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Anthony Gismondi on Wine
Tasting Notes

Tastings: March 2020

31 March 2020

Le Clos Jordanne Le Grand Clos Pinot Noirtext
92PTS

Le Clos Jordanne Le Grand Clos Pinot Noir 2017

Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, CanadaThomas Bachelder's return to Niagara's Le Clos Jordanne, where he was the founding winemaker from 2003-2010, is good news for the wine. This pinot release is Bachelder's first since his return, and it is more than promising. Bachelder is all about the place, or in pinot language, blocks, and this wine comes off the west side of Le Clos Jordanne vineyard. The colour is light, and the nose is alive with cedar washed black cherries and an earthy/mushroom undercurrent. Fresh and intense, its stony, mineral red fruit persists into its lengthy, dry finish, and all that with a 12.5 alcohol by volume tag. A delicious style finished under a Stelvin screwcap closure.Prices: QC 45.50 Producer: Le Clos Jordanne
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Synchromesh Storm Haven Vineyard Pinot Noirtext
89PTS

Synchromesh Storm Haven Vineyard Pinot Noir 2018

Okanagan Falls, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis home estate single vineyard pinot noir is a blend of clones 828, 114 and 115, whole bunch fermented, and rested in oak (partial new). Forest floor, wild plum, blackberry, thorns flood a dusky, cloudy palate, slight in weight (11.8 degrees) and bracketed by grippy sides. There are flirts of balsamic on the back end, finishing snappy and brisk, and with lingering cherry blossoms. Best with a chill, and for drinking now / short term.Prices: BC 28.00 Producer: Synchromesh Wines Inc.
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Nichol Vineyard Pinot Noirtext
89PTS

Nichol Vineyard Pinot Noir 2017

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis young pinot noir was planted in 2007 at the top part of Nichol's Naramata Village estate vineyard, around 700m. Sasparilla, ripe raspberry, perfumed cherry, sultry black plum wraps around a juicy core, striated with tight spicing, perfumed with plum blossom, and gripped with fine, firm, raspberry seed tannins. The end finishes with a flush of savoury nutmeg warmth. Very much NZ styled, somehow.Prices: BC 30.00 Producer: Nichol Vineyard
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Robin Ridge Organic Pinot Noirtext
87PTS

Robin Ridge Organic Pinot Noir 2018

Keremeos, Similkameen Valley, British Columbia, CanadaCertified organic, it is grown on stony loams and trellised using Geneva Double Curtain trellising to expose the fruit to the maximum amount of sun in the Similkameen Valley. The attack is fresh with very bright acidity and floral aromas mixed with cherries and earth. Tight and lean, it should appeal to a particular crowd, especially one looking for wines to serve with food. It is a terrific wine for roasted vegetables or a simple Margherita pizza. More Euro that West Coast.Prices: BC 21.90 Producer: Robin Ridge Winery
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Meyer Family Vineyards Pinot Noir-Old Block McLean Creek Vineyardtext
90PTS

Meyer Family Vineyards Pinot Noir-Old Block McLean Creek Vineyard 2018

Okanagan Falls, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaFrom one of the original vineyard plantings at their Okanagan Falls estate McLean Creek Road Vineyard (planted 1994), this is an unknown clone. The fruit was destemmed and cold soaked before a native ferment and transfer to French oak (30% new) for 11 months, before the wine was bottled unfined and unfiltered. Silken and long on the palate, this is harmonized with black cherry, raspberry, forest berries and earthy dark plum. The wood is there, but in the background, like a nightshade, framing the dark, expansive core. The finish lingers with sweet spices and perfumed purple florals, along with a flush of warmth. Drinking very well now with decanting, but will reward with cellaring.Prices: BC 50.00 Producer: Meyer Family Vineyards
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Meyer Family Vineyards Pinot Noir McLean Creek Road Vineyardtext
90PTS

Meyer Family Vineyards Pinot Noir McLean Creek Road Vineyard 2018

Okanagan Falls, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaOne of Canada's pinot noir and chardonnay specialists, this is from their home estate McLaren Creek Road Vineyard, and its steep gravelly / sandy loams. Pommard and Dijon clones from 3 blocks go into this wine, meant to capture the home estate. This was destemmed, cold soaked and native fermented before aging 11 months in French oak (25% new). The wine was bottled unfined and unfiltered. Black cherry, dark raspberry, sarsaparilla, toasted wood is seasoned with nutmeg and cedar boughs, finishing with a warm flush. This is a young wine, and shows it, with some exuberant teenage knees and elbows, but with a little time in bottle to settle, it will mature quite nicely. That said, this is drinking well now, especially with duck or wild mushroom dishes, and with a light chill.Prices: BC 40.00 Producer: Meyer Family Vineyards
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Meyer Family Vineyards Pinot Noir-Old Block McLean Creek Vineyardtext
91PTS

Meyer Family Vineyards Pinot Noir-Old Block McLean Creek Vineyard 2018

Okanagan Falls, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaPinot Noir Old Block is all about the original vines growing at the Okanagan Falls estate, within the McLean Creek Road Vineyard, first planted in 1994. It is also known, or not, as the unknown clone. Typically it’s fermented naturally and aged in about 30 percent new French oak for 11 months, showing little effect, flavour-wise, in the finished wine. The attack is slippery, and the intensity is a jump up over the McLean Road offering, as it should be. Ripe black cherries dominate, with flecks of Damson plum, more black raspberries, and a dusting of brown spice. Delicate, complex, and delicious in the mouth, it is a deft selection courtesy of winemaker Chris Carson. Drink or hold; both will surprise.Prices: BC 50.00 Producer: Meyer Family Vineyards
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Meyer Family Vineyards Pinot Noir McLean Creek Road Vineyardtext
90PTS

Meyer Family Vineyards Pinot Noir McLean Creek Road Vineyard 2018

Okanagan Falls, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaAt Meyer, they describe 2018 as “another tough vintage.” Summer arrived quickly, and the hot, dry conditions brought early forest fires that remained for the entire growing season. The smoke layer in the sky blocked out some of the sunlight and reduced daytime temperatures, which became ideal for vine development. The problem was a cool September leading to increased hangtime and later picks. At Meyer, the fruit was picked in mid-to-late September. McLean Creek Road Vineyard is their home vineyard in Okanagan Falls. The sparse, sloping, sandy alluvial/glacial gravels and sandy loams support five Pommard and Dijon clones (114, 115, 91, 667, 777) each farmed (not certified) organically, plot by plot. The finished juice went into French oak (25 percent new) for 11 months and was bottled unfined and unfiltered. It is young but presents with less than the usual exuberance at this point, with more earthy, sour cherry, raspberry over a spicy forest floor base. The balance is perfect, the alcohol a modest 13.5 percent, but the good news is you can enjoy it now. It was perfect with a curry chicken dish.Prices: BC 40.00 Producer: Meyer Family Vineyards
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Quails' Gate Pinot Noirtext
89PTS

Quails' Gate Pinot Noir 2018

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaA blend of 93 percent pinot noir and 7 percent gamay. After a five day cold soak, this was fermented over several weeks by a combination of indigenous and cultivated yeasts before aging in French oak barrels for ten months. The result is an earthy, savoury style of pinot with underbrush and ripe red fruits framed by some nicely integrated oak spice. The tannins are fine and supple, with juicy acidity. In short, everything you want from pinot noir, especially at this price. It's just lacking a little perfume and fruit definition to take this to the next level.Prices: BC 29.99 AB 30.99 MB 26.99 QC 29.10 NS 30.00 PEI 30.09 YK 27.00 SK 30.00 NB 27.99 Producer: Quails' Gate Vineyards Estate Winery
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Tightrope Winery Pinot Noir Rubistext
89PTS

Tightrope Winery Pinot Noir Rubis 2018

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaMedium-light red, Burgundian in colour, the attack is fresh and lean with tart red cherry, plums, and a savoury, earthy underside. Rubis is a Naramata Bench vineyard that appears to follow other offerings from this region that are less about alcohol and more about the place. Ready to drink now but best with food. Think mushroom burgers and salmon steaks.Prices: BC 35.00 Producer: Tightrope Winery
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Tightrope Winery Pinot Noir Fleet Roadtext
88PTS

Tightrope Winery Pinot Noir Fleet Road 2018

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaExpect a perfect pinot colour, bright and light, and much like last year it has a definite savoury, spicy, forest floor bent to the elegant, earthy, dry plum and rhubarb. The finish is persistent without offering too much alcohol. this wine is aged in one-third new French oak for about ten months, but it has little noticeable effect even at this young age. Food-friendly, it has a fraction of light tannins to shed in the back end. Serve now with roast turkey or a piece of soft cheese.Prices: BC 35.00 Producer: Tightrope Winery
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Upper Bench Pinot Noir Estate Grown Limited Releasetext
89PTS

Upper Bench Pinot Noir Estate Grown Limited Release 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaUpper Bench Estate is mid-valley pinot noir that packs a modest punch, this year a little less virulent in style than last year. The combination of 14 percent alcohol, a fair bit of spice, and medium intensity gives it a chance to express its black cherry and raspberry fruit, dried herbs, and elegance. The finish is dry with persistent spicy notes. It will be just fine with food, and I am thinking about something like salmon or mushroom burgers.Prices: BC 28.00 Producer: Upper Bench Winery
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Le Clos Jordanne Le Grand Clos Pinot Noirtext
92PTS

Le Clos Jordanne Le Grand Clos Pinot Noir 2017

Twenty Mile Bench, 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 pinot release since his return, was sourced from western blocks of Niagara's Le Clos Jordanne vineyard, was destemmed and native fermented before aging in French oak (1/3 new) for 16-20 months. The best barrels are then racked into tank and left to marry for a month before a light filtration and bottling. After 6-8 months in bottle, the wine is released. Wow. I gave this young wine some airtime, and it rewarded with unravelling layers and layers of tightly knit and cedar-scented cherry, black raspberry, wild mushroom / forest floor, threaded with wild mint and thyme, dried dark florals, and bergamot peel. There's a sweeping brooding undercurrent of fine stones that grounds and an equally grazing acidity that carries this impressively slight (12.5 degree) impactful red through a lingering sarsaparilla kissed finish. Certainly not Burgundian, but hopefully new wave Niagara, and an iconic pinot for Canada. Point, stelvin.Prices: QC 45.50 Producer: Le Clos Jordanne
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Dark Horse Vineyard Pinot Noirtext
80PTS

Dark Horse Vineyard Pinot Noir 2017

Golden Mile Bench, Oliver, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaEight months in new French oak has coated this wine in a dense layer of oak that sits on the juice like a deadweight. Big and fat, it is all about vanilla and cream and with almost no pinot character. Back to the drawing board.Prices: BC 21.99 Producer: Dark Horse Vineyard
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CedarCreek Pinot Noirtext
88PTS

CedarCreek Pinot Noir 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaNot all pinot noir has to be complicated; this easy-sipping pinot is an excellent example of the charming and drinkable style. It is all estate fruit from four organically farmed blocks, fermented in a mix of stainless steel tanks and concrete. It spends a year in wood to soften any edges. The palate is round and mouthfilling with cherries and earth dusted with violets and brown spice. Serve with grilled pork or a favourite mushroom or beef pizza.Prices: BC 24.49 Producer: CedarCreek Estate Winery
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Martin's Lane Dehart Vineyard Pinot Noirtext
94PTS

Martin's Lane Dehart Vineyard Pinot Noir 2015

East Kelowna, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaFor those of us around at the rebirth of the Okanagan Valley in 1980, it is almost unimaginable to think that we could experience wine as exquisite as the 2015 Martin's Lane Dehart Vineyard Pinot Noir. Under winemaker Shane Munn, the tiny perfect winery, easily one of the most exceptional pinot noir facilities built anywhere in the wine world, is turning out fantastic wine, and none better than this pinot noir made from only 12-year-old vines. Set high above the lake facing the setting sun in East Kelowna, the vineyard is a mix of clone 667 and 777, co-fermented in concrete with up to 45 percent whole bunches. Gentle, gentle is the mantra, and the results are amazing. The nose is a mix of sweet black cherry, earthy pinot fruit that spills across the palate with precision and polish. There is a welcome trace of the warmest vintage ever, but you hardly notice it given the balance and wherewithal of this wine and its crunchy fruit on the palate. The tannins are but a tug and should be gone by 2020, revealing a long, silky, spicy finish.Prices: BC 100.00 Producer: Martin's Lane Winery
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Fort Berens Pinot Noir Reservetext
88PTS

Fort Berens Pinot Noir Reserve 2017

Lillooet, British Columbia, CanadaThe first all-Lillooet reserve pinot noir grown in the Dry Creek Vineyard is a mix of five clones to bring a sense of complexity the wine, although the vines are still young. The clones were fermented separately in one-ton fermenters and punch downs three times a day and aged in French oak barrels for ten months. It is surprisingly rich with a slight hint of reduction mixed with dark cherries, tobacco dried herbs and turned earth. Wild really. Pork tenderloin, duck pizza Cornish game hens. Decant for an hour or cellar for another three years.Prices: BC 29.99 Producer: Fort Berens Estate Winery
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Stag's Hollow Renaissance Pinot Noirtext
90PTS

Stag's Hollow Renaissance Pinot Noir 2017

Okanagan Falls, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe very best lots at Stag's Hollow end up in the Renaissance wines, and I believe this is only the seventh release in 21 years. The selection comes from two sites: Stag's Hollow, and Shuttleworth. It aged in new 300L French oak hogshead barrels and 3rd fill 228-litre Burgundy barrels for 15 months. In all, four clones are used: 115, 667, Pommard, and 777. 2017 is a little less luxurious than in 2016, and it's better for it. Expect a mix of expressive strawberries and cherries, with a dusting of sage and expressive, silky textures, finishing with a twist of brown spices. There is quite a resemblance to Sonoma here. Serve with roast chicken, roast pork with fennel, and any mushroom dishes.Prices: BC 35.00 Producer: Stag's Hollow Winery and Vineyard
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Kitsch Pinot Noirtext
89PTS

Kitsch Pinot Noir 2018

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaKitsch is fast becoming a favourite with me based on a track record of making wines that are fun to drink. Former founders of SAXX underwear and 4th generations Kelownans, Ria and Trent Kitsch, along with recently-departed winemaker Grant Biggs, seem to have a thing for texture, as in soft and silky pinot. I like the sweet mouth-filling fruit flecked with earth, smoke, and cedar, mixed with wild red fruits. Bright, fresh, and round, you can drink or hold this. Turkey anyone?Prices: BC 40.00 Producer: Kitsch Wines
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Quails' Gate Pinot Noirtext
89PTS

Quails' Gate Pinot Noir 2018

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaEver wonder why this is consistently balanced, juicy and fresh? It is the 7 percent gamay? The result is an earthy, savoury style of pinot with underbrush and ripe red fruits framed by some nicely integrated oak spice. The attack is supple, the fruit juicy with rhubarb, barnyard cherry undertones, and smooth tannins. One of the best regular bottlings in the valley. The pinot work includes a five-day cold soak, and a ferment for several weeks using wild and cultivated yeasts before ten months ageing in French oak barriques.Prices: BC 29.99 AB 30.99 MB 26.99 QC 29.10 NS 30.00 PEI 30.09 YK 27.00 SK 30.00 NB 27.99 Producer: Quails' Gate Vineyards Estate Winery
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30 March 2020

Burrowing Owl Cabernet Sauvignontext
90PTS

Burrowing Owl Cabernet Sauvignon 2017

Oliver, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaFrom estate vineyards in Oliver and Osoyoos, this structural red was built through 18 months in oak. Cedar staves, dark cherry, wild cassis and dark cherry fill this muscular red, scented with graphite and pencil lead, and shaped by long, fine, but youthfully raging tannins. Quite warm on the Okanagan scrub finish, though along with the tannins, this will mellow with a couple of years.Prices: BC 35.00 AB 48.00 ON 44.95 Producer: Burrowing Owl Vineyards
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Quails' Gate Cabernet Sauvignontext
88PTS

Quails' Gate Cabernet Sauvignon 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaCab sauv growing in cool climate West Kelowna? Would have been nutters to think of just 10 years ago. But the majority of this ripe, dense blend comes from Quails’ Gate’s estate Boucherie Mt vineyards, with the remaining third from a grower in the South Okanagan. The whole was aged 20 months in French oak (40% new). Thick cassis, blackberry is seasoned with smoke and bound by toasted cedar, finishing with a hard press, bitter cherry finish. Overt and up front, this is best taken with beef, lamb, or roast pork, as intended.Prices: BC 35.99 Producer: Quails' Gate Vineyards Estate Winery
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Quails' Gate Cabernet Sauvignontext
89PTS

Quails' Gate Cabernet Sauvignon 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis is predominantly from Quails’ Gate’s Boucherie Mountain Vineyards in West Kelowna, with approximately one-third sourced from a grower in the South Okanagan. It was aged for 20 months in French oak, of which 40 percent was new. Cabernet sauvignon in West Kelowna? You better believe it. There’s no shortage of ripeness here, clocking in at 14.5% abv with a jammy quality to the fruit. It could benefit from a notch more freshness, but it’s a big, bold red that will appeal widely. The 2017 vintage was notoriously low-yielding, and this has the elevated weight and concentration that you’d expect as a result. The challenge, though, was managing incredibly tannic fruit. The winemaking team at Quails’ Gate was evidently up to the task, as the tannins here are surprisingly fine and balanced. Give it a quick decant and it's ready for show time.Prices: BC 35.99 Producer: Quails' Gate Vineyards Estate Winery
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Lakeside Cellars Cabernet Sauvignontext
87PTS

Lakeside Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis full, deep cabernet feels every inch of its Lake Osoyoos location, home to the first commercial orchard in the Okanagan. It's fermented in new and second use American oak for 24 months, ramping up the heft dramatically. The nose is lifted, and the fruit feels a bit over-ripe, with some leathery and baked fruit weighting the dark cherry, black raspberry palate. Tannins are plump and soft, cushioning 14+ degrees alcohol and a vanilla finished. You can drink this now alongside beef stews or grilled lamb to best results.Prices: BC 26.00 Producer: Lakeside Cellars
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Quails' Gate Cabernet Sauvignontext
89PTS

Quails' Gate Cabernet Sauvignon 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaIt’s hard to imagine cabernet sauvignon finding a permanent home in British Columbia, but it now seems global warming is making anything possible. Fragrance in a cabernet is an enduring quality, and this wine is full of cedar, tobacco and cassis, flecked with liquorice and bright acidity. Aged 20 months in 40 percent new French oak, this is as good as it gets for a cabernet sauvignon given 66 percent of the fruit is located on Mount Boucherie in West Kelowna. No doubt, the one-third of fruit from the south Okanagan serves to bolster the structure with a bit of flesh and weight as well as valley-wide low yields. Well done.Prices: BC 35.99 Producer: Quails' Gate Vineyards Estate Winery
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27 March 2020

Treana Chardonnaytext
89PTS

Treana Chardonnay 2018

Central Coast, California, United StatesBy all accounts, the 2018 edition of Treana Chardonnay, a mix of 97/3 chardonnay and marsanne, was a good one, with a long hangtime finish. The fruit comes from Monterey, Edna, and Santa Barbara Counites. 65 percent of the juice is barrel-fermented, while the remainder goes through stainless steel. The barrels get eight months of sur lie ageing, including early stirring. This medium-rich chardonnay offers creamy, caramel notes with flecks of orange and honey before an underlying freshness and green apple acidity kicks in to balance the finish. Spicy fish tacos are a good match.Prices: BC 24.99 AB 23.99 US 18.99 NF 34.99 Producer: Hope Family Winery
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Treana Redtext
91PTS

