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Anthony Gismondi on Wine
Tasting Notes

Tastings: February 2020

27 February 2020

Olivier Leflaive Pommardtext
92PTS

Olivier Leflaive Pommard 2014

Pommard, Côte de Beaune, Côte d'Or, Burgundy, FranceI’ll admit that Pommard isn’t necessarily my go-to village in Burgundy, but this wine has me rethinking that. It combines a flinty reductive note with game, black raspberry, wild strawberry, underbrush, and integrated oak spice. It’s quite seductive and complex, constantly pulling you back into the glass. The palate is medium-bodied and structured with firm, slightly rustic tannins and fresh, integrated acidity. It’s approachable now, but it would be a shame not to revisit in 5 or 10 years from now.Prices: BC 105.00 Producer: Olivier Leflaive
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Davis Bynum Pinot Noirtext
91PTS

Davis Bynum Pinot Noir 2017

Russian River, Sonoma County, California, United StatesWe can’t say enough about Greg Morthole and his winemaking at Davis Bynum. The latest Russian River pinot is magic in the bottle. Typically this is a mix of clones including 2A, 23, 113, 114, 115, 667, 777, 828 and Pommard. This year a 10 percent fruit addition comes from the cooler Petaluma Gap. Morthole has managed to inject a sense of freshness while maintaining enough attractive flesh to support the red fruit pinot characters, but with muscle. As Morthole describes, “the darker fruit tones, richer mouthfeel, and velvety tannins come from fruit grown in the warmer climate of the Santa Rosa Plains with its clay-rich soils underlain by volcanic ash. The fruit grown on the sandy soil of the friendly Middle Reach neighbourhood on Westside Road add to the spice, floral and red cherry fruit tones. The fruit from the much cooler Green Valley neighbourhood adds fresh blueberry and vibrant acidity from the lauded Goldridge sandy loam soils. The select piece from our hillside vineyard in the Petaluma Gap, within view of San Pablo Bay, adds racy acidity and briary fruit to the blend.” Notes of cranberry punctuate the smooth, smoky, floral, spicy, dusty, black cherry with a touch of earthiness. The alcohol is 14.5 percent, yet it seems all in balance. Grilled salmon, mushroom pasta, chicken, and pork all work here.Prices: AB 35.00 BC 40.00 Producer: Davis Bynum Winery
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Davis Bynum Dutton Ranches Pinot Noirtext
92PTS

Davis Bynum Dutton Ranches Pinot Noir 2017

Russian River, Sonoma County, California, United StatesI’m guessing the relationship between winemaker Greg Morthole and consulting winemaker David Ramey is as smooth as this wine. The DB Dutton Ranches is a luxurious style of Sonoma pinot without being over the top. The earthy, strawberry, blueberry notes are dense, and fill all your senses. The finish is long and silky with a twist of brown spice and the perfect amount of acidity to keep it fresh. We enjoyed this with a salsa doused piece of Opah, but it would be equally at home with a mushroom pasta or grilled pork. The pinot is aged in French oak barrels, 35 percent of which were new. The winter and spring of 2016-2017 were wet, dumping twice the average precipitation over northern California. The result was an irregular flowering and crop set followed by lower yields. A hot summer including heat spikes and elevated nighttime temperatures were experienced in the Russian River Valley leading up to harvest. At Dutton Ranches, the vines are grown over Goldridge sandy loam, common to this area.Prices: BC 75.00 US 55.00 Producer: Davis Bynum Winery
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La Crema Monterey Pinot Noirtext
90PTS

La Crema Monterey Pinot Noir 2017

Monterey County, Central Coast, California, United StatesA consistent performer from Monterey, this percent pinot noir is aged in oak barrels for nine months, but only 17 percent are new. Now below 14 percent alcohol, this juicy, earthy, pinot has plenty to offer and will surprise even the most discerning pinot noir fans. Look for black plum, cherry, rhubarb, all flecked with freshly overturned loam and minerality, with just a dusting of barrel spice and a lick of umami on the finish. Easy sipping. Monterey is rocky, cool, windswept, and wild, and there is a bit of all that in this wine.Prices: BC 32.99 AB 29.00 ON 31.00 Producer: La Crema
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Marcel Deiss Alsace Rougetext
91PTS

Marcel Deiss Alsace Rouge 2018

Alsace, FranceThis certified organic and biodynamic estate pinot noir comes from Alsace's Bergheim, St Hippolyte, and Beblenheim terroirs, and their mix of limestone, flint, gravel and granite soils. After destemming, gentle maceration, and a native ferment, this continued to age one year in tank and barrel. Juicy dark raspberry, black cherry, tobacco, forest plum is etched with dark, fine, but grippy structural tannins, housing the medium palate to a very mineral-laden finish. Fresh, dark, and a little wild, this is a lovely take on pinot.Prices: ON 37.95 Producer: Marcel Deiss
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Scar of the Sea Bien Nacido Vineyard Block Q Old Vine Pinot Noirtext
90PTS

Scar of the Sea Bien Nacido Vineyard Block Q Old Vine Pinot Noir 2016

Santa Maria Valley, Santa Barbara County, Central Coast, California, United StatesFriends Michael Brughelli and Micky Giugni source fruit from various vineyards in the Central Coast for their boutique minimal-intervention label Scar of the Sea. The famed Bien Nacido Vineyard was planted to Pinot Noir in 1973, and today is one of the oldest pinot noir sites in America. Sweet raspberry, black plum, strawberry, dark earth, broken stones, and nutmeg spice fill the generous Pommard-evident palate, one sharpened by the 30% whole bunch. This was native fermented after 4 days of cold soak, and aged 16 months in wood. Tannins are soft and forgiving, well supportive of the plump fruit, while fresh Santa Maria Valley acidities keep this fresh and at a welcome 13 degrees.Prices: USA 64.00 Producer: Scar of the Sea
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CrossBarn Paul Hobbs Pinot Noirtext
90PTS

CrossBarn Paul Hobbs Pinot Noir 2016

Sonoma Coast, Sonoma County, California, United StatesThe Paul Hobbs style is never overly subtle which is part of its attraction for a particular group of wine lovers. This Sonoma Coast pinot noir is packed full of cherry and strawberry with an excellent dose of spice, but not so boisterous. Underneath there is a mentholatum, celery salt thread that keeps the wine from presenting as a fruit bomb and I like that. Big, soft, rich, and ready, you can pair this with duck, mushrooms, or pork.Prices: BC 53.98 MB 61.99 ON 52.99 US 37.00 Producer: Paul Hobbs Winery
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Joseph Drouhin Cote de Beaune Rougetext
89PTS

Joseph Drouhin Cote de Beaune Rouge 2015

Côte de Beaune, Côte d'Or, Burgundy, FranceFrom the generous 2015 vintage, this Côte de Beaune wears the heat well. Pinot and heat do not a match make, especially in cool climate regions like Bourgogne. This is a biodynamically farmed massale selection of clones coming from a 1ha parcel of estate fruit, with some younger vines from Clos des Mouches and other declassified 1er Crus. The was native fermented, and the new oak is limited to 10 percent, allowing the fruit to shine. Plump plum, dark raspberry, cherry leather stretch long on the palate, striated with wet wood, moss, forest floor, and fine sweet spices. There's a mouthwatering salinity to the finish, helping to raise the freshness and drinkability. Solid, as ever.Prices: BC 67.99 Producer: Joseph Drouhin
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26 February 2020

Concha y Toro Marques de Casa Concha Cabernet Sauvignontext
89PTS

Concha y Toro Marques de Casa Concha Cabernet Sauvignon 2016

Puente Alto, Valle del Maipo, Region del Valle Central, ChilePrevious vintages I have tried were made in a jammy, Napa-inspired style, but the fresher fruit character and 13.5% listed abv in 2016 suggests a continued change in approach, as we first noted with the 2015 vintage. It’s still about dark fruits, but there’s a lovely herbal edge to the wine with oak that’s present but not overpowering. Medium-full bodied, this has lively acidity and firm, structured tannins that are true to the variety. Good value, it’s a wine to be enjoyed now or over the next five years.Prices: BC 18.99 ON 21.95 QC 22.00 AB 20.00 NS 19.99 SK 24.95 YK 24.95 NF 23.95 Producer: Viña Concha y Toro S.A.
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Austin Hope Cabernet Sauvignontext
92PTS

Austin Hope Cabernet Sauvignon 2017

Paso Robles, San Luis Obispo County, Central Coast, California, United StatesCabernet sauvignon has been an extended part of the Hope Family viticultural history, and no one has embraced the potential of Paso Robles more than Austin Hope, the winemaker and architect of this big cabernet. We tasted this wine over six months ago and suggested it was not for the timid. This time out, it remains equally as youthful and rambunctious from its intense black currants, blackberry, brown sugar, flecked with clove and pepper highlights. The finish is long, warm, and extensive, offering soft, smoky vanilla notes. It is still a baby and will keep a decade before it begins to open up.Prices: BC 69.99 US 50.00 Producer: Hope Family Winery
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House of Cards Cab is Kingtext
88PTS

House of Cards Cab is King 2017

Napa Valley, California, United StatesThis blend of 90% cabernet sauvignon, 6% merlot and 4% petit verdot was aged in French oak barrels for 12 months. Rich and flavourful with black plum, cassis, blackberry, and toasted oak that fill the structural, powerful palate. Full and dark, with brooding black fruit, plum, wild pitch, ample pepper and ample, soft tannins. Quite warming on the finish. For drinking now.Prices: ON 42.95 Producer: House of Cards
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Blanville Reserve Cabernet Sauvignontext
88PTS

Blanville Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2018

Languedoc, South of France, FranceChâteau Haut-Blanville is a family-owned Languedoc wine estate founded in 1997 by Béatrice & Bernard Nivollet. The Nivollets based their estate on the Burgundian model of terroir first, creating wines showing the diversity of Languedoc. Their 70 ha of vineyards extend across The Grés de Montpellier AOP. This Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon is concentrated with inky plum, wild blackberry, and blackcurrant, with a grippy, stony, dark liquorice undercurrent. Tannins are lightly sticky, well situated to handle the riper fruit. Good value.Prices: ON 18.95 Producer: Chais de Blanville
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Blanville Cabernet Sauvignontext
86PTS

Blanville Cabernet Sauvignon 2018

Languedoc, South of France, FranceChâteau Haut-Blanville is a family-owned Languedoc wine estate founded in 1997 by Béatrice & Bernard Nivollet. The Nivollets based their estate on the Burgundian model of terroir first, creating wines showing the diversity of Languedoc. Their 70 ha of vineyards extend across The Grés de Montpellier AOP. This is an easy, simple Southern French red, with tight cassis, fresh plum, and lightly sticky, powdery tannins. Youthful and brief.Prices: ON 15.95 Producer: Chais de Blanville
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Château Los Boldos Grande Réserve Cabernet Sauvignontext
88PTS

Château Los Boldos Grande Réserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2017

Valle del Cachapoal, Valle del Rapel, Region del Valle Central, ChileThis wine is from the Cachapoal Valley, 100 kilometres south of Santiago. The valley takes its name the Cachapoal River that crosses the region from the Andes Mountains to the Pacific Ocean. The vineyards sit within the Andes denomination that maps out the critical wine zones from west to east and the influences of the sea or the mountains. A classic ferment in stainless steel is followed by ten months in French oak. The attack is fresh and not too herbal with lovely supple tannins that belie its price. The fruit is red and black, with cherries and plums dominating. You can drink or hold this for another three to five years.Prices: BC 26.25 AB 27.00 ON 18.95 Producer: Viña la Reserva de Caliboro
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Intrinsic Redtext
85PTS

Intrinsic Red 2016

Columbia Valley, Washington, United StatesA blend of 96 percent cabernet sauvignon and 4 percent cabernet franc from Columbia Valley. This has a rather simple nose of jammy, non-descript black fruits with confected oak. The palate is both sweet and sour, combining noticeable residual sugar (5.6 g/L) with tart, unintegrated acidity. Overall, it’s quite heavy handed and made in a style that could come from almost anywhere. But at a price that could not.Prices: AB 34.00 MB 44.40 ON 39.95 QC 40.00 Producer: Intrinsic Wine Company
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Pascual Toso Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve  Las Barrancas Vineyardstext
0PTS

Pascual Toso Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve Las Barrancas Vineyards 2016

Maipú, Northern Region, Mendoza, ArgentinaCorked.Prices: BC 21.99 AB 19.00 ON 19.00 Producer: Pascual Toso
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Undurraga Terroir Hunter Cabernet Sauvignontext
90PTS

Undurraga Terroir Hunter Cabernet Sauvignon 2017

Alto Maipo, Valle del Maipo, Region del Valle Central, ChileThis wine is another example of how blind and frankly unfair retailers have been to Chilean wine producers over the years, giving them limited space to sell wine, and only if the price was low enough versus the rest of the market. While importers were ignoring the real story, the Chilenas have soldiered on making a lot of fine wine, most of which no one sees in North America. The Terroir Hunter series is a prime example of what can be done in Chile, starting with an intense, smoky, cassis cabernet nose and fabulous texture. The attack slips along the palate awash in bright fruit and spice with a floral, peppery mineral undertone. It is an impressive red wine that should age well for another five years. If you must open it now, try it with grilled meats.Prices: BC 27.99 MB 25.99 Producer: Viña Undurraga
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25 February 2020

Scout Vineyard Skin Contact Rieslingtext
90PTS

Scout Vineyard Skin Contact Riesling 2018

Similkameen Valley, British Columbia, CanadaFour friends (two couples) began Scout Vineyard, based in the Southern Similkameen, and named for co-owners Murray and Maggie Fonteyne's daughter. The vineyard was planted 14 years ago. They met Aaron Godard and his wife Carly during Aaron's nine-year tenure as assistant winemaker and vineyard manager at nearby Orofino Vineyard. Orofino purchased Scout fruit, and continue to do so, albeit on a lesser scale, today. The four all still have day jobs while they work on this dream project together. 2018 was their first vintage, and they released 3 Rieslings, including this skin contact one, a blend from their home vineyard, and Oliver's Stonehouse vineyard. All native ferment, this was partially destemmed into a neutral barrel, and whole partial cluster in quervi for two weeks before being pressed and placed black into the vessel for ten months on full lees. After blending, this was bottled unfitted and unfiltered. The skin contact is evident from the first sip of nervy, etched apricot and peach fuzz, and bitter orange pith. The palate is sleek and edgy, bone dry, and racy with acidity. This finishes with a medicinal white grapefruit snap, and mouthwatering salinity. Exciting stuff.Prices: BC 26.00 Producer: Scout Vineyard
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Scout Vineyard Stonehouse Vineyardtext
91PTS

