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Anthony Gismondi on Wine
Tasting Notes

Tastings: December 2020

30 December 2020

St. Hallett Faith Shiraztext
87PTS

St. Hallett Faith Shiraz 2018

Barossa Valley, South Australia, AustraliaGenerously Barossa, with heady purple and blue florals leading dense and fleshy blackberry, black plums, smoked sugarplums, and ample wood spicing that trails off into a eucalyptus note on the warming finish. If you're seeking a proper old school Barossa shiraz (albeit with a modicum of modern lift) for drinking now, here, you go.Prices: MB 22.56 Producer: St. Hallet Wines
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Luke Wines Syrahtext
90PTS

Luke Wines Syrah 2017

Wahluke Slope, Columbia Valley, Washington, United StatesWashington syrah is seldom shy, and the Luke edition is as full bodied as they come. The nose is a riot of pepper, licorice, sweet dark fruit, and chocolate. The attack is no less timid with similar flavours and power through a fully ripe finish. It is a mountain of wine for those who love big, ripe, round, soft syrah with sweet tannins. Definitely more of the New World style, packing a lot of power and oak. There will be a rush to drink this as it is, but we would wait and hope for more complexity to emerge as the fruit and oak dissipate. Time will tell, but 2018 is considered one of the best years in Washington wine in the last decades.Prices: BC 43.99 Producer: Luke Wines
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Township 7 Benchmark Series Syrah Fool's Gold Vineyardtext
87PTS

Township 7 Benchmark Series Syrah Fool's Gold Vineyard 2018

Oliver, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada2018 is a mix of super fresh, high acid, aromatic syrah with a smoky, peppery undercarriage. The attack is savoury with a tight palate of red fruits with medium-rich tannins and a campfire finish. This Oliver based wine lacks some mid-palate weighty fruit that made 2017 so attractive. Best to give this some time in bottle to pull it all together and perhaps put on a bit of weight. Be patient.Prices: BC 35.97 Producer: Township 7 Vineyards and Wineries
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Burrowing Owl Syrahtext
90PTS

Burrowing Owl Syrah 2018

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaA strange 2018 growing season began early and stalled under cool summer temperatures and smoky skies, before a warm fall kicked in to ripen the fruit. The longer growing season shifted the ripening to warm days and cold nights, tightening the acid, adding a fresh character to the wine. The fruit comes out of Osoyoos and Oliver’s Black Sage Bench, picked October 24 through November 9. The wine spends 15 months in a mix of oaks, including 54% French, 30% American, 13% Hungarian, 3% American, and 3% Russian. One-quarter of the barrels were new, and nearly 70 percent was third fill and older oak, with multiple rackings before being bottled unfiltered. 2018 (97/3 syrah/viognier) is a much drier style, with a lot less vanilla and baked fruit, and more savoury South Okanagan blackberry, black cherry, black plum that spill onto the palate. Graphite, black pepper, and fire-grilled red peppers fill out the back end. Youthful and not near ready to drink, this should be a good one.Prices: BC 35.00 AB 42.00 ON 40.95 Producer: Burrowing Owl Vineyards
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28 December 2020

Clos du Soleil Signaturetext
91PTS

Clos du Soleil Signature 2017

British Columbia, CanadaThis year's Signature, the winery's aptly named flagship blend, mixes cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet franc, petit verdot, and malbec from various vineyards in the Similkameen Valley. Each block was harvested separately, destemmed and native fermented in concrete before moving to French oak for 15 months aging. Upfront and powerful, this is a dense and fleshy blend of wild blackberry, ripe cassis, thorns, scrubby mint and desert sage. There's a freshness inherent that carries this bigger wine effortlessly to a spiced finish. This year has a sweet ripeness that makes it easy to drink and enjoy now, but a structure that will ensure it rests well in your cellar for a few years yet.Prices: BC 45.90 Producer: Clos du Soleil Winery
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Mac Forbes Hughtext
91PTS

Mac Forbes Hugh 2017

Yarra Valley, Victoria, AustraliaAs evidenced by the packaging, Hugh is an opus cabernet, with Yarra Valley sauvignon and franc perfumed with petit verdot, all planted in 1997 on granitic sands and loam. This was native fermented with 15% stems prior to 15 months in older oak, and bottled without fining or filtration. The stem inclusion (and franc inclusion) is evident from the green twinge up front, which lingers throughout the slender (12.5%) frame. Wild plum, cherry, red currant is tightened with a brisk cranberry acidity, and corseted with downy fine tannins. The finish lingers with a spiced sarsaparilla note. Drinking well now, this will continue to settle into itself over the next couple of years in your cellar. For now, open in advance, and serve with a slight chill. Hugh is named after Mac's father.Prices: BC 100.00 Producer: Mac Forbes
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Township 7 Benchmark Series NBO Blue Terrace Vineyardtext
88PTS

Township 7 Benchmark Series NBO Blue Terrace Vineyard 2018

Oliver, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaNBO (North Bench Oliver) is a 65/35 blend of cabernet sauvignon and merlot, seen in a cooler version in 2018. A two-three week period of wildfire smoke across the Okanagan blocked a lot of sunlight, slowing photosynthesis, and ultimately delaying the ripening long into the fall. In the end, the fruit came around and is showing quite a bit of Bordeaux-like structure and elegance. It is quite a change from last year's blockbuster style and one that should pay dividends down the road. This full-bodied wine was fermented over 16 days with twice daily pump-overs, prior to barrel-aging for 24 months in barriques and large format French oak.Prices: BC 35.97 Producer: Township 7 Vineyards and Wineries
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Torres Reserva Realtext
91PTS

Torres Reserva Real 2016

Penedès, Catalunya (Catalonia Cataluña), SpainReserva Real was first produced in 1995 following the visit of Juan Carlos I King of Spain to the winery. This limited production blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and cabernet franc comes from the slate soiled 4 hectare parcel of Les Arnes, from their Santa Margarida d'Agulladolç estate in Penedès. This spent 18 months in new French oak barrels. Pure dark cherry, wild cassis, tobacco leaf is imbued with dusky spices and wrapped with firm, wood-led tannins. Savoury and somewhat strict throughout, this needs still some time in bottle, or pairing with roast lamb now.Prices: ON 155.00 Producer: Miguel Torres Spain
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Poplar Grove The Legacytext
92PTS

Poplar Grove The Legacy 2016

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaIn 2016 cabernet franc returns to the lead, which undoubtedly attracted all the London accolades at the Decanter tasting. The ‘16 mix is 33/25/15/14/13 cabernet franc, malbec, merlot, cabernet sauvignon and petit verdot, and it opens with a savoury, cedar lead pencil nose with a whiff of red fruit. The entry is a similar style with fresh red cherry, dried herbs and dense but sweet tannins. Just a baby with good potential to get better in the bottle as the desert scrub and savoury notes of the Okanagan grow among the fruit. Should cellar easily through 2024 and beyond.Prices: BC 55.99 AB 56.99 SK 47.99 Producer: Poplar Grove Winery
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Telmo & Ruth Cabernet Sauvignon & Merlottext
87PTS

Telmo & Ruth Cabernet Sauvignon & Merlot 2019

Valle del Maule, Region del Valle Central, ChileThis 50/50 cabernet/merlot will be a hit with its perfectly ripe and modern dark fruit. Blueberries and Bing cherry are bathed in a swath of vanilla, in balance with slippery, easy-sipping tannins that allow you to drink this as soon as you get it home — the perfect mid-week pandemic pizza red, especially with spicy toppings.Prices: BC 18.99 AB 18.99 Producer: Viña Tinajas del Maule
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Mission Hill Compendiumtext
93PTS

Mission Hill Compendium 2017

Osoyoos, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaCompendium is a 62/29/9 mix of cabernet sauvignon/merlot/cabernet franc that comes off selected blocks in Osoyoos, close to the US border. It is fermented in small French fermenters and aged 18 months in French oak barrels. Compendium has grown over the years, favouring a more singular style, meshing components early on for a long run in the bottle. 2017 is a great example of where this cabernet dominant blend is heading. Even at 14.6 percent alcohol, there is a sense of balance. A late start and a hot summer shortened the crop, concentrating the berries and intensifying the flavours. The attack is quite harmonious, with cassis and black cherry mixing with licorice and dense, sweet, elegant tannins with the complexity you crave at this price point. Just a baby, this will age effortlessly through 2025 and beyond. If you must open it now, think lamb or rich pork dishes.Prices: BC 81.99 AB 80.00 ON 80.00 Producer: Mission Hill Family Estate
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22 December 2020

