sauvignon Blanc Hand Crafted 2016

Gaspereau Valley, Nova Scotia, CanadaSurprised to see sauvy from Nova Scotia? This is a small lot rarity of Gaspereau Valley sauvignon blanc, and though light in alcohol (12.5 degrees), it is quite concentrated on the compact palate, with pink grapefruit, tangerine, guava on a tight frame, one with a layer of lees action to buffer the vibrant acidity. This reminds me of coastal Chilean, but remains distinctly marine Atlantic. Who knew?Prices: CDN 47.95 Producer: Benjamin Bridge
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Robert Mondavi Fumé Blanctext
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Robert Mondavi Fumé Blanc 2017

Napa Valley, California, United StatesThe Mondavis knew the style of its sauvignon blanc would be richer given the soil and the heat, but the goal was always to make sure it had the brightness of the Loire. The Fume Blanc is a mix of Wappo Hill Vineyard (Stag’s Leap District) fruit for brightness, herbal notes and lift and To Kalon Vineyard (Oakville) that brings a richness, weight, complexity to the wine. On the palate it is all you want from floral and mineral to tropical and zesty with peachy, citrus, juiciness that make it very food friendly. Ninety percent of the juice was barrel fermented, and the rest saw stainless steel before it was all aged six months on lees in 60-gallon French oak barrels, stirred twice a month to build up creamy textures. The addition of 15 percent semillon to broaden the mouthfeel.Prices: BC 23.99 ON 22.95 QC 22.95 NS 22.99 Producer: Robert Mondavi Winery
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Haywire Free Form Natural and Unfiltered Whitetext
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Haywire Free Form Natural and Unfiltered White 2016

Summerland, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaIt was fun to retaste this wine after Decanter Magazine placed it tenth on its list of the Most Exciting Wines of 2018. This is an orange wine with all the savoury, nutty, oiliness that goes with extended skin contact wines. It’s fermented using native yeast in stainless steel, where it remained on the skins for nine months before being pressed and left to rest for two months prior to bottling. The nose and palate is now full-blown medicinal orange, with hoppy tangerines skin notes throughout its cloudy, textured juice. Fully mature now and just putting on weight. Needs drinking before the bitter notes outlast the fruit. Definitely for skin contact geeks.Prices: BC 34.90 Producer: Okanagan Crush Pad Winery
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Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanctext
90PTS

Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2018

Marlborough, South Island, New ZealandVintage 34 is thought to be one of the best by winemaker Daniel Sorrell, albeit with the help of wind-generated helicopters that help to keep the vines healthy. It’s definitely more refined than many, showing less aggressive aromas and flavours on the nose and palate. December was warm and dry while the last half of the growing season was cooler, affording longer hang times and more even ripening. The harvest began March 21 and finished on April 5 when the free-run juice was cold-settled for 48-72 hours before racking. Most of the juice is fermented in stainless steel with some 7 percent fermented at warmer temperatures in old French oak barriques and large format vats. The blend mixed the best with best. The palate is a riot of lime, passion fruit and grapefruit flecked with guava, gooseberry and stony mineral notes that finish amidst delicate creamy textures. I love this wine with mussels in curry sauce.Prices: BC 34.99 AB 33.00 MB 35.51 ON 35.99 QC 34.75 NS 35.00 38 SK 38.99 Producer: Cloudy Bay Vineyards Limited
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18 January 2019

Sunrock Vineyards Illuminatext
86PTS

Sunrock Vineyards Illumina 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThere’s nothing shy about this wine, even in 2016 and its blend of two thirds zinfandel and one third shiraz. The fruit is super ripe with blackberry and blueberry flavours and a whack of vanilla and sweet cream. The sweetness is a real challenge for the discerning palate, but maybe with highly spiced dishes this hedonistic red can be reigned in. Try it with baby back ribs slathered in spicy barbecue sauce.Prices: BC 39.99 Producer: Sunrock Vineyards
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Ravenswood Old Vine Zinfandel Loditext
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Ravenswood Old Vine Zinfandel Lodi 2016

Lodi, Central Valley, California, United StatesThe Lodi Old Vine Zin is a mix of 82 percent zinfandel, 17 percent petite sirah and 1 percent alicante bouschet. This wine is best drunk young when the fruit is explosive and exuberant with rich jammy black fruit aromas and flavours. The real attraction of old-vine zinfandel is its soft, round textures, low tannins, and built in balance. Not too dry, not too sweet, not too spicy, and just right. Perfect with pizza, turkey, beef kabobs or even spaghetti and meatballs.Prices: BC 20.79 AB 22.47 SK 20.98 MB 20.80 NB 17.14 NF 19.03 ON 21.95 Producer: Ravenswood Winery
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Ravenswood Single Vineyard Teldeschi Zinfandeltext
93PTS

Ravenswood Single Vineyard Teldeschi Zinfandel 2014

Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County, California, United StatesThis wine always saves the zinfandel tasting, restoring respectability and class to this amazing grape with its old vines, dry-farming and site in the venerable Dry Creek Valley. Classic zin, recognizable for its tell-tale blue fruits and warm spices. The Teldeschi Vineyard, planted between 1913 and 1919, brings a century of life to this wine and takes no prisoners. The blend is 80 percent zinfandel with a 12/8 split of carignan and petite sirah. The nose is fragrant and fresh, spiked with black and blue fruit aromas tempered by floral, peppery notes. The balance is obvious from the start, offering an elegant, graceful slick of black raspberry, white pepper spicing and a long, warm (but not hot) savoury finish. You can drink this now, but patience will yield a superb bottle of zin in 2024 and beyond. This is real wine.Prices: AB 52.49 Producer: Ravenswood Winery
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OVR Old Vine Red Lot Number 66text
89PTS

OVR Old Vine Red Lot Number 66 NV

North Coast, North Coast Region, California, United StatesLot 66 is a multi-vintage blend, in this case likely 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016 of mostly zinfandel with small amounts of syrah, petite sirah and carignane and even smaller amount of old Italian reds. 60 percent is barrel aged, and 40 percent goes into stainless steel to create a harmonious, soft rounded red with gentle tannins. The fruit is intensely black cherry with a spicy undercurrent, and thankfully dry. A mix of old vines and grapes and vintages grown in an old-fashioned field blend. Best with grilled meats.Prices: BC 34.99 AB 32.00 ON 31.00 Producer: Marietta Cellars
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Rabble Zinfandeltext
87PTS

Rabble Zinfandel 2016

Paso Robles, San Luis Obispo County, Central Coast, California, United StatesThe Rabble 2016 zin is grown at Mossfire Ranch in Paso Robles. The resulting juicy, medium-weight, fruity but not too sweet red is aged in a mix of French and American oak. The attractive, spicy, raspberry flavours spill across the palate with a light tug of tannins. Simple grilled meats, pork or even root vegetables would be the winter match.Prices: AB 23.95 Producer: Rabble Wine Company
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Artezin Old Vine Zinfandeltext
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Artezin Old Vine Zinfandel 2016

Mendocino County, California, United StatesArtezin Zinfandel is the comfortable pair of shoes, that spot on the sofa, your comfort food wine. It’s a soft, easy-sipping, fruity style, long on enjoyment, if short on complexity. The fruit is all Mendocino family-owned vineyards, sustainably farmed, along the ridgelines and benchland of the Ukiah Valley. A peppery, juicy, bright cherry, pomegranate, boysenberry, savoury and spicy nose leads to a fresh and surprisingly delicate palate, with raspberry, smoke, liquorice, brown spices and finishing with fine grained tannin to add some depth and weight. The blend is 84 percent zinfandel, 14 petite sirah, 2 carignan that is barrel aged in mostly French oak. Barbecue ribs is the classic match.Prices: BC 24.99 Producer: Artezin Wines
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The Prisoner Red Winetext
87PTS

The Prisoner Red Wine 2016

Napa Valley, California, United StatesThe Prisoner is said to be the most recognised Napa Valley red blend. I are guessing it's because at $50, it's hundreds of dollars cheaper than most other big Napa red blends. The Prisoner is said to be inspired by the old mixed black field blends first made by Italian immigrants arriving in Napa in the late 1800s. It is a zinfandel mixed with cabernet sauvignon, petite sirah, syrah, and charbono that presents large, dark and red. Cherries and chocolates with vanilla and figs mark the nose while the palate is similar with intense blackberry pie and ripe raspberry jam stretched into a long, smooth, glossy vanilla, caramel, boysenberry finish. This is the full-meal deal red with an amazingly sweet finish. Best with spicy food.Prices: BC 59.99 NF 29.72 AB 31.00 ON 54.95 Producer: The Prisoner Wine Company
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Ravenswood Sonoma County Old Vine Zinfandeltext
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Ravenswood Sonoma County Old Vine Zinfandel 2016

Sonoma Valley, Sonoma County, California, United StatesThis wine tends to be consistent every year, with a super juicy, black liquorice, blackberry jam nose tempered with a garrigue, cedar, pepper, dried cherry undercurrent. The attack is dry with a mild astringency which freshens the palate. Ideal with your cheeseburger or a meat-laden pizza.Prices: BC 22.99 ON 21.95 Producer: Ravenswood Winery
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Ravenswood Old Vine Zinfandel Loditext
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Ravenswood Old Vine Zinfandel Lodi 2015

Lodi, Central Valley, California, United StatesThe Lodi Old Vine is all about jammy aromas and fruit which is crossed with cream soda and sarsaparilla. The palate is similar with earthy, spicy, chocolate blackberry pie flavours that finish with an ever-so-slight tug of tannin. An easy-sipping zin, perfect with meaty pizza or chicken wings. The fruit is all Lodi with a good dollop of petite sirah to bolster the back end.Prices: BC 20.79 AB 22.47 SK 20.98 MB 20.80 NB 17.14 NF 19.03 ON 21.95 Producer: Ravenswood Winery
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Mettler Family Vineyards Old Vine Zinfandeltext
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Mettler Family Vineyards Old Vine Zinfandel 2014

Lodi, Central Valley, California, United StatesThe Mettler family have been growing wine grapes in Lodi for six generation farming over 800 acres – 300 owned by the family and 75 acres certified organic by CCOF (California Certified Organic Farmers). The warm red round spicy zin is an 85/10/3/2/ mix of zinfandel, petite sirah, Cabernet Franc and cabernet sauvignon come off rich, sandy loam soils. The blend uses ‘old vine’ fruit that averages 50-years-old. At 15.5 percent alcohol, the entry is warm and spicy with rich, raisiny, pruny black fruits. On the palate intense black plum, brambleberries, resin and tobacco with a dusting of brown spice and a lifesaving touch of acidity in the finish. Think rustic dinners like stews, casseroles, burgers, beef kabobs and or spaghetti and meatballs.Prices: BC 38.00 Producer: Mettler Family Vineyards
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American Vintage Redtext
89PTS

American Vintage Red 2015

California, United StatesAmerican Vintage Red is 65 percent zinfandel with petite sirah and a few undisclosed blenders from assorted vineyards in Alexander Valley, Dry Creek, Russian River Valley and Livermore. The nose is earthy barnyard with dark cherry/raspberry and brown spices. The attack is similar with more black and blue fruit pie flavours and deft sweet long tannins under a warm spicy finish. Ready to drink and recommended for grilled lamb, back ribs or mushroom pasta.Prices: BC 65.99 Producer: Secret Indulgence
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17 January 2019

Mac Forbes Pinot Noirtext
90PTS

Mac Forbes Pinot Noir 2011

Yarra Valley, Victoria, AustraliaA few six-packs of the 2011 Pinot Noir made its way to our province, giving some lucky folks the chance to taste cool climate pinot with a few years under its belt. In cool 2011, this was sourced from Yarra Valley's Coldstream, Gruyere and Woori Yallock vineyards, early edge picked, foot trodden, and rested ten months in barrel. This shows its age and hands-off approach in the cloudy, pale bricking orange hue. Tannins are worn silken, gently housing leather, dried raspberry, pipe tobacco, youthful cherry, all swelled by juicy acidity and flowing to a lengthy finish. This is a fantastic accomplishment from a poor vintage, lean, subtle, and finessed, and drinking very well now.Prices: BC 37.00 Producer: Mac Forbes
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Nestarec Forks and Knives Redtext
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Nestarec Forks and Knives Red 2016

Moravia, Czech RepublicThis natural, organic müller thurgau is from Czech Republic's Moravia region, and young Milan Nestarec. Nestarec studied under Aleš Kristančič of Movia, and is one of the bright lights of the Autentisté collective of Czech winemakers, focusing on holistic farming and non-intervention, sulphur-free winemaking. This pinot noir is from 15 year old vines, grown at 220 m altitude on loess soils. After native fermentation in 2500 L stainless steel tanks, this remains in contact with the skins for three days with occasional pigeage. Half of the wine stays in tank and the other half goes into older 225 L oak for 13 months before being bottled unfiltered, unfined, and with no sulphur. Best chilled, to reveal light plum, black currant, wild blueberries, on a tightly chisled palate, all heavily clad in a dusky, peppery, earthy, (dare I say natural) haze. Acidity is pointed, tannins are slight, VA is firmly present, alcohol is low (12 degrees) and interesting geeky factor is high.Prices: AB 25.00 Producer: Milan Nestarec
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Chalk Hill Pinot Noirtext
87PTS