Scout Vineyard Stonehouse Vineyard 2018

Oliver, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaFour friends (two couples) began Scout Vineyard, based in the Southern Similkameen, and named for co-owners Murray and Maggie Fonteyne's daughter. The vineyard was planted 14 years ago. They met Aaron Godard and his wife Carly during Aaron's nine-year tenure as assistant winemaker and vineyard manager at nearby Orofino Vineyard. Orofino purchased Scout fruit, and continue to do so, albeit on a lesser scale, today. The four all still have day jobs while they work on this dream project together. 2018 was their first vintage, and they released 3 Rieslings, including this one sourced from Oliver's Stonehouse Vineyard. Though a streamlined, dry example, you feel the sandy loam soils and lower altitude in the gentle expansiveness on the palate, one sculpted with pear, meadow herbs, lemon pith, lees, large flake salts, and cut with an alluring wave of reduction that lingers on the finish. Jura meets Okanagan, somehow via riesling? Not sure how to summarize, or taste blind, but this is fantastic stuff.Prices: BC 26.00 Producer: Scout Vineyard
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Scout Vineyard Rieslingtext
92PTS

Scout Vineyard Riesling 2018

Similkameen Valley, British Columbia, CanadaFour friends (two couples) began Scout Vineyard, based in the Southern Similkameen, and named for co-owners Murray and Maggie Fonteyne's daughter. The vineyard was planted 14 years ago. They met Aaron Godard and his wife Carly during Aaron's nine-year tenure as assistant winemaker and vineyard manager at nearby Orofino Vineyard. Orofino purchased Scout fruit, and continue to do so, albeit on a lesser scale, today. The four all still have day jobs while they work on this dream project together. 2018 was their first vintage, and they released 3 Rieslings, including this home vineyard one. The site is on the way to becoming certified organic, and the owners are focusing on the biodiversity of the site and the soils. Half-destemmed / half whole cluster, this was native fermented in a mix of Georgian quervi and neutral barrels over 2 months. It was left in the vessels undisturbed for 10 months before bottling unfined and unfiltered. An alluring lick of reduction rolls through this dry, slender riesling, with green apple, pear skin, lime, subtle verbena, meadow herbs, and ample mineral salts. There's a noticeable granitic grippiness to the palate, which lingers on the finish as mineral saltiness and a cue to have another glass. Reminds me of Jura, somehow. Fantastic first effort from a well-practiced team; looking forward to the future. 189 cases.Prices: BC 26.00 Producer: Scout Vineyard
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Domaine Weinbach Cuvée Théo Rieslingtext
90PTS

Domaine Weinbach Cuvée Théo Riesling 2016

Alsace, FranceFrom Weinbach’s Clos des Capucins, which is farmed organically and biodynamically, this was fermented with indigenous yeasts and then matured in old foudres. After an initial whiff of sulphur dioxide, this opens up beautifully with a ripe nose of honey, candied lemon, crushed rock, and lees. The palate is fairly concentrated with good dry extract, but more medium-bodied and lively than you see with some Alsatian Rieslings. Dry in style; there’s 8 g/L of residual sugar, but the racy acidity easily takes care of that, leaving this balanced and already drinking well now. It’s curiously bottled under a Diam 5 cork, which is guaranteed for five years, though in fact this wine will easily age for longer.Prices: BC 54.99 Producer: Domaine Weinbach
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Dr. Loosen Sparkling Rieslingtext
87PTS

Dr. Loosen Sparkling Riesling NV

GermanyThis riesling is produced in the Charmat method in an extra-dry style, with 19 g/L residual sugar. It shows a classic, if not overly complex, riesling nose of lime and white flowers, though it lacks the intense aromatics that sparkling Riesling can sometimes have, with little to no biscuity autolytic character. The mousse is somewhat frothy and the noticeable sweetness masks the underlying racy acidity. The result is a simple, aperitif-style of sparkling wine that’s fairly priced and will certainly appeal to fans of Prosecco. I’d try this with sushi.Prices: BC 19.00 Producer: Weingut Dr. Loosen
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Loosen Bros Dr. L Rieslingtext
87PTS

Loosen Bros Dr. L Riesling 2018

GermanyDr. L is the entry level Mosel riesling from Dr. Loosen, and it overdelivers for the price. There’s an initial whiff of SO2 on the nose, which seems to be endemic to German riesling. As you dig past it, you’ll find a more citrus-fruited expression of riesling. The palate is medium-sweet (45 g/L of residual sugar), without the tension that you’d find in higher quality examples like a Kabinett or Spatlese. It makes for a lovely aperitif style: easy sipping, and little contemplation required.Prices: BC 17.99 ON 14.95 NFL 19.16 SAQ 16.05 MB 18.39 Producer: Weingut Dr. Loosen
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Fort Berens Reserve Rieslingtext
88PTS

Fort Berens Reserve Riesling 2018

Lillooet, British Columbia, CanadaWe love that the 2018 “Estate” Reserve Riesling, i.e. it is all Lillooet VQA fruit, the first official release from the newly minted VQA region. It was fermented in stainless steel on its native yeast, where it spent seven weeks before bottling. The lead is juicy, green apple, bitter lime, light melon, and a dusting of spices, this has a slight belly of lees to pad out the clean, crisp frame. Finishing with that bitter lime note, this would be well suited to sushi or green curries. Very promising.Prices: BC 23.99 Producer: Fort Berens Estate Winery
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Moraine Reserve Rieslingtext
89PTS

Moraine Reserve Riesling 2018

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe Reserve Riesling comes off the home Anastasia Estate Vineyard inside the heart of the Naramata Bench. The mineral-rich moraine soils are perfectly suited to the riesling grape. The attack is dry with tart citrus acidity dominating the palate and finish. It is a sophisticated riesling with modest fruit character that is suited to the highly mineral, wet stone finish. No rush to drink this, in fact, time is on your side. Attention collectors or anyone willing to wait on this one. Well suited to creamy seafood dishes. 220 cases produced.Prices: BC 28.00 Producer: Moraine Estate Winery
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Four Shadows Rieslingtext
91PTS

Four Shadows Riesling 2018

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe 2018 Four Shadows Vineyards riesling caused a stir with the judges at the 2019 National Wine Awards of Canada, and it remains a star in early 2020. Delicious, fresh, juicy, and gulpable best describes this wine. The palate opens with candied lemon, lime, peach, and red apple. A vibrant, mineral, stony underbelly finishes long and crisp, cleaning the palate in preparation for the next sip. Tasty, and dynamic.Prices: BC 19.99 Producer: Four Shadows Vineyard and Winery
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24 February 2020

Lock and Worth Chardonnay Whole Clustertext
90PTS

Lock and Worth Chardonnay Whole Cluster 2018

Okanagan Falls, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis is the first L&W Chardonnay, sourced from an Okanagan Falls vineyard planted in 1995. After whole cluster pressing, this fermented (with full MLF) in 500L puncheons, where it remained for 10 months on lees, with no battonage. Bottled without fining or filtration. Cream, verbena, red apple, and lees is surrounded by soft lemon curd and laced with reduction, finishing with a wash of salts. Big impact for under 12 degrees.Prices: BC 30.00 Producer: Lock & Worth
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Meyer Family Vineyards Chardonnay Tribute Series - Gordon A. Smith Old Main Road Vineyardtext
90PTS

Meyer Family Vineyards Chardonnay Tribute Series - Gordon A. Smith Old Main Road Vineyard 2018

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis year's Tribute Series Chardonnay honours Gordon Applebe Smith, a Canadian artist who passed in 2020. The grapes come from their Old Main Road Vineyard on Naramata Bench, planted in 1996 on silt loams over clay, sloping gently north. After a long, cool stainless ferment to kick off, this moved to French oak (22% new) to complete MLF and fermentation, where it remained for 11 months on the lees. Toasted popcorn, lemon curd, lemon peel, ample lees and noticeable oak rule this young, full-bodied wine, one held to a refreshing 13.5 degrees and lingering with tight wood spicing.Prices: BC 30.52 Producer: Meyer Family Vineyards
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Meyer Family Vineyards Chardonnay McLean Creek Road Vineyardtext
91PTS

Meyer Family Vineyards Chardonnay McLean Creek Road Vineyard 2018

Okanagan Falls, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaFrom their Okanagan Falls home estate vineyard and its steep sloping gravelled sandy loams, this chardy was partial native fermented in stainless, before completing fermentation in French oak (22% new), where it remained for 11 months on lees, without battonage, and with full MLF. The wine was bottled unfined and unfiltered. Creamy with lees, and bright with acidity, this streams green apple, meyer lemon, stony salts alongside gentle, alluring licks of reduction and the aforementioned wood. This is chiselled with lemon pith, hollowing out the sides, and streamlining this medium bodied white to a lingering finish. Such a lovely, controlled hand to this wine, ready for drinking now in youth, but certainly with years ahead.Prices: BC 33.00 Producer: Meyer Family Vineyards
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Blue Mountain Estate Cuvée Chardonnaytext
89PTS

Blue Mountain Estate Cuvée Chardonnay 2018

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis year's Estate Cuvée Chardy continues in the same vein as last year: a mix of clones and vines 12-29 years, whole cluster, native fermented and aged in foudres, 228L, and 500L French oak, with partial MLF. After 13 months, the wines were blended and bottled in fall 2019. The wood presence is felt, with ample pencil shavings, big toast, and swirls of vanilla throughout this medium bodied, creamy chardy. They play up against ripe pear, green apple, white peach, lemon pulp and hardy shakes of sea salt that linger on the finish. At this youthful stage, still coming together, but all the stuffing is there to produce another classic BM Chardy.Prices: BC 28.00 AB 27.95 ON 24.95 QC 23.95 NB 26.00 MB 26.00 Producer: Blue Mountain Vineyard & Cellars
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Blue Mountain Estate Cuvée Chardonnaytext
90PTS

Blue Mountain Estate Cuvée Chardonnay 2018

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaStylistically, this continues the change in direction for Blue Mountain’s chardonnay: it’s the second vintage to have been aged solely in French oak, as opposed to a combination of oak and stainless steel. That’s not to say this is an overtly oaky style of chardonnay, because it’s not. Using a combination of new and older barriques, puncheons, and a foudre, it strikes a wonderful balance between fruit and barrel. The winery doesn’t list the percentage of new oak, but it doesn’t strike me as high. Rather, the emphasis is on showcasing the 12-29 year-old vines at Blue Mountain’s estate vineyard. It seems like they’ve fine-tuned the approach, perhaps also benefiting from the relatively cool 2018 vintage. It’s almost Meursault-like in style, with lemon curd, kernel, and a touch of toasty oak in the background. The palate is rich and creamy, but still bright, leading to a slightly tart finish. Excellent value.Prices: BC 28.00 AB 27.95 ON 24.95 QC 23.95 NB 26.00 MB 26.00 Producer: Blue Mountain Vineyard & Cellars
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Le Clos Jordanne Les Grand Clos Chardonnaytext
92PTS

Le Clos Jordanne Les Grand Clos Chardonnay 2017

Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, CanadaThomas Bachelder's prowess with pinot noir and chardonnay cannot be denied, and his return to Le Clos Jordanne, where he was founding winemaker from 2003-2010, is a wonderful turn indeed. This first chardy release since his return comes from western part of the Le Clos Jordanne Estate Vineyard, Le Grand Clos, was whole bunch pressed and native fermented, finishing off the ferment and full MLF in 228L French barrels, 20% new. After 16 months of aging, the wines were racked into tank to marry for a month prior to bottling. Firm, but generous on the palate, with that structural brace filled out with plump white fruit, white florals, licks of reduction, perfumed cream, and a riveting green apple acidity that lifts the weighted whole. The finish lingers with toasty spice, upfront in youth but will integrate further with cellaring. This is certainly cellar-worthy, though drinking beautifully now with some time in glass or decanter.Prices: QC 45.50 NF 75.00 Producer: Le Clos Jordanne
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On Seven The Pursuit Chardonnaytext
90PTS

On Seven The Pursuit Chardonnay 2017

Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, CanadaOn Seven is a new boutique Niagara winery owned by passionate wine aficionados Vittorio & Sula De Stefano. The De Stefanos bought an abandoned 7 acre vineyard (hence the name) in 2009 in Four Mile Creek, and under the guidance of consultant viticulturist and founding winemaker Peter Gamble, prepped the site for 3 years before replanting in 2014. The heavy clay loams are laced with calcareous deposits, and sloped north to maintain freshness. The philosophy from the beginning was to be 100% organic certified, and produce wines with minimal intervention. Wines are native fermented with no fining agents, and SO2 is added only at bottling. This, their first release, is a barrel fermented chardonnay, with 14 months in French oak (20% new) and full MLF, with limited battonage. Lemon, cream, green apple, pear fill the flint-flooded palate, expansive on the middle with some creamed corn and pear soufflé, and finishing tight with toast and heaps of pencil shavings. Fantastic first effort from this winery. One to watch.Prices: Producer: On Seven Estate Winery
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Gray Monk Chardonnay Unwoodedtext
88PTS

Gray Monk Chardonnay Unwooded 2018

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaGray Monk wines are never over the top or overhyped. Grown at nearly 50 degrees north, they are lively, clean, and fresh, summarizing what you could want in pure, crisp white wine. The chardonnay is pretty much what every critic is talking about, less the complexity. Still, there is little not to like here, beginning with its bright citrus, green apple on the nose to its biscuity, almond undertone and fresh acidity in the finish. We enjoyed it with a simple chow mein noodle dish, and it improves every bite. Ready to drink. The price is excellent.Prices: BC 16.99 Producer: Gray Monk Estate Winery
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Upper Bench Chardonnaytext
90PTS

Upper Bench Chardonnay 2018

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe UB chardonnay is aged in a 50/50 mix of French oak barrels and stainless steel tanks. It’s worth noting that only 30 percent of that French oak is new and involved in three months of ageing on its lees. Like last year there is an unexpected and lively nose of citrus, nuts, and melon. The palate is equally fresh with citrus, pears, and mandarin, with a wet stone finish. Very food-friendly and refreshingly Naramata. Love the 13.8 alcohol by volume and virtually no residual sugar. Chardonnay for adults.Prices: BC 28.85 Producer: Upper Bench Winery
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Dark Horse Vineyard Chardonnaytext
84PTS

Dark Horse Vineyard Chardonnay 2018

Golden Mile Bench, Oliver, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaYou can tell by the colour what kind of chardonnay this horse will be: rich. Caramel, baked pear, lemon butter is infiltrated by a bitter smoked crab apple note, sitting atop the custardy base. The residual sugar is elevated, and the acidity low: old school Cali, from look and feel, to 9 months in barrel on lees, 20% new oak.Prices: BC 21.99 Producer: Dark Horse Vineyard
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CedarCreek Chardonnaytext
89PTS