Bodega Noemía A Lisatext
92PTS

Bodega Noemía A Lisa 2017

Rio Negro, Patagonia, ArgentinaBodega Noemía is a very special collaboration between Danish winemaker Hans Vinding-Diers (cousin of Peter Sisseck of Pingus), and Countess Noemi Marone Cinzano. The project was inspired by the discovery of a small plot of old vine, pre-phylloxera malbec in the Río Negro Valley, in southern Argentina's Patagonia. A Lisa is a blend of malbec with 9% merlot and 1% petit verdot, blending estate and neighbouring fruit. This was fermented 10% whole clusters, and aged in used barriques and stainless vats for 10 months. Taut and driven, with alluring stony black cherry, black plum, scrubby wild herbs, and fine, structural tannins to a lengthy, spiced finish. Lovely Patagonian freshness here, with intensity of fruit, in a streamlined 13% package.Prices: BC 32.00 QC 25.00 ON 26.00 MB 38.00 Producer: Bodega Noemia
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Kaiken Selección Especial Malbectext
89PTS

Kaiken Selección Especial Malbec 2018

Mendoza, ArgentinaNamed for the bird that migrates back and forth between Chile and Argentina, Kaiken is made by well known Chilean winemaker Aurelio Montes, along with his son Aurelio Montes Jr from vineyards in Vistalba and Agrelo and is aged for 6 months in new and used French oak. Rich and dense on the palate, with potent blackberry, dark cherry, and dried violets. The wood is present but absorbed well into the plush fruit, leaving soft, plumped tannins to guide this to the espresso finish. Quite polished and suitable for premium grilled meats.Prices: BC 15.99 SK 19.99 ON 15.95 Producer: Montes Wines
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Chateau les Croisille Le Croizillon Cahorstext
88PTS

Chateau les Croisille Le Croizillon Cahors 2018

Cahors, Sud-Ouest, FranceThis organic malbec comes from various vineyards around Cahors, and vines 30 years old rooted in limestone laced soils. Grapes were picked early and macerated for a short amount of time before a native ferment and aging 6 months in stainless and concrete. Juicy black plum, blackberry, sap run the fresh palate, lofted with acidity, and framed with powdery, grippy sides to a bitter blackcurrant finish. Pour now alongside grilled flank steak or sausages.Prices: ON 20.95 Producer: Chateau les Croisille
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Bodega de Arte Claroscuro Malbectext
88PTS

Bodega de Arte Claroscuro Malbec 2017

Vista Flores, Valle de Uco, Tunuyán, Central Region, Mendoza, ArgentinaThis newish family wine project undertaken by Gustavo and Paula Cucchiara in 2012 when they were touring the Uco Valley's Vistaflores Tunuyán and fell in love with Finca San Francisco because of its slopes and view to the Andes. They purchased the property and renamed it Bodega de Arte, reflecting their love of the arts. This Art Winery selects a different label for each cuvée and vintage, depending on what the wine is trying to express. This malbec comes from their Vistaflores vineyard, at 1054m from sandy loam soils. The wines aged 9 months in a mix of French and American barrels. This is fragrant with purple and blue fruits and florals: boysenberry, blueberry, violets, plum, all backed by nutmeg, smoke, and dark cocoa spicing. Tannins are lightly grippy but well proportioned to the wine's 13.5%. Best taken with grilled sausages, portobello mushrooms, or skirt steak.Prices: BC 22.00 Producer: Bodega de Arte
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Andean Vineyards Reserve Malbectext
88PTS

Andean Vineyards Reserve Malbec 2018

Mendoza, ArgentinaJuicy and ripe, with peppery black fruit, baked plum, roasted coffee, grilled meats and grilled herbs on a dry, savoury palate. This has a welcome edge of rusticity and less of the uber-ripe sweeter fruit that can dumb down others in this category. Tannins are fine and firm, and this finishes with a wave of peppery spices. Serve with grilled meats, as intended.Prices: BC 19.99 Producer: Andean Vineyards
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Condor Peak Malbectext
85PTS

Condor Peak Malbec 2019

Mendoza, ArgentinaThis simple, entry level Mendozan malbec is plump with tart black currants, plum jam, grilled root veg, and roasted coffee. The palate is short and soft to the tart finish.Prices: BC 12.99 PEI 11.30 Producer: Andean Vineyards
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Finca La Linda Private Selection Old Vines Malbectext
87PTS

Finca La Linda Private Selection Old Vines Malbec 2018

Maipú, Northern Region, Mendoza, ArgentinaOld Vines in this case means 30+ year old vines planted at 960m elevation in Mendoza. It's clean and correct, if not overly complex, combining blackberry compote with smoky, espresso-tinged oak. It should have broad appeal thanks to its soft acidity and smooth tannins that are polished by 5 g/L residual sugar. It has the fruit ripeness to go up against smoky grilled meats, but on its own just finishes a touch thin.Prices: BC 19.99 AB 19.99 ON 15.95 Producer: Luigi Bosca
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Kaiken Selección Especial Malbectext
89PTS

Kaiken Selección Especial Malbec 2018

Mendoza, ArgentinaThis opens with juicy blueberry alongside a healthy amount of chocolatey oak after briefly ageing in a combination of new and used French oak for six months. It’s certainly ripe, but there's still freshness and nice definition to the fruit, which is rare at this price point. The palate is suave and smooth thanks to a small residual sugar dose (6 g/L), but without crossing into sweet red territory. There’s no shortage of malbecs on the shelf at this price, but this is a cut above the norm. Recommended.Prices: BC 15.99 SK 19.99 ON 15.95 Producer: Montes Wines
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21 December 2020

Covert Farms Syrah Grand Reservetext
89PTS

Covert Farms Syrah Grand Reserve 2018

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaFrom their organically farmed McIntyre Estate, this syrah comes from Coyote Block, planted 2007-2008 at 420m. This was aged 21 months in French oak, and only 42 cases were produced. Wild cassis, blackberry, thorns, espresso fill the density of this medium+ savoury red, with slightly sticky tannins hugging the plumped core to a peppery spiced finish. Nice balance and authenticity here. Well suited to your mushroom / pork ragouts now.Prices: BC 40.80 Producer: Covert Farms Family Estate
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Covert Farms Syrah Grand Reservetext
88PTS

Covert Farms Syrah Grand Reserve 2018

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaMid-to-late summer smoke delayed ripening in the south Okanagan, although a fall warm spell helped some varieties catch up before it was too late. The syrah fruit comes off the ominously named Coyote Block, and is certified organic. It was picked on November 1. The nose is still a bit closed, showing light aromatics before the black and white pepper kicks in. The attack is fresh and vibrant with cool blueberry mixing with black raspberry and tailing off into a fresh, clean finish. Far too young at this point to be fully assessed. It is some of the best winemaking we have seen from Covert Farms, which is very encouraging.Prices: BC 40.80 Producer: Covert Farms Family Estate
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Moon Curser Contraband Syrahtext
90PTS

Moon Curser Contraband Syrah 2018

Osoyoos, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe Contraband Syrah takes the ripeness up a notch. The fruit is jammy and pushes into the blue fruit spectrum, but there’s no mistaking this for an Australian shiraz, thanks to the Okanagan savouriness. This is denser and richer than Moon Curser's main tier syrah, easily swallowing up the 30 percent new oak, with fine, grainy tannins and just enough acidity to make it all work. A hedonistic pour that’s perfect heading into the winter months, and good value, too. Sourced from a west-facing block of Bartsch Vineyard.Prices: BC 31.99 Producer: Moon Curser
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Moon Curser Syrahtext
89PTS

Moon Curser Syrah 2018

Osoyoos, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis embodies everything that I love about Okanagan syrah: ripe, forward fruit that doesn’t come at the cost of savoury complexity. It shows a youthful nose of sweet blackberries with olive, smoked meat, and smokey oak. There’s a sweetness to the attack, with no shortage of ripeness, but it still retains its freshness, even at 14.8% abv. An approachable style, thanks to its smooth tannins, that is already drinking well now.Prices: BC 26.99 Producer: Moon Curser
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Le Vieux Pin Equinoxe Syrahtext
93PTS

Le Vieux Pin Equinoxe Syrah 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaÉquinoxe is all about balance: equal day, equal night, equal heat of the day, equal cold of the night, and equal New World, Old World. But more than that, it represents the top of the syrah chain at Le Vieux Pin, and one of the best in the Okanagan Valley. The fruit comes off a mix of South Okanagan Valley sub-appellations honouring the adage of the sum is always greater than its parts blending method. In 2017 the wine was monumental and elegant in itself, a win-win, but on the palate, it is simply a joy to taste and sip, and it has a long life ahead of it. From wild brambly dark fruit to savoury desert scrub laced with licorice and pepper, this is brooding, complex, and will age effortlessly. Brava.Prices: BC 89.99 Producer: Le Vieux Pin
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Gold Hill Syrahtext
87PTS