Chalk Hill Pinot Noir 2014

Sonoma Coast, Sonoma County, California, United StatesEasy, soft and fruity pinot noir from Sonoma Coast, with ripe raspberries, cherries and potent strawberry jam. Sweet baking spices, mocha fill the plush palate, framed by velvet tannins to a slightly stubbed finish. The finish is quite warming; best matched with rare burgers or steak salad.Prices: BC 40.00 Producer: Chalk Hill Estate Vineyards and Winery
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Evolution Pinot Noirtext
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Evolution Pinot Noir 2017

Willamette Valley, Oregon, United StatesAfter a late, cool start it got hot in Oregon in 2017. How hot? Well so hot that the Sokol Blosser folks said the “underground barrel cellar reached temps that we have never seen before (in the 70s F) and the expanding wine pushed some bungs out.” By September 17th the heat had passed and the pinot noir was picked began and ran six weeks. Evolution is the easy drinking SB pinot, concentrating on pure fruit flavours. Evolution is fermented and aged in stainless steel but filled out with a small amount of oak staves submerged in the stainless steel tanks for 2-3 months during aging. Ripe red fruit and brisk acidity, spice and tea shape this eminently drinkable, clean, fresh pinot. The winery suggests wood-fired pizza or a roasted turkey. I couldn’t agree more.Prices: BC 28.51 AB 27.75 MB 27.99 Producer: Sokol Blosser Winery
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Meiomi Pinot Noirtext
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Meiomi Pinot Noir 2017

Monterey - Santa Barbara - Sonoma, California, United StatesThere is no denying this wine is sweet by California pinot standards but in 2017 there is semblance of balance in richness and added acidity here. The nose is open with notes of raspberry compote, liquorice, vanilla and toasted oak. The palate is soft with intense boysenberry fruit, mocha, cream and more vanilla. Ready to drink. The fruit mix is 60 percent Monterey, 23 percent Santa Barbara and 17 percent Sonoma. Now under the watchful eye of talented winemaker Melissa Stackhouse.Prices: BC 28.99 ON 25.00 QC 31.00 AB 33.00 Producer: Meiomi Wines
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La Crema Pinot Noir Willamettetext
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La Crema Pinot Noir Willamette 2015

Willamette Valley, Oregon, United StatesJackson Family Wines has settled into Oregon wine country and with fears of the big guy stirring up local traditions calmed, La Crema is making its mark with pinot noir. At 14.5 percent, it’s hardly a shy Oregon pinot, but its earthy underpinnings keep it on beam. Look for soft, enticing spicy, earthy, black fruit aromas with juicy, boysenberry, black cherry and clove before silky tannins wrap up a stylish finish. Food friendly from pizza to Beijing duck. Winemaking methods include small-batch, hand-picked, hand-sorted, cold-soaking for three days at 48 degrees and fermentation in open-top tanks with punch downs 2-3 times per day. Free run juice goes to tank for a night of settling before racking to new, 30 percent, and used French oak barrels. The fruit comes off two estate vineyards: Zena Crown and Gran Moraine.Prices: BC 40.00 AB 40.00 ON 44.95 Producer: La Crema
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Garagiste Le Stagiairetext
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Garagiste Le Stagiaire 2017

Mornington Peninsula, Victoria, AustraliaPeppery raspberry, stewed rhubarb, strawberry leather and an ample splash of Dr. Pepper rule the palate of this Mornington pinot noir. The fruit comes from Balnarring, Tuerong, Merricks and Red Hill, was whole bunch fermented with native yeast, and spent 25 days on skins before ten months in hogsheads (10 percent new). Tannins are nubby / negligible, and sweet strawberry jam and orange rind ride the bittersharp finish out.Prices: BC 43.00 Producer: Garagiste Vintners
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Garagiste Balnarring Pinot Noirtext
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Garagiste Balnarring Pinot Noir 2016

Mornington Peninsula, Victoria, AustraliaBarnaby Flanders created the Garagiste label to focus on a snug range of small-batch wines from fruit sourced across cool climate Mornington Peninsula. Balnarring comes from the 20 year old Silverwood Vineyard's north facing parcel, bedded into grey sandy loams. Dense and dark, with chewy prune, brown spices and grippy, tuggy tannins, this is one of the more muscular, sinewy pinot noirs you may come across. Though it has a natural loft of freshness, this broods along the palate, the breadth leaving a trail of bittersweet cocoa in its wake. In other words, this is not the pinot noir you may be expecting from Mornington Peninsula, but certainly an interesting red well suited to lamb on the barbie.Prices: Producer: Garagiste Vintners
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Santa Carolina Reserva Pinot Noir Leyda Estatetext
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Santa Carolina Reserva Pinot Noir Leyda Estate 2017

Valle de Leyda, Valle de San Antonio, Region de Aconcagua, ChileOh my, here we go again. Spice, ripe fruit and soft textures that deliver well beyond this pinot’s price point. The fruit comes off the cool hillsides of the Coastal Mountain Range and one quarter is fermented in open vats. Floral, dill, cedar, raspberry previews red cherries, rhubarb and pepper. Good freshness in a round, mouth filling, affordable, party pinot. Back up the truck.Prices: BC 13.99 SK 15.60 MB 12.99 NL 15.90 Producer: Vina Santa Carolina
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Omen Pinot Noirtext
87PTS

Omen Pinot Noir 2016

Oregon, United StatesOmen seems an appropriate name for this monster pinot, big on colour, fruit, oak and spice. The fruit comes out of the Rogue Valley, giving the wine a rich, round mouthfeel that carries through the finish. It's not quite over the top but it's not exactly pinot-like. The Applegate Valley (within the Rogue Valley) is characterized by many micro-climates and high soil diversity. Long, warm days accompanied by very cool nights and a very low risk of precipitation leads to big pinots.Prices: BC 39.99 AB 27.99 Producer: Atlas Wine Company
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Wente Riva Ranch Single Vineyard Pinot Noirtext
90PTS

Wente Riva Ranch Single Vineyard Pinot Noir 2014

Arroyo Seco, Monterey County, Central Coast, California, United StatesWow how delicious is this? The Wente Riva Ranch is sourced exclusively from the family’s vineyard in Arroyo Seco, Monterey. Arroyo Seco’s long, cool growing season is ideal for pinot noir as are the gravelly-loam soils rich in shale and limestone deposits. Add to that old vines and eight different clones (Pommard, Martini, 114, 115, 667, 777, 828, and 77) and you have a winning combo. Dominated by the Pommard and Martini clones this wine, with its dry, dark fruit, jumps from the glass. The fruit is spicy black cherry with a black tea undertone flecked with brown spices. Lively and silky, this has wide appeal. It was simply aged for 16 months in 50 percent new French oak and 50 percent neutral oak barrels. Serve with a fire-grilled pork or a favourite duck dish.Prices: BC 31.99 Producer: Wente Vineyards
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CrossBarn by Paul Hobbs Pinot Noirtext
91PTS

CrossBarn by Paul Hobbs Pinot Noir 2015

Sonoma Coast, Sonoma County, California, United StatesThe 2015 is as intense as ever, rich and spicy, but not so boisterous. The texture and tannins are showing some finesse and elegance. It’s hardly red Burgundy, but for those who love the big black raspberry flavours of Sonoma Coast pinot, albeit with a whiff of celery salt and stony coolness, this is it. Less is more when it comes to pinot and this label appears to be at least a bit less, and it is all the better for it. Duck, turkey, salmon or cheese all works here thanks to the purity and persistence of the pinot fruit. Well done.Prices: BC 48.99 QC 42.00 AB 50.00 ON 40.00 US 37.00 Producer: Paul Hobbs Winery
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Cherry Pie Pinot Noirtext
88PTS

Cherry Pie Pinot Noir 2015

Monterey - Santa Barbara - Sonoma, California, United StatesNormally when I see a name like Cherry Pie I run for the hills but this wine, a 72/20/8 mix of grapes from Monterey/Sonoma County/Santa Barbara overcomes its moniker with ease. The nose is a mix of earthy forest floor and spice with medium weight. Look for a mix of cinnamon and black cherries with a touch of vanilla, smoke, carrot top, tea and liquorice. Ripe, spicy and warm, it’s a hedonistic look at pinot. Drink now with pork, turkey, duck or mushrooms.Prices: BC 30.99 Producer: Hundred Acre
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16 January 2019

Morgan Bay Cellars Chardonnaytext
87PTS

Morgan Bay Cellars Chardonnay 2017

California, United StatesYellow gold in colour, this is the full meal deal chardonnay. Unabashedly California from its intense Meyer lemon nose, to its citrus drizzled ripe pear and red apple palate, laced with vanilla and a silky caramel under undercurrent. Never cloying, it finishes warm and spicy. Try pairing this with rich, creamy dishes from lobster to salmon. Good value.Prices: BC 14.49 AB 14.49 Producer: Rutherford Wine Company
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Rutherford Ranch Chardonnaytext
89PTS

Rutherford Ranch Chardonnay 2016

Napa Valley, California, United StatesMany would suggest the 2016 Napa Valley harvest was stellar, especially for grapes picked before the heavy October rains, like chardonnay. The chardonnay is fermented in a combination of stainless steel tanks and French oak, the former retaining freshness and the latter giving rich, creamy textures and complexity to the mid palate, creating an elegant, balanced Chardonnay. Look for those warm apple pie highlights with spice, caramel and toasted oak. It’s never too heavy, as evidenced by the pear, mineral, citrus, resin flavours. Try this with a lemon stuffed roasted chicken.Prices: BC 28.99 ON 25.95 Producer: Rutherford Wine Company
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Cline Chardonnaytext
86PTS

Cline Chardonnay 2016

Sonoma Coast, Sonoma County, California, United StatesBig, thick, wooded chardonnay, afforded some freshness by its prime Petaluma Gap provenance. Vanilla, pineapple yogurt, ample spice, toast, apple pie fills the generous palate, blousy at 14 degrees. Hard to drink a lot of this unless you had something equally rich/sweet to partner, like butter poached scallops.Prices: BC 22.00 Producer: Cline Family Cellars
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Tom Gore Chardonnaytext
88PTS

Tom Gore Chardonnay 2016

California, United StatesThis is a big improvement over the 2014. Leaner, fresher and better balanced this hits the palate with medium weight and intriguing leesy orchard fruit nuances. The nose is infused with pear and apple with flecks of brown spice. The lees add texture and complexity (60/40 ferment in barrel/stainless steel) to the wine, with fruit coming from selected Central Coast and North Coast vineyards where cool nights play an important role in acidity management. I love the orchard flavours: apples, pears and lemons mixed with tropical pineapple and guava. Ready to drink and well balanced at 13.65 percent alcohol.Prices: BC 19.99 MB 19.95 ON 19.90 Producer: Tom Gore Winery
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Chateau Montelena Chardonnaytext
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Chateau Montelena Chardonnay 2015

Napa Valley, California, United StatesLemon curd, French cream flows across this streamlined and tidy, elegant Napa chardonnay. Ten months in French oak provides a gentle structure to the apple, pear, fine grained nutmeg spicing. Elegant and seamless, this is a Cali classic, well made and dependable, and ready to drink now.Prices: ON 84.95 Producer: Chateau Montelena
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La Crema  Monterey Chardonnaytext
90PTS

La Crema Monterey Chardonnay 2016

Monterey County, Central Coast, California, United StatesMonterey's mid-California coastal position is true cool-climate, led by chilly mid day breezes you could set your watch to. The nose is bright with floral, citrus, green apple, fresh melon and butter with a touch of spice. This has the finesse that attracts true chardonnay lovers thanks to only 17 percent new French oak combined with partial malolactic fermentation to add some creamy textures. Crab cakes anyone?Prices: BC 34.00 AB 36.00 ON 24.00 Producer: La Crema
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Rabble Chardonnaytext
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Rabble Chardonnay 2016

Central Coast, California, United StatesMurmur Vineyard is a south facing slope at the south western corner of the Santa Maria AVA, only 12 miles from the Pacific Ocean. Ripe notes of pear and peaches are flecked with crushed pineapple, but as intense as it is, there is a mineral, sea salt core enlivened by a bright acidity that keeps it linear. It’s all Santa Maria from its luscious, generous mouthfeel to its rich tropical flavours and warm finish. Exotic but with a sense of style. The Rabble labels are renditions of historical wood block prints from the Nuremberg Chronicle (late 1400’s), textured and tactile, depicting nature’s wrath. This label illustrates the Kraken attacking Dubrovnik.Prices: AB 25.95 Producer: Rabble Wine Company
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Pacificana Barrel Fermented Chardonnaytext
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Pacificana Barrel Fermented Chardonnay 2016

