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Anthony Gismondi on Wine
Tasting Notes

Tastings: September 2019

30 September 2019

Smockshop Band Spring Ephemeral Rosétext
89PTS

Smockshop Band Spring Ephemeral Rosé 2018

Columbia Valley, Oregon, United StatesHiyu is a 30 acre farm in the Hood River Valley, farming biodynamically and practicing permaculture. Smockshop Band is a line from Hiyu Wine Farm dedicated to exploring the Columbia Gorge, and from purchased fruit. This deeply hued, dusky / cloudy rosé is from a 10 acre site that they farm on the Oregon banks of the Columbia River. The label shows exactly where Scorched Earth Vineyard is located. This is dry farmed zinfandel from steep slopes littered with basalt cobbles. After letting the grapes macerate on skins for 5 days, this is native fermented in a basket press, along with enough colour from the skins to make this a rosé. This was bottled unfined and unfiltered, with no sulphites. Textural, brisk, and grippy, this savoury dusky wine draws forest berries, pomegranate, juicy plum, raspberry leaves and ample white peppercorn along the slender palate, finishing with an astringent riff. Bone dry, and natural, this is much more akin to a light chilled red than your idea of a rosé. Quite singular, and interesting.Prices: BC 50.00 Producer: Hiyu Wine Farm
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Blue Grouse Quill Rosétext
91PTS

Blue Grouse Quill Rosé 2018

Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, CanadaHere’s a rosé you can drink deeply into cool weather. Blue Grouse's 100% gamay pink is utterly charming, with juicy red-berried fruits, a herbal nip and properly dry, grippy finish. Bursting with flavour, it also has hidden dimensions of complexity for those to seek it. I admire the flavour intensity of this pink, and it hangs around in the mouth, a sign of a good food wine. Try with a veggie pizza, or baked chicken and olives. Blue Grouse wines have gone from strength to strength, and winemaker Bailey Williamson's intuitive understanding of the warm Cowichan microclimate and his maturing vineyards have much to do with it. Try this irresistible Rosé, but don't stop there, give the pinot gris and pinot noir your time also.Prices: BC 21.00 Producer: Blue Grouse Estate Winery
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Screaming Frenzy Rosétext
86PTS

Screaming Frenzy Rosé 2018

Similkameen Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis sweeter, glossy, Similkameen merlot rosé pours a dark plum / cherry hue. Candied apples, strawberry gummies, cherry leather and cinnamon coat the fuller palate, to a short, somewhat pasty finish. Needs a big chill, and cracking now.Prices: BC 19.99 Producer: The Hatch
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The Hatch Gobsmacked Flipping the Bird Rosétext
87PTS

The Hatch Gobsmacked Flipping the Bird Rosé 2018

British Columbia, CanadaOne of the most colourful labels, and stories, of Okanagan rosé, this year's Flipping the Bird is a saignée blend of merlot (from Golden Mile) and gamay (from East Kelowna). Deep raspberry in hue, this is filled with red berries, red apple, orange and cherry gummies. The finish is short and slightly sweet, best enjoyed with a brisk chill. All the profits from this rosé go towards Parrot Island, a non-profit sanctuary for abandoned and abused exotic birds in Peachland, BC. The facility was founded by The Hatch partner Jason Parkes' parents.Prices: BC 21.99 Producer: The Hatch
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Narrative Rosétext
88PTS

Narrative Rosé 2018

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis blend of pinot noir, gamay, and gew is sourced from grapes harvested in Summerland and Oliver. The deeper pink hue is the result of 12 hours of skin contact prior to a native ferment in concrete tanks. A wee rise in RS counters the sage-drenched, savoury red fruits; cherry, wild raspberry, rhubarb ride a juicy wave to a snappy, cinnamon spiced finish. This is a friendly, welcoming pink to chill and crack with a crowd.Prices: BC 17.49 Producer: Okanagan Crush Pad Winery
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Haywire Gamay Noir Rosétext
89PTS

Haywire Gamay Noir Rosé 2018

Oliver, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis year's gamay rosé comes entirely from Haywire's estate Secrest Mountain Vineyard, a high-altitude, organically farmed site just north of Oliver, layered with coarse gravels, sandy loam, and limestone laced soils. This was native fermented in a mix of steel and concrete where it remained on lees for a short stint before bottling. Pouring a glowing peach hue, this blushes with wild strawberry, and peppery raspberries on a juicy, medium-bodied, dry palate, slicked with a fine cushion of lees. There's a lovely dried sage that lingers on the stony finish, welcoming both pairing and solo sipping.Prices: BC 23.00 Producer: Okanagan Crush Pad Winery
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Free Form Rosétext
88PTS

Free Form Rosé 2018

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaFree Form is Okanagan Crush Pad's fully natural line of wines, using only organically farmed fruit, and zero inputs. This year's Rosé comes from Osoyoos' Sekhon Family Vineyard, and is cabernet franc naturally fermented in concrete, where it remained on lees for a short stint. Off-dry and brisk with ripe strawberries and raspberry jam, this is threaded with a savoury, herbal edge. The palate is glossy and youthful, and the edges lightly rasped by concrete. Accessible and joyous for all.Prices: BC 27.00 Producer: Okanagan Crush Pad Winery
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Domaine Saint-Nabor Gris de Nabortext
88PTS

Domaine Saint-Nabor Gris de Nabor 2018

Le Gard, Vin de Pays d'Oc, Languedoc, South of France, FranceA light coral pink colour invites, along with a fresh stony red apple nose. The attack is soft and round with ripe red apple flecked with honeysuckle and tangerines. The finish is similar, with a touch of bitter rind to keep it all balanced. This IGP Gard is a mix of tempranillo, grenache and cinsault. An ideal patio pink that works with a wide array of appetizers. Good value.Prices: BC 14.99 Producer: Château Saint-Nabor
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Cuvée Mirabelle de la Jaubertie Rosétext
88PTS

Cuvée Mirabelle de la Jaubertie Rosé 2017

Bergerac, Sud-Ouest, FranceChateau de la Jaubertie has a pretty remarkable history, with evidence showing an encampment on the estate during the Neolithic period (400 BC). In the centuries following, it became a hunting lodge for Henry IV, who offered Jaubertie to his mistress Gabrielle d’Estrées. Between 1658 and 1858, Jaubertie was owned by the de Calbiac family, except during the French Revolution when it was owned by the favourite doctor of Queen Marie Antoinette, Leon Beylet. Their Cuvée Mirabelle Rosé is a blend of organically-farmed 70/30 cabernet sauvignon and merlot from limestone clay soils, barrel fermented and aged on lees for 6 months. Shining peach hue, with a lees bedded palate supporting fragrant strawberries, raspberries, rhubarb, wildflowers, and kisses of bergamot. Lovely freshness and elegance in this polished, easily-likeable rosé, from an unlikely region. Purchased at the winery for 12 Euros.Prices: France 17.00 Producer: Chateau de la Jaubertie
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27 September 2019

Hester Creek Garlandtext
89PTS

Hester Creek Garland 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaEven if you didn't know anything about Garland, the small lot cabernet-led Bx from Hester Creek, you could tell it was an 'icon wine' from the weight and girth of the bottle. I can barely lift it with one hand! Intended to typify the Golden Mile Bench, this is an intense, no-holds-barred blend of 70 cabernet sauvignon with merlot, petit verdot, malbec, cabernet franc filling in the cracks. Grapes come from their old vines vineyard, and were left on the skins to ferment for three weeks. The petit verdot and malbec were co-fermented, all lots pressed, blended, and then barrel-aged in medium+ toasted French barriques for 18+ months. As you can expect, all this treatment exemplifies the already giant southern Okanagan red fruit. Dense medicinal cherry, baked raspberry pie, sweet currants, mint, cinnamon bark and cedar is shellacked with new toasty wood, weighing the palate to a warming finish, one that belies its 13.9 degrees declared. Tannins are soft, cocoa powdered, and striated with wood, and acidity is moderate, as it was meant to be. It is all about the power of the fruit and the pedigree of the oak. At this young age, it's too much, but with time in the cellar to settle, this should be more approachable. Bigger isn't better. Garland was named after Hester Creek owner Curt Garland and first appeared in 2018 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the original planting of vinifera vines in 1968.Prices: BC 55.99 Producer: Hester Creek Estate Winery
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Hester Creek Garlandtext
92PTS

Hester Creek Garland 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe 2015/16 winter was relatively mild with no extended periods of significant freezing. As a result, there was a uniform bud break in what was the driest spring on record. After a quick start, July and August turned cool, slowing down the ripening process right through the fall, leaving the Golden Mile Bench reds to gather themselves and put on some complexity. This is the best Garland yet and perhaps the best wine to come out of Hester Creek ever. The cabernets and merlot are fermented separately, while the petit verdot and malbec are co-fermented. They all spend 18 months in mostly medium-plus toast French barriques. The attack is firm and dry (yeah) with very stylish black fruit and polished tannins. The mid-palate and finish are all in balance with dense, soft tannins. It will age well through 2025 or serve now with a well-marbled steak or a rich winter cassoulet. Garland was named after Hester Creek owner Curt Garland, and first appeared in 2018 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the original planting of vinifera vines in 1968.Prices: BC 55.99 Producer: Hester Creek Estate Winery
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Hester Creek Limited Edition The Judgetext
90PTS

Hester Creek Limited Edition The Judge 2016

Golden Mile Bench, Oliver, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe Judge is an estate wine with most of the fruit coming off the oldest vines, dating back to 1968. The 2016 mix is a blend of 37/34/26/2/1/ merlot, cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, malbec and petit verdot. The small lot ferments are done in Ganimede fermenters, built for ideal extraction from the extended maceration. The finished wines are barrel aged individually, then blended and aged further before release. This wine suffered from the icon label early on, when it wasn't, but has slowly earned its respect by getting it done in the bottle, especially since 2013. It’s still more on the consumer-friendly style eschewing tension and complexity for a more hedonistic, round, upfront fruit character. The nose and palate is a mix of sagebrush, licorice, blackcurrant and chocolate dusted in spicy, balsamic notes. It's your classic rib-eye red, although you could age this through 2022.Prices: BC 43.99 BC 95.99 1500 Producer: Hester Creek Estate Winery
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26 September 2019

Meyer Gewurztraminertext
89PTS

Meyer Gewurztraminer 2018

Okanagan Falls, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaFragrant lychee, gooseberry, lime blossom and pith jump from the glass of this McLean Creek Road Vineyard gew. The estate Okanagan Falls site, well known for its classic pinot noir and chardonnay, also surprises annually with this darling little gewürztraminer. Planted in 1994 on gravel sandy loams, this was farmed with organic practices, partially whole bunch pressed and partial skin contact for 24 hours, before a gentle press in stainless and older French oak barrels (no MLF). The wine remained there on fine lees for a further 3 months before bottling. There's an oily slick to the palate, gliding the perfumed yellow fruits to a snappy, soap kissed, slightly sweet finish. Gew's breadth is slimmed into 13 degrees here, and while acidity is low, the RS is held low also.Prices: BC 18.12 Producer: Meyer Family Vineyards
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25 September 2019

Poplar Grove The Legacytext
91PTS

Poplar Grove The Legacy 2015

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe 2015 blend is a complete departure from last year’s cabernet franc dominated blend. The ‘15 mix is 36/29/19/14/2 cabernet sauvignon, merlot, malbec, cabernet franc and petit verdot. It’s slightly tighter with less texture and more linear notes, but it’s still satisfying in the mouth. The tannins are well managed. The entry is a mix of rich, dark, black and blue fruits that coat the palate along with a dollop of soft French oak. More Napa than Bordeaux which should be attractive to a large crowd of red wine lovers - drink or hold mid-term.Prices: BC 55.99 AB 56.99 SK 47.99 Producer: Poplar Grove Winery
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Tinhorn Creek The Creektext
92PTS

Tinhorn Creek The Creek 2015

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaGet ready to inhale the powerful, heady scents of this decadent red blend the moment you fill your glass. Supremely ripe fruit detonates with the finest black current jam, plums, and what I admire most, a inky, graphite complexity (just the way a thick newspaper smells). Despite all the fruit heft that unfurls in the mouth like blueberry pie filling and creme de cassis, acidity and fresh herbal notes lift it nicely, as does well-handled oak that adds spice and gloss without heaviness. Super-clarety, in a very ripe sort of way, and a highly drinkable full-bodied, potent red. Goes down with ease now, but you can age for five years too.Prices: BC 55.99 AB 74.99 SK 75.00 MB 75.00 Producer: Tinhorn Creek Vineyards
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24 September 2019

Narrative Cabernet Franctext
88PTS

Narrative Cabernet Franc 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaEarthy forest bark, ripe raspberry, baked cherry, dried roses and milk chocolate coat this downy-textured red, weighted by the southern Okanagan sun. From certified organic vineyards in Kaledon and Osoyoos, this was fermented and aged in concrete Nico Velo for 8 months. The concrete provides a welcome textural grip to the sides of this medium bodied franc, housed by supple tannins, and finishing with peppery spice. Chill slightly, and crack with fired burgers or ribs.Prices: BC 18.49 Producer: Okanagan Crush Pad Winery
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The Hatch Cabernet Franctext
87PTS

The Hatch Cabernet Franc 2017

Golden Mile Bench, Oliver, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe Hatch do things a little bit differently, as you can tell from the use of a hock bottle for cabernet franc. From Mama D vineyard on the Golden Mile Bench, this is part of the winery’s “less is more,” unfortunately named Hobo Series. There’s some juicy black fruits here, but you have to initially search for it behind the sweet oak. With some time in the glass, it reveals blackberry, black raspberry, and green peppercorn. I like the fresher style, but the fruit dries out on the finish due to the assertive tannins. Best served with a grilled flank steak.Prices: BC 33.69 Producer: The Hatch
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Narrative Cabernet Franctext
87PTS

Narrative Cabernet Franc 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis cabernet franc was sourced from certified organic vineyards in Kaleden and Osoyoos and fermented and aged in concrete for eight months prior to bottling. It’s immediately reductive out of the bottle, and it takes some time to blow off. When it does, it’s all about ripe red fruits, earth, and freshness. It may not be overly complex, but it’s well balanced with a lovely texture. Decant for 1-2 hours prior to serving. Vegan friendly.Prices: BC 18.49 Producer: Okanagan Crush Pad Winery
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Township 7 Reserve Cabernet Franc Romar Vineyardtext
89PTS

Township 7 Reserve Cabernet Franc Romar Vineyard 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaLike their regular Cab Franc, this red jumps from the glass with fragrant, juicy black fruit and a blanket of oak over a savoury, spicy Okanagan bouquet. An extended growing season helps to balance this late-ripening, earthy variety, mixing wild cherry with liquorice and cocoa. Big, warm, and rich, this needs time in the bottle to catch up to the delicious drinking 2016 regular label franc.Prices: BC 33.97 Producer: Township 7 Vineyards and Wineries
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Jean-Maurice Raffault Chinon Rougetext
88PTS

