quicksearch
Anthony Gismondi on Wine
Tasting Notes

Tastings: June 2019

30 June 2019

Unsworth Vineyards TimBuck Two Rieslingtext
88PTS

Unsworth Vineyards TimBuck Two Riesling 2017

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaTimBuck Two is Unsworth Vineyards' range of wines from purchased Okanagan fruit. This was picked from Naramata, and pressed at Unsworth later that same day. Off-dry, with lime sherbet and plenty of green apple acidity, this is a mouthwatering and concentrated white that finishes with a snap and a flush of warmth. Ideal for partnering with spicy Thai or Vietnamese this summer. Great value, but where's the screw cap?Prices: BC 22.00 Producer: Unsworth Vineyards
Read Full Note
Kitsch Maria's Block Rieslingtext
89PTS

Kitsch Maria's Block Riesling 2018

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaMaria is the sweeter of Kitsch's riesling sisters, with a noticeable but not uncomely 16.5 g/L RS in 2018. Both are sourced from the winery's home estate, and from clone 239, planted in 2013. This sister has a plump nectarine, mandarin and mirabelle plum palate, girdled with a lime pith brace and finishing with a medicinal cherry rinse. After whole cluster pressing, this was fermented in stainless, after which it rested there for two months on lees. If you like your rieslings with a bump of sugar and a pop of acid to match, meet Maria.Prices: BC 25.00 Producer: Kitsch Wines
Read Full Note
Kitsch Esther's Block Rieslingtext
90PTS

Kitsch Esther's Block Riesling 2018

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaEster is the dryer of the Kitsch riesling sisters, clocking in at 7.3 g/L in 2018. Sourced from the clay / limestone soils of their Kelowna estate, and clone 239 planted in 2013, this rings with zesty lime and lemon acidity, tangerine peel, fleshy pear, and Rainier cherry. Mouthwatering, with a kiss of bitter lime leaf on the very finish that draws you back for more. Well done. After whole cluster pressing, this was fermented in stainless, after which it rested there for two months on lees.Prices: BC 25.00 Producer: Kitsch Wines
Read Full Note
Mission Hill Terroir Collection Simes Vineyard Rieslingtext
88PTS

Mission Hill Terroir Collection Simes Vineyard Riesling 2018

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaOne of MHFE's select Terroir Series, this comes from East Kelowna's Simes Vineyard, and its cool, north facing silty clay soils. Clone 48, planted in 2008, this was entirely fermented and aged in stainless to preserve the steely, slick palate and focused and intense limey fruit, melon, and perfumed orange blossom. Green apple acids are raging here, buffered by a bed of lees, and the weightier soils, thankfully. Off-dry, this gives an impression of sweet and sour, which may be jarring to some, but will be mitigated by lightly spiced and fragrant Thai or similarly sauced Chinese dishes.Prices: BC 30.00 Producer: Mission Hill Family Estate
Read Full Note

28 June 2019

Quails' Gate Gewürztraminer Orchard Blocktext
89PTS

Quails' Gate Gewürztraminer Orchard Block 2018

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaOrchard Block is a soft and creamy gewürztraminer that leans a bit toward Alsace. The entry is spicy and fresh with orange and lime-laden fruit that floats across the palate. It’s the delicacy that makes this so attractive, and the almost watery texture that keeps you coming back to the glass for more. Not typically Gewürztraminer, but charming in its own right. The source is old 1989 plantings.Prices: BC 21.99 Producer: Quails' Gate Vineyards Estate Winery
Read Full Note
Unsworth Vineyards Wild Islandtext
89PTS

Unsworth Vineyards Wild Island 2017

Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, CanadaThis bottling was made specially for Victoria's OLO restaurant, a temple to all things organic and local. It is available at that downtown Victoria resto, as well as at the Cowichan winery. This wine falls in step with the restaurant's philosophy, with 27 year old pinot auxerrois vines from Zanatta Vineyard, whole cluster pressed, native fermented in older French oak, where it remained for nine months before being bottled unfined and unfiltered. Tight and stencilled pear blossom, meadow grass, apricot, and plump, downy lees slides along the palate to a zesty orange finish. Dry, floral, crisp, focused and still light bodied (12 degrees alcohol), this is a lovely wine to match foods with spice.Prices: BC 23.00 Producer: Unsworth Vineyards
Read Full Note
Testalonga El Bandito Mangalizatext
91PTS

Testalonga El Bandito Mangaliza 2017

Swartland, Coastal Region, South AfricaOne of the stars of South Africa's New Wave wine renaissance, Craig and Carla Hawkins' personal project, Testalonga, is dedicated to experimental wines and rescued grapes, often from old vineyards. All the labels are photos that Craig has taken (this one of a wee field mouse). El Bandito Mangaliza is a single vineyard dry farm hárslevelü, planted on decomposed granite in the Swartland in 1971. Craig fell in love with the grape while making wine for Dirk Niepoort’s project in Austria. After whole bunch pressing, this was native fermented in old French oak and bottled unfined, unfiltered with minuscule suphur. Pouring a light golden hue, dusty stones, wild meadow herbs preview a sleek palate, scented with green fig, prickly pear and quince blossoms. There's a slight grip to the palate, adding another level of interest to this already highly interesting wine.Prices: AB 35.00 Producer: Testalonga
Read Full Note
Field Recordings Chenintext
92PTS

Field Recordings Chenin 2017

Central Coast, California, United StatesAndrew Jones is a vine nursery fieldman, planning and planting vineyards across California. Field Recordings is his personal garagiste project from special sites and vines he's become familiar with over the years. This Chenin is all old vine fruit, blending 1978 Jurassic Park vines, 1972 Schell Creek vines, and 1981 vines from Martin Ranch & Vineyards. Ripe quince, gooseberry, pear skin, almond is deeply bedded with meyer lemon and lees, and seasoned with gingersnap and cardamom spicing. Long and textural on the palate, this rich, impactful wine amazingly belies its slight 11.5 degree frame. Impressive.Prices: BC 45.00 Producer: Field Recordings Wines
Read Full Note
Quails' Gate Chenin Blanctext
88PTS

Quails' Gate Chenin Blanc 2018

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe 2018 Chenin Blanc mixes grapes from their Westbank estate vineyard (and 20-year-old vines) with younger vines from their vineyards in Osoyoos. They infamously still blend in an 8 percent splash of sauvignon blanc, much to my disbelief. Perhaps one day they'll drop this oddity and let the grape, sadly already rare enough in BC, shine. The chenin was whole bunch pressed, fermented in 75 / 25 stainless steel / neutral French oak barrels, and a combination of new and old 500 litre puncheons. Yellow fruits are held tight with a lemon peel brace, and are lined with creamy quince, baked pear, and light lees. The zingy finish hints to the sauvy splash. Once again, solid, but could be spectacular.Prices: BC 23.99 AB 19.99 SK 23.79 MB 18.99 ON 23.00 QC 20.05 NS 23.00 PEI 23.19 NB 23.99 NF 23.00 YK 21.05 Producer: Quails' Gate Vineyards Estate Winery
Read Full Note
Culmina Family Estate Unicustext
89PTS

Culmina Family Estate Unicus 2018

Golden Mile Bench, Oliver, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaFrom their estate grüner veltliner, grown on the high altitude Margaret's Bench, this singular wine was fermented in a combination of concrete egg (35%), concrete amphora (26%), stainless steel (22%), and neutral French oak (17%). The result is a layered white, edgy elbows in youth, but with the structure and intent to merge and age well over the next few years. Lemongrass, lemon peel, white grapefruit, white pepper is coated with a leesy, herbal, citrus wash to a tight, lingering finish. Quite polished, as is the house style. Pour this when you want to stupefy your friends (yup - GruVe from BC).Prices: BC 27.00 Producer: Culmina Family Estate Winery
Read Full Note
Hester Creek Old Vines Block 16 Trebbianotext
90PTS