CedarCreek Chardonnay 2018

British Columbia, CanadaThe 2019 Chardonnay is unrecognizable at first, with its new label, and fancy Stelvin Lux closure. From various estate plots, this slowly fermented in French barrels and foudre for more than 3 months before aging in the same vessels for 10 months. Full on the palate, the bright yellow apple and pear fruit is decked with a healthy slick of lees, and lightly bracketed with a refreshing lemon pith rinse. This is familiar chardonnay, well attended to, and creeping ever so modern, fresh and tight. A smart forward move for this wine and winemaker Taylor Whelan.Prices: BC 18.99 Producer: CedarCreek Estate Winery
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Nk'Mip Cellars Qwam Qwmt Chardonnaytext
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Nk'Mip Cellars Qwam Qwmt Chardonnay 2017

Osoyoos, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaWinemaker Justin Hall is stretching his legs with the Nk’Mip white wine program, and it’s the flagship chardonnay leading the way. The nose and palate are a mix of bright peach, apple pie and honey with a tighter, mineral underside and a balanced, penetrating textural finish — next world chardonnay. It will surprise you with its weight and texture, yet the balance assures you hardly notice it. Well done.Prices: BC 28.99 Producer: Nk'Mip Cellars
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21 February 2020

Castello di Gabbiano Chianti Classico Riservatext
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Castello di Gabbiano Chianti Classico Riserva 2013

Tuscany, ItalyItaly is well known for its oxidative style of winemaking, but this is very close to crossing the line into just plain oxidized. There’s some bruised apple, soy, and stewed dark fruits as well as leather and sun-dried tomato. The fruit character is slightly fresher on the palate, but overall it still seems past peak, with assertive tannins drying out the finish. A shame, because the concentration and length are above the norm.Prices: ON 22.99 QC 22.45 SK 22.98 MB 22.95 NB 26.48 AB 22.00 Producer: Castello di Gabbiano
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Frescobaldi Castello di Nipozzano Mormoretotext
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Frescobaldi Castello di Nipozzano Mormoreto 2015

Tuscany, ItalyMormoreto is the flagship wine of Castello di Nipozzano is grown on the 25-hectare Mormoreto Vineyard rich in sand and well-drained with a heavy presence of limestone and clay all planted in 1976. The site elevation is 250m to 300m above sea level. The first vintage was from the harvest of 1983, but it only produced in exceptional years. It was scratched in 1984, 1987, 1989, 1992, 1998 and 2002. Since the 2013 vintage, small amounts of cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc and petit verdot grapes planted 150 years ago have been introduced to the blend. We love the 2015 vintage aided by the long warm summer and supported by the beneficial rains of the first week of August. The ageing is done in hand-split oak barrels, partly new and once-used for 24 months, followed by a further six months in the bottle. The nose is a complex mix of smoke, black olives and enticing blueberry/raspberry fruit flecked with black tea notes.m The palate is equally intense with ripe, juicy fruit and dense, sweet, youthful tannins. The finish is lush and packed full of savoury cassis, black olive, peppery, blackberry, licorice flavours. So young and so impressive already, this is one to cellar if you can wait.Prices: BC 63.99 AB 51.00 MB 64.99 ON 70.00 NS 65.99 NL 69.99 Producer: Marchesi de' Frescobaldi
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Il Fauno di Arcanumtext
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Il Fauno di Arcanum 2014

Tuscany, ItalyIl Fauno is a Bordeaux-style red blend mixing estate blocks: Arceno di Sotto, La Curva, Colombaio and San Giovanni. The blocks are set in the lower, warmer southwest section of the estate known to ripen earlier in most years. The soils have a high clay content, think excellent water retention, especially in drought years. The style is generally lush but with that characteristic Tuscan earthy, spicy, herbaceous undercurrent. Our tasting revealed a fresh, wild, berry nose flecked with floral highlights. The style is soft; the tannins sweet all contributing to the deliciousness of the blend. The blend is 72/20/4/4 merlot, cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon and petit verdot. Osso Buco, anyone?Prices: BC 39.99 AB 43.49 ON 49.95 QC 49.50 Producer: Tenuta di Arceno
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Dei Vino Nobile di Montepulcianotext
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Dei Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2015

ItalyCaterina Dei runs this 55ha estate divided between the zones of Martiena, Bossona, La Ciarliana and La Piaggia on the slopes of the hill of Montepulciano. The winery was initially founded by her grandfather in 1964. This full red blends 10% canaiolo into sangiovese, and from vineyards planted in 1940 and 1955. After a native ferment in steel, this aged in large Slavonian oak casks for two years, followed by 6 months' rest in bottle. Lusty red florals, dark raspberry, juicy plum and medicinal cherry draw long and slow along the palate,Prices: ON 44.95 Producer: Maria Caterina Dei
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Tenuta il Palagio When We Dance Chiantitext
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Tenuta il Palagio When We Dance Chianti 2018

Tuscany, ItalyTuscany's Villa Il Palagio has been a vine growing and wine making estate since the 16th century. For the last two decades it's been the summer home of Sting and Trudy Styler, who have transformed the estate into a vibrant organic farm and vineyard. Over that time, they've worked with consultants Alan York and Pedro Parra to design the vineyards and farming practices. This sangiovese is splashed with canaiolo and colorino, and was fermented and aged in stainless for six months. Lighter in body and hue, with scents of red flowers, light balsamic, cherries on a tightly strung frame. Tannins are finely grippy, drawing this to a salted, bitter cherry finish. Lighter, fresher style Chianti.Prices: ON 23.95 Producer: Tenuta il Palagio
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Castello di Gabbiano Chianti Classico Riservatext
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Castello di Gabbiano Chianti Classico Riserva 2016

Tuscany, ItalyA fantastic year to be drinking sangiovese from Tuscany, or in this case, mostly sangiovese with a splash of merlot and traditional grapes. The colour is impressively dark, the nose savoury with black cherries and black plums that work its way onto the palate. The ripeness and texture of a perfect vintage make this very attractive, especially for the price. Pass the bolognese, please.Prices: BC 19.99 AB 18.25 SK 22.98 MB 22.99 ON 22.95 QC 23.95 NB 27.95 Producer: Castello di Gabbiano
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Antinori Badia A Passignano Chianti Classico Gran Selezionetext
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Antinori Badia A Passignano Chianti Classico Gran Selezione 2016

Tuscany, ItalyChianti Classico should always make your mouth water as it hits the palate and then it should satisfy that craving. Check both of these requests in the form of 2016 that also carries the latest DOCG designation of Gran Selezione. It was a mostly benevolent growing season, and the picking began between the end of September and the first few days of October. This sangiovese was grown at Badia Passignano at an altitude of 300 meters on limestone-rich soil mixed with clay. The nose is an enticing mix of fresh cherries, plums, and chocolate. The attack is similar, with more red fruit and super supple textures flecked with licorice and earthy, savoury undertones. Very Tuscan and an excellent candidate for cellaring five to seven more years.Prices: BC 66.99 NF 56.66 Producer: Marchesi Antinori
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Castello di Gabbiano Bellezza Chianti Classico Gran Selezionetext
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Castello di Gabbiano Bellezza Chianti Classico Gran Selezione 2012

Tuscany, ItalyFour years down the road, the Bellezza Gran Selezione is ageing entirely and showing why it is at the top of the Gabbiano reds. The oak is fading, and the red fruit nuances are coming to the foreground mixed with chocolate and leather. The entry remains silky, and it runs through the texture of this wine from front to back. On the palate cherry, chocolate, leather flavours flecked with earth and spice, and just enough acidity, is beginning to peak. Steak Florentine is the match.Prices: BC 30.99 MB 45.99 ON 31.25 NB 42.99 NS 44.99 Producer: Castello di Gabbiano
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Castello di Gabbiano Alleanzatext
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Castello di Gabbiano Alleanza 2010

Tuscany, ItalyThe 2010 Alleanza is a blend of 60 percent merlot and 40 percent cabernet sauvignon, aged in a combination of new and 1-year old French barriques. According to the winery, it is in “perfect balance between the old and new world style.” Yes, there’s a notch more weight and ripeness here than you’d typically expect from Tuscany, but the thing about Bordeaux blends in Italy is that they are always characteristically Italian in style. This sounds like an obvious thing to say, but I don’t know if it’s as true for any other wine region. In this case, the tannins are still assertive, the fruit is still red-fruited, and there’s no shortage of savoury notes with sandalwood and leather. This is drinking well now, but there’s no shortage of fruit concentration and structure to support further aging. Fine value.Prices: BC 43.99 Producer: Castello di Gabbiano
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Castello di Albola Acciaiolo Toscanatext
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Castello di Albola Acciaiolo Toscana 2015

Tuscany, Italy2015 was a solid vintage, and the cabernet sauvignon (80) and sangiovese (20) harvest began during the first week of October. The vineyard is one of many takes of Tuscany's Alberese clay-limestone soil sourced from the floor of the ocean in the Pliocene Epoch. Post-fermentation, the ageing runs 14 months in first and second-use barrels, followed by a further 12 months in the bottle. Lok for a woodsy aroma dotted with spice and licorice. On the palate, wild berries and plums lead the way with an earthy, licorice undercurrent. The styling is Italian elegant making it very food-friendly. Think roasts, game or mushroom pasta or risotto dishes.Prices: BC 62.99 Producer: Castello di Albola Radda in Chianti
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20 February 2020

Kirkland Signature Chardonnaytext
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Kirkland Signature Chardonnay 2018

Sonoma County, California, United StatesThe latest chardonnay from Kirland bears a Sonoma County designation, and it has all the attributes one might expect: a sunny disposition, and ripe fruit, almost tropical with peach and tangerine tones. The palate is juicy with more peach and red apple sprayed with pineapple notes. A pleasant, easy-sipping chardonnay that would be fun with spicy chicken dishes.Prices: BC 6.99 Producer: Grape and Grain Imports
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Kirkland Signature Malbectext
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Kirkland Signature Malbec 2018

Argentina2018 is a simple but relatively accurate representation of malbec. There is a fair bit of American oak and a touch of lifted alcohol upfront that tends to sit on the wine. The attack is warm, spicy, and round, with more blackberries and black cherry throughout. The finish is medium length and warm, but all in all, a fair value you can serve with a grilled flank steak.Prices: BC 6.99 Producer: Brothers In Arms
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Kirkland Signature Cotes du Rhone Villagestext
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Kirkland Signature Cotes du Rhone Villages 2018

Côtes du Rhône Villages, Southern Rhone, Rhone Valley, FranceThis Côtes du Rhône Villages comes from fruit rated one notch above Côtes du Rhône, or in this case, from around the slightly elevated land near the villages. The blend is a classic mix of syrah, grenache, and mourvèdre, made by local vintner Patrick Lesec. It’s all you could want for the money, and far more interesting than the Kirkland Cabernet at nearly 50% more money. The wine is medium-bodied with soft, round black fruit, a twist of licorice, spice, and garrigue, to a dusty liquorice finish. Ideal red to serve liberally around the barbecue.Prices: US 6.99 Producer: DC Flynt MW Selections
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Kirkland Signature Red Blendtext
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Kirkland Signature Red Blend 2016

Friuli-Venezia Giulia, ItalyThe blend is 67% merlot, 24% cabernet sauvignon, 4% petit verdot, 3% cabernet franc, and 2% malbec, and it's soft, round, and ripe. It says Napa Valley on the label, but there isn't much that would suggest it's more than anything but Central Valley juice. Pleasant, easy sipping, barely dry with chocolate cherries predominating. It’s $11.99 folks, which is its best selling point, but that price is more about the Napa moniker than the quality of the wine.Prices: US 10.99 Producer: DC Flynt MW Selections
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Kirkland Signature Sauvignon Blanc Ti Pointtext
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Kirkland Signature Sauvignon Blanc Ti Point 2018

Marlborough, South Island, New ZealandIf you agree that New Zealand sauvignon blanc is a no brainer when it comes to freshness and vitality and vibrancy, then you might be interested to know the Kirkland (Costco version) at US $6.99 or CDN $9.12 is as good as it gets for the category. I love the fresh, bright citrus core with a robust mineral undercurrent. Simple, clean, and affordable; no reason to spend more. I tasted it against several brands, and it easily took on the competition.Prices: US 6.99 Producer: Ti Point Vineyard
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Kirkland Signature Pinot Grigiotext
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Kirkland Signature Pinot Grigio 2019

Friuli-Venezia Giulia, ItalyThis is ordinary stuff. It's fresh enough and clean but the tone is sweet and the body soft. Look for candied green apples with a touch of cut grass, citrus, and fennel. It's best served solo, well-chilled on a warm patio, or with a spicy, curry dish. Ready to drink.Prices: BC 6.99 Producer: CVBC & Spa
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19 February 2020

Gérard Bertrand Clos d'Oratext
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Gérard Bertrand Clos d'Ora 2017

Minervois la Liviniere, Minervois, Languedoc, South of France, FranceClos d'Ora, the Latin ora-ae for word, prayer, contained between the Alpha and the Omega, is the symbolic beginning and end of all things. It is the essence of Gérard Bertrand and a two-decade-long dream to capture the unique terroir (and spiritual experience Bertrand first felt on the property in 1997). Our first visit to the nine-hectare stone-walled vineyard was magical, beginning with the intense smell of garrigue that washed down the vineyard as we walked the slope. The old vine carignan and grenache, beside which Bertrand planted syrah and mourvèdre, are farmed biodynamically at 220 metres above sea level. A mule is used to cultivate its chalk, sandstone, and marl soils gently. The grapes are harvested and macerated separately in concrete before spending a year in French oak. A dense, concentrated wine abounds with youthful energy and enthusiasm, still tightly wound yet revealing a glimpse of the future. Cherry, wild herbs, leather, and sweet black plum fill the aromas. The attack is lush with velvety tannins and peppery, savoury black fruit, fresh fig, licorice and smoky tobacco. It has the balance to be drunk now, but really, it needs three to five more years to reach its tasting plateau, and it will last long after that.Prices: QC 262.00 ON 261.00 NS 242.00 CDN 249.99 Producer: Gérard Bertrand
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Gérard Bertrand Clos du Templetext
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Gérard Bertrand Clos du Temple 2018