California, United StatesThe 2016 Barrel Fermented is made with a combination of fruit from Monterey, Central Coast and the Livermore Valley. It’s aged six months in French and American barrels leading to a classic California chardonnay style with obvious oak yet with an adequate amount of well-balanced acidity. It’s still California, the apples are yellow, the pineapple is sweet and the butterscotch and vanilla silky smooth. Ready to drink.Prices: BC 29.99 AB 17.50 Producer: Winc
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15 January 2019

Township 7 NBOtext
88PTS

Township 7 NBO 2016

Oliver, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis is our first look at NBO (North Bench Oliver), a 42/38/20 cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet franc blend. The style is hedonistic, and the fruit mix ripe and ready. There’s gobs of juicy black fruits streaked with caramel and backed by firm, round, dry tannins. Many will like this outgoing style of sweet and savoury dark fruit that finishes long and warm. This is a wine for grilled beef. The fruit comes off Blue Terrace and neighbouring Rock Pocket Vineyards.Prices: BC 33.97 Producer: Township 7 Vineyards and Wineries
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Township 7 Reserve Chardonnay Becker Vineyardtext
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Township 7 Reserve Chardonnay Becker Vineyard 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaCalifornia meets the Okanagan and conquers with this rich, full-bodied, spicy, old style chardonnay. The nose and palate is a peachy pineapple affair, streaked with a sweet honey and vanilla finish that doesn’t quit. If lobster or crab is on the menu this is may be the wine for you. Serve well chilled.Prices: BC 26.97 Producer: Township 7 Vineyards and Wineries
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Township 7 Pinot Noirtext
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Township 7 Pinot Noir 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis Okanagan Falls pinot is a mix of two French clones: 115 and 667, grown at Remuda Vineyard and Stoneridge Vineyard respectively. The style is rich and boisterous with intense savoury, spicy, forest floor notes throughout. The fruit, fermented over 11 days with twice daily pump overs and aged in French oak barrels for 12 months, is dark and brooding, offering dark cherry dusted with mushrooms. The textures are silky, and the finish brings more spice and savoury desert notes. Best with food, and I am thinking pork belly might be needed here.Prices: BC 33.97 200 Producer: Township 7 Vineyards and Wineries
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Township 7 Cabernet Franctext
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Township 7 Cabernet Franc 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaOkay, what’s going on at Township 7? This cabernet franc soars out of the glass with fragrant black fruit laced with dusty, savoury Okanagan spicing that folds into a minty, peppercorn finish. This is the kind of wine that can change your opinion of a winery that has been languishing in the middle of the pack, but now clearly is setting its vision much higher. Again, the key ingredient is the vintage 2016 and its extended growing season. All is in balance and there is softness and a feminine aspect to this wine that suggests more St. Emilion than Loire. It’s soft and friendly and stuffed with black currant and cocoa but never to the extreme. The tannins are round and mostly svelte in the mouth. A peppercorn steak would be my suggestion.Prices: BC 33.97 Producer: Township 7 Vineyards and Wineries
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Township 7 Gewurztraminertext
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Township 7 Gewurztraminer 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaA mix of Naramata and Oliver fruit is behind this bright, refreshing gewurztraminer with a floral, ginger orange blossom nose. The attack is off dry with round, ripe litchi and peach that permeate the attractive, rich finish. A classic Alsace pairing is wild boar, but I suggest spicy take-out Thai.Prices: BC 24.97 Producer: Township 7 Vineyards and Wineries
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Township 7 Muscat Rock Pocket Vineyardtext
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Township 7 Muscat Rock Pocket Vineyard 2017

Oliver, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaHow delightful is this Black Sage Bench muscat? There is such a purity of fruit with an overwhelming orange blossom nose that spills across the palate. Fresh, floral and bright with a touch of anise, this is fun to drink. The fruit comes off Rock Pocket Vineyard at the northern end of the Black Sage Bench in Oliver. It’s stainless steel fermented at a cool 12 C for 14 days.Prices: BC 19.97 Producer: Township 7 Vineyards and Wineries
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Township 7 Reserve Pinot Gris Naramata Bench Estate Vineyardtext
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Township 7 Reserve Pinot Gris Naramata Bench Estate Vineyard 2017

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe Naramata Reserve is at another level, leaving me to wonder why there is a regular version? Freshness, vibrancy and mid-valley acidity all at 13 percent gives this gris an attractive start. Sweet peaches, ripe pears, and melons mix with citrus and a touch of resin to give this white a bit of complexity. Food friendly and ready to drink. The reserve is barrel fermented in neutral French oak plus another five months of ageing.Prices: BC 26.97 Producer: Township 7 Vineyards and Wineries
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Township 7 Pinot Gristext
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Township 7 Pinot Gris 2017

Oliver, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaModelled after the Italian grigio style, this Oliver-based gris opens with attractive pear and nectarine aromas. The attack is bright and nimble with light lemon, granny smith apple notes that fade quickly into the finish. Ready to drink, think vegetarian dishes or tempura dishes. The fruit is 100 percent from Hidden Terrace Vineyard in Oliver.Prices: BC 18.97 Producer: Township 7 Vineyards and Wineries
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Township 7 Chardonnaytext
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Township 7 Chardonnay 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe regular chardonnay is that, regular, with no harm, no faults, no electricity. Yellow tropical fruit dominates the nose and palate along with vanilla and toast. Soft, round, easy sipping with pineapple, honey mixing with peaches and just a whiff of citrus. Rich enough for salmon, especially with a spice sauce to cut into the ripeness. Simple and ready to drink.Prices: BC 20.97 AB 20.99 Producer: Township 7 Vineyards and Wineries
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Township 7 Reserve Sauvignon Blanc Blue Terrace Vineyardtext
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Township 7 Reserve Sauvignon Blanc Blue Terrace Vineyard 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe “Reserve” SB is made with the best fruit parcels from Blue Terrace Vineyard on the north Oliver Bench. It’s 100 percent barrel fermented and aged for seven months, 15 percent in new French oak and the remainder in neutral oak barrels. It is stirred weekly during fermentation and ageing to increase the texture and mouthfeel. I applaud the lower RS and the effort to make a more complex style of sauvignon. Look for a classic passionfruit nose that spills on to a silky, grassy, soft palate with hints of gooseberry and citrus. A perfect wine for prawns.Prices: BC 26.97 Producer: Township 7 Vineyards and Wineries
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Township 7 Sauvignon Blanctext
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Township 7 Sauvignon Blanc 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe regular sauvignon is a soft, sweetish version of the varietal with candied passion fruit and grapefruit. The attack is similar with ripe candied lemons and sweet melon with candied lime. Best served well chilled on the patio or with spicy Thai seafood dishes.Prices: BC 18.97 Producer: Township 7 Vineyards and Wineries
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Township 7 Reserve 7text
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Township 7 Reserve 7 2015

Oliver, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaReserve 7 is merlot-based, at 56 percent with 25 cabernet franc and 19 cabernet sauvignon. The nose is cedary, toasted oak, blackberry, raspberry with a sweet, spicy molasses undercurrent. The attack is a full-on mix of sweet black fruit with a leathery, dry spicy finish. The fruit comes off Oliver-based Blue Terrace Vineyard and from nearby Rock Pocket Vineyard with a small amount from the Sundial Vineyard on the Black Sage Bench, all aged in American and French barrels for 24 months. It’s a big warm year in which it appears the weather has erased the terroir. That said, it will have its fans. A leg of lamb would be the rich versus rich match.Prices: BC 33.97 Producer: Township 7 Vineyards and Wineries
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Township 7 Cabernet Sauvignontext
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Township 7 Cabernet Sauvignon 2016

Oliver, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaAnother good 2016, this time from Osoyoos' Romar Vineyard. The combination of silt and sand and a super dry, warm, desert climate seems to agree with cabernet sauvignon, a grape that can soak up the heat units. There’s a bit of Blue Terrace fruit that softens the tannin profile and adds freshness and some mid-palate generosity. Most of the wine was aged in 5000L oak fermenters with a small portion in going into barriques, both French and American. There a juicy character here you don’t seldom encounter in cabernet sauvignon with a mix of red cherries and red currants flecked with cedar, cigar and spice. This need time to fully develop, but should be a good one.Prices: BC 27.00 Producer: Township 7 Vineyards and Wineries
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Township 7 Merlottext
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Township 7 Merlot 2016

Oliver, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaI wasn’t expecting such a big wine in 2016 but this is, well big. The nose is savoury and spicy with notes of resin, dark chocolate and black fruit. The texture/tannins continue to improve at Township 7 making it far more palatable at this stage and given the balance it should age well too. The attack is mouth-filling but supple with spicy black cherries and plums and an aromatic tobacco scented finish. Super youthful at this point so age three to five years or serve with grilled meats. Most of the power fruit comes off the North Oliver Bench at Blue Terrace Vineyard with lesser amounts for finesse from the Front Yard Vineyard on the Naramata Bench. Go merlot go.Prices: BC 24.97 AB 24.95 Producer: Township 7 Vineyards and Wineries
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13 January 2019

Bench 1775 Merlottext
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Bench 1775 Merlot 2014

Osoyoos, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaMultiple picks of Naramata Bench merlot, all fermented separately, eventually come together to produce this intensely fruited, aromatic red. The nose is awash in Bing cherry and damson plum that spills across a cedary, powdery, fine-grained tannin, leaving a bitter coffee note in the finish. It has spent a year in French oak and is the better for that but will need more time in the bottle. This wine suggests merlot and Naramata are destined for greatness as the vineyards and growers mature. Best now with roasted chicken or grilled beef.Prices: BC 29.90 Producer: Bench 1775 Winery
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Mission Hill Reserve Merlottext
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Mission Hill Reserve Merlot 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaLike the entire reserve range, this wine continues to improve while offering superb value at the same time. Reserves receive the top 15 percent of estate fruit that goes through Mission Hill, in this case, from the south Okanagan. The secret is some 10 percent of delicious cabernet franc in the bottle, a grape CEO and chief winemaker Darryl Brooker has a lot of time for. After 15 months in French and American oak, the textures are lush and fleshy, or merlot-like. The palate is an intriguing mix of red and black fruits from plums to blackberry with a touch of savoury medicine chest throughout. This finish is dry with a hint of bitter almonds that in some manner invite you back to the glass. Think beef and black bean sauce, or spaghetti and meatballs as food pairings.Prices: BC 25.99 SK 25.00 ON 26.00 Producer: Mission Hill Family Estate
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Mission Hill Reserve Merlottext
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Mission Hill Reserve Merlot 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe Reserve series is drawn from the top 15 percent of estate fruit. As expected, this is drawn from vineyards in the southern Okanagan, and in 2016, this was splashed with ten percent cabernet franc. This spent 15 months in French and American oak, the structure of which is felt in this full, fleshy, mouth filling red. Some dusty, dusky plum, wild blackberry, medicinal cherry is framed with firm bones of wood, tuggy and fruit ripe, leaving a lingering sweetness at the back of the palate. This finishes with a bitter black cherry note and a flush of warmth on the near 15 degree palate.Prices: BC 25.99 SK 25.00 ON 26.00 Producer: Mission Hill Family Estate
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Hester Creek Block 2 Reserve Merlottext
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Hester Creek Block 2 Reserve Merlot 2016

Golden Mile Bench, Oliver, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis is as round and as rich as it gets for merlot in terms of texture. The nose is an intense smoky, salami affair with a savoury sagebrush and vanilla undercurrent. The attack is similar with spicy, youthful, cherry, cocoa espresso, all with grippy tannins in the finish. No rush to drink this before 2020 but if you must be sure to serve it with a choice piece of beef grilled rare.Prices: BC 28.95 Producer: Hester Creek Estate Winery
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Corcelettes Merlottext
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Corcelettes Merlot 2016

CanadaThe 2016 vintage and the Similkameen Valley are one amazing partnership. This merlot is all about texture and aromatics and both are colliding at a high level. The fruit is own-rooted, allowing for a maximum expression of terroir from clones 181 and 184 grown over rugged, rocky Stemwinder soils. It was harvested over multiple dates and fermented in several small lots to promote layers of flavours and complexity by winemaker Charlie Baessler. Wisely the wine is aged in a series of 1000L French oak vats that are easy on fruit and terroir. The fruit is uniquely savoury and black with smoky, mineral undertones and an already long velvet finish. There is no rush to drink this wine before 2023. Impressive.Prices: BC 26.90 Producer: Corcelettes Estate Winery
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Burrowing Owl Merlottext
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Burrowing Owl Merlot 2016