Hester Creek Old Vines Block 16 Trebbiano 2018

Golden Mile Bench, Oliver, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaOne of the most unique wines in Canada, and this year the 1968-planted, Italian-suitcased vines are showing as confident, and relaxed as can be. Asian pear, honeysuckle, yellow plum, vibrant lemon, ripe melon and subtle quince fill the medium-bodied, sharpened palate. Perfumed papaya lingers on the finish this year, intermingling with lime zest spicing. So much not Okanagan, but yet, so very right.Prices: BC 23.95 Producer: Hester Creek Estate Winery
Read Full Note
Road 13 Roussannetext
88PTS

Road 13 Roussanne 2017

Similkameen Valley, British Columbia, CanadaExotic, intense, complex, unctuous, mineral are all words you can use to describe this giant white wine. The nose is a mix of white florals that preview a fat sumptuous wine that is as big on texture as it is on flavours. The fruit is whole-cluster pressed and fermented in various containers including concrete eggs, stainless steel barrels and older French oak barrels. Look for rich, honeyed pear, pineapple, creamy lees, and vanilla sprinkled with brown spices. Lobster, crab, or roasted chicken work here. Fasten your seat belts.Prices: BC 25.22 Producer: Road 13
Read Full Note
Spearhead Winery White Pinot Noirtext
89PTS

Spearhead Winery White Pinot Noir 2018

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaLast year’s attempt was exciting, but the current release is a whole lot better. A white pinot noir sounds intriguing: there’s gentle, quick whole-bunch pressing, limiting time on the skins, hence it is white, not the standard red colour. The juice is cold settled and fermented to a pleasing dryness before spending time on its lees, taming any exuberant fruit characters and adding a sheen of complexity to the apple, pear, melon flavours. There is a flinty, leesy, salty character that helps to dry the finish, and this year there is very little bitterness. Ready to drink and perfect with late afternoon patio bites.Prices: BC 24.00 Producer: Spierhead Winery
Read Full Note
Culmina Family Estate Unicustext
91PTS

Culmina Family Estate Unicus 2018

Golden Mile Bench, Oliver, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe sign of serious wine is repeating the experience year after year. Enter Culmina Unicus. It nailed it last year, and it did it again with 2018. The fruit is grown high above the valley floor on Margaret's Bench along the Golden Mile Bench. It’s a delicious mix of minerality infused grapefruit and white pepper with a dusting of dried herbs. The palate is similarly exciting with sweet lemon and guava and a long weighty finish. Drink or hold, the future is bright for this wine. Well done. Real wine. The new BC.Prices: BC 27.00 Producer: Culmina Family Estate Winery
Read Full Note
Hillside Gewürztraminertext
88PTS

Hillside Gewürztraminer 2018

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThere’s a reason why the Hillside Gewürztraminer is so fragrant: it’s from Naramata. But it’s equally exotic too, packed full of spice and sweet fruits. This off-dry, litchi, tangerine, pink grapefruit party-in-a-glass makes for a fun patio sipper. That said, you can chill it down and put it work with any number of spicy South Asian dishes including your favourite curry. Super value, it will likely sell out before the hottest days of summer.Prices: BC 19.12 Producer: Hillside Winery
Read Full Note
Lake Breeze Pinot Blanctext
88PTS

Lake Breeze Pinot Blanc 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaPinot Blanc is the signature label at Lake Breeze, and the wine has remained excellent over the years. The 2017 is fresh and juicy and livelier than 2016. The mix of fresh pear and peach flecked with dry sage is an intriguing combination. The finish is bright with noticeable stony, minerality. This skinnier version will appeal to many and work well with west coast seafood. Each year Lake Breeze supplements its Okanagan fruit with fruit from the Similkameen Valley. Fine value and ready to drink.Prices: BC 18.90 Producer: Lake Breeze Vineyards
Read Full Note

27 June 2019

De Martino Viejas Tinajas Cinsaulttext
92PTS

De Martino Viejas Tinajas Cinsault 2018

Itata Valley, ChileThis wine really stuck De Martino, and Itata, on the world wine map when the first vintage in 2011 was released. They found used and abandoned tinajas, handmade clay jars of varying shapes and sizes, while driving through vineyards in southern Chile, and decided to try these for making wine in as their ancestors did. They now have approximately 150 of these vessels in their care, averaging 150 years each. The 2018 is youthful with perfumed lavender, wild herbs and a fine infusion of tea leaves. Gentle and soft pink grapefruit brightens the core, while easy acidity and whisper fine tannins tie it together to the salty finish. Very special.Prices: BC 45.00 Producer: De Martino
Read Full Note

26 June 2019

Quails' Gate Dry Rieslingtext
88PTS

Quails' Gate Dry Riesling 2018

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe QG classic continues to walk the dry tightrope with super bright acidity pushing through on the palate. Look for citrus, green apple that runs linearly through the wine, keeping it slim and focused to the finish. 2017 is equally nimble and lively, with lemon, orchard fruit salad mixed with fresh cut green apple. Pure fun, dry and ready to drink.Prices: BC 16.99 AB 18.00 MB 16.99 YK 19.05 ON 17.95 QC 18.95 NB 19.95 Producer: Quails' Gate Vineyards Estate Winery
Read Full Note
Fort Berens Dry Rieslingtext
88PTS

Fort Berens Dry Riesling 2018

Lillooet, British Columbia, CanadaDry is a relative term. This first-ever Lillooet VQA wine carries a swig of 9.2 g/l RS, which serves well to match against the searingly racy, lemon lime acidity. From clone 21B, brought from Germany to Canada in 1979, this was stainless fermented to preserve the fresh fruit. Tangerine, Asian pear, green apple is tightened with lime sherbet to a snappy finish.Prices: BC 18.99 Producer: Fort Berens Estate Winery
Read Full Note
Bordertown Dry Rieslingtext
87PTS

Bordertown Dry Riesling 2018

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaBordertown’s Dry Riesling is a serviceable edition of Okanagan riesling. The nose is muted, the attack dry and crisp with just a hint of green apple and citrus on the nose. The palate is similar with fresh acidity but low fruit intensity, mostly reminiscent of lime. Food friendly and ready to drink, try this with chicken or pork.Prices: BC 17.00 Producer: Bordertown Vineyards and Estate Winery
Read Full Note
Tantalus Den's Block Old Vines Rieslingtext
92PTS

Tantalus Den's Block Old Vines Riesling 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaI’m a fan of the 2016 vintage that got off to a quick start before cooling off and slowing down. The fall was warm and sunny, but by then, the evenings were cool – perfect riesling weather. Den’s Block Riesling was launched in 2016 to honour BC wine industry pioneer, Daniel Martin Dulik. Dulik established some of the earliest vinifera in Canada, planting riesling vines sourced from the Weis family of Mosel's St. Urban-Hofs winery back in 1978. There is excellent intensity mixed with bright fruit reminiscent of apricots, peaches, white cherries, pear, orange marmalade and an enticing nervous mineral citrus finish. Drink or hold for a decade or more. The fruit is hand selected from a handful of rows in Block 5, and is Clone 21B 1978 riesling plants. The clusters were handpicked, gently whole-bunch pressed and fermented wild in neutral oak puncheons. Fermentation was then arrested in the first window of balance, paying homage to Dulik’s love of the Mosel Spatlese style.Prices: BC 34.70 Producer: Tantalus Vineyards
Read Full Note
Tantalus Rieslingtext
90PTS

Tantalus Riesling 2018

East Kelowna, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThere is nothing regular about the “regular” Tantalus riesling, and judging by the rush to southeast Kelowna to grow riesling, pinot noir, and chardonnay, the terroir is equally compelling. The purity of fruit is the Tantalus signature, and you get that and more in this 2018, a vintage that started slow, and slowed down under a haze of summer smoke before harvest. The wine is bright, clean and refreshing with signature aromas of tangerines, lime leaf, and flowers that spill across its stony, mineral palate, flecked with kiwi and starfruit. Just a baby, you can drink it now or hold it a decade.Prices: BC 19.91 Producer: Tantalus Vineyards
Read Full Note
Tantalus Old Vines Rieslingtext
91PTS