Gold Hill Syrah 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaTypically Gold Hill, the style is big and rich, and at 15.6 percent alcohol, it is warm to boot. The attack is soupy with spicy licorice, peppery notes on the nose that spill across a similar warm palate of black fruit, more pepper, and plenty of vanilla. Soft and round, you can drink this now, and I suggest lamb or grilled beef to take on the power and weight. A little less of everything would go a long way to allowing this wine to show more Okanagan and less oak.Prices: BC 23.39 Producer: Gold Hill Winery
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Wakefield Shiraztext
88PTS

Wakefield Shiraz 2018

Clare Valley, South Australia, AustraliaRich, fleshy, and full, this potent shiraz came from the Taylor family estate in Clare Valley. After destemming and ferment in stainless, this, along with the hard press, aged in American oak for one year. Big blackberry jam, mint, cassis, mocha floods the juicy palate, sweet with the Aussie sun, though propped upright by a spike of acidity. Tannins are plush and ample, guiding this to a soft landing. Ready to drink now.Prices: BC 20.00 Producer: Wakefield Wines Pty
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Lindemans Shiraz (Can)text
85PTS

Lindemans Shiraz (Can) 2018

South Eastern Australia, AustraliaQuite a strange little wine. First off, it's a cup of Shiraz in a can. Second, it's only 9% alcohol, which is unheard of in Aussie Shiraz. And third, it's canned in Sonoma, California. It's also quite sweet and jammy on the short palate, with candied raspberries, blackberry jam, and soft, cushy tannins. Tastes more like cassis soda, which is kind of near what it is. I guess if you want your cassis soda to have a little booze and be portable, here you go.Prices: BC 2.49 250 AB 4.79 250 SK 4.99 250 MB 4.40 250 ON 4.45 250 QC 5.95 250 NB 4.95 250 PEI 5.49 250 NS 3.99 NFL 5.95 Producer: Lindemans Wines
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Lindemans Shiraz (Can)text
85PTS

Lindemans Shiraz (Can) 2018

South Eastern Australia, AustraliaThis looks like Lindemans' Bin 50 Shiraz, but it's not. Instead, you get a red wine that's arguably better suited to the can format. It's noticeably sweet with 18 g/L residual sugar (Bin 50 is "only" 11 g/L), negligible tannin, and alcohol that has been notched back to 9% abv. A smart choice, because you can imagine many people drinking this like a beer (or hard seltzer). It drinks best well chilled, which suits the jammy black fruit just fine.Prices: BC 2.49 250 AB 4.79 250 SK 4.99 250 MB 4.40 250 ON 4.45 250 QC 5.95 250 NB 4.95 250 PEI 5.49 250 NS 3.99 NFL 5.95 Producer: Lindemans Wines
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Peter Lehmann The Barossan Shiraztext
89PTS

Peter Lehmann The Barossan Shiraz 2017

Barossa Valley, South Australia, AustraliaThis is sourced from vineyards across the different sub-regions of the Barossa Valley to produce, in their words, THE Barossan. The result is, well, a classic Barossa shiraz: jammy black fruits and eucalyptus, backed by no shortage of coconut and chocolate from a combination of American and French oak. The palate is not as dense or concentrated as the nose would suggest, though there's still a sweetness to the fruit and it does clock in at 14.5% abv. 2017 was a cooler vintage, relatively speaking, and that's helped to keep this fresh and balanced. Good value.Prices: BC 22.99 AB 22.95 MB 23.09 NS 22.98 Producer: Peter Lehmann Wines Limited
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18 December 2020

Mullineux Olerasay No. 2 Solera Aged Straw Winetext
95PTS

Mullineux Olerasay No. 2 Solera Aged Straw Wine NV

Swartland, Coastal Region, South AfricaThis is one of South Africa's top sweet wines, and for a country with a long and glorious history of sweet wines, that's high praise. This is old vine Chenin Blanc sourced from the stony schist soils of the Kasteelberg, and the decomposed granite soils of the Paardeberg, in the Swartland. After harvesting the grapes at normal ripeness, they are left to dry in the shade of some trees for a few weeks, desiccating the grapes and concentrating their sugars. When the grapes have shrivelled to half size, they are crushed and pressed whole-bunch into old 225L barrels. After a native ferment over 9 months, this is complete, naturally sweet. They hold back a barrel or two of this straw wine every year to blend into their Solera. Since they're not allowed to use the Portuguese term Solera legally, they've decided to call this wine Olerasay. This is No. 2 in the series, from barrels from 2008 through 2019. Pouring a golden hue, this is rich with baked apricot, honeysuckle, marmalade cascading across the lengthy palate, all strung with potent acidity to balance out the 331 g/L RS. Though only 8.5%, this is needlessly quite intense, and a little goes a long way. Good thing the bottle is pretty much bulletproof, so if you can keep yourself from finishing it (try with maple pie, or hazelnut torte), it will hold in your fridge until the next sweet craving. A fantastic wine.Prices: BC 140.00 375 Producer: Mullineux Wines
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Spearhead Botrytis Affected Late Harvest Rieslingtext
89PTS

Spearhead Botrytis Affected Late Harvest Riesling 2019

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis late harvest riesling comes off young vines in Orchard Block Vineyard, planted in 2016 in South East Kelowna. The fruit was picked by hand at 31.5 Brix, and stomped in picking bins to get some skin contact and release the sugar from the dehydrated raisinated fruit. It was fermented cold in stainless steel and neutral French oak barrels. The colour is light, and the wine is reasonably light on the palate despite a large amount of residual sugar led by aromas of ripe red apples, apricots, citrus, and honey. Smooth and rich, it has an unctuous mouthfeel reminiscent of a German Auslese level riesling. Creamy but never cloying, think crème brûlée or Tarte Tatin.Prices: BC 25.00 375 Producer: Spierhead Winery
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Sperling Late Harvest Pinot Gristext
89PTS

Sperling Late Harvest Pinot Gris 2010

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaA new release, this ten-year-old pinot gris had bunches affected by botrytis, and was specially selected, berry-by-berry, trockenbeerenauslese style. The elegant, unmistakeable noble rot scents bring a light, honeyed tone to this wine, with plenty of acidity to keep it all fresh and in balance. Very Sauternes-like, it is an elegant, medium-sweet, late harvest that shows the north Okanagan vineyards' unending diversity. Try this with roasted nuts, mature cheese, or even foie gras. Ready to drink.Prices: BC 40.00 375 Producer: Sperling Vineyards
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Sperling Late Harvest Vidaltext
90PTS

Sperling Late Harvest Vidal 2018

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaDeep clay soils with minute limestone particles high in calcium and minerals are the home base for these vidal vines. The nose is a mix of new shower curtain and orange blossoms with a touch of fresh honey. Similar notes spill across the palate in what I would describe as intensely sweet and luscious. I love the long, persistent peachy finish, perfectly tempered by the right amount of acidity. You can drink this or serve it with fruit desserts or chocolate cake.Prices: BC 30.00 375 Producer: Sperling Vineyards
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Chateau d'Armajan des Ormes Sauternestext
91PTS

Chateau d'Armajan des Ormes Sauternes 2016

Sauternes, Graves, Bordeaux, FranceThe brothers Jacques and Guillaume Perromat are 6th generation vintners at Chateau d'Armajan des Ormes at Priegnac, in the middle of Sauternes. The 65/30/5 semillon/sauvignon blanc/muscadelle blend results from five successive passes through the vineyard, searching for prized botrytised bunches. The wine is barrel aged for 24 months, adding extra complexity to a lush dessert wine. Look for candied citrus and peach flecked with honey and butterscotch. Undervalued and underrated, this is a terrific introduction to Sauternes at a modest price.Prices: BC 29.99 375 AB 29.95 ON 28.95 Producer: Château D'Armajan des Ormes
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Clos du Soleil Saturntext
89PTS

Clos du Soleil Saturn 2018

Keremeos, Similkameen Valley, British Columbia, CanadaSaturn is a late harvest sauvignon blanc grown at Whispered Secret Vineyard in Keremeos, Similkameen Valley. The nose is lifted and volatile with intense pineapple and lemon that run throughout the wine. It's hard to believe a wine can be this fresh with 146 g/L residual sugar, but it is lively and persistent, and well, it is the Similkameen. Despite its front end volatility, it remains an interesting dessert wine worth tasting at the modest price they ask for it.Prices: BC 31.90 375 Producer: Clos du Soleil Winery
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16 December 2020

