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Anthony Gismondi on Wine
Tasting Notes

Tastings: April 2020

30 April 2020

Martin's Lane Fritzi’s Vineyard Pinot Noirtext
94PTS

Martin's Lane Fritzi’s Vineyard Pinot Noir 2015

West Kelowna, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaFritzi's Vineyard is a compact, single site that sits at the base of Mt. Boucherie, a former stratovolcano or conical volcano created 60 million years ago. It sits 417 metres above the nearby lake, although it's estimated to have been 2,000 metres or more back in the day. The vineyard faces south-east, giving it a warm nature, and it is named after owner Anthony von Mandl's mother. The vines are clone 115, and the site produces ripely sweet dark berry fruit with polished tannins. What's interesting about this wine is the floral, stony aspects that refresh the finish and help to keep all the brooding power in check. No rush to drink this one; it will only get better with additional bottle age.Prices: BC 150.00 Producer: Martin's Lane Winery
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Martin's Lane Naramata Ranch Vineyard Pinot Noirtext
93PTS

Martin's Lane Naramata Ranch Vineyard Pinot Noir 2015

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThese are still early days for this label, but Naramata Ranch, first planted in 2008 with several blocks added at different elevations and expositions, has become a wonderland of mesoclimates for pinot noir. Picked on the last couple of days in September, it is another solid effort from a hot year. Bigger and more luxurious than most labels, it has the depth and layering New World pinot fans will love. The aromas are ripe and earthy with delicious black cherries and savoury licorice mixed with smoke and spice. In the end, it is the complexity and elegance of this big wine that attracts. The wine is made with equal parts of clones Pommard, 943, and 667, spending seventeen months in extra tight grain French oak.Prices: BC 100.00 Producer: Martin's Lane Winery
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Martin's Lane Simes Vineyard Pinot Noirtext
91PTS

Martin's Lane Simes Vineyard Pinot Noir 2015

East Kelowna, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaSimes is a cooler, steep, north-facing vineyard in East Kelowna, with granite-based soils. The northern aspect is rare, giving this already cold site additional freshness, something vital in the warm 2015 vintage. Six distinct parcels are the source of this pinot noir, along with five clones: 943, 667, 777, 114, 115. After a native fermentation, they are all aged in extra tight grain French oak for 17 months. It is year two for the label, and the style, given the heat, is more forward, with the rich, plummy cola fruit and brown spice reminding me a bit of California Sonoma Coast. A ready-to-drink hedonistic affair.Prices: BC 100.00 Producer: Martin's Lane 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, CanadaUnder winemaker Shane Munn, this tiny perfect winery is easily one of the most exceptional pinot noir facilities built anywhere in the wine world. They are 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, cofermented in concrete with up to 45 percent whole bunches. Gentle, gentle is the mantra, and the results are amazing. A second look six months down the line and not much has changed. It remains a mix of sweet black cherry, earthy pinot fruit that spills across the palate with precision and polish, finishing with spice and silky textures. 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. It is hard to guess it spent 17 months in tight grain French oak, as the tannins are but a tug and should be all but vanished by the fall of 2020.Prices: BC 100.00 Producer: Martin's Lane Winery
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Martin's Lane Fritzi’s Vineyard Rieslingtext
92PTS

Martin's Lane Fritzi’s Vineyard Riesling 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaFritzi's vineyard is a tiny single vineyard at the base of Mt. Boucherie, a dormant volcano, in West Kelowna. It is an individual, warm, south-eastern facing parcel named after owner Anthony von Mandl's 101-year-old mother. Both pinot noir and riesling are grown on the site. The Fritzi riesling style is fuller and marginally rounder. There is plenty of power, and its bright mango and guava flavours finish extra long. The 21B clone vines are closing in on 25 years. Winemaker Shane Munn hand sorts the riesling and doesn't crush all the berries before they go to press with no sulphur. There is a 30-hour cold soak with stems before a spontaneous ferment that runs 7 to 14 days in ceramic, German oak stück, and stainless steel. It then spends seven months on lees. A terrific food wine.Prices: BC 65.00 Producer: Martin's Lane Winery
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Martin's Lane Naramata Ranch Vineyard Rieslingtext
93PTS

Martin's Lane Naramata Ranch Vineyard Riesling 2016

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaNaramata Ranch is a choice location; the topology and geology are a winemaker's dream. The site spans several elevations where the soils, or perhaps better-described rocks, are a mix of red granite on the surface over granite bedrock with no grass or cover crop. Add in the morning sun and old vines that are own-rooted, and you get why this wine breathes complexity. The style is electric, and the fruit ultra bright. In 2016, it's juicy, inviting and delicious, with a strong floral undercurrent supporting the intense citrus and lemon-lime notes. The ferment and ageing are done in German oak stücks. The wine is site-driven, and the grapes make the most of a perfect latitude: 49.67 north, where they gather sunshine in the daytime and retain acidity through the cool nights. Naramata Ranch sits at the very northern end of the Naramata Bench before it runs up against the mountains on the way to Chute Lake. Winemaker Shane Munn hails from New Zealand and has extensive winemaking experience, including stints in Burgundy, Barolo, and North America. He takes a micro view of the vineyard working with individual blocks or rows of vines and employing only gravity to move the juice. In general, the riesling is hand sorted, and not all the berries are crushed before they go to the press, with no sulphur.Prices: BC 55.00 Producer: Martin's Lane Winery
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Martin's Lane Simes Vineyard Rieslingtext
91PTS

Martin's Lane Simes Vineyard Riesling 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaSimes Vineyard is a steep, north-facing site in East Kelowna with granite-based soils planted to pinot noir and a small amount of riesling. In 2016, the riesling was, as usual, the last to be picked, between October 4-12. The site is cool and soils marginal, precisely what you might demand to make a high-quality organic riesling. This is the Alsatian clone 49, rich in aromatics, freshness, and bright acidity, and the result is impressive. Bright lemon-lime fruit, rich in minerality, is dusted with a light covering of wild Okanagan sagebrush. The style is less extreme with more texture and less aggressive acidity, which adds to its likeability. An approachable food-friendly riesling you can drink now. Winemaker Shane Munn hails from New Zealand and has extensive winemaking experience, including stints in Burgundy, Barolo, and North America. He takes a micro view of the vineyard, working single blocks or rows of vines, and employing only gravity to move his wine five times through the six-level winery (a facility that tellingly does not contain a pump). In general, the riesling is hand sorted, and they do not crush all the berries before they go to press with no sulphur. The juice is settled and stirred, and the ferment runs 7 to 14 days at 16 to 18C before ageing on lees for seven months in 20 percent neutral French oak for richness and texture.Prices: BC 45.00 Producer: Martin's Lane Winery
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29 April 2020

Ochota Barrels The Mark of Cain Pinot Meuniertext
91PTS

Ochota Barrels The Mark of Cain Pinot Meunier 2019

Piccadilly Valley, Adelaide Hills, Mount Lofty Ranges, Adelaide, South Australia, AustraliaThis small batch pinot meunier, planted in 1985 in Piccadilly Valley, was named after the punk band Taras Ochota once toured with. I always seek out Taras' wines, and single variety pinot meunier, so this wine, a relatively new one to his lineup, is a joy indeed. 2019 doesn't disappoint, long, lithe, and subtle, with wild raspberry, strawberry, rhubarb, and rosehips running the slender form to a lightly spiced, finely mineral salted finish. Tannins are modest, but enough to hug the juicy, softer palate to a red liquorice finish. Best with a slight chill.Prices: BC 50.00 Producer: Ochota Barrels
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Luke Lambert Yarra Valley Nebbiolotext
92PTS

Luke Lambert Yarra Valley Nebbiolo 2017

Yarra Valley, Victoria, AustraliaThe glinting orange hints at nebbiolo, though you'd be hard pressed to peg this as Yarra Valley, unless you're really one in the know. Luke Lambert is legend in the Yarra for his low-intervention, cool-climate wines like this. From the granitic and rocky Denton Vineyard, this was native fermented on skins for 20 days before pressing and maturation in 2000L Slavonian and French foudre, where it remained until bottling without fining or filtration. Lambert has tamed nebbiolo's leonine tannins here, getting them to lightly hug the worn cherry, supple leather, rose petals, sweet savoury salami that fills the core, moving into subtle bergamot on the finish. Acidity is nonchalantly en pointe. An iconic Aussie wine, and nebbiolo, for a good reason.Prices: BC 70.00 Producer: Luke Lambert
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Azores Wine Company a Proibidatext
86PTS

Azores Wine Company a Proibida 2017

PortugalThe proibida (prohibition) of this wine necessitating the red line crossing out words here because this is an old vine/vineyard blend of Isabella, a hybrid grape that is not allowed for quality wine in the EU, and certainly looked down upon in the Azores and Portugal. However, winemaker Antonio Macanita wanted to pay tribute to these old isabella vines, once in abundance and with 200 years history on this volcanic island, before phylloxera ravaged through. This was fermented and aged for a short time in stainless. It certainly carries the foxy hybrid hallmark, poking up through candle wax, crimson cherry, candied florals and a potpourri note that appears throughout. Tannins are lightly sticky, and the finish lightly sweetish. An interesting tasting and historical exercise, best taken with a brisk chill.Prices: BC 30.00 ON 37.00 Producer: Azores Wine Co.
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Wilson Foreigner Zinfandeltext
90PTS

Wilson Foreigner Zinfandel 2018

Central Coast, California, United StatesFrom a historic Contra Costa County vineyard, owned and managed by the past 4 generations of the Del Barba family. These old-rooted vines were planted in 1910 in granitic soils. 15% of fruit was whole cluster, and all went into concrete for a native ferment, finishing off in neutral French oak barrels. It remained here until bottling, without fining or filtration, and just a small amount of sulphur. Super floral with plush violets, blueberry jam, baked plum, on a soft, juicy, yet sophisticated palate, framed with fine, long and firm tannins. The old vines speak for themselves, and though this is a mind-bending 15.7 degrees, feels much fresher, lighter, and prettier.Prices: BC 70.00 Producer: Wilson Foreigner
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Castello di Roncade Raboso dell' Arnasatext
88PTS

Castello di Roncade Raboso dell' Arnasa 2016

Marche, ItalyThe estate was founded in 1508, and the current family has owned the historic property since the early 1900’s. The entire estate is farmed organically. This single vineyard raboso, a grape native to the area, spent 36 months in a mix of small and large format oak. True to raboso form, this is a deep hued wine, with raging grippy tannins framing earthy forest berries, mulled blackberries, black cherries, and cracked peppercorns. Best partnered with an equally rustic stew or grilled sausages.Prices: BC 50.00 Producer: Castello di Roncade
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Domaine Rolet Trousseautext
91PTS

Domaine Rolet Trousseau 2015

Arbois, Jura, FranceTrousseau vines were planted in Montigny-les-Arsures, on hillsides on the localities of Chagnon and L'Euvrin, as well as Arbois' Montesserin. The marl and clay soils are ideal for the trousseau, as proven by this wine. After destemming and a few days' maceration, it was fermented in stainless for three weeks and then aged for 15 months in foudre. The careful farming and winemaking mitigates the hot 2015 vintage and allows trousseau's charm to win out. Salted plum, blueberry, summer strawberry and wild cherry stream through the medium-bodied palate, surprisingly juicy, silken sided, and sophisticated. The finish licks licorice, lipstick, and mineral salts, and at a subtle 13 degrees, encourages another glass.Prices: BC 35.00 ON 29.95 Producer: Domaine Rolet Père & Fils
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Domaine Rolet Trousseautext
90PTS

Domaine Rolet Trousseau 2014

Arbois, Jura, FranceThese trousseau vines were planted in Montigny-les-Arsures, on hillsides on the localities of Chagnon and L'Euvrin, as well as Arbois' Montesserin. The marl and clay soils are are ideal for trousseau, as proven by this wine. After destemming and a few days' maceration, this was fermented in stainless for 3 weeks, and then aged for 15 months in foudre. Pouring a light autumnal hue reflective of its age, this trousseau, from 30 year old vines, streams salted cherry, rhubarb, tobacco, dried thyme, and mineral salts along a gentle, lighter palate. Tannins are slightly sticky, hugging the maturing fruit to a lifted finish. Drinking beautifully now, and a lovely opportunity to taste trousseau with some age.Prices: BC 35.00 ON 29.95 Producer: Domaine Rolet Père & Fils
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28 April 2020

Hester Creek Block 2 Reserve Merlottext
86PTS

Hester Creek Block 2 Reserve Merlot 2017

Golden Mile Bench, Oliver, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaPerfumed ripe black fruits are thick on the palate, framed by smoke, and ringing with musk spice. Tannins are chewy and dense, pulling this heavyweight to a warming finish. This comes from some of their oldest Golden Mile estate vines, though sadly the heavy handed winemaking is what we taste in the glass.Prices: BC 28.95 Producer: Hester Creek Estate Winery
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Mission Hill Reserve Merlottext
88PTS

Mission Hill Reserve Merlot 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThick, dark, and wooded, you can chew through this full-bodied merlot. Smoked cedar, sunripened cherry, and potent cassis rule the near 15% palate, with plushed, chewy tannins housing this to a warming finish. From estate vineyards in Oliver and Osoyoos, this was matured 15 months in French and American oak. It's a powerhouse now, and if that's what you're after, crack and enjoy.Prices: BC 26.99 SK 25.00 ON 26.00 Producer: Mission Hill Family Estate
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Privato Woodward Collection Merlottext
87PTS

Privato Woodward Collection Merlot 2017

British Columbia, CanadaThis single-vineyard merlot comes off the Black Sage Hills in Oliver. Post ferment, it is aged 18 months in French oak, followed by an additional 12 months in the bottle. The style is rich and packed full of sweet ripe black fruits with menthol, coffee, and a savoury undercurrent. Rustic and warm, it persists through a long spicy aftertaste. It is more old-style in weight and power, but it will have its fans. Grilled lamb chops and / or roasted root vegetables would be the perfect match, and it would help tame some of the wild notes.Prices: BC 37.99 Producer: Woodward Vineyard
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Mission Hill Terroir Collection Organic Merlot Reed Creektext
89PTS

Mission Hill Terroir Collection Organic Merlot Reed Creek 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaOliver's Reed Creek Vineyard, formerly a fruit orchard, has been farmed organically for more than 40 years. This merlot is growing on a rocky alluvial fan around 350-380m, and planted with clones 181 and 347. It spent 18 months in French oak, 20% new. It feels every part of the oak through thick and potent blue and black fruit, big cedar spices, and a plush, plump body. Tannins are wood hewn and ample, though well enveloped in the rich fruit, even at this youthful state, just showing ragged on the warming finish. Best with a decant, and grilled steak or hearty portobello mushroom.Prices: BC 50.00 Producer: Mission Hill Family Estate
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Corcelettes Merlottext
90PTS

Corcelettes Merlot 2017

Similkameen Valley, British Columbia, CanadaCorcelettes Estate Vineyard contains three separate blocks of merlot, and all are pushed up against the Black Rock Mountain wall that lines the northern edge of the property. The vines are rare, all self-rooted in the Similkameen Stemwinder soils. Two different clones, 181 and 184, add to the wine's complexity. The attack is lively with a mix of black and blue fruits, fragrant tobacco, and a stony mineral dusty undercurrent. The tannins are relatively soft for such a young age, but this wine with its spicy, savoury finish will live in the bottle for more than a decade. Post-ferment the wine is aged in a series of French and American oak barrels and French oak vats (1000L in size) for 18 months, with 25 percent new wood.Prices: BC 23.99 Producer: Corcelettes Estate Winery
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Mission Hill Terroir Collection Organic Merlot Reed Creektext
89PTS

Mission Hill Terroir Collection Organic Merlot Reed Creek 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaReed Creek Vineyard has been farmed organically for more than 40 years, basking in the morning sun before resting in the early afternoon shade. The wines spend 18 months in French oak (20 percent new) before bottling. It is a busy, rich, full-bodied edition that is a touch on the wild side with cedary spices running through the black and red fruit. It is super youthful and tight at this point and will need five years to settle in and show its final face. For now, I suggest decanting 40-60 minutes and serving with roasted or grilled meats, or a mushroom risotto.Prices: BC 50.00 Producer: Mission Hill Family Estate
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Mission Hill Reserve Merlottext
88PTS

Mission Hill Reserve Merlot 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada2017 began late, wet, and cool, but after 66 days, including a record-breaking dry spell followed in July and August, it came to an end October 30, yielding a crop of ripe fruit. The fruit comes off two southern estates, one in Osoyoos (54 percent), and one in Oliver (46 percent). The style is rich, round, and spicy, presenting as mostly ready-to-drink, although there are some tannins yet to disperse. The fruit is expressive with rich wild blackberry, plums, and toasty vanilla. A friendly merlot with a touch of complexity, try this with grilled poultry or meats. It's entirely merlot this year, but I miss the recent introduction of cabernet franc in 2016.Prices: BC 26.99 SK 25.00 ON 26.00 Producer: Mission Hill Family Estate
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Hillside Merlot Hidden Valley Vineyardtext
89PTS