Jean-Maurice Raffault Chinon Rouge 2017

Chinon, Touraine, Loire, FranceJean-Maurice Raffault and Rodolphe Raffault’s family began cultivating vines in Chinon 14 generations ago, when their ancestor, Mathurin Bottreau, bought his first parcel of vines in 1693. Today, Domaine Jean-Maurice Raffault owns 50 organically farmed hectares of vines in 7 communes. The Cabernet Franc vines average 35 years of age and 10 hectares within these sites are 50 years of age. Rodolphe's father, the late Jean-Maurice Raffault, grew the estate from 4.5 ha to 50 ha, and began vinifying each parcel separately to understand and preserve the terroir. This Chinon Rouge comes from 10 ha of vines planted on sandy, alluvial soils near the Vienne River, providing basis for this supple, fruity Chinon meant for early drinking. After a native ferment, this remained on lees in stainless tanks until bottling early the following spring. Soft downy plum, raspberry, red florals are sprinkled with mineral salts, briary thorns, green stem, and white pepper. Tannins are fine and tautly strung, working hard to loft the softer, expansive, sandy-soiled fruit. Slight of body at 12.5 degrees, this welcomes a chill and plate of rustic charcuterie.Prices: BC 22.99 Producer: Jean-Maurice Raffault
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Intersection Unfiltered Cabernet Franctext
87PTS

Intersection Unfiltered Cabernet Franc 2015

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaA warm year for sure, but the heat held up the ripening, shutting down the vines and stalling ripening for a few days, and the wildfires were equally instrumental in pushing the harvest back to mid-October harvest on the Black Sage Bench. The wine presents as a youthful, juicy, rooty, branchy red with a spicy herbal undercurrent. The tannins are moderate, and the acidity pushy before the oak kicks in and covers the finish. Big and bold, this needs some time in the bottle to settle in but is a strong effort in a challenging year. Best now with a grilled steak.Prices: BC 29.00 Producer: Parallel 49 Vineyards Limited
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River Stone Cabernet Franctext
89PTS

River Stone Cabernet Franc 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaFrom 15-year-old estate grown vines, the fruit was destemmed and only partially crushed prior to fermentation. The wine was then aged 14 months in French oak (33 percent new) prior to bottling. There’s no second guessing that this is cabernet franc: the first notes out of the glass are dusty black raspberry, dried herbs, and perfumed spices. The oak is present, but it doesn’t overwhelm the fruit. Plus, there’s an undercurrent of stony minerality that may (or may not) be reflective of their rocky terroir. I love this fresher style of cabernet franc that retains the varietal purity. However, the tannins could be slightly better managed, as there's some grittiness to the finish. It seems like River Stone continues to fly under the radar, but they shouldn't.Prices: BC 27.90 Producer: River Stone Estate Winery
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Seaside Pearl Lover's Lane Cabernet Franctext
84PTS

Seaside Pearl Lover's Lane Cabernet Franc 2017

Similkameen Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe winery doesn’t reveal much about this wine except for the fact that it was sourced from Herrera Family Vineyard in the Similkameen Valley. The underlying fruit seems to have potential, with ripe dark cherry and sweet herbs, but it’s overwhelmed by resinous wood. The components just don’t come into balance on the palate, with harsh tannins and a tart, acidic finish.Prices: BC 27.00 Producer: Seaside Pearl Farmgate Winery
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Tightrope Winery Cabernet Franctext
86PTS

Tightrope Winery Cabernet Franc 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaMid-valley, Naramata grapes are at the core of this franc that spends three weeks on its skins before heading to barrel. This wine is aged in mostly French oak barrels for 12 months (50% new) with a small amount of American oak. Look for a fresh, bright, lively, red fruit nose reminiscent of cherries and plums that spill on the palate with flecks of vanilla, spice and tobacco. Textures are silky, and the finish is fresh with more spice and red fruit. The winery suggests barbeque beef short ribs or grilled veggie burger with asiago cheese.Prices: BC 28.00 Producer: Tightrope Winery
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C.C. Jentsch Small Lot Series Cabernet Franctext
88PTS

C.C. Jentsch Small Lot Series Cabernet Franc 2015

Oliver, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe latest Jentsch Cabernet Franc is super ripe thanks to a warm 2015, and the sweetness of fruit leaves me wondering how this wine will be received. Many will love its hedonistic black fruit demeanour, flecked in licorice and dried herbs, with slightly grippy tannins versus more of a meaty, mineral affair with red fruits that we see in cooler years. Long, warm, and peppery, this is a monster red that is best suited to similar menu items like a leg of lamb or venison. Drink or hold depending on your preference.Prices: BC 49.90 Producer: C.C. Jentsch Cellars
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Vanessa Vineyard Cabernet Franctext
88PTS

Vanessa Vineyard Cabernet Franc 2016

Cawston, Similkameen Valley, British Columbia, CanadaIt’s not every day that a 15.5% alcohol cabernet franc crosses your desk. This is 100 percent estate grown cabernet franc from Vanessa Vineyard, a tremendously rocky site on the west-facing slopes of the Similkameen Valley. After fermentation, the wine is aged for 20 months in American and French oak. There’s no shortage of colour; it pours an inky, deep ruby. In fact, there’s no shortage of, well, anything. There’s gobs of American oak and jammy black fruits, richness, and power. The texture is plush on the mid-palate, with just a slight graininess to the tannins, leading to a hot, bitter finish. In short, a wine for the “big red” crowd that can often be averse to cabernet franc. Only 170 cases produced.Prices: BC 49.99 Producer: Vanessa Vineyard
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Bordertown Cabernet Franctext
87PTS

Bordertown Cabernet Franc 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaA solid entry-level cab franc that is fully ripe, this comes with an intense nose of black and red fruits, earth, tobacco, clove, and dried sage with a touch of mint. The attack is fresh with rooty, branchy, black cherry, and chocolate, with a spicy menthol finish. Beer can chicken or hamburgers are the ticket here.Prices: BC 19.99 Producer: Bordertown Vineyards and Estate Winery
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23 September 2019

M. Chapoutier Belleruche Côtes du Rhône Blanctext
89PTS

M. Chapoutier Belleruche Côtes du Rhône Blanc 2017

Côtes du Rhône, Rhone Valley, FranceGrenache blanc, roussanne, viognier, clairette and bourboulenc fill the voluminous palate of this Cotes du Rhone blend, sourced mainly from stony-marl soils and clay-limestone slopes. A ferment and short 5 month stint in stainless help preserve freshness, which is welcome. Concentrated and heady orange blossoms, fragrant iris, fleshy pear, ripe apricot fill the voluptuous palate, one that ends with a snappy bitter lime (hello bourboulenc) twist. Lovely weight and mouthfeel, while holding freshness.Prices: BC 18.49 Producer: M. Chapoutier
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Roche Amulet Whitetext
89PTS

Roche Amulet White 2018

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaI like this more than the Amulet red this year. The mix is 30 percent viognier (Kiln House Vineyard, Penticton) plus 60 percent viognier (Kozier Vineyard, Naramata Bench) and 10 percent marsanne (Kiln House Vineyard). It has the vibrancy of mid-valley fruit with a richer viognier underbelly. After a gentle press, it went through a long cool ferment in a mix of older barrels (14 percent new). The wine is rich with intense aromatic notes of ripe apricots and peaches. The palate is similar with peppery notes, honeysuckle and a rich, leesy finish. Big, round, and mouth-filing but without any perfume or fatness, leaving it bright and juicy with good balancing freshness. Ready to drink through 2021.Prices: BC 26.79 Producer: Roche Wines
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Phantom Creek Estates Viogniertext
90PTS

Phantom Creek Estates Viognier 2017

Osoyoos, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe 2017 vintage got off to a cool, wet start and yields were reduced. Summer was warm but never hot, helping the grape to retain perfect acidity. Post natural ferment, ageing takes place for ten months in stainless steel and oak casks. The fruit comes off cooler morning sun, east-facing benches in Osoyoos, giving this viognier a vibrancy and freshness rather than a heavy perfumed tone. Rather delicious with juicy apricot dusted with a light coating of honey. Perfect for lightly-spiced sushi rolls or Thai dishes in coconut milk.Prices: BC 30.00 Producer: Phantom Creek Estates
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Laughing Stock Vineyards Viognier +10/10text
89PTS

Laughing Stock Vineyards Viognier +10/10 2018

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaFormer winemaker Nikki Callaway has taken the 2018 viognier in a fresher direction than previous vintages. Fermented in 40 percent concrete eggs, 32 percent neutral French oak, and 28 percent stainless, this has a bright, well defined nose of Okanagan peach and white flowers. The palate is precise and well balanced, with fresh, integrated acidity, a reasonable 13.9% alcohol, and a slightly pithy finish. Give this some time to open up in the glass. Okanagan viognier is evolving, and the new mantra is restraint and elegance.Prices: BC 24.99 Producer: Laughing Stock Vineyards
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Intersection Reserve Barrel Fermented Viognier-Marsannetext
87PTS

Intersection Reserve Barrel Fermented Viognier-Marsanne 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada85 percent viognier and 15 percent marsanne, this Rhône-style white blend was fermented and aged in neutral French oak for six months. At three years of age, it is beginning to evolve on the nose, showing subdued, muted fruit alongside restrained floral aromatics. The fruit is slightly fresher on the palate, but lacks definition and precision. It just doesn’t quite come together, finishing with a bitter note, but shows good potential. Drink now. Only 169 cases produced.Prices: BC 20.00 Producer: Parallel 49 Vineyards Limited
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Intersection Viogniertext
88PTS

Intersection Viognier 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaFrom Intersection's two-acre block of estate viognier, this was fermented and aged in neutral French oak. It has an attractive, if not overly complex, nose of ripe apricot and subtle lees. The palate is creamy and round, showing the wine’s 10 months of bâtonnage, but the fruit comes across slightly muddled and fades on the finish, leaving you with unintegrated, surprisingly tart acidity. Best to drink now, with only a slight chill.Prices: BC 19.00 Producer: Parallel 49 Vineyards Limited
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Ex Nihilo XXX Single Vineyard Viogniertext
86PTS

Ex Nihilo XXX Single Vineyard Viognier 2018

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada2018 is all Naramata fruit fermenting in stainless before ageing in both stainless and French oak. The nose is closed with a touch of SO2 reduction followed by a mix of fresh orchard fruits and ripe yellow apple aromas that spill onto the soft, round, peach palate. Ripe and a bit waxy, it is true to the hedonistic Ex Nihilo style.Prices: BC 25.00 Producer: Ex Nihilo Vineyards
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Mission Hill Terroir Collection No. 29 Bluebird Passage Viogniertext
90PTS

Mission Hill Terroir Collection No. 29 Bluebird Passage Viognier 2018

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaFrom the Terroir Series, this Osoyoos-based wine nails the fresh, bright, vibrant style of viognier which is rare worldwide. It moves between stainless, concrete egg, and French oak to add complexity to young vines. Look for classic peach and pear with nectarine skin notes and fresh underlying acidity to pick it up out of the glass. A fun wine to serve with food and it has the structure to take on some exciting dishes from Indian to Thai to local free-run chicken. I love this style.Prices: BC 30.00 Producer: Mission Hill Family Estate
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Lake Breeze Roussannetext
88PTS

Lake Breeze Roussanne 2017

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaRoussanne can be overpowering, but this is a very fresh expression of the variety. It's ripe, and you can taste the sweet lemon, but it remains bright and floral with hay, grapefruit, gooseberry to balance off the long, ripe finish. It would be the perfect wine for a favourite curry dish. Well done and fair value.Prices: BC 24.00 Producer: Lake Breeze Vineyards
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20 September 2019

Amulet Redtext
87PTS

Amulet Red 2018

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaA 25-day fermentation and maceration including a five-day cold soak sets this fresh red blend up for seven months of ageing in French oak barrels (20% new, 80% neutral) on fine lees. The attack is juicy and fresh with bright acidity pushing up against a salty, peppery palate of black raspberries, sagebrush and licorice. The style is uber natural and will have appeal to those who like the naked form. Lamb would be an excellent match and would certainly smooth out some of the angular notes. It needs time to settle down and show its real stuff, but is already intriguing at this point. The mix is 46% grenache (Kiln House Vineyard, Penticton), 28% syrah (Amalia Vineyard, West Bench Osoyoos) and 26% mouvèdre (West Bench Osoyoos).Prices: BC 35.00 Producer: Roche Wines
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Le Natureltext
88PTS

Le Naturel 2018

Navarra and Basque Country, SpainLe Naturel is, as the name suggests, a low-intervention wine from the good folks at Vintae. It's a garnacha-led red blend from Navarra's mountainous northern border, surrounded by the Urbasa and Andia ranges. Organically farmed from high-altitude, calcareous, clay soils, the grapes undergo a short maceration before fermentation in 12,000-litre vats and bottling the following January. Fresh and spritely, with anise, young raspberry, primary cherry, and red florals. Grenache's warmth is felt just on the very finish, at 14 degrees. Tannins are raspy and raw, and acidity is crunchy and bright. Bottled without sulphites with zero ill effects at this youthful state, chill and pop while young and fresh, as intended.Prices: BC 23.00 Producer: Vintae
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Domaine Paul Autard Côtes du Rhonetext
88PTS

Domaine Paul Autard Côtes du Rhone 2017

Côtes du Rhône, Rhone Valley, FranceA medium-weight grenache/syrah with a warm, dry attack, with each variety aged on its own until the following spring bottling. Look for a sunny, black raspberry and pepper mid-palate with a dry finish. It could use another six months in bottle. Chicken is a classic match, but most Mediterranean ingredients will work here.Prices: BC 24.40 AB 15.25 Producer: Domaine Paul Autard
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Ortas La Domeliére Rasteautext
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Ortas La Domeliére Rasteau 2016

Rasteau, Côtes du Rhône Villages, Southern Rhone, Rhone Valley, FranceLovely expressive nose with violets, brambly fruit and brandied cherries. There's also a distinct and appropriate damp saddle whiff, plus lavender, rosemary and a little smoked oak showing too. In the mouth, I like the conjunction of sweet and ripe fruit with briary, woodsy, savoury flair. The fruit is assertive with red plums and more of the brandied cherries, this time with a spicy heat to them - not a surprise, given the high proportion of Grenache. Syrah does its job, imbuing the wine with dark fruit, pepper spice, mid-weight chewy tannins, and a pleasantly bitter bite on the finish that links well with food. Rusticity, well expressed. Juicy, fresh, and full of character.Prices: BC 23.99 AB 21.99 MB 25.99 Producer: Cave de Rasteau
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Yangarra High Sands Grenachetext
96PTS