Treana Red 2016

Central Coast, California, United StatesOver the years, this wine has evolved from an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink blend to its modern day, 75/25 cabernet sauvignon/syrah mix. In 2016 Treana Red did not disappoint, offering its customary luxurious styling and intense blackberries, dark chocolate, vanilla, cloves, and brown spices with a sensible cradle of oak. Its 100 percent Paso Robles and then some, with the chops to age a decade if not more, but you may be surprised by the acidity and freshness. You can drink it now or age it through 2026 and beyond. I thought it was perfect with a grilled rack of lamb.Prices: BC 49.99 ON 42.95 QC 41.35 NS 42.95 AB 41.00 Producer: Hope Family Winery
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Treana Cabernet Sauvignontext
90PTS

Treana Cabernet Sauvignon 2018

Paso Robles, San Luis Obispo County, Central Coast, California, United StatesCabernet Sauvignon has played a significant role in the Hope Family viticultural history. The Treana cab is an ode to some of the people who influenced winemaker Austin Hope: his father Chuck Hope, his uncle Paul, and Napa Valley winemaker Chuck Wagner. The mix is 93 percent cabernet sauvignon, four percent petite sirah and three percent merlot, and petit verdot. Much like the Austin Hope Cabernet, the wine is dark, nearly opaque, with rich, ripe aromas of black currants and blackberry jam, but on the palate, the Treana is more elegance the belies its alcohol and power. I love the tobacco, clove, and cinnamon-spiked black fruit with well managed, softish tannins, and a wisp of smoke. Impressive. Drink or hold through 2025.Prices: BC 45.99 US 30.00 Producer: Hope Family Winery
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Treana Blanctext
92PTS

Treana Blanc 2015

Paso Robles, San Luis Obispo County, Central Coast, California, United StatesUsually, five-year-old white wine can give you pause to reflect before you buy it, but there is no hesitation here. The Treana Blanc is a proven winner and a Hope Family Wines superstar, not to mention that it is consistently one of the best white Rhone-style blends in America. I love the elegance of what is an intense wine, wonderfully sophisticated, yet ultimately gulpable. The nose and palate are exotic, taking you to pineapple, mandarin orange, honeysuckle and guava. but served fresh it’s all in control and even showing a touch of salty minerality and freshness. The texture is velvety. The blend is 45/45/10 viognier, marsanne and roussanne. Perfect with curry, and ready to drink.Prices: BC 29.99 ON 25.25 QC 29.85 NS 30.31 NF 29.97 Producer: Hope Family Winery
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26 March 2020

Ochota Barrels The Price of Silence Gamaytext
90PTS

Ochota Barrels The Price of Silence Gamay 2019

Piccadilly Valley, Adelaide Hills, Mount Lofty Ranges, Adelaide, South Australia, AustraliaThis gamay comes from three clones planted in 1985 in Piccadilly Valley's clay over limestone, at 550m in Adelaide Hills. #GoGamayGo. A few years after planting, the vines were grafted over to chardonnay. BOO. However, in 2013, Taras Ochota convinced the grower to chainsaw off the chardy grafts and bring back canes from the gamay rootstock - and it worked. This is a very small lot wine (mine is 3160 of 3488 bottles produced) which is in high demand. It underwent half carbonic maceration for a lunar cycle, while 50% was whole bunch for 6 days. All was basket pressed to old French barriques where it remained until bottling, unfined and unfiltered. Wild strawberries, sapid raspberries, tart blackcurrant, red florals, red liquorice, and ample mineral salts swirl on the medium-light (12.4 degree) palate, framed by light, whisper fine tannins. The finish is stony and lingering, encouraging another glass (bottle!). Take with a slight chill, as oft as you can.Prices: BC 65.00 Producer: Ochota Barrels
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Koerner Mammolotext
93PTS

Koerner Mammolo 2019

Clare Valley, South Australia, AustraliaBrothers Damon and Jono Koerner show classic and alternative Clare varieties through a variety of winemaking vessels and styles, all from estate fruit, and all with low intervention. Sciacarello is an Italian red variety that is grown primarily in Corsica, known for its haunting floral perfume. From Watervale's Vivian Vineyard, planted im 1998 on clay and limestone, this light red preserves the grape's alluring nature. This was destemmed with 50% whole berry (no whole bunch) before native ferment in steel with twice daily pigeage for two weeks. This then ages in ceramic amphora for 3 months prior to moving into steel for 7 months of tightening, then bottling without fining or filtration. Pouring a cloudy crimson hue, this charmer is imbued with mesmerizing floral plum, cherry, pomegranate, wild raspberry, and sapid thorns along a slender 13.2 degrees body. There's a wash of mineral salts rinsing over this fresh red, netted with fine tannins and strung with grapefruit acidity which guide this to a lingering finish. From the hue to the aroma to the finish, there's an ethereal character to this wine, and an easy reason for you to seek out sciacarello - plus keep an eye on the Koerner brothers.Prices: BC 57.00 Producer: Koerner Wine
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Vasse Felix Filius Cabernet Sauvignontext
90PTS

Vasse Felix Filius Cabernet Sauvignon 2017

Margaret River, Western Australia, AustraliaFilius is The Son of the Vasse Felix Cabernet Sauvignon, designed for earlier drinking based on its fruit selection, but coming from the same vineyards that end up in the classic Felix cabernet. The colour is medium-dark garnet with a purple hue, leading to notes of fresh blackcurrant, earthy, savoury dark cherry, mint, coffee, and pepper. Tannins are light and dusty and easily assimilated by any substantial protein dish. It was a cool year, so there is plenty of acidity. It is finished off in French oak for one year (10% new). In 2017 the mix is 85 percent cabernet sauvignon, 11 percent malbec and four percent petit verdot, plumping up the leaner structural nature of cabernet sauvignon. Hold or drink, depending on the situation.Prices: BC 29.99 AB 30.00 ON 25.95 Producer: Vasse Felix Pty Ltd.
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Yalumba Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignontext
89PTS

Yalumba Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2016

Coonawarra, South Australia, AustraliaA dry, warm year is always welcomed in Coonawarra, promoting fewer disease pressures and riper fruit. The fruit hails from the terra rossa soils of The Menzies Estate in Coonawarra and its matured in French oak, adding a dollop of style. It is is a very friendly cab with juicy, ripe berries and soft textures throughout. It’s fun to drink now and will likely be best over the next three to five years. Osso Bucco is the winery match, but grilled lamb chops would be equally inviting with this forward red. The vines at Menzies are closing in on forty years of age and usually present in small bunches and small berries.Prices: BC 27.75 Producer: Yalumba Wine Company
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Yalumba Organic Shiraztext
88PTS

Yalumba Organic Shiraz 2018

South Australia, AustraliaWinemaker Heather Fraser does what I think a lot of woman winemakers do with syrah: they tame the wild edges and expand the palate using deliciousness. At only 13.5 percent, this vibrant organic red is a bargain and fun to drink. The grapes are sourced from four family-owned, organically certified vineyards: the Carypides family vineyard located at Virginia in the Adelaide Plains; the Barich Family Vineyard on the Murray River at Loxton; the Palena Family Vineyards near Barmera in the Riverland; and the Strachan Family Vineyard in McLaren Vale. Expect a bright wine with floral, violet, plummy fruit and soft spice. The winery suggests a Swiss brown mushroom burger with caramelized onions, and I say bring it on.Prices: BC 16.99 AB 20.00 MB 16.99 ON 17.95 QC 16.99 Producer: Yalumba Wine Company
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BK Wines Springs Hill Series Red Blendtext
88PTS

BK Wines Springs Hill Series Red Blend 2015

McLaren Vale, South Australia, AustraliaThis brooding beaut is a blend of mourvèdre, grenache, and syrah, from McLaren Vale's Blewitt Springs. Fully whole bunch, it was native fermented on skins over one month, and then into French puncheons (10% new). It's showing its age some now through a slightly browning tint, and the muddying of the palate, a pool of dusky dark plum, rhubarb, wild blackberry, medicinal cherry, and flocked violets. Tannins are soft and furry, drawing this to a flushing finish. Chill and drink now when you're in a mellow mood (an earthy wild mushroom pizza would suit also).Prices: BC 35.00 Producer: BK Wines
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Soumah Savarrotext
90PTS

Soumah Savarro 2015

Yarra Valley, Victoria, AustraliaJura meets Yarra in this charismatic savignan from Soumah. This late ripening grape works well with the cool climate Yarra, pressed and fermented at low temperatures in stainless, and left there on lees to build texture and aromatics. Green melon, lemon sherbet, green apple, mandarin, meadow grasses is held upright, though the core is waxy yellow plum and ample lees/cheese. Acidity is relatively low, and mouthfeel is relatively expansive, rolling across the 13 degrees palate lackadaisically to a flushing finish. Bring on oily river fish or tempura or butter drenched artichokes.Prices: BC 30.00 Producer: Soumah
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Two Hands The Wolf Rieslingtext
89PTS

Two Hands The Wolf Riesling 2015

Clare Valley, South Australia, AustraliaIn case you’ve never understood the descriptor of a "freshly opened can of tennis balls" (courtesy of Somm, the movie), you’ll want to try this Clare Valley Riesling. It’s quite evolved on the nose, with petrol, lime peel, and well, tennis ball. It sounds a little off-putting and, frankly, the nose is a bit out there. But the palate is much more classic and youthful, with zesty lime and wax. I wouldn’t age this longer, but it’s worth exploring.Prices: BC 29.99 AB 35.00 Producer: Two Hands Wines
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Vasse Felix Cabernet Sauvignontext
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Vasse Felix Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

Margaret River, Western Australia, AustraliaThis was the first red wine to be made in Margaret River back in 1972, and it has been made every year since. In 2014, it’s a blend of 90/8/1/1 cabernet sauvignon, malbec, petit verdot, and merlot, which was fermented by indigenous yeasts and then aged in French oak for 18 months (40 percent new) prior to bottling. Don’t let the 14.5% abv fool you into thinking this is a full-throttle style of cabernet. It has a classic, restrained Margaret River nose of red currant, fresh herbs, graphite, and cedar. You’d almost think you were in Bordeaux if it weren’t for the eucalyptus and some smoky oak. It’s medium bodied with juicy acidity and fine, grainy tannins. It’s certainly not the most concentrated example, but that just adds to its drinkability. Well done.Prices: BC 58.00 Producer: Vasse Felix Pty Ltd.
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Hickinbotham The Peake Cabernet Shiraztext
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Hickinbotham The Peake Cabernet Shiraz 2015

McLaren Vale, South Australia, AustraliaThe Hickinbotham Clarendon Vineyard, established in 1971, is now a part of the country’s wine heritage, supplying fruit to produce many iconic labels. Winemaker Charlie Seppelt takes the lead in shiraz production, making a markedly different style than many full-bodied McLaren Vale cousins made at lower altitudes. In 2015 the classic mix is 56/44 cabernet sauvignon and shiraz. The nose medley of black cherries, blueberry jam, and intense, floral notes leads to a super rich attack, with full-bodied and opulent black fruits. It is entirely devoid of that pesky acidity that can ruin so many of these wines in the back end. The tannin and acid balance at four years is suggesting this will be fine in the bottle for a decade and beyond. It lends a lot of respectability to what was once a proud Australian blend. The finish is long and spicy with dried notes of sagebrush and thyme.Prices: BC 89.99 AB 80.00 MB 80.00 Producer: Hickinbotham Clarendon Vintners
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Hickinbotham Clarendon Vineyard Trueman Cabernet Sauvignontext
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Hickinbotham Clarendon Vineyard Trueman Cabernet Sauvignon 2015

McLaren Vale, South Australia, AustraliaCatching up a year later with this highly regarded cabernet made by Australian Charlie Seppelt and American Chris Carpenter. Pure black fruit and cassis with tobacco, menthol, and dark chocolate jump from the glass. The fruit is hand-picked from Clarendon high country at 220 metres, where it builds weight and flavour in the warm mornings, and freshness and acidity through cool nights. The richness and density continue to remind me of Pomerol, while the drinkability and savoury aspects suggest Western Tuscany. First planted in 1971 by Alan Hickinbotham, it remains well cared for today under the Jackson Family Wines banner. Delicious especially when decanted for two or three hours. Cellar through 2025.Prices: BC 89.99 AB 80.00 MB 80.00 Producer: Hickinbotham Clarendon Vintners
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Hickinbotham Clarendon Vineyard Brooks Road Shiraztext
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Hickinbotham Clarendon Vineyard Brooks Road Shiraz 2015

McLaren Vale, South Australia, AustraliaRetasted a year down the road, the Brooks Road Shiraz remains full-bodied if slightly acidic red, highlighted by the spice that underlays its red fruit flavours. The Hickinbotham Clarendon Vineyard, established in 1971, is now a part of the country’s wine heritage, supplying fruit to produce many iconic labels. Oz Winemaker Charlie Seppelt takes the lead in shiraz production. The attack is almost skinny, with spicy red fruit and spice that suggests a wine that is bigger than it is. Hand-picked at 210-230 metres, the bunches are destemmed, and the sorted berries run into open fermenters. There is a four-day cold soak with a minimum of eighteen days on the skin. The wine was then basket pressed, and to minimize filtration at bottling, four rack-and-returns were conducted over fifteen months as the wine seasoned in a mixture of Burgundy-coopered barrels.Prices: BC 89.99 AB 80.00 MB 80.00 Producer: Hickinbotham Clarendon Vintners
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Mac Forbes EB44 Controversy Nebbiolotext
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Mac Forbes EB44 Controversy Nebbiolo 2018

Yarra Valley, Victoria, AustraliaThe EB series is Mac's Experimental Batch wines, reserved for small lots of boundary-pushing wines. This very light Yarra Valley nebbiolo was deemed controversial because this just released 2018 came out before the 2017, showing its aptitude for early drinking. Wild strawberry, light raspberry, subtle and charming florals, mustard seed skips along the light, juicy palate, held taut with tightly strung tannins, and finishing with an astringent rinse and a sprinkle of white pepper and salts. Best taken as intended, with a light chill. A new way to see nebbiolo.Prices: BC 70.00 Producer: Mac Forbes
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RockBare McLaren Vale Grenachetext
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RockBare McLaren Vale Grenache 2017

AustraliaThis is a pretty delicious grenache with bright cherry fruit and silky tannins. Lively and fresh, it is a lot of fun in the mouth and full of food possibilities. he wine is aged on lees to add complexity and savoury aspects. Well made and would be fun with Vancouver gyoza, pork dumplings, or Bejing duck. The ferment begins with whole berries tipped into open-top fermenters before a three-day cold soak and a cool ferment between 20-25°C for 15 days to retain the aromatics. The finished ferment was pressed through a basket press and run into a stainless steel tank and a few older French oak barriques.Prices: BC 37.99 Producer: Rockbare
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Jim Barry The Cover Drive Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignontext
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Jim Barry The Cover Drive Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2016

Coonawarra, South Australia, AustraliaClassic Coonawarra, from a touch of cured meats to a dusty, leafy nose touched with light smoke and leather. On the palate the fruit is bright red, the tannins firm and dry with juicy black fruits dusted in savoury notes of dried herbs and earthy undertones. A burly red you can drink now with hamburgers and grilled steaks, or one you can wait on for the next decade.Prices: BC 26.99 AB 25.99 ON 19.95 QC 27.55 Producer: Jim Barry
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Yalumba Samuel's Collection Eden Valley Roussannetext
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Yalumba Samuel's Collection Eden Valley Roussanne 2018

Eden Valley, South Australia, AustraliaSamuel's Collection launched about a year ago to celebrate Yalumba's 170 years of production and to honour seven wines, varieties, and blends, which are the story of Barossa Valley. In this case, it is an Eden Valley-based roussanne that is sustainably grown and vegan-friendly. The fruit is night-harvested and goes direct to press and onto old French oak barriques to ferment (on its yeast) and age for ten months with regular bâtonnage. Simplicity rules here and the results are delicious. The nose is a riot of floral and green fruit. The attack is fresh and light with notes of honey, guava, and bright acidity that lifts the mid-palate and finish. If you love risotto, this is a perfect match for a mushroom or asparagus version. The highly respected auction house and online retailer, Langton's, describes winemaker Louisa Rose as 'a brilliantly intuitive winemaker whose white wines are some of the best in the country'. I couldn't agree more.Prices: BC 34.99 Producer: Yalumba Wine Company
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Yalumba Samuel's Collection Barossa Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignontext
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Yalumba Samuel's Collection Barossa Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon 2017

Barossa Valley, South Australia, AustraliaSamuel’s Collection was conceived to celebrate Yalumba’s founder Samuel Smith and his ideas of highlighting provenance and stewardship over the lands. It is an enticing mix of shiraz and cabernet, pursuing the holy grail of Australian red blends. In this case, the nose is spot on ripe plums and cherries with the right dosing of spice. On the palate, this soft, round, supple textures are packed with red currants, cedar and more spice through a lengthy finish. Beef tacos would be an excellent match.Prices: BC 29.98 Producer: Yalumba Wine Company
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Borne of Fire Cabernet Sauvignontext
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Borne of Fire Cabernet Sauvignon 2016

Columbia Valley, Washington, United StatesCorked. Try another.Prices: BC 29.99 Producer: Borne of Fire
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25 March 2020

Rodney Strong Chardonnaytext
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Rodney Strong Chardonnay 2018

Sonoma County, California, United StatesThe RS Chardonnay is 69 percent barrel fermented and aged for six months in 50/50 French and American oak, with 10 percent new wood. The winemaking team continues to gently tighten up the style using fruit from the cooler, coastal locations outside of Sonoma County, hence the California AVA designation in 2018. Fresh citrus, red apple present with lees and tropical notes. It is ready to drink with everything from chicken to avocado toast.Prices: BC 24.99 AB 20.95 QC 18.95 ON 22.95 SK 26.95 MB 20.99 NB 25.00 YK 26.00 NF 26.00 US 17.00 Producer: Rodney Strong Estate Vineyards
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Rodney Strong Chardonnay Reservetext
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Rodney Strong Chardonnay Reserve 2016

Russian River, Sonoma County, California, United StatesThe RS Reserve starts with meticulously farmed blocks among the very best vineyards in the Russian River Valley. The lots are vinified separately in the small on-site Artisan Cellar at Rodney Strong, in the best barrels, and blended just after malolactic before returning to barrel to complete the ageing process. 2016 was the dream vintage in California, and especially for the chardonnays that embraced the cool overcast days of late August and early September. The new oak is less than 25 percent and it leaves some of the best fruit in Sonoma to tell its story. Intense tropical creamy lemon with brioche and minerality lead off, while the acidity lifts this wine from the front to back. Still California in style but with a fresher outlook and delivery. Halibut and fruit salsa would be my suggestion for dinner. Ready to drink.Prices: US 40.00 ON 45.00 BC 52.99 Producer: Rodney Strong Estate Vineyards
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Rodney Strong Chardonnay Chalk Hilltext
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Rodney Strong Chardonnay Chalk Hill 2017

Chalk Hill, Russian River, Sonoma County, California, United StatesThe estate high end chardonnay program is permeating the breadth of Rodney Strong chardonnays, leading with less overt oak and fruit, replaced by more texture and complexity. The light, volcanic, white ash soil of the Chalk Hill appellation is at the centre of this story. The style is fresh with bright, juicy, pear, apple, and Meyer lemon f with mineral, nutty, wet stone undertones that complex the character further. You can serve this with an array of seafood, roasted chicken, and creamy cheeses. 2017 Chalk Hill Chardonnay is barrel fermented in new (41 percent) oak and seasoned French oak for 18 months with regular lees stirring. It’s been 55 years since founder Rodney Strong planted chardonnay in 1965 in what would ultimately become the Chalk Hill AVA, established officially in 1983.Prices: ON 26.95 BC 27.99 QC 26.00 SK 29.99 AB 27.99 US 22.00 Producer: Rodney Strong Estate Vineyards
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Rodney Strong Sauvignon Blanc Charlotte's Hometext
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Rodney Strong Sauvignon Blanc Charlotte's Home 2018