Hillside Merlot Hidden Valley Vineyard 2014

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe Hidden Valley Vineyard is tucked away up behind the south side of Hillside Winery. The bowl-shaped site is a south west facing suncatcher, although at 13 percent, it is far from a heat bomb on the palate. The attack is spicy and savoury with herbaceous undertones and vibrant red and black raspberry with clove and licorice. The style is more Euro than New World, with a lean, higher acid, structure and length versus sweet fat fruit. It needs more time in the bottle to reach its peak.Prices: BC 40.00 Producer: Hillside Winery
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Hillside Merlot Dickinson Vineyardtext
90PTS

Hillside Merlot Dickinson Vineyard 2015

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaDickinson Vineyard is one part of a trio of Hillside single-vineyard merlot. The nine-year-old site sits above the road en route to the town of Naramata. It is always the warmer and more luxurious style of the three merlots, and that is doubly true in the super hot 2015 vintage. Look for round, intense black cherries, fragrant tobacco, dark chocolate, brown spice, and rich, dense sweet tannins. Still youthful, but would be well served alongside a grilled steak. It will be drinking first amongst the Merlot trio this year and beyond.Prices: BC 30.00 Producer: Hillside Winery
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Hillside Merlot Gjoa Vineyardtext
90PTS

Hillside Merlot Gjoa Vineyard 2013

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe hand-harvested and sorted fruit comes off Gjoa's vineyard, just below Hidden Valley vineyard across the main Naramata road. The vines are just under 20 years old, and after a warm summer, the crop was able to hang until October 31 to gain maximum ripeness. Winemaking is simple: there is an eight-day cold soak followed by an extended 22 days on skins before malolactic fermentation in barrel (33 percent new French oak), and ageing for 16 months. At 13.8 percent alcohol, this classic Naramata mid-valley fruit is fresh and alive with plum and black cherry streaked with savoury and very spicy coffee/mocha notes. It's on the leaner side, suggesting in it will age with grace and grow in the bottle. Tannins are still grippy but should subside through 2022-23 as it hits the decade mark.Prices: BC 40.00 Producer: Hillside Winery
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27 April 2020

Domaine de Pallus Les Pensées de Pallus Cabernet Franctext
91PTS

Domaine de Pallus Les Pensées de Pallus Cabernet Franc 2015

Chinon, Touraine, Loire, FranceLes Pensées de Pallus comes from vineyards over 35 years old, specifically from six parcels mid-slope that sit over sand, ironstone, and sandstone. The yields are meagre at 28 hectolitres per hectare, resulting in intense, pure cabernet franc. The wine spends 12 days on ts skins before 20 days in cement vats, and a year in used Burgundy barrels prior to 36 months in bottle. It's big wine but it comes with a lot of finesse. Cassis and stony menthol notes mingle with coffee and dried herbs in the back end. There’s a harmony that is a rare to find in most cabernet francs. A grilled T-Bone would be an excellent match. Domaine de Pallus is a Loire Valley winery founded in 1889 and one owned by the same family for more than 130 years. It is currently run by Bertrand Sourdais, who returned to his native Chinon after working a decade in the famed Spanish winery Dominio de Atuata in Riberio del Duero. He works his vineyards using biodynamic techniques.Prices: BC 45.99 Producer: Domaine de Pallus
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Dominio de Es Viñas Viejas de Soriatext
93PTS

Dominio de Es Viñas Viejas de Soria 2017

Ribera del Duero, Castilla-Leon, SpainThis wine is made from the oldest vineyards (100 years) of the Atauta Valley, at one thousand meters, an area Bertrand Sourdais worked in for years before returning to the Loire Valley. It is fair to say it’s where he found his purpose and energy to make wines of place. The farming is mostly natural, using the principles of biodynamic agriculture, and the blend is 96/4 tinto fino and albillo. The site is a mix of clay/limestone, sand/limestone, and limestone, and the result is excellent. Lively spicy black fruit is flecked with minerality and stony notes, but the overriding factor here is elegance. In 2017 the vintage was hit by frost, and as you might expect, lower production, but Soria was spared. Sourdais uses 10 percent whole bunch, and the remainder is destemmed before going through native fermentation in 1,500 to 3,000 litre open wood vats. It’s aged for 20 months in Bourgogne barrels, 55 percent in new French oak. Seek this one out.Prices: BC 152.99 Producer: Bodegas Antidoto
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Antídototext
91PTS

Antídoto 2017

Ribera del Duero, Castilla-Leon, SpainWidespread frosts and low wine production marked vintage 2017 across Spain, but as it turns out, the area of Soria (950m) typically has a later flowering period, so it avoided the frost. The other key to success is the old vines of Soria that are seldom if ever at the mercy of drought or flood because the roots are so deep. The weather at flowering was unusually warm, dry and still, so a quick set signalled there would be a homogenous ripening of the 100% Soria Tinto Fino in the fall. The fruit is purchased from ecologically friendly growers. Maceration is a short six days before the wine spends a year in lightly used oak. It presents with some elegance and softness not generally seen in Ribera del Duero. The red-black fruit is fragrant but not powerful, hence the moniker Antídoto or the Spanish for “antidote,” it’d also sold at a refreshingly modest price versus its competitors. Terrific value with authenticity to boot.Prices: BC 39.99 Producer: Bodegas Antidoto
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Domaine de Pallus La Rougerie Cabernet Franctext
96PTS

Domaine de Pallus La Rougerie Cabernet Franc 2015

Chinon, Touraine, Loire, FranceThe La Rougerie plot, Cravant les Coteaux, sits near the top of the property on a gentle slope facing southwards. The cabernet franc vines grow on pure clay, a soil that electrifies this variety. Its fragrant nose and silky textures draw you into the glass where the flavours and polished tannins seem to carry on indefinitely. Impressive in taste and price. Winemaker Bertrand Sourdais is passionate about precision; he says it takes observation and tasting, and judging by the electricity in this wine, he has found it. The wine is now considered a Chinon Grand Cru, thanks to the passion and work of Sourdais. The site was planted in two stages, first in 1952 and more recently in 2007. The first plot is made up of a selection of a unique cabernet franc (5000 vines per hectare). The second is made of a masale selection of Domaine de Pallus (7700 vines per hectare). Biodynamic farming practices are used. The grapes are 95 percent stemmed and undergo individual vinification in open wood vats. Maceration typically lasts 25 to 30 days and ageing in new Bourgogne barrels for 18 months.Prices: BC 152.18 Producer: Domaine de Pallus
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Domaine de Pallus La Croix Boissée Cabernet Franctext
94PTS

Domaine de Pallus La Croix Boissée Cabernet Franc 2015

Chinon, Touraine, Loire, FranceDomaine de Pallus is a Loire Valley winery founded in 1889 and one owned by the same family for more than 130 years. It is currently run by Bertrand Sourdais, who returned to his native Chinon after working a decade in the famed Spanish winery Dominio de Atuata in Riberio del Duero. He works his vineyards biodynamically to complement his respect for nature. La Croix Boissée comes from vines planted in 1974, located on the best slope of the Cravant hill, and with ideal exposure to the south. Sourdais describes it as a Chinon treasure. The soil is a mix of sand and clay soil over deeper, calcareous soil, the natural rock of the region. The cabernet franc provides dense red fruit aroma with a minerality that originates from the tuffeau soils. As Sourdais says, cabernet franc and limestone have a synergy. La Croix Boissée comes off a half hectare site farmed using biodynamic practices, and was planted in 1974 to a masale selection of cabernet franc at 5000 vines per hectare. Its aged 18 months in Burgundy barrels.Prices: BC 114.68 Producer: Domaine de Pallus
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Domaine de Pallus Messange Cabernet Franc Rosétext
90PTS

Domaine de Pallus Messange Cabernet Franc Rosé 2019

Chinon, Touraine, Loire, FranceDomaine de Pallus is a Loire Valley winery founded in 1889 and one owned by the same family for more than 130 years. It is currently run by Bertrand Sourdais, who returned to his native Chinon after working a decade in the famed Spanish winery Dominio de Atuata in Riberio del Duero. He works his vineyards biodynamically to complement his respect for nature. It is hard not to gulp this floral, citrusy rosé flecked with lemon-lime, mandarins, and strawberries. The Sourdais acidity leaves your mouth watering, and wanting another sip and another sip.Prices: BC 26.30 Producer: Domaine de Pallus
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Domaine de Pallus Messange Rougetext
89PTS

Domaine de Pallus Messange Rouge 2018

Chinon, Touraine, Loire, FranceSome believe that cabernet franc originated in the Spanish Basque country. The French pilgrims who were on their way back from the pilgrimage from Santiago de Compostela brought this wine variety into two villages, Messanges and Cap-Breton, along the way. This is how the grape travelled to the Loire, and stayed in Touraine, first appearing in the Abbey Bourgueil at Chinon in 1151. Messange Rouge is organic cabernet franc, grown at Clos de Briançon, a monopole of Domaine de Pallus, and it is made to be drunk when it is bottled. The style is juicy; the fruit is red and dressed in dried herbs with plenty of freshness. Best of all is the smooth texture that makes this very easy to sip even at a young age. Mature goat cheeses, roasted chickens, or even a Bolognese will work here. Fine value.Prices: BC 26.30 Producer: Domaine de Pallus
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Le Rosé by Antídototext
92PTS

Le Rosé by Antídoto 2018

Ribera del Duero, Castilla-Leon, SpainLe Rosé by Antídoto originates from a vineyard plot called Carresoto in the village of San Esteban, growing the autochthonous tinto fino and albillo varieties. The grapes come from pre-phylloxera old vines that sit at 950 metres in sand over limestone, reminiscent of the soils of Champagne, Bourgogne, and Loire Valley. The grapes are aged in new 600 litre barrels. The first year of Le Rosé was 2013 and ever since it's been made to compete with the world elite of rosés. Sourdais says 2018 follows the highly refined 2016 vintage, except May frosts reduced the crop further, concentrating the intensity of flavours. This stuff is delicious; my note is 'mineral, mineral, mineral'.Prices: BC 88.99 Producer: Bodegas Antidoto
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24 April 2020

Les Vergers Muscadet Sèvre et Mainetext
88PTS

Les Vergers Muscadet Sèvre et Maine 2017

Muscadet, Pays Nantais, Loire, FranceFrom the prized Muscadet appellation Sèvre et Maine sur lie, this melon spent time on lees to pad out the bright acidity tightening this lean wine. Green apple, lemon, river stones, and the aforementioned lees bed glides this slight 12 degree white to a bitter lemon snappy finish. Drink now, with spring veg and / or shellfish.Prices: BC 20.00 Producer: VGC Gunther-Chéreau
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Quails' Gate Chenin Blanctext
88PTS

Quails' Gate Chenin Blanc 2019

West Kelowna, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis chenin blanc incorporates small dollops of sauvignon blanc (9 percent) and viognier (4 percent), with short aging in mostly stainless steel resulting in a fresh, fruit-driven style. From the relatively cool 2019 vintage, this shows subdued chenin character with bright yellow fruits and some pithy citrus. It's on the leaner end of the ripeness spectrum, and only 12.5%, but there’s a touch more breadth to the palate than you’d expect, giving the wine a lovely texture that just falls short on the finish. It may not be overly complex, but it’s clearly well made and lip-smackingly bone dry. All in all, a solid spring sipper that would go nicely with takeaway sushi.Prices: BC 23.99 AB 19.99 SK 23.79 MB 18.99 ON 23.00 QC 20.05 NS 23.00 PEI 23.19 NB 23.99 NF 23.00 YK 21.05 Producer: Quails' Gate Vineyards Estate Winery
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Quails' Gate Chenin Blanctext
88PTS

Quails' Gate Chenin Blanc 2019

West Kelowna, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis year's QG Chenin Blanc is tipped with 9% sauvignon blanc and 4% viognier, with fruit from their West Kelowna estate, as well as their Mannhardt and Osoyoos vineyards. The savvy and chenin were cofermented in stainless (a small portion saw wood), and underwent partial MLF. This is much less chenin-y, and much more a typical BC white blend, unfortunately. Creamy and juicy with pear, quince, yellow apple, and tight stony spice that lingers on the finish.Prices: BC 23.99 AB 19.99 SK 23.79 MB 18.99 ON 23.00 QC 20.05 NS 23.00 PEI 23.19 NB 23.99 NF 23.00 YK 21.05 Producer: Quails' Gate Vineyards Estate Winery
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Julia Kemper Elpenor Blanc de Noirtext
93PTS

Julia Kemper Elpenor Blanc de Noir 2017

Dão, Northern Portugal, PortugalThe Melo family landed in Dão's Oliveira–Mangualde hundreds of years ago, and that's where the vineyards and winery of current custodian / owner Julia Kemper (named for Julia de Melo Kemper) are today, at Quinta do Cruzeiro, a site that dates back to Roman times. In 2000, Lisbon lawyer Julia was called by her father, António, to continue the legacy of the Melo family, so she returned and became a farmer, and thanks to the mentorship of her friend Dirk Niepoort, moved the viticulture into organic and biodynamic practices. This humble looking branco (as is labelled for the Canadian market) is her Blanc de Noir of touriga nacional (a name much more magisterial), an exquisite and distinctive white built around a structural, mineral-driven frame. Dao's granitic soils are felt in this tightly wound, medium bodied white, humming with hay, quince, subtle elderflower along a very lengthy, lees-decked, river stone bedded palate. Fermented and aged entirely in stainless, with one month of battonage, this is drinking beautifully now, but will certainly hold in cellar.Prices: BC 27.00 Producer: Julia Kemper
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Ferdinand Garnacha Blancatext
90PTS

Ferdinand Garnacha Blanca 2018

California, United StatesFrom AVA Lodi - Borden Ranch's Vista Luna Vineyard and its alluvial cobbles and gravelly loam, this garnacha blanc was grown organically, whole cluster pressed and fermented naturally and spent a year in neutral barrel. As with all of garagiste Ferdinand Wines' offerings, this is low intervention throughout. Creamy pear, green plum, blackcurrant bud, musk melon swirl around a stony base, clad with downy lees and wrapped with lemon pith and fine, subtle wood spices. If you have bypassed garnacha blanca for being too bland, look here.Prices: BC 47.50 Producer: Ferdinand Wines
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Tenuta di Tavignano Costa Verdetext
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Tenuta di Tavignano Costa Verde 2018

Marche, ItalyThis wine is crazy delicious. The verdicchio is grown in the hills of Tavignano, in the heart of the Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi DOC Classico. The vineyard was replanted in the early 1990s to produce high quality verdicchio, and I would say mission accomplished. This was fermented and aged in stainless, to keep it all fresh and tight, and the result is bright, green apple, floral, tropical fruit, citrus and finishing with just the right bitter twist of almond. We enjoyed this with fresh halibut.Prices: BC 25.00 Producer: Tenuta di Tavignano
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Tenuta di Tavignano Costa Verdetext
91PTS

Tenuta di Tavignano Costa Verde 2018

Marche, ItalyFrom the hills of Tavignano, this verdicchio was fermented and aged in stainless, which shows in the crisp, green-lined fruit. Zippy green melon, green apple, lemon pith skips along the sleek palate. There's a healthy slick of lees to base, and a finish of bitter almond to twist. Lovely balance in this spring-veg ready verdicchio.Prices: BC 25.00 Producer: Tenuta di Tavignano
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Tenuta di Tavignano Villa Torretext
91PTS

Tenuta di Tavignano Villa Torre 2018

Marche, ItalyFrom the hills of Tavignano, this verdicchio was fermented and aged in stainless, which shows in the crisp, green-lined fruit. Green melon, green apple, salted lemon pith and marcona almonds streak along a tight palate, with a thin lining of lees, to a snappy, saline finish. Energetic and vibrant, with a shimmer from front to back which stands this above. Enjoy with spring veg, or simple shellfish.Prices: BC 30.00 Producer: Tenuta di Tavignano
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Tenuta di Tavignano Misco Riserva Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesitext
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Tenuta di Tavignano Misco Riserva Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi 2016

Ancona, Marche, ItalyThis family owned and operated winery made a decision in the 1990s to focus on the autochthonous varieties of their region in Tavignano's hills, and in particular, Vedicchio. This low yield Classico Riserva spent one year on lees (no batonnage) before at least 18 months in bottle prior to release. The careful elevage shows, with layers of gentle lees woven amongst meadow herbs, subtle acacia, ripe quince, anise, marcona almonds, river stone, citrus, all worn slightly, positively, with a few year's time, subtly filling out the 14 degree frame. Drinking absolutely ideally now, especially with halibut or scallops.Prices: BC 70.00 Producer: Tenuta di Tavignano
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Tenuta di Tavignano Misco Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesitext
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Tenuta di Tavignano Misco Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi 2018

Ancona, Marche, ItalyThis family owned and operated winery made a decision in the 1990s to focus on the autochthonous varieties of their region in Tavignano's hills, and in particular, Vedicchio. This certified organic verdicchio saw time only in steel, where it remained on lees for 6 months prior to bottling. Lean, crisp and narrow, as is characteristic of the grape, with musk melon, sour lemon, Asian pear, meadow grass, finishing snappy and leesy. Characteristically sharp; serve this classic with fresh seafood or spring salads.Prices: BC 50.00 Producer: Tenuta di Tavignano
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Castello di Roncade Manzoni Biancotext
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Castello di Roncade Manzoni Bianco 2018