Pascal Clément Saint Romaintext
92PTS

Pascal Clément Saint Romain 2016

Burgundy, FranceFrom Saint Romain, a region larger and less well known than Saint-Aubin (thus a hidden gem for value-seekers), this was native fermented in foudres, where it was held for a year. Pascal, well known for his exceptional white wines, loves using older large barrels for his whites, as he feels it brings out the saltiness in the wine. Pascal also never uses bâtonnage on his wines, leaving them on full lees in barrels after pressing. This is a powerful white, expansive on the medium-bodied palate, with candle wax, perfumed white florals, pear, and driving mineral salts through the long finish. Great energy and verve. Very youthful still.Prices: ON 54.95 Producer: Pascal Clément
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Pascal Clément Saint Romaintext
93PTS

Pascal Clément Saint Romain 2015

Burgundy, FranceFrom Saint Romain, a region larger and less well known than Saint-Aubin (thus a hidden gem for value-seekers), this was native fermented in foudres, where it was held for a year. Pascal, well known for his exceptional white wines, loves using older large barrels for his whites, as he feels it brings out the saltiness in the wine. Pascal also never uses batonnage on his wines, leaving them on full lees in barrels after pressing. Due to the warm 2015 vintage, Pascal decided not to do MLF here, as he normally does. Licks of reduction and savoury brown butter are woven throughout this textural wine, with flax, meadow grass, broken stones and a persistent wash of salts through the lingering finish. Quite fresh now, even considering the vintage, this elegant wine is drinking beautifully now, with time ahead.Prices: ON 46.95 Producer: Pascal Clément
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Torres Milmanda Chardonnaytext
89PTS

Torres Milmanda Chardonnay 2017

Conca de Barbera, Catalunya (Catalonia Cataluña), SpainFrom deep, silty calcareous clays of the Conca de Barberà, this was fermented in 300L French barrels (50% new) followed by a partial MLF. The wine then aged for 6 months in barrel, followed by a 10 month tightening stint in stainless with periodic bâtonnage. White honey, lemon blossoms, is tightened with crystalline lemon and slicked with herbal lees. There's a lovely light phenolic grip to the sides, finishing with moreish lemon verbena note on a lengthy finish. This has certainly moved the needle consistently tighter and fresher over the years.Prices: QC 60.00 Producer: Miguel Torres Spain
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Domaine du Chalet Pouilly Pouilly-Fuissétext
90PTS

Domaine du Chalet Pouilly Pouilly-Fuissé 2018

Pouilly-Fuissé, Mâconnais, Burgundy, FranceIt’s been a decade since we last tasted this wine, and it has done nothing but improve along the way. This is a full-bodied Pouilly-Fuissé, with a mix of green apples, ripe peaches, hazelnuts, and honey, finished with fresh acidity and an undercurrent of stony minerality, light lees, and nectarine skin that keeps it all bright. Sole Meuniere, anyone?Prices: BC 37.99 Producer: Domaine du Chalet Pouilly
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Jean Loron Rift 71 Sans Soufretext
87PTS

Jean Loron Rift 71 Sans Soufre 2018

Mâcon-Villages, Mâconnais, Burgundy, FranceThe roots of this family owned winery go back to 1711, and the 8th generation of family members currently oversee the negotiant operations. Jean Loron's chief winemaker, Jean-Pierre Rodet, first made wine under the guidance of Jules Chauvet, the famous scientist and oenologist widely recognised as a father of the natural wine movements. From the Mâconnais, this chardonnay was fermented and briefly rested in stainless, with no sulphur throughout. Tight and bright with lemon, pear, apple, this is a clean and fresh version of the grape in the Mâcon, bedded with a slight cushion of lees, and finishing bright and zippy. Naked chardy, as it were, and smartly so.Prices: ON 35.00 Producer: Jean Loron
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Devil's Lair Honeycomb Chardonnaytext
90PTS

Devil's Lair Honeycomb Chardonnay 2019

Margaret River, Western Australia, AustraliaThe Honeycomb Chardonnay is the chardonnay we have all been waiting for to drink. It’s a compilation of all the things we want in a modern chardonnay while at the same time eliminating all the things we dislike about old-style chardonnay. The nose engages with a fragrant, ripe freshness, citrus and just the right amount of lees and reduction. The palate is bright and juicy with delicious mineral, honeycomb, and stone fruit covered in citrus before a clean lip-smacking finish. My bottle disappeared in minutes, and we needed a second one for dinner. Watch out, BC, this is competition.Prices: BC 24.99 Producer: Devil's Lair Vineyard
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Jean Collet & Fils Chablistext
89PTS

Jean Collet & Fils Chablis 2018

Chablis, Burgundy, FranceJean Collet started Domaine Collet in 1954, the heir of a Chablis grape-growing family since 1792. It passed down to his son, and how to grandson Romain, in charge of his first vintage at age 21 when his father fell ill. Romain moved the domaine to native yeast, and organic and biodynamic farming. This wine comes vineyards in Villy, Vallée du Valvent, Préhy, and the Valley de Chigot, all on kimmeridgian limestone marl bedrock and clay topsoil. Grapes were planted between 1978-83, underwent a native ferment with full MLF, and aged on lees in steel for 11 months with no batonnage. From the generous 2018 vintage, this is bedded with a lovely generous base of herbal lees, basing meyer lemon, ripe pear, orange blossom, threaded with tightening threads of tangerine pith. Friendly Chablis ready to drink now.Prices: BC 40.00 Producer: Jean Collet et Fils
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De Wetshof Limestone Hill Chardonnaytext
89PTS

De Wetshof Limestone Hill Chardonnay 2019

Robertson, Breede River Valley, South AfricaDe Wetshof has always been committed to site-specific chardonnay production, and this label is an example of what can be done when you work deliberately and conscientiously. Add that to a highly prized vintage, like 2019, and you get a winner. The unwooded Limestone is brilliantly fresh and clean with a stony, citrus mineral sheen that coats the palate from front to back with a creamy lees character that offsets the crispness. Complex, affordable and ready to drink, it ticks all the marks to buy. Quebec's price calls for a back up the truck; the price in BC rhymes with truck the consumer.Prices: BC 26.99 QC 16.25 Producer: De Wetshof Estate
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Cambria Chardonnay Katherine's Vineyardtext
90PTS

Cambria Chardonnay Katherine's Vineyard 2018

Santa Maria Valley, Santa Barbara County, Central Coast, California, United StatesRetasted six months down the road, and I stick with my original review. Cambria is slowly tweaking this wine, freshening the upfront attack and focusing on the purity of tropical Santa Barbara fruit. The site is located on the coastal Santa Maria Bench in Santa Barbara County. Typically typical fog-blanketed and cool, its fossilized seashells, shale, limestone, and sand soils are planted to the Wente selection, and clones 4, 76, 96. You will love the brightness here, with intense citrus, apple, pink grapefruit, and tangerine, and plenty of fresh west coast acidity. Cracked crab, anyone?Prices: BC 28.99 Producer: Cambria Estate Vineyard & Winery
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La Crema Sonoma Coast Chardonnaytext
89PTS

La Crema Sonoma Coast Chardonnay 2018

Sonoma Coast, Sonoma County, California, United StatesThe Sonoma Coast version of La Crema Chardonnay is always the richest version of the brand's many chardonnays, mixing ripe red apple and lemon curd with a swath of baking spice and vanilla-scented oak. The attack in 2018 is marked by a toasted hazelnut undercurrent that penetrates through the creamy lees textures and honeyed fruit. Solid and ready to drink, you can serve this with crab, lobster, creamy pasta dishes, or roasted chicken dishes. The fruit is a Sonoma Coast lesson in geography, boasting a broad mix of clones from across the region, all barrel fermented and aged in a mix of French and American wood.Prices: BC 31.99 AB 28.99 ON 32.95 QC 26.60 MB 28.99 NF 32.87 PEI 39.69 NB 40.48 Producer: La Crema
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Murphy-Goode Chardonnaytext
87PTS

Murphy-Goode Chardonnay 2018

California, United StatesI like this quietly cool coastal California nose that plays to cooler notes of lemons, green apple, and peach, with only a hint of honeysuckle that points you to the Golden State. Murphy Goode is under the purvey of Jackson Family Wines, so there has been a subtle leaning in style, perhaps so subtle you may have missed it. The flavours are lively with citrus, caramel, clove, and butter, but nothing is too overpowering. It’s a mid-weight introductory-style chardonnay that is all it can be for the price in Canada. A happy balance of sweet fruit and citrus zest is the key to everyone wanting to finish the bottle.Prices: BC 19.99 AB 16.00 QC 18.60 NB 24.99 Producer: Murphy-Goode
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Elio Grasso Educato Langhe Chardonnaytext
90PTS