Tantalus Old Vines Riesling 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaI like that the Old Vines is held back at the winery for two years before it's released. It is only fair to the old vines and the time required for this wine to settle in and show its true sense of place, aromas, and flavours. Make no mistake: Old Vines is the pinnacle “place” wine thanks to a 2-acre plot known as Block 5, planted over marginal, deep silty soils and protected from the warm, late day sun by a stand of Ponderosa pine trees. For years it has over-delivered, and 2016 is no exception. The growing season was a mix of fast and slow before its longest ever finish. The colour is as non-existent as the aromas are intense, from lime leaf and lemon zest to hints of wet slate and chalk. More stony, mineral citrus mixed with lime pith, nectarines, grapefruit and pineapple in a barely off-dry format. Sophisticated and unique, and that's rare in the wine business.Prices: BC 30.35 Producer: Tantalus Vineyards
Read Full Note
Spearhead Rieslingtext
88PTS

Spearhead Riesling 2018

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaNicely shaped by winemaker Grant Stanley, this riesling has an Okanagan Valley ID, mixing fruit from Seven Mountain Vineyard on Mount Boucherie, and Gentleman Farmer Vineyard in southeast Kelowna. The fresh, gentle style comes with a dusting of sweetness, squeaky lime, a touch of white flowers, and a stony mineral undercurrent. Mouthwateringly delicious and ready to drink. Drink now or hold - no rush.Prices: BC 21.00 Producer: Spierhead Winery
Read Full Note
Lunessence Reserve Rieslingtext
87PTS

Lunessence Reserve Riesling 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe 2017 Reserve is made with Oliver fruit and opens much drier than the previous edition. The attack is tart with green apple and pear, and bits of juicy lime cordial and honey. I like the texture and the mouthwatering edgy flavours that are fine with some foods, though might be difficult for some to understand. At 10.5 percent alcohol, it's easy to sip, and the bottle will no doubt disappear quickly over lunch. It just lacks a little energy.Prices: BC 27.99 Producer: Lunessence Winery & Vineyard
Read Full Note
Culmina Family Estate R&D Dry-ish Rieslingtext
88PTS

Culmina Family Estate R&D Dry-ish Riesling 2018

Golden Mile Bench, Oliver, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaNearly dry is the key message here, and it's truthful. Fresh and vibrant with just a bump of sugar to smooth out the acidity, this riesling is sharpened and ready to go. This comes off Stan’s Bench, 500 metres above sea level, making it one of the highest vineyards in the south Okanagan. It is abstainless steel ferment, leaving it crisp and fresh with a mix of melon, apples and honeysuckle throughout. The winery offers up a delicious list of food pairings such as, “buttermilk fried chicken, potato salad, and as many ‘family’ members who find themselves walking through the back gate". Super value.Prices: BC 22.00 Producer: Culmina Family Estate Winery
Read Full Note

21 June 2019

Phantom Creek Estates Pinot Gristext
91PTS

Phantom Creek Estates Pinot Gris 2017

Okanagan Falls, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaPhantom Creek worked with two vineyard blocks in nearby Okanagan Falls to make this 2017 Pinot Gris. The wine was made by the now departed winemaker Ross Wyse, working with Alsace winemaker and consultant Oliver Humbrecht (his first ever work outside of his property) and Californian Anne Vawter. It was painstakingly fermented to dryness over seven months using indigenous yeasts, and a portion was aged in oak to add further mouthfeel and spice. Alsace is very much the model here, and it carries the style with all the necessary opulence and complexity. Look for a variety of floral and orange notes, mixed with pears and spice that linger throughout the long finish. A stunning start on a very different track of most pinot gris grown outside of Alsace. As you might expect, it's very food friendly.Prices: BC 30.00 Producer: Phantom Creek Estates
Read Full Note
Phantom Creek Estates Rieslingtext
89PTS

Phantom Creek Estates Riesling 2017

East Kelowna, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaIt seems everyone is awaiting the reds wines at Phantom Creek, but the early white releases suggest they will be equally impressive. The riesling is made from purchased fruit in east Kelowna, from 10-year-old vines and is fermented dry over four months using only native yeasts. It's aged in a mix of stainless steel and neutral barrels to preserve the authentic flavours of this dry riesling. 2017 was an up and down vintage, leading to lower yields that eventually helped to promote higher concentration during the long dry fall. The nose is quiet, following a reserved Euro-style. The colour a deeper yellow than the norm. On the palate, the yellow fruits and pears preview a dry firm style, finishing tart and clean. The low fruit will disappoint a few, but the texture and length will attract others. It’s a matter of style and its good to have another look at east Kelowna fruit.Prices: BC 30.00 Producer: Phantom Creek Estates
Read Full Note
Phantom Creek Estates Phantom Creek Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignontext
92PTS

Phantom Creek Estates Phantom Creek Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2016

Oliver, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe cabernet sauvignon planted at Phantom Creek Vineyard was 20 years-old in 2016, a legacy of viticulturist Richard Cleave, who planted the seven-acre vineyard around his home. In all, there are three clones on the site which adds to the complexity of the wine and the flexibility given the winemaker, especially when you consider how difficult it is to ripen cabernet sauvignon so far north. 2016 was a great year for grapes in BC, and this wine reflects the growing season. It was picked Oct 2 and matured 18 months in French oak, of which 80 percent is new. The nose is bright with intense cassis mixed with plums and chocolate, but this wine is all about finesse and texture – a rare quality in cabernet sauvignon more famous for its power and structure. Watch out Napa, this is how it’s done. An impressive first effort.Prices: BC 80.00 Producer: Phantom Creek Estates
Read Full Note
Phantom Creek Estates Becker Vineyard Cuvéetext
92PTS

Phantom Creek Estates Becker Vineyard Cuvée 2016

Oliver, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaIt’s been 24 years since Becker Vineyard, up against the Okanagan Highland Mountains on the Black Sage Bench, proved that late-ripening red varieties could thrive in the South Okanagan with precision viticulture. Much has been replanted, but it is all performing well. In 2016 the fruit was harvested between October 14 and November 4, yielding 34 barrels aged 18 months in 55 percent new French oak. The blend is 39/35/26 merlot, cabernet franc and cabernet sauvignon. The nose is Okanagan aromatic, mixing sagebrush, balsamic, and black fruits that spill across the palate that is like all the Phantom Creek wines do: texture-focused. The tannins are chalky and dense supporting the plummy blackberry and black olives to the finish. One to cellar through 2023 and beyond. Well done.Prices: BC 60.00 Producer: Phantom Creek Estates
Read Full Note
Phantom Creek Estates Phantom Creek Vineyard Cuvéetext
94PTS

Phantom Creek Estates Phantom Creek Vineyard Cuvée 2016

Oliver, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaPhantom Creek picked a great year to release its red blend containing all the red grapes they grow at Phantom Creek Vineyard picked between September 26 and October 15. Only 13 barrels were made of this 38/26/15/8/8/5/ mix of cabernet sauvignon, petit verdot, malbec, syrah, cabernet franc and merlot. Climate change and impeccable farming have given cabernet sauvignon a foothold in the south Okanagan, it's not a get out of jail free card for the stubborn variety, but it's evident in the right spot and the right year with perfect farming it can over deliver in a way California or Bordeaux can. The fruit, while intense and on edge covers the palate aided by the structure and bones of the cabernet sauvignon. The rest of the grapes work to fill in the flesh and texture and easily mingle as one to a fabulous finish. Style with grace and power this is one of the most excellent first red wine releases from a BC winery that I have experienced. Kudos to the whole team, many who no longer work at Phantom Creek – lets hope the new regime can keep it going.Prices: BC 100.00 Producer: Phantom Creek Estates
Read Full Note

20 June 2019

Kitsch Pinot Noir Rosétext
88PTS

Kitsch Pinot Noir Rosé 2018

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis floral rosé is kissed with roses, raspberries, rhubarb and rinsed with a tangerine astringency. From estate pinot noir clones 777 and 115, planted in 2014, this had up to 16 hours skin contact, relaying a peach blush hue, before whole cluster pressing and fermentation and a short stint in stainless. Watermelon juicy, snappy and with just a blip of sugar to meet the brisk acidity, this is a fun and likeable winner for this summer.Prices: BC 25.00 Producer: Kitsch Wines
Read Full Note
CedarCreek Platinum Block 1 Pinot Noir Rosétext
91PTS