Veneto, ItalyFounded in 1508 and family owned since (the current owners purchased the estate in the early 1900’s), this organically-farmed wine comes from the Arnasa vineyard. Haven't tried manzoni? The grape is a crossing of riesling renano and pinot bianco, developed in the Veneto in the beginning of the 20th century. Here it is fermented and aged in stainless on lees for 4-5 months, preserving the slight fruit. Straw-hued in the glass, this slight grape carries tangerine, sour melon, crab apple along a palate slightly bedded with lees, to a bone dry, bitter, snappy finish.Prices: BC 30.00 Producer: Castello di Roncade
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Hester Creek Old Vines Block 16 Trebbianotext
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Hester Creek Old Vines Block 16 Trebbiano 2019

Golden Mile Bench, Oliver, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaOne of Canada's viticultural wonders is this Golden Mile Bench trebbiano, imported from Italy in 1968. These 50+ year old vines were destemmed and fermented cool in stainless before aging in tank for three months. Intense and direct with honeysuckle, ripe melon, apricot fuzz on a clinically clean palate, slicked with an oilyness that helps this glide easily down the palate to a lightly spiced finish. The best wine of their portfolio, and a true Canadian original.Prices: BC 20.99 Producer: Hester Creek Estate Winery
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Hester Creek Old Vines Block 16 Trebbianotext
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Hester Creek Old Vines Block 16 Trebbiano 2019

Golden Mile Bench, Oliver, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaBlock 16 Trebbiano has transformed itself from a soft, slightly sweet white under cork a decade ago to one of Canada's white wine wonders now under screwcap. The vines were planted in 1968 on the now sub-GI Golden Mile Bench. The latest wine is destemmed and fermented cool in stainless before ageing in the tank for three months. The result is vibrant, fresh, honeysuckle, melon, nectarine, apricot that feigns sweetness yet remains dry and clean. This one makes the afternoon slide away, or serve with grilled shrimp or prawns.Prices: BC 20.99 Producer: Hester Creek Estate Winery
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Curvos Loureirotext
86PTS

Curvos Loureiro 2019

Vinhos Verde, Northern Portugal, PortugalPretty melon florals rule this snappy, simple loureiro, followed by green melon and lime pith. Nice brisk finish, with a dollop of sweetness to counter the green apple acidity. Chill well and enjoy this young wine this summer.Prices: ON 12.95 Producer: Quinta de Curvos
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Spearhead Winery White Pinot Noirtext
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Spearhead Winery White Pinot Noir 2019

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis wine gets better every year, albeit in a fun way. It's not a Montrachet-like chardonnay, but it is a delicious summer sipper made with pinot noir but pressed off its skins, hence the white pinot noir moniker. The juice is cold settled and fermented to a pleasing dryness before spending crucial time on its lees, which tends to knock down the silly fruit aromas and flavours. The result is a slightly more complicated, northern Euro-style white full of pear, grass mineral, melon. The finish is a salty, dry, leesy affair that calls for food. Ready to drink and more fun than ever. These are the labels that can set a winery apart from its competition.Prices: BC 25.00 Producer: Spierhead Winery
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Michele Chiarlo Gavi le Marnetext
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Michele Chiarlo Gavi le Marne 2018

Gavi, Piedmont, ItalyThis cortese comes from clay marls on hillsides between the Ligurian sea and the Apennine mountains, afforded the benefits of both. After a native ferment, this aged 4 months on lees in stainless, preserving the freshness. Almond, elderflower, green melon, white grapefruit, wild lemon stream across a streamline palate, juicy with citrus, yet sleek and lean via the cortese grape. The finish is snappy, dry, and brisk, welcoming glass after glass of simple shellfish or braised spring artichokes.Prices: BC 24.00 Producer: Michele Chiarlo
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23 April 2020

Burrowing Owl Malbectext
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Burrowing Owl Malbec 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaMalbec is a rarity in the Okanagan Valley, but where it does rise up, it usually does so expertly. Case in point is this estate BOV Malbec, with fruit from Oliver and Osoyoos. After starting ferment in stainless, this moved into barrel (90% French, 10% American, 53% new) for MLF and aging, over a period of 18 months. Blueberry, dark cherry, and walnut are wrapped around a plump core, wrapped with long and lightly sticky tannins. The wood and tannins are very well integrated into the fruit at this point, taking this to a lingering spiced sage finish.Prices: ON 40.00 Producer: Burrowing Owl Vineyards
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Hillside Reserve Malbectext
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Hillside Reserve Malbec 2017

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaAfter an outstanding 2016, 2017 comes off a little less vibrant and juicy. The fruit comes off a long established vineyard just to the south of Naramata village. It still quite youthful with a rush of spice and light, sticky tannins that need some more bottle time to settle down. The palate is rich with spicy chocolate, dark fruit balanced by a freshness throughout its savoury finish. It will be best with grilled meat Argetinine style. Whole berry fruit was given a 7-day cold soak and fermented with 20 days total skin contact. New and used French oak barrels held the wine for 12 months before blending.Prices: BC 28.00 Producer: Hillside Winery
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22 April 2020

Gérard Bertrand La Forgetext
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Gérard Bertrand La Forge 2011

Corbières, Languedoc, South of France, FranceFrom the cellar. So, the last time GOW tasted this wine was in 2013. So wonderful to have a historical record from Stuart and Anthony from then, to taste this against now. La Forge is a four-hectare site at Domaine de Villemajou, in the middle of the Boutenac sub-appellation of Corbières. This is based on 100+ year old carignan vines, spiced with syrah. George Bertrand has said this is his favourite red, but don't let that colour your judgement. This leads with a graphite/herbal note, melting into ripe, dense, sunripened plum, blackberry jam, dried blueberry, running a plushly silken palate, gilded with alcohol (14.5), but still surprisingly bright with acidity. Drinking well now, and most especially with richer beef or root veg dishes.Prices: Producer: Gérard Bertrand
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Paul Jaboulet Aîné Côtes du Rhône Parallèle 45text
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Paul Jaboulet Aîné Côtes du Rhône Parallèle 45 2016

Côtes du Rhône, Rhone Valley, FrancePaul Jaboulet Aîné is one of the Northern Rhone's leading estates, first established in 1834, and now in the ownership of the Frey family; Careoline Frey is the current winemaker. The Parallèle line, their 'entry level' tier, was named because the 45th parallel runs two kilometers from the domaine’s cellars near Tain L’Hermitage. This cuvée began in 1950, and blends organically farmed 40ish year old grenache and syrah vines from family farms, with nearly half coming from declassified Villages fruit. Big, powerful, cedar-framed and rich with blackberry, cassis, potent kirsch, and toasted wood spicing. Tannins are plump but raggedly shorn, and along with the small swell of the heat, call out for equally rustic roasted meats or stews to match.Prices: BC 23.99 Producer: Domaines Paul Jaboulet Aîné
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Domaine de Longue Toque Vacqueyrastext
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Domaine de Longue Toque Vacqueyras 2016

Vacqueyras, Southern Rhone, Rhone Valley, FranceOf the 28 hectares of vineyards at Meffre, six hectares are in the AOP Vacqueyras, in the foothills of the Dentelles de Montmirail Mountains. The different plots are spread out between Sarrians and Vacqueyras, on two distinctive terroirs known to produce elegant and structured wines. A hot, dry growing season was blessed by late August rains that revived the fruit just before harvest. 2016 is a 50/50 mix of grenache and syrah. Described as vegan-friendly, the wine is lively on the entry, with vibrant red and black fruit. A blend of incense-like garrigue is woven into wine, counterbalancing the ripe fruit. Delicious in that focused, powerful Vacqueyras way. You can age this a decade, but it is possible to enjoy it now (if decanted) with grilled lamb chops or other similarly intense menu items. Good value.Prices: BC 35.99 Producer: Gabriel Meffre
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M. Chapoutier Domaine de Bila-Haut Occultum Lapidem Rougetext
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M. Chapoutier Domaine de Bila-Haut Occultum Lapidem Rouge 2016

Côtes du Roussillon Villages, Roussillon, South of France, FranceOccultum Lapidem is a Côtes-du-Roussillon Villages Latour de France red blend mixing syrah, grenache and carignan grown over gneiss and schist and limestone soils. It's all hand-harvested and matured in concrete tanks. Warm, plush, and fleshy, 2016 is a luxurious version of the blend laced with pepper, black fruits, and garrigue. Alive and ready for rich menu items such as beef or lamb.Prices: CDN 27.89 Producer: M. Chapoutier
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Yalumba Samuel's Collection Barossa Grenache Shiraz Matarotext
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Yalumba Samuel's Collection Barossa Grenache Shiraz Mataro 2016

Barossa Valley, South Australia, AustraliaThe classic GSM opens with aromatic notes of fresh boysenberry and rhubarb, mixed with spice and floral undertones. The attack is medium-full with soft, round textures that push across and deep into the palate with plummy dark fruits, cedar, and cinnamon. Fresh and friendly, this would be well served with pork dishes or a winery favourite, Kung Pao chicken. Drink or hold three to five years. From an excellent year, the grenache, shiraz and mataro are picked separately for this wine and wild fermented in small batches. Some of the fruit goes into oak vats and some in stainless steel. The subsequent wines are matured for 11 months in French oak hogsheads, 13 percent new, with the balance in old French, Hungarian and American oak hogsheads.Prices: BC 25.99 Producer: Yalumba Wine Company
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Viña Ebbrezza Especial Montsanttext
90PTS

Viña Ebbrezza Especial Montsant 2017

Montsant, Catalunya (Catalonia Cataluña), SpainEqual parts garnaxta and carignena from a red clay/granite soiled vineyard in Montsant. A partial native ferment (garnaxta in inox, carignan in amphora) precedes blending and moving to French oak (60% new) for 18 months. Ripe plum, cherry, boysenberry fill a fleshy palate, threaded with medicinal red fruit and bedded on stones. The soils give heft to the core, while the time in oak (60 new oak) provides the plush structure. Tannins are ample but furry, hugging this to a lightly warming, mineral-salted, haunting finish. Open in advance (or decant) and take with a light chill.Prices: Producer: Viña Ebbrezza
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Parés Baltà Indigena Garnatxatext
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Parés Baltà Indigena Garnatxa 2018

Penedès, Catalunya (Catalonia Cataluña), SpainFull, yet fresh, this organic garnatxa (garnacha) is from young vines from the high mountains of Pontons, was fermented in stainless, and aged five months French oak barrels (new and 2nd fill). The wood certainly is evident, though cloaked with plush plum, blackcurrant, wild cherry and raspberry jam. There's a vein of red flowers darting in and out to a spice dusted finish. Chill slightly for the best results.Prices: BC 29.91 AB 27.61 SK 30.00 MB 30.00 QC 21.95 NS 27.95 Producer: Parés Baltà
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Château la Villatade Côtes Noirestext
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Château la Villatade Côtes Noires 2018

Languedoc, South of France, FranceA split of grenache and syrah, this was fermented and aged in stainless. Soft and cushy purple fruit, blueberries, dusky plum flood the peppery palate, with cushy tannins, and a stemmy, herbal underlay. Soft, easy, simple.Prices: ON 27.95 Producer: Château la Villatade
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Gérard Bertrand Terroir Fitoutext
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Gérard Bertrand Terroir Fitou 2018

Fitou, Languedoc, South of France, FranceGrenache and carignan fill the fleshy palate of this Fitou, flooded with ripe red currant, cherry, and wild raspberry, and based on an earthy, savoury, stemmy palate. Tannins are finely grippy / sticky, easily housing the perfumed, plumped fruit. Finishes lightly smokey and with a lovely wild plum perfume. Pour alongside roast pork.Prices: ON 18.00 Producer: Gérard Bertrand
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Blanville Haut-Blanville Horustext
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Blanville Haut-Blanville Horus 2017

Languedoc, South of France, FranceChâteau Haut-Blanville is a family-owned wine estate founded in 1997 by Béatrice & Bernard Nivollet. Their goal was to find unique vineyard sites and produce single parcel, low-intervention wines when most of the local wineries were producing volume and bulk. They now own 70ha of vineyards, and make a range of single site wines, as well as regional blends like this. Horus is a blend of syrah, grenache, and cinsault. Juicy and friendly, with an alluring Languedoc scrub strong on the nose and palate, taking you directly to the south of France. Woodsy florals, plums, cherries, herbal salami and pink peppercorn. Fantastic value, honest and pure. En route to being organic certified.Prices: ON 19.99 Producer: Chais de Blanville
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Jean-Luc Colombo Châteauneuf-du-Pape Les Bartavellestext
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Jean-Luc Colombo Châteauneuf-du-Pape Les Bartavelles 2014

Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Southern Rhone, Rhone Valley, FranceJean-Luc Columbo and family put together this deliciously styled 45/35/20 blend of syrah, grenache and mourvèdre, with 18 months in one, two and three-year-old oak barrels. At only 13.5 percent alcohol, it is a rare and elegant expression of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. The name Les Bartavelles, the Royal Partridges, originates from one of the best sub-sites of the famous appellation. The colour is medium-dark, already a pleasant surprise with fragrant red fruit reminiscent of cherries and licorice. The palate is equally finessed with intense blueberry and cherry, with a sprinkling of liquorice root, mineral, and cola. Think game, hearty stews, steaks, and Italian dishes.Prices: BC 57.95 Producer: Jean-Luc Colombo
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21 April 2020

CedarCreek Home Block Sparkling Bruttext
87PTS

CedarCreek Home Block Sparkling Brut NV

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis is a new wine from CedarCreek, and their first fizz. This charmat method bubble is from muscat ottonel, native fermented before heading into tank for 2 months on lees. Muscat's inherent perfume rings through, with big floral blossoms, orange, and a swell of sweetness on the finish. Light in alcohol and body, think of this as a local version of moscato d'asti.Prices: BC 19.00 Producer: CedarCreek Estate Winery
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Mission Hill Reserve Bruttext
88PTS

Mission Hill Reserve Brut NV

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis inagural Reserve Brut is a charmat method blend of chardonnay and 10 percent pinot noir sourced from two estate vineyards on Oliver's Black Sage Bench and Golden Mile Bench. Soft and pretty, with pear blossom, lime pith, white peach on a softer, lighter (11 degree) palate. The acidity is pretty brisk, mind, keeping the finish snappy and bright. A lovely starter or brunch wine this summer.Prices: BC 23.49 Producer: Mission Hill Family Estate
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Lightning Rock Blanc de Noirs Canyonview Vineyardtext
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Lightning Rock Blanc de Noirs Canyonview Vineyard 2018

Summerland, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe spark behind Lightning Rock comes from owner winemakers Jordan Kubek and Tyler Knight, who have been making wine in Summerland since 2011. This Blanc de Noirs comes off Canyonview Vineyard, first planted in 2003 at the on the face of Trout Creek Canyon. The grapes are whole bunch pressed, native fermented in large old puncheons before resting on lees in bottle for 13 months. It was disgorged with zero dosage. This is bright, energized, zesty, and stuffed full of grapefruit, green apples, wild red fruits and sea salt. Seriously fun, it has a softish edge that makes drinking it easy. It’s bone dry and ready for any food you can think of snacking with for the rest of the day. Well done, and a testament to the future of sparkling wine in BC.Prices: BC 30.00 Producer: Lightning Rock
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Lightning Rock Blanc de Noirs Elysia Vineyard Traditonal Method Brut Naturetext
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Lightning Rock Blanc de Noirs Elysia Vineyard Traditonal Method Brut Nature 2018

Summerland, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaOne of two traditional method, single-vineyard, Blanc de Noirs released in 2018 by Lightening Rock, home to winemaker Jordan Kubek (nee Okanagan Crush Pad).This pinot noir comes from Summerland's Elysia Vineyard, where the vines grow over a mix of limestone and weathered granite on a steep sloping bench. Much like its counterpart, it is whole bunch pressed, natively fermented in older puncheons until a January bottling begins a 13-month sleep on lees. The tight and racy style made easy by the true north acidity of BC wine is filled with red fruit nuances that disappear into a creamy, round, soft textured bubble that is fun to sip. Salty, herbal, and bone dry, this is the real thing. Try serving it with Margherita pizza to show how versatile this style can be.Prices: BC 30.00 Producer: Lightning Rock
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Lightning Rock Blanc de Blancs Canyonview Vineyard Brut Naturetext
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Lightning Rock Blanc de Blancs Canyonview Vineyard Brut Nature 2018