Northern Sonoma, Sonoma County, California, United StatesCharlotte’s Home Vineyard was named in honour of Rod Strong’s wife when it was planted in 1971. The original site remains at the core of the modern Charlotte’s Home, joined by selected estate vineyards in the Alexander, Russian River, and Dry Creek valleys. Winemaker Justin Seidenfeld pursues the freshness angle with this blend of sauvignons, and in 2018, he was ably assisted by a cooler spring and most typical summer and fall. The result is a lemongrass, tangerine, Meyer lemon and candied grapefruit white with an undercurrent of tropical fruit, dusted in sea salt. Try it with taco chips and cumin salsa or fresh pasta with sweet peas and a lemon cream sauce. The wine is 90 percent fermented in stainless steel with the remainder of the fruit spending time in French oak.Prices: BC 23.99 AB 22.99 US 18.95 18 Producer: Rodney Strong Estate Vineyards
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24 March 2020

Rodney Strong Cabernet Sauvignontext
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Rodney Strong Cabernet Sauvignon 2016

Sonoma County, California, United StatesFrom three vineyards across Sonoma County, and soil types including alluvial, volcanic, and shale, this cab sauv spent 16 months in 45% French and 55% American oak. The wood is up front and omnipresent, with a shellack of walnut, leather, dried cassis, bitter cherry and ample peppery spicing on the warm finish. Tannins are fuzzy, easily supporting the over-ripe (browning) fruit. Not an example of less is more, and if you're looking for more is good, here you go.Prices: BC 27.49 AB 24.99 ON 24.95 SK 25.00 YK 27.00 QC 23.90 US 20.00 Producer: Rodney Strong Estate Vineyards
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Rodney Strong Pinot Noirtext
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Rodney Strong Pinot Noir 2017

Russian River, Sonoma County, California, United StatesRodney Strong was among the early modern pioneers to plant pinot noir in the Russian River Valley. In 1968, he planted the heritage River East Vineyard, giving today's team 50 years of experience growing the fussy grape that seems to thrive in The Russian River Valley. Open, fragrant, dark cherry fruit greets the nose and tumbles across the palate dusted in baking spice and soft, round tannins. A rich, friendly, New World pinot that pairs well with grilled pork chops, spicy tuna rolls, or a simple mushroom and cheese pizza. Good value too.Prices: BC 29.99 AB 28.99 ON 25.99 MB 25.99 QC 25.30 Producer: Rodney Strong Estate Vineyards
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Rodney Strong Rockaway Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignontext
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Rodney Strong Rockaway Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2016

Alexander Valley, Sonoma County, California, United StatesIt is difficult not to notice the power and length in 2016 of this cabernet sauvignon, petit verdot and merlot. The flavours are cabernet intense with dark plum, licorice and tobacco streaked with mineral, leather, and savoury Sonoma brown spice. 2016 is an exciting year, and this wine is showing all the hallmarks of mountain cabernet that will live a decade or two in the bottle with ease. Certainly among the best yet from Rockaway. Rockaway Vineyard sits in the middle of the valley with average temperatures of 62 degrees, balancing Cali heat with Pacific Ocean cooling breezes. The land generally slopes northeast and southwest, rising to an elevation of 750 feet with soils comprised of gravelly clay subsoil over fractured Greywacke sandstone. A single vineyard at its best.Prices: BC 99.00 AB 80.00 US 75.00 Producer: Rodney Strong Estate Vineyards
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Rodney Strong Pinot Noir Reservetext
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Rodney Strong Pinot Noir Reserve 2016

Russian River, Sonoma County, California, United StatesThe 2016 RS Reserve is back to a mix of individually selected lots from across the Russian River Valley. The nose is a melange of ripe cherries and brown spices, and the attack is soft, round and silky. The acidity is perfectly proportioned with the fruit. The Reserve Pinot is made at the RS small lot winemaking facility, by winemaker Greg Morthole. Several techniques are used to get the most out of the fruit, including cluster pre-sorting, berry sorting, cold-soaking, and thermal maceration. The final pinot is aged sur lie, with monthly bâtonnage to increase fullness throughout the creamy textures. The earthy, spicy notes fill in the cracks of what is an impressive drop of pinot noir. Duck pizza, roast turkey, mushroom pasta all fit the dinner bill.Prices: BC 50.00 Producer: Rodney Strong Estate Vineyards
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Rodney Strong Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander's Crown Single Vineyardtext
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Rodney Strong Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander's Crown Single Vineyard 2016

Alexander Valley, Sonoma County, California, United StatesAlexander’s Crown Cabernet Sauvignon is grown inside the 22-mile-long Alexander Valley AVA, ranging in elevation from 250 to 350 feet. The Alexander’s Crown Vineyard is a cold site when you consider its average daily temperature is 59 degrees Fahrenheit. It certainly explains its more delicate styling. It was first planted in 1971, and was the first single-vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon in the Alexander Valley. The 63-acre site is bathed in cool Pacific Ocean breezes. Only the Block 1 fruit, planted to Clone 4 over the top (crown) 15 acres of well-drained red volcanic soil makes it into the Crown. In 2016 most everything conspired to make it a fabulous year to grow fruit in California, and Sonoma in specific. The replanting of the Crown has paid huge dividends with ripe black and red fruits streaked with dried herbs and floral notes. The texture is opulent for a mountain wine and a cabernet sauvignon, allowing you to drink it now if you must. My advice is to cellar this wine for a decade, to enable it to spread its wings. Indeed, this is the best young Crown I have tasted, and it will only improve in the bottle.Prices: BC 94.99 NS 86.30 US 75.00 AB 85.95 Producer: Rodney Strong Estate Vineyards
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Rodney Strong Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignontext
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Rodney Strong Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2016

Knights Valley, Sonoma County, California, United StatesLike last year I am attracted to the fragrant nose and juicy, soft attack of this wine, reminding one of that in-between Napa and Sonoma character, and texture of Knights Valley reds. It is the easternmost appellation in Sonoma County and the county’s warmest viticultural region. Grapes have been growing here since the 1800s. Look for the scent of freshly crushed black fruits mixed with hints of spice and chocolate. The mid-palate is lengthy and warm with rich, dense, soft tannins that add structure to the plummy fruit. The mineral-rich volcanic soils add another dimension to the long, smooth finish.Prices: BC 39.99 AB 41.99 ON 39.90 Producer: Rodney Strong Estate Vineyards
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Rodney Strong Cabernet Sauvignon Reservetext
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Rodney Strong Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2015

Sonoma County, California, United StatesArtisanal winemaking is easier to say than do, but at Rodney Strong, Sonoma County’s first carbon-neutral winery, the art is in the details and the Reserve Cabernet is made with select cabernet sauvignon lots from the Alexander Valley and mountain sites north of Lake Sonoma. It’s all individually harvested, fermented separately, and aged in French oak. At six months, each lot is graded and only the best is considered for Reserve. The cabernet blend is assembled and returned to barrels for an additional 14 to 20 months. Winemaker Justin Seidenfeld uses cluster pre-sorting, berry sorting, extended maceration, and tanks small enough to accommodate the select lots. Lush but with structure and floral mineral notes, it delivers a rush of intense black fruit. A stunning cabernet.Prices: BC 57.97 AB 55.00 ON 60.00 US 40.00 Producer: Rodney Strong Estate Vineyards
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Rodney Strong Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valleytext
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Rodney Strong Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley 2016

Alexander Valley, Sonoma County, California, United StatesRodney Strong was a fan of Alexander Valley cabernet sauvignon as early as 1971, when he first planted Alexander’s Crown. Today the winery farms four different estate vineyards on the benches and hillsides of the Alexander Valley to explore all the valley has for terroir. 2016 was pretty much an ideal growing season with an average amount of rain over winter, and one big storm in early March that topped off soil moisture. Spring was pleasant and average temperatures continued through summer with only the occasional heat spike that cabernet can handle, and frankly loves. The warm temperatures continued through the fall, which meant harvest started about a week earlier than average. The nose is super fragrant mixing cedar, intense black plum, cassis, and black pepper. The dried fig and chewy tannins give the wine a powerful underbelly, despite 18 months of barrel ageing. Think rich cheeses, charcuterie, or a favourite cut of steak grilled on the barbecue.Prices: BC 35.00 AB 28.00 ON 28.00 Producer: Rodney Strong Estate Vineyards
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Rodney Strong Cabernet Sauvignontext
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Rodney Strong Cabernet Sauvignon 2017

Sonoma County, California, United StatesRodney Strong planted his first cabernet sauvignon in 1971, Alexander’s Crown, on a small hill in Jimtown. Today there are three vineyards, from Jimtown to Geyserville and all the way north to Cloverdale. The soils are a mix of well-drained alluvial, volcanic, and uplifted shale/sandstone soils that cabernet seems to love. 2017 was as up and down weatherwise as they go, with massive spring rains followed by six separate heat waves, including a 110 F Labour Day. All said this is very impressive straight up cabernet sauvignon with fresh plummy, violet fruit, a dash of spice, and a dry finish. A perfect pour for those looking to grasp the style of a balanced California cabernet. Grilled steak is the call, but vegetarians could serve this with grilled root vegetables. The wine spends 16 months in French oak, 20 percent new.Prices: BC 27.49 AB 24.99 ON 24.95 SK 25.00 YK 27.00 QC 23.90 US 20.00 Producer: Rodney Strong Estate Vineyards
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23 March 2020

Amulet Rosétext
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Amulet Rosé 2019

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaYou know when you rock up to a party carrying a mag, you're the star of the show. Keep that in mind this summer when you bring this shining 72/28 grenache / syrah, from Kiln House Vineyard in Penticton, and Sunrise Vineyard in Oliver, respectively. The grenache was whole cluster, while the syrah was destemmed; both underwent a long, cool ferment in neutral French oak (no MLF) with 2.5 months aging on lees with battonage before bottling. Strawberry, cherry, watermelon, wild raspberry ride a slick palate, padded with glycerin, and seasoned with mineral salts and dried Okanagan desert sage. Friendly and accessible, party ready.Prices: BC 60.00 1500 Producer: Roche Wines
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Domaine Lafond Tavel Roc-Epinetext
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Domaine Lafond Tavel Roc-Epine 2018

Tavel, Southern Rhone, Rhone Valley, FranceThis is one rosé that I hotly anticipate each new vintage - partly because Tavel is where I start my pink sipping in earnest (like, right now) but also to salute this appellation's rosé only focus. Pinky crimson in the glass, it signals substance and depth of flavour with glossy glass coating viscosity. Aromatically it conveys the brandied cherries and ripe strawberries of grenache, floral notes of syrah and a distinct stamp of dusty, rocky terroir. Mouthcoating with spirity red fruit flavours that quickly morph into beguiling botanical, savoury, rocky, vinous complexity. The blend in this excellent 2018 vintage is grenache 60%, cinsault 20%, and syrah 20% with unobtrusive winemaking in large format oak that allows the clays, stones and limestone gravels a strong voice. Full-bodied and oily (in a good way) this structured rosé is demanding of good food with heft and robust flavours, like pork rillettes, herby sausage pizza, or it's really, really tasty with take out Asian beefy noodles.Prices: BC 26.99 Producer: Domaine Lafond
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Robin Ridge Flicker Rosétext
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Robin Ridge Flicker Rosé 2018

Keremeos, Similkameen Valley, British Columbia, CanadaPale orange in colour, the attack is soft and slippery with juicy ripe strawberry, cherry, ripe peaches, and nougat. It has that Similkameen minerality to keep it fresh and inviting. It is a winner that will make any patio experience exceptional all spring and summer. Super value too.Prices: BC 18.25 Producer: Robin Ridge Winery
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Château la Villatade V Rosétext
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Château la Villatade V Rosé 2019

Full and glossy in hue and palate, this Minervois is a blend of grenache and carignan, from the schist, marl and limestones in the foothills of the Montagne Noire. Lush strawberry, raspberry, pomegranate is dotted with rock salt, and finishes with a cranberry snappiness, inviting another glass. Though only 13 degrees, this feels weightier; paté friendly.Prices: ON 19.95 Producer: Château la Villatade
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Orofino Vineyards Cabernet Franc Rosè Pozza Vineyardtext
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Orofino Vineyards Cabernet Franc Rosè Pozza Vineyard 2018

Cawston, Similkameen Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis medium-pale peach rosé was from a small block of cabernet franc in the sloping Pozza Vineyard, a cooler, higher altitude site in Similkameen's Olalla Gap, surrounded by desert scrub. Strawberry, light cherry, raspberry blossom, and desert herbs scratch the sides of this medium-bodied rosé, one with a lactic leesiness coating the palate. Tasting a bit tired, this far along; looking forward to the next crisp vintage.Prices: BC 19.90 BC 38.90 1500 Producer: Orofino Vineyards
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Pittnauer Dogma Rosétext
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Pittnauer Dogma Rosé 2018

Weinland Österreich, AustriaThe Dogma Rosé is an equal blend of blaufrankisch and st. laurent, from sandy, loamy, chalky soils. The wine spends ten months in stainless before bottling unfined and unfiltered. This pours a cloudy / opaque peach hue, with pink grapefruit, tangerine pith, tart cranberry, rhubarb, and red currant. Acidity is high, and it's rinsed with an astringent raspberry vinegar on the finish. Still, this natural rosé is highly fun and smashable, especially with some airtime, and a chill.Prices: ON 30.95 Producer: Pittnauer
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Paul Mas Côté Mas Rosé Auroretext
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Paul Mas Côté Mas Rosé Aurore 2018

South of France, FranceBuying this one-litre of gently sweet, fruity, juicy rosé from the South of France for $15 seems like a no brainer to me. The bright, pale, pink/peach hue is appealing to the eye, and a chilled glass of this grenache/cinsault/syrah should appeal to many on a sunny patio or at summer beach parties. Juicy wild strawberries, cherry jam, light peppery spice and candied pink florals on the finish. A simple, crowd-ready rosé that celebrates the notion of Le Luxe Rural.Prices: BC 14.00 1000 Producer: Domaines Paul Mas
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Amulet Rosétext
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Amulet Rosé 2019

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe blend is an enticing 72/28 mix of grenache and syrah, all hand-harvested in the middle of October. It's bone dry and very refreshing thanks to its low-ish 12.5 percent. The colour is pale copper, the nose a peach/strawberry affair, dusted in South Okanagan sagebrush. On the palate, look for peppery, juicy, fresh, watermelon and that clean, dry finish. Bottled by hand, in magnum, and sealed with a glass Vinolok closure.Prices: BC 60.00 1500 Producer: Roche Wines
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Les Ligeriens Rosé d`Anjoutext
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Les Ligeriens Rosé d`Anjou 2018

Anjou, Loire, FranceLes Ligeriens hails from the southwestern part of the Maine-et-Loire, bordering Saumur, on low-lying slopes over solid schist. The colour is a pinkish-red, the style is off-dry, but with an underlying freshness and minerality that gives it the necessary lift to entice. Ripe strawberries and juicy ripe watermelon fill the palate. It is best served well-chilled but is perhaps best destined to be served with spicy poke tuna bowls, or Szechuan noodle dishes. The blend is roughly 50/50 gamay/grolleau. Grolleau is a red grape grown primarily in the Loire Valley, whose name is derived from the word grolle, meaning crow and is said to reflect the deep, black coloured berries.Prices: BC 19.99 Producer: Les Vignerons des Terroirs de la Noelle
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Rodney Strong Rosé of Pinot Noirtext
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Rodney Strong Rosé of Pinot Noir 2019

Russian River, Sonoma County, California, United StatesI liked 2018, and 2019 is every bit as tasty. So many California rosés are too sweet but not this one. It is dry, and it is a real delight to taste this crisp, lemon, strawberry affair. It is 90 percent Russian River Valley pinot noir, with a 10 percent injection of Monterey fruit and a pale pink Provençal colour to finish the story. Congratulations to RS for going down the fresh, dry road and making this food-friendly. Price varies across North America – we pay way too much in BC.Prices: BC 29.99 Producer: Rodney Strong Estate Vineyards
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22 March 2020

Niepoort Ruby Dumtext
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Niepoort Ruby Dum NV

Douro Valley, Northern Portugal, PortugalOne of the fantastical NiePOoRTland ports, along with identical twin Tawny Dee, and younger sibling White Rabbit. This youthful, accessible Ruby Port is from three old vine vineyards in the Cima Corgo (Vinha da Pisca, Vale do Pinhão and Ferrão), and a mix of Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinto Cão, Tinta Francisca, Tinta Amarela, Sousão, and Tinta Roriz, amongst others. Predominantly foot trodden in lagares, this was aged in large wooden vats over an average of 3 years prior to bottling. Wild blueberry, blackberry jam, and sugared plums take over a quite sweet, plump palate, dusted with brown sugar, and finishing quickly with a spirited bite. Impressive freshness to take on the 100 g/l sugar. Drink now; best taken with a chill, and a chocolate dessert.Prices: Producer: Niepoort (Vinhos) S.A.
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Quails' Gate Late Harvest Botrytis Affected Optimatext
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Quails' Gate Late Harvest Botrytis Affected Optima 2018

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis late harvest optima (the grape) was affected by botrytis, making it BC's kin to Sauternes. This was fermented and aged in oak. Honey, lime blossom, orange curd, soap, and golden raisins rule the very sweet palate (near 100 g/l RS), while a thin line of acidity struggles to carry the weight. Much simpler than the last vintage. Chill well and drink now.Prices: BC 34.99 375 AB 34.99 MB 34.99 Producer: Quails' Gate Vineyards Estate Winery
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20 March 2020

M. Chapoutier Domaine de Bila-Haut Visitare Interiore Terrae (V.I.T.)text
94PTS

M. Chapoutier Domaine de Bila-Haut Visitare Interiore Terrae (V.I.T.) 2017

Côtes du Roussillon Villages, Roussillon, South of France, FranceThe Domaine wines of Bila-Haut and Occultum Lapidem are the primary expressions of the local terroir at Cotes du Roussillon Village. but after six years of observation and research, Michel Chapoutier launched an exceptional parcel wine called “V.I.T.,” which stands for “Visitare Interiore Terrae.” The blend is grenache grown on 70-year-old vines situated in the heart of the garrigue scrubland that makes up this exception sub-appellation. Some of the syrah grows on clay/limestone soil, adding power and silky-smooth tannins/textures other syrah grows on schist upping the mineral, stony edges. Add in the “Tramontane” wind that never quits, and you have a fabulous wild wine that expresses the place it came from, Roussillon.Prices: CDN 85.99 Producer: M. Chapoutier
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M. Chapoutier Domaine de Bila-Haut L'esquerdatext
91PTS

M. Chapoutier Domaine de Bila-Haut L'esquerda 2017

Côtes du Roussillon Villages, Roussillon, South of France, FranceL’esquerda is mostly syrah, followed by grenache, and then carignan. The attack is a stony mineral power affair with much freshness and healthy black fruit and violet aromas dusted in baking spices. On the palate black cherry, meaty, spicy, flavour set the tone with plenty of youthful tannins and a strong undercurrent of garrigue and licorice. Spaghetti Bolognese or osso buco are excellent matches at this point. A giant of wine for terroir seekers and the patient. The vineyard of Lesquerde sits on granitic hilltop plains and slopes some 350 metres above sea level. The grapes are destemmed, and total maceration lasts around four weeks. Only 10 percent of the wine is aged in oak casks, the remainder in concrete tanks.Prices: CDN 27.89 Producer: M. Chapoutier
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M. Chapoutier Belleruche Côtes du Rhône Rougetext
88PTS