CedarCreek Platinum Block 1 Pinot Noir Rosé 2018

East Kelowna, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaOnce again, the Platinum rosé, from the home estate's Block 1, is all elegance. Harvested in two picks, and partially native fermented in neutral oak, this took just one hour in contact with the pinot noir skins to transmit the lovely, gentle pink hue. Three months on the lees added a fine cushion of lees to the medium-bodied palate, elongating this in the mouth to a lingering, moreish finish. Wild strawberries, spice, cherry blossoms and a refreshing tangerine astringency keeps things fresh and buoyant, while a vein of savoury stones grounds this. Serious pink.Prices: BC 29.99 Producer: CedarCreek Estate Winery
Read Full Note
Sperling Pinot Noir Rosétext
88PTS

Sperling Pinot Noir Rosé 2018

East Kelowna, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaPouring a deeper peach hue, this year's Pinot Noir Rosé was macerated from organically-grown estate pinot noir, spending 2-3 hours on skins to impart the hue. Cherry, raspberry, mandarin is brightened by a rise of acidity, and held dryish, with only a wee bump of sugar on a slender palate. Clean, easy, red fruited, and fun, this is a lovely pink for this season.Prices: BC 20.00 Producer: Sperling Vineyards
Read Full Note
Mission Hill Terroir Collection Brigadier's Bluff Rosétext
89PTS

Mission Hill Terroir Collection Brigadier's Bluff Rosé 2018

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe Terroir Series focuses on singular terroirs and estates that the MHFE team deem of particular note. This rosé is a blend of merlot, cabernet franc and syrah from a small vineyard in eastern Osoyoos that sees time in stainless and oak (10% of the latter). Red florals, strawberry jam, light cinnamon spicing rides a thick pad of glycerol on the medium+ palate to a snappy tangerine finish. Provençal styled, from the hue to the silkiness, to the packaging (the cork and wax top seal can go, though, really), this will appeal to those seeking a local version of a yachting rosé.Prices: BC 30.00 Producer: Mission Hill Family Estate
Read Full Note
Mission Hill Reserve Rosétext
88PTS

Mission Hill Reserve Rosé 2018

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaFrom estate vineyards in Osoyoos, this blends merlot, shiraz, and pinot noir into a slick, silky, dryish pink. Lined with glycerol and plump with strawberry, raspberry jam and florals, this fuller bodied rosé finishes with a raft of peppercorn spices. Chill well and enjoy this summer.Prices: BC 19.49 Producer: Mission Hill Family Estate
Read Full Note

19 June 2019

Goodfellow Family Cellars Whistling Ridge Vineyard Pinot Noirtext
93PTS

Goodfellow Family Cellars Whistling Ridge Vineyard Pinot Noir 2016

Willamette Valley, Oregon, United StatesFrom Marcus Goodfellow's renamed winery (nee Matello Cellars) and reflective of his young children / future cellar rats. I've been tasting with Marcus for many years, and still firmly hold that he is one of America's top winemakers. This 2016 pinot noir, from Ribbon Ridge AVA's exceptional marine sedimentary soiled Whistling Ridge Vineyard is proof positive. According to Marcus, his "least favourite flavour in wine is dogma". He seeks out special vineyards around the Willamette, forging strong bonds with the owners, and oversees all the growing for his 4000 annual case production. This is dry farmed, 20-30 year old vine massale selection pinot (6+ clones), 50 percent whole cluster, and with 20 months in French oak (30 percent new). Black raspberry, streamlined and narrow leads the finessed palate, baked with iris, white pepper, dried herbs, white pepper. Structural but so finely so, with bamboo tannins suggesting, rather than shouting, framework. Acidity is lofty and tight, creating an energetic flow through the lingering finish. Drinking beautifully now, but Marcus' wines age incredibly, so I recommend using patience.Prices: USA 45.00 Producer: Goodfellow Family Cellars
Read Full Note
Martin's Lane Simes Vineyard Pinot Noirtext
90PTS

Martin's Lane Simes Vineyard Pinot Noir 2015

East Kelowna, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaSoft, warm and welcoming, with kirsch, plum, cola, perfumed musk all bracketed with a corset of baking spices. There's a seasoning of savoury pencil shavings and a chute of silken, cedar-scented tannins that pull this along a generous palate to the finish. Unlike the cooler 2014, this reflects the warmth of the 2015 vintage, the hottest on record for the Okanagan. Still quite serious, but more primed for drinking now.Prices: BC 100.00 Producer: Martin's Lane Winery
Read Full Note
Haywire Waters and Banks Pinot Noirtext
89PTS

Haywire Waters and Banks Pinot Noir 2015

Summerland, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaWaters & Banks vineyard is a steep sloping Summerland vineyard comprised of limestone and granite. This pinot noir, clones 115 and 667, was wild yeast and whole bunch fermented and spent four weeks on skins before resting in concrete eggs for 11 months. Strawberry liquorice, dusky raspberry, sapid cherry veined with fine acidity and finishing with a earthy, woodsy, smokey kiss. Tannins are nubile, near negligible. The warmth of 2015 is felt here on the mid, though the concrete and swell of acidity help to buoy.Prices: BC 39.90 Producer: Okanagan Crush Pad Winery
Read Full Note
Unsworth Vineyards Pinot Noirtext
89PTS

Unsworth Vineyards Pinot Noir 2017

Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, CanadaForest berries, cola, musky perfumed plum, dark and woodsy, fill this medium bodied North Cowichan pinot noir. Sweet baking spices and river stones filter throughout, while tannins are softly nubbly to house the silken fruit to a bright nutmeg-scented finish. This is from Saison Vineyard, and clones 777, 667, and 828. After a ferment in staleness, this spent 15 months in French oak. Lovely coastal freshness, primed for drinking now.Prices: BC 26.00 Producer: Unsworth Vineyards
Read Full Note
Blue Mountain Reserve Pinot Noirtext
91PTS

Blue Mountain Reserve Pinot Noir 2016

Okanagan Falls, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis youthful wine really shines with some airtime, allowing the sweetly spiced, ripe raspberries, sapid strawberries, cherries to expand and relax in the glass. Forest berries, leather, sweet smoke, fine nutmeg and cinnamon season this lengthy, silky, confident pinot, crafted from vines 10-32 years old, and six French clones. After a native ferment, this spent time in new-to-four-year French oak until spring. Tannins are soft and fine, and the finish is soft, fine and lightly smokey.Prices: BC 39.90 AB 44.95 Producer: Blue Mountain Vineyard & Cellars
Read Full Note
Tantalus Pinot Noir Reservetext
91PTS

Tantalus Pinot Noir Reserve 2016

East Kelowna, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis is Tantalus' second release of their Reserve Pinot Noir, its nobility noted by the striking gold Dempsey Bob mask on the label, as well as the black wax seal. Like the inaugural vintage, this was based on the small estate mid-slope block of Dijon 667, but also includes 2006 plantings of 777 and 115. The grapes were native fermented and foot trodden, and between 30-40 percent whole bunch, depending on clone. The blend spent 16 months in French oak (30 percent new) before being bottled unfined and unfiltered. Dusky plum, dark raspberry, brambles, wild blackberry, sarsaparilla pack an earthy, full-bodied palate, very grippy on the sides with long, cedar laced tannins to a savoury finish. Ripe and structured, this impactful pinot is nearly too much wine for a pinot (14.3 declared degrees), though will most certainly mellow with cellaring. For now, a decant and match with duck would be glorious.Prices: BC 60.95 Producer: Tantalus Vineyards
Read Full Note
Quails' Gate Pinot Noir Richard's Blocktext
91PTS