Yangarra High Sands Grenache 2016

McLaren Vale, South Australia, AustraliaAromatic, creamy, classic, pure red fruit flavours with vibrant, smooth textures that envelope your palate from front to back is the short story. It’s 14.5 percent alcohol, but you feel none of it amid the savoury mix of minerals and fruit. What makes this so attractive is the exquisite use of not noticeable oak, adding texture and mouthfeel with only the lightest of exacting tannins. Grenache doesn’t get a lot of love from wine critics, but this one should change a few minds about the real potential of this grape variety. Brava Mr. Fraser. High Sands is 100 percent estate-grown grenache from Blewitt Springs, McLaren Vale. Its gnarly old bush vines were planted in 1946 at the highest point of Yangarra’s white/grey dunes at 210 metres above sea level. Block 31 is 1.7 hectares of dry-farmed 70-year-old bush vines sitting on the deepest sand with the lowest vigour and yield. The vineyard is certified biodynamic. Famed winemaker Peter Fraser employs a wild yeast ferment for the hand-picked fruit and spends 11 months maturing in older French oak. It’s bottled with no fining and light filtration.Prices: BC 29.00 AB 30.00 Producer: Yangarra Estate Vineyards
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18 September 2019

Gérard Bertrand Château de la Soujeole Grand Vin Rougetext
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Gérard Bertrand Château de la Soujeole Grand Vin Rouge 2016

Côtes de la Malperès, Languedoc, South of France, FranceSoujeole is set in the appellation Malepère, not far from the iconic medieval city of Carcassonne. Like most of Bertrand's sites, it is farmed biodynamically, and this Grand Vin is the top label of the estate. It is a blend of cabernet franc, merlot, and malbec, all fermented and aged separately for 12 months. The palate is a vibrant version of rich black fruits sprinkled with chocolate, coffee, mocha amidst dense but rounded tannins. The biodynamic process seems to add a freshness to this Mediterranean Bordeaux-styled red that lifts it from the glass.Prices: BC 59.00 US 41.00 Producer: Gérard Bertrand
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Gérard Bertrand Terroir Corbières Grenache Syrah Mourvèdretext
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Gérard Bertrand Terroir Corbières Grenache Syrah Mourvèdre 2014

Corbières, Languedoc, South of France, FranceCorbières is the largest appellation in the South of France at 13,100 hectares and countless vineyards that stretch from the Mediterranean into the foothills of the Pyrenees. The team at Bertrand makes a strict selection of grapes to go into this 40/40/20 mix of grenache/ syrah/mourvèdre. All grapes are hand-picked. Carbonic maceration takes between 10 and 18 days for the syrah, while traditional maceration, with total destemming, is used for the grenache and mourvèdre. The wine is aged eight months in barriques before spending another six months at the winery in bottle before release. The nose is spicy and floral with rich blackberry jam flecked with orange peel and licorice. The tannins are dense but soft. The Bertrand fresh palate remains a constant. Ready to drink but will age easily for five years. Serve this with lamb chops.Prices: BC 19.99 Producer: Gérard Bertrand
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Gérard Bertrand Terroir Saint Chinian Syrah Mourvèdretext
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Gérard Bertrand Terroir Saint Chinian Syrah Mourvèdre 2016

St Chinian, Coteaux du Languedoc, Languedoc, South of France, FranceSt. Chinian is a place made for Gerard Bertrand and his love of the Languedoc. Wine has been made there since the Middle Ages, and this syrah/mourvèdre planted over calcareous / schist soils is dialled. Vinification is traditional with destemming before a one-month maceration. Only one-third of the wine ages for nine months in barrels; the rest is kept in large vats to maintain its fruity aspects. I love the smoky, savoury red fruit and black licorice nose. The attack is similar, with smoked meat, espresso, blackcurrant, and prune. When you think it will be big and boisterous, the finish remains fresh with a mineral undercurrent. Impressive for the price.Prices: BC 24.99 ON 19.00 Producer: Gérard Bertrand
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Gérard Bertrand Grand Terroir Tautaveltext
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Gérard Bertrand Grand Terroir Tautavel 2016

Tautavel, Côtes du Roussillon Villages, Roussillon, South of France, FranceTautavel is a village in the Roussillon region, located between the Pyrenees and the Mediterranean, said to be recognized as one of the cradles of human civilization. The vineyard is planted on pebbly, limestone-rich terraces with syrah, grenache, and carignan facing south-east. The nose is a subtle mix of Languedoc scrubland (garrigue) mixed with floral blackberry, black raspberry, and licorice notes. Warm and juicy, the attack is more of the same with liquorice, meat, black raspberry jam, roasted coffee bean. This wine is always big and showy at this stage, but it will age effortlessly for seven to ten years. The mix this vintage is is 70/20/10 grenache, syrah, and carignan. Perfect for winter stews, grilled peppers or with dried fruits and fine cheeses. Extraordinary value.Prices: CND 24.39 Producer: Gérard Bertrand
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Gérard Bertrand Domaine de l'Aigle Pinot Noirtext
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Gérard Bertrand Domaine de l'Aigle Pinot Noir 2017

Limoux, Languedoc, South of France, FranceThe Domaine de l’Aigle is close to Roquetaillade and Limoux in the foothills of the Pyrenees. The estate covers 31 hectares strategically planted from 250 to 500 metres above sea level, one of the highest vineyard sites in all of the Languedoc. Bertrand is quick to point out the conditions for pinot noir are similar to what they have in Burgundy: “an oceanic climate with continental influences, frequent rainfall and a wide temperature range.” The bouquet is spicy with notes of strawberry, light barnyard, and gamey sauvage. The attack is fresh and juicy with wild plums, cherries, and white pepper. Refined and long, it reminds me of a sturdy Pommard or Central Otago. It will age through 2022 as a minimum. A perfect chicken wine, this will also work with pork and cheese. Despite the climate, the wine is more New World with that extra lift of fruit and weight but all in the right way. It rests in French oak barrels for nine months before bottling.Prices: BC 39.99 Producer: Gérard Bertrand
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Gérard Bertrand Aigle Royal Pinot Noirtext
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Gérard Bertrand Aigle Royal Pinot Noir 2016

Limoux, Languedoc, South of France, FranceDomaine de l'Aigle is a 47‐hectare estate located in the northernmost part of the Haute Vallée de l'Aude winemaking region, ranging between 250 and 500 metres above sea level. The vineyards are home to both chardonnay and pinot noir. L’Aigle Royal comes off a block of vines, rooted in clay‐limestone soil that faces south, at the property's highest elevation. Royal will surprise even the most skeptical of wine tasters with its freshness and spicy red fruit nuances. It’s the Languedoc, and there is that sauvage scent that permeates the wines but not to its detriment. The palate is fresh and juicy, reminiscent of wild plums and redcurrants flecked with game and earth. The textures are rich and round in the Pommard style. Impressive pinot.Prices: BC 77.00 QC 70.00 Producer: Gérard Bertrand
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Gérard Bertrand Aigle Royal Chardonnaytext
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Gérard Bertrand Aigle Royal Chardonnay 2017

Limoux, Languedoc, South of France, FranceGerard Bertrand grows very sophisticated chardonnay and pinot noir, all with a hallmark of elegance. The nose and attack are juicy and fresh but suitably refined, mixing toast and lees with peaches soaked in citrus. The creamy notes beguile while the freshness transports you further north in France. This wine always improves in the bottle, so there is no rush to open it. Domaine de l'Aigle is a 47‐hectare estate located in the northernmost part of the Haute Vallée de l'Aude winemaking region, ranging between 250 and 500 metres above sea level. L’Aigle Royal comes off a block of vines, rooted in clay‐limestone soil, that faces south, at the property's highest elevation.Prices: BC 95.00 QC 70.00 Producer: Gérard Bertrand
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Gérard Bertrand L'Hospitalitastext
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Gérard Bertrand L'Hospitalitas 2016

La Clape, Coteaux du Languedoc, Languedoc, South of France, FranceFrom a small plot at Chateau L'Hospital on the hill of La Clape, L'Hospitalitas is a coastal vineyard heavily influenced by the Mediterranean Sea. Those sea breezes and a bit of altitude keep the site cooler than the norm, allowing for an orderly ripening. Two soil types, fossil-rich marl and chalk at the foot of the cliff, and the classic red Mediterranean soils formed on blueish grey compact limestone are home to the syrah and mourvèdre blend. The nose is bright, fresh, and spicy, with rich blackberry and blackcurrant flecked with vanilla. The palate a mix of meaty, savoury, sausage, black olive, blackberry and gingerbread that lingers forever. Long and intense, this needs a decade to fully mature. Wild boar or lamb would be the perfect match at the moment.Prices: BC 85.00 QC 75.00 Producer: Gérard Bertrand
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Gérard Bertrand Le Vialatext
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Gérard Bertrand Le Viala 2016

Minervois la Liviniere, Minervois, Languedoc, South of France, FranceLe Viala comes off a small 3-hectare block of vines at Château Laville Bertrou in La Livinière. The style is big and boisterous, reflecting its marlstone/chalky limestone soils that date back millions of years. The mix is classic Languedoc: syrah, grenache, and carignan. The grenache (20%) and carignan (15%) is vat fermented carbonically, while the syrah is fermented traditionally. All wines are aged one year in oak and stored a further year at the wineries before being marketed. The palate is dry and juicy with rich, dense sweet tannins. Licorice, blackberry, black raspberries and five-spice dusted in garrigue permeate this complex red. Cellar for a decade or break out the barbecue and the lamb.Prices: QC 76.00 ON 80.00 Producer: Gérard Bertrand
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Gérard Bertrand La Forgetext
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Gérard Bertrand La Forge 2016

Corbières, Languedoc, South of France, France100-year-old carignan vines are at the heart of this syrah/carignan blend, along with crazy low yields of 25hl/ha that assure full ripeness and power. Most of the grapes are vinified separately by carbonic maceration and aged 12 months in new oak barrels. La Forge is a blockbuster with rich, savoury, peppery aromas flecked with vanilla, blackberry, and meaty, licorice garrigue aromas. The attack is juicy with well-managed tannins and more meaty, licorice, chocolate, plum flavours. Surprisingly stylish on the palate. La Forge is a four-hectare site located on the estate Domaine de Villemajou in the heart of the Boutenac appellation in the Corbières region, where the vines seem to live forever.Prices: BC 90.00 QC 75.00 Producer: Gérard Bertrand
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Gérard Bertrand Chateau La Sauvageonne Grand Vin Rougetext
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Gérard Bertrand Chateau La Sauvageonne Grand Vin Rouge 2016

Terrasses de Larzac, Coteaux du Languedoc, Languedoc, South of France, FranceLa Sauvageonne is made from individual lots of syrah, grenache, mourvèdre, and carignan growing among the basalt, schist and red soils known as ‘ruffes’ in the acclaimed sub-appellation of Terrasses du Larzac. It opens with a huge floral, toasted oak nose with black pepper, raw meat notes flecked with garrigue, tapenade and black fruits. The attack is youthful, the texture and mouthfeel sophisticated, and the tannins dense but sweet. More intense licorice, orange peel, black plum, black raspberry, meaty flavours persist throughout the long finish. You could drink this now, but I would wait five to seven years to allow this to blossom into a star of the south. Demeter certified biodynamic.Prices: BC 60.00 QC 39.75 Producer: Gérard Bertrand
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Gérard Bertrand Château L'Hospitalet La Clape Grand Vin Rougetext
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Gérard Bertrand Château L'Hospitalet La Clape Grand Vin Rouge 2016

La Clape, Coteaux du Languedoc, Languedoc, South of France, FranceChâteau de l’Hospitalet sits one hundred metres above the Mediterranean Sea on fossil-rich marl-limestone and red Mediterranean soils. The grapes are cultivated using sustainable methods that respect the Terra Vitis procedures, guaranteeing the traceability of growing practices which are verified by an independent body. La Clape is a mix of syrah, grenache, mourvèdre, and comes from the best of two thousand barrels. The nose is classic garrigue, all scrubby dryland herbs, and floral, meaty, black cherry, and liquorice. The tannins are supple but supportive, cushioning the black cherry jam, black raspberry, licorice, and menthol roasted pepper flavours. I love the acid fruit balance throughout the long, persistent finish. Should be in every restaurant in Canada all winter.Prices: BC 26.50 ON 20.00 QC 20.00 Producer: Gérard Bertrand
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Gérard Bertrand Clos d'Oratext
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Gérard Bertrand Clos d'Ora 2016

Minervois la Liviniere, Minervois, Languedoc, South of France, FranceClos d'Ora is an emerging superstar Languedoc red of La Livinière in the Minervois. It is the culmination of a dream to capture the special terroir, and the spiritual experience Bertrand felt when he first saw Clos d'Ora in 1997. The nine-hectare stone-walled vineyard already contained old-vine carignan and grenache, Bertrand added syrah and mourvèdre, all farmed biodynamically. At 220 metres above sea level, the chalk, sandstone and marl soils are cultivated by horses, and the grape varieties harvested and macerated separately in concrete before heading to French oak for twelve months. I love the energy and the lift of this substantial red, with its long, savoury black plum and boysenberry palate flecked with anise, tobacco, figs, and garrigue. Nowhere near ready to drink, but perfectly designed to cellar a decade or more until the full picture is revealed. Outstanding.Prices: CDN 344.99 Producer: Gérard Bertrand
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Gérard Bertrand Domaine de l’Aigle Chardonnaytext
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Gérard Bertrand Domaine de l’Aigle Chardonnay 2017

Limoux, Languedoc, South of France, FranceThe Domaine de l’Aigle grows on one of the highest vineyards in the Languedoc (500 metres absl) near Limoux (the historic home of French sparkling wine) in the foothills of the Pyrenees. It’s a surprisingly fresh version of chardonnay not generally associated with the south of France. The palate is an enticing mix of white fruits, spicy, nutty lees, vanilla, and citrus, with a wet stone mineral undercurrent and a dusting of sage and mint. A high-quality chardonnay wine that will age in bottle for another five to seven years. Serve with roast chicken or assorted seafood in creamy sauces.Prices: BC 34.99 QC 26.50 Producer: Gérard Bertrand
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Gérard Bertrand Terroir Picpoultext
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Gérard Bertrand Terroir Picpoul 2018

Picpoul de Pinet, Coteaux du Languedoc, Languedoc, South of France, FranceBertrand’s passion for all things south means he just had to make Picpoul. The vineyard lies on the banks of the Thau Lake, between the scrubland and the sea. Its position is tempered by sea breezes, cooling the highest heat of the day, while the lake mass keeps the nighttime temperatures moderate. Picpoul de Pinet can be a charming summer drink, and this label is no exception. Floral, fresh and filled with white fruit, there is enough citrus to keep the honeysuckle notes at bay. Ready to drink; simply chill and serve. Shellfish is a perfect match.Prices: CDN 27.99 Producer: Gérard Bertrand
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Gérard Bertrand Chateau La Sauvageonne Grand Vin Blanctext
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Gérard Bertrand Chateau La Sauvageonne Grand Vin Blanc 2018

Terrasses de Larzac, Coteaux du Languedoc, Languedoc, South of France, FranceThe Coteaux du Languedoc is known for its inspiring reds, but the white wines can be equally compelling when made with passion, a specialty at Gerard Bertrand. The vines are planted at the northern end of the Hérault département, in the shadow of a vast limestone plateau. The result is significant temperature variation between day and night, and that usually spells significant acid retention and the ability to make fresh wines. Sauvageonne Blanc is a mix of all that and more, mixing grenache blanc, vermentino, viognier and roussanne. The nose is floral with bits of garrigue, fresh-cut mango and nectarine. Rich and full-bodied, but with enough acidity to carry the wine through the finish. Impressively long and persistent. Perfect for grilled fish recipes or veal. Demeter certified.Prices: BC 46.99 Producer: Gérard Bertrand
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Gérard Bertrand Cigalus Blanctext
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Gérard Bertrand Cigalus Blanc 2018