Elio Grasso Educato Langhe Chardonnay 2017

Langhe, Cuneo, Piedmont, ItalyEducato is a new chardonnay for us, but it is a good one. The vineyard was planted back in 1985, with the first official release in 1990. The densely planted site faces southeast at 380-400 metres on a moderately loose-packed, slightly sandy, limestone base. The fruit is picked early in September to beat the final ripening cycle, and the fermentation is a mix of stainless steel and wood. The result is a super fresh, mineral, green apple style with a twist of lees. At home on any dinner table.Prices: BC 58.00 Producer: Elio Grasso
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15 December 2020

Ca' di Ponti Nero d'Avolatext
88PTS

Ca' di Ponti Nero d'Avola 2018

Sicily, ItalyEstablished in 2003, Adria Vini is a winemaking venture jointly owned by Boutinot and Araldica, the latter being the leading co-operative in the Monferrato hills of Piemonte. The aim is to produce authentic, well-priced wines from local grape varieties. The fruit is a mix from a trio of sites across Sicily, two from the southwest and the other from mature, low yielding vines at Pachino in eastern Sicily, the Classico region for Nero d’Avola. The style is juicy and fresh with a touch of the Boutinot allure that makes their wines so drinkable. Uncomplicated, this red wine can be served with a sausage pizza, a beef burrito, or a cheeseburger. Fine value.Prices: BC 17.49 Producer: Adria Vini
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Da Vero Catarratto Vino Rosso Biologicotext
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Da Vero Catarratto Vino Rosso Biologico 2019

Sicily, ItalyAraldica is a third-generation, family-operated co-operative based in Piedmont that remains faithful to artisanal winegrowing. Over time it has expanded its reach by working with local farmers and growers throughout Italy to produce authentic wine, enter Da Vero. This co-operative in southwestern Sicily has the island’s largest organic vine plantings and has worked with Araldica for years. Daverro means really, or naturally, in Italian. The Nero d’Avola here comes off organic vineyards, converted in 2007. Expect a ripe, juicy nose and palate of black raspberry and brambleberry with light tannins and a classic dry Italian finish. Best with rustic fare like spaghetti and meatballs, casseroles, or grilled beef. Good value at an attractive price.Prices: BC 15.49 Producer: Araldica Vini Piemontesi
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Alta Mora Etna Rossotext
90PTS

Alta Mora Etna Rosso 2017

Sicily, ItalyAlta Mora belongs to the Cusumano family, and was the chance to fulfill a lifelong dream for the Cusumano brothers. This nerello mascalese comes from the high altitude, black, dynamic soils on the slopes of active Mount Etna, reflected in the name of the winery (Alta Mora). The vineyards are planted up to 1000m. After a month-long maceration and ferment, this finished MLF in stainless before heading to 2000L barrels for a short stint. Beauty herbal plum, boysenberry rides the fresh, medium palate, with fine, long, lightly grippy and well integrated tannins framing this to a spiced finish. Ample freshness and verve for its 14%.Prices: BC 40.00 Producer: Alta Mora
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Torrevento Vigna Pedale Castel del Monte Rosso Riservatext
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Torrevento Vigna Pedale Castel del Monte Rosso Riserva 2014

Puglia, ItalyThe Torrevento (Tower of the Winds) in Corato has been family owned since 1948, currently in the hands of the Liantonio brothers. Located in the middle of the Parco Rurale della Murgia, 13kn from the sea, this has been a leader in environmental protection and sustainability.These nero di troia grapes are rooted at 350-450m, and aged one year in old wood barrels. Worn leather, wood, dried cherry, and perfumed rosemary fill the subtle palate, now softened with time. Tannins are well integrated, guiding this to a gentle finish. Drinking very well know, especially with truffled pastas or squid ink risotto.Prices: BC 35.00 Producer: Torrevento, Azienda Vinicola
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Argiolas Perdera Monica di Sardegnatext
89PTS

Argiolas Perdera Monica di Sardegna 2017

Cagliari, Sardinia, ItalyEver heard of the monica grape before? Fret not; this grape grows exclusively on Sardegna (Sardinia). Perdera means place of many stones, reflecting the environment this monica grew up in. 5% Carignano, and 5% Bovale Sardo were tipped in, and the lot was aged in neutral barrels and cement vats to preserve freshness. Voluptuous black plum, cassis, blackberry jam fills the soft palate, imbued with a rocky Mediterranean scrub that sets its place. Tannins are present, lightly sticky, but well-integrated and supportive of the fruit. Quite charming, and with a freshness unexpected for a bigger, 14% red.Prices: BC 32.00 Producer: Argiolas
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Leone de Castris Salice Salentino Riservatext
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Leone de Castris Salice Salentino Riserva 2013

Puglia, ItalyFrom 40 year old vines, this is a blend of negromaro and black malvasia, with one year in 30 hl barrel and 6 months bottle age prior to release. Dark, deep, and sultry, this shows wild cassis, perfumed mulberry, and prune, threaded with a line of anise, fresh oregano, and bedded with worked leather. Tannins are worn with time, quite well integrated, and lightly sticky. Ready for drinking now, with roasted root veg and / or beef.Prices: BC 30.00 Producer: Leone de Castris
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Alta Mora Etna Rossotext
88PTS

Alta Mora Etna Rosso 2015

Sicily, ItalyAlta Mora belongs to the Cusumano family, and was the chance to fulfill a lifelong dream for the Cusumano brothers. This nerello mascalese comes from the high altitude, black, dynamic soils on the slopes of active Mount Etna, reflected in the name of the winery (Alta Mora). The vineyards are planted up to 1000m. After a month-long maceration and ferment, this finished MLF in stainless before heading to 2000L barrels for a short stint. Now browning a little with age, the vibrant fruit is showing some autumnal notes, with dried cherry creeping in amongst black currant, and balsamic notes. Tannins are well integrated, hugging this to the spiced finish. Would be prime now with grilled mushrooms or pork dishes. apes contribute gritty tannins and vibrant acidity.Prices: BC 40.00 Producer: Alta Mora
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Argiolas Serra Loritext
88PTS

Argiolas Serra Lori 2017

Sardinia, ItalySerra Lori is a dry rosato blended from Sardinian classics Cannonau, Monica, Carignano, and Bovale Sardo, sourced from two of their vineyards' calcareous clay and loam soils, and 30-40 year old vines at approximately 300m. The medium orange/salmon hue comes from 6 hours maceration on skins, prior to a ferment and short 1 month stint in stainless, on lees. Full and mouth-filling, with a slick of glycerol padding strawberry jam, ripe raspberry, orange blossom, and sweet spice. A Full, elegant style ready to take on a hearty bouillabaisse.Prices: BC 25.00 Producer: Argiolas
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Jorche Soltema Primitivo del Salentotext
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Jorche Soltema Primitivo del Salento 2017

Salento, Puglia, ItalyDalila and Emanuela Gianfreda are fifth generation winemakers at Jorche, overseeing the 31 hectares of vines surrounding their Salento family estate. This Primitivo grows in the red, iron-oxide rich sandstones throughout the property. This aged 9 months in barrels and 3 months in bottle prior to release. Soft and sun-ripened with cassis, wild plum, dark cherry, dried roses, and old wood flooding the full palate, bound by cushy tannins and finishing with savoury baking spices. This is a big, generous red, ready for your rustic stews.Prices: ON 19.95 Producer: Jorche
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Messer Ototext
88PTS

Messer Oto 2017

Basilicata, ItalyCantine Madonna della Grazie is a small winery in Venosa, in the heart of Vulture. Messer Oto is their 'entry-level' agliancio from this producer, meant to be enjoyed in youth as it sees only stainless. From their Contrada Piano di Camera vineyard, this is bright with juicy black cherry, sweet black raspberry, red florals on the medium-bodied palate, finishing with cracked pink and black peppercorn. Tannins are lightly sticky, welcoming pairing with pork or roasted root veg.Prices: ON 19.95 Producer: Cantine Madonna Delle Grazie
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SCEGtext
92PTS

SCEG 2018

Basilicata, ItalyIn 2016, Elena Fucci, responsible for saving her family’s high altitude, volcanic soiled vineyards and solidifying the appellation with her singular Titolo cru, began another passion project, SCEG, to help out friends of her 94-year-old grandfather Generoso. To preserve their vines and tradition, she makes this special wine from his friends’ vines, four parcels near her family’s vineyards, and vines ageing 70+ years. SGEC (pronounced Sheg) is organically farmed Aglianico, spending one year in 500L tonneaux and 6 months in bottle before release. Alluring violet and dusky blueberry perfume opens this fuller wine, gripped with wild cassis, blackberry, dried thyme, and ample stony minerality. Tannins are firm, lightly grippy, and well-integrated, shaping this streamlined wine to a lingering spiced finish. The altitude and soils imbue a natural freshness to this wine. Drinking very well now and will continue for the next few years in your cellar.Prices: ON 30.95 Producer: Elena Fucci
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14 December 2020