Summerland, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaLightning Rock is, as they like to say, “the lucky stewards of three unique pinot noir producing vineyards in Summerland, BC. Each of them expresses very distinct terroir through the wines, despite being located mere kilometres apart." This first Blanc de Blancs comes from one of aforementioned vineyards on the precipice of Trout Creek Canyon, in Summerland. Canyonview vineyard was planted in 2003 and cared for by Garth Purdy since day one. This south-facing vineyard has sandy soil that is dotted with large granite stones, producing pinot noir and chardonnay from two large terraces. The colour is slightly dark in an oxidative way on the nose, but it presents with plenty of acidity fueled citrus, and it is bone dry. It could be cleaner in the back end, so drink up. There is plenty of promise here for future editions.Prices: BC 30.00 Producer: Lightning Rock
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Lightning Rock Blanc de Blancs Canyonview Vineyard Brut Naturetext
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Lightning Rock Blanc de Blancs Canyonview Vineyard Brut Nature 2018

Summerland, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaOne of three traditional method single vineyard fizz released from 2018 (the other two are pinot noir blanc de noirs), this 2003-planted pinot noir comes from Summerland's Canyonview Vineyard and its sandy, granite-studded soils. Deep yellow in hue, this chardonnay was whole bunch pressed and native fermented in older puncheons before going in to bottle where it remained 13 months on lees. This was disgorged in Feb / March of 2020, with no dosage. Quite oxidative up front, with worn fruit abutting the frisky, sharp lemon pith, green apple and racing acidity. The finish is a bit flat / mousey. Will be trying another bottle.Prices: BC 30.00 Producer: Lightning Rock
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Lightning Rock Blanc de Noirs Canyonview Vineyardtext
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Lightning Rock Blanc de Noirs Canyonview Vineyard 2018

Summerland, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaOne of two traditional method single vineyard blanc de noirs released in 2018 (in addition to one single vineyard blanc de blancs), this 2003-planted pinot noir comes from Canyonview Vineyard's sandy and granite-studded soils. After a whole bunch press, this native fermented in large old puncheons until going to bottle and resting on lees for 13 months. This was disgorged with zero dosage. Zesty and tight with pithy grapefruit, green apple, cherry blossom, and salted wild strawberries. Energy abounds here, finishing bone dry, with a lingering salty snap.Prices: BC 30.00 Producer: Lightning Rock
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Lightning Rock Blanc de Noirs Elysia Vineyard Traditonal Method Brut Naturetext
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Lightning Rock Blanc de Noirs Elysia Vineyard Traditonal Method Brut Nature 2018

Summerland, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaOne of two, traditional method, single-vineyard blanc de noirs released in 2018 (in addition to one single-vineyard blanc de blancs), this pinot noir comes from Summerland's Elysia Vineyard, and its steep slopes of limestone and weathered granite. After a whole bunch press, this native fermented in older puncheons until a January bottling, where it stayed on lees for 13 months, disgorged around February 2019, with zero dosage. Tight and racy, with red currant, wild raspberry, spring rhubarb skipping across the palate, finishing with an herbal saltiness. Bone dry and vibrant with energy, it forms an excellent balance between acidity and fruit.Prices: BC 30.00 Producer: Lightning Rock
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Township 7 Polaris Seven Starstext
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Township 7 Polaris Seven Stars 2017

Oliver, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaTownship 7's sparkling program is shining under winemaker Mary McDermott with the release of three traditional method cuvées: Polaris, Equinox, and Eclipse. It is a blanc de blancs of chardonnay from the estate vineyard on Naramata Bench, as well as Oliver's Hidden Bench Vineyard. It spends 18 months on it lees and is dosed with 9.2 g/L of sugar. White florals, yellow apple, pear blossom, lemon pith, wet chalk, and biscuits flood the palate, finishing with a snap and that gentle swell of sugar to counter the zippy acidity. Accessible, well made, friendly sparkling; more of this, please.Prices: BC 35.97 Producer: Township 7 Vineyards and Wineries
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Play Starring Teatro Moscato Frizzantetext
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Play Starring Teatro Moscato Frizzante 2019

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaWhat is exciting about BC wine at the moment is the many attempts to make a classic style respecting its roots, but making it all BC. Case in point is this blend of white muscat, orange muscat, and muscat ottonel made in the off-dry, lightly effervescent style reminiscent of Northern Italy, with very moderate 11.8 percent alcohol. A portion of the wine was wild fermented, of course. Floral and inviting, the mousse is soft, the style is food-friendly, and frankly, it’s all you could want for the price and first try. There is something going on at Play Estate where they are finally living up to their name. Spicy tuna roll anyone?Prices: BC 22.00 Producer: Play Estate Winery
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Township 7 Polaris Seven Starstext
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Township 7 Polaris Seven Stars 2017

Oliver, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaTownship 7's sparkling program is shining under winemaker Mary McDermott, who now releases three traditional method cuvées: Polaris, Equinox, and Eclipse. Polaris is a blanc de blancs of chardonnay from the estate vineyard on Naramata Bench, as well as Oliver's Hidden Bench Vineyard. It spends 18 months on lees and is dosed with 9.2 g/L and presents with white florals, lemon pith, wet chalk, and biscuits.Prices: BC 35.97 Producer: Township 7 Vineyards and Wineries
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Flat Rock Cellars Sparkling Twistedtext
87PTS

Flat Rock Cellars Sparkling Twisted 2018

Ontario, CanadaThis charmat blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir aged on lees for a month before release. Light, crisp and floral, with lime blossom, melon, cut with green apple sharpness, and kissed with a pretty dosage on the finish. This is a fresh, lively, simple and friendly bubble.Prices: ON 24.95 Producer: Flat Rock Cellars
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20 April 2020

Bonanza Cabernet Sauvignontext
88PTS

Bonanza Cabernet Sauvignon NV

California, United StatesThe Wagner family has given us a throwback wine to another era. Big, rich, soft and smoky, this non-vintage cabernet is all about drinkability and hedonism. Nothing is chiselled here; the tannins are soft, the oak is full-flavoured, and the cabernet ripe with sweet blueberry and blackberry that finishes in a vanilla and chocolate bath. More of a drink than a glass of wine, it will have broad appeal to specific sectors of the market that want something to sip before and after dinner.Prices: BC 34.99 AB 28.00 MB 30.05 ON 27.95 NFL 34.95 Producer: Wagner Family of Wines
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Rodney Strong Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valleytext
92PTS

Rodney Strong Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley 2016

Alexander Valley, Sonoma County, California, United StatesI love the pretty cab nose of pure cassis and plum with mocha, coffee, chocolate and a caramel sweetness from assertive oak. Medium bodied, these grainy tannins add chew to the dark currant fruit and savoury grilled bell pepper character. Tannins are firm but very ripe, and compliment the glossy oak. Well behaved with everything in the right place, this full-bodied Sonoma County headturner is ideal for when you want a plush, authentic and fairly priced Cali cab that's not overdone or fiddled with. The fruit comes from the torid Alexander Valley in the northern zone of the appellation, and late ripening cabernet sauvignon reaches heady levels of flavour maturity here. Thankfully quite cool nights assure freshness and elegance. Stylish, structured, and worthy of a prime cut of grilled beef, you'd be hard pressed to find anything else in California that is this good, for this price.Prices: BC 35.00 AB 28.00 ON 28.00 Producer: Rodney Strong Estate Vineyards
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Vasse Felix Cabernet Sauvignontext
91PTS

Vasse Felix Cabernet Sauvignon 2016

Margaret River, Western Australia, AustraliaMargaret River’s first red wine is closing in on 50 vintages, dating back to 1972. 2016 is an 86/11/3 cabernet sauvignon/malbec/petit verdot blend, fermented with native yeast and aged in 44 percent new oak French oak for 19 months before bottling. The nose is an aromatic mix of cedar and red currants with a herbaceous twist. The palate is rich and smooth with more red fruit, cranberry and blackcurrant flecked with smoke-dried herbs and graphite. Surprisingly juicy and fun to drink. It may not age forever, but it will be fun drinking this for the next seven to ten years.Prices: BC 64.99 AB 61.99 Producer: Vasse Felix Pty Ltd.
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Tinjas del Maule Viejo Feo Cabernet Sauvignon Grand Reserve Edicion Limitadatext
89PTS

Tinjas del Maule Viejo Feo Cabernet Sauvignon Grand Reserve Edicion Limitada 2017

Valle del Maule, Region del Valle Central, ChileViña Tinajas del Maule Winery was founded in 1997 when the Mena Undurraga family acquired old, established vineyards in the town of Villa Alegre in the Maule Valley of Chile. The existing vineyards, adobe buildings, and oak casks that dated back to 1918 have all been updated to make this modern red. Classic boldo scented, this is savoury dry spiced cabernet with a herbaceous edge. The texture is full, and the tannins round and youthful, with just a touch of grip. There is plenty to like here, but it will be another five to seven years before this wine hits its stride. If you must drink it now, be sure to serve it with something off the grill like a T-bone steak or lamb chops.Prices: BC 27.00 Producer: Tinjas del Maule
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Kendall-Jackson Cabernet Sauvignon Grand Reservetext
92PTS

Kendall-Jackson Cabernet Sauvignon Grand Reserve 2016

Sonoma County, California, United StatesGrand Reserve is a winemaker’s blend put together by winemakers Randy Ullom and Kristy Melton, using mountain, ridge, hillside and benchland grapes coming off multiple cool coastal appellations. Despite the reach of KJ, most of the wine, 70 percent, originates from the same vineyard blocks, ensuring consistency and complexity with each vintage. We know how much 2016 brings to the table, and in the Grand Reserve KJ nails the purity of this intense cabernet sauvignon. Blackberry, blueberry, red and black currants are all on display, with less oak, mocha, and chocolate, and more refinement. The latest blend is an 80/12/3/3/2/ mix of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, malbec, cabernet franc, and petit verdot that spends 21 months ageing in 72 percent French oak (26 percent new), with 26 percent American oak. One of the best yet.Prices: BC 49.99 AB 35.00 ON 36.00 QC 33.00 MB 53.00 Producer: Kendall-Jackson Vineyards and Winery
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Lake Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignontext
89PTS

Lake Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon 2017

Alexander Valley, Sonoma County, California, United StatesAlexander Valley is a mostly warm AVA, especially on the floor of the valley, the home to these ripe cabernet sauvignon grapes. The Lake Sonoma style is soft and round, and as easy sipping as a cabernet sauvignon can be given the structure of the grape and the alcohol. In this case, it's just under 15 percent. That said, this will have many fans attracted to its savoury, wild blackberry, brown spice, and smoky, toasted oak. A comfort wine for comfort foods like braised beef, short ribs, or a sausage-ladened pizza. Good value.Prices: BC 26.99 AB 26.00 MB 29.96 ON 30.00 QC 31.00 NS 33.79 NB 33.79 SK 33.63 Producer: Lake Sonoma Winery
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17 April 2020

Trimbach Rieslingtext
90PTS

Trimbach Riesling 2018

Alsace, FranceThe Trimbach family has been making wine since 1626, and the style doesn’t change much: clean, fresh, dry, and persistent, with a sense of purity and elegance. Brothers Pierre and Jean Trimbach are currently overseeing the house, and put together this family blend from select lots. Look for the styling, as mentioned above, through the dry, wet stone, leesy grapefruit that walks a tight beam of acidity from front to back. Creamy fish dishes quickly come to mind.Prices: BC 33.99 AB 31.53 QC 23.80 ON 23.95 Producer: F.E.Trimbach
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Fort Berens Rieslingtext
86PTS

Fort Berens Riesling 2019

Lillooet, British Columbia, CanadaFrom Vernon to Oliver and over the pass to the Similkameen Valley, this riesling originates from three distinct terroirs: Rise Vineyard in Vernon, Covert Farms in Oliver and an undisclosed site in the Similkameen Valley. It is fermented in stainless, arrested by cold temperatures to yield some 14 grams per litre of residual sugar to help balance the bright acidity. Perfumed and floral with lime blossom, honeysuckle, wilted fruit, yogurt on a sweeter, clipped palate. Somewhat disjointed and clumsy at this point. Best with a curry or served well chilled.Prices: BC 18.49 Producer: Fort Berens Estate Winery
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Pewsey Vale Eden Valley Single Vineyard Estate 1961 Block Rieslingtext
92PTS

Pewsey Vale Eden Valley Single Vineyard Estate 1961 Block Riesling 2018

Eden Valley, South Australia, AustraliaWinemaker Louisa Rose is behind this remarkable bottle of Oz riesling. The 1961 block is a new look at the oldest vines on Pewsey Vale Vineyard. It is all handpicked, and the juice is wild fermented and aged for a few months on its lees before bottling and release. A low intervention riesling that simply sings in the glass. It is hard not to stress the purity of this wine, the minerality and the balance that would suggest this will age for years under screwcap. The winery suggests you serve it with kingfish sashimi with lime jelly or vegetable spring rolls with Vietnamese herbs. You can modify for your needs. I enjoyed it with curried chickpeas and rice with a side of over-roasted cauliflower.Prices: BC 49.99 AB 44.99 Producer: Pewsey Vale
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Koerner Watervale Rieslingtext
90PTS

Koerner Watervale Riesling 2019

Watervale, Clare Valley, South Australia, AustraliaFrom Watervale's Gullyview Vineyard, the riesling from these two blocks were planted in 1974 on southern Clare's classic terra rosa soils (red clay on limestone). After a destemming and long, slow, gentle press (18 hours), this was native fermented in 40% ceramic amphora, 40% steel, and 20% Slavonian oak demi-muid for 2 months, before aging and tightening in stainless for 5 months prior to bottling without fining or filtration. Herbal led, this runs with pulpy lime, grapefruit, earthy lees, and mineral salts along a sleek, long, lighter (11.4 degrees) palate. Modern Clare, as intended.Prices: BC 46.00 Producer: Koerner Wine
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Pewsey Vale Single Vineyard Estate Rieslingtext
90PTS

Pewsey Vale Single Vineyard Estate Riesling 2018

Eden Valley, South Australia, AustraliaEnglishman Joseph Gilbert planted the Pewsey Vale vineyard in 1847. Not much happened until 1961 when Wyndham Hill Smith fully developed the historic site, perched at 540 metres, into the contoured Pewsey Vale Vineyard of today. It’s a rare wine whose beauty most years exceed the natural beauty of the site. 2018 is another excellent example of this unique piece of earth. The nose is an intense mix of dried flowers, lemons, and white blossoms often described as reminiscent of talcum powder. The palate is equally inviting with lime, grapefruit, and white pepper finishing with tropical fruit, a dusting of sea salt, and obvious minerality. I paired this with a curried chickpea dish to perfection. Great value.Prices: BC 21.99 AB 22.99 QC 22.99 Producer: Pewsey Vale
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Spearhead Rieslingtext
89PTS

Spearhead Riesling 2019

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaWinemaker Grant Stanley gets riesling, and his work here is essential, keeping the knife-edge acidity and freshness front and center. The fruit is a mix from Seven Mountain Vineyard on Mount Boucherie in West Kelowna, and Gentleman Farmer Vineyard in southeast Kelowna. The fresh, 12 percent, green apple, lime is balanced with a dusting of sweetness at 9 grams, pulling you into the yin and yang of this wine. It finishes with a stony, mineral undercurrent. Mouthwatering now, and will be for several years under screwcap.Prices: BC 21.00 Producer: Spierhead Winery
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Synchromesh Wines Thorny Vines Rieslingtext
93PTS

Synchromesh Wines Thorny Vines Riesling 2018

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaFrom Thorny Vines vineyard, at the very southern end of the Naramata Bench, the site faces north and was planted to 21B in 2010 on fertile heavy clay. Botrytis is notable in the savoury earthiness underpinning this greyhound of a wine, streaking along with juicy wild pear, lime pulp, wildflower honey, and crunchy honey crisp apple. Acid is crazy high (TA 12.08) as is RS (66 g/l), as is not alcohol (8.23 degrees). There is a density here from the impact of the aforementioned, but it remains light and nimble on the medium bodied palate. Stunner now, and will continue to impress with time. Botrityis evident in the earth, lime pulp, density of this Naramata riesling, 21B clone on fertile heavy clays. savoury, sea salts.Prices: BC 26.00 Producer: Synchromesh Wines Inc.
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Synchromesh Wines Bob Hancock Rieslingtext
92PTS

Synchromesh Wines Bob Hancock Riesling 2018

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThough third generation Naramata farmer Bob Hancock marked his last vintage in 2017, Synchromesh still stewards the fruit at this time. In 2018, the 3.5 acre gravelled clay / calcium carbonate south facing site of self-rooted 21B riesling vines blasts with its characteristic juiciness, clad with lemon verbena, river stone, quince drop, tangerine, lime pulp with searing acidity (TA 11.7) swathing through the considerable RS (53.18 g/l), landing us at a tight, bonkers 8.13 degrees alcohol. Very much in youth and joyously so, but this should age wonderfully.Prices: BC 28.00 Producer: Synchromesh Wines Inc.
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Synchromesh Rieslingtext
90PTS

Synchromesh Riesling 2018

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis white label Riesling is always a blend of their sites: Bob Hancock Vineyard, North Naramata Bench; Thorny Vines Vineyard, Middle Naramata Bench; Four Shadows Vineyard, South Naramata Bench; and the Okanagan Falls estate Storm Haven Vineyard. Vibrant and juicy, as intended, with snappy orange sherbet, lime pith, pear cordial on a plump, streaking palate, the wound 10.875 acidity enough to counter the sizeable 42.86 g/l RS. And only 9.13 degrees (and $23!). Gluggable.Prices: BC 23.00 Producer: Synchromesh Wines Inc.
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16 April 2020