Vin de Pays d'Oc, Languedoc, South of France, FranceCigalus is a Demeter certified biodynamic blend of 70/20/10 chardonnay, viognier, sauvignon blanc, ripening under a hot, sunny Mediterranean climate. Its deep soils, dating back to the Campanian secondary era, before the Pyrenees emerged, and were left behind by a nearby stream that conveyed limestone and just enough winter moisture to carry the vineyard through the dry summer growing season. The attack is intense and complex with grapefruit pith, floral, ginger, peach, and quince dominating the nose, followed by more grapefruit, pineapple, mango, and vanilla. Long and persistent, this is a terrific white wine mostly unknown to the wine world. The Bertrand team babies the vineyard, taking only moderate yields of 25 hectolitres per hectare. After a light static settling, some of the juice undergoes alcoholic fermentation in new barrels (70%), while the rest (30%) goes into stainless steel vats. It then spends 7 to 8 months – until the spring equinox – with regular stirring before a light fining operation and bottling. Demeter certified.Prices: BC 54.99 Producer: Gérard Bertrand
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Gérard Bertrand Château L'Hospitalet La Clape Grand Vin Blanctext
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Gérard Bertrand Château L'Hospitalet La Clape Grand Vin Blanc 2018

La Clape, Coteaux du Languedoc, Languedoc, South of France, FranceChâteau l’Hospital sits one hundred metres from the Mediterranean Sea, basking in the semi-arid climate of the AOP La Clape. Long days of sunshine dominate the landscape, heating the limestone soils daily and releasing that warmth throughout the evenings. The site's two soil types provide complexity, with the marl-limestone soils rich in fossils bringing minerality and water, even during the driest days of summer; while the red Mediterranean lands that sit over blue/grey compact chalk help to build richness and concentration. The blanc is an affordable and delicious mix of vermentino, roussanne, viognier and bourboulenc. The nose is a citrus, white fruit affair flecked with quince and savoury dried herbs. The palate is bright yet weighty, with peppery, mineral, honeyed nutty notes. An impressive white wine made for creamy seafood dishes.Prices: BC 55.99 Producer: Gérard Bertrand
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Gérard Bertrand Château de Villemajou Grand Vin Rougetext
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Gérard Bertrand Château de Villemajou Grand Vin Rouge 2016

Corbières, Languedoc, South of France, FranceVillemajou is situated at Boutenac, well inside the Corbières appellation. The area supports ancient carignan vines (80 years) uniquely suited to the Mediterranean milieu of temperature, soil and light that are blended here with syrah, mourvèdre and grenache. The nose is an enticing mix of black and red fruits, and savoury, peppery, smoky, menthol, licorice notes that spill across the palate. Rich, long and balanced, this will age through 2026 with little problem. Best suited to more sumptuous meats like lamb or venison. Yields are 30 hl/ha, picking is by hand, and a small portion is a fermented whole bunch, to lift the fruit component before it's aged in 225-litre Bordeaux barrels for a year. It spends an additional 12 months in bottle before release.Prices: BC 38.99 QC 41.50 Producer: Gérard Bertrand
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Gérard Bertrand Gris Blanctext
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Gérard Bertrand Gris Blanc 2018

Vin de Pays d'Oc, Languedoc, South of France, FranceThe Bertrand Gris Blanc ups the summer rosé ante. Dry rosé is where it is at today if you want to be a serious producer of a not so serious wine. Pale pink with a subtle earth tone, the nose is perfectly fruity and vibrant with bits of strawberry, cranberry pink grapefruit pith with a lemon, stony minerality. This grenache gris is sourced mostly from the Tautavel area, between the Mediterranean sea and the Pyrenees mountains some 30 kilometres north to Perpignan. Try this with most any seafood, Mediterranean-style salads, Asian dishes and spicy and stronger flavoured Thai curries or tajines.Prices: CND 22.99 Producer: Gérard Bertrand
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Gérard Bertrand Côte Des Roses Rosétext
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Gérard Bertrand Côte Des Roses Rosé 2018

Languedoc, South of France, FranceCôte des Roses is a celebration of the Mediterranean lifestyle, something Gerard Bertrand has done with style for three decades. The grenache, cinsault, syrah blend comes off mostly hard limestone and schist with a lesser contribution of gravels from the rivers of the Languedoc region. It smells of strawberries and watermelon sprayed with citrus but more than anything it tastes like fun. Even so, a lively, vibrant, mineral undercurrent supports a similar flavoured palate with a riff of Southern France garrigue. Dry, firm and elegant pink would suggest the serious wine set would approve. Halibut tacos, spicy tuna poke or lobster risotto all work here.Prices: BC 24.95 AB 22.99 NB 19.99 NS 19.99 NF 21.99 MB 22.99 ON 19.95 QC 18.35 Producer: Gérard Bertrand
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17 September 2019

Catena Alta Historic Rows Cabernet Sauvignontext
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Catena Alta Historic Rows Cabernet Sauvignon 2016

Luján de Cuyo, Northern Region, Mendoza, ArgentinaI’m a sucker for the cooler vintages in Argentina because I believe they deliver a different and more exciting level of wines. Everything is done by hand and in small lots. The vineyard blocks are harvested at various times to ensure optimal acidity and moderate alcohol levels. In 2016 Historic Rows is a 94/6 mix of cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc fermented naturally, before 18 months in small French oak. The blend of La Piramide, Domingo, and Nicasia vineyards is so well balanced you can drink this wine in its third year or hold it for a decade or more. 2016 is about florals and finesse, showing the cooler side of cabernet sauvignon that is still perfectly ripe and savoury. Deep, dark, and dense, it slides down effortlessly for a cabernet and screams T-bone steak with a side order of chimichurri sauce. Delicious.Prices: BC 58.99 AB 50.00 ON 48.00 QC 48.00 Producer: Bodega Catena Zapata
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Punto Final Cabernet Sauvignontext
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Punto Final Cabernet Sauvignon 2017

Perdriel District, Luján de Cuyo, Northern Region, Mendoza, ArgentinaFrom Renacer's low-lying estate vineyard in Perdriel, Mendoza, this potent, dense cab sauv spent 8 months in French oak before bottling unfiltered. Perfumed and floral blueberries, blackberry and cassis is lined with graphite and housed by firm, wood-bracketed tannins, trailing off with tobacco and perfumed violets. Quite impactful and well put together, this young, medium+ (13.5 degree) wine is drinking well now and will continue with short term cellaring. Drink now with grilled beef or lamb. Great value.Prices: BC 15.99 Producer: Bodega Y Vinedos Renancer S.A.
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Revana St. Helena Estate Cabernet Sauvignontext
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Revana St. Helena Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2016

Saint Helena, Napa Valley, California, United StatesThe ’14 and ’15 vintages were acclaimed, but 2016 is likely the best I have experienced for cabernet sauvignon from Napa in decades. Winemaker Thomas Rivers Brown and vineyard manager Jim Barbour have been focused on biodynamic farming practices at Revana Vineyard, and in 2016 only four individual vineyard blocks made it into the Estate Vineyard Cabernet. The nose is more floral with a light hint of exotic five spice. The attack is fresh with rich blackberry flecked with fig jam and smoky, cedar toasted oak. I like the elegance here but don’t be fooled; there is plenty of power lurking underneath. Drink or hold five to seven years. The Estate Cab is picked over 10 days from September 13 to 23. It is clone 337 from the St. Helena AVA. It spends 20 months in French Oak and 12 months in bottle before release. Only 100 six-packs were made.Prices: BC 299.99 Producer: Revana Family Vineyards
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The Hatch Hatchchildtext
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The Hatch Hatchchild 2016

Osoyoos, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaI like that The Hatch admit growing cabernet sauvignon in the Okanagan is a challenge. This one comes out of Monarch Vineyard from the sandy soils of Osoyoos, perhaps the warmest of all Okanagan sub-regions. There is a sense of wildness on the highly aromatic nose, including some green, eucalyptus notes. The colour is deep, the palate silky, the flavours a cedary, leafy cassis affair that is going to need some time to blossom fully and shed some oak. This is an alternative to the ripe chocolate style of so many cabernets coming out of Washington and California. Break out the cheese, for now, or a well-marbled steak.Prices: BC 33.33 Producer: The Hatch
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Revana Terroir Series Cabernet Sauvignontext
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Revana Terroir Series Cabernet Sauvignon 2016

Napa Valley, California, United StatesRevana Terroir Series cabernet is Napa Valley fruit from three AVAs: Oak Knoll, St Helena, and Calistoga. The fruit cold-soaked for five days before going through a 16-day whole berry fermentation. The blend is 83/15/2/cabernet sauvignon, merlot and petit verdot. The nose is quiet (for Napa) with savoury black fruits and light spice. Dense sweet tannins mark the wine's rich textures, ripe with plenty of depth and complexity. The mid-palate is long and well-balanced with black olives, black currants flecked with floral and mineral notes. The alcohol is in check in what can described as the new Napa style. Big with a conscience. Revana uses four cabernet sauvignon clones and is aged in 85 percent new French oak.Prices: BC 199.99 AB 159.99 Producer: Revana Family Vineyards
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McManis Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignontext
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McManis Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2016

California, United StatesShowing deep cherry colour with a fuchsia rim, a quick swirl releases a blast of fruit. Take note of cassis, the black olive savoury angle, and a clear sweet, herby, menthol lift that is a Cali signature. Background hints of leather and earth add to the fun. Ripeness defines the palate, with plums, dried blueberry, dark chocolate, and mocha. Fruit drenched and fruit-forward, it's a mid-weight, value-priced cab with moderate tannins, and plenty of sweet coconut oak. A little spice and eucalyptus mark the finish. McManis are long-time farmers in the Central Valley of California, in both Lodi and the River Junction AVA (which they pioneered) and sold their fruit to other big brands before bottling the fruits of their labours.Prices: BC 29.99 AB 23.99 ON 19.95 QC 18.95 NS 21.99 NB 21.99 PEI 21.99 Producer: McManis Family Winery
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16 September 2019

Luigi Bosca Brut Naturetext
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Luigi Bosca Brut Nature NV

Mendoza, ArgentinaBrut Nature is produced with 30-year-old, estate-grown grapevines, planted at 800-1200 metres in Luján de Cuyo and Tupungato, Valle de Uco, Mendoza. The blend is roughly 60/40 chardonnay/pinot noir. The nose is quiet with a mix of white and dried fruit flecked with green apple skin and almonds. The palate is on the lemony, yeasty, green apple side with a dry tight finish. Fresh, dry, and food-friendly, it is perfect with fresh shellfish or vegetarian pakoras.Prices: BC 29.95 Producer: Luigi Bosca
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Alpha Box & Dice Zaptung Proseccotext
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Alpha Box & Dice Zaptung Prosecco NV

Murray - Darling, AustraliaPretty florals, yellow apple, tight and zesty on the palate, with tight, fine, buzzy, stony acidity running the length. The medium/light palate is flush with mouth-filling foam to a dry, golden apple skin grippy finish — lovely balance and interest; far better, and drier, than most Italian prosecco.Prices: BC 26.00 Producer: Viottolo Pty
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Haywire The Bub Bottle Fermented and Agedtext
92PTS

Haywire The Bub Bottle Fermented and Aged 2016

Oliver, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis year The Bub shines tighter and brighter than ever. Pinot Noir and Chardonnay comes from Oliver's Secrest Mountain Vineyard, and Summerland's Watkins Family Vineyard. Primary fermentation was in a mix of stainless and concrete before bottling and secondary fermentation for 14 months. This was disgorged in late January 2018 with no dosage. Vibrant and alive with lemon pith, verbena, oyster shell, and nervy minerality, all skinned with herb-dusted lees enough to not be abrasive or sharp. Well pitched, linear and focused, with a hum of minerality that lingers far after the last bubble. Well done, Bub.Prices: BC 30.00 Producer: Okanagan Crush Pad Winery
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Alta Alella Bruant Cavatext
91PTS

Alta Alella Bruant Cava 2016

Alella, Catalunya (Catalonia Cataluña), SpainAlta Alella began 20 years ago when Josep Maria Pujol-Busquets and his wife Cristina Guillen acquired nineteenth-century estate Can Genis, near Barcelona and the Mediterranean Sea, and converted it to organics. Their daughters Mireia and Georgina have now joined them in the farming of their sea-facing 17ha of vines, planted on slopes and terraces between 100-250m. Their soils are sauló, an acidic, white granite-based sandy soil. This xarel.lo (aka pansa blanca) cava is one of their natural wines. It was aged on lees up to 24 months, bottled without dosage or added sulphites. Toasted almonds, green apple, tight lemon blossoms and riveting acidity float on its bright 12-degree palate, buoyed by ample mineral spicing. Bubbles are fine and persistent, driving this to a lingering, lemony finish — lovely balance and authentic in this bone dry cava.Prices: BC 45.00 Producer: Alta Alella
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Medici Ermete Daphne Malvasia Seccotext
89PTS

Medici Ermete Daphne Malvasia Secco 2017

Emilia-Romagna, ItalyDOC Colli di Scandiano e di Canossa, like neighbouring Emilia-Romagna DOC Lambrusco, is a sparkling-focused appellation. The Medici family has been producing quality sparkling wine since the beginning, and today is in the hands of the 4th generation. This is from Malvasia di Candia, grown on the clay soils of La Rampata, and naturally fermented for first fermentation before heading into charmat tanks for the sparkle. Intense elderflower, orange blossoms, ripe peach, and fennel float on a delicately frothy, lightly sweet palate, the result of being left with 11g/l RS. Lingering citrus blossoms trail out the finish. Very pretty and elegant, this is a wonderful alternative to prosecco, particularly for brunch, tea, or light citrus desserts.Prices: BC 35.00 Producer: Medici Ermete
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Chandon American Summer Limited Editon Bruttext
88PTS

Chandon American Summer Limited Editon Brut NV

California, United StatesChandon has been making California sparkling wine since the 1970s and has been releasing limited-edition labels for over eight years. In this case, the bottle is wrapped in a bright, colourful, drink-me label that sets the tone for summer. Since the early 1970s, this brand has embraced the best of French restraint and injected it with the best of California fruit. You will love the fresh pear/apple that lies just below the surface of this classy little sparkler, one that can do double duty as an aperitif or on the big table at lunch or dinner.Prices: BC 32.99 Producer: Domaine Chandon
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Chandon American Summer Limited Editon Brut Rosétext
87PTS

Chandon American Summer Limited Editon Brut Rosé NV

California, United StatesSince the early 1970s, Chandon California has embraced the best of French restraint and injected it with the best of California fruit. This colourful bottle of rose mixes pinot noir and pinot meunier in a bottle of pure pink fun. Think subtle strawberry and cherry in a soft, creamy rosé that slides down effortlessly — best on a sunny patio with summer bitesPrices: BC 32.99 Producer: Domaine Chandon
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Fitz Blanc de Noir Sparkling Winetext
90PTS