Quails' Gate Pinot Noir Richard's Block 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaRichard’s Block is part of the QG Collector’s Series and takes its name from the family patriarch Richard Stewart, influential in bringing pinot noir to the Okanagan Valley in the early 1970s. The fruit is sourced from the oldest blocks on the Mt. Boucherie slopes, just above the winery. In 2017 all the fruit came from a single block: Field 4, Block 11, planted to clones 667, 117 and 115, of which some are more than 30-years-old. The nose is a complex mix of minerals, violets and earth. The attack is spicy and warm with dense, concentrated, layered fruit. Despite its finesse, this pinot has the power to take on some substantially flavoured dishes such as venison, wild salmon, or Osso Buco. The wine was fermented naturally before aging 13 months in French oak barrels. The alcohol is a moderate 13.5 percent.Prices: BC 54.99 Producer: Quails' Gate Vineyards Estate Winery
Read Full Note

17 June 2019

Sea Star Salish Seatext
88PTS

Sea Star Salish Sea 2018

Pender Island, Southern Gulf Islands, British Columbia, CanadaThis year's Salish Sea blends ortega and siegerrebe from the organically farmed Clam Bay Vineyards on Pender Island. Floral lime blossom, pear, peach, jasmine, apricot on the light, lively palate, one imbued with a soapy aromatic, and finishing with a gush of tangerine. There's a snappy marine freshness indicative of the wine islands.Prices: BC 17.30 Producer: Sea Star Estate Farm and Vineyards
Read Full Note
Sea Star Ortegatext
90PTS

Sea Star Ortega 2018

Pender Island, Southern Gulf Islands, British Columbia, CanadaPretty lemon blossoms, pixellated acidity brightens this citrus, white peach, starfruit white, one of the best ortegas from BC every year. Verbena, light melon, grapefruit streams along the juicy palate to the orange sherbet-lined finish. From 11 year old vines from the organically farmed and mineral-rich Clam Bay Vineyards on Pender Island, neighbouring Sea Star.Prices: BC 17.30 Producer: Sea Star Estate Farm and Vineyards
Read Full Note
Sea Star Stella Maristext
89PTS

Sea Star Stella Maris 2018

Southern Gulf Islands, British Columbia, CanadaStella Maris translates as Star of the Sea Star, and this is the winery's flagship blend. The blend changes every year, and this vintage is a mix of organically-farmed gewürztraminer, pinot gris, schonburger, and ortega from their Pender Island home estate, plus chardonnay from their newly purchased farm on Saturna Island. Lime, perfumed white blossoms, soap, roses, pear, green apple on a slender, streaming palate, one that finishes with a lingering, warming ginger spice. Not quite sure how / why the addition of chardonnay fits into this aromatic white blend, but this years star lacks the finesse and vibrance of last vintage.Prices: BC 20.78 Producer: Sea Star Estate Farm and Vineyards
Read Full Note

07 June 2019

Le Vieux Pin Sauvignon Blanctext
88PTS

Le Vieux Pin Sauvignon Blanc 2018

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaSauvignon blanc is a hard go in BC. Period. This one, however, captures both savvy's inherent greenness, and the Okanagan's intrinsic ripe, fresh orchard fruits. From the Osoyoos Lake District and the Golden Mile Bench, this snappy and brisk white spends four month on the lees in a mix of stainless (65 percent) and French oak, 80 percent of the latter were puncheons. Twice weekly battonage drops to once weekly after two months, giving a comfortable pillow of plump lees to offset the youthful and exuberant green apple tartness. Melon, gooseberry, green fig and lemongrass are wrung with limey acidity to a warming papaya seed finish. If you're a fan of Kiwi savvy, and want to #drinklocal, here you go.Prices: BC 29.99 Producer: Le Vieux Pin
Read Full Note
Clos du Soleil Fumé Blanctext
87PTS

Clos du Soleil Fumé Blanc 2018

British Columbia, CanadaThis year's Fumé Blanc blends three quarters sauvignon blanc and one quarter semillon from Cawston, Keremeos, and Oliver. Unlike previous vintages where the Fumé (wooded) component takes centre state, this year it's all about sauvignon, with tart gooseberry, lemon, sharp lime, peach, orange sherbet on a clipped finish. The wood plays a noticeable, secondary component here, very disjointed from the fruit, with distinctive cedar and sandpaper notes. Quite punchy and warming beyond its 12.8 degrees now. Missing the semillon component in this wine, a grape that should be much more prevalent across BC. This was whole cluster pressed, fermented in stainless and French oak and aged on lees separately for four months prior to blending.Prices: BC 20.90 Producer: Clos du Soleil Winery
Read Full Note
CedarCreek Sauvignon Blanctext
88PTS

CedarCreek Sauvignon Blanc 2018

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaI like that Cedarcreek winemaker Taylor Whelan is taking advantage of the obvious savoury, grassy, herbal notes that permeate the south Okanagan atmosphere late in the growing season. He uses multiple yeats innoculations to perfect a Marlborough-style of sauvignon. Expect gooseberry and white grapefruit with subtle texture provided by a small amount of neutral oak and concrete fermentation. Bone dry with, of course, just a little south Okanagan on the nose. The palate is fresh and bright with great purity. A perfect seafood wine or go for the classic match goat cheese. If yu are fan of Kiwi sauvignon you can now buy a local version.Prices: BC 18.99 Producer: CedarCreek Estate Winery
Read Full Note

05 June 2019

Thomas Pico Vin de Francetext
88PTS

Thomas Pico Vin de France NV

FranceWhen organic winegrower / vintner Thomas Pico lost 80 percent of his crop to the 2016 frosts in Chablis, his "friends of friends of friends" more fortunate, from further south in Limoux, helped him out by providing him with grapes so he could still make a wine, and hopefully, a living. The result is this Vin de France, a blend of 70 chardonnay, 7 chenin, 3 clairette blanche, donated by friends of friends of friends from the south of France. Pico picked earlier than these Limoux mates, enabling him to press the juice there before shipping up to his cave in Chablis where it was aged and bottled the following spring. This creamy, medium-bodied form carries some downy meadow herbs, white florals, and white peaches, with a dusty bitter lemon swing on the shorter finish. A lovely collab. 40000 bottles made.Prices: BC 35.00 Producer: Thomas Pico
Read Full Note
Jean-Paul & Benoit Droin Chablis Premier Cru Montmainstext
90PTS

Jean-Paul & Benoit Droin Chablis Premier Cru Montmains 2016

Chablis, Burgundy, FranceFrom the 1er cru Montmains this is left bank, southeast facing, with slight slope and more clay soils, reflective in the weight of this fuller wine. Ripe and round, with white peach, pear, nougat, almond, vanilla cream, and riffy pear skin. The length of this wine is drawn with fine minerals to a vibrato finish. To match the fullness of the site, Benoit used more wood (40 percent) in the elevage here than in his other crus. Tastes more Burgundian than Chablis.Prices: BC 64.00 Producer: Jean-Paul & Benoit Droin
Read Full Note
Mac Forbes Chardonnaytext
92PTS

Mac Forbes Chardonnay 2018

Yarra Valley, Victoria, AustraliaThis is Mac Forbes Yarra Valley chardy overview, with fruit coming from Healesville, Hoddles Creek and Woori Yallock vineyards. It's wondrous to realize this is his 'entry-level' chardonnay, and there are single vineyard wines to discover beyond this textural, bright example. Flintly notes reflects the reductive swings of this wine, while the lemon-lined, white asparagus, green apple, fluffy lees hint to the native ferment and ten months in old oak on lees and bottling without fining. One of the more serious entry-level wines you'll find, drinking beautifully now when allowed to open and reveal in the glass.Prices: BC 36.00 Producer: Mac Forbes
Read Full Note
Fort Berens Chardonnaytext
87PTS

Fort Berens Chardonnay 2017

Lillooet, British Columbia, CanadaA mix of fruit from their Lillooet estate plus 21 percent from Similkameen goes into this entry tier chardonnay (they also have a Reserve). Green apple, crab apple, underripe pear and cream rule this snappy palate to a slightly bitter edged finish. Youthful and eager, this is best taken with This was partial native fermented, mostly in stainless, with a small amount in new and used French oak. Post ferment, this was barrel aged for nine months.Prices: BC 18.99 Producer: Fort Berens Estate Winery
Read Full Note
Tantalus Chardonnaytext
90PTS