Argiano Non Confunditur NC Rosso Toscanotext
88PTS

Argiano Non Confunditur NC Rosso Toscano 2017

Tuscany, ItalyNon Confunditur is the Argiano motto, and found on the family crest. It translates to unique. This is a blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and sangiovese, from clay and alluvial limestone marls around 300m, and vines up to 20 years old. This aged a couple months in barrique and tonneaux before release. Soft plum, blackcurrant is wrapped with sticky tannins, and finish with a saline rinse. Drink now with bolognese.Prices: BC 32.99 ON 27.99 Producer: Argiano
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Carpineto Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riservatext
91PTS

Carpineto Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva 2015

Tuscany, ItalyFrom 90% sangiovese and 10% canaiolo, this Riserva aged two years in 5500L Slavonian oval oak barrels, with a small part in French oak. After bottling, it was held for one year before release. Wild cassis, black plum, black cherry, dusky violets is gripped with firm tannins and seasoned with ample peppercorns along a grippy palate. The finish lingers with candlewax and wood spicing. Classic and stately, this is drinking well now but can hold in your cellar.Prices: ON 34.95 Producer: Carpineto
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Castello di Querceto Chianti Classico Riservatext
90PTS

Castello di Querceto Chianti Classico Riserva 2015

Tuscany, ItalyFrom 400m altitude, this sangiovese streams dusty cherry, red currant, stones, and dried florals along an elegant, medium bodied palate. Wearing its age very well, ample tannins are worn into the red fruit, tugging the sides to a mineral salted, iodine kissed finish. Regal, with confidence.Prices: ON 28.95 Producer: Castello di Querceto
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Le Ragnaie Brunello di Montalcinotext
93PTS

Le Ragnaie Brunello di Montalcino 2004

Montalcino, Siena, Tuscany, ItalyThis is a stunning example of aged high quality sangiovese, showing beautiful now. Worn leather, worn wood, dried bitter cherry, streaks of amaro and a ripe heart of plum lure on this wine, a blend of vines up to 80 years, sourced from 3 sites. Though gentle on the palate, this is still very alive, with waves of iodine and blood carried by fine, long, very well integrated tannins. Excellent value to be found in Ontario for aged Brunello. Le Ragnaie was established in 2003 by the Campinoti Family. The organically farmed estate is divided into three parcels throughout Montalcino.Prices: ON 145.00 Producer: Azienda Agricola Le Ragnaie
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Le Ragnaie Tronconetext
91PTS

Le Ragnaie Troncone 2016

Tuscany, ItalyMontalcino has an altitude limit in Brunello; it's not allowed to grow above 600m. This organically farmed sangiovese is grown from 620-655m altitude, hence it fell into the declassification of IGT Chianti Colli Senesi. In the 2014, the wine was too pale and wasn't even approved for that, so Riccardo Campinoti said BASTA and labelled the wines IGT Toscana Rosso. Troncone means stump, and was the nickname of Riccardo's grandfather. There is also a large stump in the sandstone, limestone and clay vineyard, giving this wine's name a double meaning. Ragnaie is the name of the vineyard, Etruscan for spiderweb, and reflecting the label and the netting that Etruscans would use to catch small birds. This 14 year old organically farmed sangiovese was native fermented and on skins for 2 weeks in concrete, before one year in older Slavonian oak casks. This is fresh, finessed and joyful, with savoury plum, raspberry, thorny scrub, seasoned with wild rosemary to a lightly salted finish. Sangiovese + altitude works wonders, illustrated here. Brilliant value.Prices: ON 25.95 Producer: Azienda Agricola Le Ragnaie
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Feudi Di San Gregorio Piano di Monteverginetext
92PTS

Feudi Di San Gregorio Piano di Montevergine 2007

Campania, ItalyThis Taurasi Riserva Piano di Montevergine is from the vineyard of the same name, symbolic of Feudi di San Gregorio. Here 70-80 year old aglianico vines grow around 400m, facing south, on deep soils layered with ash, pumice and silty sand. After fermentation and three weeks maceration, the wine is pressed and aged for 18 months in medium toasted new French barriques, followed by a further 2 years in bottle prior to release. Though 13 years old, this is most certainly still alive, with a bead of persistent acidity driving through layers of worn leather, dried violets, thorns, dried cherry, pipe tobacco, and wild cassis compote. The palate is big and full, plush and textured with tufted velvet. Tannins are still ample, but thankfully worn with time, leaving more a fuzzy cedar grip in their wake, lingering very long on the palate. A lovely chance to taste aglicanico aging so well. Ideal decanted with wild mushroom risotto or wild boar.Prices: BC 63.00 Producer: Feudi Di San Gregorio
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Feudi Di San Gregorio Stupore Bolgheri Campo Alle Cometetext
89PTS

Feudi Di San Gregorio Stupore Bolgheri Campo Alle Comete 2015

Maremma, Tuscany, ItalyCampo Alle Comete is a fairly new acquisition into the Feudi Di San Gregorio portfolio, acquired in early 2016. It is nestled at the foot of Castagneto Carducci, in province of Livorno, and marked the winery's expansion into Maremma. The wine is a Bolgheri DOC blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Petit Verdot that were vinified by the former owner and assembled by the new Campo alle Comete team. Big, soft, plush and ripe with blackberry, cassis, worn suede, dark cocoa, and potent currents of anise. There's a medicinal kirsch undercurrent, sides of velvet tannins, and moderate acidity on a textural palate, all of which pulls this wine heavier than the 13.5 degrees declared would suggest. Certainly a worthy contender for big meaty stews. Looking forward to seeing what the team does with this property going forward.Prices: BC 42.00 Producer: Feudi Di San Gregorio
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Il Molino di Grace Chianti Classico Riservatext
92PTS

Il Molino di Grace Chianti Classico Riserva 2015

Tuscany, ItalyIl Molino di Grace, the windmill of grace, stands upon 30 hectares of vineyards that have been producing traditional Chianti Classico for over 350 years, and is complete with a historic 19th-century windmill and world-class sculptures. The 2015 vintage a terrific backdrop to this sangiovese riserva with its pure dark cherry and hint of game. The perfect mix of traditional and modern, this riserva's yields are a respectably low 37 hl/ha of organic fruit. It is an impressive Riserva and one that will repay cellaring. I enjoyed it with spaghetti Bolognese now, but it will improve in the bottle through 2023. The vineyard sits between 280 and 400 metres, and fruit is all hand-harvested in late October. It gets 20 days of maceration with frequent punch downs before ageing 12 months in a mix of Slavonian oak casks, French barriques, and tonneaux of second use.Prices: BC 55.99 QC 43.50 Producer: Il Molino di Grace
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Il Molino di Grace Chianti Classico SoloSangiovesetext
90PTS

Il Molino di Grace Chianti Classico SoloSangiovese 2015

Tuscany, ItalySoloSangiovese is one way to get the message out that your Chianti Classico is entirely sangiovese. Il Molino di Grace is just that in the excellent 2015 vintage, and this pure, juicy, dark-fruited Chiati walks the line between traditional and modern. Lovely lift here with bright acidity mixing among the violets and black cherries, all wrapped up in an earthy finish. The vineyard sits between 280 and 400 metres, and fruit is all hand-harvested. It gets 20 days of maceration with frequent punch-downs before ageing 12 months in a mix of stainless steel, Slavonian oak casks, French barriques, and tonneaux of second use. A terrific year that will repay patience in the bottle through 2030.Prices: BC 39.99 QC 43.50 Producer: Il Molino di Grace
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Il Molino di Grace Il Margone Chianti Classico Gran Selezionetext
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Il Molino di Grace Il Margone Chianti Classico Gran Selezione 2013

Tuscany, ItalyIn comparison to the great 2006 and 2010 vintages in Tuscany, 2013 came close, but in the end, it finished just below those impressive offerings. In a year that was cool and finished late, the fruit was under pressure most of the season. The stars shone on the clean fruit that hung the longest, allowing for full ripeness. At Il Molino, Gran Selezione comes from selected grapes inside dedicated riserva vineyards, sitting at 350-400 metres, where the grapes ripen the slowest of all. The attack lives up to its Gran Selezione title, led by deep colour and rich notes of black cherries and spice and some noticeable oak that spills onto the palate. Baked plums, black cherries, and an earthy undercurrent run the length of the palate, with still some powdery tannin to shed. At seven years old, it has all the tools to age through 2025 and beyond. Best now with game birds, lamb, braised beef, and mushroom pasta. It is organically grown, dry farm sangiovese aged 16 months in French barriques and tonneaux, followed by three years of bottle ageing.Prices: BC 59.99 QC 43.50 Producer: Il Molino di Grace
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Il Molino di Grace Gratiustext
91PTS

Il Molino di Grace Gratius 2011

Tuscany, ItalyGratius is an IGT Toscana red blending mostly sangiovese, canaiolo, and colorino, grown at 580 metres. The vineyard (average age 65 years) was picked by hand in mid-October, and the grapes were macerated for 20 days producing only 22 hl/ha before ageing in French oak barriques for a year, followed by 24 months in bottle. The nose is a mix of gamey black fruit with a whiff of volatility. The attack is plentiful if not a bit blocky, with a vast collection of black cherry, chocolate, earth, and cedar. A little bit old in style but overall an exciting wine you can sip all evening, before, during, and after a steak dinner. Impressive for its age, and there is still life ahead.Prices: BC 99.99 Producer: Il Molino di Grace
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15 April 2020

Rodney Strong Pinot Noir Reservetext
91PTS

Rodney Strong Pinot Noir Reserve 2016

Russian River, Sonoma County, California, United StatesThis ambitious Russian River beauty is a shiny translucent ruby hue, and your first energetic swirl of the glass will reveal charming pinot scents of raspberry, brandied cherries, and toasty oak barrel. Quite bold in the mouth with more of the glorious red/black fruit that only new world pinot can deliver: red cherry, plum, and dried craisins with lashings of spicy oak sweetness and vanilla. Very well balanced with bright acidity, framed by notable tannins and warmed on the finish by 14.5% alcohol. Confident and expressive pinot from an outstanding vintage, there is skilled precision viticulture and skilled winemaking behind this reserve bottling. You could grill a few duck sausages, braise some herby shortribs, or order deluxe mushroom pizza.Prices: BC 50.00 Producer: Rodney Strong Estate Vineyards
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Greywacke Pinot Noirtext
91PTS

Greywacke Pinot Noir 2016

Marlborough, South Island, New ZealandFrom Southern Valley vineyards, predominantly the Yarrum Vineyard on the Brancott / Ben Morven ridge, this pinot included a mix of clones, and was planted on loess, clay-loam, and gravel soils. Partial whole bunch and entirely native ferment with daily punchdowns, each clone was then racked to French barriques (30% new) where it remained for 18 months prior to blending. Dark, plush and savoury, this full-bodied, fleshy red is streaked with smoke, and cradled with lightly toasted cedar bough tannins. The palate is silky, and lingers with perfumed spice box and graphite. For drinking now, preferably with something equally dark, rich, and luxurious, like roast duck or goose.Prices: BC 46.00 Producer: Greywacke
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Lamont Pinot Noirtext
89PTS

Lamont Pinot Noir 2018

Central Otago, South Island, New ZealandThis pinot noir is of organically grown clones 777, 667, 115, and Abel, partial whole bunch, and on skins for four weeks before being pressed off to French barriques (30% new) for 11 months. The wood is certainly felt in the framing of this fuller pinot, flush with darker fruit, forest, mulled cassis, and baking spices. Tannins are fuzzy, hugging the fruit to a rose petal finish. For those wanting to drink pinot, but in love with syrah.Prices: BC 49.95 Producer: Lamont
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Churton Wines Natural Statetext
90PTS

Churton Wines Natural State 2019

Marlborough, South Island, New ZealandNatural State is the second generation, Jack and Ben Weaver's, new personal project. It comes from organically / biodynamically farmed pinot noir from the hillside Clod Block of their Waihopai Valley estate vineyard, planted in 2000, their youngest pinot noir block. Picked in 2 tranches, this was destemmed, native fermented with 14 days on skins (half a lunar month) and tipped into French barrels for 3 months. It was racked once, and bottled in August 2019 with no additions save for a small amount of sulphur. Fresh and authentic, cloudy with intent, this lighter bodied red fills the mouth with dark raspberry, cherry blossoms, and an underbelly of Japanese plum before a saline rinse on the finish. Tannins are lightly sticky, and acidity is moderate. Next gen; a line to watch.Prices: ON 31.95 Producer: Churton Wines
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Lake Sonoma Pinot Noirtext
88PTS

Lake Sonoma Pinot Noir 2018

Sonoma Coast, Sonoma County, California, United StatesLake Sonoma Winery is owned by the Stewart Family, third-generation, pioneering West Coast winemakers who founded BC's Quails’ Gate Winery. Senior Winemaker Julie Lumgair said, “despite all the chaos that natural disasters have brought over the last 12 months, the 2018 harvest is off to a slow, steady, and largely undramatic start.” 2018 is a better effort than 2017, offering ripe cherry together with baking spices and vanilla. Straightforward and ready to drink, you can serve it with a variety of duck, pork, and chicken dishes.Prices: BC 29.50 AB 31.99 MB 32.95 Producer: Lake Sonoma Winery
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Siduri Pinot Noir Willamette Valleytext
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Siduri Pinot Noir Willamette Valley 2018

Willamette Valley, Oregon, United States2018 was a warm year to remember in Oregon with few heat spikes and more critical no rain during most of the harvest. The wine is surprisingly dark for pinot noir, mixing six different locations from three Willamette Valley appellations: Yamhill-Carlton, Chehalem Mountains, and Eola-Amity. About a third of the wine was made with whole bunch ferments featuring ripe stems. The thinking is it adds a level of spice and tannin that can balance off the intense Oregon pinot fruit. Oregon pinot always has that herby, earthy undercurrent that attracts trade types and eonophiles perhaps more than those simply love the sweet pinot style. In this case, black cherries and boysenberry present in a juicy style laced with cinnamon spice and underbrush. Complex and long thanks to the use of 15 different clones and only thirty percent new French oak. Drink or hold through 2024.Prices: BC 37.99 AB 26.00 US 28.00 Producer: Siduri Wines
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Penner-Ash Pinot Noirtext
91PTS

Penner-Ash Pinot Noir 2017

Willamette Valley, Oregon, United StatesPenner-Ash is all about delicacy. This is buoyed by floral notes that are the overriding background of this plummy, spicy, savoury, black cherry pinot noir. Penner-Ash hasn’t skipped a beat since they sold Jackson Family Farms. However, I’m guessing the daily slog of owning a winery has been lifted from their shoulders, allowing the energy to go into making exceptional wine. 2017 spent ten months in 29% new French oak plus older barrels, leaving the oak influence to a bare minimum other than to oxygenate the juice. Grilled salmon is the match.Prices: BC 59.99 Producer: Penner Ash Wine Cellars
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Kendall-Jackson Pinot Noir Vintner's Reservetext
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Kendall-Jackson Pinot Noir Vintner's Reserve 2017

California, United StatesKJ does a great job of making this introductory pinot noir, beginning with its round, spicy, drinkable sweet fruit. Winemaster Randy Ullom has access to some amazing vineyard sites up and down the coast of California, which is why this mix of strawberry, ripe raspberry, and earthy underside. Salmon cakes, duck pizza, or spaghetti in pork sauce are all a match. Much improved from earlier versions.Prices: BC 32.99 AB 25.00 PEI 27.00 NB 30.00 ON 20.75 Producer: Kendall-Jackson Vineyards and Winery
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Copain Tous Ensemble Pinot Noirtext
91PTS

Copain Tous Ensemble Pinot Noir 2017

Sonoma Coast, Sonoma County, California, United StatesThis Tous Ensemble, or All Together, is a mix of fruit from Sonoma Coast. In year two, the Coast is a selection of individual blocks from Sealift Vineyard, Seascape Vineyard, Carneros Hills West Vineyard, and Cloud Landing Vineyard, to bring the label closer to its roots, based on elegance and Old World understated styling. It was a cool year until the end of the growing season, when heats spikes played havoc with late hanging fruit. In the end, a sprinkling of riper fruit was added to the spare style of this 13.2 percent pinot, to good effect. It spends ten months in French oak, only five percent of which is new. An impressive mix of strawberries and tea that finishes dry and restrained makes this a sophisticated and food-friendly wine. Barbara Banke made an astute left turn when she purchased the Copain property and brought it under the Jackson Family Wines banner, adding to the JFW growing mix of pinot noir styles along the west coast from Santa Barbara to the Willamette Valley.Prices: BC 39.99 Producer: Copain Wines
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La Crema Sonoma Coast Pinot Noirtext
89PTS