M. Chapoutier Belleruche Côtes du Rhône Rouge 2017

Côtes du Rhône, Rhone Valley, FranceA highly reliable Côtes du Rhône sold at a price more reminiscent of 1985 than 2020. Back up the truck for this rare bargain blend of grenache and syrah. Look for a fresh, white pepper, black plum, black raspberry palate with savoury liquorice and light notes of chocolate. Any grilled meats, fowl, or mushroom pasta dishes work here.Prices: BC 16.99 AB 20.00 QC 18.00 Producer: M. Chapoutier
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M. Chapoutier Domaine de Bila-Haut Occultum Lapidem Rougetext
89PTS

M. Chapoutier Domaine de Bila-Haut Occultum Lapidem Rouge 2015

Côtes du Roussillon Villages, Roussillon, South of France, FranceSix years down the road this wine remains as youthful as ever, showing little maturity and impressive power. The blend is syrah, grenache,, and carignan and the muscular red (at 15.5 percent alcohol, if not higher) is a mouthful. Expect a classic, smoked meat, liquorice, garigue scented nose that repeats on a stony, mineral palate, flecked with intense, ripe wild black fruits. The essence of Roussillon, and not for the faint hearted.Prices: CDN 28.99 Producer: M. Chapoutier
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M. Chapoutier Les Vignes de Bila-Haut Blanctext
88PTS

M. Chapoutier Les Vignes de Bila-Haut Blanc 2017

Côtes du Roussillon, Roussillon, South of France, FranceThe Blanc is a Roussillon blend of grenache blanc, roussanne, marsanne, and macabeu from vines spread across the limestone, clay, and gneiss in the Agly Valley, as well as granite soils at higher, later ripening sites (at 500 metres). I love the lean, watery texture that brings freshness with notes of citrus, pear, lemongrass, and quince. Chill this and serve it on the patio with just about anything you desire; the Chapoutier team suggests stuffed squids or chicken and apricot tagine. Super value here.Prices: BC 17.99 Producer: M. Chapoutier
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M. Chapoutier Domaine de Bila-Haut Occultum Lapidem Rougetext
91PTS

M. Chapoutier Domaine de Bila-Haut Occultum Lapidem Rouge 2017

Côtes du Roussillon Villages, Roussillon, South of France, FranceThe Lapidem Rouge cépage is syrah, grenache, and carignan set on gneiss, schistous, and limestone soils. The destemmed, uncrushed grapes go through an extended four-week maceration before ageing in concrete tanks. The colour is opaque, the nose is a wild mix of garrigue and black raspberries that spill onto the palate, along with stony, savoury liquorice, and meaty, curry flavours. You can drink this now or wait a decade. Grilled lamb chops would be an excellent match. Again super value and biodynamic to boot.Prices: CDN 28.99 Producer: M. Chapoutier
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M. Chapoutier Les Vignes de Bila-Haut Rougetext
89PTS

M. Chapoutier Les Vignes de Bila-Haut Rouge 2017

Côtes du Roussillon Villages, Roussillon, South of France, FranceWhat can you say about this label that hasn't been said? From its floral, savoury, black fruit aromas to its juicy, plummy, wild, smoky, peppery, fruit flavours, it is simply delicious. It is a fun one to serve your wine geek friends and watch their reaction. You can drink it now or over the next three to five years. A biodynamically farmed red selling at a bargain price: back up the truck. The AOC is Côtes-du-Roussillon Villages, and the cépage is syrah, grenache, and carignan grown in the Vallée de l'Agly. The fruit is hand-harvested, destemmed, and macerated for two to four weeks before ageing nine months in a 70/30 mix of stainless steel vats and mainly new demi-muids, with batônnage.Prices: BC 16.99 AB 17.00 QC 16.35 Producer: M. Chapoutier
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19 March 2020

Azores Wine Co. Tinto Vulcânicotext
89PTS

Azores Wine Co. Tinto Vulcânico 2018

PortugalThis old vine blend of aragonês, agronómica, castelão, malvarisco, merlot, touriga naçional, saborinho, syrah and others comes from 13 vineyards 5-30+ years old. After whole bunch pressing, this was fermented and aged in stainless. Wild and saline and fresh with red currants, herbal plum, pink peppercorn spice, sapid florals, woven with gentle waves of reduction to a fresh finish. Tannins are soft, and acidity is bright. Serve with a chill.Prices: ON 33.95 Producer: Azores Wine Co.
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Fitapreta Palpite Reservatext
90PTS

Fitapreta Palpite Reserva 2017

Alentejo, Central and Southern Portugal, PortugalThis blend of aragonez, alicante bouschet, trincadeira, and touriga nacional is Fitapreta's top wine that they make every year. Very perfumed wild black fruit, blueberries, thorns, musk flood this full bodied Alentejo red, growing on schist soils. After a native ferment this aged 18 months in French oak prior to bottling. Tannins are dusky and soft, hugging the ripened fruit to a warming finish. Primed for drinking now, but with a future ahead.Prices: ON 41.95 Producer: Fitapreta
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Muga Reserva Riojatext
90PTS

Muga Reserva Rioja 2015

Rioja, SpainThe Muga Reserva is Rioja by way of Napa and Bordeaux. There are luscious, sunbaked black fruits with graphite and licorice, and just a pinch of coconut and dill from American oak (made at their own cooperage!) to keep you placed in Spain. It’s quite full with firm, chewy tannins and enough acidity to keep it lively. In short, a modern expression of Rioja that packs a lot of wine in for the price—highly recommended.Prices: BC 30.99 Producer: Muga
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Enfield Wine Co. Pretty Horsestext
90PTS

Enfield Wine Co. Pretty Horses 2017

Sierra Foothills, California, United StatesPretty Horses is a lighter, friendlier counterpart to Enfield's more serious Shake Ridge Ranch Tempranillo. Based on that tempranillo vineyard, this is also splashed with 5% graciano and 5% pinot noir, upping the charm quotient. The destemmed lots were gently foot trodden or punched down during the native ferment, after which the wine aged for one year in neutral 500L puncheons and 225L oak barrels, including 15% American oak. This light, pretty, joyous red leads with wild raspberry, fresh plum, wild blueberries, and stones, seasoned with pink peppercorns, red liquorice, and sapid florals. Tannins are cobweb fine and lightly sticky, hugging the 12.9 degree frame to a bright finish. Drink this Cali charmer with a slight chill now.Prices: BC 50.00 Producer: Enfield Wine Co.
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Rodney Strong Upshottext
89PTS

Rodney Strong Upshot 2017

Sonoma County, California, United StatesUpshot is winemaker Justin Seidenfeld's (of Rodney Strong) affair, taking its cue from the name: a red blend thought to be the final or eventual positive outcome or conclusion of a discussion, action, or series of events. It’s all Sonoma County fruit, predominantly Alexander Valley and Knights Valley. The unique blend in 2017 is 31/31/30/5/3 zinfandel, merlot, malbec, riesling, and petit verdot, and most of it was picked before the devastating October fires. The style is soft, round and fruity, the flavours seriously drinkable and fun. It is a real hamburger red. Its hipster label chronicles the life of the wine from start to finish and it is accompanied by a screw cap closure for easy access. Well done Justin, and just what a party needs.Prices: BC 29.99 ON 29.95 US 28.00 Producer: Rodney Strong Estate Vineyards
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Podere 414 Morellino di Scansanotext
91PTS

Podere 414 Morellino di Scansano 2017

Tuscany, ItalyOwned by Simone Castelli, Podere 414 is a certified organic estate with 13ha of vines, situated in western Tuscany, straddling a river near the town of Scansano. From the region's very stony soils, this morellino (sangiovese), is splashed with colorino, ciliegiolo, alicante, and syrah. Each variety is vinified separately, before the blend goes into two year old barriques for one year, followed by additional bottle age prior to release. Dried violets, rose petals, Tuscan garrigue, dark earth entice into this full-bodied red, one layered with lusty, grippy blackberry, dark cherry, and blueberry notes. Tannins are ample, fine, and sticky, housing a plush palate bedded with stones. There's a lovely rise of acidity here that lifts the heft. Drinking beautifully now, especially with truffled risotto, or wild boar.Prices: ON 30.95 Producer: Podere 414
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18 March 2020

Ochota Barrels From the North Mourvèdretext
93PTS

Ochota Barrels From the North Mourvèdre 2019

Barossa Valley, South Australia, AustraliaAnother bizarre beauty from Taras Ochota, this low yield, biodynamically farmed mataro (Mourvèdre) was planted in 1869 on sandy decomposed granite and quartz soils in Barossa. After a whole bunch press, this was cold soaked for 5 days until the native ferment kicked in, followed by partial carbonic maceration and 12 days on skins and stalks. Post ferment, this was basket pressed to French barriques for 3 months' rest, prior to bottling unfined and unfiltered. No additions outside of 20ppm SO2 at bottling. Super saline throughout, seasoning sapid plum, wild blackberry, Saskatoon berry, and gentle purple florals. Tannins are bamboo fine and firm, housing the subtlety ripe purple / blue fruit to a lingering, medicinal / herbal scrubbed finish. So youthful, but so present and mesmerizing. Incredible tribute to this ancient vineyard.Prices: BC 65.00 Producer: Ochota Barrels
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Vietti Barbera d'Asti Tre Vignetext
90PTS

Vietti Barbera d'Asti Tre Vigne 2017

Piedmont, ItalyFrom hillside vineyards around Asti, this started fermentation in stainless, and then moved into a mix of oak and stainless for MLF and 18 months' aging. Lovely salted cassis, blackberry and dark plum stream through this medium+ red, with well integrated tannins and a snappy, very saline finish. A welcome freshness and classiness throughout, as is the Vietti way. Drinking well now.Prices: ON 29.95 Producer: Vietti
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De Martino Gallardia Cinsaulttext
90PTS

De Martino Gallardia Cinsault 2017

Itata Valley, ChileNow well into its fourth generation with brothers Marco Antonio and Sebastián De Martino, De Martino was founded in 1934. Gallardía is a tribute to Itata's coastal vineyards, and the home of Chilean viticulture (with vines dating back to 1551). Sustainable agriculture, dry farming, and horse ploughing are used to farm these 35-year-old own-rooted cinsault bush vines from Guarilihue, 22km inland, on gentle granite slopes. This was destemmed and native fermented in stainless, with a 40 day maceration, before 7 months aging in tank. The only additions / deletions are a small amount of SO2 at bottling. Give this pale, cloudy, crimson-hued wine some air time to reveal sapid plum, scrubby herbs, ample rosemary and thyme, pine, and medicinal white cherry, all threaded with resin and kissed with smoke. Tannins are whisper light and acidity is juicy, lofting this lighter wine to a lingering finish. Serve slightly chilled.Prices: BC 28.00 Producer: De Martino
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Niepoort NAT'Cool! Tintotext
90PTS

Niepoort NAT'Cool! Tinto 2017

Bairrada, Northern Portugal, PortugalDirk Niepoort's NAT'Cool! range of wines were created to meet certain criteria : be made as naturally as possible, be low alcohol, be terroir-driven, use native grapes to the region, be affordable, and be so smashable that it's only sold in 1L bottles. CHECK. He makes these wines in collaboration with winemakers around Portugal and the world, and also makes his own Niepoort ones, like this beauty little baga, from 40-400 year old vines in limestone-laced clay soiled Bairrada. This saw only inox, preserving the freshest fruit, and it was bottled unfiltered. Pouring a light plum / brick in hue, this light, joyous red is full of crushed florals, red currant, brisk cranberry acidity, and silk strong, slight tannins. The palate is mouthwatering with salinity, to a crunchy pink peppercorn finish. So light, charming, and joyous, you can understand why the label says DRINK ME. I sure will. Serve copiously, with a light chill, as intended. Obrigada.Prices: BC 27.00 1000 Producer: Niepoort (Vinhos) S.A.
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Pietradolce Archineri Etna Rossotext
91PTS

Pietradolce Archineri Etna Rosso 2015

Solicchiata, Sicily, ItalyThis pours pale garnet, with orange bricking at the rim. The nose is quite savoury and almost devoid of fruit, in the best possible way, with volcanic smokiness, potpourri, leather, rosemary, and game. Don’t let the colour confuse you; this is still medium-full bodied red with a mouth-filling texture and huge, blocky tannins, balanced by nerello mascalese's characteristic vibrant acidity. If you like Barolo or Brunello di Montalcino, you need to try this.Prices: BC 60.00 Producer: Pietradolce
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Lion Gri Saperavitext
88PTS

Lion Gri Saperavi 2010

MoldovaFully mature and ready to drink, this Moldova red is made from the saperavi grape. It is an excellent example of what ten years of ageing and patience can do for any well-balanced red. The colour is dark with a brick, red/orange edge signalling its age. The nose and flavours are a mix of menthol/cherry, cedar bark, and earth at this point. There is a notion of lifted fruit, but the overall balance is on point, allowing you to experience this red wine likely for you from a new country, a unique grape, and a combination of age and price you seldom see.Prices: BC 22.99 Producer: JV Lion-Gri Winemaking Company
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Suertes del Marqués 7 Fuentestext
92PTS

Suertes del Marqués 7 Fuentes 2017

Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain100+ year old ungrafted and organic listan negro is splashed with 10% tintilla (trousseau) in this singular wine, showcasing Tenerife's volcanic soils and altitude up to 750m. Suertes del Marqués considers this their 'village wine', and an introduction to their range. It's a wonderful first meeting. Careful aging for 8 months in concrete and neutral French oak has well framed this intoxicating lighter red, layered with grapefruit, sapid thorns, aromatic juicy plum, anise, ink, tobacco and a gentle dusting of pink peppercorns that linger on the saline finish. There's a lot of effortless concentration here, with bamboo firm tannins leaving an impression of finesse and grace. Inherently confident, and drinking beautifully now. Allow a wave of youthful reduction to blow off before enjoying.Prices: ON 23.95 Producer: Suertes del Marqués
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Undurraga Sibaris Carmenere Gran Reservatext
85PTS

Undurraga Sibaris Carmenere Gran Reserva 2017

Valle del Colchagua, Valle del Rapel, Region del Valle Central, ChileAmple reduction greets on the nose of this Colchagua carménère, leading into a thick and dense palate of smoked black fruit seasoned with roasted onions, branch, black pepper, dill. Tannins are blocky and the finish is powdery with dark cocoa. Quite an oak-driven, ripe, and simple version of the grape, and not one to set your compass to.Prices: BC 17.49 Producer: Viña Undurraga
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Rodney Strong Zinfandel Old Vinestext
89PTS

Rodney Strong Zinfandel Old Vines 2017

Northern Sonoma, Sonoma County, California, United StatesAt Rodney Strong, the 15 acres of old vine Zinfandel planted in 1904 remains as it was when Rodney Strong arrived in the 1970s. The current Old Vines zin has some fruit from the Alexander and Dry Creek Valleys added to complete its Northern Sonoma AVA. 2017 was up and down weatherwise, with massive spring rains followed by six separate heat waves, including a 110 F Labour Day. None of which seem to bother the old vines. There is one percent petite sirah in the mix, contributing to the fresh berry from the Russian River mixed with peppery, black raspberry jammy fruit from the Alexander Valley and Dry Creek. The textures are gentle with a whack of plummy boysenberry and vanilla flavours. You can drink this now, and I suggest any of the following menu items: barbecued ribs, duck pizza, pulled pork, or a favourite hard cheese.Prices: BC 21.00 AB 22.00 ON 23.00 US 25.00 Producer: Rodney Strong Estate Vineyards
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Lake Sonoma Zinfandeltext
89PTS

Lake Sonoma Zinfandel 2017

Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County, California, United StatesI love the bright fruit here, permeating the savoury, smoky, bramble nose. The attack is a sporting mix of youthful, juicy black cherry, blackberry flavours. Dry Creek always offers up some floral undertones that lift the smooth low tannin finish. Ready to drink and perfect with roasted root vegetables and grilled baby back ribs.Prices: BC 24.49 AB 25.50 QC 26.00 ON 29.00 NB 29.79 PEI 30.25 Producer: Lake Sonoma Winery
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Vino Lauria Frappato “Scoglitti”text
90PTS

Vino Lauria Frappato “Scoglitti” 2017

Sicily, ItalyFrom 3rd generation winemaker Vito Lauria, Vino Lauria is based in the northwest corner of Sicily, though fruit for this bottle comes from the eastern island's sandy soils. After some youthful reduction blows off, the scrubby herbs, wild raspberry, sapid cherry, spring rhubarb comes through, framed with lightly tuggy tannins (reflective of the climate), and lofted with an easy mineral salinity (reflective of the 600-1000m altitude). Take this lovely medium-bodied red with a slight chill.Prices: ON 24.00 Producer: Vino Lauria
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Vino Lauria Nerello Mascalesetext
90PTS

Vino Lauria Nerello Mascalese 2017

Sicily, ItalyVito Lauria is a Sicilian local. After studying winemaking in Friuli, he returned home in 2005 to take over his family's winery in the west of Sicily, renovating the vineyards, focusing on organic viticulture. He focuses on local varieties, like nerello mascalese. This is sourced from Sambuca di Sicilia, this sees time in stainless only. Pouring a lighter red hue, this slender red is teeming with fresh walnuts, wild plums, and red currants. Brisk acidity counters the sun-ripened fruit easily, leaving a suggestion of Sicily's warm climate in the tuggy tannins. Take with a light chill.Prices: ON 23.95 Producer: Vino Lauria
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17 March 2020

Therianthropy David Eagle Gamaytext
90PTS

Therianthropy David Eagle Gamay 2018

Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, CanadaTherianthropy is the mythical process of shapeshifting, which is another way to view turning nature into wine. This small collaborative project launched in late 2019 with this Gamay, and there are three other wines en route for 2020 release. From Twenty Mile Bench's legendary Foxcroft Wismer Vineyard, these 21 year old gamay vines were dry farmed, rooted in the site's calcareous clay, limestone-laced soils. Winemaker David Eiberg decided to go 30% whole cluster with a five day cold soak before the month-long native ferment, and 9 months in older 225L barrels before the wine was bottled unfined and unfiltered. The hot 2018 vintage aided the ripeness of this charming gamay, flooded with juicy plum, wild cherry, and raspberry, all threaded with herbal scrub (thyme, rosemary) and lofted with an easy acidity to a welcome 13 degrees. There's a mineral salt note and a haunting pomegranate perfume that studs the finish. Bonus points for the thoughtful recyclable plant-based composite cork and organic beeswax button that seals the top. Huge bonus points for the darling label artwork, instantly recognizable to any in the wine industry as Michel Tolmer. A project to watch. #GoGamayGo.Prices: ON 27.95 Producer: Therianthropy
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Château des Charmes Gamay Noir Droit St. David's Bench Vineyardtext
87PTS

Château des Charmes Gamay Noir Droit St. David's Bench Vineyard 2017

Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, CanadaBack in 1982, Château des Charmes' founder Paul-Michel Bosc was pioneering clonal selection research at his vineyard in Niagara-on-the-Lake. When walking through the vines, he noticed a single gamay noir vine that exhibited some interesting and unique characteristics. Most noticeably to the eye, the vine shoots grew upright (droit is upright in French). This particular gamay produced grapes that ripen about ten days later than standard gamay noir, building higher sugar levels and achieving darker colour. This certainly is not your typical gamay, with dark, brooding plum and cassis, perfumed, peppery notes and a bitter sour cherry finish. #GoGamayGo for foch lovers.Prices: ON 19.00 BC 25.00 Producer: Chateau des Charmes
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La Soeur Cadette Juliénastext
90PTS