Tantalus Chardonnay 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaTantalus makes two chardonnays every year: the youthful vines one, known as Bear; and this rich, full, powerful and prospectively age worthy one. The richness is certainly evident from first wooded whiff, full of lemon curd, toast, sweet vanilla blossoms, ripe pear, green apple pastry and ample stony mineral spice. At this stage, that wood overrides the fruit, giving just glimpses of what's underneath, until the warming clove finish. However, this wine has structure and intensity, which will be rewarded with time in the cellar. This wine is based on estate 1985 plantings of Oppenheim clone, alongside younger components of Dijon clones, planted in 2007 and 2013. After a native ferment, this aged ten months oak barriques and puncheons, 30 percent new.Prices: BC 19.30 Producer: Tantalus Vineyards
Read Full Note
Blue Mountain Reserve Chardonnaytext
90PTS

Blue Mountain Reserve Chardonnay 2016

Okanagan Falls, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe Reserve Chardonnay is a structural, potent wine of 27-year-old estate vines and five French clones, fermented native and in 30/70 stainless / French wood, from new to forth fill. Ten percent of this wine goes through MLF, and the whole spends additional time on lees for added complexity. Result. Hazelnuts, creamed corn, spice, lemon curd and flinty smoke layer through the French creamy palate, laced with lemon pith to tighten, and surrounded by toasted oak to support. At this young state, the wood is up front, but give this some time in the cellar and that lemony fruit will rise up.Prices: BC 29.90 AB 31.95 Producer: Blue Mountain Vineyard & Cellars
Read Full Note
Domaine Rolet Arbois Chardonnaytext
89PTS

Domaine Rolet Arbois Chardonnay 2015

Arbois, Jura, FranceLemon, yellow apple and fine stony spice thread through this Arbois chardonnay, sourced from 30+ vines on gray marl soils, and from 280-380m. This was fermented and aged in barrel (20 percent new), giving a slight and welcome lees pad to the core. You can feel the weight from the marl soils in the expansiveness on the palate, one that wears its 2015 vintage very well. There's a lovely grip that houses the fruit to a light popcorn finish. Simple, pure and classic Arbois chardy.Prices: ON 34.65 Producer: Domaine Rolet Père & Fils
Read Full Note
Meyer Family Vineyards Chardonnay Micro Cuvée Old Main Road Vineyardtext
92PTS

Meyer Family Vineyards Chardonnay Micro Cuvée Old Main Road Vineyard 2017

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaOne of a series of chardonnays produced by Meyer Family Vineyards, this small lot bottling is from Naramata's Old Main Road Vineyard, a north-facing aspect planted in 1996 on silt and clay loams. The Micro Cuvée is only produced in exceptional vintages for the winery, and although 2017 was tricky due to the forest fires blocking out the sun's UV, in the end, this vineyard worked its magic for MFV. From a selection of early pressings, the must was fermented cool and long in stainless before transferring to French oak (22 percent new) where it remained on lees for 11 months, sans battonage and with MLF. Tight lemon drives though stone, lees, meadow herbs, ripe pear and fine spice, drawing the palate long to the lingering finish. There's a vibrancy that lifts this wine, skipping it along to a snappy end. Much mellower than last year at this youthful age. Classic Meyer, and archetype Naramata.Prices: BC 65.00 Producer: Meyer Family Vineyards
Read Full Note
CheckMate Artisanal Winery Little Pawn Chardonnay Barn Vineyardtext
93PTS

CheckMate Artisanal Winery Little Pawn Chardonnay Barn Vineyard 2015

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaLittle Pawn comes off the Okanagan Highlands foothills of the Black Sage Bench, just southeast of the town of Oliver, Jagged Rock Vineyards (nee The Barn Vineyard) was planted 20 years ago on a west-facing plateau along the Black Sage Bench. The vineyard has a warm, west-facing tilt and is planted to a mix of clones: Dijon 76 and the Dekleva selection all grown with precision vertical shoot positioning at 374 to 380 meters above sea level. It’s a singular micro‐terroir of very porous, fine‐grained sands with a spare capacity to hold moisture resulting in small bunches and highly concentrated flavours. There is an enticing floral aspect to this wine and a creamy, lees texture that draws you into the glass. The wine is bottled unfiltered offering an array of spice, citrus and sagebrush. Again there is an unexpected elegance that keeps the mid-palate taut and lively. Lobster anyone?Prices: BC 110.00 Producer: CheckMate Artisanal Winery
Read Full Note
CheckMate Artisanal Winery Fool's Mate Chardonnaytext
93PTS

CheckMate Artisanal Winery Fool's Mate Chardonnay 2015

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaFool’s Mate has been a blend of south Okanagan sites and remains so in 2015 – year three. The mix is 33 percent Jagged Rock (nee The Barn Vineyard), Black Sage Bench, 26 percent Sunset Vineyard, Black Sage 24% Dekelva Vineyard, Golden Mile Bench, 13 percent Border Vista Vineyard, Osoyoos East Bench and four percent Combret Vineyard, Golden Mile Bench. Winemaker Phil McGhan continues to up his wild ferment totals from 66 to 81 percent in pursuit of uniqueness. The ageing process is the same as last year 16 months in an 85/15 mix of 16 French oak barrels (46 percent new) and a single concrete egg. I like that McGhan makes this blend because it gives him so many options to create the ultimate south Okanagan chardonnay. Different sites and expositions, morning sun, afternoon sun, a broad mix of clones Dijon 76, Dijon 95, Dekleva selection and the Combret selection each contribute to the whole. It remains the most complex of the releases, right out of the gate. It was a cooker of vintage heat-wise, but clearly, McGahan made all the right decisions to maintain the brightness and freshness here while putting together a compelling chardonnay, at least on the mid-palate, that lingers with finesse and even an edgy acidity in the end. The ’15 has the peach perfumed undertones but its the minerality and stony, salty notes in the back end that carry the wine to a higher level. Just a baby but should age well through 2020.Prices: BC 80.00 Producer: CheckMate Artisanal Winery
Read Full Note
Quails' Gate Chardonnaytext
88PTS

Quails' Gate Chardonnay 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaQuails' Gate is really cementing itself as a chardonnay player, with three different chardys released this year. This, the entry level, is from a mix of estate grown French clones, in mostly stainless steel, with a small portion in French oak. Soft and welcoming, with baked yellow apple and spiced pear on the creamy, lemony palate. The finish is vanilla kissed and warming, encouraging pairing with lobster risotto or corn chowder. Friendly and approachable now.Prices: BC 26.44 AB 24.99 SK 24.99 ON 24.95 NS 23.00 MB 25.98 NB 24.99 QC 23.50 NL 24.98 PE 24.99 YK 24.90 Producer: Quails' Gate Vineyards Estate Winery
Read Full Note
Quails' Gate Chardonnay Stewart Family Reservetext
89PTS

Quails' Gate Chardonnay Stewart Family Reserve 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaOne of three chardonnays released in 2017, this is the middle tier, and the one the winery considers their flagship chardonnay. The fruit comes from estate blocks on the volcanic slopes of Boucherie Mountain. Barrel fermentation, full MLF and regular battonage amp up the richness of this wine, plump and creamy on the expansive lemon curd palate. Baked pear, green apple, perfumed white blossoms, vanilla and toasty oak, fill out the rest, brightened with a lemon testiness a polished wine destined for lobster or buttery crab.Prices: BC 39.99 AB 39.99 ON 43.95 QC 36.00 Producer: Quails' Gate Vineyards Estate Winery
Read Full Note
Quails' Gate Chardonnay Rosemary's Blocktext
92PTS

Quails' Gate Chardonnay Rosemary's Block 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaIn 2017, Rosemary's Block is one of three, top-of-the-pyramid chardonnays released at Quails' Gate, named for the Stewart family's mother, Rosemary - a worthy tribute. Graceful and refined, with fine lemon and long lines streaming the length of the medium+ bodied palate. From two upper blocks on their estate's volcanic soiled Boucherie Bench. Clones 809 and 76 were whole cluster pressed and fermented in new and old French oak barrels for 11 months, with full MLF, and regular battonage. The lemony, green apple, orchard pear, white blossom, lees-lined wine easily matches the work, marrying seamlessly with the downy lees and fine spicing afforded by the oak. The finish lingers with a shimmering lemon pith. Still in youth, drinking lovely, with some years ahead.Prices: BC 44.99 Producer: Quails' Gate Vineyards Estate Winery
Read Full Note
CedarCreek Chardonnaytext
88PTS