Rachis & Derma Skin Fermented White Chardonnaytext
90PTS

Rachis & Derma Skin Fermented White Chardonnay 2019

Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, CanadaRachis & Derma is the natural wine of Hidden Bench, and this orange chardonnay is from their Beamsville Bench estate's organically farmed grapes, whole cluster, fermented natural, and with 42 days on stems and skins. It then moved in to older French barrels for 6 months prior to bottling, sans fining or filtration or sulphur. Pouring a hazy golden hue, this fragrant wine opens with tightly stencilled apricot, bergamot, grapefruit on a brisk, astringent palate, gripped with a fine texture, and finishing with lingering mineral spice. A lovely, clean, interesting orange.Prices: ON 35.00 Producer: Hidden Bench Vineyards & Winery
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Fort Berens White Goldtext
87PTS

Fort Berens White Gold 2018

Lillooet, British Columbia, CanadaWhite Gold is Fort Berens' premium Lillooet chardonnay, sourced entirely from the Dry Creek Vineyard estate, and fermented in French barrels, where it remained, with bâtonnage. Ripe, full, and rich with creamed corn, baked peach, fragrant white blossoms, spiced wood spread across a slower palate. A bump of RS fattens this into old-school Cali chard style, which is where I'd place this blind (coastal Sonoma). If that's your preferred style but you want to support local (and Lillooet), here you go.Prices: BC 29.99 Producer: Fort Berens Estate Winery
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Fort Berens Chardonnaytext
88PTS

Fort Berens Chardonnay 2019

Lillooet, British Columbia, CanadaEvery year this claws in more and more estate fruit, and this year its at 83%, complemented with 17% from Similkameen's Riverbend vineyard. After a whole cluster press, this was fermented in a mix of stainless (83%) and French oak, where it remained with twice-monthly bâtonnage for 7 months. Bright and fresh, with lemon curd, crisp pear, yellow apple, verbena on a creamy palate, finishing with a lemon twist. Crack and enjoy now with lighter protein dishes like crab cakes or turnip / chicken pot pie.Prices: BC 20.99 Producer: Fort Berens Estate Winery
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Kitsch 11 Barrel Chardonnaytext
89PTS

Kitsch 11 Barrel Chardonnay 2018

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaPlanted on their East Kelowna estate vineyard in 2013, this clone 95 chardy is rooted in gravel, stone, and glacial soils. After a whole cluster press and native ferment in French oak, this was aged 11 French oak barrels for 10 months (40% new) with minimal bâtonnage and no MLF. Every bit as rich and luxurious as the gold lettering on the label suggests, this is full and weighty in the mouth, with lemon curd, baked and fresh green apple, perfumed lemon blossoms, and ample evident wood on the palate. The wood continues to dominate the finish, with very spicy oak propping up the lemony fruit. That said, there is a strong backbone of acidity here propping this upright; this is by no means a flabby wine. Quite a lot at this youthful state, so if you're looking for a rich white to pair with buttered crab or lobster, here you go. Otherwise, sit on it for a couple of years and see what develops.Prices: BC 35.00 Producer: Kitsch Wines
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Coolshanagh Reserve Chardonnaytext
87PTS

Coolshanagh Reserve Chardonnay 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe first Reserve wine launched in 2017 is an even more intense version than the regular label. The inaugural offering totals 100 cases fermented in French oak barrels, with 15 months on gross lees. The nose is a concentrated mix of grilled toast and grilled hazelnuts with a dollop of campfire smoke. The fruit is nowhere to be seen in the front end of the wine, hitting the palate with the same opulent notes as the nose, and coating the tongue from front to back, finishing with a touch of bitterness and dryness. It’s young and will need time, but it seems to be trying too hard at this point, losing much of its inherent minerality and desert pines charm. I will return in a year for another look.Prices: BC 36.90 Producer: Okanagan Crush Pad Winery
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Coolshanagh Chardonnaytext
89PTS

Coolshanagh Chardonnay 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada2017 seems like a bit of a course change at Coolshanagh, “a meeting place of friends.” It opens with a much richer, almost opulent nose of vanilla, cream, and caramel mixed with a smoky, nutty undercurrent. The pieces are very much separate but rounder and less mineral than the skinnier previous versions; more California, less Europe. It still has a lot to offer and will be of special interest to those who prefer the rounder, buttery notes over the crisper lemons and wet stones. Let’s see what happens with time, although this will need to be consumed sooner than later based on its structure. Best with lobster or creamy pasta dishes. 85 percent is fermented in concrete, and the rest is fermented in neutral French oak puncheons.Prices: BC 36.90 Producer: Okanagan Crush Pad Winery
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Meyer Family Vineyards Chardonnay Stevens Block Old Main Road Vineyardtext
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Meyer Family Vineyards Chardonnay Stevens Block Old Main Road Vineyard 2019

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis is a single block selection from their Naramata Bench Old Main Road Vineyard, planted in 2006 to French clones 4 and 5. Stevens Block is a steep, cool slope, farmed with organic practices. After a whole cluster ferment, the free-run juice was natively fermented over two months in stainless, before resting in older French barrels on lees for 10 months. Still tight and taut in youth, with lemon verbena, cream, meadow grass, and a pad of lees. The finish is long and finely spiced. This will benefit from a couple of years in your cellar.Prices: BC 28.00 Producer: Meyer Family Vineyards
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Meyer Chardonnaytext
89PTS

Meyer Chardonnay 2019

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaMeyer is a chardonnay specialist, through energy and acclaim, so know that their 'entry tier' chardonnay is above most in that category. This comes from their Okanagan Falls home vineyard, as well as Naramata's Old Main Road Vineyard and Cellarsbend Vineyard, as well as the family-owned Anarchist Mountain Vineyard in Osoyoos, all sustainably farmed. After a whole cluster press, this was fermented in a mix of French oak and stainless steel, where it remained for MLF and 6 months' rest. Easy and welcoming, with lemon curd, green apple, pear, white peach and green hedge with a gentle toasty tug on the creamy, bright palate. Ready for drinking now, conveniently under screw cap, while you wait for their single-vineyard chardonnays.Prices: BC 20.00 Producer: Meyer Family Vineyards
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Meyer Chardonnaytext
89PTS

Meyer Chardonnay 2019

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThere isn't much that is every day about the Meyer's 'every day' chardonnay because, as is the case with top-flight programs, entry-level wines are pulled along at a higher level than their peers. The fruit is a mix of chardonnay sourced in Okanagan Falls, Naramata, and Osoyoos. The production drill is familiar: whole cluster press, fermentation in a mix of French oak and stainless steel before going through malolactic fermentation and six months rest on lees. This leads to an inviting white rich in lemon, with green apple, toast, and creamy textures through the finish. Pop the screwcap and get at it. You won't regret it. I love the value here.Prices: BC 20.00 Producer: Meyer Family Vineyards
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Meyer Family Vineyards Chardonnay Stevens Block Old Main Road Vineyardtext
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Meyer Family Vineyards Chardonnay Stevens Block Old Main Road Vineyard 2019

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaOld Main Road Vineyard sits on a terrace on Naramata Bench in the central Okanagan Valley. Stevens Block is one of four acres on a steep slope with a particular cool style that lights it up on the palate. The bunches go directly to the press, followed by a long 60-day indigenous ferment in stainless steel, before remaining on lees in older French oak barrels for six months, where the magic begins. Tight and high-strung, it has a rush of freshness that tempers its chalky, leesy textures. There is a small but important touch of reduction with creamy pear and lemon everywhere before a spicy lingering finish. However, I have a complaint: this wine shouldn’t leave the winery until at least 24 months, if not 30, because I fear it is all being drunk too soon. You have to join the wine club to buy this one, but it is worth itPrices: BC 28.00 Producer: Meyer Family Vineyards
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Schell Wren Chardonnaytext
86PTS

Schell Wren Chardonnay 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe Wren chardonnay is a blast from the past. The colour is a touch golden and matches the vanilla honeyed baked apple nose. The north kicks in a bit with some limon before more baked pear caramel and butter notes take over the palate's finish. Ready to drink but more California than BC. Easy-sipping with a hint of sweetness for those who prefer that over style.Prices: BC 33.95 Producer: The Westbury Wine Group Inc.
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Summerhill Pyramid Winery Estate Grown Biodynamic Chardonnay Demeter Certifiedtext
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Summerhill Pyramid Winery Estate Grown Biodynamic Chardonnay Demeter Certified 2019

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada2019 sees fresh, smart new packaging for Summerhill, with a new label highlighting both the Demeter biodynamic certification, and the iconic pyramid. The 2.4 acre block of Chardonnay was planted in 2005. 2019 was the first biodynamic bottling of this block, and saw the fruit native fermented and rested in stainless. A minimum of sulphur was used. This is a spicy, sweeter styled chardy, with ripe yellow apple, custard, lemon on a medium palate. Clean, bright, simple.Prices: BC 30.00 Producer: Summerhill Pyramid Winery
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12 December 2020