Cabrières, Languedoc, South of France, FranceClos du Temple is located in the historic terroir of Cabrières, in the heart of Languedoc, 240 metres above the Mediterranean with a southern/south-western exposure. The old vines reside at the birthplace of rosé, on an eight-hectare/seven parcel site of schist and limestone. It was designed to mirror a temple: “the foundation is grenache, the columns cinsault, the walls syrah, the architecture mourvèdre, and the roof viognier.” Although you do not feel it, it is aged in the barrel to reinforce its structure and to give the wine the capacity to age and work with food. Its unique bottle shape represents a temple with geometric lines based on the “golden ratio.” The royal blue on the capsule pays homage to King Louis 14th, a great admirer of the wine of Cabrières. At Clos du Temple the land is farmed with biodynamic principles, using horses and mules to strengthen the connection between the mineral, plant, animal, and human worlds. So how does it taste? It has remarkable finesse with apricots and tangerines streaked with strawberries that tumble onto the palate where a light grapefruit pith takes over through the alluring finish. Complexity and length add to its food friendly character, all in a subtle manner. Finally, a dusting of mineral and garrigue finishes the picture of this exceptional bottle. Look out, Provence.Prices: France 190.00 Producer: Gérard Bertrand
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Gérard Bertrand Tautavel Hommage aux Vigneronstext
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Gérard Bertrand Tautavel Hommage aux Vignerons 2010

Tautavel, Côtes du Roussillon Villages, Roussillon, South of France, FranceFrom the cellar. Tautavel is a village in the warmer, spoon-shaped, sunshine-catching Roussillon, cooled by the tramontine winds. Pebbly, limestone-rich terraces and south-east facing hillsides house the old vine grenache featured here. This was fermented in cement vats before a year in new French oak barrels. Pouring a deep mahogany, this is dark and brooding, with leathery black cherry, dried raspberry and strawberry, savoury dried mushrooms, dried tea leaves, and worn leather. Tannins are worn soft and malleable, still easily supporting the equally aged 15 degree fruit. Fine mineral salts dust the lingering finish. This is still very much alive 10 years on, even for all its mass and sunshine. Wines like this are testament to the staying power of old vines, and the touch of Bertrand's biodynamic practices.Prices: BC 65.00 AB 40.00 QC 37.50 Producer: Gérard Bertrand
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Gérard Bertrand Le Vialatext
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Gérard Bertrand Le Viala 2017

Minervois la Liviniere, Minervois, Languedoc, South of France, FranceLe Viala is the flagship label at Château Laville Bertrou in Minervois La Livinière. It grows on a small 3-hectare block of vines. The style is opulent, 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%) are whole-bunch vat fermented (carbonically), while the syrah is fermented traditionally with a percentage of whole bunches in the mix. Everything is aged one year in oak and stored a further year at the winery before release. The palate is dry and juicy with rich, floral, dense, sweet tannins. Licorice, cassis, black raspberries and chocolate dusted in garrigue spice permeate this round, creamy, complex red. Cellar for a decade or break out the barbecue and the lamb or a favourite old cheese.Prices: US 80.00 Producer: Gérard Bertrand
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Gérard Bertrand La Forgetext
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Gérard Bertrand La Forge 2017

Corbières, Languedoc, South of France, FranceLa Forge is a four-hectare site at Domaine de Villemajou, in the middle of the Boutenac sub-appellation of Corbières. Century-old carignan vines are at the heart of this syrah/carignan blend that is George Bertrand’s favourite red. The yields are crazy low at 25hl/ha, but the result is a wine full of power and full ripeness. Most of the varieties are vinified separately by carbonic maceration before ageing in new French oak barriques for 12 months. Rich, open, savoury, peppery aromas preview rich blackberry fruit with meaty, licorice plum flavours.Prices: CDN 86.99 QC 75.00 Producer: Gérard Bertrand
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Gérard Bertrand L'Hospitalitastext
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Gérard Bertrand L'Hospitalitas 2017

La Clape, Coteaux du Languedoc, Languedoc, South of France, FranceL'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. In the Middle Ages, l'Hospitalitas was a place of refuge for pilgrims, protected from fierce winds and the punishing summer sun by a high cliff where the terroirs, white limestone and red marl, converge. These soils, at the foot of the cliff, and the classic red Mediterranean soils formed on blueish grey compact limestone are home to this syrah and mourvèdre blend. Accented by black pepper, the intense black fruit nose has a dusting of garrigue, making it thoroughly Mediterranean. The palate is a meaty, savoury, sausage, black olive affair that lingers forever. Long and intense, this needs a decade to fully mature. If you must drink it now, consider wild boar or lamb.Prices: BC 85.00 QC 75.00 Producer: Gérard Bertrand
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Gérard Bertrand Aigle Royal Pinot Noirtext
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Gérard Bertrand Aigle Royal Pinot Noir 2017

Limoux, Languedoc, South of France, FranceThe Domaine de l'Aigle is a 47‐hectare estate located in the northernmost part of the Haute Vallée de l'Aude. The vineyard is established on espalier to produce an optimal illuminated leaf area for grapes to mature. The high-density vines (chardonnay and pinot noir) are grown using precision agriculture, which sits between 250-500 metres growing over clay‐limestone and facing south. Royal surprises with finesse, freshness, and spicy red fruit nuances. Look for that sauvage or wild herb scent that permeates the wild plums, red currant profile with a touch of game and earth. An impressive wine with lovely length, reminiscent of Pommard. L’Aigle Royal is a select block, or lot, of pinot fruit from the highest reaches of the estate. The harvest is manual, the grapes are destemmed and gravity fed into the vats. The fermentation and maceration lasts for around twenty days in large open tanks with cap punching twice daily. This is followed by malolactic fermentation before the wine is left to mature in oak barrels for a year.Prices: BC 77.00 QC 70.00 Producer: Gérard Bertrand
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Gérard Bertrand Château de la Soujeole Grand Vin Malepère Rougetext
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Gérard Bertrand Château de la Soujeole Grand Vin Malepère Rouge 2017

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 the 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, and mocha amidst dense but rounded tannins, and with zero herbaceous notes. Again there is a freshness to this Mediterranean Bordeaux-styled red that made this wine highly attractive even at such a young age. Steak anyone?Prices: BC 59.00 US 41.00 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 2017

Corbières, Languedoc, South of France, FranceVillemajou sits in Boutenac, well inside the Corbières appellation. The area supports ancient, rehabilitated 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 a delightful mix of blackberries and black raspberry aromas dusted with savoury, smoky, menthol, licorice notes. Rich, long, balanced, and eminently ageable, you can drink it now with luxurious items such as 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: CDN 38.99 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 2017

Terrasses de Larzac, Coteaux du Languedoc, Languedoc, South of France, FranceLa Sauvageonne is a mix of individual lots of syrah, grenache, mourvèdre, and carignan growing among the basalt, schist and red soils known as ‘ruffes’ in the highly acclaimed sub-appellation of Terrasses du Larzac. The appellation is located in the northern reaches of the Hérault département, a region known for its significant temperature amplitude and its distance from the Mediterranean sea and proximity of the Causse limestone ridges, all of which cool down the hot summer nights. The nose is intense, reflecting the black fruit base and the strong garrigue that fills the air in the vineyards. The attack is youthful, but the tannins sweet. Look for licorice, orange peel, black plum, black raspberry, and meaty flavours that persist from front to back. Demeter certified biodynamic and capable of ageing a decade with no problem.Prices: CDN 46.99 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, FranceRetasted a year down the road, I find Domaine de l’Aigle, close to Roquetaillade and Limoux in the foothills of the Pyrenees, showing little change. The bouquet is spicy with notes of strawberry, light barnyard, and gamey sausage. 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 but, and its an important but, with more finesse. It will age through 2023 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. The estate covers 31 hectares strategically planted from 250 to 500 metres, one of the highest vineyard sites in 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.”Prices: BC 39.99 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 2018

Limoux, Languedoc, South of France, FranceDomaine de l’Aigle is situated in Limoux, a high altitude Languedoc terroir with a long history of growing outstanding chardonnay grapes, in conditions very similar to Burgundy. It is the freshness that grabs you, lending this chardonnay a lot of credibility amongst its French peers. The palate is bright with enticing pastry pulling you into the glass. White fruits, peaches, and nutty lees with a twist of citrus set up a wet stone, marzipan finish, dusted with age. Serve with roast chicken, or assorted seafood dishes in creamy sauces. Only 13% alcohol; ready to drink.Prices: CDN 34.99 Producer: Gérard Bertrand
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Gérard Bertrand Chateau La Sauvageonne La Villa Rosétext
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Gérard Bertrand Chateau La Sauvageonne La Villa Rosé 2018

South of France, FranceCool nights and scorching hot days are the backdrops for Château la Sauvageonne La Villa Rosé, a 65/25/7/3/ blend of grenache, mourvèdre, vermentino, and viognier. The crushed strawberry nose entices along with spicy, floral garrigue. On the palate, the attack is generous with peach, cranberry, cherry with a dusting of sea salt and white pepper. It’s a super pale pink that tastes even better than it looks. Château la Sauvageonne joined the fold in November 2011, and is located northwest of Montpellier. It fits the Bertrand style given its unique orientation on the Larzac terraces at 300 metres, and on stunning volcanic terroir.Prices: BC 95.00 Producer: Gérard Bertrand
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Gérard Bertrand Ballerine Brut Étoile Rosétext
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Gérard Bertrand Ballerine Brut Étoile Rosé NV

Vin de Pays d'Oc, Languedoc, South of France, FranceA year down the road, the next reiteration of Ballerine continues to strike all the right notes, from its colour and styling to its grace on the palate. Gérard Bertrand is all about the details, as evidenced by the shape of the label that mirrors a ballet shoe, further conforming to the image of this sparkling rosé. Its origin is Limoux, home to the first sparkling wines created at Saint-Hilaire Abbey in 1531. It is a place where freshness and tension abound, making it a perfect home for rosé. Bertrand likes to compare the delicacy, lightness, and tension in this wine to a prima ballerina, hence its moniker. I agree and remain impressed by the fresh red fruit and brioche notes, delivered all with a touch of electricity.Prices: BC 50.00 Producer: Gérard Bertrand
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Gérard Bertrand Aigle Royal Chardonnaytext
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Gérard Bertrand Aigle Royal Chardonnay 2018

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, ranging between 250 and 500 metres above sea level. L'Aigle Royal comes off a block of vines rooted in clay‐limestone soil, south-facing, at the property's highest elevation. The vineyard is densely planted to 1250 to 1500 vines per hectare to keep the vines under control and produce wines of exceptional quality. The vines are trained up espalier style to ensure optimal exposure to sunlight and perfectly ripe grapes. Aigle Royal is always expressive on the nose with fruity, peachy notes followed by creamy textures and pastry and marzipan in the finish. This wine has the elegance, acidity and minerality to age gracefully. Look out, Burgundy. Poultry, fish, or mushrooms all work here.Prices: BC 95.00 ON 75.95 QC 70.00 Producer: Gérard Bertrand
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Gérard Bertrand Clos d'Oratext
92PTS

Gérard Bertrand Clos d'Ora 2013

Minervois la Liviniere, Minervois, Languedoc, South of France, FranceClos d'Ora is an emerging Languedoc superstar red from La Livinière, in the Minervois. The nine hectare stone-walled vineyard already contained old vine carignan and grenache, and Bertrand added syrah and mourvèdre and switched the farming to biodynamic. 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. This older version has aged quietly, allowing its savoury black fruit flavours to mellow and become one with the liquorice and garrigue notes of the countryside. It is designed to cellar a decade or more until the full picture is revealed, so there is still plenty of time for this wine to strut its stuff. Clos d'Ora, the Latin ora-ae for word, prayer, contained between the Alpha and the Omega, is the symbolic beginning and end of all things. It is the essence of Gérard Bertrand and a two-decade-long dream to capture the unique terroir (and spiritual experience Bertrand first felt on the property in 1997).Prices: QC 262.00 ON 261.00 NS 242.00 Producer: Gérard Bertrand
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Gérard Bertrand Art de Vivre Clairette du Languedoc Adissantext
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Gérard Bertrand Art de Vivre Clairette du Languedoc Adissan 2018

Clairette du Languedoc, Coteaux du Languedoc, Languedoc, South of France, FranceArt de Vivre is Gerard’s tribute to the Mediterranean way of life right down to its natural ceramic bottle that is a reminder of the first amphoras. The white version is made with the underappreciated clairette. It has an enticing fruity nose reminiscent of white fruit – pears and peaches flecked with plums and a hint of dried herbs or garrigue. It’s the freshness that makes this wine, and even though there are 12 grams of residual sugar when the fermentation is halted by deep cooling, the wine remains harmonious and fun to drink. Serve well-chilled and try it with some spicy sushi.Prices: QC 20.00 Producer: Gérard Bertrand
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Gérard Bertrand Art de Vivre Rougetext
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Gérard Bertrand Art de Vivre Rouge 2015

Languedoc, South of France, FranceArt de Vivre is Gerard’s tribute to the Mediterranean way of life, right down to its natural ceramic bottle that is a reminder of the first amphoras. The blend is iconic southern France: syrah, grenache and mourvedre. Naturally round and soft in the mouth, with red raspberry and plum, and after eight months in older French oak, it is ready to drink.Prices: QC 20.00 Producer: Gérard Bertrand
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Gérard Bertrand Cigalus Rougetext
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Gérard Bertrand Cigalus Rouge 2017

South of France, France`Domaine Cigalus enjoys a hot, sunny, semi-arid Mediterranean climate. Still, very deep soils deposited by an old river bed create a place to store the winter rains that keep the vines alive all summer. The site is planted to cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, merlot, syrah, grenache, and caladoc, and is farmed biodynamically under the appellation IGP Aude Hauterive. The syrah and carignan are vinified separately as whole berries in a carbonic maceration. Other varieties are destemmed and vinified traditionally with 20 days of skin contact. Everything goes into 225-litre new French oak barrels for 12 months. There no magic blend or formula, but 15-20 possibilities that could end up in the final mix. I love the intensity and the smoky licorice, cigar, black cherry, curry aromas. The attack is foursquare, but with a touch of grace, the palate juicy and savoury with more minty, black cherry, black raspberry fruit held firm by just enough underlying acidity—no rush to open this bottle. You could cellar this wine for a decade and beyond; it will only get better.Prices: BC 54.99 Producer: Gérard Bertrand
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Gérard Bertrand Château de Villemajou Grand Vin Blanctext
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Gérard Bertrand Château de Villemajou Grand Vin Blanc 2018

Corbières, Languedoc, South of France, FranceVillemajou Blanc has a deep yellow colour, but don’t let that scare you. Just inhale the warm Mediterranean floral aromas of slate, nectarine, quince, almonds, and a dusting of garrigue. The wine is similarly full-flavoured and mouth-filling with honeyed, waxy lees, citrus and pear, and just enough acidity to keep it interesting. The property is in Corbières, and along with ancient carignan vines, there are plantings of grenache blanc, and grenache gris, roussanne, marsanne and vermentino, each picked separately and barrel fermented and aged for seven to eight months.Prices: BC 50.00 QC 41.50 Producer: Gérard Bertrand
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18 February 2020

Chateau d’Epire Savennierestext
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Chateau d’Epire Savennieres 2016