La Soeur Cadette Juliénas 2018

Juliénas, Beaujolais Villages, Beaujolais, Burgundy, FranceValentin Montenay wanted to highlight the lesser-seen Juliénas cru in this bright and joyous red. This blends two sites, one on blue granite, and one on sandy soils, and with vines averaging 70 years. All whole cluster, this was fermented in stainless and then into older barrels for 8-10 months’ rest. Red flowers, red currants, rhubarb is framed with fine, lightly sticky tannins to a lingering spiced and very salty finish. Born into a family of vignerons, Valentin sources grapes from across Bourgogne and Beaujolais for his negociant La Soeur Cadette wines.Prices: ON 33.95 Producer: La Soeur Cadette
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Robin Ridge Organic PnGtext
89PTS

Robin Ridge Organic PnG 2017

Keremeos, Similkameen Valley, British Columbia, CanadaPassetoutgrain, or throw it all in, sounds as much fun as this wine is to drink. PnG is a nod to the French blend of pinot noir and gamay, described by Punch magazine as 'the rhythm of Beaujolais and the soul of Burgundy'. It’s a gamay with an underbelly of softer, richer, darker fruit to infuse the wine with a bit of weight. But it is the Similkameen, so no need to worry that this wine will ever become overbearing. In this case, the floral, mineral, stony nose previews a figgy raspberry jam palate spiked with blueberries. The winery suggests serving it with grilled Italian sausage, and my mouth is watering. Simple, well-made, classy and ready-to-drink = my favourite combination. Good value too.Prices: BC 23.25 Producer: Robin Ridge Winery
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Robin Ridge Organic Gamaytext
90PTS

Robin Ridge Organic Gamay 2018

Keremeos, Similkameen Valley, British Columbia, CanadaGamay is a grape that has performed well over the years at Robin Ridge. The rocky, wild, windy Similkameen is a terrific base for this wine and its spare, red-fruited palate with a crunchy, juicy, stony base. It is the style the #GoGamayGo crowd is embracing.Prices: BC 23.90 Producer: Robin Ridge Winery
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Orofino Vineyards Gamaytext
91PTS

Orofino Vineyards Gamay 2018

Cawston, Similkameen Valley, British Columbia, CanadaFrom three Cawston vineyards, this gamay was fermented on skins before a gentle pressing into older French barrels, where it rested until the following March, when it was bottled unfined and unfiltered. Pouring a lighter, slightly cloudy hue, this gamay is juicy with forest berries, wild cherry, summer rhubarb, and dusted with soft spices. Tannins are near negligible, just a slight hug around the pure fruited core. Such a charmer; one of BC's top gamay, for sure. #GoGamayGo.Prices: BC 22.90 Producer: Orofino Vineyards
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Blue Mountain Estate Cuvée Gamay Noirtext
89PTS

Blue Mountain Estate Cuvée Gamay Noir 2018

Okanagan Falls, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis bigger, darker, smoky gamay is from the newly created Estate Cuvée tier, from 11-29 year old estate vines and a mix of clones 358, 509, and 789. After a native ferment, this aged for a year in French oak barrels and puncheons. If you didn't see gamay on the label, you might think this is syrah, with all its wild, black-fruited meatiness, smoked black pepper, and waves of reduction. With some air, and a chill, you note the dark raspberry, cherry swirling underneath. Still, this is the un-gamayest gamay I've had from Blue Mountain.Prices: BC 30.00 AB 26.95 Producer: Blue Mountain Vineyard & Cellars
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Blue Mountain Estate Cuvée Gamay Noirtext
90PTS

Blue Mountain Estate Cuvée Gamay Noir 2018

Okanagan Falls, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis is the first vintage of gamay since Blue Mountain revamped their tiering structure, and it now falls under the Estate Cuvée tier. From 11 to 29 year-old vines at their estate vineyard, this was fermented by native yeasts before aging on fine lees for 12 months in 4 year-old French oak barrels and puncheons. It's quite a savoury style of gamay, with loads of spice, crushed rock, and a flinty reductive note, over crunchy red fruits and fresh blackberry in the background. Think pinot noir meets syrah, for those that haven’t gotten on the #gogamaygo bandwagon. It’s medium-bodied and incredibly refreshing, with fine, subtle tannins. And they manage to do it all with only 12.5% abv. Fairly priced, as this would not be out of place in a line-up of Cru Beaujolais. This is the best gamay I’ve had to date from Blue Mountain. Highly recommended.Prices: BC 30.00 AB 26.95 Producer: Blue Mountain Vineyard & Cellars
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Jean-Paul Brun Terres Dorées Moulin-à-Venttext
92PTS

Jean-Paul Brun Terres Dorées Moulin-à-Vent 2016

Moulin-à-Vent, Beaujolais Villages, Beaujolais, Burgundy, FranceWhen it comes to Beaujolais, it doesn't get much better than Jean-Paul Brun. This has an expressive nose of candied cherry, violet, and crushed rocks that couldn’t be more quintessentially Beaujolais. There’s exceptional depth and purity to the fruit, which carries through to the palate. Medium-bodied, it’s a more structured style of Beaujolais, which stays true to the cru of Moulin-à-Vent, but without sacrificing any drinkability. It’s the type of wine where one glass quickly turns into two, leaving the bottle empty before you know it. This has to be one of the best values in BC right now.Prices: BC 36.99 Producer: Jean-Paul Brun
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Blue Mountain Estate Cuvée Gamay Noirtext
89PTS

Blue Mountain Estate Cuvée Gamay Noir 2018

Okanagan Falls, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe first, Estate Cuvée tier, looks a lot like its predecessors; a very fine gamay. The secret ingredient is that savoury sagebrush south Okanagan spice that is sprinkled through its slightly reductive, earthy palate (decanting is a must) marked with soupy black fruits flecked with tobacco spice. This wine excels at the dinner table with duck, chicken or mushroom-based dishes. Watch out Beaujolais. The vines are a mix of ages from a decade through 30-years-old. It ferments with native yeast and is aged for a year in used four-year-old French oak barrels and puncheons.Prices: BC 30.00 AB 26.95 Producer: Blue Mountain Vineyard & Cellars
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Pax Gamay Noirtext
88PTS

Pax Gamay Noir 2018

Sonoma Coast, Sonoma County, California, United StatesApparently the first winery to release a gamay from Sonoma Coast, this is from Black Night Vineyard, and from vines grafted over from older sustainably farmed chardonnay to gamay in 2014. This youthful wine was whole cluster pressed and partial carbonic maceration, readily apparent from first youthful swig / swing of balsamic / wine gum / juicy fruit. Tannins are equal parts slight, and softly rugged, while the fruit veers from black cherry to cranberry to pomegranate to black raspberry, all lifted with a natural little spritz and dusting of nutmeg. This rested 7 months in 500L French puncheons prior to release. Chill, and drink now.Prices: BC 75.00 Producer: Pax Mahle Wines
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Rigour & Whimsy Gamay Noirtext
88PTS

Rigour & Whimsy Gamay Noir 2018

West Kelowna, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaFrom a single vineyard in West Kelowna, this gamay was whole cluster fermented, partial carbonic, and aged in used puncheons and barriques for 8 months. Slight in hue, and body, this presents with youthful rhubarb, tart cranberry, and lipsmaking young raspberry acidity, thinly wrapped with a skin of tannins. A wash of balsamic vinegar adds to the brightness, as does a mere 10 degrees alcohol. Very natty, and well crafted for that palate and interest.Prices: BC 35.00 Producer: Rigour & Whimsy
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16 March 2020

Burrowing Owl Merlottext
90PTS

Burrowing Owl Merlot 2016

Oliver, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaFrom estate vineyards in Osoyoos and Oliver, this fermented in stainless for a couple of weeks before moving to barrels for MLF and 18 months aging. Soft black plum floods this juicy and darkly fruited wine, with blackberries, and wild blueberries enveloped by plump, plush tannins. Good length and depth; drinking well now. Enveloping, like a hug, like merlot should be.Prices: BC 30.00 AB 34.00 ON 29.95 Producer: Burrowing Owl Vineyards
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Synchromesh Turtle Rock Farms Merlottext
88PTS

Synchromesh Turtle Rock Farms Merlot 2017

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaFrom a single vineyard on a granite / gravel base above the Naramata Bench, this merlot is dark and broodingly dense with roasted coffee, walnuts, and inky cassis. The palate is plush, and the tannins softened, though the wood striation is still very noticeable and upfront. Lots going on here; one to lay down for a few more years.Prices: Producer: Synchromesh Wines Inc.
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Chateau La Dominiquetext
91PTS

Chateau La Dominique 2015

Saint Émilion, Libourne, Bordeaux, FranceFrom the stunning Chateau La Dominque in Saint-Émilion, this vintage is a blend of 85 percent merlot, 13 percent cabernet franc, and 2 percent cabernet sauvignon, aged for 16 months in barrel (60 percent new). This has a deep, inky colour that is still impenetrable at this point of its evolution. It shows dense, dark blackberry and black cherry, with chocolate, gravel, and cedar. The fruit has lovely definition, and is quite fresh, which was a challenge with some wines from the 2015 vintage. Medium-full bodied, the palate is round and mouth-filling with carefully managed tannins that are still firm and chewy on the finish. Give this some time to open up, either in a decanter or your cellar, as it’s still quite tight and youthful.Prices: BC 130.00 AB 104.99 Producer: Chateau La Dominique
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Covert Farms Amicitiatext
89PTS

Covert Farms Amicitia 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaAmicitia is Latin for friends, an apt name for the 2016 vintage of this friendly, welcoming red blend. This year Gene Covert's cepage is merlot, cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, malbec, petit verdot and syrah, from Coyote Block vineyard, planted between 2006-2009, and at a welcome 420m altitude. This organic wine was barrel aged 14 months prior to release. The ripe, dark black fruit is helped by the altitude, freshening the heft and weight of smoked blackberries, dark cherries, and baked raspberries. There's a peppery undercurrent that lingers on the finish, and silky tannins that up the friendliness factor. This is a drinkable giant red, but would be even more exciting if were picked earlier, allowing the fresh, pure fruit to really shine.Prices: BC 29.80 Producer: Covert Farms Family Estate
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Osoyoos Larosetext
91PTS

Osoyoos Larose 2015

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe 2015 grand vin from Osoyoos Larose is predominantly merlot, with 12 percent cabernet franc, 8 percent cabernet sauvignon, 5 percent petit verdot, and 4 percent malbec. From a challenging, hot vintage, this is one of the most successful Bordeaux blends that I’ve tried to date from 2015. It shows a traditionally-styled nose with cedar and dried sage, with sweet, ripe black fruits. The palate is medium-full bodied, with quite fine tannins and good freshness. It may not be as complex as previous vintages, but everything is well proportioned. It's ready to drink now, but will reward careful cellaring over the next 3-5 years. Given the price of top Bordeaux today, this overdelivers at $47.99. And if you’re torn between opening up a new or old world wine, this will certainly fit the bill for both.Prices: BC 47.99 MB 46.06 ON 47.95 QC 44.60 SK 58.30 NL 52.49 AB 45.99 Producer: Osoyoos Larose Estate Winery
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Château Argadens Bordeaux Supérieurtext
90PTS

Château Argadens Bordeaux Supérieur 2016

Bordeaux, FranceArgadens red is a modern Bordeaux based on the concentration of fruit with a supple, balanced texture. The vineyard average age is now over 30 years old, and its planted to merlot, cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc sitting on clay-limestone soil in a single plot. The site is the highest among the rolling hills of the Entre-Deux-Mers. The blend is 63/32/5 merlot / cabernet sauvignon / cabernet franc, almost mirroring plantings in the vineyard. The nose is harmonious, expressing dark fruits with well-integrated oak at this stage. Indeed, it is a wine you can age for five to ten years. It’s not Palmer or d’Angludet but there are similarities in style. Real wine.Prices: BC 24.99 Producer: Famille Sichel
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CheckMate Artisanal Winery Silent Bishop Merlottext
92PTS

CheckMate Artisanal Winery Silent Bishop Merlot 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe Silent Bishop blend in 2016 is 92 percent merlot, 4 percent petit verdot, and 4 percent syrah, all grown on three cool Western Benches under Mt. Kobau: Oliver North, Golden Mile, and Osoyoos West. They get the gentle early morning sun, and at 49 degrees north, that could be as early as 5 am all summer. In short, they effectively escape the late-day baking rays of the sun as it slips behind Kobau, leaving the vineyards in shadow. The less is more style of Silent Bishop is prevalent on the raspberry and blackberry nose, and the wine’s elegant structure. The attack is round and savoury, and in 2016 the tannins are both complex and slippery, adding to its long, persistent, linear finish.Prices: BC 85.00 Producer: CheckMate Artisanal Winery
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CheckMate Artisanal Winery End Game Merlottext
93PTS

CheckMate Artisanal Winery End Game Merlot 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaEnd Game comes off two warm, southwest facing benches along the eastern side of the valley: Osoyoos East Bench and the Black Sage Bench sitting at +300 metres. The soils are mostly sandy, but the rolling hillsides of vines result in multiple expositions, giving McGahan a wide selection of flavours and styles to use in his blends. The fermentation is wild, and it's finished in the barrel where the wine remains in contact with its skins for 50+ days, building texture, complexity of flavour, and purity of fruit. The finished wine is aged 21 months in 100 percent oak. 2016 is brilliant from its sagebrush dusted black and red currant fruit, sensational silky textures, and vibrant finish. Low cropping and a long, cool finish to the growing season has resulted in a vibrant, intense, multi-layered merlot, and it is just a baby. If you want to try it now, I suggest grilled meat is the match; otherwise, cellar ageing through 2022 is highly recommended.Prices: BC 85.00 BC 196.00 1500 BC 439.00 BC 989.00 6000 Producer: CheckMate Artisanal Winery
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CheckMate Artisanal Winery Black Rook Merlottext
92PTS

CheckMate Artisanal Winery Black Rook Merlot 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaBlack Rook is farmed on the Black Sage Bench, pushed up against the Okanagan Highlands at 300+ metres. It is a warm, sandy site with low vigour soil that shapes smallish clusters, yielding intense black fruit that possesses both power and finesse. The Black Rook mix in 2016 is 90 percent merlot, 5 percent petit verdot, and 5 percent cabernet franc. There was a splash of syrah in the blend last year, and it appears better without it. It is still a rich, brooding red wine, aged in 100 percent new French oak, but it presents with a sense of elegance and could be described as ‘light on its feet’ too. Only nine barrels were made in 2016, considered to be an excellent year in the South Okanagan. A five to seven-year candidate for the cellar.Prices: BC 85.00 BC 196.00 1500 BC 480.00 3000 BC 989.00 6000 Producer: CheckMate Artisanal Winery
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CheckMate Artisanal Winery Opening Gambit Merlottext
94PTS

CheckMate Artisanal Winery Opening Gambit Merlot 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaOpening Gambit 2016 is a blend of 85.7/ 9.5/4.5 merlot, petit verdot and cabernet franc the latter two having a lasting impact on the style of this delicious bottle. The vines grow on a steep undulating slope site between 330m to 437m above sea level with a variety of expositions. It’s a touch less hedonistic in 2016 and more serious in keeping with what looks to be a terrific growing season for the much-maligned grape variety. The nose is fragrant and savoury, but in 2016, the fruit particularly red/black and very pure. The texture is creamy/supple aided by dense sweet sift tannins that build the structure without drying out the wine. Bolgheri-like, its savoury mocha finish, is part of the charm. Inspected cluster-by-cluster, the fruit is all hand-sorted and gently destemmed before another round of individual berries selection is done before an all-natural indigenous ferment. Post ferment the juice is gravity drained into 100 percent new French oak barrels for 21 months of ageing. All the Checkmate reds are bottled unfined and unfiltered, suggesting decanting will be necessary some time down the road. It was tasted as part of vertical tasting on February 4, 2020.Prices: BC 85.00 BC 196.00 1500 BC 480.00 3000 BC 989.00 6000 Producer: CheckMate Artisanal Winery
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Rodney Strong Merlottext
89PTS

Rodney Strong Merlot 2016

Sonoma County, California, United StatesRodney Strong Vineyards has been growing merlot for almost five decades, first at Geyserville, planted by Rodney Strong in the heart of Alexander Valley. Today the fruit comes off three Alexander Valley estate vineyards. The 2016 vintage was close to normal with overcast mornings and warm grape ripening afternoons. The RS merlot is typically round and lush with savoury dried herbs, and spicy notes in the finish. Fresh blackberries, figs, toast, and smoke rule. I fully concur with their move to entirely French oak. Try this with your favourite grilled pork chop, or lamb chop. Drink or hold through 2021.Prices: BC 25.99 AB 24.95 ON 23.95 NF 27.00 MB 21.95 QC 25.00 US 20.00 SK 25.99 Producer: Rodney Strong Estate Vineyards
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Hickinbotham Clarendon Vineyard The Revivalist Merlottext
92PTS

Hickinbotham Clarendon Vineyard The Revivalist Merlot 2015

McLaren Vale, South Australia, Australia‘Revivalist' refers to the extensive vineyard work on the canopy structure of vines planted in 1976, but it may just as well apply to the notion of restoring some decency to the reputation of the merlot grape. The fruit is as intense as ever beginning with the dark cherry, black cherry aromas that prevail across the palate. The freshness of the fruit, the silky texture of merlot, and the earthy, figgy savoury finish make this a big winner. There is also a surprising elegance just to finish off the picture. The Hickinbotham Clarendon Vineyard, planted since 1971, covers a steep cut of the country from the ridgetops above Clarendon, to the Onkaparinga River in the gorge below. Jackson Family Farms is the current owner, and the wines are made by Australian Charlie Seppelt, and American Chris Carpenter.Prices: BC 79.99 AB 80.00 MB 80.00 Producer: Hickinbotham Clarendon Vintners
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Freemark Abbey Merlottext
90PTS

Freemark Abbey Merlot 2015

Napa Valley, California, United StatesIf you want to know what’s up in Napa, look at this merlot’s modern mix: 89.1 percent merlot, 6.7% cabernet sauvignon, 1.8% petit verdot, 1.2% malbec, 1.2% cabernet franc. Keyes Vineyard on Howell Mountain makes up 79 percent of the blend, as evidenced by the blackberry and black currant. The red cherry and rhubarb notes come from Oakville. It is a bigger version (mountain fruit) than the 2013 but still maintains its attractive savoury finish. Best with grilled veal or lamb.Prices: BC 40.00 AB 36.00 Producer: Freemark Abbey
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13 March 2020

Hillside Syrahtext
90PTS

Hillside Syrah 2017

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe front label does not reflect the exact origin of this fruit, but Hidden Valley Vineyard, just south of the winery and north of the main road that runs the length if the Naramata Bench is home to this tasty syrah. It’s not 2016, but it remains an excellent red. There is more of a soupy, slurry texture (all in a good way) this year with those juicy, meaty, licorice, peppery flavours that persist well into the finish and beyond. A mid-valley, BC/Euro style for intelligent drinkers. Good value too. Decant away the natural sediment.Prices: BC 28.00 Producer: Hillside Winery
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Nichol Vineyard Old Vines Syrahtext
93PTS

Nichol Vineyard Old Vines Syrah 2017

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis is the oldest syrah in Canada, planted in 1990/91 on granite bedrock at the end of the Naramata Bench. It remains one of my favourite wines to taste and track, with every year a different record of season. This year leads with strikingly perfumed black pepper, dried violets, wild plum, wilder cassis, and thorns, before a savoury palate layered with fennel, pine herbaceousness, and sweet charcuterie, studded with lingering mineral salts. All of that is carried with a natural freshness.Prices: BC 40.00 Producer: Nichol Vineyard
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Nichol Vineyard Syrah Nate's Vineyardtext
91PTS