Fonseca Terra Prima Organic Reserve Porttext
88PTS

Fonseca Terra Prima Organic Reserve Port NV

Douro Valley, Northern Portugal, PortugalThis wine made history as the first entirely organic Port wine, right down to the spirit used for fortification. It was a project instigated and overseen by David Guimaraens, chief winemaker, and released in 2006. The grapes come from their Quinta do Panascal, organically farmed since 1992. This is a Reserve Ruby, with at least three years' aging in large barrels prior to filtering, bottling, and release. Because these are filtered, they do not improve with bottle age, so consider this ready to crack upon purchase. Very forward and sweet, with sugarplums, blackberry pie, baked raisins, and dark caramel, all around a fiery, spirited core. Pour this youthful sweetie with chocolate torte, or rich fruitcake.Prices: SK 25.00 MB 27.00 AB 33.00 BC 28.99 QC 28.50 ON 25.00 YK 33.00 NS 31.00 Producer: Fonseca Guimaraens
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Tenuta Fanti Vin Santotext
93PTS

Tenuta Fanti Vin Santo 2011

Tuscany, ItalyVin Santo is an exceptional, historical, and long-lived wine. Fanti continues the tradition with this special sweet. This is a blend of 40% Trebbiano Toscano, 40% Malvasia Toscana, and 20% San Colombano, from 30-year-old vines. The whole bunches are hung in a ventilated drying room for 4-6 months, desiccate, and the sugars and acids concentrate. They are then pressed gently into small oak barrels called caratelli, filled 2/3 full, and sealed with cement for a long, slow ferment and 5 years' ageing. Once cracked open and transferred to the bottle, they remain for 6 months before release. With such a labour-intensive and low-yielding process, only 1200 375ml bottles are produced each vintage. Pouring a rich golden brown hue, this intense, sweet, syrupy wine is dense with maple, butterscotch, burnished caramel, pipe tobacco, dried apricot, roasted hazelnuts, brown butter, and caramelized orange peel. As sweet as this wine is, there is a beam of acidity to counter. Multilayered, very complex, this lingers far after the last sip. This contemplative wine is best-enjoyed solo.Prices: ON 62.95 375 Producer: Tenuta Fanti
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Clos du Soleil Saturntext
89PTS

Clos du Soleil Saturn 2018

Keremeos, Similkameen Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis late harvest sauvignon blanc comes from Whispered Secret Vineyard in Keremeos. Notably lifted and volatile on the nose, the palate is more harmonious with exotic tropical fruits that concentrate the palate. It's well balanced, with ripping acidity that keeps this fresh and lively, even with 146 g/L residual sugar. These wines are a labour of love, and are never priced what they're worth. So, you get a lot of bang for your buck, and the easiest dessert you can imagine. Just pop a bottle and pour an ounce or two to finish a meal.Prices: BC 31.90 375 Producer: Clos du Soleil Winery
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Graham's Late Bottled Vintage Porttext
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Graham's Late Bottled Vintage Port 2014

Douro Valley, Northern Portugal, PortugalGraham’s Late Bottled Vintage is a single year wine, aged in casks, and bottled between four and six years of age. The lengthy wood ageing means that it is ready for drinking at bottling, with no need to decant. The Graham house style lives here as a rich, fruity style laced with spice and concentration. Look for an aromatic, fragrant nose of plums, vanilla, black tea, and orange peel. On the palate, it is warm and expansive with fine sweetness, black cherries, and molasses, with a touch of spirit in the back end. Think chocolates or hard cheeses, or add a dish of oven-roasted almonds in the afternoon in front of a fire.Prices: BC 24.99 AB 24.99 MB 24.14 ON 18.55 QC 20.99 PEI 23.99 NFL 25.99 Producer: Symington Family Estates - W. & J. Graham & Co.
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Niepoort Vintage Porttext
97PTS

Niepoort Vintage Port 2017

Cima Corga, Douro Valley, Northern Portugal, PortugalWhen I tasted the unreleased 2017 Vintage Port with Dirk in spring 2019, he told me “it is the best wine I’ve ever made.” I believe him. Though 2017 will be remembered for the intense heat and record low levels of rainfall, Dirk knew early on it would be a vintage year. In spite of the dry weather, flowering and bud burst developed under good conditions, and late summer's high daily temperatures and cold nights allowed an even and gradual ripening. The decision to start harvesting early, on August 24 at Vale de Mendiz, allowed grapes to be received in ideal conditions with fantastic natural acidity. The last grapes were harvested on September 26, before many producers had even gotten into vintage. The yields were approximately 30% down on a normal year due to dehydration. All the components for their 2017 Vintage Port were trodden by foot in circular granite lagares with 100% stems. The wines were racked soon after harvest, aged in tonéis in the Douro over the winter, and then moved to the cellars in Vila Nova de Gaia in March 2018. The youngest vines were over 80 years old, from a few very special schistose sites in the Cima Corgo, and based on Touriga Franca, Tinto Cão, Tinta Francisca, Tinta Amarela, Sousão, Tinta Roriz, plus others in the field blend of gnarly old vines. Alluring from first whiff, with ample savoury, stony, earthy notes infiltrating the potent wild blackberry, cassis, wild mint and fragrant, scrubby rock roses. Tannins are schistous textured, firm as expected, but amazingly well-integrated for such a young wine. So much life and vibrancy ahead here. Understated, and quietly confident, as are the Niepoort ports, this is well-deserving of its wide-spread acclaim, and potential.Prices: ON 79.95 ON 138.95 Producer: Niepoort (Vinhos) S.A.
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11 December 2020

La Gerla Poggio gli Angelitext
90PTS

La Gerla Poggio gli Angeli 2016

Tuscany, ItalyThe vineyards of La Gerla lie on the Montalcino hill at 320m, right where the slope softens. La Gerla is the only family-owned property in Montalcino working with the original Biondi Santi (BBS) Sangiovese clones. This young vine sangiovese grosso was fermented in stainless, and aged 4 months in Slavonian wood, followed by 2 months in bottle, all of which are aimed at an early release and enjoyment. And this is certainly fun to drink now, with perfumed black raspberry, cherry, spices floating through the medium-bodied palate. Tannins are finely firm, guiding this fresh wine to the finish — lovely presence and confidence, and drinking beautifully now or over the short term.Prices: BC 38.00 Producer: La Gerla
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Il Fauno di Arcanumtext
93PTS

Il Fauno di Arcanum 2016

Tuscany, ItalyLet’s start with an outstanding vintage as a base: sunny, warm and no rush to harvest allowed for the best possible ingredients: fully ripe grapes. The mix is 51/31/17/1 merlot/cabernet franc/cabernet sauvignon/petit verdot, leading to a voluptuous style Super Tuscan with a French sense of refinement and restraint. I love the combination of rich black fruits and mushroom, cedar, savoury forest floor. The texture is equally expressive, and it’s going on in a super young bottle of red wine. Bet on this going the distance well into the 2030s.Prices: BC 39.99 AB 43.49 ON 49.95 QC 49.50 Producer: Tenuta di Arceno
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Le Ragnaie Miscelonetext
89PTS

Le Ragnaie Miscelone 2019

Montalcino, Siena, Tuscany, ItalyLe Ragnaie produces this "Miscellaneous wine," though blending red and white grapes, historically part of the Chianti 'recipe'. Miscelone is 60% red grapes (sangiovese and canaiolo) and 40% white grapes (malvasia and trebbiano), co-harvested from a single vineyard co-fermented in concrete and then aged there for 6 months. Like the previous vintage, this non-intervention lighter-hued red opens with a wall of reduction, which blows off to reveal wild raspberry, dark cherry, dried red florals on a slighter palate, studded with mineral salts to the lingering finish. Tannins are finely firm, and acidity is bright. Best taken with a slight chill.Prices: ON 37.95 Producer: Azienda Agricola Le Ragnaie
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Podere 414 Morellino di Scansanotext
92PTS

Podere 414 Morellino di Scansano 2018

Tuscany, ItalyOwned by Simone Castelli, Podere 414 is a certified organic estate with 13 hectares of vines, situated in western Tuscany, straddling a river near Scansano. From the region's very stony soils, this morellino (sangiovese) is splashed with colorino, ciliegiolo, alicante, and syrah. Each variety is vinified separately before the blend goes into two-year-old barriques for one year, followed by additional bottle age before release. Deep, dark, and muscular, with wild cassis, blackberry, black cherry imbued with fragrant Tuscan garrigue and lifted with a pretty violet florality. Tannins are ample and grippy, supporting the wine to a stony finish. Drinking very well now, but will continue to develop for years in your cellar.Prices: ON 30.95 Producer: Podere 414
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Tenuta Fanti Poggio Torto Rossotext
91PTS