Savennieres, Anjou, Loire, FranceFrom one of the oldest estates in Savennières, using gobelet-trained vines (similar to bush vines) that are hand-harvested, this was aged in stainless for nine months prior to bottling. It’s on point from a style perspective, though it may not be the most impressive Savennières I’ve ever had. It’s quite restrained with more secondary and tertiary aromas of honey, beeswax, lanolin, and wet rocks than fruit. The concentration is modest, but with good precision and tension on the palate. Drink now.Prices: BC 65.00 Producer: Chateau d’Epiré
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Domane Wachau Smaragd Terrassen Gruner Veltlinertext
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Domane Wachau Smaragd Terrassen Gruner Veltliner 2016

Wachau, Niederösterreich, Weinland Österreich, AustriaSmaragd is the ripest expression of gruner veltliner in the Wachau, and this shows exotic yellow and tropical fruits with white pepper and a volcanic smokiness. There is an oily richness to the palate, while retaining good tension and freshness. The complexity and concentration is well above the norm, and there’s a lot of wine here for the price. I’m not sure if it has the intensity of fruit to seriously benefit from more time in bottle, but it’d be interesting to follow its evolution.Prices: Producer: Domane Wachau
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Chateau de la Gravelletext
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Chateau de la Gravelle 2017

Muscadet, Pays Nantais, Loire, FranceMuscadet is easily one of the best values going right now and the wines always overdeliver. In short, this is the perfect wine for after the holidays. This shows citrus and green apple, with lots of lees character. The palate is creamy and broad, with a notch more ripeness than you’d typically expect from the region, with some stone fruit poking through. However, the wines are rarely more than 12% abv. If you like Chablis, give this a try.Prices: BC 17.99 Producer: Chateau de la Gravelle
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Bellingham The Bernard Series Old Vine Chenin Blanctext
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Bellingham The Bernard Series Old Vine Chenin Blanc 2017

Coastal Region, South AfricaThis Old Vine chenin blanc is sourced from across South Africa’s Coastal Region, including Cape Town, Stellenbosch, Paarl, and Darling, from vines ranging from 35 to 47 years old. After whole-bunch pressing, the wine was matured for 12 months in French oak (50 percent new) with extended lees contact and regular battonage. This is not as overtly tropical as chenin blanc from South Africa can often be. Rather, it leans more towards a Savennières-inspired style with lanolin, wool, and orange blossom. It comes across more oxidative than you’d expect for such a young vintage, and the barrel aging certainly could have something to do that, though I find the wine carries the new oak quite well. However, the richness and breadth on the palate certainly points to a warmer climate. There’s good complexity here, with concentration that is above the norm. Good value.Prices: BC 23.99 Producer: Bellingham - DGB
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Ken Forrester Old Vine Reserve Chenin Blanctext
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Ken Forrester Old Vine Reserve Chenin Blanc 2018

Stellenbosch, Coastal Region, South AfricaThe Reserve comes off 39-year-old bush vines from six different vineyards around Stellenbosch. The style is neat and clean, with a lot of intensity of flavour from nectarines, pears and a touch of quinine. It is all wild fermented, and only 20 percent of the French oak it spends 9 months in ageing is new. Fresh, light, bright, and electric, it is a home run for chenin blanc lovers who like their chenin on the cool, medicinal, citrus side. A delicious food-friendly white for all seasons.Prices: BC 21.99 AB 25.24 ON 17.95 QC 19.80 Producer: Ken Forrester Wines
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Sartarelli Classico Verdicchiotext
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Sartarelli Classico Verdicchio 2018

Ancona, Marche, ItalyThis verdicchio grows at 300-350m altitude, and vines average 22 years in age. It is very clinically / classically / controlled in its vini / vini, yielding a tight, tart white with green apple, Asian pear crunch, green melon rind, green hedge, and a snappy tangerine acidity. Pour this sharp wine with starters or raw fish.Prices: BC 22.99 Producer: Sartarelli
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Sartarelli Tralivio Verdicchiotext
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Sartarelli Tralivio Verdicchio 2017

Ancona, Marche, ItalyYou can feel the concentration of older vines, altitude, longer hang time, additional lees, in this verdicchio classico superiore. Lovely lemon curd, downy lees, ripe pear, verbena knit smoothly together on the fuller palate, one freshened by acidity and calcareous-laced soils. Finishing dry and snappy, this fuller white (14 degrees) would handle silky white fish / scallops handily.Prices: BC 26.99 Producer: Sartarelli
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Tightrope Winery Viogniertext
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Tightrope Winery Viognier 2018

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe fruit comes off two Naramata vineyards, the Tightrope home vineyard and The Eira Thomas Vineyard. It is whole-cluster-pressed; the juice is cold settled for three days before being racked to barrel for fermentation in French and Acaia barrels before spending ten months on lees. No malolactic reduces the perfume and clingy styling you can get with viognier moving this to a more austere and, in my opinion, more attractive white wine with oranges, mandarins and apricots on the nose and palate with just a hint of spice. Bright, fresh and tasty the winery suggests you try it with baked brie on cranberry crostini or beef stroganoff.Prices: BC 21.65 Producer: Tightrope Winery
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Su Puddu Vermentinotext
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Su Puddu Vermentino 2019

Sardinia, ItalyThere's a lovely glossy / oily slick that glides this vermentino along the medium-bodied palate, flowing with lemon drop, musk melon, pink apple, Asian pear, and fine almond spice. You can feel the warm Sardinian sunshine and the grape's tendency to build alcohol and glycerol here, with a warming flush on the finish. These grapes come from the area of Olbia Tempio, at the north of the island, where the sea breezes feed the acidity. Lovely seafood wine, and great value.Prices: ON 17.95 Producer: Silvio Carta
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Marqués de Murrieta Capellaníatext
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Marqués de Murrieta Capellanía 2014

Rioja, SpainBased on the 300ha ancestral home of Ygay, in southern Rioja Alta, Marqués de Murrieta is a 160 year old family-owned winery, and one of Spain's legendary producers. It is currently owned by Vicente Dalmau Cebrián-Sagarriga, the tenth Conde de Creixell. Capellanía is a single plateau vineyard planted in 1945, at the highest point of Ygay, at 485 metres. After a short skin contact, this viura was gently vertical pressed and then settled and fermented in stainless before 15 months aging in new 225L French barrels. Pouring a green-gold in the glass, this has all but swallowed up the new oak, leaving a creamy, waxy, honeysuckle, herbal elderflower and quince white in its wake. There's a toasted pine nut note, downy lees, mustard seed spiciness, and some slight wood grip tannins that squeeze on the finish. Surprisingly expansive in the mouth for 12.5 degrees, this drinks lovely now, and will be a cellar-worthy candidate for the next five years easy. Classic. Give this time to open in the glass / bottle.Prices: BC 45.00 Producer: Marqués de Murrieta
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Celler la Placeta Vi Blanctext
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Celler la Placeta Vi Blanc 2018

Montsant, Catalunya (Catalonia Cataluña), SpainEls Guiamets, today an important area for red grapes, has historically been an important area for garnaxta blanca, and young husband and wife winemakers / founders Mercè and Quim planted more of the historic grape there in 2015. This young wine was organically farmed from the clay and limestone soils of Molí de la Bleda, from 100-500m, fermented in steel and aged on lees for 3 months. Joyous in youth, with ripe pear, mandarin, juicy peach, orchard blossoms, grapefruit oil, and a kiss of anise running the plump, oily palate. Acidity is also bright, wrapping up the weight on the medium palate with a snappy grapefruit twist. Lovely balance here; looking forward to seeing where this project goes.Prices: ON 23.95 Producer: Celler la Placeta
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Zidarich Vitovska Greentext
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Zidarich Vitovska Green 2018

Friuli-Venezia Giulia, ItalyVitovska is an indigenous grape specific to the Friulian region of Carso, a very rocky region that borders Slovenia. It is a natural cross between malvasia bianca lungo and prosecco. Benjamin and his wife Marisa Zidarich tend 8 ha here in a naturalist, non-intervention vein. Green is their more youthful and approachable vitovska, from 4-10 year old vines grown on extremely rocky calcarious soils between 260-280m in altitude. After native ferment and a short time on the skins, this spent 13 months in old Slovenian oak before being bottled unfined and unfiltered. Wild lemon, tangerine, white florals, pink grapefruit on a brisk, bright palate, with a gentle cushion of lees, sharpened with apricot skin and grapefruit pith, and slightly gripped on the sides. Acidity is lively and the finish is astringent, all encouraging another glass.Prices: ON 34.95 Producer: Zidarich
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Domaine Des Champs Fleuris Les Rotissants Saumur Blanctext
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Domaine Des Champs Fleuris Les Rotissants Saumur Blanc 2017

Saumur, Loire, FranceFrom Saumur's Turquant and Montsoreau, and clay-limestone hillsides, these chenin vines average 30 years and stretch up to 70 years in age. Whole cluster, including some botrytized grapes, and fermented in barrel where it remained for one year with regular battonage (1/3 new wood). This is a rich and full white, amped triply via ferment and time in wood, battonage, and the aforementioned botyrtized grapes adding luring and heady layers of honeysuckle and dried apricot. That's joined by acacia blossoms, hawthorne, full cream, ripe pear, and rafts of spicing flooding the voluptuous palate. Fortunately, all of this is easily lifted by chenin's inherent acidity, and the region's limestone studded soils, making this 14.5 degree wine feel effortless on the palate and lengthy finish. A beauty winter weight white.Prices: BC 33.00 Producer: Domaine des Champs Fleuris
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Bodegas Vetus Flor de Vetus Verdejotext
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Bodegas Vetus Flor de Vetus Verdejo 2017

Rueda, Castilla-Leon, SpainFrom old bush vines in Rueda, and sandy soils up to 900m, this verdejo was fermented and aged briefly in stainless to preserve the crisp orchard fruit. Green apple, light melon, bosc pear is bright with crunchy Asian pear and lime peel. There's a fine layer of lees on the medium palate, making this a welcome partner for simple shellfish or salads.Prices: BC 27.00 AB 20.66 Producer: Bodegas Vetus
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Angelo Negro Vino Biancotext
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Angelo Negro Vino Bianco 2018

Piedmont, ItalyImported into America by The Piedmont Guy, this vino bianco is an unfiltered arneis from Roero's calcareous sandy soils. Angelo Negro is a historically significant winery doing back to 1670, the year that two of the estate’s most important vineyards, Perdaudin and Prachiosso, were first planted. With some of the most desired vineyard sites in Roero, Negro is one of the indisputable legends of the region. Giovanni Negro, the estate’s present owner, produced the first dry Roero Arneis on record in 1971. Today, they farm 64 hectares with organic practices. This arneis was fermented in stainless, where it remained sur lie with battonage for four months, with no MLF. Pouring slightly cloudy, green apple acidity tightens crab apple bitterness, layered with yeasty lees, yellow fruits, and lifted with a fine spritz. The sourness returns on the finish, more apparently when the glass is warming up. Pleasant lighter arneis for serving briskly and soon.Prices: BC 23.99 Producer: Angelo Negro
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Rigour & Whimsy Pinot Blanctext
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Rigour & Whimsy Pinot Blanc 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaAfter making a big impression with last year's inaugural single vineyard pinot blanc, this is the final release from this higher elevation organic Oliver vineyard, as the grapes went elsewhere in 2018. This year they extended the skin contact up to 5 months in stainless after a whole berry native ferment, and then rested the wine 15 months in new and used puncheons. The care and extended time paid off in this beautifully knit amber wine, layered with apricot oil, beeswax, melon rind on a gently expansive palate, finishing with an astringent cleansing rinse. Sorry to see them lose this vineyard, but looking forward to seeing what comes next.Prices: BC 35.00 Producer: Rigour & Whimsy
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Ceretto Blange Arneistext
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Ceretto Blange Arneis 2015

Piedmont, ItalyBlangè is a rare Piedmontese white wine made with the arneis grape grown across four communes: Vezza d’Alba, Castagnito, Castellinaldo and Alba. It was first released in 1985 and has been a favoured label ever since. It hails from the highly distinctive region Roero. Blangè is farmed and made sustainably. In the glass, this five-year-old wine presents with freshness and minerality, offering up floral, herbs, nuts, and ripe melon. It’s a star with food including and squash-stuffed pasta, grilled sablefish, fish tacos, roasted cauliflower and much more. Ready to drink.Prices: BC 35.00 Producer: Ceretto
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Zarate Albariño Val do Salnéstext
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Zarate Albariño Val do Salnés 2018

Val do Salnés, Rías Baixas, Galicia, SpainFounded in 1707, the family owned Zarate estate is located in Rias Baixas' Val do Salinas subregion. Their sloping, weathered granite vineyards are translated via albariño, a grape intrinsically associated with the estate. Seventh-generation Eulogio Pomares runs this historic bodega today, farming almost fully biodynamically. This is from 30 year old vines, fermented native, and with three months on the lees in stainless. Punchy yellow apple, green apple, pollen, pear, river stones are held with a tight brace of acidity and padded with a layer of lees. Refreshing.Prices: ON 24.95 Producer: Zarate
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St. Hubertus Pinot Blanctext
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St. Hubertus Pinot Blanc 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaRed apple, yellow apple and pear and kisses of white chocolate sweetness fill the soft palate of this simple, slight pinot blanc, sitting at a welcome 11.5 degrees. The grapes were planted in 1987, making them some of the oldest pinot blanc vines in BC. The Gebert's understated style is on show here, always allowing the fruit to shine.Prices: BC 15.75 Producer: St. Hubertus & Oak Bay Estate Winery
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17 February 2020

Olivier Leflaive Meursault Narvauxtext
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Olivier Leflaive Meursault Narvaux 2015

Meursault, Côte de Beaune, Côte d'Or, Burgundy, FranceThis is a more restrained style of Meursault – almost Chassagne-like – with ripe lemon, well-integrated oak, hazelnut, and a floral lift. Olivier Leflaive seems to have deftly handled the heat of the vintage; the palate is still taut, with some mid-palate richness, but really nice fruit purity. There’s some tartness to the finish, which may indicate that some acid adjustment was required this year. Quite precise and elegant, it’s not exactly a steal at this price but worth seeking out for a special occasion.Prices: BC 120.00 Producer: Olivier Leflaive
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Davis Bynum Chardonnaytext
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Davis Bynum Chardonnay 2016