La Crema Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2017

Sonoma Coast, Sonoma County, California, United StatesLook for an earthy, wild strawberry, sweet tobacco nose, and definitely on the cool side. On the palate, the fruit is cherries and plums, with an earthy, spicy undercurrent. The tannin is negligible and easily manages most pinot menu items: duck, mushrooms, root vegetables, soft cheeses and pork. La Crema Sonoma Coast is a well-made, large production pinot of estate and grower vineyards, but all within the cool, marine swept boundaries of Sonoma County. The parcels are kept separate until the final blend to capitalize on the best lots. Clones include 23, 37, 115, 667, 777, 828, Pommard, Calera, Swan, and Martini. The fermentation is done with 70 percent whole berries placed into open-top fermentation tanks. Post ferment, it's aged nine months in 98 percent (20 percent new and dwindling) French oak.Prices: BC 35.99 AB 38.10 ON 34.95 QC 28.85 NFL 41.99 NB 39.99 Producer: La Crema
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Adelsheim Pinot Noirtext
90PTS

Adelsheim Pinot Noir 2013

Willamette Valley, Oregon, United StatesAdelsheim is a family-owned and operated winery with estate vineyards located in Oregon's northern Willamette Valley. Today, nearly 50 years in, they own and farm 12 vineyard sites totalling 237 acres across Willamette. Co-founder, David Adelsheim is a legend among American winemakers. At seven years old, this Willamette Valley pinot is eminently ready to drink, with silky tannins to help it slide down effortlessly. Its tart red fruit is marked with a herby, forest floor spicing component that screams Oregon. Best with salmon or pork.Prices: BC 74.99 ON 49.95 QC 48.50 NB 50.00 Producer: Adelsheim Vineyard
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14 April 2020

Rust Wine Co Lost Horn Vineyard Chardonnaytext
88PTS

Rust Wine Co Lost Horn Vineyard Chardonnay 2019

Okanagan Falls, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaLost Horn Vineyard was planted from 1990 to 1997, with Burgundy clone 76, giving this wine good bones from old vines. The kids call this crushable: low alcohol (12.6%), no malolactic fermentation, and no oak ageing, leaving it crisp and lemon loaded for just about any food you can throw at it. Simple, well made, and ready to drink. Perfect for those who want to knock off the rust before dinner. A big step up over last year too.Prices: BC 22.00 Producer: Rust Wine Co.
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Township 7 Reserve Chardonnay Becker Vineyardtext
88PTS

Township 7 Reserve Chardonnay Becker Vineyard 2018

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaMuch like last year, the Becker Vineyard (nee Sundial) is a bit like Sonoma meets Okanagan. The style is softish and creamy with ripe peach streaked with tropical pineapple and spice. There is a broad brush of oak in the creamy vanilla finish. Pair with crab, lobster, or chicken. You can drink it now or wait a year or two and let the edges dissolve. Nice improvement.Prices: BC 26.97 Producer: Township 7 Vineyards and Wineries
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Sperling Vineyards Organic Vision Chardonnaytext
89PTS

Sperling Vineyards Organic Vision Chardonnay 2017

East Kelowna, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaSelect blocks from their certified organic/biodynamic estate are whole-cluster pressed and native fermented in 500L puncheons, with light bâtonnage. The final blend is a barrel selection after the wine has spent nearly one year on lees. Full and downy, with a thick cloud of lees, strung with worn wood, creamed corn, flax, and lemon curd. The finish lacks the energy and cut of 2016, but that only makes it more approachable for a wider audience. Though only 12.8 degrees, this has the weight and heft to take on cream-laced proteins.Prices: BC 26.00 Producer: Sperling Vineyards
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Robin Ridge Chardonnaytext
87PTS

Robin Ridge Chardonnay 2018

Keremeos, Similkameen Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe Robin Ridge Chardonnay is a lively, organic white in a juicy, ripe style. Look for tropical aromas of pineapple and pink grapefruit that spill onto a soft, round peach and pineapple palate, with just enough acidity to brighten the vanilla and cherry notes in the finish. A fun style and will be best on the patio with spicy chicken or salmon.Prices: BC 20.25 Producer: Robin Ridge Winery
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Meyer Family Vineyards Chardonnay Tribute Series - Gordon A. Smith Old Main Road Vineyardtext
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Meyer Family Vineyards Chardonnay Tribute Series - Gordon A. Smith Old Main Road Vineyard 2018

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaIn 2018 the Tribute Chardonnay pays homage to Gordon Appelbe Smith, CM, OBC., "a cornerstone in the history of Modernist painting in Canada. At age 100, Smith's creativity continues to enrich all, not only through his artistic contributions but also through his mentoring and generosity to others." 2018 follows the Meyer mantra: a gentle press, only the best free-run juice is used that is fermented and aged in all French oak barrels (now only 22 percent new) for 11 months without stirring or battonage. It goes through a natural malolactic fermentation before it is bottled unfined and unfiltered. The winery is based in the sub-GI, Okanagan Falls, but the fruit for Tribute comes of the "Old Main Road Vineyard," a small terrace on the sub-GI Naramata Bench. Old Main Road was planted in 1996 exclusively to chardonnay vines over a mix of silty alluvial deposits over clay loam. Its northerly aspects tend to temper the speed of ripening that usually spawns a full series of flavours without dissipating the natural acidity — farming is uncertified organic/sustainable. The profile is skinny in 2018 led by a fresh lemony nose and palate with bits of green apple and more citrus throughout. It's solid if a little bit soft through the finish. It will be ready to drink sooner than later, and you can start this summer.Prices: BC 30.52 Producer: Meyer Family Vineyards
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Meyer Family Vineyards Chardonnay McLean Creek Road Vineyardtext
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Meyer Family Vineyards Chardonnay McLean Creek Road Vineyard 2018

Okanagan Falls, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaOkanagan Falls' Meyer Family Vineyards is home to McLean Vineyard, a steep sloping gravelled and sandy loam site that yields great chardonnay year after year. The methods are Burgundian; that is to say, spare with minimal intervention, by winemaker Chris Carson. The ferment is a mix of native and cultured yeasts that wraps up in French oak, 22% new. After 11 months on lees without bâtonnage it is bottled unfined and unfiltered, having gone through a full malolactic fermentation. Fresh, creamy, leesy, citrus with a nutty underside and a long, piercing, mineral, salty finish, this is crazy good for the price. There is no rush to drink this unless you open it, which inevitably leads to drinking the entire bottle in minutes. The New Okanagan.Prices: BC 33.00 Producer: Meyer Family Vineyards
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Blue Mountain Estate Cuvée Chardonnaytext
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Blue Mountain Estate Cuvée Chardonnay 2018

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaYear two of a French oak only ageing continues to give this label a leg up over a lot of competitors in the local chardonnay market, not to mention adding another dimension to the flavour profile. The mix of new and older barriques, puncheons, and a foudre, adds another layer of complexity, not vanilla and butter. The vines range from one to three decades on the estate vineyard. Fresh and leesy with lemon curd, pear, and hazelnuts, all mixed with creamy, attractive textures. Love the value too.Prices: BC 28.00 AB 27.95 ON 24.95 QC 23.95 NB 26.00 MB 26.00 Producer: Blue Mountain Vineyard & Cellars
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Tightrope Winery Chardonnaytext
90PTS

Tightrope Winery Chardonnay 2018

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaSimilar to last year, this is a distinctive style of chardonnay packed full of that Naramata Bench fresh citrus, green apple, orchard fruit, with a bright stream of acidity throughout. Lively, exciting, and can effortlessly take on a broad mix of foods, this a wine that delivers for its price. It should also age well through 2023 ad beyond. A little more lees and complexity and this is a home run. Well done.Prices: BC 30.00 Producer: Tightrope Winery
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13 April 2020

CheckMate Artisanal Winery Opening Gambit Merlottext
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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 between 330m to 437m, with a variety of expositions. It's a touch less hedonistic in 2016, and more serious in keeping what looks to be a terrific growing season for the much-maligned merlot. The nose is fragrant and savoury, but in 2016, the fruit is particularly pure. The texture is creamy and supple, aided by dense, sweet, soft 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 berry selection is done prior to an all-natural indigenous ferment. Post ferment the juice is gravity drained into 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. This wine was tasted on February 4 as part of a four year vertical featuring the 2013-2014-2015 and 2016 Opening Gambit.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
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CheckMate Artisanal Winery Opening Gambit Merlot 2015

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaI wondered what the confluence of one of hottest vintages ever (2015), meeting one of the warmest vineyards in Canada might spawn, but winemaker Phil McGhan had everything under control. The introduction of 4.5% cabernet franc to the 85.1% merlot and 10.4% petit verdot seemed to elevate the wine on the palate and throughout the finish. 2015 is a prototype of the hedonistic style, but in all its glory. It's not is baked or filled with overripe, dead fruit but rather fragrant with savoury, dried-herb garrigue that permeates the wine. Black fruits rule the day, but they pale against the creamy, silky tannins. It's ageing a little quicker, but all in the right way. The winemaking details include cluster-by-cluster inspection at the winery, hand sorting and gently destemming before another sorting of individual berries to retain only the most pristine as they head to the fermenters for a native ferment. Post ferment the juice is gravity drained into barrels for ageing 21 months. It is bottled unfined and unfiltered. One to drink sooner than later. This wine was tasted on February 4 as part of a four year vertical featuring the 2013-2014-2015 and 2016 Opening Gambit.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
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CheckMate Artisanal Winery Opening Gambit Merlot 2014

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaOpening Gambit mixes 90 percent merlot with 10 percent petit verdot, giving this merlot volume and aromatics that suggest it could be unique, and is undoubtedly now one of my favourite Checkmate labels. The warm Osoyoos East Bench site that gets a lot of late day sun sits up against the US border at 1083 to 1437 feet. Very little has changed since its release, with a robust hedonistic style redolent in iodine, black cherries, and blackcurrants that pull you into the glass. Dense, long, and supple, it is only just beginning to evolve. It was native fermented with 52 days on skins before the juice was run directly from the tank into the barrel. This wine takes me to Bolgheri with its rich, savoury, sagebrush mocha, which says something about the South Okanagan. Youthful and evolving slowly, this is one to watch. This wine was tasted on February 4 as part of a four year vertical featuring the 2013-2014-2015 and 2016 Opening Gambit.Prices: BC 85.00 BC 196.00 1500 BC 439.00 3000 BC 989.00 6000 Producer: CheckMate Artisanal Winery
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CheckMate Artisanal Winery Opening Gambit Merlottext
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CheckMate Artisanal Winery Opening Gambit Merlot 2013

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe original release of Opening Gambit and its Osoyoos East Bench fruit, tucked right up against the US border, made quite a statement. The steep and undulating site pitches the vines to the sun, creating a more opulent style of merlot. It was an eye-opener for many, given merlot's poor reputation in BC at the time. It still has excellent volume, offering up rich black fruits with well-managed oak. Dry and savoury are its selling points, and if it shows a touch of rusticity, it remains in excellent shape after six years. It should be considered a pioneering label that has evolved since 2013, both in this bottle and in the succeeding vintages. It is at its peak, and now would be the time to drink it. This wine was tasted on February 4 as part of a four year vertical featuring the 2013-2014-2015 and 2016 Opening Gambit.Prices: BC 85.00 Producer: CheckMate Artisanal Winery
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10 April 2020

CheckMate Artisanal Winery Fool's Mate Chardonnaytext
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CheckMate Artisanal Winery Fool's Mate Chardonnay 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaOne of the perks of wine writing is the opportunity to take part in vertical tastings once in a while to track a single wine through several vintages. It’s the ultimate test of a wine’s ability to express each vintage while revealing its fingerprint and even more important to demonstrate whether it can age over time in the bottle. On this day, we tasted every vintage to date of Fool’s Mate, from 2013-2017. As young as the winery is, it was a revelation. What we learned is that the original ageing window, thought to be about five years by winemaker Phil McGahan, is quickly expanding into the 7-10 year range as the wines evolve in the bottle. The last wine in the vertical line up was the youngest, 2017. Fool’s Mate is the only blend of sites, and it fits the adage of 'the sum is greater than its parts' most years. 72 percent of the blend comes from Jagged Rock, a piece of dirt that sits just east of Phantom Creek on the Black Sage Bench. The other sites in play include Sunset Vineyard, Dekelva Vineyard, Combret, Golden Mile Bench, and Border Vista Vineyard, mixing clones Dijon 76, Dijon 95, 809, Dekleva, and Combret. It's the best yet with no doubt. It’s not Burgundy, and it is not California, but it is the most balanced of all the Fool’s Mates in the vertical, and it is only beginning its life. The use of more high-end barrels (Burgundy barriques – 84% (of which 42% were new);concrete egg – 16%) has given it better definition, as well as complements its pear and nectarine flavours, subtle underlying minerality, and now characteristic, sea salt notes. One to buy and cellar.Prices: BC 80.00 Producer: CheckMate Artisanal Winery
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CheckMate Artisanal Winery Fool's Mate Chardonnaytext
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CheckMate Artisanal Winery Fool's Mate Chardonnay 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaOne of the perks of wine writing is the opportunity to take part in vertical tastings once in a while to track a single wine through several vintages. It’s the ultimate test of a wine’s ability to express each vintage while revealing its fingerprint and even more important to demonstrate whether it can age over time in the bottle. On this day, we tasted every vintage to date of Fool’s Mate, from 2013-2017. As young as the winery is, it was a revelation. What we learned is that the original ageing window, thought to be about five years by winemaker Phil McGahan, is quickly expanding into the 7-10 year range as the wines evolve in the bottle. 2016 continues to progress. It’s still showing some oak upfront, but that will eventually disappear into the back of the wine as the freshness over the lean frame begins to assert itself. The predominate flavours are peach and nectarine, aided by lemon, hints of brioche, excellent minerality, and a delightful palate-cleansing sea salt finish. It should be ready to go by 2023 through 2025.Prices: BC 80.00 Producer: CheckMate Artisanal Winery
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CheckMate Artisanal Winery Fool's Mate Chardonnaytext
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CheckMate Artisanal Winery Fool's Mate Chardonnay 2015

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaOne of the perks of wine writing is the opportunity to take part in vertical tastings once in a while to track a single wine through several vintages. It’s the ultimate test of a wine’s ability to express each vintage while revealing its fingerprint and even more important to demonstrate whether it can age over time in the bottle. On this day, we tasted every vintage to date of Fool’s Mate, from 2013-2017. As young as the winery is, it was a revelation. What we learned is that the original ageing window, thought to be about five years by winemaker Phil McGahan, is quickly expanding into the 7-10 year range as the wines evolve in the bottle. 2015 surprises with a sense of delicacy despite a super warm year, with the decision to pick early paying off as the wine ages. There is surprising finesse developing throughout the mid-palate, lifted by a stream of acidity underneath. A single concrete egg has provided a creaminess to add depth and a soft landing zone for its mineral, stony, salty notes. Coming along nicely and should be peaking from 2021 through 2024.Prices: BC 80.00 Producer: CheckMate Artisanal Winery
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CheckMate Artisanal Winery Fool's Mate Chardonnaytext
93PTS

CheckMate Artisanal Winery Fool's Mate Chardonnay 2014

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaOne of the perks of wine writing is the opportunity to take part in vertical tastings once in a while to track a single wine through several vintages. It’s the ultimate test of a wine’s ability to express each vintage while revealing its fingerprint and even more important to demonstrate whether it can age over time in the bottle. On this day, we tasted every vintage to date of Fool’s Mate, from 2013-2017. As young as the winery is, it was a revelation. What we learned is that the original ageing window, thought to be about five years by winemaker Phil McGahan, is quickly expanding into the 7-10 year range as the wines evolve in the bottle. Two-thirds of 2014 was wild fermented while the ageing process was 16 months in an 85/15 mix of French oak barrels (42 percent new) and concrete eggs. The clonal mix is diverse, blending Dijon 76, Dijon 95, Dekleva selection, and the Combret selection. I still think it’s the most complex of the early releases. The aromatics are toning down as the South Okanagan sagebrush notes quietly surface. The salty acidity we see in subsequent vintages is very prevalent. Power and elegance; this wine is beginning to peak in all departments. It is Next World Okanagan. Roast chicken, anyone?Prices: BC 80.00 Producer: CheckMate Artisanal Winery
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CheckMate Artisanal Winery Fool's Mate Chardonnaytext
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CheckMate Artisanal Winery Fool's Mate Chardonnay 2013

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaOne of the perks of wine writing is the opportunity to take part in vertical tastings once in a while to track a single wine through several vintages. It’s the ultimate test of a wine’s ability to express each vintage while revealing its fingerprint, and even more important, to demonstrate whether it can age over time in the bottle. On this day, we tasted every vintage to date of Fool’s Mate, from 2013-2017. As young as the winery is, it was a revelation. What we learned is that the original ageing window, thought to be about five years by winemaker Phil McGahan, is quickly expanding into the 7-10 year range as the wines evolve in bottle. The original release was 2013, and it is more or less at its peak now, with its 14.5 percent alcohol and 50 percent new oak starting to show some age. The good news is the acidity, now a mark of Fool’s Mate, remains and keeps the wine alive in the bottle. 2013 is the one to drink now while you wait on the newer releases. Lobster, halibut, and old cheeses all work here.Prices: BC 80.00 Producer: CheckMate Artisanal Winery
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09 April 2020