Fitz Blanc de Noir Sparkling Wine 2015

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaI love how the Fitzpatrick team handled the heat in 2015 and made all the right picking decisions to get enough freshness into their sparklers to make a quality statement. The fruit is estate and pinot noir that spends a minimum of 36 months on lees (that’s a full three years folk; can you say commitment?) The nose is a subtle swirl of red fruit with Rainier cherries, fresh raspberry, red apple, and juicy pink grapefruit. The acidity is pleasantly brisk in a cranberry, citrus mode that is perfectly balanced by a light dusting of residual sugar. Love the creamy lees texture that supports the fruit without overwhelming it — a deft little bubble that will age effortlessly for a decade. Go BC.Prices: BC 42.50 Producer: Fitzpatrick Family Vineyards
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Fitz Blanc de Blancs Sparkling Winetext
91PTS

Fitz Blanc de Blancs Sparkling Wine 2015

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe Fitz Reserve Blanc de Blancs is a traditional method from estate chardonnay grown at Greata Ranch, and aged three years to capture the essence revealed in its complex flavours. The attack is high strung and fresh, mixing green apples and warm brioche in an understated style. The palate is long and persistent with stony, mineral, citrus notes and a chalky sage-dusted back end that speaks to the Okanagan. It is a terrific bottle of bubble and very food-friendly.Prices: BC 42.50 Producer: Fitzpatrick Family Vineyards
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Beaufort Zephra Sparkling Ortegatext
87PTS

Beaufort Zephra Sparkling Ortega 2017

Comox Valley, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, CanadaBeaufort Zephra is a traditional method fizz made in Comox Valley on Vancouver Island by Hollywood movie mogul James Cameron and his wife, Suzy. Interestingly, Beaufort Vineyard and Estate Winery will become the first certified organic vineyard on Vancouver Island this fall, only five years after the Camerons bought the site. Zephra is a blend of 60 percent ortega, 12 percent siegerrebe, and 28 percent 49-28-04, a Blattner hybrid grape. The nose is a sea-salt washed melange of cherries and lemons that spilled across the palate along with nectarine skin and light peach tones, finishing with grippy dryness. Lacks a bit of balance, but that could be fixed with a little bit of food — a unique look at the varieties we can expect from Vancouver Island.Prices: BC 28.90 Producer: Beaufort Vineyard and Estate Winery
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JoieFarm Quotidien Bruttext
88PTS

JoieFarm Quotidien Brut 2018

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaQuotidien, or your daily ration, is a tradition I think every sparkling wine producer wishes their customers would adopt. This pleasant soft, 70/30 mix of riesling/chardonnay from east Penticton sites was matured in neutral puncheons on its lees over the winter and then mixed with some riesling that was ageing without sulphur. The second ferment was done in the Charmat tank and bottled with zero dosage. The wood ageing and low sulphur give this sparkler an unexpected richness, and gout Anglaise (mature) finish that all meshes with the Joiefarm style and goal to make food wines. Try this with several varied tapas before dinner.Prices: BC 25.00 Producer: JoieFarm
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13 September 2019

Luigi Bosca Malbectext
89PTS

Luigi Bosca Malbec 2016

Mendoza, ArgentinaA consistent performer, this edition comes from one of the coldest years ever in Argentina, and a humid one, but the result is very appealing. It's made with 50+ year old vines from the Finca La Linda vineyard, planted at 950m above sea level at Vistalba, Luján de Cuyo. In such a fresh year, it is the violets that set the tone. The attack is dry and smooth, with black cherry, cedar, tobacco, and a touch of brown spice. It spends a year in mostly new French oak, bringing a touch of sophistication to this robust red. Ageworthy, but you can drink now with a favourite beef dish or something like spaghetti Bolognese.Prices: BC 23.99 AB 22.00 ON 19.49 MB 18.95 Producer: Luigi Bosca
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Moon Curser Touriga Nacionaltext
93PTS

Moon Curser Touriga Nacional 2017

Osoyoos, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis wine quite simply knocked my socks off. Deep crimson in colour, the aromas are an intoxicating mélange of exotic dark berry fruit (think mulberry, black raspberry, wild blueberry), violets and black pepper… plenty of black pepper. Many flavour dimensions roll over the palate: plum, black cherry, orange oil, grilled sticky herbs, and fruit leather, all kept fresh and lively by juicy acidity. The tannins are velvety smooth, and while full-bodied, the wine has impressive weight without heaviness. Best for me is the wine's heady floral perfume that bewitches both the nose and palate, and it truly conveys a unique side of touriga's nobility and pedigree. I'm giving extra points for potency, which when well executed, deserves merit. This was one of a celebrated few dozen platinum award winners at the 2019 WineAlign National Wine Awards of Canada, and it's worthy of a prime cut of beef and your biggest-bowled wine glass.Prices: BC 39.99 Producer: Moon Curser
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Natte Valley Cinsaulttext
90PTS

Natte Valley Cinsault 2018

Coastal Region, South AfricaYoung winemaker Alex Milner suddenly became very cinsault-centric when a professor told him not to bother reading the cinsault chapter in his textbook because it would be worthless to him. Fast forward from that 2011 conversation to today, and The Natte Valleij Cinsault Collective. Alex set out to find forgotten patches of old dryland bush vine cinsault across the Western Cape, expressing their individualities through low-interference winemaking. This is his collective bottling from 4 sites (Swartland, Darling, Stellenbosch x 2) showcasing the grape and greater Cape. After whole bunch fermentation, this spent one year in old oak barrels and concrete eggs. Still much in youth, with plum, juicy raspberry, sapid branch and smokey peppercorn on a medium bodied, softer palate. Tannins are similarly soft and nubile, though acidity is fine and tight, drawing this to a lingering nutmeg finish (and an impressing 12.5 degrees). Give this young wine some airtime and a chill to show its best.Prices: BC 30.00 Producer: Natte Valley
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Natte Valley Cinsaulttext
92PTS

Natte Valley Cinsault 2017

Coastal Region, South AfricaHaunting crushed roses, dried raspberry, savoury salts open this cinsault, from the Cape's cinsault-seeker, Alex Milman. Young winemaker Milner suddenly became very cinsault-centric when a professor told him not to bother reading the cinsault chapter in his textbook because it would be worthless to him. Fast forward from that 2011 conversation to today, and The Natte Valleij Cinsault Collective. Alex set out to find forgotten patches of old dryland bush vine cinsault across the Western Cape, expressing their individualities through low-interference winemaking. This is his collective bottling from various sites, showcasing the grape and greater Cape. The florals and raspberry continue on the palate, joined with just-tilled earth, light cinnamon bark, rooibos tea, worn leather, and fine peppery spicing. Tannins are fine, long, and soft, and acidity is bright and shining. Cinsault is such a lovely grape, when treated kindly, like this. Enjoy with a chill. A welcome 13 degrees. #GoGoCinsault.Prices: BC 30.00 Producer: Natte Valley
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Tendu Matarotext
88PTS

Tendu Mataro 2018

Yolo County, California, United StatesCalifornia cool / low-interventionist iconic producer came up with the Tendu line so he could make vibrant, top quality wines in an affordable, everyday drinkable way. These wines have no fining, filtration or added sulphur, and are meant to be drunk upon release (abundantly). Purple and blue florals, wild blueberries, thorns and dusky perfumed plum glide through this medium bodied (12 degree) mataro (also known as mourvèdre, and monastrell, neither of which are known in the states any more than mataro). Tannins are muddied and softly grippy, cushioning the fruit to a stony, lightly nutmeg spiced finish. Beauty with a chill.Prices: BC 30.00 Producer: Matthiasson Family Vineyards
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Luca Old Vine Malbectext
92PTS

Luca Old Vine Malbec 2016

Mendoza, ArgentinaThe Luca wines are the passion of Laura Catena, and the name of her son. Laura was instrumental in the push toward making small quantities of terroir-based wine as a natural extension of Catena’s years of research into Mendoza’s high altitude vineyards Uco Valley's La Consulta and Gualtallary. The grapes are hand-harvested, aged 14 months in 35 percent new French oak and 65 percent used barrels. In the super cool year of 2016, it is the floral, mineral highlights that dominate, giving this label a real sense of malbec purity. The tannins are highly refined, dense and sweet, settingthe stage for spicy, coffee, cocoa flecked fruit with terrific acidity. Longer and more linear than in warm years, this bottle is very food-friendly. Think wild game, steak, lamb, and medium-strong cheeses. Good value.Prices: BC 45.99 Producer: Luca Winery
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Pittnauer Blaufränkisch Heidebodentext
91PTS

Pittnauer Blaufränkisch Heideboden 2017

Burgenland, Weinland Österreich, AustriaThis beauty biodynamic blau opens with fine dusky pepper infiltrating wild blueberries, wild blackberries, plum, violets along a slender, lightly grippy and very frisky palate. Tannins are whisper fine and acidity is eager. All this makes perfect sense when you know that blaufrankisch translates as "the blue grape of the French". This was sourced from the brown clay soils of Heideboden vineyard, native fermented and aged on lees for 6 months in old oak. Much energy and fun here in this seriously smashable darker-hued, lighter (12.5 degrees) red. Chill and enjoy.Prices: ON 24.00 Producer: Pittnauer
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Suertes del Marqués NAT'Cooltext
88PTS

Suertes del Marqués NAT'Cool 2017

Tenerife, Canary Islands, SpainSuertes del Marqués Cool is a wine from the Nat'Cool collection, a global initiative of wines made in partnership with legendary Portuguese winemaker Dirk Niepoort. All Nat'COOL wines are to be natural, easy, affordable, low alcohol, authentic, and all in a 1L format (yay!). This listán negro was destemmed before a native fermentation and aging in concrete. This opens #RAF, so chill this Cool wine down and give it airtime to allow the fine ground pepper, dark raspberry, dark earth, brambles, thorns and rock roses to emerge from the glass. Tannnins are nubbly, and acidity is brisk.Prices: ON 30.00 1000 Producer: Suertes del Marqués
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Hajszan Neumann Nussberg Zweigelttext
92PTS

Hajszan Neumann Nussberg Zweigelt 2015

AustriaFrom the limestone, clay and chalk soils of Vienna Nussberg, these zweigelt vines range from 35-50 years old and were farmed and vinified biodynamically. After destemming and native ferment, this moved to oak barrels (1/4 new) for 18 months, after which it was bottled without fining or filtration. Forest berries, dark plum, wild blueberries, fragrant dark cherry and star anise liven the palate, lightly grippy with finely raspy tannins. There's a gentle swell of acidity to rise the thorny, scrubby, medicinal black raspberry through a lingering, salty finish. Very exciting wine, and a style I wish I could drink copiously, with a slight chill.Prices: ON 22.00 Producer: Weingut Hajszan-Neumann
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Sepp Moser Classic Style Organic Zweigelttext
91PTS

Sepp Moser Classic Style Organic Zweigelt 2017

Weinland Österreich, AustriaThis zweigelt is grown on Sepp Moser's Apelton estate, in Austria's Neusiedlersee region, less than 1km from the Hungarian border. From dark and deep gravelly soils and organically farmed vines, this was destemmed, fermented and aged in stainless for a few months before bottling. Perfumed wild raspberries, white pepper, blueberries ride a slender palate. Tannins are slightly grippy, directing this light red to a peppery, snappy finish. Finesse and nonchalance, in spades. Drink this with a chill. Crazy good value.Prices: ON 20.00 Producer: Sepp Moser Wines
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Church and State Petit Verdottext
86PTS

Church and State Petit Verdot 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaBig, perfumed, ripe and dark with violets, blueberry jam, cassis, and exotic peppery spices. The C&S PV comes from Black Sage Bench's Coyote Bowl Vineyard, and absorbs all the sunbaked fruit. Tannins are plump and sticky, but well situated to prop the giant purple fruit. The finish is sticky, warm (14.8 degrees), and spicy, welcoming cracking alongside BBQ ribs.Prices: BC 80.00 Producer: Church & State Winery
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Church and State Winery Malbectext
88PTS

Church and State Winery Malbec 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaPlush dark blueberry, blackberry and plum fill this potent and impactful malbec, one that is imbued with violets from first sniff to lingering finish. From their iconic Coyote Bowl Vineyard. Tannins are soft and nubile, and the palate plump, chiseled with a fine structure that keeps this from being weighted down. Well done, though the price is insane.Prices: BC 80.00 Producer: Church & State Winery
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12 September 2019

Free Form Whitetext
90PTS

Free Form White 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaRevisiting this wine one year after first glimpse, and it's as tight, taut, and impressive as before. Primarily Secrest pinot blanc, this is splashed with chardonnay and viognier, from two other vineyards in the Okanagan, all organically farmed. After destemming and a native ferment (pinot blanc in concrete, the others in neutral French oak), these remained on skins for 8 months before being pressed off and blended in a large concrete tank. It rested there for 6 weeks before bottling in Mid August 2018. Pouring a lovely amber hue, this is nervy and grippy, with apricot oil, peach fuzz, bergamot tea, dried sage and thyme streaming along the medium (12.5 degree) frame. Acidity is astringent, and the slight grip of tannins and concrete along the side adds to the mouthwatering appeal. There's a slight warming bitter orange pith on the lingering finish. Welcome with food, or solo, and a very strong indicator for the future of natural wines in Supernatural BC.Prices: BC 28.00 Producer: Okanagan Crush Pad Winery
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Clos du Soleil Capellatext
92PTS

Clos du Soleil Capella 2017

British Columbia, CanadaCapella is the flagship white of Clos du Soleil, built around the best sauvignon blanc and sémillon of the year. In 2017, that resulted in a 74/26 sauvignon blanc/semillon blend, from two sauvignon vineyards in Keremeos, and one semillon vineyard in Oliver. After whole cluster pressing, this was partially native fermented 60% in French puncheons and the remainder in steel barrels, with full MLF. All aged on the lees with regular battonage for nine months. This is a serious wine, very well thought out, and achieved in 2017. Lemon, clover honey, tangerine, slicks of lanolin, and delicate buzzy spices lead the medium (13.5 degrees alcohol) palate, brightened with grapefruit pith, and bedded with lees. There's a beauty salinity woven throughout this, strongly encouraging sip after sip, through the lengthy finish. This elegant wine is drinking beautifully now and will continue to do so with time in the cellar.Prices: BC 27.90 Producer: Clos du Soleil Winery
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Mission Hill Reserve Meritage Whitetext
89PTS

Mission Hill Reserve Meritage White 2018

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaFrom two estate vineyards in Oliver, and more than 60 blocks, the 2018 is a blend of 50/49 sauvignon blanc/semillon. Thirty percent is fermented in wood (13% new), and six percent in concrete, with the remainder in stainless. Lemon bright and whip sharp, this vibrant and shining meritage streams white peach, pear blossom, gooseberry and ample lemon along a finely spiced, oil-slicked palate. Lemon thistle / white cherry lingers on the pixellated, lightly warming finish. Quite serious, and very well orchestrated, this is drinking well now and will continue to do so for the next couple of years.Prices: BC 21.99 Producer: Mission Hill Family Estate
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JoieFarm A Noble Blendtext
89PTS