Oliver, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaAt six months of bottle age this merlot is just settling in for a long run. This has been an important wine for BOV from the beginning, and it remains a top selling red. It’s always been a dense, rich wine dating back to the days of Californian winemaker Bill Dyer. What this wine lacks in elegance it makes up for in concentration of black fruits, spice and warm round textures that linger throughout its warm soft finish. You can drink this now with lamb or beef or wait a decade. It has the chops to go the distance.Prices: BC 30.00 AB 34.00 ON 29.95 Producer: Burrowing Owl Vineyards
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Perseus Merlottext
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Perseus Merlot 2016

Oliver, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe 2016 is a mix of two vineyards: one in Oliver, the other in the Similkameen. This is less extracted than in the past, showing a bit more acidity and spice and a wider array of red plum, cranberry, cherry with a solid dusting of sagebrush. The palate is harder than you might expect for merlot but giving it a leaner, tighter profile. This needs food like a mushroom risotto, ribs or hamburger.Prices: BC 24.99 Producer: Perseus
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Rabble Merlottext
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Rabble Merlot 2015

Paso Robles, San Luis Obispo County, Central Coast, California, United StatesMossfire Ranch in Paso Robles is home to this merlot, planted in 1996 on steep hillsides and a rolling valley. Paso is a sun bowl, but the ocean can be an effective deterrent to too much heat via wide daily diurnal shifts of up to 40◦ F. The result is intense black fruit but not overcooked, with pleasant, dusty/chalky tannins and an attractive dry finish. Ten months in 15 percent new French oak polishes up the finish. The label is all millennial, but the wine is more mainstream. Good value.Prices: AB 24.95 Producer: Rabble Wine Company
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Thorn Merlottext
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Thorn Merlot 2014

Napa Valley, California, United StatesA Prisoner offshoot, the delinquent perhaps, comes with all the rich trappings of its incarcerated big brother. The fruit is intensely dark and aromatic. It’s mostly merlot, (Napa Vineyards that survived the cabernet replant) with small amounts of syrah and malbec to concentrate it even more. The oak is rich and prominent, soaking up, and permeating, the black cherry, cedary, spicy fruit that frames an opulent hedonistic alcoholic red. If you like your reds big this is it. Best now with barbecue ribs or grilled lamb chops.Prices: ON 39.95 Producer: The Prisoner Wine Company
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Black Sage Vineyard Merlottext
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Black Sage Vineyard Merlot 2015

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaFragrant, ripe, aromatic and bright fruity nose of black cherries. The attack is big with rich dense tannins and more black cherries and plums. Like most of the Black Sage lineup there has been a turnaround, beginning with a cleaner demeanour, better fruit and structure, and more varietal character. The style is hedonistic but not over top and for budding big red wine lovers this is a good bridge.Prices: BC 22.99 ON 29.95 Producer: Black Sage Vineyard
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Mission Hill Reserve Merlottext
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Mission Hill Reserve Merlot 2015

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe Mission Hill Reserve series is actually a 'reserve' wine made with the top 15% of fruit picked from estate vineyards only. Over the years winemakers John Simes, and now Darryl Brooker, have been returning to some 75% of the same vineyard blocks to ensure vintage to vintage consistency. I could say a lot about this merlot, the fruit is fragrant and forward, the textures lush and mouth-filling in that merlot way with judicious oak ageing but more than anything it is the best merlot we have tasted under $26 in the country. We say merlot, but the addition of 10 percent cabernet franc may be the secret weapon here. Just a tug of tannins suggests you could age this another year or two in bottle, but a grilled steak would smooth all that out today. Impressive.Prices: BC 25.99 SK 25.00 ON 26.00 Producer: Mission Hill Family Estate
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11 January 2019

LaStella La Sophiatext
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LaStella La Sophia 2015

Osoyoos, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaRipe, rich, over ripe in 2015, with worn leather, worn black cherry fruit, which feel overrun by big grippy tannins. Sadly, La Sophia and her Southern Okanagan footing suffered the super heat of the vintage, the warmest on record. Tannins are massive and sinewy, lined with thick tobacco and with whiffs of ragu. Browning in hue, and for drinking now.Prices: BC 89.90 Producer: LaStella
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LaStella Allegretto Merlot Pie Francotext
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LaStella Allegretto Merlot Pie Franco 2015

Osoyoos, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis is a stunning single vineyard merlot, that stands at the top of Canada's merlot fleet. Allegretto is one hundred percent merlot from Stagg's Vineyard, a white silica sand site on Osoyoos' east bench. The pie franco in the name signals that the vines are planted on their own rootstock (piè franco). Lovely crushed cassis, dusky plum, youthful and perfumed wild blackberry lead shining bright red and purple fruits, stony and bright. Fine pixellated texture, tight and energetic, fresh and finessed, which is not what is expected of Okanagan merlot (and that's an hugely positive thing). Only 250 cases made in 2015. Find some.Prices: BC 65.00 Producer: LaStella
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Le Vieux Pin Equinoxe Syrahtext
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Le Vieux Pin Equinoxe Syrah 2015

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaEquinoxe is a highly structural, savoury, powerful red, but one with an emphasis on grace. From the Black Sage Bench and Osoyoos East Bench, and from teenaged vines (9-14 years old). This leads with savoury roasted meats, followed with generous purple and blue fruit, lavender lined, still holding freshness and brightness even considering the very hot year. Tannins are ample but fine, and the fruit is abundant and earth-kissed. Structural blended with generosity, this is a lovely show of challenging vintage.Prices: BC 79.99 Producer: Le Vieux Pin
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Le Vieux Pin Equinoxe Syrahtext
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Le Vieux Pin Equinoxe Syrah 2013

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaRetasted two years along, and this 2013 Equinoxe has really come along into its own with bottle age. Lovely savouriness, with blue fruit, wild lavender, sage brush, all very well knit together, and humming with both fine acidity and with fine texture. Drinking beautifully now and with time to go still.Prices: BC 79.99 Producer: Le Vieux Pin
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Le Vieux Pin Syrah Cuvée Classiquetext
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Le Vieux Pin Syrah Cuvée Classique 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis is the big brother to LVP's floral Cuvée Violette. Tight and youthful, with more oak than the previous vintage which is poking through a bit at this young stage, but will surely be swallowed with a welcome rest in the cellar. This has the structure and potency, plus elegance and purity, to age effortlessly. Bracketed by firm walnut-laden sides, this has lovely brisk spicing, with more structure housing the black cherry, raspberry, graphite and leather fruit. Lovely showing.Prices: BC 44.00 Producer: Le Vieux Pin
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Le Vieux Pin Syrah Cuvée Classiquetext
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Le Vieux Pin Syrah Cuvée Classique 2015

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis is the big brother to LVP's floral Cuvée Violette. Savoury and structured black fruit by way of light smoke, tobacco and big peppery seasoning, this is quite firm, holding the sides tightly in with firm, grippy tannins. From the super warm 2015 vintage, this was aged in 225 and 300L barrels (20 percent new) for 14 months, and bottled unfined. Drinking well now, and will continue to hold for years in the cellar.Prices: BC 44.00 Producer: Le Vieux Pin
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Le Vieux Pin Avatext
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Le Vieux Pin Ava 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaNamed for Sev's daughter, this is a blend of viognier (53 percent), roussanne and marsanne. The 2017 gave much more concentration to the juice due to the small yields of the vintage. This wine spent time in wood, stainless and concrete. Potent and energetic in youth, with viognier's assertive apricot / orange punch popping through a lightly creamy / creamsicle palate. The lingers with fine texture and tangerine pith.Prices: BC 35.00 Producer: Le Vieux Pin
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Le Vieux Pin Avatext
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Le Vieux Pin Ava 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaNamed for winemaker Sevrine Pinte's daughter, this is a blend of viognier (50 percent), 32 roussanne and the remainder marsanne, sourced from North Oliver and Black Sage Bench. This spent six months in 58 percent French oak barrels and puncheons, with the balance in stainless steel (six percent of the wood was new). The oiliness of the viognier is expressed with the sage brush of the area, on top of some lovely savoury lees. Medium bodied, this carries bright acacia, honeysuckle, orchard fresh apricot finishing with a lingering spice and impression of elegance.Prices: BC 35.00 Producer: Le Vieux Pin
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10 January 2019

Quails' Gate Late Harvest Totally Botrytis Affected Optimatext
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Quails' Gate Late Harvest Totally Botrytis Affected Optima 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaOptima is hardly a household name in BC, but this Quails’ Gate label never seems to disappoint from its rich ginger, apricot, floral nose to its honey, ginger spicy lime/apricot fruit. The nose is weightier than this juicy dessert wine that dances on the palate with freshness and bright acidity. Impressive, mouth-filling and more complex than most icewines. Now that it's under screwcap this is a great candidate for the cellar where it should sleep effortlessly for years.Prices: BC 28.99 375 AB 30.00 375 SK 30.00 375 MB 30.00 375 Producer: Quails' Gate Vineyards Estate Winery
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Quails' Gate Maréchal Foch Limited Release Fortified Vintagetext
88PTS

Quails' Gate Maréchal Foch Limited Release Fortified Vintage 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis fortified foch, from a single vintage (2016), is made in the traditional port method, with some of the oldest maréchal foch grapes at Quails’ Gate left to hang late into the season. The wine is partially fermented in stainless steel before fortification with an Okanagan Spirits alcohol (using QG's foch, natch) and aged 18 months in oak barrels before bottling. This is the cleanest version we have tasted yet, and the fruit and flavours are intense, reminiscent of cherries, figs and currants with a dusting of chocolate before folding into a warm, spicy, boozy finish. Sticky toffee pudding is a great match.Prices: BC 25.99 375 Producer: Quails' Gate Vineyards Estate Winery
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Quails' Gate Cabernet Sauvignontext
89PTS

Quails' Gate Cabernet Sauvignon 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe follow up to the well made 2015 still reflects the now departed Nikki Callaway’s style, showing a light touch and a sense of elegance. The ’16 is more herbaceous with cedar, black liquorice and cool, bell pepper aromas. Yet there is something refreshing about this wine and it is nicely balanced. The fruit is red and spiced, the oak restrained, the textures and mouthfeel inviting but with the power you would expect from cabernet sauvignon. Best with grilled meats.Prices: BC 34.99 Producer: Quails' Gate Vineyards Estate Winery
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Quails' Gate Merlottext
86PTS

Quails' Gate Merlot 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis is wood-lined, dense and plush merlot, hemmed into a warm 14 degree frame. The southern Okanagan fruit was fermented in stainless, and pumped over for a month for additional extraction before spending 18 months in French oak. Chewy and dense black fruit is seasoned with tobacco, dark coffee, ripe blackberry and dark plum. Sweet tannins are plumped but sticky, and need some time in bottle. Best served now with heavily shellacked beef ribs or a simple pepper steak.Prices: BC 25.99 AB 20.00 SK 26.00 MB 24.00 ON 27.00 Producer: Quails' Gate Vineyards Estate Winery
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Quails' Gate Old Vines Fochtext
87PTS

Quails' Gate Old Vines Foch 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis note write itself most years thanks to forty years of practice by this writer and these grapevines first planted in 1978. Maréchal Foch is a hybrid grape that while undistinguished in the 1980s has come into its own with superior winemaking and viticulture in recent years. The nose is a mix of scorched earth with cedar, coffee grinds and plummy cran-cherry fruit. The texture is soft but with prevalent acidity and a peppery finish. This would be perfect with a beef or a mushroom burger.Prices: BC 24.99 AB 24.99 ON 27.00 Producer: Quails' Gate Vineyards Estate Winery
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Quails' Gate Old Vines Foch Reservetext
88PTS

Quails' Gate Old Vines Foch Reserve 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe Quails’ Gate Maréchal Foch Reserve is a BC cult wine judging by its legions of fans. The fruit comes off the estate vineyard in West Kelowna now planted over five decades ago. In 2016 it was harvested in early October, sporting small compact berries. It was fermented using a selection of vigorous French yeast strains and aged in spicy new American oak barrels. The nose is a peppery mix of earthy, baked plum with a generous hit of sweet oak. The attack is full-bodied with earthy, smoky, black cherry and a bitter coffee/dark chocolate finish. This is still super youthful but if venison is on the menu you could open it now. One of a kind.Prices: BC 39.94 Producer: Quails' Gate Vineyards Estate Winery
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Quails' Gate The Connemara Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon Cabernet Franctext
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Quails' Gate The Connemara Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon Cabernet Franc 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaConnemara is a Bordeaux blend, sourced from across the Okanagan Valley. The name is an ode to the Stewart family's immigrant grandfather Richard Stewart Sr., who said that Connemara, Ireland was the most beautiful part of his home country. The ’16 is a more refined than the 2015. It’s also a little less extracted and better balanced. This is a 40/30/30 blend of merlot, cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc. I love the savoury Okanagan undercurrent that runs through its blackcurrant, black cherry, cedar and coffee palate. Lay this way through 2020 and drink through 2028.Prices: BC 60.00 Producer: Quails' Gate Vineyards Estate Winery
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09 January 2019