Nichol Vineyard Syrah Nate's Vineyard 2017

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaNate's Syrah is Nichol's younger vine estate syrah, named for the owners' son, and planted in 2010 on granite bedrock and glacial till. This is now really coming into its own and showing serious rather than playful intent. Juicy, fresh, bright, and savoury, with wild cherry, wild raspberry and darts of black cherry. The medium bodied, peppery wine is framed by fine, firm tannins, lashed with black licorice, and finishing with a dusting of peppery spice. Nate is growing up; charmer.Prices: BC 28.00 Producer: Nichol Vineyard
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Clos du Soleil Winemaker's Series Middle Bench Vineyard Syrahtext
90PTS

Clos du Soleil Winemaker's Series Middle Bench Vineyard Syrah 2017

Similkameen Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis single-vineyard syrah comes from Keremeos' Middle Bench Vineyard in the heart of the Similkameen Valley. The grapes are hand-harvested at peak maturity, the grapes for this wine were gently destemmed, crushed, and fermented in small-lot, open-top fermenters for 30 days with daily manual punch-downs. The ageing is done in French barrels, only 12 percent new, for 16 months, which was four more months than last year. The nose is floral and stony (Similkameen) with bright blackberry, and aromatic black plums dusted in pepper and cloves. It is very young and showing some chewy tannins at this point that will require a full three to five years to disperse.Prices: BC 29.90 Producer: Clos du Soleil Winery
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Clos du Soleil Winemaker's Series Middle Bench Vineyard Syrahtext
92PTS

Clos du Soleil Winemaker's Series Middle Bench Vineyard Syrah 2017

Similkameen Valley, British Columbia, CanadaAs last year, this single vineyard syrah comes from Keremeos' Middle Bench Vineyard, was destemmed and fermented in open fermenters for one month prior to pressing and aging in French oak barrels (12% new). This year the aging bumped up from 12 months to 16, but otherwise, this shows a lovely consistency. Ripe blackberry, perfumed plum, cracked pepper and cloves, and an undercurrent of brooding cassis and dried violets. At this youthful stage, tannins are still ragged and raging, but, as before, these will meld into the wine with time in bottle in your cellar. For now, airtime, grilled lamb and/or mushrooms.Prices: BC 29.90 Producer: Clos du Soleil Winery
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CedarCreek Platinum Haynes Creek Single Vineyard Syrahtext
89PTS

CedarCreek Platinum Haynes Creek Single Vineyard Syrah 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis is the inaugural vintage of Platinum Syrah, built for the 10 year old syrah vines at Haynes Creek Vineyard. Native fermented with 25% whole bunch (plus 1% viognier, for added aromatics), this spends 14 months in French puncheons prior to bottling. Youthful and forward, with plush cassis, wild blackberry, darting violet florals, and finely cracked pepper flushing out the full palate. Tannins are downy and plush, perfectly situated to style. This accessible syrah is ready to go now, ideally with roasted pork or richer duck.Prices: BC 49.99 Producer: CedarCreek Estate Winery
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Pax North Coast Syrahtext
91PTS

Pax North Coast Syrah 2018

North Coast Region, California, United StatesThis syrah was written as a love letter to the North Coast, taking grapes from Pax's favourite vineyards Castelli-Knight Ranch, Griffins Lair, Armagh, Nellessen, Hawks Butte, and Alder Springs. All was whole cluster (partial carbonic) and aged primarily in concrete with the remainder in neutral French oak barrels until bottling without fining or filtration. Wild and bright with juicy black plum, dark raspberry, black cherry, and sultry cola spicing, with hints of fennel salami, downy violet, and slightly sticky / resinous tannins drawing this medium bodied, youthful red to a snappy, espresso dusted finish. Primed for drinking now and over the short termPrices: BC 60.00 Producer: Pax Mahle Wines
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12 March 2020

Clos du Soleil Capellatext
90PTS

Clos du Soleil Capella 2018

British Columbia, CanadaThis blend of 85 percent sauvignon blanc and 15 percent semillon was whole cluster pressed and then fermented in a 65/35 combination of French oak puncheons and stainless steel barrels. It’s all about restraint and the Similkameen’s salty minerality. The sauvignon blanc comes from Whispered Secret and Blind Creek Vineyards in the Similkameen, with the sémillon sourced from Dhaliwal Bros Vineyard in the South Okanagan. It’s on the leaner side of the spectrum for sauvignon blanc, which is not a surprise given the early September pick dates, with tart lemon and grapefruit alongside a subtle lees character from sur lie aging for nine months. However, the sémillon brings some richness to the palate, with pronounced dry extract evoking low yields in the vineyard. It’s a wine of finesse, which will undoubtedly appeal to fans of mineral-driven Old World wines. And, having tasted Capella back to 2006, I can assure you that the best is still to come, with bottle age an important part of what brings complexity to this wine.Prices: BC 24.90 Producer: Clos du Soleil Winery
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Chateau Olivier Blanc Pessac-Leognantext
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Chateau Olivier Blanc Pessac-Leognan 2015

Pessac-Léognan, Graves, Bordeaux, FranceA blend of 75 percent sauvignon blanc, 23 percent semillon, and 2 percent muscadelle. At five years of age, this is at a lovely stage. It combines ripe passionfruit, herbs, and white flowers with tertiary notes of honey and nicely integrated oak that is harmoniously in the background. Medium-full bodied, this has good weight and concentration, as you’d expect from the 2015 vintage, with sauvignon blanc’s characteristic tart acidity. A terrific expression of white Bordeaux at a fair price.Prices: BC 55.00 Producer: Chateau Olivier
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Clos du Soleil Capellatext
90PTS

Clos du Soleil Capella 2018

British Columbia, CanadaClos du Soleil's flagship white follows the Bordeaux route, blending sauvignon blanc and sémillon. The ratio is 85/15, sourced from fruit grown in Keremeos and Oliver. The lines are taut with fresh lemon-lime citrus on the nose and palate with grapefruit and green melon all over a stony mineral backdrop. Despite a dollop of wood, it remains precise and crisp with no shortage of structure in the back end. Excellent food wine, and we need them more than ever in BC to keep wine relevant. The fruit is all whole cluster pressed, partially fermented with native yeasts in barrels (65% French oak) and stainless steel (35%). Surprisingly it has gone through full malolactic fermentation before spending nine months in barrels, on lees and with frequent battonage.Prices: BC 24.90 Producer: Clos du Soleil Winery
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Clos du Soleil Capellatext
89PTS

Clos du Soleil Capella 2018

British Columbia, CanadaClos du Soleil's flagship white is a stately Bordeaux blend of 85% sauvignon blanc / 15% sémillon, sourced from Keremeos and Oliver. After whole cluster pressing, these were partially native fermented in barrels (65% French oak, 35% stainless) with full MLF. All the lots were aged for 9 months on lees with battonage. Lemon lime, sherbet, white grapefruit and ample broken stony spices texture the medium palate, potent and structural due to the oak, with crisp citrus, melon, and an earthiness that lingers on the finish. Not as seamless and cohesive as the previous vintage, at least at this point.Prices: BC 24.90 Producer: Clos du Soleil Winery
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Covert Farms Sauvignon Blanc Semillontext
87PTS

Covert Farms Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2018

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaA certified organic sauvignon blanc and semillon blend (70/30) that is estate grown at the Covert Farm Coyote Block Vineyard, this is farmed with biodynamic practices, fermented and briefly aged in stainless steel. Crisp lemon, bitter green melon, subtle tangerine, hedge, pear skin rules the slender palate, finishing with a dusting of spice and a flush of warmth that is mouth filling. A somewhat shy white yet with enough acidity to accompany seafood or chicken dishes.Prices: BC 23.80 Producer: Covert Farms Family Estate
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11 March 2020

Quails' Gate The Allisontext
87PTS

Quails' Gate The Allison 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaNamed for John and Susan Allison, the first European settlers on the west side of Okanagan Lake in 1873, this is a bigger, red, ready blend of 61% syrah and 39% cabernet franc from Osoyoos, aged in neutral oak for 20 months. Big ripe sweet oak beds cherry, raspberry, and a swirl of dark cocoa, with blocky, chalky tannins setting the stage. The finish is short and leaves you needing a grilled pork chop or stew to meet. Drink now.Prices: BC 24.99 Producer: Quails' Gate Vineyards Estate Winery
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Tinajas del Maule Ruben Y Flora Cabernet Sauvignon Carmenère Reservatext
87PTS

Tinajas del Maule Ruben Y Flora Cabernet Sauvignon Carmenère Reserva 2017

Maule, Valle del Claro, Valle del Maule, Region del Valle Central, ChileA smoky, savoury, leafy, meaty nose with a solid dose of medicine chest opens this old style Chilean. Bright red cassis is mixed with dried herbs and peppercorn to a soft, round smoky red fruit finish. The tannins are silky, the acidity bright and enough to keep this aloft to partner with your fire-grilled lamb or beef. Old school but food-friendly. Think grilled lamb chops with a chimichurri sauce.Prices: BC 21.00 Producer: Tinjas del Maule
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Quails' Gate The Allisontext
87PTS

Quails' Gate The Allison 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe Allison is named after John and Susan Allison, the first European settlers on the west side of Okanagan Lake in 1873, where they built a small log home that still stands today at the front of the property greeting visitors. The nose is a mix of herbal black and red fruit streaked with leather, and tobacco. The palate is equally full of black fruits leading into dusty, peppery, meaty notes before a slightly bitter back end. A robust red you can serve with equally assertive dishes from pepperoni pizza to lamb chops. The blend is 61/39 syrah and cabernet franc, mostly out of Osoyoos.Prices: BC 24.99 Producer: Quails' Gate Vineyards Estate Winery
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The Audacity of Thomas G Bright Cabernet Merlot Whisket Barrel Finishtext
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The Audacity of Thomas G Bright Cabernet Merlot Whisket Barrel Finish 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaIn 1874, Thomas G. Bright dared to dream that a Niagara Falls winery could flourish and grow. That sentiment is honoured by this Niagara red made by Arterra and aged in old whisky barrels. The blend is merlot and cabernet, the flavours bold and oaky, and are a mix of sweet black cherries coated in vanilla and chocolate. Best with smoky, heavily charred grilled beef or pork. It contains 8 g/l of residual sugar, which tastes like 15, seemingly now de rigueur for these big brand reds.Prices: BC 17.99 Producer: Thomas G. Bright Wines
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Clos du Soleil Signaturetext
91PTS

Clos du Soleil Signature 2015

British Columbia, CanadaThe Signature label is just that at Clos du Soleil. It fits the winery philosophy of pursuing the art of the blend as made famous by vintners of Bordeaux. In 2015 all the main Bordeaux red grapes were involved, albeit in the Similkameen Valley way. After destemming the fruit and giving it a short cold soak, winemaker Mike Clark starts a partial native yeast fermentation followed by 15 months of ageing in French oak. At first glance, it looks like a California red blend with its deep colour and dense tannins, but in the mouth, there is a sense of restraint and balance that speaks to the modest 13.8 alcohol in a hot year when runaway alcohols were the norm. Look for silky cassis, blackberry/raspberry, with just a squeeze of acid before the tannins kick in. Drink or hold, but any extra time in your cellar will reward this bottle whose life has only just begun.Prices: BC 44.90 Producer: Clos du Soleil Winery
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10 March 2020

Niepoort Nat'Cool Brancotext
90PTS

Niepoort Nat'Cool Branco 2018

Vinhos Verde, Northern Portugal, PortugalNAT’Cool is Dirk Niepoort's line of wines that are low-intervention, low-alcohol, available only in a 1L format, affordable, and highly smashable. This Vinho Verde is a mix of 25-30 year old granite-grown Azal, Arinto, Avesso, Trajadura and Loureiro grapes, made in the traditional VV way with some lees and few grams of sugar left at bottling to provide that characteristically refreshing and subtle Vinho Verde spritz. Lightly cloudy, this lighter white streams pear skin, sour melon, green apple over a fine herbal lees base, to a snappy, saline finish. Fantastic value; stock up.Prices: ON 21.95 1000 Producer: Niepoort (Vinhos) S.A.
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Azores Wine Co. Branco Vulcanicotext
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Azores Wine Co. Branco Vulcanico 2018

PortugalThis blend of 85% arinto de azores (unrelated to mainland Portugal's arinto) and 15% verdejo was whole bunch pressed, and fermented in inox with battonage. Light on its feet, this medium-bodied white is fresh with wild melon, subtle spice, pear blossom over a cushion of lees, finishing with a mouthwatering saline wash. Lovely glimpse of the volcanic, marine-trinsic Azores.Prices: ON 41.95 BC 35.00 Producer: Azores Wine Co.
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Denavolo Diavolino Vino Biancotext
89PTS

Denavolo Diavolino Vino Bianco 2017

Emilia-Romagna, ItalyGuilio Armani is the longtime winemaker at La Stoppa, and Denavolo is his side project, focusing on orange wines from local grapes. This comes from an 8 acre limestone soiled vineyard, at 300-750m on the top of the foothills in western Emilia-Romagna, near the sea.This is a blend of young vine Malvasia di Candia, Marsanne, Ortugo, and other indigenous varieties, left on skins for 7-14 days, fermented native, and left entirely natural. Stencilled apricot fuzz, green apple, crab apple, lemon pith, earthy lees, elderflower is washed with a dry cider rinse, snapping the slight (10.5 degree) palate on the brisk, saline finish. A lean and energetic natural amber wine to quench your thirst.Prices: Producer: Denavolo
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Rigour and Whimsy Flux Capacitortext
89PTS

Rigour and Whimsy Flux Capacitor 2018

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis blend of pinot blanc, roussanne, muscat, chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, and gruner veltliner was sourced from vineyards across the Okanagan. It was a native fermented mix of destemmed, whole, and crushed grapes that remained on skins for two months in stainless, before ageing seven months in older puncheons. Pouring a cloudy, golden amber hue, this tasted every bit as fantastical as its mix, with apricot, green apple, pine, young peas, herbal thorns, white florals, lemon, tangerine pith mixing on a lightly oily, slightly grippy palate. The finish is fresh and textural with fresh thyme and white pepper, and the palate is slight, at only 11 degrees — another worthy contender in the amber/orange wine category in BC.Prices: BC 25.00 Producer: Rigour & Whimsy
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Tinhorn Creek 2Bench White Oldfield Reservetext
89PTS

Tinhorn Creek 2Bench White Oldfield Reserve 2018

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaAn intense, aromatic blend of viognier, sauvignon blanc, sémillon, muscat, and chardonnay that hails from both the Black Sage and Golden Mile Benches. Less perfume, and more energy and brightness than in past versions, which makes it more fun to drink on the patio or with food. There is sufficient mid-palate weight and richer fruit, but all in all, less ponderous, and more fun. Chill and serve on the patio or pick your favourite spicy Asian dish and you will find this white wine entirely up to the task.Prices: BC 21.99 Producer: Tinhorn Creek Vineyards
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Amalaya Torrontes Rieslingtext
88PTS

Amalaya Torrontes Riesling 2018

Calchaqui Valley, Salta, North, ArgentinaAmalaya, 'a hope for a miracle,' is a nod to local farmers who made offerings in the hope of an abundant, high-quality harvest each year. This has intense aromatics of lemons and flowers with a strong, mineral undercurrent. Fresh, almost biting acidity cuts concentrated lime. Ready to drink. Amalaya blanco is a torrontés/riesling blend made with organic grapes grown around 1675 metres.Prices: BC 18.99 Producer: Grupo Colomé
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09 March 2020

Township 7 Merlottext
87PTS

Township 7 Merlot 2017

Oliver, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaFrom Oliver's Blue Terrace vineyard, and Naramata Bench's Front Yard vineyard, this merlot was macerated over 3 weeks with thrice daily plunging to ensure ample fruit extraction. This was then aged in American and French barrels for 18 months, further amping up the intensity. Dark cassis, dark cocoa, roasted espresso floods the full-potent palate, housed by gritty tannins to a bitter finish. Pour this punchy red with an equally punchy red meat dish to best results.Prices: BC 25.97 AB 24.95 Producer: Township 7 Vineyards and Wineries
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Culmina Family Estate Hypothesistext
89PTS

Culmina Family Estate Hypothesis 2015

Golden Mile Bench, Oliver, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis is a big red from a very big year, so prepare yourself. I recommend decanting, or opening a day in advance, like I did. That gives the cabernet franc, merlot, cabernet sauvignon, petit verdot, malbec blend time to stretch and enjoy welcome airtime. Even then, this inky black wine feels more than its 14.5 degrees, with ample smoked cherry, wild blackberry, salted black liquorice, and stewed black plum. Tannins are ample, powdery, and robust, necessary to support the heft of the fruit. The finish lingers with charred wood, necessitating a char-grilled meat or veg dish to match. This was raised in French oak, 30% new, for 16 months.Prices: BC 46.00 Producer: Culmina Family Estate Winery
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Culmina Family Estate Hypothesistext
90PTS

Culmina Family Estate Hypothesis 2015

Golden Mile Bench, Oliver, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe subtle changes continue at Culmina, even in what can only be described as a hot vintage in the south Okanagan. Altitude and west side vineyards help to mitigate the worst of the heat, and you sense it on the nose with 2015 showing its best expression of fruit since the inception of this wine. The blend is all Bordelais, via cabernet franc, merlot, cabernet sauvignon, petit verdot and malbec, but still only clocking 14.5 degrees. Intense smoky cherry, wild blackberry is peppered with black licorice and stealthy, dusty tannins that will disperse through 2023. Cellar through 2025 with ease. It should be a good one.Prices: BC 46.00 Producer: Culmina Family Estate Winery
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Rowen Red Winetext
90PTS

Rowen Red Wine 2016

Sonoma County, California, United StatesIn the pioneering spirit of Sonoma and Rodney Strong, winemaker Justin Seidenfeld has created Rowen, a red blend uniquely tied to the high altitude, red, volcanic-based soils of Cooley Ranch at elevations ranging from 500 to 2,040 feet in northeastern Sonoma County. The vineyards are above the fog line and Cooley warms up during harvest to allow for hotter growing temperatures and extra tannin development. The blend is 57/20/20/3/ cabernet sauvignon, malbec, syrah, and viognier that is co-fermented with the syrah to charge the floral notes. The attack is smooth and lush with notes of black cherries, blackberries and sweet vanilla. Seriously easy-sipping. Enjoy this wine now with sharp cheeses and charcuterie, grilled filet mignon, and chocolate. It has an immediate drinkability, yet all in the more refreshing, restrained, Sonoma style. The winery suggests braised lamb shanks would be an excellent match, and I say bring them on.Prices: BC 62.99 Producer: Rowen Wine Co.
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Rutini Cabernet Sauvignon - Malbectext
88PTS

Rutini Cabernet Sauvignon - Malbec 2015

Mendoza, ArgentinaThis is a 50/50 split of Uco Valley cabernet sauvignon and malbec, aged in new 50/50 American and French oak, so you can imagine the power received matches the power intended. Thankfully, it comes packed into a 13.5 degrees declared package, so there is some restraint here. Ripe blackberry, black cherry is kissed with smoked stones, seasoned with toast, and perfumed with black plums. Tannins are big but well managed, lightly sticky, and well suited for the weight of the fruit, as is the acidity. For drinking now.Prices: BC 35.89 Producer: La Rural / Familia Rutini Wines
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Bench 1775 Cabernet Sauvignon Syrahtext
88PTS