Adami Col Credas Brut Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore Rive di Farra di Soligotext
88PTS

Adami Col Credas Brut Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore Rive di Farra di Soligo 2016

Treviso, Verona, Veneto, ItalySerious, single vineyard, vintage dated wines of place : that's Adami's model. Not what you have come to expect from Prosecco. The Adami family have been farming these soils for three generations, more than 90 years of experience in the terroir of Valdobbiadene. This is from sustainably farmed glera up to 100 years old growing at 350m on the dry calcareous clay soils of the steep sloped Col Credas vineyard, in the rive (communal cru) of Farra di Soligo, nested in the famous Cartizze subzone. The Col Credas vineyard was purchased in 2000 and was used as a blending component for other wines until 2011, when it was judged to be of high enough quality to release as a single-vineyard wine. This was in contact with lees for a minimum of three months before second fermentation in autoclaves (pressurized tanks), initiated in batches up to 3 times / year, dependent upon sales demands. The wine can be held in chilled tanks for up to one year between first and second fermentations. My bottle began second fermentation in tanks in July 2017. Very developed, with truffles and mushroom overruling fruit, leaving just a small cushion of dried apple, dried orange, and river stone in its wake near-dry wake. If you're looking for a fizz with ample development, look here.Prices: BC 36.00 Producer: Adriano Adami
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Pierre Paillard Les Parcelles Bouzy Grand Cru Extra Brut XIVtext
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Pierre Paillard Les Parcelles Bouzy Grand Cru Extra Brut XIV NV

Champagne, FranceLes Parcelles is sourced entirely from the Paillard's home village of Bouzy, and from 22 plots of the family's sustainably-farmed vines, now averaging 25 years. As noted by the XIV on the label, this is based on the 2014 vintage (70%), and is a mix of 70/30 pinot noir / chardonnay (the latter an anomaly in PN-centric Bouzy), disgorged in November 2018 after 4 years on lees, and with less than 2 g/l dosage. Pillows of vanilla meringue, patisserie, pear brioche are sliced with slivers of lemon pith, edging this to a lingering humming finish.Prices: BC 63.00 Producer: Champagne Pierre Paillard
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La Gioiosa et Amorosa Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCGtext
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La Gioiosa et Amorosa Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG 2014

Veneto, ItalyLa Gioiosa sits in the heart of the province of Treviso, where it is a tribute to the ancient definition of the region (Marca Gioiosa et a morosa) to emphasize the merry lifestyle of the inhabitants. This bubble is above all fun, from its stony, citrus, green apple entry to its round, off-dry, fennel streaked red apple flavours. All you could want on a warm sunny day on the patio. Ready to drink with assorted canapés.Prices: BC 23.99 ON 19.99 Producer: La Gioiosa SPA Crocetta Del Montello
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Segura Viudas Heredad  Brut Reservatext
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Segura Viudas Heredad Brut Reserva NV

Penedès, Catalunya (Catalonia Cataluña), SpainHeredad is a pewter wrapped bottle of bubble that comes with some unnecessary extra weight, but don’t let that take your focus off an excellent wine that perfectly toes the line between a simple sparkler and Champagne. Heredad is the high-end version of the workhorse value Segura Viudas, that begins with old vine macabeo and parellada, and an ample thirty months ageing on lees. The result is a very generous palate with notes of freshly made pastries, baked red apples, citrus, pear, and honey. An entirely serious introduction to early evening that works well with salmon appetizers.Prices: BC 33.99 AB 33.99 SK 37.99 MB 37.99 ON 32.95 QC 30.95 NB 37.29 NS 36.95 Producer: Segura Viudas
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Sorelle Bronca Extra Dry Valdobiadene Prosecco Superioretext
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Sorelle Bronca Extra Dry Valdobiadene Prosecco Superiore NV

Veneto, ItalyOne of a precious few prosecco wines to be consistently highly commended by Italy's best wine rating publication, this is a good bottle of fizz. Delicate white flower aromas enhance pretty pear, peach and orange, preparing the palate for clearly defined and nicely focused stonefruit and pastry flavours. Dry-tasting but with a fine mousse and pillowy texture, the finish is creamy and persistent. Yes, you can sip it alone, but this prosecco made from organic grapes has the body and personality to handle salty morsels like prosciutto, Caprese salad, or even some light pasta.Prices: BC 25.00 Producer: Sorelle Bronca
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J. M. Sohler Crémant d'Alsace Brut Blanc de Blancstext
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J. M. Sohler Crémant d'Alsace Brut Blanc de Blancs 2016

Alsace, FranceThis blanc de blancs is a blend of pinot blanc and auxerrois, with a minimum of 15 months on lees, but is disgorged to order. Perfumed white blossom, pear, yellow apple is soft and plush on the creamy, medium-bodied palate, threaded with subtle anise, and finishing with a bright snap. Smart and welcoming; drinking well now.Prices: ON 24.95 Producer: J. M. Sohler
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Cave de Beblenheim Brut Rose Crémant d'Alsacetext
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Cave de Beblenheim Brut Rose Crémant d'Alsace NV

Alsace, FrancePouring a lovely watermelon peach hue, this carries cranberry, light smoked stone on a fresh, brisk, mousse-full palate. A sharp vein of acidity quickly closes this off on the brisk finish, leaving it fresh in the mouth. Easy and friendly, and thankfully dry.Prices: ON 19.95 Producer: Cave de Beblenheim
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Louis Picamelot Crémant de Bourgogne les Terroirs Blanc Bruttext
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Louis Picamelot Crémant de Bourgogne les Terroirs Blanc Brut 2015

Burgundy, FranceIn 1926, Louis Picamelot, son of a cooper and winegrower, was among the first in Rully to produce a Mousseux. The winery is still in the family today, growing in hectares over the generations. This, their entry cuvee, is a blend of Pinot Noir (57%), Chardonnay (32%), and Aligoté (11%), from Côte Chalonnaise, Côte de Beaune, and Côte de Nuits. Once blended and bottled, this aged on lees for at least a year prior to release. This bottle was triaged in November 2016, and disgorged October 2018. Red and yellow apple, subtle apricot blossoms, and light cream fill the mellow palate, with a burst of bright acidity, but soft downy lees and a fair dosage (unknown, but firmly Brut). Easy and welcoming, thankfully bright with acidity, and ready for drinking now.Prices: BC 27.00 Producer: Louis Picamelot
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Sorelle Bronca Particella 232 Brut Nature Brut Prosecco Superioretext
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Sorelle Bronca Particella 232 Brut Nature Brut Prosecco Superiore NV

Veneto, ItalyI recall attending a Prosecco masterclass in 2018, where I first encountered the restrained and elegant wines of Sorelle Bronca. The finesse, quiet intensity, and purity of the three prosecchi entranced me. I was also charmed by one of the sisters who poured for me. Sorelle (sisters) Bronca refers to siblings Antonella and Ersiliana, who took over from father Livio at this ambitious artisan winery. They specialize in Prosecco wines from small holdings of mature vines on beautiful steep slopes. This Particella 232 (referring to a particular parcel of one of their oldest vineyard sites) is pale gold with slender streams of fine bubbles in the glass. Aromatically it's subtle and refined with apple, pear, and a yeasty note of lees. The flavours focus on pear and citrus, with the suggestion of peach and scrubby botanicals. Full of finesse and bone dry, this is not your standard prosecco, but shows the glera grape in a more impressive form. This has the deliberate inclusion of lees in the winemaking, and a clear desire to transmit the terroir of their plot which borders Cartizze, a super-zone for prosecchi. The finish is deliberately dry, crisp, slightly saline and minerally. Most definitely deserving of savoury food, try ricotta and basil bruschetta, or spring pea risotto.Prices: BC 39.00 Producer: Sorelle Bronca
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Segura Viudas Gran Cuvee Reserva Cavatext
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Segura Viudas Gran Cuvee Reserva Cava NV

Penedès, Catalunya (Catalonia Cataluña), SpainAs soon as you broach this bottle from sparkling wine giant Segura Viudas, you'll be greeted by one of the most classic, compelling Cava noses. By this I mean heady scents of cirtus curd, apple compote, toasted wheat, roasted nut and a telltale pencil eraser note characteristic of the native grapes. The aromas are exciting and complex. There is lovely concentration of flavours that transit citrus, stone fruit, pear and bready, yeasty autolytic character. Succulent, bright acidity enrobes the generous fruit, the bubbles are foamy but not gassy, and the ultra dry finish shows mineral salts and a very pleasant yeasty bite. A clear step up from the entry level Segura Brut Reserva, this Gran Cuvée achieves greater complexity from 15 months of bottle ageing (which equals the minimum legal standard for non-vintage Champagne) and has more heft and depth for pairing with morsels like a brunch chorizo frittata, or some really garlicky sautéed prawns.Prices: BC 22.99 Producer: Segura Viudas
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08 April 2020

Fort Berens Pinot Gristext
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Fort Berens Pinot Gris 2019

Lillooet, British Columbia, CanadaThis year's Pinot Gris is based on estate Lillooet fruit, with the rest coming from the Similkameen. The whole was fermented in stainless, After a whole cluster press, this was cool fermented in steel (10% in barrel). Perfumed melon, crisp yellow apple, pear blossom on a short, snappy frame, finishing with a pear drop and ginger spice.Prices: BC 18.99 Producer: Fort Berens Estate Winery
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Fort Berens Pinot Gristext
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Fort Berens Pinot Gris 2019

Lillooet, British Columbia, CanadaIt's been fun to watch Fort Berens slowly convert some labels where possible to all estate fruit or BC VQA Lillooet. In the case of the 2019 Gris, it is a mix of estate Lillooet fruit combined with a portion from the Similkameen Valley. It is mostly (90 percent) whole cluster pressed in stainless steel with the remaining 10 percent in barrel. Look for a dry, crisp entry with just a hint of richness in texture, giving it some attractive mid-palate weight. The finish is flecked with pears and melons lightly dusted in spice. A perfect mid-week white for fish tacos or fresh cheese dishes.Prices: BC 18.99 Producer: Fort Berens Estate Winery
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Sperling Vineyards Amber Pinot Gris Organictext
88PTS

Sperling Vineyards Amber Pinot Gris Organic 2018

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaKelowna/Mission District winemaker Anne Sperling has a wealth of experience with organic, biodynamic and natural wines, as evidenced in this skin contact (amber/orange) pinot gris. Strikingly cloudy in the bottle and glass, it's not for everyone but will be admired by a subset of curious wine drinkers looking for something totally different. Whole bunch pressed and fermented dry; it was bottled with no filtering, fining or sulphur additions. It’s mostly about texture with a light oily apricot sheen and peachy tangerine fruit, and as Treve has described correctly, “a rinse of raspberry vinegar on the finish.” An exciting wine for explorers and those who want to get out of their comfort zone.Prices: BC 30.00 Producer: Sperling Vineyards
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Sperling Vineyards Amber Pinot Gris Organictext
88PTS

Sperling Vineyards Amber Pinot Gris Organic 2018

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis characteristic skin contact (amber/orange) pinot gris pours a cloudy peach hue, reflective of the entirely naturalistic approach to this certified biodynamic/organic wine. Almost entirely whole bunch (95-100%), this was fermented native to dryness and pressed after settling, omitting fining or filtering or sulphuring before bottling, with fine lees. Textural and pointed with apricot oil and skin, white peach, tangerine pith, lime pith, and a rinse of raspberry vinegar on the finish. Quite nervy, tight, and edgy.Prices: BC 30.00 Producer: Sperling Vineyards
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Sperling Vineyards Pinot Gristext
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Sperling Vineyards Pinot Gris 2018

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaIt's been a few years since we've tasted the straight-up pinot gris from Sperling. In the last few years, it's been diverted into the striking, skin-contact Amber Pinot Gris (thankfully still released this year). This organic and biodynamic certified gris comes from higher altitude estate blocks, was fermented and aged briefly in stainless with no MLF. Crisp green apple, Asian pear, lemon pith, and soapy pear blossom on the tight, snappy palate, finishing clinically clean and straight. For those who like their gris squeaky clean and fresh. Drink this summer.Prices: BC 17.99 Producer: Sperling Vineyards
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Hester Creek Pinot Gris 2019

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaFrom three vineyards in Oliver, this was fermented cool in stainless, where it remained on fine lees for 5 months. Crisp and bright with yellow apple, Asian pear, honeydew and a pad of lees, (clinically) stainless clean to a snappy, salty finish. Simple and correct.Prices: BC 17.99 AB 17.99 Producer: Hester Creek Estate Winery
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Lamont Pinot Gris 2018

Central Otago, South Island, New ZealandLamont is a family wine producer established in 1999 in Bendigo, Central Otago. This comes from clones See Ovaile and 2/15, from a single organically-farmed vineyard. After a whole bunch press, this was fermented cool (10% in neutral French oak) with regular batonnage. Spicy, and sultry on the herbal-led palate, seasoning white peach, nectarine, and grapefruit. The wood plumps out the core, while ample baking spices hem in the sides of this moderate-alcohol, medium+ white. A little honeysuckle and a dusting of sea salt brightens and sweetens the finish. Drinking well now, not too chilled.Prices: BC 40.00 Producer: Lamont
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Hester Creek Pinot Gris 2019

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis gris is a mix of three local vineyards in the Oliver region. The winemaking is simple and straightforward, all to preserve freshness and acidity. Post ferment, it rests for five months on its fine lees for protection and texture development. The result is clean, soft, round, inviting pinot gris with ripe peach and strawberries. A patio white to be served well chilled with spicy appetizers. Good value and ready to drink.Prices: BC 17.99 AB 17.99 Producer: Hester Creek Estate Winery
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Hillside Un-oaked Pinot Gris 2019

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaHillside and the Naramata Bench are intertwined, and with the recent announcement of a sub-Gi designation for the mid-Okanagan Valley bench, it is now official. 2019 is delicious, and like last year, it remains dry and fresh - an orchard in the glass you can enjoy with a wide range of foods from cheese to salumi to sushi and more. It has a tiny bit of colour that only adds to its allure. Brava winemaker Kathy Malone and the entire team at Hillside. Back up the truck.Prices: BC 22.00 Producer: Hillside Winery
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Nichol Vineyard Pinot Gris 2018

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaClassic orange / peach hue, as familiar as ever, this Naramata Village pinot gris rested on skins 36 hours in open tops fermenters before being pressed for fermentation in old French barriques and two-tonne open top fermenters for a few months prior to bottling, with gentle filtration. Tangerine fuzz, light orange, apricot, light smoked stone stream across the dry, saline, lightly textural palate, finishing with a bergamot kiss. This is never a showy wine, but an intelligently alluring one.Prices: BC 23.00 Producer: Nichol Vineyard
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Lion Gri Golden Land Pinot Gris 2016

MoldovaThe style is aromatic and floral with a strong, herbaceous pine scent and crisp citrus flavours. Not everyone’s cup of tea, but if you are inclined to dabble in natural wines, you may be attracted to the raw flavours here. Fresh, tart and ready to drink, try this with slightly fatty dishes. All stainless steel ferments are done at controlled temperatures at or below 15 °С.Prices: BC 18.99 Producer: JV Lion-Gri Winemaking Company
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07 April 2020

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Cave Spring Cabernet Franc 2017

Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, CanadaFrom the limestone and shale clays on the south shore of Lake Ontario, this perfumed cab franc is bright and lifted, with perfumed plum, wild blackberry, and pink peppercorn spicing. Tannins are finely grippy, to a subtle wild mint finish. Shows why this region and its special soils are so well suited to well-handled cab franc like this.Prices: ON 17.95 Producer: Cave Spring Cellars
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Synchromesh Cabernet Franc Turtle Rock Farms 2017

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaCorked, try another.Prices: BC 50.00 Producer: Synchromesh Wines Inc.
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Yannick Amirault La Coudraye Bourgueil 2017

Bourgueil, Touraine, Loire, FranceThis is a blend of four lieux-dits, which are hand-picked, hand-sorted, and destemmed before fermentation by indigenous yeasts. The wine then matures in large wood tanks for a year. The result is a spicy, refined expression of cabernet franc with liquorice, black cherry, raspberry, and stemmy herbs. The concentration is well above the norm, with a precision to the fruit that you don’t necessarily expect at this price point. Certified organic and bottled unfined and unfiltered. Recommended.Prices: BC 30.99 Producer: Yannick Amirault
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Tightrope Winery Cabernet Franc 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaRetasted six months down the road. It remains tight and somewhat tart with a leafy underside. It is just not singing. It is made with all Naramata grapes that spend three weeks on its skins before heading to barrel. This wine is aged in mostly French oak barrels for 12 months (50% new) with a small amount of American oak. The attack is fresh, with red fruit reminiscent of cherries and plums that spill on the palate with earthy tobacco leaf flavours. Textures are silky, and the finish is fresh with more spice and red fruit. Best with flavourful barbecue beef short ribs.Prices: BC 28.00 Producer: Tightrope Winery
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06 April 2020

Tightrope Winery Rieslingtext
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Tightrope Winery Riesling 2017