Russian River, Sonoma County, California, United StatesA year later, this wine is showing very little evolution as it remains on its ageing track. It was grown at River West Vineyard and Westside Road in the Russian River Valley, on moderately deep, well-drained soils. The clonal mix is 30 percent clone 809, 27 percent Spring Mountain, 21 percent clone 76, 15 percent clone 15, and 7 percent clone 4; aged 12 months in French and Eastern European oak barrels, 21 percent of which were new. The attack remains fresh and bright with a firm lemon citrus acidity that sets up its creamy battonage textures and complex brioche notes. A terrific wine for seafood and a firm statement that California chardonnay continues to evolve.Prices: BC 30.99 ON 29.99 AB 26.95 QC 32.75 US 22.00 Producer: Davis Bynum Winery
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Château Fuissé Saint-Vérantext
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Château Fuissé Saint-Véran 2016

Saint Véran, Mâconnais, Burgundy, FranceThe Vincent family has overseen southern Bourgogne's Château Fuissé for five generations, since 1862. They own more than 40 hectares spanning five appellations, including 8 in Saint-Véran. It was fermented and aged in stainless. Overtly creamy throughout, mingling with white florals, light pear, lemon curd and some swings of verbena and veering towards sour lemon on the finish. Not overly complex or acid-driven, this is a moderate, gentle style of Maconnais, proper for current drinking. It is sealed with a Nomacorc Green cork made of bamboo.Prices: BC 35.00 Producer: Famille Vincent
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Lake Sonoma Chardonnaytext
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Lake Sonoma Chardonnay 2018

Russian River, Sonoma County, California, United StatesSome 45% of this Russian River Chardonnay is barrel fermented in 30% French oak and 15% neutral barrels, with the remainder fermented in stainless steel. 75% of the juice goes through malolactic fermentation during the one-year ageing period. The result is a bright, fresh wine with notes of pear, pineapple, and vanilla. The palate is similar with more peach, pear, melon, and mandarin. It is an excellent match with grilled scallops, buttered clams, Dungeness crab, or pasta seafood dishes.Prices: BC 21.49 AB 22.50 SK 23.97 MB 24.96 ON 28.00 QC 27.95 NB 26.49 PEI 27.23 YK 26.65 Producer: Lake Sonoma Winery
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Enfield Wine Co Citrine Chardonnaytext
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Enfield Wine Co Citrine Chardonnay 2017

Sierra Foothills, California, United StatesCitrine is a yellow quartz gemstone, similar in hue to the golden yellow colour of this old vine California chardy. It is a blend of four different vineyards, with an average vine age of 40 years, and the majority from 42-year-old, own-rooted vines at Rorick Heritage Vineyard in the Sierra Foothills. The remainder includes fruit from nearby Haynes, Heron Lake, and Brosseau vineyards. After whole-cluster-pressing, this was native fermented in barrel, with full MLF. The wine aged on its own lees for one year before it was blended and bottled unfined and unfiltered. Creamy and expansive with white fruit, pear, yellow apple, custard, crystalline lemon, bedded with ample spiced wood through the lingering finish. Shining fruit, even with the cloak of oak of youth, this is a fresh, new wave Cali chardy worth watching for. This wine was bottled using Plantcorc, a sugarcane-based cork alternative.Prices: BC 40.00 Producer: Enfield Wine Co.
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Stonestreet Estate Chardonnaytext
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Stonestreet Estate Chardonnay 2017

Alexander Valley, Sonoma County, California, United StatesStonestreet Estate Vineyards stand on the western ridge of the Mayacamas Mountains above the Alexander Valley. It is hard to imagine the competition that is going on at Jackson Family Wines that’s spawning wines like the 2017 Stonestreet Chardonnay, made by winemaker Lisa Valtenbergs. 2017 is 100% barrel fermented with native yeast, goes through malolactic fermentation in barrel, and is lees stirred monthly, for ten months, in French oak (36% new). Look for a mouth-filling ripe red apple attack drenched in a moderating salinity and minerals that keep the wine fresh and taut through the backend. It is well-suited to Sonoma cuisine, and will make a nice pairing for pork with fresh herbs and new potatoes, roasted butternut squash ravioli, or whole-roasted chicken. Love the direction this wine and Sonoma chardonnay is headed.Prices: BC 53.99 Producer: Stonestreet Winery
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Hartford Court Chardonnaytext
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Hartford Court Chardonnay 2017

Russian River, Sonoma County, California, United StatesI love that these wines are evolving with time. The Hartford Court wines are all about artisanal winemaking from hand-harvesting at night or early morning, to whole cluster pressing, indigenous yeast, and barrel fermentation in only French oak (32% new). The 2017 Russian River Valley Chardonnay comes from a collection of small vineyards throughout the AVA, many of which are state-owned. Is it Burgundy? No, but then Burgundy is not the Russian River. That said, this is impressive “Grand Cru” chardonnay. The fruit is super intense but clean, and thankfully now linear, and less fat. Honeysuckle and jasmine, lemon-lime, pears and on and on, it culminates in a long and complex finish that makes you want to finish the bottle.Prices: BC 54.99 AB 53.99 ON 53.95 Producer: Hartford Family Wines
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La Crema  Monterey Chardonnaytext
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La Crema Monterey Chardonnay 2018

Monterey County, Central Coast, California, United StatesWinemaker Craig McAllister will be in Vancouver for the Vancouver International Wine Festival this year, and the question to ask is, 'how do you make wine in such large volumes at such a high level of quality?' A lot of it has to do with Monterey's mid-California coastal position and its chilly midday breezes that you could set your watch by. Its fresh, floral, citrus lined fruit with melon and butter slides down effortlessly. 89 percent is barrel-aged (11% goes to stainless steel), yet only 17 percent new French oak (chardonnay producers take note) is used. A partial malolactic fermentation adds some creamy textures to this cool, fruity chardonnay. It is a recipe to copy. Crab cakes anyone? The fruit for this wine is sourced from multiple vineyards across the Monterey AVA, including the Gravelstone and Clark Estate vineyards. Vineyards located in North Monterey bring juicy fruit notes while the vineyards in the South bring riper fruit flavours.Prices: BC 34.00 AB 36.00 ON 24.00 QC 27.00 Producer: La Crema
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Kendall-Jackson Chardonnay Vintner's Reservetext
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Kendall-Jackson Chardonnay Vintner's Reserve 2018

California, United StatesWinemaker Randy Ullom does an admirable job with this label, graphically even more boring than its Vintner’s Reserve moniker. That said, it’s a wine that has evolved over the decade, and is very reflective of the new California chardonnay style and its top-flight fruit sourcing. Don’t worry, it is still lush and sweet-smelling with ripe peaches, a touch of caramel candy, and buttercream, but it’s the acidity that sets the tone for the palate and its pineapple, peach Meyer lemon flavours. Pair with lobster, crab, baked salmon, or butter chicken.Prices: AB 23.00 BC 23.99 ON 20.00 MB 19.00 QC 21.00 US 15.00 NB 27.50 Producer: Kendall-Jackson Vineyards and Winery
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Scar of the Sea Seven Leagues Chardonnaytext
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Scar of the Sea Seven Leagues Chardonnay 2017

Santa Maria Valley, Santa Barbara County, Central Coast, California, United StatesFriends Michael Brughelli and Micky Giugni source fruit from various vineyards in the Central Coast for their boutique minimal-intervention label Scar of the Sea. This fresh chardy comes from three blocks within Santa Maria's famed Bien Nacido Vineyard. Each block is picked and native fermented separately in a neutral barrel, where it goes through a full malolactic fermentation before ageing in barrel and steel for 17 months. The extended lees contact is evident, padding the slight palate and supporting subtly sweet lemon verbena, chalk, and stones. Tight, energetic, and mineral-driven, this finishes long in the mouth. Impressive. 150 cases.Prices: USA 38.00 Producer: Scar of the Sea
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Domaine Chevalier Pére & Fils Corton-Charlemagne Grand Crutext
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Domaine Chevalier Pére & Fils Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru 2017

Côte de Beaune, Côte d'Or, Burgundy, FranceMarcelle Dubois, along with his daughter and son-in-law, Emile Chevalier, inherited the estate just after WWI, and subsequent generations have continually pushed the needle forward towards higher quality wines. The domaine now covers 266 ha over Ladoix and Buisson, at the northern tip of the Côte de Beaune and the edge of the Côte de Nuits. It comes from two parcels in Corton-Charlemagne, ranging from 10-36 years' vine age. This was oak fermented and aged for 11 months in 50% new wood. Big, creamy, and rich with youthful exuberance and the aforementioned wood, which at this stage overlays the pristine lemon curd, marzipan, smoked flinty notes that are smouldering underneath - so young, and so much tightly knit power just waiting its time to unfurl here. Revisit in five years.Prices: ON 194.95 Producer: Domaine Chevalier Pére & Fils
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William Hill Chardonnaytext
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William Hill Chardonnay 2017

North Coast Region, California, United StatesWilliam Hill makes trustworthy, if somewhat commercial chardonnay, with broad appeal to the casual but enthusiastic chardonnay drinker. The nose is open and attractive, mixing vanilla, melon, baked apple, and ripe pear. The palate follows with similar flavours adding a dash of lees to the juicy, apple, honey, melon notes. The finish is pillowy soft with candied lemon and brown spices, ready to drink. Try this with a poke bowl or a lobster taco.Prices: BC 21.90 Producer: William Hill
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Bramito della Sala Chardonnaytext
90PTS

Bramito della Sala Chardonnay 2018

Umbria, ItalyBramìto is grown at centuries-old Castello della Sala, 18 kilometres from the famed hilltop town of Orvieto. Fossil-dotted clay soil is the home of this chardonnay, one that projects elegance and minerality on the nose and palate. 2018 was a cool vintage that began with plenty of rainfall to replenish the subsoil, and followed with warm summer days and cool nights, perfect for ripening fruit and maintaining acidity through a late August harvest. Varied lots were treated separately: some went into oak barrels, others to stainless steel vats. Only the juice fermented in oak went through malolactic fermentation. The inaugural vintage of Bramito della Sala was 1994. In 2018 it explodes across the palate with a brisk freshness and aromas of tropical fruit, citrus, and hazelnuts. The texture is buttery and round but tightens in the back end where the citrus persists to light up the delicate mineral notes, adding balance and perspective to a complex, food-friendly white. A perfect solution for most west coast seafood and New World restaurant wine lists.Prices: BC 33.00 AB 23.00 QC 23.25 NS 35.29 NB 35.95 Producer: Castello della Sala
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The Winery of Good Hope Unoaked Chardonnaytext
87PTS

The Winery of Good Hope Unoaked Chardonnay 2019

Western Cape, South AfricaFrom two regions in the Western Cape: ocean-facing Helderberg vineyards in Stellenbosch, and the limestone laced vineyards of Robertson. After partial native ferment in stainless, this remained in inox on lees for 5 months with occasional battonage. Creamy pear, yellow apple, light kisses of perfumed white florals atop a lightly toasty, slightly plump palate. Finishes with a sprinkling of spices. Simple, but well made.Prices: BC 19.00 Producer: The Winery of Good Hope
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13 February 2020

Chateau Ste. Michelle Indian Wells Red Blendtext
87PTS

Chateau Ste. Michelle Indian Wells Red Blend 2016

Columbia Valley, Washington, United StatesThis is quite the blend: 54% syrah, 27% merlot, 7% malbec, 4% grenache, 3% cabernet sauvignon, 2% cabernet franc, 1% cinsault, 1% barbera, and 1% mourvedre. From "warmer sites" across the Columbia Valley. It was aged for 18 months in French and American oak (29 percent new). The result is a vinous red with loads of oak spice and brambly black fruits. Medium-full bodied, the woody notes carry through to the palate with firm, grainy tannins that dry out the finish. Overall, it's a confected style that shows a lot of winemaking. It will benefit from a fatty, medium-rare burger and a slight chill.Prices: BC 29.99 ON 22.95 NS 29.99 Producer: Chateau Ste. Michelle
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Pax The Vicar North Coast Red Winetext
91PTS

Pax The Vicar North Coast Red Wine 2016

North Coast Region, California, United StatesThis is Rhone meets California, via 50/50 Alder Springs grenache and Sonoma's Bedrock Vineyard mourvèdre. The grenache is high altitude, and the mourvèdre is old vines, planted in 1881. After a whole cluster native ferment, this aged in a single concrete egg for 18 months. Concentrated, yet with the candied lifted note from the whole cluster, this draws sapid plum, sweet cassis, wild blueberry, sapid cherry, purple florals, white pepper along a slow, concrete-textural palate, housed by sticky, plump tannins. For all it's heat-seeking grenache and old vine mourvèdre magnitude, this remains light on its feet, as is Pax's way.Prices: BC 75.00 Producer: Pax Mahle Wines
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Capçanes Peraj Petitatext
89PTS

Capçanes Peraj Petita 2017

Montsant, Catalunya (Catalonia Cataluña), SpainA Kosher wine may have never tasted so good. This simple, well made red is half grenache with varying amounts of tempranillo, merlot and syrah. The attack is floral and fresh with soft, velvety red fruits. A surprisingly pleasing hedonistic style that is well suited to slightly spicy food. It was perfect with a vegetable and pork stir fry. Kosher for Passover.Prices: BC 25.99 Producer: Celler de Capçanes
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Duseigneur La Chapelle Côtes du Rhône Organictext
87PTS

Duseigneur La Chapelle Côtes du Rhône Organic 2016

Côtes du Rhône, Rhone Valley, FranceThis soft, easy, simple organic Côtes du Rhône blends old vine grenache with equal parts syrah, each vinified separately in concrete before blending and bottling. Cherry, juicy plum, milk chocolate and peppery spicing floats on the palate, with light, hard-press tannins framing the sides, and an earthy forest floor basing this medium bodied red. The finish is short and pasty, best taken alongside roasted root veg or French onion soup.Prices: BC 24.49 Producer: Domaine Duseigneur
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L'Ancienne Mercerie Les Petites Mains Faugèrestext
88PTS

L'Ancienne Mercerie Les Petites Mains Faugères 2016

Faugères, Coteaux du Languedoc, Languedoc, South of France, FranceNathalie and François Caumette have taken over the family's 16 ha organic estate in Faugères. This is a blend of carignan, syrah, grenache noir, mourvèdre, grown on schistous soils, and split between demi-muids and concrete. Perfumed dark plum, black raspberry, sits on an easy, accessible palate, with downy tannins that close quickly on the saline finish. Showing some maturity, and best taken now alongside grilled pork or pigeon.Prices: BC 30.99 Producer: Nathalie et Francois Caumette
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Famille Perrin Vacqueyras Les Christinstext
89PTS

Famille Perrin Vacqueyras Les Christins 2017

Côtes du Rhône, Rhone Valley, FranceFrom the stony clay terraces of this 8ha vineyard on the Sarrians commune, and from grenache and syrah (80/20) vines averaging 50 years, this fermented and aged in a mix of foudres and large tanks of 50hL. Plush, super ripe and dense with dark cherry and black raspberry, the sticky tannins are silky, and ample, sliding the plump fruit to a warming finish. Decant and pour into large glasses alongside roasted lamb.Prices: BC 26.99 QC 24.95 ON 23.95 NF 30.00 Producer: Famille Perrin
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Road 13 Syrah Malbectext
87PTS