CedarCreek Chardonnay 2017

British Columbia, CanadaGenerous, weighted and supple, reflective of an oak ferment and ageing in 100 separate vessels including foudres and French oak barrels. The grapes are all estate grown, yielding a ripe yellow apple, pear, peach filled wine with butter and spice. There's a lemon brightness to lift it through to a lightly warming finish. A fun midweek white for chicken salads or a spicy Moroccan bean soup. Good value.Prices: BC 18.99 Producer: CedarCreek Estate Winery
Read Full Note

04 June 2019

Unsworth Vineyards Cuvée De L'iletext
89PTS

Unsworth Vineyards Cuvée De L'ile 2015

Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, CanadaIn comparison to Charme de L'ile, the Islands' charmat sparkler, this is Unsworth's traditional method sparkler. For 2015, it was a blend of pinot gris, pinot noir and auxerrois from their estate, as well as other vineyards around Cowichan. After fermentation in tank and a stint in neutral barrel, this spent 15 months on lees in bottle before disgorgement with zero dosage. The 50 percent gris comes across in orchard red and yellow apples, apple blossoms, and white peach, while the frisky island marine climate is apparent through ripping green apple acidity. Straw, lemon peel carry through the tight, lightly toasty palate to a snappy finish. Lovely to see a fresh, fruity, serious sparkler from the wine islands. More of this please, folks.Prices: BC 35.00 Producer: Unsworth Vineyards
Read Full Note
Lightning Rock Blanc de Noir Brut Naturaltext
92PTS

Lightning Rock Blanc de Noir Brut Natural 2017

Summerland, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaWinemaker Jordan Kubek knows fizz, having years of experience running the bubbles program at Okanagan Crush Pad. This is the inaugural release of her new family project, together with her husband Tyler Knight. From Summerland's Elysia Vineyard, a south-east facing slope with limestone laced soils over granite bedrock, this pale-peach hued fizz is pinot noir, whole cluster pressed and racked to a 2000L oak foudre for native ferment. This spent 13 months on lees before disgorgement in February 2019 with zero dosage. Tight, nimble, and racy, lined with raspberry, orchard cherry, and streaked with salted herbal notes, this is a bone dry, savoury and mouthwatering fizz, vibrant with acidity and mineral energy, and based around a gentle and fine core of lees. Wow. A riveting beaut now, and one that will age gracefully for the next couple of years. Beauty debut. Amazing value.Prices: BC 30.00 Producer: Lightning Rock
Read Full Note
Blue Mountain Blanc de Blancs R.D. Méthode Traditionelletext
92PTS

Blue Mountain Blanc de Blancs R.D. Méthode Traditionelle 2010

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaFrom the 2010 vintage, this chardonnay rested 5.5 years on lees, and was disgorged in August 2016. This bottle then spent another year in bottle before release, so this wine (according to Treve maths) spent near three years in the bottle, post its disgorgement. Tight racy green apple, crystalline lemon, mandarin pith on a bed of earthy, anise-scented lees. The frame is long to a snappy finish. Elegant and precise and delicious now upon release; the winery has done all the aging work for us. One of Canada's best bubbles.Prices: BC 39.90 AB 49.95 Producer: Blue Mountain Vineyard & Cellars
Read Full Note
Bella Wines Gamay Noir Pet-Nat Mariani Vineyard Clone 509text
90PTS

Bella Wines Gamay Noir Pet-Nat Mariani Vineyard Clone 509 2018

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaIf the sparkling-only house didn't give away the geekness award, this is one of two gamay pét-nats from a single Naramata Bench vineyard, each made from different clone, processed and picked the same. Unlike the pale peach 787 clone, this is a gutsy raspberry hue, with potent raspberry, big riffing spices, brisk acidity. Pleasantly bone dry, with the fruit and intensity to back it up. Mineral salts linger on the quenching finish.Prices: BC 40.00 Producer: Bella Wines
Read Full Note
Bella Wines Gamay Noir Pet-Nat Mariani Vineyard Clone 787text
87PTS

Bella Wines Gamay Noir Pet-Nat Mariani Vineyard Clone 787 2018

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaIf the sparkling-only house didn't give away the geekness award, this is one of two gamay pét-nats from a single Naramata Bench vineyard, each made from different clone, processed and picked the same. Fruity strawberry, raspberry, cherry yogurt is strung with a tight pink grapefruit astringency and rests plump on the 14.5 g/l RS palate.Prices: BC 40.00 Producer: Bella Wines
Read Full Note
Bella Wines Chardonnay Pet-Nat King Vineyardstext
90PTS

Bella Wines Chardonnay Pet-Nat King Vineyards 2018

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis is one of xxx single vineyard pét-nats Bella released this year, cementing their seat as BC's top sparkling house. This comes from the legendary King Family Vineyard, on Naramata Bench. Like all their ancestrale method wines, this was whole cluster pressed and native fermented. Vibrant and nimble on the palate, with tight lemon acidity, stones carrying green apple, crunchy green pear, salty parmesan and a shimmer of minerality on the finish. Beauty pét-nat for acid freaks, like me.Prices: BC 40.00 Producer: Bella Wines
Read Full Note
Bella Wines Pet-Nat Brut Keremeostext
88PTS

Bella Wines Pet-Nat Brut Keremeos 2018

Keremeos, Similkameen Valley, British Columbia, CanadaFrom Keremeos' organic Robins Ridge Vineyard, this pet-nat is tight with quince, yellow apple and a bump of RS (9.5 g/L), standing it aside from the rest of Jay's bone dry wines. White peach, green apple and searing lemon acidity hold off the sugar, while a wave of oxidative fruit bolsters the bottom. Fruity, fresh, full, friendly for summer.Prices: BC 40.00 Producer: Bella Wines
Read Full Note
Bella Wines Mariani Trad-Nat Gamay Noirtext
89PTS

Bella Wines Mariani Trad-Nat Gamay Noir NV

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaTrad-Nat is the name that owner/winemaker Jay Drysdale came up with to describe this cross between a traditional method sparkling wine, and a pét-nat (method ancestrale). He wanted to make traditional method fizz with nothing added, including sugar or yeast. He native fermented their bone dry 2017 Naramata gamay from Mariani Vineyards as a base wine, and added the still-fermenting, thus still sugar-laden 2018 gamay as his liqueur de triage (to kickstart the second fermentation in bottle). After a short stint on lees, this was bottled with zero dosage. Worth remembering the term Trad-Nat for. Juicy and ripe rhubarb, cranberry, strawberry jam is rounded around the corners, and tight and snappy on the finish. There's a lovely stoniness and pithiness to the finish.Prices: BC 40.00 Producer: Bella Wines
Read Full Note
Bella Wines Buddha's Blend Rosétext
90PTS

Bella Wines Buddha's Blend Rosé 2018

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaB2, Buddha's Blend, was a 2017 experiment that worked so well it has continued. Unlike all of Jay's other fizz, this blends two grapes: chardonnay and gamay. Jay scooped suitable lees from his various single vineyard pressings around the Okanagan and Similkameen, and combined them into a single tank to native ferment, topping up as they were racking all their single lot wines. After five months on lees following secondary ferment, this was bottled with zero dosage. Wild raspberry, strawberry, cherry, rhubarb is kissed with sherry vinegar and taut with cleansing grapefruit acidity and a juicy mid. Snappy and salted on the finish. Quite singular process, and result.Prices: BC 27.00 Producer: Bella Wines
Read Full Note
Bella Wines Cavada Gamay Rosé Bruttext
90PTS