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThere are no significant changes here from my previous review, which points to its ability to age. The fruit component is cleaner and fresher than many of the older vintages, suggesting the vineyard work is likely better, and due to the vines getting older. The picking takes place over two separate periods to select the fruit at the perfect moment. Honey and pears dominate, with a touch of petrol. The attack is soft with more fresh nectarine and pink grapefruit, adding a bit of fullness to balance the minerality. Tasted as part of a vertical tasting of Tightrope Riesling 2012-2018 - RS 6.3 g/L, Alcohol 13.8, TA 9.0 g/L, pH 3.06.Prices: BC 22.00 Producer: Tightrope Winery
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Tightrope Winery Riesling 2015

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaA super warm year is evident in the change in profile here. Plush with more mouthfeel and weight, less acidity, and concentrated red apple and nectarine. The alcohol is in check at 12.8 percent, and that seems to have given it some life. Pleasant but ready to drink, and given all the other examples in this vertical it should be drunk first. Tasted as part of a vertical tasting of Tightrope Riesling 2012-2018 - RS 9.2 g/L, Alcohol 12.8, TA 8.5 g/L, pH 2.99.Prices: BC 35.00 Producer: Tightrope Winery
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Tightrope Winery Riesling 2014

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaFrom Naramata Bench bench comes a super fresh, expressive riesling. At six-years-old, this screwcap finished white is alive with lemon and lime pith, green apple and pear fruit. Still youthful with prominent spice flecked with dried herbs, the balance here will repay many years in the bottle yet; a Naramata riesling postcard. Tasted as part of a vertical tasting of Tightrope Riesling 2012-2018 - RS 8.4 g/L, Alcohol 13.2, TA 9.6 g/L, pH 2.96.Prices: BC 35.00 Producer: Tightrope Winery
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Tightrope Winery Riesling 2013

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaVery reminiscent of Eden Valley riesling with its dry infrastructure and talcum powder aromas. With only a hint of sweetness, this is a terrific bottle of riesling electrified by its acidic base and nuanced with Naramata orchard fruits and sagebrush. Again it’s the secondary and tertiary notes that give this wine its truth. An impressive ambassador for Naramata and BC riesling. Ready to drink but should hold indefinitely. Tasted as part of a vertical tasting of Tightrope Riesling 2012-2018 - RS 13.2 g/L, Alcohol 13.3, TA 8.7 g/L, pH 2.95.Prices: BC 38.00 Producer: Tightrope Winery
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Tightrope Winery Riesling 2012

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis wine first crossed our radar at the National Wine Awards, wherein the week-long blind tasting it was admired by the judging panel, most of whom had never tasted it before. It won several awards, and I’m happy to say it is standing up to the praise eight years down the road. At this point, the Vaseline/petrol component permeates a lemon, mineral undercurrent, but it's all holding together and, of course, benefiting from these well-developed secondary and tertiary flavours. It is as good as it gets at this point, but under screwcap will hold on for years yet. Now best with more lavish menu items, like pork or wild game. Go Naramata. Tasted as part of a vertical tasting of Tightrope Riesling 2012-2018 - RS 9.2 g/L, Alcohol 12.6, TA 9.2 g/L, pH 2.98.Prices: BC 50.00 Producer: Tightrope Winery
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Tightrope Winery Riesling 2016

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada2016 is a juicy affair of orchard aromas and fruits, including white flowers, peach, and honey, with a thin beam of acidity cutting across the base. Crisp and fresh, it flashes a bit of orange and petrol in its long, persistent, dryish finish. The estate-grown grapes are picked in two lots, one week apart, in search of the ultimate ripeness while retaining its secret weapon, its stony minerality. Fish cakes or tacos or a plate of favourite cheeses all work here. Tasted as part of a vertical tasting of Tightrope Riesling 2012-2018 - RS 6.9 g/L, Alcohol 13.1, TA 9.2 g/L, pH 2.99Prices: BC 28.00 Producer: Tightrope Winery
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Tightrope Winery Riesling 2018

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaTightrope uses two separate picks about a week apart to search for maximum ripeness. After a cold ferment, the wine is left with a small amount of residual sugar that has a subtle balancing effect with a wine that presents as otherwise dry. The fruit is all Naramata Bench. The nose is clean with white and green fruit aromas and a touch of orange. The palate is crisp with citrus, mineral, nectarine, pink grapefruit and a tart finish. Match with fish tacos, halibut with fruit salsa, or lightly spiced sushi rolls.Prices: BC 22.00 Producer: Tightrope Winery
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05 April 2020

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Maan Farms Raspberry 2018

Fraser Valley, British Columbia, CanadaGorgeous crimson with a vibrant pink-rim, this killer fruit wine radiates the essence of raspberry. The nose is alive with tangy red berry aromas as well as the green leafy earthiness of the entire raspberry cane. The flavours are fresh and lively with a delicious sweet/tart aspect. Intense and lip-smacking, sizzling acidity balances the potent fruit in a way that dries out the wine's fruity sweetness. Try drinking this in the spirit of decent Beaujolias: with a juicy and spicy grilled merguez sausage, or with tender goat roti. Maan Farms is an Abbotsford institution, run by an exuberant family who have wisely engaged respected consuntant Laurent Lafuente to work with Gaurav Maan on the fruit wines.Prices: BC 20.00 Producer: Maan Farms Estate Winery
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Maan Farms Blueberry 2017

Fraser Valley, British Columbia, CanadaBlueberries are such a familiar summer specialty in BC, and this fruit wine interestingly has heightened aromas of ripe blueberries (of course!), combined with mulled spices and a captivating herbal complexity. The palate is tangy, tart and nicely bracing, featuring blue, purple and black fruit. The back label declares the wine to be dry, and it teeters between sweetly ripe fruit and zingy acidity, and is so cleansing, that the finish does indeed appear dry. Culinary uses are obvious: in marinades, salad dressings and sauces, but also splashed with soda for a delicious spritzer, or pair a glass with highly seasoned food like bbq chicken wings, or spicy chili. Maan Farms is an Abbotsford institution, run by an exuberant, industrious family who have wisely engaged respected consuntant Laurent Lafuente to work with Gaurav Maan on the fruit wines.Prices: BC 20.00 Producer: Maan Farms Estate Winery
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04 April 2020

Stag's Hollow Harttext
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Stag's Hollow Hart 2014

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaVery rich, sweet, and firey, like boozy Christmas cake (complete with rum butter) set aflame. Thankfully there's a frame of tannins to help hold all in place, and a raft of acidity to counter. The full palate carries sugarplums and vanilla cassis compote to a spiced finish. This is made of super ripe Merlot from Osoyoos East Bench, harvested in October 2013. Half way through fermentation (and to preserve the sugars) it was dosed with barrel aged grape spirit, and he free run wine was then drawn off, and the wine was then left to mature for 24 months before being bottled unfined and unfiltered. Take with the aforementioned Christmas cake, or rich dark chocolate and raspberry dessert.Prices: BC 40.00 500 Producer: Stag's Hollow Winery and Vineyard
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Stag's Hollow Royal NV

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaPouring a golden yellow hue, this very sweet elixir is like drinking floral syrup, with dense and intense white blossoms, lime essence, dried apricot, golden raisin, rich quince paste, filling the full palate to a very spirited, spiced ginger finish. Super sweet (205 g/l), though thankfully there is a well handled line of acidity to counter. This is the third release of NV Royal, a blend of orange muscat and ottonel muscat that fermented naturally, arrested halfway with the addition of barrel aged grape spirits, and transferred to older French oak barrels where it remained for a minimum of 5 years, with random exposure to the hot Okanagan sun.Prices: BC 40.00 500 Producer: Stag's Hollow Winery and Vineyard
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02 April 2020

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Play Starring Sauvignon Blanc 2019

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaMy first look at the Play Sauvignon reveals a fresh style with not a lot of aromatics but fairly intense flavours on the palate. The nose offers a faint hint of dried herbs and sagebrush before a soft, warm tropical fruit palate pushes forward. It has lovely ripeness with minimal residual, making it very quaffable and just the thing for a sunny patio while you are self-isolating. It has enough maturity to take on a spicy tuna roll or a lightly spiced curry. Ready to drink. A portion of the blend (25 percent) is kept on fine lees with regular bâtonnage and in a single barrel of François Frères French oak. A solid start. Play Estate sits above the Penticton Airport in the area known as the Wild Horse Mountains.Prices: BC 22.00 Producer: Play Estate Winery
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Greywacke Wild Sauvignon 2016

Marlborough, South Island, New ZealandGreywacke's Wild Sauvignon is one of those idiosyncratic wines folks look forward to tasting, and have been doing so since the cuvee began in 2009. In 2016, fruit comes from the Southern Valleys and the central Wairau Plains, and young alluvial greywacke-laden soils along with older, denser clay loams. This was native fermented over 6 months in French barrique (a small percent new), with random batonnage, and partial MLF. It was transferred to bottle in fall 2017, where it remained for 6 months prior to release. Wild and earthy, textured with heavy solids, this is a full bodied, weighty white that draws white asparagus, lime blossom, a kiss of soap, meadow grass, broken stone and lanolin along a plump palate, riveted with a salted lemon acidity. There's a notable wood spice at this youthful stage, though history shows this will mellow and cusp into another level in a few years time. For now, a bit of knees and elbows, so cellar for a year or two and enjoy.Prices: BC 36.00 Producer: Greywacke
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Nautilus Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2019

Marlborough, South Island, New ZealandNautilus continues to nail this category year after year, it's a label you can reach for with confidence if you love New Zealand sauvignon blanc. 2019 opens with intense citrus and passionfruit aromas that coat the palate. The mid-palate is zesty with vibrant, crunchy nectarine and a creamy fruit finish: all you could want in a sauvignon, along with a drizzle of lees. Serve with everything from fish tacos to a favourite vegetarian dish and use it anywhere you need a squeeze of lemon. Delicious and balanced.Prices: BC 26.99 ON 23.00 NS 25.00 MB 22.00 Producer: Nautilus Estate
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Lake Sonoma Sauvignon Blanc 2018

Russian River, Sonoma County, California, United StatesCalifornia sauvignon blanc is rarely tart and grassy, taking its cues from the sunshine, and offering a riper wine. Look for a candied lemon character that runs up against herbaceous lemongrass, and citrus rind that even reveals a touch of minerality. Yay. You could pair this with a classic goat cheese salad or a favourite of ours, a Margherita pizza. Well-chilled on the patio also works.Prices: BC 20.99 ON 24.00 QC 23.95 NB 25.49 Producer: Lake Sonoma Winery
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Matua Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2018

Marlborough, South Island, New ZealandMatua is said to have produced New Zealand’s first sauvignon blanc in 1974 in Auckland. The 2018 opens with a slightly earthy vegetal note, and is reduced open opening. The theme continues onot the palate with dried herbs, flecks of jalapeno and a peppery, light passionfruit palate. The fruit is a blend of sites across Marlborough's Wairau and Awatere Valleys. A bit flat but ready to drink. Think fish tacos.Prices: BC 22.49 QC 17.15 MB 18.00 NF 19.00 NS 19.00 AB 16.00 NB 20.49 Producer: Matua Valley Wines
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Bench 1775 Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2018

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaMultiple picks help to add a range of flavours and aromas to a wine that is traditonally lean and crisp, and 2018 is no exception. In all, six picks from the estate vineyard creates six very different wines that are blended and aged in 85 percent stainless steel and 15 percent French oak. Look for notes of grapefruit, sour lemons, green melon all in an energetic, fresh style that is best with food like spot prawns, creamy pasta, and chicken. Good value.Prices: BC 18.99 Producer: Bench 1775 Winery
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01 April 2020

Lamont Chardonnaytext
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Lamont Chardonnay 2018

Central Otago, South Island, New ZealandLamont is a family wine producer established in 1999 in Bendigo, Central Otago. This is 25 year old organically dry farmed Mendoza clone chardonnay from Minaret Peaks Vineyard, in Lake Wanaka. After whole bunch pressing, this was fermented in ceramic egg and oak barrels, with full MLF and lees stirring monthly. After ferment, this spent 11 months in barrel. Full and round on the layered palate, with white blossoms, pear, apple and white peach, swirled with cream and tensed with oak. Quite complete, ripe at 14 degrees but slimmed by a white grapefruit lacing which helps with freshness. A lingering hazelnuttiness on the finish.Prices: BC 44.99 Producer: Lamont
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Nautilus Estate Chardonnaytext
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Nautilus Estate Chardonnay 2018

Marlborough, South Island, New ZealandWinemaker Clive Jones nailed 2018, checking in at 13 percent alcohol with an intense nutty hazelnut nose and rich, creamy textures. There is a touch of yellow colour reflecting its 100 percent barrel fermentation in 20 percent new French oak. The palate is equally fresh and lively with nectarine, citrus, almonds that beckon you toward a mineral, stony finish. Despite one of the warmest seasons ever, this wine delivers all you want in a cool-climate Next World chardonnay. Forty percent of the 2018 blend is now from new Burgundian clonal plantings in their Renwick vineyard, which nicely complements their mature clone 15 on the same site. Whole roasted chicken stuffed with lemons is a great match. Super valuePrices: BC 29.99 Producer: Nautilus Estate
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Vasse Felix Filius Chardonnaytext
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Vasse Felix Filius Chardonnay 2017

Margaret River, Western Australia, AustraliaVasse Felix Chardonnay has always been a cult wine among Australians. Filius translates to 'son of' in Latin, reflecting the relationship between this second label and its premier father. The nose opens with tropical pineapple and grapefruit mixed with crunchy nectarine. The use of French oak (15 percent new) and lees management adds further complexity in the form of spice, almonds, and lemon curd. The attack is fresh with more intense citrus, green apple and sagebrush/herbaceous notes, with underlying stony, mineral, lean notes. Reliable and best with creamy and buttery dishes.Prices: BC 28.99 Producer: Vasse Felix Pty Ltd.
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Simi Chardonnaytext
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Simi Chardonnay 2018

Sonoma County, California, United StatesThis holds some lovely Sonoma coastal freshness up against Cali's inherent creamy, baked apple and pear. Lashings of oak and pads of creamy lees are cut with a slice of lemony acidity, saving this on the spicing finish. Simple, ready to drink Cali chard.Prices: ON 19.95 Producer: Simi Winery
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Cathedral Cellar Chardonnaytext
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Cathedral Cellar Chardonnay 2016

Coastal Region, South AfricaRipe, full, perfumed and creamy, with stemmy, stalky notes overriding green fruit and banana, to an orange tablet finish. There's an underripe note battling it out with an overripe note, leaving this overall disjointed and simple. Chill down, drink now,Prices: ON 17.95 Producer: KWV International
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Wakefield Estate Label Chardonnaytext
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Wakefield Estate Label Chardonnay 2018

Clare Valley, South Australia, AustraliaFresh lemon, cream, verbena and soft swirls of oak throughout this Clare Valley chardy. The finish tightens up smartly, with a nice twist of lemon pith acidity. After a whole bunch pressing, this went into French oak (10% new) and stainless for ferment and aging with battonage. After 4 months, all the lots were blended and married in stainless for tightening before bottling. A welcome 13 degrees alcohol.Prices: BC 16.95 Producer: Wakefield Wines Pty
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Joseph Drouhin Vaudon Chablis Réserve de Vaudontext
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Joseph Drouhin Vaudon Chablis Réserve de Vaudon 2018

Chablis, Burgundy, FranceThe Réserve has a slightly more vibrant, more expansive palate than the entry-level Vaudon, mixing biodynamically-farmed Drouhin estate fruit drawn primarily from Premier Crus Montée de Tonnerre and Mont de Milieu on the right bank, close by the Grand Cru terroirs. In 2018 the intensity was slightly ramped up by a warmer vintage but all in the best way. The attack has a rich pear and beeswax nose that tumbles onto the palate, where the textures are smoother and creamier in more of a Grand Cru style. It is delicious and very drinkable right now. Post fermentation, it spends eight months in stainless tanks on its lees. Drouhin has been around since the 1880s, with the current generation's great grandfather starting the business as a negociant. In the early 20th century, the family started as winemakers, purchasing and planting their first vineyards in the early 1960s.Prices: BC 39.99 AB 32.00 QC 32.00 Producer: Joseph Drouhin
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Lingua Franca Avni Chardonnay 2016

Willamette Valley, Oregon, United StatesAnvi is Latin for stone, or rock, and a hallmark found across the Willamette Valley. In contrast to Lingua Franca's single-vineyard wines, this is sourced from various sites across the greater Willamette, including Dundee, Salem, and Yamhill-Carlton. Mostly Dijon clones, this was harvest early, pressed and rested in tank for one day to settle and then a natural fermentation and full MLF before a year in French puncheons (20% new) and a tightening stint back in tank before a light filter and bottling. A lovely and potent flick of flint leads into green apple, lemon curd and peel, all textured with a subtle stony grain and shaped by its time in wood. There's a wonderful, natural lift and brightness here to this structural wine, drinking beautifully now but with a capacity to age—one of USA's top wineries.Prices: BC 69.00 QC 52.25 US 37.00 Producer: Lingua Franca
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