JoieFarm A Noble Blend 2018

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis BC icon is very vintage dependant, as it should be. In 2018, it's Gew dominant, followed by riesling, pinot puxerrois, pinot blanc, and muscat, and sourced from vineyards from Kelowna to Skaha Bench (top half of the valley). Each variety was vinified and rested separately in stainless before the final blend was made. Strewn with meadow herbs, tight pear, green apple, lime, grapefruit, fragrant elderflower and soap bubbles, the medium bodied palate is snappy with acidity, holding off the 4 g/l RS padding the mid. There's a slight watery core, which is beneficial when you're dealing with such intense grapes. The finish lingers with a dusting of ginger spice, warming the back of the palate. Youthful still, and blessedly under screw cap, so will keep this freshness for a while.Prices: BC 25.90 Producer: JoieFarm
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Unsworth Vineyards Allegrotext
86PTS

Unsworth Vineyards Allegro 2018

Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, CanadaThe 2018 Allegro is a blend of sauvignette, petit milo, and amiel, three hybrid Blattner varieties. The grapes came from vineyards in the Cowichan, Westshore, and Saanich Peninsula, and were fermented and aged on lees in stainless with full MLF. You certainly get the creamy, leesy mid-palate, pillowing the sharp and bright tropical fruit: pineapple, pear, melon, further plumped with a whack of RS. The final result is a somewhat disjointed white, pleasant enough, but lacking direction. Chill well and pour with steamed clams or mango rolls.Prices: BC 25.00 Producer: Unsworth Vineyards
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Izadi Rioja Blancotext
91PTS

Izadi Rioja Blanco 2017

Rioja, SpainIzadi Blanco is an intriguing mix of 70 percent viura blended with 10/10/10 malvasía, garnacha blanca, and tempranillo blanco. Izadi is young by Rioja standards, with just over three decades of production, but it has a soul for wine, and this white is an excellent example of their commitment. Like very few whites you would taste in a year, this juicy mix of grapes yields a fresh, core of ripe quince flecked with nectarines and excellent acidity. Understated, and versatile with food, I enjoyed it with homemade pesto and pasta. A small percentage is barrel-fermented to round out the palate and lengthen the finish to excellent effect. Only 13.5 percent alcohol.Prices: BC 29.99 AB 26.99 Producer: Bodegas Izadi
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La Croix Belle Carignole Chardonnay Sauvignontext
86PTS

La Croix Belle Carignole Chardonnay Sauvignon 2018

Vin de Pays d'Oc, Languedoc, South of France, FranceThis is an easy, simple, stainless blend of chardonnay and sauvignon from the Languedoc, aka the wine sea of the world. Tart green apple, pear, melon, tangerine rules the brief, medium bodied palate to a lightly warming finish. Best taken well chilled and with equally simple appies.Prices: BC 17.99 Producer: Jacques y Francois Boyer
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Hajszan-Neumann Gemischter Satz Naturaltext
91PTS

Hajszan-Neumann Gemischter Satz Natural 2016

Weinland Österreich, AustriaThe grapes for this natural Gemischter Satz 2016 come from two old vineyards on the Wiener Nußberg: Ried Weissleiten, and Ried Ulm. The soil of both is comprised of limestone and clay, with a very high chalk component throughout. Gemischter Satz is a traditional field blend from allowable Austrian quality grapes, with a minimum of three grapes. The 2016 is a blend of grüner veltliner, welschriesling, pinot blanc, riesling, and traminer, native fermented on skins in concrete eggs with no sulphur or other additions. Post-ferment, it remains in the eggs for more than 5 months, after which it is racked off into neutral 500L barrels where it rested for 6 weeks before bottling unfined and unfiltered. Concentrated and heady, with dried apricot, dried peach, dried blossoms, quince, lychee, lime pith and orange oil, coated with a medicinal white cherry. There's an ample fine grip and a heap of tension to keep this textural, natural, biodynamic orange wine alive to the finish. So much going on in this complexed wine, and it all works.Prices: Producer: Weingut Hajszan-Neumann
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Thornhaven Brooklyn's Blendtext
86PTS

Thornhaven Brooklyn's Blend 2018

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaAn unusual mix of sauvignon blanc and chardonnay, Brooklyn's Blend opens with a crisp, fresh, tropical note mixing pears, mango, and honeysuckle. It’s aromatic and enticing, but it presents just off-dry, with grapefruit, mango, and lime rind. It is a simple patio sipper that is ready to go. You can serve this with a mixed charcuterie plate to best effect.Prices: BC 16.07 Producer: Thornhaven Estates Winery
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Kitsch Block Partytext
88PTS

Kitsch Block Party 2018

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaEverything but the kitchen sink goes into Block Party. The mix is 60 percent chardonnay, 25 percent riesling, 10 percent pinot gris and 5 percent pinot noir, all sourced from individual estate blocks. I love the lively palate, the freshness, and the tasty pear and nectarine with a just a dusting of lees to add complexity. Party on dudes; this is a good one.Prices: BC 21.00 Producer: Kitsch Wines
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Tightrope Winery Tip Toetext
87PTS

Tightrope Winery Tip Toe 2018

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaTip-Toe is a 52/24/10/14 blend of gewürztraminer, chardonnay, riesling and semillon. Just off-dry, this white tiptoes the sweet/dry line with a delightful mix of pear, nectarine, and mango with a splash of pink grapefruit that will complement any number of vegetarian dishes. Ready to drink.Prices: BC 22.00 Producer: Tightrope Winery
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Harper's Trail Field Blend Whitetext
87PTS

Harper's Trail Field Blend White 2018

Kamloops, British Columbia, CanadaI believe the mix is riesling and chardonnay, although why the winery does not reveal it leaves me, like you, guessing in the aisle. The nose is bright and aromatic with peachy grapefruit notes that spill onto the palate. The attack is fresh and mouthwatering and makes me think of the many foods you can serve alongside this wine. It's an excellent patio drink and would also work with a charcuterie plate. Harper’s Trail is big on minerality, and it helps to pull this white together. There is fine value here, and it will age a few years under screwcap.Prices: BC 15.90 Producer: Harper's Trail Estate Winery
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Da Silva Chenin Blanc Viogniertext
90PTS

Da Silva Chenin Blanc Viognier 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe thing about a chenin blanc viognier blend is it has the potential to be a flabby, perfume bomb. This wine is anything but, and even though it has the honey and quince, as you might expect it also has minerality and floral undertones to help it soar out of the glass before finishing fresh and bright with green apple and lime acidity. Serve just chilled with Thai prawns for a perfect match. A modest 12.5 percent alcohol adds to its charm. The mix is 50/50 chenin blanc and viognier that is all stainless steel fermented.Prices: BC 22.00 Producer: Da Silva Vineyards and Winery
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Crowsnest Family Reserve Cuvee No. 3text
85PTS

Crowsnest Family Reserve Cuvee No. 3 2015

Similkameen Valley, British Columbia, CanadaCuvée No. 3 is a blend of chardonnay, pinot gris and pinot auxerrois that is approaching the end of its run. The style is soft and easy sipping, with a hint of oxidation now suggesting it's time to drink up. Expect a ripe peach palate with baked apples and dried apricots. Serve well chilled on the patio or with a favourite curry dish.Prices: BC 18.95 Producer: Crowsnest Vineyards and Barcello Canyon
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Moraine Cliffhanger Whitetext
88PTS

Moraine Cliffhanger White 2018

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaCliffhanger White is a 49/51 pinot gris / gewürztraminer blend, and in true Moraine fashion, it pops out of the glass with bright acidity and precision. It’s just off-dry, featuring orchard fruit, with a strike of oily gewürztraminer and minerality. Simple, clean, and precise, it is ready to drink with a spicy sushi roll or perhaps with your Thanksgiving turkey.Prices: BC 18.00 Producer: Moraine Estate Winery
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Ramblin' Whitetext
86PTS

Ramblin' White 2018

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaRamblin’ white is just that - a rambling mix of aromatic blend of gewurztraminer, sauvignon blanc and viognier. The nose is floral and sweet with honeysuckle and sweet grapefruit notes. The palate is similar with a short, soft finish. A perfect patio wine you can serve with spicy appetizers — a unique label sold through Save-on-Food wine shops.Prices: BC 19.99 Producer: Okanagan Crush Pad Winery
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10 September 2019

Laughing Stock Vineyards Chardonnay +27/09text
87PTS

Laughing Stock Vineyards Chardonnay +27/09 2018

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaRich, warm, and showy, this year’s LS chard grapes came from the Naramata Bench and OK Falls. After a whole cluster press this fermented and aged in 14% concrete egg and the remainder in French oak (25% new), with full MLF and ample battonage. The resultant effect is exactly as intended: creamy and decadent, with lemon curd, thick cream, baked pear, vanilla, heady white florals, bacon fat and kisses of butterscotch. The palate is wide, and acidity is moderate, with a backbone of lemon peel tugging this along to a spicy finish. More older school Cali than modern Okanagan, unfortunately.Prices: BC 28.99 Producer: Laughing Stock Vineyards
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Matthiasson Napa Valley Chardonnaytext
91PTS

Matthiasson Napa Valley Chardonnay 2018

Napa Valley, California, United StatesThe Matthiassons have been leasing Linda Vista Vineyard since 2011, tending the West Oak Knoll vines that were originally planted in 1989 by Beringer. They harvested this in numerous stages, before whole cluster pressing and native fermentation in seasoned French oak, where it remained for aging with no battonage. Two-fifths of the barrels went through MLF. The cooler 2018 year led them to leave the fruit to hang longer into the fall, which you can feel in the cushioned plumpness on the palate. Green apple, light lemon curd, fresh almond is zested with a tight lemon pith and toasty spice. Acidity is lofty, but nonchalant; the whole feel of this wine is relaxed, subtle, and alluringly so. 12.2 degrees = not your typical Cali chard.Prices: BC 55.00 Producer: Matthiasson Family Vineyards
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Cline Chardonnaytext
87PTS

Cline Chardonnay 2018

Sonoma Coast, Sonoma County, California, United StatesThere is a little less sunny California, and a little more windblown Petaluma Gap in this 2018, offering a hint of freshness in its vanilla, pineapple, melon-scented nose and palate. The attack is generous and culminates in warm apple pie drizzled with honey. Best served with a rich pairing like lobster tacos, or creamy mushroom pasta. Ready to drink.Prices: BC 27.98 NS 26.50 Producer: Cline Family Cellars
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Coolshanagh Chardonnaytext
93PTS

Coolshanagh Chardonnay 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaNine months down the road, this wine is looking or tasting just fine. I think it's the most elegant Coolshanagh yet, offering electric acidity, creamy lees textures, and rich, layered apple and pear with some of the best French oak framing in the Okanagan. It has real Okanagan signature that sets it apart from so many other BC chardonnays. Coolshanagh produces a small amount (1200 cases) of estate-grown chardonnay, all off west south-west facing vineyards at 49.6 degrees north. To me, this is an authentic cult wine because it’s extremely limited, and the quality is excellent. Burgundy is the model, winemaker Matt Dumayne is in charge, and sensibly the wine about the scrubby pine trees and grasses that dot the landscape, clinging to a ledge high above Okanagan Lake. The grapes are fermented whole cluster in neutral French oak and new French foudres, with smaller amounts placed into egg-shaped concrete fermenters. The two are mixed and placed in concrete egg-shaped vessels for ten months of lees contact. Size matters at Coolshanagh (the name translates to 'a meeting place') and because the vineyard is small; the fruit is picked, block by block, several times. In 2016 it began in mid-September and ran into early October. Post ageing and lees were stirring it was bottled without fining or filtration.Prices: BC 36.90 Producer: Okanagan Crush Pad Winery
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Jean-Marc Brocard Chablis Montmains 1er Crutext
91PTS

Jean-Marc Brocard Chablis Montmains 1er Cru 2017

Chablis, Burgundy, FranceA small crop due to devasting frosts in April has left some excellent wines but in very small quantities. The Brocard Montmains is always about elegance and terroir, and it begins on the nose with the highly attractive oyster liquor, wet stone, and fresh morning seashore notes. The wine is half fermented in oak and half in stainless steel. The attack is clean and inviting with more mineral, leesy, chalky textures underpinning bright red apple and pear. Taut and linear, this will hold through 2022 but is best served over the next two years with oysters, clams, mussels or crab, all prepared simply. Delicious.Prices: BC 50.99 AB 52.99 QC 37.75 Producer: Domaine Jean-Marc Brocard
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Minimus Calera Chardonnaytext
89PTS

Minimus Calera Chardonnay 2017

Chehalem Mountain , Willamette Valley, Oregon, United StatesFrom northern Willamette's elevated Chehalem Mountain AVA, this suitcase-transported calera clone chardonnay was planted by Dick Earth in 1968 on its own roots. This structural wine was aged in a mix of neutral and new oak for 16 months, prior to bottling unfined and unfiltered. Ripe but controlled, powerful but not heavy, this feels its new oak treatment now in youth, but has a couple of years to go to tame. Hints of reduction, wet stone preview apple, pear, lemon peel and verbena, with a cushion of downy lees, and a snappy finish. 30 cases made.Prices: ON 55.95 Producer: Craft Wine Co.
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Jean-Paul Brun Terres Dorées Beaujolais Blanctext
91PTS

Jean-Paul Brun Terres Dorées Beaujolais Blanc 2016

Beaujolais, Burgundy, FranceTerres Dorées is land of the golden (clay-limestone) slopes, and where leading Beaujolais non-interventionist elder statesman, Jean-Paul Brun, owns 39ha. He makes two Bojo Blancs: this wood-rested one, and another completely inox wine. This low intervention wine is native fermented in older barrels, with regular battonage. Creamy and mineral-rich, the long palate draws lemon, honeysuckle, stones, green apple to a gently spiced finish. Lovely structure, balanced by moderate acidity, and potent fruit, this is drinking well now, and will continue to over the next few years.Prices: BC 31.00 Producer: Jean-Paul Brun
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Laughing Stock Vineyards Chardonnay +27/09text
89PTS

Laughing Stock Vineyards Chardonnay +27/09 2018

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaChardonnay is a “Small Cap” wine at Laughing Stock, in this case, limited to 442 cases. The fruit is a combination of crisp Naramata Bench chardonnay, and coolish Okanagan Falls fruit. It’s all whole-cluster pressed and aged in a mix of French oak barrels (25 percent new) with 14 percent in concrete eggs. Wildfire clouds of smoke retarded the ripening process in 2018, pushing pick times back into the late fall where cooler weather further added hang time and intensity of fruit to the wine. It’s generous and bright with creamy sweet fruit, but there is some lift and freshness that keeps it all in line. It's one of the best Laughing Stock chardonnays I have tasted since its inception. Best with rich fall risotto or roasted turkey.Prices: BC 28.99 Producer: Laughing Stock Vineyards
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09 September 2019