Bella Wines Cavada Gamay Rosé Brut 2018

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaFrom 20 year old vines on a steep, west facing granite and alluvial loam slope above Naramata Village, these gamay vines were dry farmed and currently in transition to organics. After destemming, basket pressing and a lengthy native ferment, this received a champagne yeast dosage and spent five months on lees before being hand riddled and disgorged with zero dosage. Juicy red fruits, rhubarb, mandarin, strawberry jam, tight, fine spicing fill this joyous and youthful wine. Bone dry and severe style for acid-freaks.Prices: BC 28.00 Producer: Bella Wines
Read Full Note
Bella Wines Sparkling Gamay Keremeos Vineyardtext
86PTS

Bella Wines Sparkling Gamay Keremeos Vineyard 2018

Keremeos, Similkameen Valley, British Columbia, CanadaFrom certified organic Robins Ridge Vineyard, in Similkameen's Keremeos, this gamay traditional method fizz spent 6 hours on skins before basket pressing, was innoculated with champagne yeast for secondary ferment before five months on lees and bottling with zero dosage. Tart and sharp, screaming with cranberry, red apple, with a rip of VA and a flick of mouse on the finish. Chill and drink now.Prices: BC 28.00 Producer: Bella Wines
Read Full Note
Unsworth Vineyards Charme De L'ile Rosétext
86PTS

Unsworth Vineyards Charme De L'ile Rosé NV

Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, CanadaCharme De L'ile is an unofficial appellation of style, native to the Wine Islands. It's a charmat-method sparkling wine, of island-grown grapes, meant to typify our brisk coastal climate, and pair with the foods that accompany. This pink Charme is a limited release of Cowichan pinot noir. The grape gives it more weight and heft than its white kin, with forest cherries, raspberries, baked red apple and rhubarb brioche, all on a very assertively fizzy palate. Best well chilled, alongside wild salmon or wild mushroom canapés, this summer.Prices: BC 21.65 Producer: Unsworth Vineyards
Read Full Note
Rémi Leroy Extra Bruttext
93PTS

Rémi Leroy Extra Brut NV

Champagne, FranceBased in the Aube, which shares the same Portlandia and Kimmeridgian limestone soils as Chablis just further south, young Remi farms 3 of his family's organic 9ha under this label; the rest of the grapes are sold to large champagne houses. Based on the 2014 vintage, with 55 pinot noir, 46 chardonnay and 20 percent reserve wines, my bottle was disgorged in October 2018 with a dosage of 4.6g/l. This was native fermented in 85 percent stainless (remainder in older oak), with full MLF before three years on lees, and bottled unfined and unfiltered. Almonds, salt studded biscuit, lemon dough, perfumed cherry blossoms are held taught around a core of green apple, riveting with acidity. Such beautiful balance and finesse here. Rémi has quickly become one of the top vignerons to watch in Champagne.Prices: France 40.00 Producer: Champagne Rémi Leroy
Read Full Note
Rémi Leroy Brut Naturetext
93PTS

Rémi Leroy Brut Nature NV

Champagne, FranceBased in the Aube, which shares the same Portlandia and Kimmeridgian limestone soils as Chablis just further south, young Remi farms 3 of his family's organic 9ha under this label; the rest of the grapes are sold to large champagne houses. This brut nature is 60/40 pinot noir / chardonnay, vine age averaging 25 years, and my bottle was based on the 2016 vintage (70 percent) with 30 percent reserve wines, and disgorged in May 2018. This was native fermented in 85 percent stainless (remainder in older oak), with full MLF before three years on lees, and bottled unfined and unfiltered. Tight, nimble and lemon pith laced, with a gossamer structure and lightness of being, propelled by an energy from the soils. Chalk grips the lengthy finish. Without feeling sharp or lacking at all, this riveting, vibrant example is what Brut Nature aspires to be.Prices: France 45.00 Producer: Champagne Rémi Leroy
Read Full Note
Zannuto Col Fondo di Collinatext
86PTS

Zannuto Col Fondo di Collina 2015

Veneto, ItalyIf you think you know Prosecco, but haven't tried Col Fondo, think again. Col fondo is similar to pét-nat, though only in reference to wines from the Prosecco delineation. Here, the base wine undergoes a secondary fermentation in the bottle, but the wine is not disgorged, leaving the finished wine a bit cloudy (col fondo refers to on sediment in Italian) and on the dryer side compared to classic sweeter proseccos. It also has less pressure / finer bubbles, giving a softer, more frizzante mouthfeel. The sediment acts as a natural preservative, helping stabilize the wines. Riccardo Zanotto is one of a small group using this very traditional way of making Prosecco. This is a natural wine, with no additions or subtractions. Sour lemon, meadow grasses, dried biscuit and yeast on the slight, lightly effervescent palate. More Belgian ale-like than wine-like at first, with the sour ale character overriding the subtle, and sharp orange and apricot that linger on the finish.Prices: BC 29.49 Producer: Zanotto
Read Full Note
The Hatch Octobubble Brut Rosétext
86PTS

The Hatch Octobubble Brut Rosé 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaOctobubble's label shows an octopus floating in champagne while throwing wine barrels with Napoleon stranded on his head. Duh. This is a charmat method fizz of pinot blanc and pinot noir, ripe and fruity with sunripened raspberry, cherry, red apple, cocoa on a full, frothy palate. Simple and welcoming, like an octopus? Chill and drink now.Prices: BC 29.99 Producer: The Hatch
Read Full Note
La Jara Prosecco Spumante Brut Biologicotext
88PTS

La Jara Prosecco Spumante Brut Biologico NV

Veneto, ItalyThis La Jara is a certified organic prosecco made from glera grown on gravely soils in the Treviso region between the Gulf of Venice and the Alps. Prosecco produced according to DOC regulations within Treviso are labelled Prosecco di Treviso. The second fermentation is done naturally in tank (autoclave) using the Charmat Method. This sparkler has an appealing drier style at only 10 grams per litre of residual sugar giving it just enough sweetness to counterbalance the fresh, sour apple fruit that punctuates the palate. The perfect brunch bubble, it pairs well with egg dishes, pizza, crepes and more.Prices: BC 17.99 ON 17.95 Producer: La Jara
Read Full Note
Bella Grand Cuvée Reservetext
88PTS

Bella Grand Cuvée Reserve 2013

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe Grand Cuvée Reserve is a big bella, figuratively and literally. Made only in 2013 and 2014, this wine blended four different chardonnay vineyards Jay Drysdale was working with at the time (Cerqueira, Secrest, Kamloops, and Keremeos) and was only bottled in magnums. The blend spent 11 months in neutral oak before heading to bottle with champagne yeast EC1118 and some sugar to kickstart the second fermentation, before resting on lees for 46 months prior to disgorgement in November 2018, with a dosage of 2017 King Family Vineyards pét-nat. Oxidative notes throughout, with peach melba, toast, yellow and red apple, and a bitter sharp finish. You can feel the oak on the weightier palate. The 2014 (still unreleased) tweaked the vineyard blend for a more lively and vibrant result. Another serious wine for BC's leading sparkling wine house.Prices: BC 110.00 1500 Producer: Bella Wines
Read Full Note

03 June 2019

Le Vieux Pin Vaïla Rosétext
89PTS

Le Vieux Pin Vaïla Rosé 2018

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis pale-hued rosé is pinot noir from Iverson and Eagle Bluff vineyards in the south Okanagan. Direct press into stainless for a short stint, this is finished bone dry for a food-friendly, smashable style. Salted strawberries, anise, young raspberries, wild raspberries, rhubarb stream along a dry palate to a snappy, bright finish. Food friendly.Prices: BC 23.99 Producer: Le Vieux Pin
Read Full Note
LaStella Lastellina Rosatotext
88PTS

LaStella Lastellina Rosato 2018

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis medium-hued, medium-bodied rosé blends cabernet franc, merlot, and sangiovese from vineyards on the Black Sage Bench, North Oliver, and Osoyoos West Bench. Lastellina is part saignée, part direct press, and finished off with a slight bump of RS. Sweet strawberry jam, raspberry, mandarin is kissed with light spice on a glycerol-lined palate, all making it welcome and friendly for this summer's patio.Prices: BC 22.90 Producer: LaStella
Read Full Note