Road 13 Syrah Malbec 2017

British Columbia, CanadaSyrah and malbec (79/21) may not make for a classic blend, but when you think about it, the combination makes a lot of sense. Both varieties have a number of similarities and they can be easy to confuse in blind tastings, especially in the new world. However, in this case it’s really the oak driving the bus, with lots of espresso and raw wood character. Otherwise, the fruit is ripe and jammy, topping in at 14.7% abv. A wine for the ‘big red’ crowd, but at a price that doesn't deliver exceptional value.Prices: BC 32.00 Producer: Road 13
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12 February 2020

M. Chapoutier Hermitage Chante Alouette Blanctext
92PTS

M. Chapoutier Hermitage Chante Alouette Blanc 2017

Southern Rhone, Rhone Valley, FranceChante-Alouette is one-third vat fermented in large 600-litre oak barrels, and the rest is fermented in stainless steel. The fruit comes off three select sites: Le Méal, an old fluvioglacial alluvial deposit; granitic and alluvial Les Murets; and Chante-Alouette, set on loess soil with a fine layer of clay and limestone. It yields a complex marsanne. The attack is rich and powerful with expressive pear, lemon, and bitter orange notes of bergamot. The palate is long and persistent with ripe peach, butter, and almonds that linger forever. The fruit is farmed biodynamically, and this wine can be aged for decades. A top-flight wine at a bargain price; serve with robust white meat dishes or cheeses. Real wine. The highly sought after appellation of Hermitage is named after the tiny chapel at its highest point, once home to hermits and later used by bird hunters, like Michel Chapoutier’s grandfather. Alouette is a kind of bird. Chante Alouette means Sing Alouette.Prices: BC 88.99 ON 89.95 QC 77.25 Producer: M. Chapoutier
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M. Chapoutier Ermitage Le Méal Rougetext
96PTS

M. Chapoutier Ermitage Le Méal Rouge 2012

Hermitage, Northern Rhone, Rhone Valley, FranceThe le Méal hillside fruit is 100 percent syrah grown across high terraces of shingles and clay on 50+ year old vines. The fermentation is in small cement vats, leaving supple, round, smooth sipping tannins. Chapoutier keeps only the free run juice for Le Méal, matured in new or one year old casks for 14-18 months. It was more concentrated and more accessible to taste than the L’Orée. Look for smoky blackberry jam and dense, soft tannins that preview the ability to age for 20 to 40 years and beyond. I love that black pepper and mineral underbody that keeps it balanced and fresh. A super wine that is only just beginning to open up in the bottle.Prices: BC 243.00 AB 275.00 Producer: M. Chapoutier
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M. Chapoutier Saint Joseph Les Granits Rougetext
93PTS

M. Chapoutier Saint Joseph Les Granits Rouge 2017

Saint Joseph, Northern Rhone, Rhone Valley, FranceParts of Saint Joseph, like Hermitage, is on elevated soil with a high granite composition that seems to lend both syrah and marsanne an authentic styling, setting those wines against the bottles from the broader appellation. The hill above the village of Tournon, across the Rhône from Tain, is almost as steep as Hermitage, facing mostly south. Old, very low-yielding vines are at the heart of this wine. It’s a fully biodynamic and organic wine with intensely spicy, black pepper, red fruits, and sweet sausage. The attack is dry and supple with juicy black cherry, and peppery, stony, mineral fruit. Only just beginning life, but its a good one to bet on ageing and becoming an impressive member of the syrah society.Prices: CDN 81.00 AB 95.00 Producer: M. Chapoutier
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M. Chapoutier Saint Joseph Les Granits Blanctext
91PTS

M. Chapoutier Saint Joseph Les Granits Blanc 2017

Saint Joseph, Northern Rhone, Rhone Valley, FranceChapoutier's oldest marsanne is hand-harvested off the steep granite slopes in the south of Tournon. Half of the wine is fermented in vats, the other part in big wooden barrels (600 litres) and aged on its lees from 8 to 10 months with battonage. The nose is a tour of apricots, nuts, honey, butter, lemon, and spicy, floral aromas. The attack is elegant with honey, nuts, lemon, apricot, pear skin, and ginger that finishes long and with great persistence. Drink or hold for 50 years.Prices: CDN 71.99 Producer: M. Chapoutier
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M. Chapoutier Hermitage Monier de la Sizeranne Rougetext
94PTS

M. Chapoutier Hermitage Monier de la Sizeranne Rouge 2014

Hermitage, Northern Rhone, Rhone Valley, FranceAll syrah, la Sizeranne grows on sandy limestone alluvial soils with varying clay content, Tournon granite, and aeolian silt, including decomposed granite from the plots located at the top of the slopes. The parcels involved blend different soils from west to east: Les Bessards, Le Méal, and Les Greffieux. It’s all vinified on indigenous yeast in concrete before ageing 18 months ageing in mostly (85%) new, one and two year old French oak barrels. Expect an inviting red fruit nose with liquorice and spice. It is surprisingly round with intense blackcurrant, peppery fruit that screams Hermitage. Roast beef or ripe cheese is a terrific match. It will age effortlessly thorough 2030. Monier de la Sizeranne comes from the name of an important Tain L’Hermitage family. This family also owned the La Sizeranne vineyard. This influential Monnier family has been around since 1790: Henri Monier de la Sizeranne, senator; Maxime Monier de la Sizeranne, painter; Maurice Monier de la Sizeranne, the man responsible for creating a version of Braille (one of the reasons why Chapoutier has Braille on its bottle labels); Robert Monier de la Sizeranne, translator of Ruskin’s book. The label displays a lion, which is the Sizeranne family crest.Prices: CDN 117.00 Producer: M. Chapoutier
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M. Chapoutier Crozes-Hermitage Les Varonnierstext
95PTS

M. Chapoutier Crozes-Hermitage Les Varonniers 2016

Crozes Hermitage, Northern Rhone, Rhone Valley, FranceLes Varonniers is a small 2.55-hectare block of syrah on the west-facing mistral-whipped side of the Hermitage hill. The soil here at Varognes, its historical name, is more Hermitage than Crozes-Hermitage, adding more complexity to this version of Crozes. Varonniers contains additional fruit from the old syrah vines in the Les Meysonniers in southern Crozes-Hermitage, hence the Les Varonniers moniker, a contraction of the two vineyard sites. I love the energy in this wine. The mid-palate is alive and fresh with a mix of red and black fruit, licorice and a savoury undercurrent. Not as intense as Hermitage but certainly as complex as it gets for Crozes-Hermitage. You can age this seven to ten years with no worries.Prices: CDN 77.99 Producer: M. Chapoutier
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M. Chapoutier Ermitage L'Ermite Rougetext
96PTS

M. Chapoutier Ermitage L'Ermite Rouge 2011

Hermitage, Northern Rhone, Rhone Valley, FranceErmitage L'Ermite is a standalone wine representing the best of the hill of Hermitage and Chapoutier's grandest crus. The vines average over 80 years and the yields are minuscule. Look for peppery, spicy, black cherry, smoky, gamey, prune aromas laced with garrigue. The attack is powerful but elegant with a layer of complexity that persistent throughout the wine as you drink it. It is something special and not to be missed. The palate is awash in black cherry, liquorice, and minerality. It's bolder than La Meal but in the right way. It is a dissertation in syrah. Ermitage L'Ermite Rouge is 100 percent syrah, all hand-harvested from 3.8 acres atop the Hermitage hill, entirely destemmed and vinified in a small, concrete vat. Maceration runs five to six weeks before the free run juice is transferred into new or one year old barrels to be matured for 18 to 20 months. L'Ermite is a select parcel that originates from some of the most famous plots in the Rhône, including 34 hectares within the tiny Hermitage appellation.Prices: CDN 425.00 Producer: M. Chapoutier
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M. Chapoutier De L'Orée Ermitage Blanctext
97PTS

M. Chapoutier De L'Orée Ermitage Blanc 2012

Hermitage, Northern Rhone, Rhone Valley, FranceThere are no cru designated wines in the Rhone, but there are lieux-dits, named places that denote unique vineyard sites and plots within each appellation. Chapoutier owns some of the most famous plots in the Rhône, including 34 hectares within the tiny Hermitage appellation. Labelled Selections Parcellaires, they are simply the best from Chapoutier, of course grown organically and biodynamically. The De L'Orée moniker was the idea of Michel Chapoutier's grandfather, who selected the site at the eastern edge of Hermitage Hill. Orée means edge in French. Orée also references the colour of the wine as or means gold in French. De L'Orée is made from 100 percent marsanne with production rarely over 600 cases. It is always intense as a function of meagre yields and very high ripeness, all run through a barrel fermentation. The site is the alluvial Coteaux des Murets in the eastern part of Hermitage Hill. The nose is a mineral, stony affair with lemons and floral undertones. Intense and persistent, it is aged in new 500 litre demi-muids, but you don't feel it. It is one of the longest-living dry white wines in France.Prices: AB 315.00 QC 289.75 NS 325.80 Producer: M. Chapoutier
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10 February 2020

Quails' Gate Riesling Icewinetext
90PTS

Quails' Gate Riesling Icewine 2014

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis is just beginning to show some evolution, with baked tropical fruits, honey, beeswax, and lemon curd. The palate is pristine and precise, with laser-like, zippy acidity that really refreshes the palate and miraculously manages to cut through the 248 g/L residual sugar (!). This makes for an interesting comparison to the Noble One, and shows the clear stylistic differences between Icewine and botrytis-affected wines, with the former showing much more varietal character and demonstrating why high-acid riesling is so adept at making great sweet wines.Prices: BC 35.00 200 AB 35.00 200 SK 35.00 200 MB 35.00 200 ON 35.00 200 Producer: Quails' Gate Vineyards Estate Winery
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De Bortoli Noble One Botrytis Semillontext
92PTS

De Bortoli Noble One Botrytis Semillon 2014

New South Wales, AustraliaNow quite evolved (from a 375mL bottle), look for a medium amber colour and lots of dried orange, lemon, honey, and nuts on the nose, lacking the overt oak of a Sauternes or the racy acidity of a Tokaji. The palate is unctuous with 231 g/L residual sugar, but with surprising freshness on the palate (9.9 g/L total acidity) due to the concentrating effect of using botrytis-affected fruit. The concentration is superb, with pronounced botrytis character that shows why Noble One is one of the world’s great sweet wines. And it’s all yours at a very affordable price, too. I like this as a dessert on its own, and don’t feel like you need to finish the entire bottle in one sitting. It’ll hold in your fridge for at least 2-3 weeks.Prices: BC 39.95 375 AB 37.95 375 ON 29.95 375 QC 27.00 375 NS 33.00 375 Producer: De Bortoli Wines
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Niepoort Tawny Porttext
89PTS

Niepoort Tawny Port NV

Douro Valley, Northern Portugal, PortugalFrom three schistous soiled vineyards in the Douro and vines upwards of 30 years, this is a blend of Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinto Cão, Tinta Francisca, Tinta Amarela, Sousão, Tinta Roriz, fermented in lagares with foot treading, and aged in small oak casks for 3.5 years. Mouthfilling and welcoming, with dried raisins, dark butterscotch, caramel kisses and hints of dark cocoa. The sweetness is held in check, thankfully, by a striving acidity. Beauty for drinking now.Prices: ON 17.95 Producer: Niepoort (Vinhos) S.A.
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Niepoort Dry Whitetext
90PTS

Niepoort Dry White NV

Douro Valley, Northern Portugal, PortugalThis dry white is a blend of Côdega, Rabigato, Viosinho, Arinto and Gouveio from Douro's Covelinhas and Pombal vineyards and vines upward of 30 years. After fermentation in open lagares, this aged in small old oak casks for 3.5 years before release. It is on the drier side of White Ports, with a lovely wash of salinity that counters the golden raisin, savoury marmalade, honeysuckle, dried oolong tea, broken stones, salt-roasted almonds, finishing with creamy warming marzipan notes. Lovely solo sipping (on the rocks) and ideal for a Port Tonic. Fantastic value.Prices: ON 17.95 Producer: Niepoort (Vinhos) S.A.
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Hester Creek Late Harvest Pinot Blanctext
88PTS

Hester Creek Late Harvest Pinot Blanc 2018

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe old Block 4 pinot blanc planted in 1968 is the perfect medium for this dessert-style wine. At 72 grams per litre of residual sugar, it’s plenty sweet, but the handpicked, sorted, and whole-cluster fruit comes with a freshness that keeps it lively on the palate. 2018 was a crazy year that ended early and cool, adding to the acidity and ripeness of this mid-weight juicy peach, orange, pear sweetie that is ready to drink. The winery chef suggests you serve it with poached honey peaches and a blue cheese crumble with caramelized walnuts.Prices: BC 18.95 200 Producer: Hester Creek Estate Winery
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CedarCreek Platinum Riesling Icewinetext
90PTS

CedarCreek Platinum Riesling Icewine 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe Platinum Riesling Icewine is all handpicked during the night, in this case on December 27, 2017, when the temperature was -10 C. Gently pressed over 36 hours, it is fermented in large oak vessels. The nose is a mix of the classic new shower curtain, with bright notes of tangerine, apricot, and white flowers before the sugar kicks in and enraptures the taster. Aged cheese, bacon and blue cheese, charcuterie, foie gras on crostini, it all works here. Chocolate would be equally at home with this wine. Fine quality.Prices: BC 53.00 375 Producer: CedarCreek Estate Winery
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Fonseca 10 Year Old Aged Tawny Porttext
91PTS

Fonseca 10 Year Old Aged Tawny Port NV

Douro Valley, Northern Portugal, PortugalThe Fonseca 10 Year Old comes by its tawny colour naturally, spending ten years ageing in Portuguese pipes. These ten years in casks sculpts its spicy tea and walnut nose with pungent rancio, cedar, and cherry notes. The front end is mellow with spiced fruitcake, walnuts, golden raisin compote and black tea. A smooth, silky, extended finish that persists for minutes. Youthful, but ready to drink.Prices: BC 39.99 AB 40.00 QC 34.75 Producer: Fonseca Guimaraens
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Fonseca Bin No 27 Finest Reserve Porttext
88PTS