Jardim de Granito Terroir Blendtext
89PTS

Jardim de Granito Terroir Blend 2017

Dão, Northern Portugal, PortugalAs the label shares, this red comes from the Dão's envied granitic soils, blending grapes intrinsic to the region: alfrocheiro, tinta roriz, touriga naçional, and jaen. The vines grow on the slopes of Silgueiros, surrounded by oak and pine woods. Fresh and brisk, the dusky florals, forest berries, herbal scrub, wild cherry, plum is textured by grippy, elegant, long tannins that frame a sweet red fruit core. Tastes like granite; tastes like Dão.Prices: BC 24.99 Producer: Cabral Almeida & Fonseca
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G. D. Vajra Langhe Rossotext
92PTS

G. D. Vajra Langhe Rosso 2017

Langhe, Cuneo, Piedmont, ItalyVarja's Langhe Rosso is a blend of younger vine nebbiolo, barbera, dolcetto, fresia, albarossa, and pinot noir, meant to give an overview of Piemonte's Langhe region. This is sourced from various vineyards, each variety vinified separately, fermented in stainless and then into French barrels from new to three years in age, for two years. Lovely earthy raspberry, wild blackberry, pure plum, ample dried florals, and dried tobacco on a medium-bodied palate, textured via finely grippy/nubby tannins and lofted with a rise of gentle acidity. The finish is striated with fine spices, graphite, and salty minerality. Tastes like Langhe, perfectly; mission accomplished.Prices: BC 30.00 QC 23.20 Producer: G. D. Vajra
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Natte Valley Swallow The Blendtext
90PTS

Natte Valley Swallow The Blend 2017

Coastal Region, South AfricaWe all know that any wine with a bird on the label has to be a good wine. Here's further proof. You'll forgive the short faux cork when you read what it has to say: "Made while listening to ..." and reels off a queue of wine-friendly artists, including Dire Straits and Bob Marley. Natte Valley winemaker Alex Milner is known for his cinsaults, releasing a range every vintage from numerous terroirs and regions around the Western Cape. Sparrow, however, is a testing field for new vineyards, and this year is a blend of mourvèdre and shiraz from different growing regions in the Coastal Region. This was aged for 18 months in small French barrels, with low intervention leading throughout. Gentle and alluring violets, plum, wild blackberries are seasoned with cracked white pepper and savoury charcuterie throughout. Finely grippy tannins house the dusky palate to the brisk finish. Acidity is fine but ample, easily enough to loft the 13 degrees. This medium / light red welcomes a slight chill (yay!) Smart winemaking, and reflective of authentic south african red blends today. More like this, please. Fantastic value.Prices: BC 25.00 Producer: Natte Valley
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Sperling Market Redtext
85PTS

Sperling Market Red 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis wine can take you either way, which makes sense when you blend a delicate variety like pinot noir with a powerhouse hybrid like marechal foch. The nose is fresh with a hint of tomato, the attack slightly bitter with sour cherry notes and the rooty, foxy, earthy undertones that foch never seems to let go. The cool kids will like its sassy tones, but I'm just okay. Best with charred beef or earthy mushroom dishes that can take on the acidity and sour aspects. Ready to drink.Prices: BC 20.00 Producer: Sperling Vineyards
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06 September 2019

Tom Gore Cabernet Sauvignontext
84PTS

Tom Gore Cabernet Sauvignon 2017

California, United StatesThis is a sweet, simple red sourced from the Central and North Coast. Cabernet Sauvignon is kind of a misnomer here, since only 79% of the blend is cab sauv, with the remainder flushed out with merlot, and petit verdot, and 2% 'other'. Dusty black fruit, sweet plum, candied cherry and violet candies run the short, wide palate to a bitter, warming finish. Tannins are nubby, and acidity is low.Prices: BC 19.99 Producer: Tom Gore Winery
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Franciscan Cabernet Sauvignontext
88PTS

Franciscan Cabernet Sauvignon 2015

Napa Valley, California, United StatesWith grapes from Oakville, Rutherford, and Oak Knoll District AVA's, the 2015 Franciscan Cabernet Sauvignon is joined by 10% merlot, 6% petit verdot, and 3% malbec. Each vineyard block is vinified separately before agin in French oak for 20 months prior to blending. Rich and ripe black fruit is heavily seasoned with roasted espresso and toasty wood, woven with anise, dried oregano, and tobacco. Tannins are plump though pasty, supporting the fruit to a gently warming, bitter-edged finish. Well integrated, and polished, this very big, very made wine is held to a welcome 13.5 degrees.Prices: ON 29.95 Producer: Franciscan Estate
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Phantom Creek Estates Phantom Creek Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignontext
91PTS

Phantom Creek Estates Phantom Creek Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2016

Oliver, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaA follow-up tasting would suggest this wine this wine is holding steady. The vines planted at Phantom Creek Vineyard in 2006 by viticulturist Richard Cleave are now two decades old, and are clearly coming into their own. In all, there are three clones on the site which adds to the complexity of the wine and the flexibility afforded the winemaker, especially when you consider how challenging it is to ripen cabernet sauvignon so far north. 2016 was a great year for grapes in BC, and this wine reflects the quality of that vintage. The fruit was picked Oct 2 and matured 18 months in 80 percent new French oak. 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 all but the rarest cabernet sauvignon that begin life balanced and stay that way for decades in the bottle. As I said before, look out Napa; this is how it’s done up north. An impressive first effort. Will the new team be up to the challenge?Prices: BC 80.00 Producer: Phantom Creek Estates
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Howard Park Miamup Cabernet Sauvignontext
90PTS

Howard Park Miamup Cabernet Sauvignon 2015

Margaret River, Western Australia, AustraliaIt’s been a while since we have encountered a high-end Western-A cabernet that was tight and linear and well, cabernet sauvignon-like. Devoid of that the slurry of cedar and dusty earth the nose is a mix of spicy black fruit with a touch of good green. The fruit is sourced from numerous vineyard blocks in and around the subregion of Wilyabrup. The attack is all cabernet with resin dusted blackberry, black cherry fruit flecked with licorice and floral notes. A long well-integrated finish is orchestrated bt 18 months in French oak. Drink or hold through 2023.Prices: BC 27.99 Producer: Howard Park Wines
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CS Substance Cabernet Sauvignontext
83PTS

CS Substance Cabernet Sauvignon 2017

Washington, United StatesBlack raspberry, roasted coffee, cherry cordial fill this ripe, sweeter cabernet sauvignon. Tannins are bitter and powdery to a short, warm finish. If the wine wasn't named CS, there would be no way to know this was cabernet sauvignon. It could be any ripe, chocolatey, placeless red.Prices: BC 25.99 Producer: Charles Smith Wines
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Helderberg Winery Cabernet Sauvignontext
90PTS

Helderberg Winery Cabernet Sauvignon 2013

Stellenbosch, Coastal Region, South AfricaSourced from the Helderberg ward of Stellenbosch, this was fermented by a selected native yeast and aged in French oak barrels (30 percent new). It has a smokey nose with developing aromas of blackberry and currant as well as a sweet herbal lift. There’s a lot going on for the price, and it nicely combines ample fruit with that characteristic South African savouriness. Medium-full bodied, it’s mouthfilling with fresh acidity and a plush texture that finishes with a slight grip. Real serious value here.Prices: BC 18.99 Producer: Helderberg Winery
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Boekenhoutskloof Cabernet Sauvignontext
90PTS

Boekenhoutskloof Cabernet Sauvignon 2015

Stellenbosch, Coastal Region, South AfricaThe 2015 is 86 percent cabernet sauvignon and 14 percent cabernet franc from the slopes of the Helderberg mountain range in Stellenbosch. It shows subdued dusty black fruit on the nose, with tertiary cedar notes that could almost be mistaken for an Haut-Medoc if not for the extra notch of ripeness. Quite linear in texture, the wine has firm, fine-grained tannins that verge on overshadowing the fruit. However, the bright acidity and mineral backbone bring it back into balance. Drinking well now; there isn’t the fruit to allow this to improve considerably with more time in bottle. Pop the cork and debate with your friends whether to classify South African wines as Old World or New World.Prices: BC 59.99 ON 56.00 Producer: Boekenhoutskloof
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05 September 2019

Laughing Stock Vineyards Blind Trust Red +02/10text
89PTS

Laughing Stock Vineyards Blind Trust Red +02/10 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaBlind Trust Red is just that: a blind red, with the grapes and proportions revealed once you peel off the capsule. But you can Trust that this bigger red blend will deliver similar results year over year. 2017 spoiler alert = 42% merlot, 35% malbec, 12% cabernet sauvignon, 8% cabernet franc, and 3% syrah, sourced from the Naramata Bench and Osoyoos. Ample and potent blueberry, ripe blackberry, juicy plum and perfumed violet flood the juicy palate, with ripe, plump tannins and heaps of peppery spicing. Fermentation is mostly in stainless, but there are oak fermenters in play as well, before aging in wood for 15 months. There's a rush of warmth on the finish, feeling its 14.4 degrees declared. Big impact for this juicy, suave, blue bomb of a wine.Prices: BC 28.99 Producer: Laughing Stock Vineyards
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Mayhem Merlot Cabernet Franctext
88PTS

Mayhem Merlot Cabernet Franc 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe mix is 75/25 merlot/cabernet franc, a smart choice for an inexpensive Okanagan red. It's all aged in French oak, another good idea, adding some class and firmness. The nose is a savoury melange of dried herbs and menthol with an earthy, leafy, black raspberry character that spills onto a fresh, red-fruited, plummy mid-palate. This wine hits all the bells and whistles for its price but can startle with its rooty, spicy finish. Perfect for mushroom risotto.Prices: BC 21.74 Producer: Meyer Family Vineyards
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Laughing Stock Vineyards Blind Trust Red +02/10text
89PTS

Laughing Stock Vineyards Blind Trust Red +02/10 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe Blind Trust is the second of Laughing Stock's Bordeaux inspired blends. The blend is hiding under the capsule, where you learn it's 42/35/12/8/2 merlot, malbec, cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, and syrah. The texture is inviting form the first sip: rich, soft, linear, and packed full of dense sweet tannins. The mid-palate is juicy, mixing fresh red and blue fruits with a coffee, mocha tobacco finish. The grapes are handpicked and hand-sorted by cluster in the vineyard and by berry at the winery. Fermentation is mostly stainless steel with some lots going into oak fermenters. Each variety stays in barrel for 15 months before being selected, blended, and bottled. The fruit comes off three sites on the Naramata Bench, and the Perfect Hedge Vineyard in Osoyoos.Prices: BC 28.99 Producer: Laughing Stock Vineyards
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River Stone Stones Throwtext
90PTS

River Stone Stones Throw 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaRiver Stone lies just south of McIntyre Bluff in the south Okanagan Valley. Stones Throw combines 78 percent merlot with cabernet sauvignon, malbec and petit verdot grown on the estate surrounding the Oliver winery. I liked 2014, but this is better, with savoury but ripe, dark fruit, soft edging, and well balanced acidity. It is more in line with 2013 but should hold through 2022; drinking well now.Prices: BC 25.90 Producer: River Stone Estate Winery
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Château Canadatext
87PTS

Château Canada 2016

Bordeaux, FranceChâteau Canada is a bit of a blast from the past: a simple, well-made Bordeaux Supérieur selling around $20. They have been making wine for 155 years, and this is from 30-year-old vines spread over the rolling hills of Cubzac-les-Ponts, 20km southwest of the city of Bordeaux. After a fresh and juicy 2015, 2016 slips a tad back into the balsamic, earthy, soy, black cherry vein. The blend is 70/30 merlot / cabernet sauvignon, the finish firm and dry with more dried cherry, earth and tobacco. It will age through 2022, but I recommend drinking it now and serving it with grilled beef to best effect.Prices: BC 20.99 Producer: Château Canada
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Ramblin' Redtext
86PTS

Ramblin' Red 2018

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaRamblin Red does just that across your palate with juicy, soft, fragrant red fruits lightly spiced with round tannins. It’s an easy-sipping patio red you can serve with a variety of appetizers or solo with a slight chill. Look for this simple, bargain-priced red in Save-on-Foods and other private wine shops.Prices: BC 19.99 Producer: Okanagan Crush Pad Winery
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04 September 2019

Château de Corcelles Rosé d'une Nuittext
88PTS

Château de Corcelles Rosé d'une Nuit 2017

Beaujolais, Burgundy, FranceThere has been a homestead on the Corcelles estate since the 8-9th century, which underwent its first and main renovation in the 15th century. The Douby River, which flows a few meters from the Château, was the boundary between the the counties of Burgundy and Beaujolais. The Richard family took control of the property in 1984, with the intention of making high quality wine. Today they oversee 92ha under vine. This Beaujolais rosé is, as you'd expect, entirely gamay. Red fruited, with wild raspberry, red currant, strawberry, rhubarb, wild flowers on a juicy, dry palate to a lightly spiced finish. Shining bright, this is a welcome pink to drink year round, especially with food. #GoGamayGo.Prices: BC 23.00 Producer: Château de Corcelles
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Domaine Piron-Lameloise Chénas Quartztext
91PTS

Domaine Piron-Lameloise Chénas Quartz 2014

Chénas, Beaujolais Villages, Beaujolais, Burgundy, FranceTasted four years along, and this Chénas is as alluring as ever. Dominique Piron is the 14th generation winemaker at the family estate. There’s an earthy reductive kiss that opens this wine, before plunging into a stony, mineral slurry of plum, red currant, flushing red florals, red licorice, and rafts of fine spicing that linger on the finish. Tannins are tight and fine, and acidity is high. This wine’s tight structure has served it well; showing beautifully now, and still with time to go.Prices: BC 29.99 Producer: Domaine Piron-Lameloise
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Le Crêt de Bine Rosé Perlanttext
89PTS

Le Crêt de Bine Rosé Perlant 2018

Beaujolais, Burgundy, FranceThis Rosé is labeled as "gamay méthode aromatique demi-sec", which is most likely not what you're used to seeing on a wine label. From the southern reaches of Beaujolais, this certified organic and biodynamic gamay pét-nat carries near 50 g/l RS, making it perfectly situated for a berry dessert. Sweet French strawberries, vanilla, raw sugar is streaked with bright acidity along the sweet, light (7.5 degree) palate. Lovely balance for a dessert wine.Prices: ON 30.95 Producer: Cret de Bine
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Château de Pierreux Brouilly Reserve de Chateautext
90PTS

Château de Pierreux Brouilly Reserve de Chateau 2017

Brouilly, Beaujolais Villages, Beaujolais, Burgundy, FranceChâteau de Pierreux sits at the base of Beaujolais' Mont Brouilly, and as my soil scientist pal Pedro Parra taught me, “if you want to know what is below the ground you first have to look up.” The 103-hectares of 40 to 45-year old gamay vines are sitting on a mix of decomposing red granite and schist. Can you say minerality or soul? The nose has an attractive black fruit demeanour; the attack is more significant than you might expect although the tannins are supple and the texture creamy. Best of all is its stony, floral, black fruit that hop from the glass. The French love this style with fresh herbed goat cheese or roast chicken.Prices: BC 19.99 QC 21.15 Producer: Mommessin
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03 September 2019