Two Oceans Shiraztext
81PTS

Two Oceans Shiraz 2017

Western Cape, South AfricaRoasted root veg, smoke, bacon, tar and burnt chocolate fill this simple red, thankfully short and stubby on the finish. Ripe, plush, sweet black and red fruit flush the soft palate, while tobacco ash lingers. Old school, and a blunt, oversimplified showing at that.Prices: BC 9.79 Producer: Bergkelder, The (Distillers Corporation)
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Nederburg Cabernet Sauvignon Winemaster's Reservetext
87PTS

Nederburg Cabernet Sauvignon Winemaster's Reserve 2016

Western Cape, South AfricaRipe, sweet, dusky blackcurrant, anise, medicinal cherry, smoked peppercorns in this wood-built Western Cape cab, one that is slowing inching into modernity. There's some freshness to lighten the 14 degrees, but the sweet, plush tannins and overripe fruit date this richer wine.Prices: BC 11.49 ON 12.10 NS 13.85 NF 16.00 MB 13.50 Producer: Nederburg Wines (Pty) Ltd.
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Nederburg Sauvignon Blanc The Winemaster's Reservetext
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Nederburg Sauvignon Blanc The Winemaster's Reserve 2018

Western Cape, South AfricaPassionfruit, gooseberry, papaya rings through this potent sauvignon blanc, sourced from various vineyards throughout the Western Cape. Stainless and screw cap keeps this bright and zesty, and a limey pad of lees keeps this friendly and drinkable. A large, and welcome improvement over last time we tasted this affordable wine.Prices: BC 12.99 Producer: Nederburg Wines (Pty) Ltd.
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Ken Forrester Old Vine Reserve Chenin Blanctext
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Ken Forrester Old Vine Reserve Chenin Blanc 2017

Stellenbosch, Coastal Region, South AfricaThe Reserve is old bush vine (38 years) chenin from Stellenbosch and Helderberg. As per the Forrester style, this is a richer wine, barrel and tank fermented, and with nine months on the lees in French oak, 20 percent of which was new. Lemon thistle and curd lead off the spiced, round palate, generously plumped with the oak and lees influence. Baked pear, white flowers, butterscotch fills the palate, and though chenin's acidity struggles to keep this aloft, in the end it carries it through to a slightly medicinal lemon finish.Prices: BC 21.95 AB 25.24 ON 17.95 QC 19.80 Producer: Ken Forrester Wines
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Mission Hill Reserve Meritagetext
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Mission Hill Reserve Meritage 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe first Reserve Meritage at Mission Hill mixes a larger proportion of cabernet franc, 35 percent, with 32 percent cabernet sauvignon, 31 percent merlot and two percent petit verdot grown on two estates: one in Osoyoos and one in Oliver. The attraction here is the elegance and texture of this wine. The red and black fruit is modestly spicy and juicy but it’s the long, round, silky, palate and earthy, savoury Okanagan notes that make it especially attractive for the price. Well done.Prices: BC 25.99 Producer: Mission Hill Family Estate
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Blankbottle Retirement @ 65text
91PTS

Blankbottle Retirement @ 65 2016

Darling, Coastal Region, South AfricaRetirement at 65. Doesn't sound so bad, if I can drink bright, charming lighter reds like this to fill my days. This low intervention, light red is predominantly cinsault (a darling of Darling), buddied up with grenache and syrah. Medicinal-kissed raspberry, cherry is swiped with balsamic and fynbos, and dosed with white peppercorns. Tannins are whisper-fine, and acidity is crunchy, welcoming a chill and charcuterie platter (don't forget the eland biltong). Edgy, delicate, and interesting, @ 65. Rad. The name is a reference to the Darling cinsaut vineyard, forever sent to a large co-op until Pieter snuck in in the vineyard's 63rd year to rehabilitate the vines as it was slated for scrubbing up. This wine was made for the first time in the vineyard’s 65th year.Prices: BC 45.00 Producer: Blankbottle
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Blankbottle Nothing to Declaretext
89PTS

Blankbottle Nothing to Declare 2016

Western Cape, South AfricaOnce again, showing why South Africa is the most experimental, avant garde and exciting region in the world for wines at the moment. This is Pieter Walser's latest version of Nothing to Declare, made in tribute to the vine smugglers that had to sneak around to make wines they wanted to, from grapes they wanted to work with. This certainly qualifies with a non-conforming wine. He blends marsanne, fernão pires, viura, clairette blanche, roussanne, grenache blanc, grenache gris and viognier from around the Western Cape into an alluring, herbal and anise licked affair, with silken quince, Sicilian lemon, pear, peach blossom, apricot fuzz. Moderate acidity works to keeps it fresh, while the Southern Rhone / Portuguese whites' heft holds it full on the oily, fynbos-scented, 13.5 degrees palate. Joy to drink.Prices: BC 36.00 Producer: Blankbottle
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Boschendal 1685 Chardonnaytext
87PTS

Boschendal 1685 Chardonnay 2017

Coastal Region, South AfricaThe 1685 refers to the Boschendal start date making it one of the oldest and grandest Cape estates. The fruit here is a selection of grapes from Stellenbosch, Elgin and the Boschendal farm proper in Franschhoek. The fermentation is done in 30 percent stainless and 70 percent French oak (only 12 percent new) before it spends ten months on its lees that are stirred regularly. The style is creamy and bright in what is a sort of Euro-style New World chardonnay. Green apple cinnamon, pineapple and honey walk a delicate citrus path before a ripe, warming backend. Ready to drink and best with richer seafood dishes from salmon to crab to lobster.Prices: BC 19.99 Producer: Boschendal Estate Winery
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Anthonij Rupert Optimatext
89PTS

Anthonij Rupert Optima 2014

Franschhoek Valley, Paarl, Coastal Region, South AfricaA blend of 41/30/28/1 cabernet franc, merlot, cabernet sauvignon and petit verdot that opens with smoke, spice, black and blue fruits. On the palate, the blueberry cocoa flavours mix with tobacco, black cherries and burnt earth, and runs the length of the wine to a dry, stony, round finish. Fermented in new French oak barrels and 10000L wood tanks, the wines are fermented and aged separately for 18 months in barrels (35 percent new oak) before blending and aging for a further six months in barrel and tank. After that it spends another two years in bottle before it’s released. You can drink this now or wait through 2021.Prices: BC 35.00 Producer: Anthonij Rupert
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Cape of Good Hope Western Slopestext
90PTS

Cape of Good Hope Western Slopes 2013

Swartland, Coastal Region, South AfricaThis is a delicious mix of shiraz, mourvèdre and petit syrah out of Swartland’s Riebeeksrivier sub-app. I love the balance and vitality here and the pureness of the black fruit. Notes of blackberries and ripe black plums dusted with black pepper swell the glass along with impressive mouthfeel. This is special for the price. This farm that dates to the 1700s is situated on the slopes of the Riebeek Kasteel mountains on the Malmesbury side with southern and western exposures. The first vineyards that were planted at Riebeeksrivier were Chenin Blanc in 1972 and Pinotage in 1973, though neither are still produced. Today the farm is part of the Anthonij Rupert Wyne portfolio and concentrates on Rhône cultivars. Syrah, roussanne, viognier, durif, mourvèdre, grenache noir, carignan and marsanne were planted from 2007 onwards, with some trellised as bush vines.Prices: BC 25.00 Producer: Anthonij Rupert
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Cape of Good Hope Carolinetext
87PTS

Cape of Good Hope Caroline 2015

Swartland, Coastal Region, South AfricaThis is a 50/22/20/8 blend of chenin blanc, roussanne, viognier and marsanne from the crumbling shale slopes of the Riebeek Kasteel mountains. The chenin blanc vines, sixty-years-old, set the pattern for this wine. Nine months on lees in ten percent new French oak lends a heavily perfumed nose and previews what is a full-bodied rich blend of ripe pear, bitter lime rind and sweet grapefruit for balance. A big busy white that needs more time to get it all together. Faintly reminiscent of the Rhone. Drink or hold through 2020.Prices: BC 30.00 Producer: Anthonij Rupert
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Cape of Good Hope Laing Semillontext
89PTS

Cape of Good Hope Laing Semillon 2015

Olifants River, South AfricaThis is a very pleasant sémillon, big on perfume and that waxy/oily sheen that can add weight to the back end. In this case, there is a balancing factor of citrus and minerality that helps to lengthen the palate and give a more linear profile. This is from the estate farm of Henk Laing in WO Citrusdalberg. The fruit is dry-farmed, growing on 50+ year old bush vines. The ferment is in stainless before a six month sleep in neutral, large format French oak. The result is a stylish, authentic sémillon with peachy fruit, nectarine skin flecked with tropical notes of pineapple and guava. It seems bigger than it is with only 13.5 degrees of alcohol. This is a wonderful wine for east coast lobster or west coast Dungeness crab. It will age a decade effortlessly.Prices: BC 25.00 Producer: Anthonij Rupert
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08 January 2019

Nestarec Forks and Knivestext
88PTS

Nestarec Forks and Knives 2016

Moravia, Czech RepublicThis natural, organic müller thurgau is from Czech Republic's Moravia region, and young Milan Nestarec. Nestarec studied under Aleš Kristančič of Movia, and is one of the bright lights of the Autentisté collective of Czech winemakers, focusing on holistic farming and non-intervention, sulphur-free winemaking. This orange wine is from 17 year old vines at 200m altitude, wild fermented in 2000L stainless steel tanks for ten days before heading to tank for ten untouched months until it is bottled without fining or filtration. On the outer tight edge of natural, with yellow cider apples, perry, elderflower, tight buzzy acidity, and ample gripping texture along an energetic palate, finishing with a hum of fine spice. Lovely, lean and edgy.Prices: ON 35.00 AB 25.00 Producer: Milan Nestarec
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Villa Sparina Gavi del Comune di Gavitext
87PTS

Villa Sparina Gavi del Comune di Gavi 2017

Gavi, Piedmont, ItalyFrom Gavi's clay/marl soils, and 250-300m hills, this cortese was stainless fermented, preserving the crisp, lean yellow and green fruit. There's a lilt of florals, but otherwise this is a very quiet, delicate wine that dissipates quickly. Villa Sparina was founded by the Moccagatta family in the 1970's, and sweeps over 100 hectares of land, 70 of which are planted to vines.Prices: BC 21.50 Producer: Villa Sparina
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Saumur Blanc Cuvee Les Pouchestext
88PTS

Saumur Blanc Cuvee Les Pouches 2017

Saumur, Loire, FranceDry, tight, lean and steely, this is from the 7ha Les Pouches vineyard in Saumur, from chenin vines averaging 45 years. Stainless and screw cap keeps this wine fresh, with green apple, green melon, lemon, and lime zest. There's a sheen of chenin's characteristic honey that thickens as the wine warms in the glass, accenting a light chalky tug. This youthful, straight wine spent 3-4 months on fine lees before bottling. Ideal for shellfish, this has me dreaming of fresh prawn season.Prices: BC 25.00 Producer: Alliance Loire
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Argiolas Costamolino Vermentino di Sardegnatext
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Argiolas Costamolino Vermentino di Sardegna 2017

Sardinia, ItalyA wonderfully consistent label you can count on. Costamolino comes off cool hillside vineyards 190 metres above the Mediterranean. There is rigourous selection of fruit followed by a light pressing and only free run juice to fermentation. The resulting vermentino is delightfully crisp and fresh with a green/yellow colour and enticing floral, ginger notes. The attack is similar with bitter quince and ripe yellow apple flecked with tropical orange. Big enough to match a wide range of seafood including crab, clams, stews and white fish. Fair value.Prices: BC 18.99 AB 26.00 Producer: Argiolas
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Lunae Vermentino Colli di Luni Etichetta Grigiatext
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Lunae Vermentino Colli di Luni Etichetta Grigia 2017

Tuscany, ItalyThe secret to vermentino is to not try too hard. You want to end up with a jewel of a white that is so pure and fresh you can’t stand to leave any in the glass. Citrus blossoms cover a mineral, stony, peach, pear, lime affair with a touch of exotic fruit in the long straight-line finish. Pleasingly dry and vibrant, it’s the perfect shellfish wine, especially if butter is involved. Real wine.Prices: BC 24.99 Producer: Cantine Lunae Bosoni SRL
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Nicolas Mariotti Bindi Blanc Mursagliatext
89PTS

Nicolas Mariotti Bindi Blanc Mursaglia 2015

Corsica, South of France, FranceNicolas Mariotti Bindi has been making wine in Oletta, Corsica since his first vintage in 2007. The seven ha estate is certified organic, and only minimal amounts of sulphur is used. Mursaglia Blanc is entirely massale selection vermentinu (Corsican word for vermintino), native and tank fermented and aged for one year on lees before bottling unfiltered. Wide, round, waxen on the palate, but sided by finely grippy sides to rein in the 14 degree weight. Hints of quince, pear, on the expansive palate, that finishes with a dusting of salted dried herbs.Prices: ON 48.60 Producer: Nicolas Mariotti Bindi
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Zidarich Vitovskatext
92PTS