Fonseca Bin No 27 Finest Reserve Port NV

Douro Valley, Northern Portugal, PortugalAs famous as Fonseca Vintage Port is, you can multiply those drinkers by thousands who when it comes to Bin 27. It was launched more than 40 years ago in Britain but has become a particular favourite in North American. The market was searching for a no-fuss port with some power and fruit, right up Fonseca’s driveway. The goal was “a smooth, full-bodied and densely fruity blend in a style known at the time as 'vintage character' but usually known today as a finest reserve". The firm was in the habit of naming its crusted ports using bin numbers and Bin 27 was born. Little has changed today. The attack is sweet and spicy with a touch of fire, sugared blackberry, cassis, dark cocoa, black tea, and finished with black pepper. Christmas pudding comes to mind.Prices: BC 23.99 MB 17.00 NS 23.00 SK 23.00 NB 24.00 Producer: Fonseca Guimaraens
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Fonseca Vintage Porttext
96PTS

Fonseca Vintage Port 2017

Douro Valley, Northern Portugal, PortugalQuinta do Panascal is the heart of this terrific release, and it was the first Fonseca quinta to start picking on 6 September. The opening is highly attractive and frankly a little less boisterous than Fonseca can be in most vintage years. Don’t be fooled. The legendary black fruit and minty floral notes swirl about the wine. As lush as the attack is, there is a wonderful counterbalance to the plenty in the glass: a stony, mineral, undercurrent followed by an unexpected level of dryness in the finish. As much fun as it is to drink now, it will easily wait 20-30 years for the ultimate expression of the year and the property.Prices: BC 159.00 AB 149.00 ON 143.00 QC 140.00 MB 125.00 SK 129.00 Producer: Fonseca Guimaraens
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Croft Vintage Porttext
96PTS

Croft Vintage Port 2017

Douro Valley, Northern Portugal, PortugalBack to back vintages in Port is a rare as it gets but it will be fun to follow 2016 and 2017 as they head down the road for the next 50-100 years. It’s a highly seductive Croft in 2017, now fully restored to its former glory under the hands of Fladgate Partnership. Dense, rich, dry, and packed with sweet tannins, this juicy, youthful black and red-fruited port is exotic, intoxicating, and only a baby. One of the rewards of ageing is you can better identify those wines that will go the distance and this is one of them. Climate change challenges notwithstanding, I love this wine picked on 31 August, the earliest start date for over 70 years.Prices: BC 125.99 AB 120.00 ON 126.00 Producer: Taylor Fladgate Partnership
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Taylor Fladgate Vintage Porttext
97PTS

Taylor Fladgate Vintage Port 2017

Douro Valley, Northern Portugal, PortugalDry best describes the 2017 vintage. April and May were warm, and June was sweltering, all leading to an early crop that was picked beginning September 1, the earliest since 1945 at Taylor. The excellent news is harvest temperatures were mild with cool nights providing ideal fermentation conditions. Typically opaque at this stage, the nose is at once opulent and polished filled with floral violets, dried wild herbs and hints of black raspberry. On the palate, its power and muscularity are restained, but seemingly ready at a moment's notice to ignite the long, linear finish. Savoury, fruity and dry at once, it is a complex creature in need of 20 more years in the bottle. Again following this and 2016 is going to be fun for decades. You will not be disappointed.Prices: BC 169.99 QC 156.00 NL 155.00 AB 169.00 Producer: Taylor Fladgate Partnership
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Quevedo Tawny Porttext
85PTS

Quevedo Tawny Port NV

Douro Valley, Northern Portugal, PortugalThis is an entry-level Tawny port that is youthful on the one hand, but with with stewed, oxidized notes likely indicative of a rushed élevage. The palate is even more aldehydic with bitter coffee ground notes leading to an astringent finish. Try this slightly chilled with blue cheese.Prices: BC 24.99 Producer: Vinhos Oscar Quevedo
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05 February 2020

M. Chapoutier Marius Grenache Syrahtext
87PTS

M. Chapoutier Marius Grenache Syrah 2018

Languedoc, South of France, FranceMarius is a blend of grenache and syrah from the Languedoc-Roussillon. Michel Chapoutier named the wine after his grandfather Marius, and then went about making delicious drinking, highly-affordable red wine. The fruity, open, pleasant, red-fruited grenache is the foil to the power and structure of the syrah. Post ferment, the wines are racked several times and left to mature without any sulphur on fine lees, to solidify the wine's complex elements. Each variety is kept separate to achieve the best possible blend. This juicy, garrigue-dusted red over-delivers for its price and complexity. It is a food-friendly red perfect for grilled chicken kabobs or lamb chops.Prices: ON 11.95 QC 14.60 Producer: M. Chapoutier
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M. Chapoutier Les Arènes Cornastext
93PTS

M. Chapoutier Les Arènes Cornas 2016

Cornas, Northern Rhone, Rhone Valley, FranceThe vineyard is on the slopes inside the village of Cornas, partly on decomposed granite known locally as "gore", and partly on clay and calcareous alluvial deposits. Black plum, roast pepper, savoury, floral notes are mixed with curry, barnyard, and prune, and this is only the beginning. The palate is equally impressive with its bright, fresh demeanour of peppery, mineral, dense black and red fruit, liquorice, and spiced plum. The ageing is 80/20 in French oak and concrete. An excellent cheese wine for after dinner, or cellar for ten to fifteen years. “Les Arènes” (sands) comes from the term “Arènes granitiques” (granitic sands), a geological phenomenon that arises with the decomposition of granite caused by water and wind, giving the soil a sandy nature. The Cornas appellation name comes from the Celtic for “Burnt Land.”Prices: SK 42.97 NB 59.99 Producer: M. Chapoutier
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M. Chapoutier Chateauneuf-du-Pape La Bernardine Rougetext
90PTS

M. Chapoutier Chateauneuf-du-Pape La Bernardine Rouge 2016

Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Southern Rhone, Rhone Valley, FranceLa Bernadine is mostly grenache with ten percent of syrah and mourvedre, explaining why so much red fruit can be found on the nose. Chapoutier describes this wine in terms of ripe red cherries. Add licorice and garrigue as well. Like most Chapoutier wines, there is the terroir lurking everywhere. The attack is generous with dense tannins tracking toward a more opulent, softer style, less about refinement, and more about power. The palate is a mix of juicy raspberry/black plum fruit with flecks of orange, wet stony minerality, licorice, more garrigue, and savoury, roasted pepper. 2016 looks like a wine that will be better consumed mid-term, around 2023. That said, Chapoutier remains indifferent about vintages, saying, “each year tells its story. Under the Chapoutier biodynamic farming regime, it is usually a story worth tasting.”Prices: BC 52.99 AB 44.95 MB 53.99 QC 51.95 Producer: M. Chapoutier
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M. Chapoutier Belleruche Côtes du Rhône Rosétext
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M. Chapoutier Belleruche Côtes du Rhône Rosé 2018

Côtes du Rhône, Rhone Valley, FranceChapoutier practices débourbage, allowing the juice to settle for 24 hours, gently imparting its colour to the wine. Expect a perfectly pale salmon colour, previewing an inviting floral red fruit nose. It’s so fresh and juicy with bright citrus, strawberry, watermelon, bergamot and a light dusting of pepper. While it would be fine at the beach, it will be equally capable at the dinner table alongside a charcuterie plate. Love the wine and the price. The fruit, night-harvested, is mostly grenache with cinsault, then syrah comes from the right bank of the Rhône, from vines planted in loess and sandy soils.Prices: BC 21.99 MB 17.99 Producer: M. Chapoutier
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M. Chapoutier Crozes-Hermitage Les Meysonniers Blanctext
91PTS

M. Chapoutier Crozes-Hermitage Les Meysonniers Blanc 2018

Crozes Hermitage, Northern Rhone, Rhone Valley, FranceLes Meysonniers is not a single plot but a collection of sites located on the lower slopes and the flats just south and east of the hill of Hermitage. The soil is composed of Isère River sedimentary soils, and large, round pebbles. The 20- 40-year-old vines are at the centre of this Crozes-Hermitage Blanc, a 100 percent marsanne that is 90+ percent stainless steel fermented. Expect a pale yellow colour with flecks of green. Floral and quince wafts from the glass, with a creamy, brioche, nutty finish. An electric wine that is all Chapoutier. The name of the Crozes-Hermitage appellation comes from the Latin “Crozem,” which means ”Croix” in French. ”Croix” has two meanings: cross or intersection. Certified organic since 2012.Prices: CDN 34.99 Producer: M. Chapoutier
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M. Chapoutier Belleruche Côtes du Rhône Rougetext
89PTS

M. Chapoutier Belleruche Côtes du Rhône Rouge 2018

Côtes du Rhône, Rhone Valley, FranceBelleruche has always been a classy little Rhone red that punches above its weight, and the story continued in 2018. The site is a jumble of terroirs, including pebbly clay, soils with layers of stones, clay terraces and silty-sand. The grapes are vinified in concrete and stainless steel tanks for 3-4 weeks. The nose is a rush of savoury black cherry, anise, with a lick of iron. The fruit mix is grenache and syrah, the attack is juicy with white pepper and black fruit before a touch of meatiness and garrigue fill in the back end. It is a great weekday red and a label that should be on a lot of restaurant lists. Grilled lamb, beef, mushrooms, and more will work well. Back up the truck.

VIDEO: Tour the hill of Hermitage and learn more about the M. Chapoutier philosophy.
https://youtu.be/mz7EQ5RweZk
Prices: BC 18.99 AB 17.99 ON 17.99 QC 17.95 Producer: M. Chapoutier
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M. Chapoutier Crozes-Hermitage Les Meysonniers Rougetext
90PTS

M. Chapoutier Crozes-Hermitage Les Meysonniers Rouge 2017

Crozes Hermitage, Northern Rhone, Rhone Valley, FranceAlways one of the very best value Crozes-Hermitage, Les Meysonniers comes off the lower slopes and the flats south and east of the hill Hermitage. The vines are a quarter-century old and are 100 percent organic. Chapoutier says the vineyard's soils allow the roots to go deep, tapping minerality you do not see in other Crozes-Hermitage. Vinifying and ageing it in concrete further enhances its natural flavours. The nose is a full-frontal assault of red and black plum with persistent, gentle spicing, and a twist of garrigue. That said, the attack is elegant and measured with a meaty, peppery, savoury finish. The winery describes the Meysonniers Rouge as a "bistro-nomic" red made for home cooking. I agree, and suggest pork or lamb to pair now and over the next decade.Prices: BC 28.99 AB 28.49 MB 29.95 QC 27.65 Producer: M. Chapoutier
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04 February 2020

Culmina Family Estate Hypothesistext
90PTS

Culmina Family Estate Hypothesis 2014

Golden Mile Bench, Oliver, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis year's Hypothesis blends 45% cabernet sauvignon, 33% merlot, and 22% cabernet franc from estate vineyards on the Golden Mile Bench. This spent 16 months in French barrel, 30% new, which was a welcome shift lower. A current release now, this is just starting to unravel itself from its tightly knit cocoon, and still welcomes a decant or time in glass. Savoury, this has a potent green desert herbaceousness that spines this full bodied red, padded out with savoury black cherry, cassis, shaved cedar, and cracked nutmeg. Tannins are ample and furry, housing the dense fruit through a spiced cake / roasted coffee finish.Prices: BC 46.00 Producer: Culmina Family Estate Winery
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Clos du Soleil Estate Reserve Redtext
92PTS

Clos du Soleil Estate Reserve Red 2015

Similkameen Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe Estate Reserve Red and White symbolize the pinnacle of Clos du Soleil's portfolio and their Keremeos estate vineyard. This vintage blends 57% cabernet sauvignon, 17% merlot, 16% cabernet franc, 8% malbec, and 2% petit verdot into a layered, expressive, bigger red, one with elegance and finesse. Each variety was harvested and native fermented separately, and matured in French oak for 15 months prior to the final blend. Once blended and integrated in tank for 2 months, the wine was bottled unfined and unfiltered. The additional bottle aging prior to release is beneficial; this is a serious red ready for drinking now (new release 2015), with waves of red currant, graphite, dusty stone, leather, pine, cracked cedar, and ripe fragrant plum on a slightly textural / pencil shavings dusted palate. Tannins are firm but worn just soft on the edges with time, giving this the structure to counter the very hot 2015 (which pokes its head through at points), partner with roasted red meats, but also the considered elegance for solo sipping. Ageworthy, and a classic Similkameen summary.Prices: BC 53.00 Producer: Clos du Soleil Winery
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Quails' Gate The Allisontext
87PTS

Quails' Gate The Allison 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis is a blend of 61 percent syrah and 39 percent cabernet franc sourced from Osoyoos, aged in neutral oak for 20 months. The fruit is fairly muted, verging on tired, and doesn't show a lot of obvious character from either variety. Medium-bodied, it has soft acidity with coarse, bitter tannins. All in all, it's a solid pour for a cold Tuesday night; just give it some help at the dinner table with a hearty protein. Drink now.Prices: BC 24.99 Producer: Quails' Gate Vineyards Estate Winery
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03 February 2020

Quails' Gate Old Vines Foch Reservetext
87PTS

Quails' Gate Old Vines Foch Reserve 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada50+ year old estate marechal foch grapes are treated to a lavish new American oak barrel treatment, probably the only thing that could stand up to these sinewy, dense, concentrated hybrid grapes. Sour cherry jam, prune, baked tomato, green branch and whole peppercorns play off the spiced vanilla / toasted wood. Yes, this is intense, and yes, this is disjointed. Give it a little time in bottle to come together, and then pair with your favourite tomato braised beef / root veg stew.Prices: BC 46.99 Producer: Quails' Gate Vineyards Estate Winery
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Quails' Gate Old Vines Foch Reservetext
88PTS

Quails' Gate Old Vines Foch Reserve 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaCertainly a unique wine for BC, this old vine (50+ yo vines) marechal foch comes from Quails' Gate home estate vineyard, was fermented with selected French yeasts and matured in new American oak. The spicy power of the wood plays well against the resinous / raisiny prune character of the grapes and this wine. Dark chocolate, baked plums, stewed forest berries are cut with a sharp green tomato note, leaving this intense wine somewhat disjointed on the finish. Tannins are slight and sticky. As usual, makes for a great beef / root veg stew accompaniment.Prices: BC 39.94 Producer: Quails' Gate Vineyards Estate Winery
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Quails' Gate Old Vines Fochtext
87PTS

Quails' Gate Old Vines Foch 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaFrom Quails' Gate's Osoyoos Vineyard, this was fermented and aged in a combination of neutral French and American oak for 20 months. (The Reserve version has a substantial kick of new oak, in comparison.) The style comes across slightly forced, arguably more zinfandel-like than foch, with dense, jammy dark fruits and cola. Medium-full bodied, this is quite soft and round, with grainy tannins and a slightly stunted, bitter finish from the 14.5% abv. I like this slightly chilled as it brings out a bit more freshness, but it's a solid winter red nonetheless. Bring out the burgers.Prices: BC 25.99 AB 24.99 ON 27.00 Producer: Quails' Gate Vineyards Estate Winery
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