Bench 1775 Cabernet Sauvignon Syrah 2016

Osoyoos, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaWinemaker Val Tait is well-schooled in the classic style of Australian red blends, i.e., cabernet/shiraz, and she brings a bit of that savoury herbaceous BC style to this smoky, ripe cherry-scented red. The attack is similar, showing bright cassis flecked with black pepper, mint and with tannins yet to disperse. A touch wild at this point, but give a year or two to come around and be the wine it wants to be.Prices: BC 29.99 Producer: Bench 1775 Winery
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The Hatch Dynasty Redtext
88PTS

The Hatch Dynasty Red 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe blend is 51/21/28 cabernet sauvignon, malbec, syrah, from Monarch and Hans Vineyard in Osoyoos, along with Jagger Rock in the Similkameen Valley. Jason Parkes makes this wine, noting label artist Paul Morstad's work inspires the team. "Our Dynasties are wines made for the pure, hedonistic sake of the wines themselves and will always be the pinnacle of the inspirational Hatch motto — 'history is filled with the sound of silken slippers going downstairs and wooden shoes coming up.'" Voltaire. It's all aged in for 16 months in new oak to create opulence, texture and, most of all, big flavour. It is fresher than you might expect, at least before the tannin kicks in. Like last year, the syrah adds structure, black pepper, and boysenberry, while malbec rounds out the blend with black cherry adding charm and a plummy fragrance. A leg of lamb is the perfect match at this point.Prices: BC 46.99 Producer: The Hatch
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Jackson-Triggs CSV Red Grand Reservetext
88PTS

Jackson-Triggs CSV Red Grand Reserve 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaCabernet Sauvignon, shiraz, and viognier make up this exciting mix under the Grand Reserve series. The nose is fresh, even floral, before the black fruits and pepper take charge on its juicy mid-palate and finish. The tannins are light but still a touch sticky, suggesting some ageing in the bottle is in order. I like the finesse here and feel sure it will grow over time in your cellar.Prices: BC 24.99 ON 24.99 Producer: Jackson-Triggs Okanagan Estate
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Jackson-Triggs Red Meritage Grand Reservetext
88PTS

Jackson-Triggs Red Meritage Grand Reserve 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaDusty cedar cherry and black currant marks the nose, along with some smoky vanilla and toasted oak. The attack is similar with chocolate and oak leading the charge, and spicy black pepper in the finish. Very nouveau, this soft round mix of cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc and merlot is not nearly ready to drink, but if you had to drink it now, think grilled lamb or beef.Prices: ON 25.95 Producer: Jackson-Triggs Okanagan Estate
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Famille J-M Cazes Pauillactext
87PTS

Famille J-M Cazes Pauillac 2015

Pauillac, Haut-Médoc, Médoc, Bordeaux, FranceThe J-M Cazes wines can be considered the third label of Pauillac powerhouse Château Lynch-Bages, and a claret meant for drinking now while you squirrel the other wines away. The property can trace its history back to the 16th Century, though it was renovated and modernized by the Cazes family in the 1990s. Jean-Michel Cazes' family has owned Lynch-Bages for decades now, so he's well-practiced in all things Bx. It is a cab sauv led Bx blend with dark cherry, plum, blackberry ruling. This simple Pauillac is striated with graphite, sided by smoothed tannins, and finishing short and tight. An easy, ready-to-drink and highly affordable glimpse of the great Pauillacs that lay ahead.Prices: BC 15.99 Producer: Famille J.M. Cazes
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Famille J-M Cazes Saint-Estephetext
88PTS

Famille J-M Cazes Saint-Estephe 2015

St. Estèphe, Haut-Médoc, Médoc, Bordeaux, FranceThe J-M Cazes wines can be considered the third label of Pauillac powerhouse Château Lynch-Bages, and a claret meant for drinking now while you squirrel the other wines away. The property can trace its history back to the 16th Century, though it was renovated and modernised by the Cazes family in the 1990s. Jean-Michel Cazes' family has owned Lynch-Bages for decades now, so he's well practiced in all things Bx. This highly affordable claret overdelivers for the price, with chiselled dark cherry, graphite, gravels and an undercurrent of brooding black plum and violet. Tannins are smoothed and the finish is snappy, primed for drinking now. Primed for drinking now, while you wait for the family's other wines to mature (could be a decade ++).Prices: BC 15.99 Producer: Famille J.M. Cazes
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Maan Farms Maan Trois (Bordeaux Blend)text
80PTS

Maan Farms Maan Trois (Bordeaux Blend) 2013

Fraser Valley, British Columbia, CanadaMaan Trois is described as a Bordeaux blend by the winery, with 33% each of merlot, cabernet sauvignon, and cabernet franc. It opens with dense, smoky, toasted oak, with green, lifted fruit. The attack is sweet and round with volatile, lifted black fruits swathed in oak. This one needs to go back to the drawing board. At seven years, this wine is past its best before date.Prices: BC 45.00 Producer: Maan Farms Estate Winery
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06 March 2020

Culmina Family Estate N˚ 006 Unfiltered ‘Jeunes Vignes’ Malbectext
89PTS

Culmina Family Estate N˚ 006 Unfiltered ‘Jeunes Vignes’ Malbec 2016

Golden Mile Bench, Oliver, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaOpposed to the Vielles Vignes you see on wine labels, indicating the wine's vine age, this proudly is Jeunes Vignes, young vines, reflective of the age of this malbec, from Arise and Stan's Benches on the Golden Mile Bench. It is matured in neutral French oak for 22 months, bottled unfined and unfiltered March 2019, and released at the end of 2020. Wild blackberry, cassis, is scented with a luring Saskatoon berry perfume and sided with dusky violet leaves, hugging a full palate. Tannins are plush, and acidity is charmingly grapefruit laced, brightening this hefty, southern Okanagan red and drinking well now, especially with grilled beef/lamb.Prices: BC 29.00 Producer: Culmina Family Estate Winery
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Château Les Croisille Calcairetext
91PTS

Château Les Croisille Calcaire 2014

Cahors, Sud-Ouest, FranceThere’s no shortage of colour or concentration here, with the inky purple hue staining the sides of the glass. The Calcaire shows why modern Cahors is so exciting, combining black and blue fruits with savoury minerality and iodine. It’s still just a baby, with lots of time to continue to open and build complexity. To be sure, the rustic, mouth-coating tannins need some time to resolve, and the wine certainly has the potential to go another 5-10 years. Good value.Prices: BC 32.99 Producer: Château Les Croisille
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Achaval-Ferrer Malbectext
88PTS

Achaval-Ferrer Malbec 2017

Luján de Cuyo, Northern Region, Mendoza, ArgentinaThis is an archetypical Mendoza malbec sourced from vineyards in Lujan de Cuyo, San Carlos, and Medran, and spends nine months in French oak. It shows sweet black fruits and a floral lift alongside a touch of evolution, which I find surprising for a wine of this age. The ripeness of the fruit gives a perception of sweetness to the palate, but it's more medium-bodied than full with moderate concentration. Drink now.Prices: BC 27.99 AB 25.99 ON 29.95 NS 33.30 Producer: Achaval-Ferrer
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Culmina Family Estate N˚ 006 Unfiltered ‘Jeunes Vignes’ Malbectext
89PTS

Culmina Family Estate N˚ 006 Unfiltered ‘Jeunes Vignes’ Malbec 2016

Golden Mile Bench, Oliver, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaJeunes Vignes or young vines speaks to the age of the vines growing in the south Okanagan on Arise and Stan's Vineyards along the Golden Mile Bench. Post-fermentation, the juice is aged in neutral French oak for 22 months before it is bottled, unfined and unfiltered. It has a hint of Bordeaux styling with plenty of New World verve, including alluring wild black fruits, and bright floral undertones that buoy a richly-textured palate. Best of all is an undercutting of freshness that lifts this red from the glass. It will improve the age, but you can drink it now with grilled lamb.Prices: BC 29.00 Producer: Culmina Family Estate Winery
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Catena Zapata Malbec Argentinotext
92PTS

Catena Zapata Malbec Argentino 2017

Mendoza, ArgentinaThis eye-catching label pays tribute to the history of malbec, and its journey from France to Argentina. The fruit is sourced from two estate vineyards, Nicosia (1,095m elevation) and Anglelica (920m elevation), planted to a pre-Phylloxera massale selection of malbec. Using 20 percent whole cluster, this was barrel fermented in new French oak barriques and puncheons for 30 days using indigenous yeasts, and then aged for 18 months. Expect sweet, brambly fruits with chocolate and cinnamon from the oak, notes that are forward but harmoniously integrated thanks to the barrel fermentation. It also manages to retain a lovely floral lift that will have you reaching for a second glass. Medium-full bodied with 14% abv, the tannins are incredibly fine and polished, making it quite approachable even at this stage. Pour yourself a glass while you’re busy preparing dinner and watch how it evolves over the next hour or so. Great wines change in the glass and this is no exception.Prices: BC 129.99 AB 129.00 SK 129.99 MB 129.99 Producer: Bodega Catena Zapata
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Jason Parkes Crown + Thieves Crybaby Malbectext
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Jason Parkes Crown + Thieves Crybaby Malbec 2016

Similkameen Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis is a Similkameen malbec from a vineyard named after the owner's dog and some very large rocks stranded on the site. It's known to few as Jager’s Rock, but it is a small stone’s throw from its famous next door neighbour Blind Creek Vineyard. It’s classic Jason Parkes, the Peachland-born winemaker who loves a challenge and wades in with trepidation and then simply gets it done. The malbec is a study in power and intensity, yet there is a sense of lightness mid-palate that keeps it fresh. Earthy, peppery, almost high-altitude Argentine-like malbec (it could be the stony soil) gives the wine its palate interest. I can see Parkes now, surrounded by friends, working an asado-style barbecue, waxing eloquently about BC wines he has yet to make. Oh, and as Jason said to me, “It was aged in three 300-litre barrels I got from a Chilean guy.”Prices: BC 79.99 Producer: The Hatch
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Don Miguel Escorihuela Gascon Malbectext
88PTS

Don Miguel Escorihuela Gascon Malbec 2013

Mendoza, ArgentinaIt's not everyday you stumble upon a 7-year old malbec, especially at this price. It's certainly beginning to reflect its age, with an evolving nose that shows soft black fruits, cinnamon, soy sauce, and cedar. Medium-full bodied, this is quite extracted with surprisingly firm, chunky tannins, which seem out of character for malbec. It doesn't have the fruit to give those tannins more time to resolve but there's really no need. It's drinking enough now, striking a nice balance between primary fruit and tertiary complexity.Prices: BC 14.79 YK 18.85 Producer: Bodegas Escorihuela Gascon
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1884 The President's Blendtext
89PTS

1884 The President's Blend 2015

Mendoza, ArgentinaA blend of 85 percent malbec, 10 percent cabernet sauvignon, and 5 percent syrah, this was aged for 13 months in brand new French and American oak. Like you may expect for some presidents, it’s lavish in style but also not the most nuanced. The oak is front and centre with notes of coconut, bitter coffee, and smoke. Initially a bit reductive, the fruit is ripe and sweet, with a hint of raisonation. It’s a full throttle style that’s heavy on flavour, with soft, plush tannins that evoke long hang-time, and the 14.5% abv to prove it. It’s well made, and I like the underlying fruit, but the oak doesn't quite meld.Prices: BC 45.99 AB 35.99 Producer: Bodegas Escorihuela Gascon
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Pequeñas Producciones Malbectext
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Pequeñas Producciones Malbec 2017

Mendoza, ArgentinaSourced from vineyards in Luján de Cuyo, Tunuyán, San Carlos, and Valle de Uco, this was aged in French oak barriques for 10 months. In comparison to the other malbecs in this line-up, the Pequeñas Producciones shows more restrained ripeness with boysenberry, cola, and a slight reductive note. It’s not overly complex, but it’s nicely balanced with fine tannins and juicy acidity. I’d drink this now with a slight chill.Prices: BC 39.99 AB 35.99 Producer: Bodegas Escorihuela Gascon
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Colomé Malbec Estatetext
90PTS

Colomé Malbec Estate 2017

Salta, North, ArgentinaColomé claims to have the highest elevation vineyards in the world at their site in the Upper Calchaquí Valley of Salta. This estate malbec draws from vineyards ranging in elevation from 2,300 to 3,111 metres, before being aged in French oak barriques for 15 months. It shows blueberry compote and jammy blackberry alongside a good dose of new oak. There may be no shortage of ripeness, and the 14.9% abv backs that up, but it’s not over the top and the wine manages to retain an impressive freshness with savoury graphite and gravel notes in the background. The oak also really works with the fruit, and is clearly of high quality. It’s medium-bodied on the palate, not quite as full as the nose would indicate, with beautifully refined tannins. I’d just like to see a bit more length and concentration to take this to the next level.Prices: BC 39.99 Producer: Grupo Colomé
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05 March 2020

Falanghina del Sannio Feudi di San Gregoriotext
89PTS

Falanghina del Sannio Feudi di San Gregorio 2016

Campania, ItalyThis falanghina grows in Campania's volcanic, sandstone, and marl hills of Sorbo Serpico, not far from Mount Vesuvius. This was fermented and aged in stainless, where it remained on lees for 5 months. Deep yellow in hue, this leads with meadow grass, Bosc pear, subtle honeysuckle, bitter lemon, on an expansive, wider palate, moderate in acidity, but with ample buzzy minerality laced throughout, and hovering on the lengthy finish. Works well with heavier white fish / shellfish or white pasta dishes.Prices: BC 27.99 Producer: Feudi Di San Gregorio
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Umani Ronchi Vellodoro Pecorinotext
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Umani Ronchi Vellodoro Pecorino 2018

Abruzzo, ItalyYou may know of Pecorino only as the piquant sheep milk cheese of Italy's Abruzzo region. The grape is also known as 'the grape of the sheep', reflective of the strong sheep presence in this area. Pecorino (the grape) had all but disappeared due to its low yields, but a few wineries, Umani Ronchi included, saw the unique qualities and potential in this historic grape and put resources into finding and replanting the variety. Umani Ronchi's Pecorino Project started in 2005, with the aim of removing Adriatic native varieties, like this one. These grapes come from Roseto degli Abruzzi, overlooking the Grand Sasso mountain, in the northern part of Chieti, and from deep clay / sandy soils. Fermented and aged on lees for a short time in stainless, this is ample with pine nuts, meyer lemon, wild melon, hints of bergamot, on a snappy, oily palate. Though the grape's inherent acidity is on the low end, this still feels fresh to the distinctly marine finish. A lovely representation of the grape and region.Prices: BC 24.00 Producer: Umani Ronchi
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La Tour Gallus Fleur de Gabbro Muscadet Sevre et Maine Sur Lietext
89PTS

La Tour Gallus Fleur de Gabbro Muscadet Sevre et Maine Sur Lie 2015

Muscadet, Pays Nantais, Loire, FranceLa Tour Gallus was established in Gorges in 1680. Today, there is a 16ha vineyard of melon de bourgogne, shaped by the Atlantic marine breezes, and grown on the magmatic rock called gabbro. The grapes for Fleur de Gabbro were planted in 1959 and 1968, were native fermented, and then aged in glass-lined containers on lees. Characteristically tightly strung, with that welcome layer of lees to counter the slender palate to the snappy finish. Ample minerality rings throughout, with green apple, lemon peel, green melon over river stones. Super saline on the finish, alongside a refreshing 12 degrees, makes this easily drinkable.Prices: BC 24.00 Producer: Damien Rineau
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Kutatás Blanc de Noirtext
85PTS

Kutatás Blanc de Noir 2017

Saanich Peninsula, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, CanadaKutatás Wines is a tiny boutique winery based on Salt Spring Island, at the former Mistaken Identity Winery home. Kutatás is the Hungarian term for research, inquisition, exploration, or quest. Mira Tusz and Daniel Dragert were the previous winemakers at Averill Creek Vineyard, and lease/farm fruit for this from a sustainably managed clay soiled vineyard in North Saanich, planted in 2003. This white pinot noir had negligible skin contact before a native ferment in barrel, followed by ten months rest on its lees. The lees are upfront and present, along with a distinct cherry yogurt, stewed rhubarb note that dominates the lactic palate, finishing briefly and dry. Good intent, but the result needs some more tweaking. Happy to see Wine Islands Next Gen experimenting like this.Prices: BC 18.75 Producer: Kutatás
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Kutatás Ortegatext
87PTS

Kutatás Ortega 2017

Saanich Peninsula, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, CanadaKutatás Wines is a tiny boutique winery based on Salt Spring Island, at the former Mistaken Identity Winery home. Kutatas is the Hungarian term for research, inquisition, exploration, or quest. Mira Tusz and Daniel Dragert were the previous winemakers at Averill Creek Vineyard, and lease / farm fruit for this from a sustainably managed clay soiled vineyard in North Saanich, planted in 2003. The wine is carbonic macerated, and native fermented (1/3 in neutral oak) before it remains on lees for 8 months in wood. Crab apple, sour lemon on a lean, lightly oily palate, sided with subtle blond wood, scented with slight florals, and finishing bright and snappy. One of the Wine Islands Next Gen to watch.Prices: BC 18.75 Producer: Kutatás
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Terra de Asorei Nai E Señora Albariñotext
90PTS

Terra de Asorei Nai E Señora Albariño 2019

Val do Salnés, Rías Baixas, Galicia, SpainNai E Señora is a tribute to Galician women, as imaged by the silhouette gracing the front label. Nai translates to mother, in Galician. From clay and pink granite, this albariño spent 30 days macerating in stainless before ferment and a brief stint on lees. Expressive aromas of grapefruit and pink florals lead to a tight and electric palate, plumped with white peach, and finishing with a moreish river rock stoniness. Lovely view of albariño.Prices: ON 18.95 Producer: Terra de Asorei
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Azores Wine Co. Arinto dos Açorestext
93PTS

Azores Wine Co. Arinto dos Açores 2018

PortugalArinto dos Açores is a unique grape native to the Azores, unrelated to mainland Portugal's Arinto. These vines are planted in the rock cracks at the foothills of the volcanic mountain, almost touching the ocean. The vineyards are protected from the strong salty marine breezes by rock walls known as currais. Tight and crunchy with green apple, lemon pith, green hedge on a vibrant, mouthwatering palate, this rings of marine minerality, with the salinity lingering far after the last sip. Unique and characterful beauty.Prices: ON 49.95 BC 46.00 Producer: Azores Wine Co.
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Nicolas Mariotti Bindi Cantina di Torra Blanctext
91PTS

Nicolas Mariotti Bindi Cantina di Torra Blanc 2018

Corsica, South of France, FranceFrom Bindi's home estate in Patrimonio, and the Carcu collection of parcels, these north facing organically farmed vermentino vines are on clay and limestone soils. This spent a few hours on the skins and before a native ferment in stainless. Clean, very marine, lively, and savoury, with melon, green and yellow apple, verbena, and seashells, finishing with a long, smoked stone finish. If you've eschewed vermentino for being too meh in the past, you need to taste this.Prices: ON 33.95 Producer: Nicolas Mariotti Bindi
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04 March 2020

Synchromesh Ancestral Method Rieslingtext
88PTS

Synchromesh Ancestral Method Riesling 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis is bottle 067 of Synchromesh Wines' inagural Ancestral Method release. I've tasted trials such as this up at the winery in the past; only a handful bottles were produced, all distributed to family, friends, trade, and wine club members. Alan's real pet nat program began in 2019, so keep an eye for that larger release. Never one to be afraid of sugar, or acid, this works to balance out both very well, much like his signature still rieslings. This was trialled with additional aging on lees at 26 months, and this bottle was disgorged in March 2019. Sugared pear, green apple, lime rind on a very sweet palate, quickly clasped off at the finish with a riff of spicing. A fun breakfast / brunch wine for your belgian waffles or strawberry shortcake perhaps? A project to watch.Prices: Producer: Synchromesh Wines Inc.
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Bella Wines Reserve Brut Nature Oliver Eastside Chardonnaytext
92PTS