Zidarich Vitovska 2016

Friuli-Venezia Giulia, ItalyVitovska is an indigenous grape specific to the Friulian region of Carso, a very rocky region that borders Slovenia. It is a natural cross between malvasia bianca lungo and prosecco. Benjamin and his wife Marisa Zidarich tend 8ha here in a naturalist, non-intervention vein. The Vitovska Bianco is one of their flagship wines, from 6-30 year old vines grown on extremely rocky calcarious soils between 260-280m in altitude. After native ferment and a moderate time on the skins, this spent two years in old Slovenian oak before being bottled unfined and unfiltered. This skin contact wine is an impressive show of force, with primal grip of tannins, orange, rose petals, crushed rock. There's some light apricot fuzz, orange oil that lingers on the lengthy, humming, saline, limestone laced finish. Lovely structure with density and firm, fine grippy tannins that stream the long length and ensure its spot in your cellar. If you can wait, that is; this is drinking beautifully now.Prices: ON 54.95 Producer: Zidarich
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Zidarich Vitovska Greentext
89PTS

Zidarich Vitovska Green 2017

Friuli-Venezia Giulia, ItalyVitovska is an indigenous grape specific to the Friulian region of Carso, a very rocky region that borders Slovenia. It is a natural cross between malvasia bianca lungo and prosecco. Benjamin and his wife Marisa Zidarich tend 8ha here in a naturalist, non-intervention vein. Green is their more youthful and approachable vitovska, from 4-10 year old vines grown on extremely rocky calcarious soils between 260-280m in altitude. After native ferment and a short time on the skins, this spent 13 months in old Slovenian oak before being bottled unfined and unfiltered. Piercing, potent, herbal orange, wild lemon, with light pink florals scenting. There's a light skin contact grip on the lean, greyhound sleek palate, finishing with a saline rinse. Here the skin contact is finessed and well integrated into this fresh, bright, lively wine. Smashable, seriously, now.Prices: ON 34.95 Producer: Zidarich
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Accadia Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Superioretext
90PTS

Accadia Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Superiore 2015

Marche, ItalyPouring a shining gold hue, this organically grown verdicchio was grown on fairly steep slopes and around 400m in sandy, calcareous clay soils. This dry white includes some late-harvest picked berries which may lend to the botrytis kisses this wine receives. After several passes through the vineyard, this is vinified and aged in stainless steel where it remains for six months. Heady fresh quince, yellow apple, apricot blossom along a medium+ bodied, concentrated and lightly waxen palate, imbued with earthy / herbal meadow notes typical of Marche. The structure and concentration is nimbly balanced out by a spier of acidity, and padded with ample alcohol (14.5 degrees), leaving you with an impression of freshness even within all the weight. A lovely, stately version of the style, and one well suited to equally impressive pairings (or a rest in your cellar).Prices: ON 32.00 Producer: Società Agricola Accadia
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Jason Parkes Customs Crown + Thieves Chenin Blanctext
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Jason Parkes Customs Crown + Thieves Chenin Blanc 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaWinemaker Jason Parkes pays homage to South Africa chenin blanc, referring to it as the ultimate wine geek white. Translation: adored by industry types but difficult to sell to the mainstream market. Parkes also references the Loire Valley chenin blanc suggesting the Okanagan has much in common with the Loire. This wine was tank fermented before spending ten months on lees in oak to build texture and mouthfeel. Its pretty delicious stuff, taut and super fresh with crisp green apple, green melon, stone and almonds. Impressive wine that is totally nerd worthy.Prices: BC 26.99 Producer: The Hatch
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Batasiolo Bosc Dla Rei Moscato d'Astitext
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Batasiolo Bosc Dla Rei Moscato d'Asti 2017

Piedmont, ItalyThis wine needs no introduction to Italians, but it always surprises many this side of the Atlantic with its floral and perfumed nose. I love the nectarine skin, green apple, minty, citrus aromas that spill onto the delicate palate. Fresh, crisp, creamy with touch of sweetness, you can have a lot of fun with this and spicy pakoras or spicy sushi. At 5.5 percent alcohol, it is a delightfully light and easy drink before during and after lunch or dinner. Oh, and it's now under screwcap just to seal the deal.Prices: BC 20.99 AB 18.99 ON 16.95 Producer: Beni di Batasiolo
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Matteo Correggia Roero Arneistext
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Matteo Correggia Roero Arneis 2017

Alba, Cuneo, Piedmont, ItalyRoero’s ancient sandy marine soils are the key to this high acid arneis that in Piemontesi dialect translates to ‘little rascal.’ It’s an ode to the difficult to ripen grape because when it reaches full ripeness, the acidity drops quickly. To combat this challenge there is an early pick at Correggia to conserve the acids that brings this wine alive. A perfectly juicy white with melon/peach/apricot, with a squeeze of mineral, wet stone, green apple and lemon.Prices: BC 31.99 AB 22.00 Producer: Azienda Agricola Matteo Correggia
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Chic Fille Pinot Blanctext
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Chic Fille Pinot Blanc 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaChic Fille is JoieFarm owner winemaker Heidi Noble's natural wine project, changing yearly according to vintage and fruit quality. A rosé was the first label out while the number two Chic Fille, or "cool girl," is a pinot blanc. This natural wine was a two barrel experiment. Half the grapes were destemmed and the whole berries were semi-carbonic fermented, foot tread in stainless steel prior to racking into neutral barrel. The other half was free run into neutral barrel for native ferment before aging in that barrel. The barrels were left to age over the winter with light monthly bâttonage before being blended in a stainless-steel tank in June 2018 and bottled in July, unfiltered, unfined with a minimal sulphur addition at bottling. The nose and palate are an insipid, citrus affair with very little fruit character. The textures are richer with mineral salty notes and a touch of tannin, but it's not hitting on all cylinders. If you are a hardcore natural wine fan try this with fresh shuck oysters, or maybe wait for next year.Prices: BC 34.90 Producer: JoieFarm
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07 January 2019

Tetramythos Roditistext
88PTS

Tetramythos Roditis 2016

Peloponnese, GreeceThis roditis comes from four organic vineyards in the village of Ano Diacopto, and from 20-36 year old dry farmed bush vines growing between 600-850m. The winery, owned by the Spanos brothers and overseen by low-interventionist winemaker Panagiotis Papayiannopoulos, is known for their natural and skin contact wines. In addition to this 'classic' roditis, they also make an entirely natural one. This classic roditis undergoes a long, native ferment and time in stainless to preserve the fresh melon, pear, lemony fruit. Lemon blossom kisses, and a gentle apricot fuzz finish makes this slight, well balanced white an easy, accessible pour.Prices: BC 35.00 Producer: Domaine Tetramythos
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Mercouri Estate Kallistotext
87PTS

Mercouri Estate Kallisto 2016

Peloponnese, GreeceMercouri's vineyards are located on the western coast of the Peloponnese. The winery was established in 1864, and today farm 16 ha of vines and 8 ha of olives. This is a blend of 80 / 20 assyrtiko / robola, fermented cool and in stainless. Perfumed pear, peach, melon, and pink florals on the off-dry palate, reminiscent of muscat in its lightness and perfume. There's a pervasive soapiness throughout this simple, light bodied, pretty sipper.Prices: ON 17.00 Producer: Mercouri Estates
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Cavino Nemea Grande Reservetext
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Cavino Nemea Grande Reserve 2010

Nemea, Peloponnese, GreeceIntense with fragrant red fruit, super ripe plum, big raspberry jam, spiced boxy wood, roasted walnuts, seasoned with cracked cloves and nutmeg. Tannins are just off strict, helped by eight years' time, but not enough to enjoy this easily without a lengthy decant or pouring alongside roasted lamb. This Nemean agiogitiko (aka St. George) was aged for 18 months in French oak before another year in bottle to settle.Prices: ON 18.00 Producer: Cavino
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Domain Mega Spileo Cabernet Sauvignontext
89PTS

Domain Mega Spileo Cabernet Sauvignon 2010

Achaïa, Peloponnese, GreeceFrom Peloponnese's Achaia region, and the village of Kalavrita, this is from a single sandy / clay soiled vineyard at 780-880m soils used by the Holy Monastery of Mega Spileo (Grand Cave) for more than 500 years for wine production. This underwent a long fermentation before MLF and a 16 month stint on lees in new oak barrels. After bottling the wine spends a minimum of two more years in the cellar to settle and merge. And mellow it has, the likely fierce tannins now framing / sticking the sides of this red fruited, cedar and tobacco filled big red. Time has afforded it a lovely walnut character, seasoning the smoked meats, peppercorns and worked leather. This is meant for drinking now; they've done the aging work for you. I recommend roast lamb or beef to match the warming alcohol and size.Prices: ON 28.00 Producer: Cavino Winery & Distillery
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Semeli Oreinos Helios Redtext
89PTS

Semeli Oreinos Helios Red 2016

Peloponnese, GreeceThis 80/20 blend of agiorgitiko / syrah is from Nemea and Aegialia, and from 400-850m altitude. This spent six months in second use French oak providing enough siding to house the downy plum, dusky violet, perfumed dark raspberry without overwhelming it. Tannins are duck downy soft, to a spiced nutmeg and cinnamon bark finish. Finessed drinkability.Prices: ON 14.75 Producer: Semeli Winery
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Troupis Fteri Agiorgitikotext
90PTS

Troupis Fteri Agiorgitiko 2015

Peloponnese, GreeceFrom the hills surrounding the plain of Nemea, this is a modern, smart and tidy agiorgitiko, with textured, stony plum, bright pomegranate, thorny wild raspberry, dusky dusty spices wrapped with soft nubby tannins, and lingering with a lovely dried herbal grip. At 13.5 degrees and with a natural lift of acidity, this is smashable with a light chill.Prices: Producer: Troupis Winery
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Alpha Estate Malagouziatext
90PTS

Alpha Estate Malagouzia 2016

GreeceFrom the Amyndeon plateau of north-western Macedonia, this is from the Turtles vineyard block, named for the nesting local turtles nearby. This malagouzia grows at 670m, was destemmed and cold soaked with skins prior to fermentation and two months on the skins. This fully displays the grape's lush roundness, with a creamy palate imbued with delicate rose petals, fleshy pear, white peach, and a tight fist of herbal scrubby spices. Medium bodied (13 degrees) but luxuriously expansive, this is a lovely alternative to pour alongside grilled med veg, and oily white fish.Prices: AB 24.00 BC 20.00 Producer: Alpha Estate
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White Dottext
88PTS

White Dot 2016

Peloponnese, GreeceThe 2016 White Dot blends 20 percent malagousia into moschofilero, farmed from the mountainous and coastal-cooled vineyards of Mantinia and altitudes of 650-700m. After a cool, stainless ferment, this is rested for a short period of time on lees, resulting in a light bodied, grapefruit, peach and pear affair, scented with pink and white florals and lingering with tangerine pith. Bright and sprightly, this slim white will transport you to the Grecian sun.Prices: BC 18.00 Producer: Strofilia Estate
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Tselepos Amalia Bruttext
88PTS

Tselepos Amalia Brut NV

Peloponnese, GreeceKtima Tselepos, in the Peloponnese, has been making the Amalia sparkling brut for 20 years, and it's one of the most important wines in their portfolio. From sandy / clay soiled vineyards around 750m, this is moschofilero (80 percent of which is the aspro / white variant), early picked to retain the grape's zippy acid. This traditional method fizz spends nine months on the lees, and is dosed with 11 g/ RS to offset the aforementioned bright acidity. Tight white florals, rose petals are seasoned with white pepper and a sprinkling of sea salts on the off-dry palate. There's an alluring grapefruit rinse throughout. The alcohol (11.7 degrees) and lighter body make this a natural aperitif or breakfast fizz.Prices: QC 25.50 ON 28.85 Producer: Tselepos
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Assyrtiko by Gaia Wild Fermenttext
89PTS

Assyrtiko by Gaia Wild Ferment 2016

Peloponnese, GreeceGaia is the only winery I know of built directly on the beach. As old as wine is in Greece, this is a young experimental winery and this wild fermented assyrtiko is a good example of the Gaia style. The ferment follows a half-day of cold skin contact in stainless steel, US and French oak barrels and some acacia barrels. The attack is screamingly fresh with an electric, mineral wet stone entry. On the palate, white flowers and honey fill in the mid but the acid carries it all the way to the finish. Deep fried fish, oysters, clams, mussels: they all work here. The assyrtiko comes exclusively from the vineyard of Pyrgos.Prices: BC 21.99 Producer: Gaia
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Monograph by Gaia Assyrtikotext
88PTS