Mayer Bloody Hill Pinot Noirtext
90PTS

Mayer Bloody Hill Pinot Noir 2018

Yarra Valley, Victoria, AustraliaUnlike most of Timo Mayer's wines, this doesn't employ whole bunch fermentation. After destemming this organic pinot, grown between 300-470m on Bloody Hill's rocky volcanic soils, this fermented over three weeks on skins and was aged in French oak barriques, 30% new, for three months. Timo's slogan is 'bring back the funk', and this certainly has it, with earthy moss, sour cherries and a small wave of reduction upon first opening. The core is soft, downy, and red-fruited, and thankfully a tight rivulet of buzzy acidity carries this to the saline finish. There is an evident light touch under all the funk. This benefits from a chill and needs to open up in a decanter or over an evening.Prices: BC 48.00 Producer: Timo Mayer
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Laughing Stock Vineyards Pinot Noir +08/10text
87PTS

Laughing Stock Vineyards Pinot Noir +08/10 2017

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaAs is the Laughing Stock way, this is a big, showy, in-your-face pinot, clocking in at 14.2 degrees declared, and feeling every bit of it. From two vineyards in Naramata, this was fermented whole berry in oak puncheon and stainless before 16 months aging in French oak (35% new). Soft, spicy and soupy, pouring a lightly bricking hue, this is filled with ripe raspberry, baked cherries, cinnamon and nutmeg, and crushed florals to a warming finish. Requires a chill, and some large meat to mitigate. Hopefully an earlier pick and lighter hand in the future, also.Prices: BC 34.99 Producer: Laughing Stock Vineyards
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Liquidity Estate Pinot Noir Reservetext
89PTS

Liquidity Estate Pinot Noir Reserve 2017

Okanagan Falls, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaA step up in structure, and depth, from their entry estate pinot noir, the Reserve is a blend of clones 667, 828, and 115, the latter own-rooted and planted in 1994. Whole berries were partially native fermented before being pressed off into French oak (36% new) for an 18 month rest. Textural and layered, with earthy cassis, wild plum, cracked pepper and toasted oak. Tannins are plush and supportive of the darker, wood-grain fruit. This is much more of a juicy steak pinot than light salmon pinot, so if you're in the mood for beef and pinot...Prices: BC 29.00 Producer: Liquidity Wine Ltd
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Liquidity Estate Pinot Noir Estatetext
88PTS

Liquidity Estate Pinot Noir Estate 2017

Okanagan Falls, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaFrom estate fruit and five clones each fermented separately (including their 1994 planting of own-rooted 115), this had an average of 14 days skin contact at fermentation before pressing to French oak barrels (25% new) where it remained for 15 months prior to bottling. Warm, soft cherry, red currant, raspberry is licked with anise and red florals, and carried by gentle acidity. Tannins are soft and plush, carrying this to a slightly warming, nutmeg dusted finish. A polished pinot, well put together for everyday drinking.Prices: BC 29.00 Producer: Liquidity Wine Ltd
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Bouchard Aîné & Fils Bourgogne Pinot Noirtext
86PTS

Bouchard Aîné & Fils Bourgogne Pinot Noir 2016

Burgundy, FranceSince 1750 has to be worth something, and this pinot noir from Bouchard Ainé & Fils is a breath of fresh air. The nose is earthy with subtle mushroom, red fruit nuances. The attack is dry with round, light tannins and light black cherry. The grapes are a mix of fruit from the Côte de Beaune and Côte Chalonnaise, with a small amount from the Côte de Nuits. A simple, everyday French pinot but at $11.99, and under screwcap, it gets the job done. Perfect with a mushroom pizza.Prices: BC 13.99 Producer: Bouchard Aîné & Fils
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Howling Bluff Pinot Noir Century Blocktext
92PTS

Howling Bluff Pinot Noir Century Block 2016

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaAppealing soft ruby colour activates the senses, as do emphatic spicy, high-toned oak, plum and cherry aromas. My blind tasting notes say, ‘clear winner’, my comment added after tasting the entire flight of Pinots. The flavours are a lovely spread of ripe strawberries, delicate notes of thyme, French baking spices and fine vanilla. The mouth is filled with exuberant fruit, rounded moderate tannins, and bold oak, all kept fresh and lively with zingy acidity. A confident Okanagan pinot noir, with lavish oak that sits comfortably in the wine. Showing a bit young and tight still, let it breathe in a nice big glass before enjoying with lamb chops, or a seared sockeye salmon fillet.Prices: BC 75.00 Producer: Howling Bluff Estate Wines
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Fitzpatrick The Elusive Pinot Noirtext
88PTS

Fitzpatrick The Elusive Pinot Noir 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaFrom a single block of estate fruit, this mix of clones 667 and 115 was 25 percent fermented whole bunch before aging in French oak, 20 percent of which was new. Pouring a pale hue on a slender palate, this is filled with wild raspberry, dusky cherry, anise, with hints of sarsaparilla and peppery spice. Tannins are lightly tuggy, holding the fruit to a sapid finish. Youthful and earnest, and well handled, this elusive wine is one to watch in future.Prices: BC 24.50 Producer: Fitzpatrick Family Vineyards
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Artakama Pinot Noirtext
88PTS

Artakama Pinot Noir 2018

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaArtakama is a natural wine line from the producers of Le Vieux Pin and La Stella. Only made in magnums, the genesis of this line is "nothing added, nothing removed. Wine of time and place." This pinot noir was destemmed and into stainless for native ferment, after which it was racked into neutral barrel for a short stint. A small amount of sulphur was added at bottling. Crunchy and lean, with cherry, raspberry, strawberry, and thorns, this is held taught and lean with scratchy, fine tannins. Bracing acidity lifts the whole to an astringent finish. This is best chilled, when you want a light red to match your tuna tataki or grilled salmon burgers. This is a great face for natural in BC. 588 magnums made.Prices: BC 49.00 1500 Producer: Artakama Wines
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CedarCreek Platinum Block 2 Pinot Noirtext
88PTS

CedarCreek Platinum Block 2 Pinot Noir 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaFrom the lower blocks of their clay-soiled vineyard in Kelowna and 26-year-old vines, 2016 (current release) Block 2 Pinot Noir was native fermented in a mix of concrete and stainless before a one year stint in French oak, and bottling without fining or filtration. Plush and plump on the fuller palate, with dark cocoa, blackberry jam, wild blueberries, scents of vanilla, and ample perfumed dark plum. The clay contributes to the brooding air to this pinot, affording it pairing with duck. Sonoma-esque.Prices: BC 54.99 Producer: CedarCreek Estate Winery
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Mission Hill Reserve Pinot Noirtext
88PTS

Mission Hill Reserve Pinot Noir 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe Reserve pinot comes off 77 percent estate vineyards in Lakeshore, with the remainder coming from the Naramata Bench. It spends a generous 11 months in French oak and is currently projecting a thin, tight profile laced with red fruits and smooth, smoky tannins. I love the restraint here, allowing the red fruit and dried herbs to carry the backend finishing little less fat and drier than most. Pork chops, mushrooms or soft cheeses work here. It should improve further in the bottle if you can wait.Prices: BC 27.99 AB 26.00 ON 25.00 QC 26.00 MB 28.00 Producer: Mission Hill Family Estate
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Haywire Garnet Valley Ranch Pinot Noirtext
89PTS

Haywire Garnet Valley Ranch Pinot Noir 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis is our first look at Garnet Valley pinot fruit in a finished bottle and it’s promising. The nose is bright with smoky, wild raspberry, black cherry fruit flecked with bacon fat and a savoury, stony undercurrent. It’s a new profile, and aspect for Okanagan pinot noir. The majority of this spent four weeks on skins in open top fermenters, plus there was one 600L barrel left on its skins for nine months. It was all aged in a mix of new 200L Mercury barrique, a concrete egg, and a couple of used puncheons. This pinot noir lingers on the palate with a hum of broken stones and cured meats. There a hint of Volnay weight and style here and more complexity that we are used to seeing in Okanagan pinot. Fine potential in this young wine. 200 cases produced, all sold direct at winery.Prices: Producer: Okanagan Crush Pad Winery
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02 September 2019

Raventós Silencistext
92PTS

Raventós Silencis 2016

Sant Sadurní d'Anoia, Penedès, Catalunya (Catalonia Cataluña), SpainThe Raventós family, biodynamic leaders in Spain, have owned their 90ha of land in Penedès since 1497. Silencis is varietal xarel.lo, with vines up to 50 years old, sourced from five plots in Sant Sadurni d'Anoia's Serral vineyard and its calcareous, sandy soils. After a native ferment in stainless, this spent 6 months in French barrels. Striking with green apple, fennel, pine nuts, fresh almond and streaks of flint. Very fresh and bright, highlighted with lemon peel and buzzy saline minerality, perfectly balanced off against the fine veil of lees. Beauty now, and will continue to develop.Prices: BC 35.00 Producer: Família Raventós
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Alta Alella Pansa Blancatext
91PTS

Alta Alella Pansa Blanca 2016

Alella, Catalunya (Catalonia Cataluña), SpainWe're seeing xarel.lo, most oft relegated as a Cava blending partner, as a still white more and more, and it's a welcome sight. Alta Alella began 20 years ago when Josep Maria Pujol-Busquets and his wife Cristina Guillen acquired nineteenth-century estate Can Genis, near Barcelona and the Mediterranean Sea, and converted it to organics. Their daughters Mireia and Georgina have now joined them in the farming of their sea-facing 17ha of vines, planted on slopes and terraces between 100-250m. Their soils are sauló, an acidic, white granite-based sandy soil. This xarel.lo (known locally as pansa blanca) is potent and direct, with almond, unripe pear, green apple bedded with lightly smoked stones and bright with lemon and tangelo. The finish lingers with a citrus buzz. Refreshing, and alluring, and a welcome 12 degrees.Prices: BC 29.99 Producer: Alta Alella
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Mayhem Pinot Blanctext
88PTS

Mayhem Pinot Blanc 2018

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe Mayhem brand has the best name ever. Not because it evokes a philosophy that every life well-lived should have a little mayhem, but because it is delicious drinking and its pricing is ridiculously fair and pro-consumer. If it’s not already creating chaos in Okanagan boardrooms it should, because selling a wine that tastes as good as this does, at a price anyone can relate to, is a miracle. You will love the fresh, pristine Okanagan fruit dusted in scrubby desert notes and flecked with pear, apricot, and lime rind. Perfect with steamed shellfish dishes or your favourite sushi roll.Prices: BC 15.65 Producer: Meyer Family Vineyards
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Tendu Clarksburg Cortesetext
92PTS

Tendu Clarksburg Cortese 2018

Yolo County, California, United StatesTendu is French for taut, and one of the ranges of wines from California low intervention innovators Matthiasson family. Jill and Steve have propelled the less-is-more movement throughout the state, and are beacons of new California cool. This short bottle, for instance, illustrates perfectly. In a move to be more environmentally conscious, Jill and Steve Matthiasson chose American-made bottles finished with glue-free compostable/recyclable corks. This cortese, rarely seen in Cali but native to Piemonte, is from the deep clay loam soils of the Lost Slough Vineyard, located in the southernmost part of Clarksburg. After a native ferment in neutral oak, this went through full MLF, so the wine could be bottled unfiltered (a Matthiason principle). Tight and nimble, with white peach, starfruit, lemon peel streaking across a slight (12 degree) palate driven by minerality. River rocks and heavy salts lure on the juicy finish. I wish more Piemontese and Californians would do this.Prices: BC 30.00 Producer: Matthiasson Family Vineyards
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Feudo Maccari Olli Grillotext
89PTS

Feudo Maccari Olli Grillo 2017

Sicily, ItalyThis grillo is born from low-yielding, 20-year-old bush vines grown on an old seabed of calcareous laced soils in Sicily. It is aged in stainless steel to maintain a fresh, herbal, honeysuckle, Meyer lemon palate with slivered almonds and a mineral, stony undercurrent. A stylish white wine you can pour with a variety of vegetable pasta dishes. In the spring, the vines are pruned to one bud per plant, and in June/July, a green harvest is performed to eliminate lesser grapes. Twenty days before harvest, the vines go through an additional cluster thinning to find only the best grapes in the bunch.Prices: BC 26.99 AB 24.95 Producer: Feudo Maccari
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Boekenhoutskloof Semillontext
92PTS

Boekenhoutskloof Semillon 2013

Franschhoek Valley, Paarl, Coastal Region, South AfricaSemillon is one of those wines that chameleon in the bottle with age, moving from primary green and yellow fruits, into earthy, honeyed, wax territory. This Franschhoek sem is well on its way, entering the tertiary stage with ample mushroom, worked leather and dried fruits ruling the medium+ palate. From 1936 planted bush vines, and with a splash of coplanted sémillon gris, this was whole bunch pressed, with native fermentation starting in stainless before finishing in barrel, where it rests for MLF and ferment. There's an amazing 90% new wood here, which the winery affirms isn't felt due to the cold ferment, and I have to concur, especially at this secondary cusping tertiary stage. Ample white honey, mushroom, savoury meringue, subtle dried quince, pear skin and earl grey tea roll the long, medium-bodied, stony palate to a salted pine nut finish. As this opens and warms in the glass, it grows and grows. If you're going to open now, allow for that, otherwise tuck this into your cellar for another few years.Prices: BC 45.99 AB 36.99 QC 39.99 Producer: Boekenhoutskloof
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Rocca Bernarda Ribolla Giallatext
89PTS

Rocca Bernarda Ribolla Gialla 2017

Friuli-Venezia Giulia, ItalyThe Societá Agricola Vitivinicola Italiana (SAGRIVIT), manages a unique collection of ancient farming estates that boasts the most protracted heritage of agricultural production in Italy, as well as acting as one of the largest private agricultural entities. It includes fourteen historical farming estates and three wineries including Rocca Bernarda, in Friuli Colli Orientali. Rocca Bernarda has long been a point of reference in Friulan enology, one of the first wine estates, dating back to 1559, and today considered one of the finest in Friuli. The estate sits among spectacular terraced vineyards protected by the Julian Alps, and soils that mix sandstone and marl. It is bright and straight, allowing the purity of the ribolla gialla to shine. Fermented and aged in stainless for five months on the lees, this is crisp with yellow and green apples, lychee, lemon, fennel, and wet stone. There's a lovely white pepper rinse that refreshes the brisk finish and welcomes pouring another of this 13 degrees wine — great example of the grape, and place.Prices: BC 25.99 Producer: Rocca Bernarda
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Bordertown Gruner Veltlinertext
87PTS

Bordertown Gruner Veltliner 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaFresh cut hay, grass, mineral, stony notes give this white a perfect start in the glass. The palate is slightly more vibrant with threads of pineapple and honey flecked with peach. Clean, delicate, and different, add this to your repertoire for white wines that work with food. Ready to drink.Prices: BC 17.49 Producer: Bordertown Vineyards and Estate Winery
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