Bella Wines Reserve Brut Nature Oliver Eastside Chardonnay 2012

Oliver, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaI have tasted this wine at least four times, each with different disgorgement lots (thus ever-extended time on lees). NOW with 78 months on lees, only 120 bottles were released. Singularly sourced from Oliver's calcium carbonate-laced Cerqueira Vineyard, this chardonnay was bottled with no dosage, and sulphured only after the first ferment. Deep dough, patisserie, and lees are woven with vanilla-scented meringue and chiselled with lemon pith. There's a lovely potent stream of chalky minerality that runs through the length, holding this taught and vibrant. So well integrated; serious result.Prices: BC 55.00 Producer: Bella Wines
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Bella Wines Reserve Brut Nature Oliver Eastside Chardonnaytext
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Bella Wines Reserve Brut Nature Oliver Eastside Chardonnay 2014

Oliver, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaFrom Bella's black label series, indicating serious ageing has occurred to this traditional method fizz. Serious for sure, with 54 months on lees in this release, disgorged June 2019. 482 bottles. From the limestone laced soils of Oliver's Cerqueira Vineyard, this streams rivulet of lees alongside a tight yellow and green apple note, with tight mineral stoniness throughout to a marzipan-sealed finish. Characterful and enveloping.Prices: BC 55.00 Producer: Bella Wines
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Blue Mountain Brut Rosé R.D. Méthode Traditionelletext
90PTS

Blue Mountain Brut Rosé R.D. Méthode Traditionelle 2015

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe 2015 RD Rosé blends 60% pinot noir and 40% chardonnay, aged on lees for 30 months before being disgorged in fall 2018 and released over a year later. Brisk and youthful with crunchy red apple, cherry, orange and orange pith, this is padded with a comfortable lees layer, and (too) ample 10 g/l dosage. Still, the acidity manages to keep pace, bringing this a welcome snappy finish. Drinking now.Prices: BC 39.90 AB 39.95 Producer: Blue Mountain Vineyard & Cellars
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Blue Mountain Brut Rosé R.D. Méthode Traditionelletext
89PTS

Blue Mountain Brut Rosé R.D. Méthode Traditionelle 2014

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaBaked red apple, cherry, pink florals flood a plump palate, with a gentle oxidative note threading throughout the wine. Though the acidity is typically OK Falls bright and lively, it loses out to the 10g/l dosage here, leaving this a bit too friendly, and less serious, than hoped. Drinking lovely now.Prices: BC 32.90 AB 39.95 Producer: Blue Mountain Vineyard & Cellars
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Blue Mountain Reserve Brut R.D. Méthode Traditionelletext
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Blue Mountain Reserve Brut R.D. Méthode Traditionelle 2011

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis 55/45 chardonnay/pinot noir spent 6.5 years on its lees, and was disgorged August 2018. Lovely red fruit and red florals fill a generous palate, sharpened with lemon zest acidity, and finishing with a crisp, sharp, snappy freshness. A dart of oxidation comes in and out — ready for drinking now.Prices: BC 49.90 AB 49.95 Producer: Blue Mountain Vineyard & Cellars
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Blue Mountain Reserve Brut R.D. Méthode Traditionelletext
90PTS

Blue Mountain Reserve Brut R.D. Méthode Traditionelle 2010

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaEqual parts chardy and pinot noir, this spent 6.5 years on lees and was disgorged in August 2017. It rings with red apple, lemon, chalk, pith, orange peel, tangerine blossom, and a tight, skippy acidity. There's a lovely pad of lees to the core, which gently plumps out this wine — drinking well now.Prices: BC 39.90 AB 49.95 Producer: Blue Mountain Vineyard & Cellars
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Blue Mountain Blanc de Blancs R.D. Méthode Traditionelletext
92PTS

Blue Mountain Blanc de Blancs R.D. Méthode Traditionelle 2011

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis wine shows the progression and confidence of one of Canada's top sparkling wine producers. This BdB spent 6.5 years on lees, and was disgorged August 2018 with zero dosage. Reflective of the cooler 2011, this is tight, skippy and racy, with shimmering green apple, green apple, crystalline lemon, chalk, light anise to a lengthy finish. Very much alive.Prices: BC 49.90 AB 49.95 Producer: Blue Mountain Vineyard & Cellars
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Blue Mountain Blanc de Blancs R.D. Méthode Traditionelletext
92PTS

Blue Mountain Blanc de Blancs R.D. Méthode Traditionelle 2009

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaRetasted 3 years along, and this is as vibrant as ever, now with more bottle age to mellow out the form. This chardonnay spent 5.5 years on lees and was disgorged August 2016. Light toast, smoked stone, lemon, green apple, with a subtle hint of oxidative notes creeping in, wrapping around the ripe, meringue core, finishing with an alluring wash of mineral salts. Lovely completeness. One of Canada's top sparkling wines.Prices: BC 39.90 AB 49.95 Producer: Blue Mountain Vineyard & Cellars
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Meyer Family Vineyards Méthode Traditionnelle Blanc de Blanctext
87PTS

Meyer Family Vineyards Méthode Traditionnelle Blanc de Blanc 2014

Okanagan Falls, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis year's Blanc de Blanc (sp) is from the home estate McLean Creek Road Vineyard, and its steep gravelled sandy loams, was whole cluster pressed and fermented in stainless where it was kept for two years (!) with lees prior to being bottled for secondary fermentation in summer 2016. It remained on lees in bottle for 28 months prior to a spring 2019 disgorgement, with no dosage and bottling unfined and unfiltered. Our bottles were led with corn chips, battling it out with the pure lemon, sharp green apple underneath. There's a raw dough note lingering on the sharp finish. Quite disjointed at this time.Prices: BC 40.00 Producer: Meyer Family Vineyards
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Pet Matt Landruscotext
89PTS

Pet Matt Landrusco 2019

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaYour eyes aren't playing tricks on you. That is a sketch of 2019's Best Sommelier in BC (albeit with a far more biodynamically curled head of hair), Matt Landry. As part of Landry's honours, he was able to make a wine of his choosing through the OCP Wine Campus program, which launched in 2011. Landry, along with OCP winemaker Matt Dumayne, made this pet-nat from Oliver touriga nacional, fermented in concrete and disgorged late last December, with no dosage. 1000 bottles were made, available by allocation only, with proceeds going towards the Dr. Peter Aids Foundation. Pouring a inky lambrusco-esque hue, this had a 5 day cold soak, and was then pressed off and fermented like a white wine. As gutsy in the mouth as it is by hue, with muddled wild blackberry, dark plum, crushed stone, and black wine gums. There's a refreshing black liquorice salinity on the final that counters the blip of RS, and keeps me coming back, intrigued. This fun project will benefit from a brisk chill and a plate of cured meats.Prices: BC 39.90 Producer: Okanagan Crush Pad Winery
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Codorníu Clásico Bruttext
87PTS

Codorníu Clásico Brut NV

Sant Sadurní d'Anoia, Penedès, Catalunya (Catalonia Cataluña), SpainThis has a rather simple nose of lemon, mushroom, and white flowers with a subtle toasty autolytic character in the background. Medium-bodied, the mousse is fine and fairly creamy with the 11 g/L dosage leading to an off-dry finish against the moderate acidity. A fine, everyday sparkling wine at a fair price.Prices: BC 14.49 NF 15.99 PEI 15.19 ON 11.95 NB 15.99 MB 13.99 Producer: Codorníu
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Pierre Paillard Les Parcelles Bouzy Grand Cru Extra Brut XIVtext
93PTS

Pierre Paillard Les Parcelles Bouzy Grand Cru Extra Brut XIV NV

Champagne, FranceLike a lot of non vintage champagnes, this is based on a single vintage. In this case, the majority of the wine is comprised of base wine from 2013 (80 percent), with a dollop of wine from 2012 and reserve wine from 2004. From the more pinot noir-oriented village of Bouzy, this is 70 percent pinot noir and 30 percent chardonnay that’s been aged on lees for four years. The less is more winemaking gives you a transparent expression of Bouzy, with only a 3.5 g/L dosage. This has a complex, precise nose of red berry fruit, lemon yoghurt, hazelnut, brioche, and oyster shell. The mousse is quite fine and creamy, and the palate has the tension and mouth-filling minerality that you can only reliably find in Champagne. It’s an absolute bargain to find top-quality grower champagne at this price.Prices: BC 63.00 Producer: Champagne Pierre Paillard
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Nichol Vineyard Extra Brut Rosétext
89PTS

Nichol Vineyard Extra Brut Rosé 2018

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis no-compromise, zero dosage traditional method fizz blends pinot noir with a splash of meunier, sourced from the highest altitude plots of this Naramata Village property. Pouring a pale peach hue, this streams wild young raspberry, cranberry, spring rhubarb, sour cherry along a tautly strung palate, washed with bergamot tea and rinsed with mineral salts—no compromise, and thankfully so.Prices: BC 30.00 Producer: Nichol Vineyard
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Township 7 Polaris Seven Starstext
91PTS

Township 7 Polaris Seven Stars 2016

Oliver, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaPolaris is one of three traditional method sparkling wines under Township 7 winemaker Mary McDermott, ex of Ontario's Trius Winery. Polaris is the brightest star in the Ursa Minor constellation and is the centre of the new releases alongside Eclipse and Equinox. This blanc de blanc comes from Hidden Terrace vineyard in Oliver, as well as the winery's home vineyards in Naramata, and spent 18 months on lees before disgorgement with 8 g/l RS. Toast, crunchy red apple, lemon is livened with ample green apple acidity, easily matching the Brut dosage and lovely creamy, lees-lined mouthfeel. Quite punchy and forward, but in balance, and impressive for a new wine.Prices: BC 35.97 Producer: Township 7 Vineyards and Wineries
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Recaredo Terrers Brut Nature Corpinnattext
92PTS

Recaredo Terrers Brut Nature Corpinnat 2015

Catalunya (Catalonia Cataluña), SpainSearing acidity drives this biodynamic wine, sourced from estate vineyards in the calcareous soils of Alt Penedès' Bitlles Valley Highlands. You understand the soils at once, with the grip and freshness inherent in this striking fizz. I love the transparency in labelling here: this blend of Xarello, Macabeo, Parellada, and Monastrell aged 39 months under cork, was disgorged on May 30, 2019, and was hand disgorged without freezing the neck (due to aging under cork rather than crown cap) and with no dosage. Green apple, lemon pith, earthy yeast, broken stones is tight on the taut, humming palate, gripped with chalk on the sides, and finishing with a brisk astringency on the bone dry palate. Fantastic energy.Prices: ON 45.95 Producer: Recaredo
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Alta Alella Mirgin Rosado Reserva Brut Naturetext
90PTS

Alta Alella Mirgin Rosado Reserva Brut Nature 2016

Alella, Catalunya (Catalonia Cataluña), SpainAlta Alella is the closest winery to Barcelona, producing Mediterranean-influenced organic wines. Established in 1991 on the 19th century Can Genís estate, the family winery has always practiced certified organic farming techniques from the outset. This mataró rested on lees for 15-30 months, and was disgorged with no dosage in March 2019. Light cherry, raspberry is seasoned with toast and light spices to a bone dry finish. Lovely balance (seen less oft in rosados), and brill with or without food.Prices: ON 24.95 Producer: Alta Alella
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Alta Alella Mirgin Reserva Brut Nature Cavatext
89PTS

Alta Alella Mirgin Reserva Brut Nature Cava 2017

Alella, Catalunya (Catalonia Cataluña), SpainAlta Alella is the closest winery to Barcelona, producing Mediterranean-influenced organic wines. Established in 1991 on the 19th century Can Genís estate, the family winery has always practiced certified organic farming techniques from the outset. This blend of Pansa Blanca (Xarel.lo), Macabeu, Parellada was aged 15 months, with no dosage at bottling. Light toast, green and red apple, is brisk with a grippy acidity which carries this long to a sharp, saline finish. Very concentrated on the medium bodied palate. This bottle was disgorged August 2019.Prices: ON 24.95 Producer: Alta Alella
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Rigour and Whimsy Rousanne Marsanne Pet Nattext
87PTS

Rigour and Whimsy Rousanne Marsanne Pet Nat 2018

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis rousanne is splashed with 5% marsanne, all from the sustainably farmed Webster Vineyard, in Osoyoos. It was barrel fermented until 2.2 Brix and then went into a bottle where it remained eight months before release. Light and refreshing, as intended, with bitter melon, green and crab apple, sour ale, and ample prickling acidity. Rousanne is not showing its typical showy form here at all, most likely because of a very early pick. Chill thoroughly and pop the top for a little natural fizz fun.Prices: BC 35.00 Producer: Rigour & Whimsy
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Rama & Selas Baga Blanc De Noirtext
88PTS

Rama & Selas Baga Blanc De Noir 2015

Bairrada, Northern Portugal, PortugalThis traditional method fizz comes from Bairrada's limestone-laced soils, and is entirely baga, a key local grape. You can easily feel the limestone buzz underneath a peculiar mix of rosemary, wild mint, yellow plum, and broken stones, with a slight kiss of wild flowers on the chalky finish. Brisk and bone dry, this makes for a memorable starter wine. Disgorged July 2018.Prices: BC 27.00 Producer: Manuel Dos Santos Campolargo
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02 March 2020

Domaine des Ronces Floraletext
90PTS

Domaine des Ronces Florale 2015

Côtes du Jura, Jura, FranceGeorges Mazier founded Domaine des Ronces in Jura's Sud Revermont, AC Côtes du Jura, in 1950. It passed to his son Michel in 1996, who converted the estate to organic (certified 2013) and biodynamic (Demeter certified 2016), the latter when his son Kevin took control of the 6 ha property. Florale is old vine chardonnay, from the first chardonnay vines planted on the property, now gnarled old bushes, on marl soils. It was native-fermented in stainless, where it rests for one year before bottling with minimal sulphur. This is made in the ouillé (filled up) style, with limited oxygen contact. Broken stone, light white smoke, earthy lees are countered with green apple, hints of elderflower and meadow grass, on a medium-bodied palate based on buttery brioche, and trailing off with a kiss of vanilla. Lovely balance; quite elegant. It is a stonking gateway Jura, accessible yet ringing with typicity of the south, and a glimpse of what's to come when you crank the Jura chardy volume.Prices: BC 38.00 Producer: Domaine des Ronces
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Domaine Rolet L'étoile Chardonnaytext
91PTS

Domaine Rolet L'étoile Chardonnay 2017

Jura, FranceThe Rolet estate was created by Mr. Désiré Rolet in 1942, with just 4 hectares, and was taken over by his children, Eliane, Bernard, Guy and Pierre in 1958. They grew and ran the estate to be the second largest in the Jura until 2018 when they took retirement and sold to the Devillard family, well known for their Bourgogne estates. It is fermented in barrique, where it ages for a year before bottling. Youthful, forward and present now, with lovely citrus dressed lees, tight pear, lemon, and green apple, with light hazelnut, and river stones bedding the plump core. There's an earthiness that runs through this, holding it interesting. An estate in flux, and one to watch.Prices: BC 38.00 Producer: Domaine Rolet Père & Fils
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Domaine Labet Chardonnay la Reinetext
94PTS

Domaine Labet Chardonnay la Reine 2016

Jura, FranceThe Labet family of Rotalier in the area south of Lons-le-Saunier, known as the Sud Revermont, have been making thoughtful wines for generations, but it was Alain Labet that elevated the estate to an icon of low-intervention and organic practices, and one that followed the Bourgogne tradition of topping up barrels. His eldest son, Julien, continued and expanded on the minimal intervention track, certifying the old-vine vineyards to organics (2010), and incorporating animals into their vineyard management program. Along with his siblings Charline (a trained oenologist), and Romain (a viticulturist), Julien is directing the next-gen of Labet wines. La Reine is 1947-planted old massale selected vines at 260m altitude, sloping north, and rooted deep into calcareous clay red soils. After a native ferment in barrique, this aged for 18 months in the same, with light battonage. This powerful wine is complete, with waves of gentle reduction, and pillows of downy lees interwoven with giant flake salts, green apple edginess, lemon pith, and ample riveting acidity balancing off its prominent structure, finishing with a saline rinse. Greyhound sleek and inherently memorable, this is drinking beautifully now, and will cellar. Wow.Prices: Producer: Domaine Labet
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Domaine Labet la Bardettetext
95PTS

Domaine Labet la Bardette 2016

Côtes du Jura, Jura, FranceThe Labet family of Rotalier in the area south of Lons-le-Saunier, known as the Sud Revermont, has been making thoughtful wines for generations but it was Alain Labet that elevated the estate to an icon of low-intervention and organic practices, and one that followed the Bourgogne tradition of topping up barrels. His eldest son, Julien, continued and expanded on the minimal intervention track, certifying the old-vine vineyards to organics (2010), and incorporating animals into their vineyard management program. Along with his siblings Charline (a trained oenologist), and Romain (a viticulturist), Julien is directing the next-gen of Labet wines. This beauty chardonnay from the prized limestone-laced, clay-clad La Bardette vineyard needs time to open and reveal itself. After pressing with stems and setting the juice, this native fermented in older wood for ten months with full MLF, before remaining in the vessels for 18 months on lees with light battonage. It was bottled without racking, fining, or filtration. Potent and upfront reduction lures on the nose of this wine, positively vibrating with electricity. Wild herbs, meadow grasses, flake salts, lemon pith, fill a palate chiselled with firm acidity. Serious, youthful, and intellectually and instinctively moreish, this still-young wine appears closed at first opening. Do as we did, and taste over a few hours, to allow the wine to show itself. A real stunner, and one I wish I had in my cellar.Prices: Producer: Domaine Labet
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Domaine de la Touraize Chardonnay Ammonitestext
91PTS

Domaine de la Touraize Chardonnay Ammonites 2016

Arbois, Jura, FranceAndré-Jean & Héléana Morin are 8th generation vignerons, now farming their 12 hectares of organic certified estate vineyards in Arbois. They left the local co-op in 2008, built their own winery in 2011, and will achieve Demeter biodynamic certification in 2020. This chardy is rooted on southwest facing gravely blue marls, at 350m, and from vines 30-50 years old from lieux-dit Curoulet, and la Platière. After a native ferment, this rested 2 years in foudre, with no battonage. Beauty reductive licks lure into this round, downy palate, with wild meadow grasses, lees, and river stones to bed. Lemon verbena, lemon pith and flake salts season the top half. This grows with time in the glass, finishing with a chalky grip. Mellow, serious.Prices: Producer: Domaine de la Touraize
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Domaine de la Touraize Chardonnay Arcestext
90PTS

Domaine de la Touraize Chardonnay Arces 2017

Arbois, Jura, FranceAndré-Jean & Héléana Morin are 8th generation vignerons, now farming their 12 hectares of organically certified estate vineyards in Arbois. They left the local co-op in 2008, built their winery in 2011, and will achieve Demeter biodynamic certification in 2020. Arces is made from 40-year-old chardonnay on calcareous marls, at 350m. After a native fermentation, this aged 18 months in foudre before bottling without filtration. Lovely completeness, with a salted lemon rind, anise, leading into wild herbs, and a pillow of soft lees, with kisses of dark caramel, and layers of stony minerality woven throughout the more delicate palate. 4000 bottles.Prices: ON 37.95 Producer: Domaine de la Touraize
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