Monograph by Gaia Assyrtiko 2016

Peloponnese, GreeceMonograph is a focus on a subject or study of work, in this case, a winemaker’s work with the ancient, indigenous, grape variety, assyrtiko. The nose is a mix of sea salt, resin, minerals with a whiff of almonds. The Gaia estate, in Nemea, boasts on average 25-year-old vines. This one is dry, bright and crisp, simple yet expressive, and an honest white with a few watts of electricity to make it feel very alive. Super value and very food friendly.Prices: BC 21.99 Producer: Gaia
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04 January 2019

Blomidon Chardonnaytext
89PTS

Blomidon Chardonnay 2016

Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia, CanadaThis is a lean and citrus-dressed chardonnay from Nova Scotia's Annapolis Valley, and the marine Atlantic nature certainly strikes out from this bottle. At this youthful stage, that butts right up against the French oak fermentation and rest for ten months. The wood, though moderate, works against the crisp green apple, lemon, fine cream, leaving the finish a little clumsy. I'd partner this now with poached chicken or saucy clams, or put it away for a couple of years to let the elbows and knees settle. Serious effort.Prices: NS 35.00 Producer: Blomidon Estate Winery
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Kitsch 7 Barrel Chardonnaytext
90PTS

Kitsch 7 Barrel Chardonnay 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaKitsch came out of the gate strong four vintages ago with their laser rieslings, as well as their packaging progress (SAXX underwear are a past enterprise of 4th gen Kelownans Ria and Trent Kitsch). A smart hire of sommelier Grant Biggs as the winemaker has solidified the winery as one to watch. Some 169 cases (aka seven barrels) of this estate chardonnay was made, from clone 95 planted on silty loam over sand in 2013. This was whole cluster pressed, native fermented, and spent ten months in French oak (69 percent new), the latter of which is espied in the deeper yellow hue. Baked yellow apples, bright lemon is scented with wild thyme on a medium bodied, well-hemmed palate. The oak is well enveloped by the fruit, supporting, and just peeking out around the edges at this young age. There's a lovely savoury flintiness and spice that lingers on the finish. This northern Okanagan chardy will benefit from a couple of years in the cellar. Impressive showing.Prices: BC 40.00 Producer: Kitsch Wines
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Kitsch Chardonnaytext
89PTS

Kitsch Chardonnay 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaKitsch came out of the gate strong four vintages ago with their laser rieslings, as well as their packaging progress (SAXX underwear are a past enterprise of 4th gen Kelownans Ria and Trent Kitsch). A smart hire of somm Grant Biggs as winemaker has solidified the winery as one to watch. This is estate chardonnay, clone 95, planted in 2013 on silty loam over sand. After whole cluster pressing and fermentation in stainless, this spent eight months in neutral French oak. Gently creamy and ripe, with Anjou pear, yellow apple, white peaches and apricot kisses. Though softer in form, this is not dumbed down; the elbows acidity keeps it in the easy, moreish drinkability range. This is a well-made chardy suitable for a smart crowd. Bonus : $1 from each bottle will benefit Mamas for Mamas.Prices: BC 24.00 Producer: Kitsch Wines
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MadFish Chardonnaytext
87PTS

MadFish Chardonnay 2016

Western Australia, AustraliaFrom the southwest corner of Western Australia, this is named for Madfish Bay, referencing the closeness of the winery to the Southern Ocean. Perfumed baked apple, ripe pear, melon, white florals on a moderate palate, all in stainless for a fresher style. Easy and accessible.Prices: BC 21.50 Producer: Burch Family Wines
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Mission Hill Reserve Chardonnaytext
87PTS

Mission Hill Reserve Chardonnay 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe MHFE Reserve tier is sourced from the top 15 percent of their estate vineyards, with three quarters of the same blocks used year over year to ensure consistency. That said, there is no sharing as to where the fruit for this vintage of chardy is from. Oak influence is evident here, via the round, pear, white peach, lemon curd and lees-lined palate, one lined with zingy lime peel to brighten, but weighed down by a soft, lactic creaminess. Safe, accessible, simple, and highly suitable for similar foods.Prices: BC 21.49 Producer: Mission Hill Family Estate
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Hidden Bench Felseck Vineyard Chardonnaytext
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Hidden Bench Felseck Vineyard Chardonnay 2015

Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, CanadaHararld Thiel and Hidden Bench gets it. This is an assured, elegant and powerful wine, carrying toasted popcorn, salted butter, flicks of reduction along a structural, medium bodied palate, one lined with brown butter. This is from their certified organic Beamsville Bench estate and part of their Terroir Series, and well reflects the mineral-laden soils of Felseck Vineyard. Gravitas and interest to drink now, and go the distance. Quintessential Beamsville, and classic Hidden Bench.Prices: ON 40.00 Producer: Hidden Bench Vineyards & Winery
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Tawse Chardonnay Lenko Vineyardtext
89PTS

Tawse Chardonnay Lenko Vineyard 2013

This is a single vineyard chardonnay from the Lenko family of growers, situated in Beamsville Bench. Popcorn, lemon curd, nut butter, flax fill the expansive palate of this 12.5 degree wine, impressively. Very rich, and now showing the honey cusp of age. Drink now.Prices: ON 45.00 Producer: Tawse Winery
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Rachis & Derma Skin Fermented White Chardonnaytext
90PTS

Rachis & Derma Skin Fermented White Chardonnay 2017

Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, CanadaOntario VQA announced a category for skin-fermented whites to thrive in July of 2017, trickling into the market a number of local orange wines. Rachis & Derma is the natural wine of Hidden Bench, and this skin-contact chardonnay is from estate organically farmed grapes, whole cluster, fermented natural, and with 46 days on skins before resting in older barrels nine months pre bottling unfined and unfiltered with no sulphur added. Grapefruit pith, bergamot essence stream through the cleansing, brisk, fresh palate, one that alluringly grips at the sides and encourages food and / or another glass. This is tight and nervy, lean and energetic, clean as a whistle, and an impressive start in the orange realm from Harald Thiel. Why they named this Rachis & Derma (skins and bones) and not under the Hidden Bench label astounds me, as does the name White Chardonnay.Prices: ON 35.00 Producer: Hidden Bench Vineyards & Winery
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Meyer Family Vineyards Chardonnay Tribute Series Joannie Rochette Old Main Road Vineyardtext
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Meyer Family Vineyards Chardonnay Tribute Series Joannie Rochette Old Main Road Vineyard 2017

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaMeyer Family Vineyards are known for their single-vineyard chardonnays and pinot noirs. This Tribute Series Chardy is from the family's Old Main Road Vineyard in Naramata, a gently sloping northern aspect site planted in 1996 on silt loams over clay. The 2017 Tribute Series Chardonnay honours Joannie Rochette, a medalled Canadian figure skater. After a gentle pressing, this was fermented long and cool in stainless before heading to French oak (22 percent new) to complete fermentation and rest sur lees for 11 months without battonage. This was then bottled unfined and unfiltered. Structural and boned with reductive threading, this bursts with lemon, green apple, stones, dried thyme spicing and fine mineral salts. This site was planted in 1996 tounknown clone(s).Prices: BC 30.52 Producer: Meyer Family Vineyards
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Sperling Vineyards Chardonnaytext
91PTS

Sperling Vineyards Chardonnay 2016

East Kelowna, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaFrom the Sperling family's historic and limestone-laced Kelowna vineyard, this chardonnay is fermented and aged in large-format French oak barrels, the structure of which is felt on the medium-plus, flint-slicked palate. We love the Flake salts throughout what is a savoury white, tinged with white asparagus, white peach, flaxen lees and wafts of Meyer lemon blossom on a bed of French cream. The acidity is just enough to counter the weight and ripeness, leaving a lingering hum in the mouth. Lovely depth and complexity, more reminiscent of the Ontario chardonnay style, but this it feels firmly Okanagan. Halibut and a fresh fruit salsa would be affine match.Prices: BC 26.00 Producer: Sperling Vineyards
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03 January 2019

Narrative White by Okanagan Crush Padtext
87PTS

Narrative White by Okanagan Crush Pad 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis year's Narrative white is a blend of chardonnay, viognier, gew and riesling, sourced from various growers around the Okanagan. Components were native fermented and aged separately for eight months in concrete and stainless. It's a curious mix that results in a fruit salad of tangerine, peach fuzz, apricot, lime, perfumed florals and green apple. Thankfully this is held dry and aloft with acidity. A line of soap strings throughout, and a ring of dried sage lingers on the finish.Prices: BC 19.90 Producer: Okanagan Crush Pad Winery
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Play Estate Ad Libtext
86PTS

Play Estate Ad Lib 2015

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis is a light bodied blend of sauvignon blanc and semillon, light with pear, perfumed pink blossoms, soap, melon. This is a 2015, and currently tasting it's age, meaning tired. Wondering if this is older inventory, and hoping more current, fresher vintages make its way out shortly.Prices: BC 20.00 Producer: Play Estate Winery
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Le Soulatext
91PTS

Le Soula 2012

IGP Côtes Catalanes, Roussillon, South of France, FranceLe Soula comes from one of Southern France's most exciting natural and biodynamic wineries, run by winemaker Gérard Gauby, who found the abandoned vines in the Cotes Catalans in Roussillon in the late 1990s. In 2012 the blend is Macabeu, Sauvignon Blanc, Grenache Blanc, Marsanne, Roussanne, Vermentino and Malvasia grown on decomposed granite and gneiss at some 500m altitude in the Fenouillèdes region (the French word for fennel). Look for a yellow-orange hue with wild notes of pineapple, peach and tangerine dusted with wild herbs or garrigue. A citrus perfume freshens the front palate followed by a textured, skin-contact, mid-palate laced with almonds, mineral salts and more complexing garrigue. White wine for contemplation and any style of food you can imagine.Prices: BC 55.99 Producer: Le Soula
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Sperling Market White Organictext
88PTS

Sperling Market White Organic 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis is replay of last year and we are happy with this low alcohol, aromatic white that checks in at 11 percent. The nose is orchard fruit fresh, the palate is dry and refreshing with citrus, red apple and orange that stays vibrant throughout thanks to lively limey acidity. It matched well with an order of mixed sushi rolls and sashimi.Prices: BC 19.99 Producer: Sperling Vineyards
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The Hatch Dynasty Whitetext
88PTS

The Hatch Dynasty White 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe goal of Dynasty White is extravagant opulence, and the vectors are chardonnay mixed with sémillon and viognier. The attack is rich with floral perfume leading to apple pie, baked pears, vanilla and a touch of sweet lemon curd countered by a fresh finish that keeps you coming back to the glass. There is an aura of the exotic suggesting this would be best suited to richer menu items and or spicy items like a Thai or Indian curry. Ready to drink.Prices: BC 29.99 Producer: The Hatch
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Free Form Whitetext
89PTS

Free Form White 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis is a proper skin contact wine, not a quick to market trendy, one, but one that was native fermented, spent eight months on skins in a mix of concrete and large format oak, after which the lot of pinot blanc, chardonnay and viognier was pressed off into concrete. It tightened in stainless before going into bottle prior to bottling. This dry, textural wine is brisk with an astringent tannic rinse of bergamot, pear skin, apricot, and a rinse of stones and big grip that lingers with a kiss of apricot on the finish. This is Secrest pinot blanc (92 percent) plus equal parts chardonnay and viognier, all organically farmed. This savoury orange is tasting beauty now, but will also benefit with time, as does all of Matt Dumayne's wines.Prices: BC 28.00 Producer: Okanagan Crush Pad Winery
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02 January 2019

Sunrock Vineyard Red Meritagetext
88PTS

Sunrock Vineyard Red Meritage 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaSunRock is a hallowed sight for syrah but the south-west facing vineyard is a heat sink for all the varieties in this Meritage blend that mixes about one third each of cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc and merlot. The fruit is dark, deep and a bit fresher in 2016. The attack is awash in sweet fruit and tannins with notes of cassis, black cherries, plums, smoke and chocolate. This is New World red with an unabashed soft, spicy, ripe style that is ready to drink. Grilled beef is the match for now.Prices: BC 30.49 Producer: Arterra Wines
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Corcelettes Meritagetext
90PTS

Corcelettes Meritage 2016

CanadaI like the mix of 46 merlot, 34 cabernet franc, 14 cabernet sauvignon, 4 malbec and 2 petit verdot that is all estate grown on stony, sandy, loamy, stemwinder soils. And it’s just under 15 percent alcohol. Corcelettes have identified some of the most expressive parts of their vineyard to shape this wine. The attractive lush, silky textures speak to a higher percentage of merlot and cabernet franc and only 14 cabernet sauvignon in the blend. Thank you. Each variety is cellared separately in French oak for 18 months before bottling. A terrific 2016 growing season has left this wine with both a sense of style and elegance. The nose is aromatic, mixing cherries and dried herbs onto a plummy, round, fresh, mulberry scented palate with a pinch of stony acidity elongating the back end. Impressive and should improve in the bottle through 2023.Prices: BC 35.90 Producer: Corcelettes Estate Winery
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Fort Berens Meritagetext
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Fort Berens Meritage 2016

British Columbia, CanadaQuite reduced out of the bottle, so give it some time in the glass or a decanter to wake up. The colour is light, the nose meaty with a vegetative undercurrent. The blend is 75 percent merlot with 15 cabernet sauvignon and 10 percent cabernet franc. The nose takes away from the impressive soft textures and blackberry, cedary fruit that sits beneath. This needs some time in the bottle to get sorted, otherwise serve now with a winter hardy stew.Prices: BC 25.99 Producer: Fort Berens Estate Winery
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Fort Berens Reserve Meritagetext
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Fort Berens Reserve Meritage 2016

British Columbia, CanadaA step up from the regular white label Meritage, the latest Reserve Meritage comes with a new grey label and a blend of 55 percent cabernet sauvignon (sourced in the Similkameen), 37 percent merlot and eight percent cabernet franc from the home estate in Lillooet. The nose has a meaty, earthy, reductive note found in the other FB meritage this year, so decanting and getting some air on this wine is a must at this point. The nose is a smoky, herbal, cedar affair and the same nuances spill onto the palate. The dark fruit is covered in toasted oak and smoke with some prominent acidity pushing through the back end. Back to the drawing board.Prices: BC 31.99 Producer: Fort Berens Estate Winery
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Mission Hill Family Estate Oculustext
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Mission Hill Family Estate Oculus 2014

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe 2014 Oculus blends 50/24/21/5 merlot, cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon and petit verdot, all from their estate Osoyoos vineyard, and all fermented and aged in French oak (one quarter of which was new). Fleshy black and red fruit, ample cassis, tobacco is plush with density, and brooding in youth. Cool river stones set grippy / gritty tannins, with impressive freshness that easily counters the weight. This is a well built wine, and one that will easily improve over the next decade. Loving the direction that these wines are taking under Darryl Brooker and team.Prices: BC 135.00 Producer: Mission Hill Family Estate
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Osoyoos Larosetext
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Osoyoos Larose 2015

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaI’m not surprised that Osoyoos Larose appears to have easily disposed of the hottest year ever in 2015, turning it into a fabulous New World wine as the French often do in California, Chile and Argentina. OL is the original single vineyard in BC, raised from the beginning to be a vineyard that was built for the blend. The rootstock and clone combinations were selected in Bordeaux, shipped to Canada, and planted by hand in high density. The 2015 is certainly the ripest, roundest version we have tasted but without the sugar or sweetness you might expect. Expect a full-bodied black and red fruit entry that maintains its poise on the palate amid perfectly textured tannins. A great start for a wine that can age effortlessly for a decade before it begins to reveal its true story. Le Grand Vin is fully owned by Groupe Taillan after buying out Constellation Brands. The 2015 blend is 71 merlot, 12 cabernet franc, 8 cabernet sauvignon 5 petit verdot and 4 malbec.Prices: BC 47.99 MB 46.06 ON 47.95 QC 44.60 SK 58.30 NL 52.49 AB 45.99 Producer: Osoyoos Larose Estate Winery
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Time Meritage Redtext
89PTS

Time Meritage Red 2016

Oliver, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaHarry McWatters founded the Meritage term in Canada, convincing the original Napa group to make the term available to other North America producers and now around the world. The 2016 Time red is merlot dominated, mixing 65 percent merlot, 20 percent cabernet sauvignon and 15 percent cabernet franc. Classic aromas with red berries, black cherry, and peppery nuances. The style is lighter, a departure from the boisterous blends of the past, offering more fragrance and floral notes before the sage and chocolate and cherries punch through. Softer and readier to drink than most, I like it now with ribs or oven roasted beef.Prices: BC 29.99 Producer: Time Estate Winery
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Laughing Stock Vineyards Portfolio +03/10text
93PTS

Laughing Stock Vineyards Portfolio +03/10 2016

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaIn 2016, the Portfolio mix is 51 merlot, 24 cabernet sauvignon, 20 cabernet franc, 4 malbec and one percent petit verdot split between the three Naramata Bench sites and the Perfect Hedge Vineyard in Osoyoos. It’s fermented in a mix of stainless and oak followed by 20 months ageing in French oak, 33 percent of which was new, and 67 percent second use. Far better balanced in 2016, but still offering wild black fruits flecked with a savoury mix of garrigue, black pepper and vanilla. Impressive and just a baby, this is one to watch. Portfolio is all about the blend, in this case encompassing 100 barrels and 12 vineyard blocks across 5 grape varietals. The last few years Portfolio has really upped its elegance quotient, pursuing the secrets of tannin management and turning the gritty and unrefined into the silky, dense and sweet, adding texture and weight without any hardness. It’s the kind of structure that dupes you into thinking you could drink it now rather than weight a decade, and frankly you can do both.Prices: BC 49.99 ON 53.00 AB 53.00 Producer: Laughing Stock Vineyards
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Black Sage Vineyard Meritagetext
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Black Sage Vineyard Meritage 2015

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe hot, dry, smoky summer of 2015 foretold the earliest harvest on record for the Okanagan Valley. The grapes were fermented in small batch open top stainless-steel tanks, punched down twice daily. The wines were aged in new and one-year old French and American barrels and only the ten best made it to the final blend: 4 merlot barrels, 3 cabernet sauvignon, 3 cabernet franc with a dash of petit verdot. The nose is rich with cassis and assorted black fruits with chocolate and roasted coffee bean. The attack is full flavoured with plums, blackberries and smoky, toasted oak. The finish is dominated by thick grutty tannins that are going to need several years to dissipate. Lay this down through 2020.Prices: BC 60.00 Producer: Black Sage Vineyard
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Culmina Family Estate R&D Red Blendtext
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Culmina Family Estate R&D Red Blend 2016

Golden Mile Bench, Oliver, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaResearch and development is at the heart of this series of releases from Culmina, suiting the slow moving, deliberate decisions that emanate from this winery over the years. In fact, twin brothers Ron and Don Triggs have lived the R&D moniker since the days they grew up in Manitoba on the farm. The fruit is all Golden Mile Bench and all five Bordeaux varieties are in the blend. This is serious stuff, fragrant and alive with peppery black fruit, grilled toast and a dryness that calls you back to the glass. The attack is juicy with impressive texture; gone are those sticky tannins of the past, leaving only a long, round savoury finish. A terrific food wine that the Triggs family suggests could include mid-week spaghetti and meatballs or a slow cooker beef stew. This should improve through 2021.Prices: BC 23.95 Producer: Culmina Family Estate Winery
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Van Westen Vineyards Vtext
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Van Westen Vineyards V 2015

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe 15 V, Roman numeral five, is a blend of five Naramata grapes from two vineyards all within 2km from the winery. The 49/17/16/9/9/ merlot, cabernet franc, malbec, cabernet sauvignon and petit verdot come together in this sweet, spicy, floral black-fruited red that finishes long and warm with savoury balsamic notes. It’s the 7th release of this label, and while it's intense, it’s lost a bit of its sophistication in what was a very warm growing season and where the alcohol tends to dominate. My advice is wait a decade to see if it can pull it all togethe,r or enjoy now with a rare steak or leg of lamb.Prices: BC 35.00 Producer: Van Westen Vineyards
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Van Westen Vineyards Voluptuoustext
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Van Westen Vineyards Voluptuous 2015

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe warm 2015 growing season plays into potent, New World style red blends where rich, ripe black fruit is the goal. The is as big as it gets on the Naramata Bench, and by mixing merlot and cabernet franc the texture and the tannins are tilted toward the softer side of the spectrum, finishing spicy and gritty. Red plums, black licorice, sweet tobacco and a savouring black olive undercurrent suggest this wine will comfortably age for another three to five years. For the moment, grilled beef or rich cheeses are the match.Prices: BC 26.00 Producer: Van Westen Vineyards
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01 January 2019

Narrative Non-Fiction Red Blend by Okanagan Crush Padtext
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Narrative Non-Fiction Red Blend by Okanagan Crush Pad 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe mix is 67/33 cabernet sauvignon/cabernet franc from a certified organic vineyard in Osoyoos. Eight months in concrete has given this red a fragrant, black fruit nose and a very juicy upfront attack but there are some, rich, grippy tannins in the back end suggesting it needs time in the bottle to settle. The minty, medicine chest cherry has a spicy mineral undercurrent that runs tod a savoury fresh finish. Grilled sausages would be a fine choice today if you are drinking for the fruit and high energy it brings to the glass, but personally I would wait a couple of years before trying this vintage again.Prices: BC 19.90 Producer: Okanagan Crush Pad Winery
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Corcelettes Cabernet Merlot Micro Lot Seriestext
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Corcelettes Cabernet Merlot Micro Lot Series 2016

CanadaThis estate Similkameen cabernet sauvignon blend is grown on extremely rocky stemwinder soils. This spends 18 months in a mix of French and American oak barrels and vats. It’s hard to get to the wine through the rich sheen of assertive, toasted oak laying over the fruit. Smoke, blackberries and meat linger below the oak, offering a look at the Similkameen in a couple of years. For now, be patient.Prices: BC 31.90 Producer: Corcelettes Estate Winery
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Corcelettes Cabernet Sauvignon - Syrah Menhirtext
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Corcelettes Cabernet Sauvignon - Syrah Menhir 2016

CanadaThe Menhir of Corcelettes, Switzerland, is iconic. It stands tall and proud near the castle of Grandson, where the Baessler family originate. I loved the 2013 Menhir, and the '16 is equally as exciting. The vintage is supreme, and this mix of syrah and cabernet seems like great fit, and Corcelettes' Menhir features 100 percent French puncheon ageing, making a lasting but lighter impression on the fruit. Look for a soft red fruit nose with generous plum and black cherry on the palate. The tannins are fine grained with a savoury dusting of dried herbs. You can drink or hold this wine through 2021. Today I loved it with simply prepared lamb chops.Prices: BC 39.90 Producer: Corcelettes Estate Winery
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Perseus Invictustext
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Perseus Invictus 2015

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaInvictus is the winery's flagship red blend, and a selection of the best barrels. In 2016, that measured out at 42 cabernet franc, 38 merlot, 13 cabernet sauvignon and 7 malbec. This is a dense, dark, red with rich, lush red and black fruit, good freshness, flecks of tobacco, bitter chocolate and warm desert sagebrush. Big and brawny, it is a hedonistic look at the south Okanagan, albeit from a standout vintage. Over the years this wine has struggled with volatile notes and its on the edge again. Best with roasted meats.Prices: BC 54.99 Producer: Perseus
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Fort Berens Red Gold Reservetext
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Fort Berens Red Gold Reserve 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis is Fort Berens' Reserve tier of wines, denoted by the silver-grey label. Red Gold always leads with cabernet franc providing a leafy undercurrent followed by cabernet sauvignon and merlot. Soft, sweet and rich, just over one quarter of this blend was appassimento (all franc fruit) which further concentrates this already ripe blend. Intense red fruit, raspberry, boysenberry jam, cedar ample peppercorn spiciness is topped with a reductive swing, which lengthy decanting would hopefully help. Tannins are smoothed and plush, gliding this to a warming finish. Oddly reminiscent of some older style Chilean reds.Prices: BC 44.99 Producer: Fort Berens Estate Winery
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Black Hills Nota Benetext
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Black Hills Nota Bene 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe 2016 Nota Bene is remarkable for its elegance and freshness, all smartly controlled in a 13.5 degree package. Tight, fresh and pleasantly bitter with walnut, black cherry and framing spicy tannins. Lovely focus and drive here in this structural, savoury wine, one that will reward with cellaring.Prices: BC 59.90 Producer: Black Hills Estate Winery
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Mission Hill Compendiumtext
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Mission Hill Compendium 2014

Osoyoos, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaCompendium is a compendium of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet franc and petit verdot from estate vineyards in Osoyoos (89 percent) and Oliver (11 percent). This grew structure through 15 months in French oak. Deep plum, blueberry scent a rocky bed of stones, bound by gritty, firm tannins and finishing with graphite and a lick of sweet black fruit. This is just a baby, very tight and unrevealing at present, but one cellar-worthy and will reward with time.Prices: BC 82.00 Producer: Mission Hill Family Estate
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Five Vineyards by Mission Hill Cabernet Merlottext
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Five Vineyards by Mission Hill Cabernet Merlot 2015

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis is not my favourite BC blend. The cabernet is always harder and drier then the merlot and even in a warm year like 2015, it remains the case. It’s the awkward angles you notice first, from the acidity to the dry tannins. The black and red fruits are spicy, but the flavours are short and choppy, requiring a juicy grilled hamburger to tone it down and pull it all together.Prices: BC 16.99 AB 15.00 SK 17.99 MB 17.00 ON 17.00 QC 17.00 Producer: Mission Hill Family Estate
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