Tenuta Fanti Poggio Torto Rosso 2018

Tuscany, ItalyThe Tenuta Fanti estate has belonged to the Fanti family since the beginning of the eighteenth century. It extends across 300 hectares in Toscana, 52ha of which are specialized certified sustainable vineyards. This sangiovese is deep and dark and wild, with blackcurrant, anise and black raspberry and peppery spices running the long, elegant, earth-lined palate.Prices: ON 22.95 Producer: Tenuta Fanti
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Tenuta Luce La Vite Lucentetext
89PTS

Tenuta Luce La Vite Lucente 2017

Tuscany, ItalyLucente is the younger brother of Super Tuscan star Luce. That said, there is nothing junior about the powerful, dense red. A blend of merlot and sangiovese was fermented in stainless before spending 2 years in new and used barriques. Ripe black cherry, kirsch, medicinal-edged cassis, tanned leather rules the compact, intense palate, with big, raggedy tannins drawing this back to a warming clove and nutmeg spiced finish. A giant junior, this requires a rich meat dish to partner, and probably a decant at this stage.Prices: BC 35.99 AB 31.00 ON 33.95 QC 34.95 QC 75.00 1500 ON 90.00 1500 NF 42.00 Producer: Tenuta Luce
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Le Volte dell' Ornellaiatext
91PTS

Le Volte dell' Ornellaia 2018

Tuscany, ItalyLe Volte the little brother to Ornellaia, the iconic Super Tuscan. This red blend is based on merlot, with 20 percent sangiovese, and the remainder cabernet sauvignon. Each were fermented separately in stainless, and then rested 10 months in a mix of old Ornellaia barriques and cement. Quite polished and refined with ample and plump black cherry, blackberry, raspberry, young leather, and fine peppery spice drawn long along the palate to a gently spiced finish. Very elegant, even now in youth, this 'baby Ornellaia' can certainly stand alone.Prices: BC 32.99 AB 35.00 MB 41.95 ON 29.95 NS 33.00 Producer: Ornellaia
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Castello di Gabbiano Chianti Classico Riservatext
88PTS

Castello di Gabbiano Chianti Classico Riserva 2015

Tuscany, ItalyCastello di Gabbiano was established in 1480 in the heart of Chianti Classico, and today is the third-largest estate in the appellation, following Castello di Brolio, and Antinori. This Riserva is sourced from the estate's oldest vineyards, and blends 5% merlot into the sangiovese. Aged predominantly in large oak casks (a small portion sees new French barriques), this is brooding with dark cherry, dark earth, tomato leaf, bitter chocolate, and saddle. Tannins are firm and slightly ragged, drawing this to a brown spiced finish. Best to cellar for a couple more years yet, or have with roast pork loin or boar now.Prices: BC 24.99 AB 22.95 MB 24.14 ON 18.95 NS 24.99 Producer: Castello di Gabbiano
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Le Volte dell' Ornellaiatext
90PTS

Le Volte dell' Ornellaia 2018

Tuscany, ItalyLe Volte is Bolgheri-based Ornellaia's red blend, featuring a mix of two-thirds merlot, and 20 percent sangiovese, while the remaining 12-14 percent is cabernet sauvignon. The attack is typically generous, with a darker Bolgheri-style red coming to the fore with blackberry, blackcurrant mixed with a strong savoury, dried herb character and touch of balsamico. It's just a baby, but it will blossom over the next five to seven years. The grapes are fermented separately in small steel tanks before spending ten months partly in used Ornellaia barriques and cement tanks. There is no stone left unturned. Drink or hold through a decade and beyond. Good value.Prices: BC 32.99 AB 35.00 MB 41.95 ON 29.95 NS 33.00 Producer: Ornellaia
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Mazzei Ser Lapo Chianti Classico Riservatext
92PTS

Mazzei Ser Lapo Chianti Classico Riserva 2016

Tuscany, ItalyThe Ser Lapo Chianti Classico Riserva celebrates the Mazzei ancestor, who was penned the first official document mentioning Chianti wine. A modern look at Chianti, the 90/10 mix of sangiovese and other local varieties plus merlot opens with a fragrant fresh cherry nose and a whack of savoury, dried herbs and cedar. The palate is silky smooth with an intense mix of leather cedar, spice, and smoky dark fruit. Youthful, but you can approach this now, especially if you serve it with mushrooms or roast chicken. It will no doubt improve further in the bottle through 2024.Prices: BC 32.99 ON 25.00 Producer: Marchesi Mazzei S.P.A. Agricola
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Antinori Pèppoli Chianti Classicotext
90PTS

Antinori Pèppoli Chianti Classico 2018

Tuscany, ItalyThe move to Bargino and the new winery signalled a significant commitment by the Antinori family to raise the level of Chianti Classico to another level. Pèppoli is an Antinori single estate making top-flight Chianti Classico. In 2018, volumes returned to more normal levels, and while it was a warm year, it wasn’t super hot, allowing the sangiovese to ripen without baking. Look for bright red fruit with a savoury, forest floor undercurrent and juicy cherry notes. The textures are silky, the acidic fresh, and the finish long. A solid effort and it will pass easily through 2025 and beyond.Prices: BC 24.99 AB 23.00 ON 20.00 QC 24.00 NF 26.00 MB 26.00 NB 30.00 NS 31.00 Producer: Marchesi Antinori
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10 December 2020

Fontanafredda Briccotondo Barberatext
89PTS

Fontanafredda Briccotondo Barbera 2018

Piedmont, ItalyDon't let the price tag fool you. Far from a modest Barbera, this is quite a serious wine. And, no doubt, it benefits from the very good quality of the 2018 vintage in Piemonte. It's driven by sappy cherry fruit, with secondary notes of walnut and spice. It's not overly complex, but it doesn't need to be when the fruit is this pure and precise. If you're a fan of Cru Beaujolais, you'll want to pick this up. It could be the best value wine I've tasted this year.Prices: BC 15.99 AB 17.95 MB 16.99 NS 18.99 NF 16.95 Producer: Fontanafredda
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Fontanafredda Barbera d'Albatext
88PTS

Fontanafredda Barbera d'Alba 2017

Piedmont, ItalyA more restrained style of Barbera, there's less overt fruit here. 2017 was a challenging vintage in Piemonte, and that may have played a factor. It's quite spicy with dried floral and cherry notes. The tannins are surprisingly soft and approachable, within the relative context of Italian reds, with integrated, fresh acidity. Serve with a slight chill.Prices: BC 25.65 NS 24.99 Producer: Fontanafredda
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Matteo Correggia Barbera d'Albatext
88PTS

Matteo Correggia Barbera d'Alba 2016

Alba, Cuneo, Piedmont, ItalyThis Barbera d'Alba is on point, if a bit simple. It's led by dark cherry with some gentle spice. There's a slight oxidative note, too, though consider this does have more age than most Barberas you'll find on the market now. Medium-bodied, firm tannins carry the palate, with some tartness to the finish. The right tomato-based pasta should bring it all together.Prices: BC 33.00 Producer: Azienda Agricola Matteo Correggia
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Villa Sparina Barbera del Monferratotext
88PTS

Villa Sparina Barbera del Monferrato 2017

Piedmont, ItalyVilla Sparina is located in Monterotondo, the centre of the Gavi DOC. It was founded by Mario Moccagatta and is currently under his control, along with his two sons Stefano and Massimo. The barbera is grown on clay/limestone soils and was fermented in stainless steel. It is partially aged in oak. The style is fragrant, and the fruit is bright, mixing fresh raspberry and blueberry with a citrus drizzle. There is also a dusty stoniness that seems to heighten its dry balsamico finish. Not for the timid but perfect for grilled sausages or a mushroom sauce that can absorb some of the acids and smooth out the tannins in this youthful red.Prices: BC 23.99 Producer: Villa Sparina
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Araldica Campo del Senatore Barbera d'Asti Superioretext
88PTS

Araldica Campo del Senatore Barbera d'Asti Superiore 2015

Piedmont, ItalyThis comes from older-vine barbera, was destemmed and fermented in stainless, and then aged in French wood for one year, prior to additional bottle aging before release. Crushed blackberry, dark plum, boysenberry, balsamic floods a spiced, palate, bright with cranberry acidity, and gently housed with cushy tannins. Quite fresh and high acid, ready to take on a myriad of pairings.Prices: BC 26.99 Producer: Araldica Vini Piemontesi
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09 December 2020

Filippo Broccardo Langhe Nebbiolo Il Giò Pitext
90PTS

Filippo Broccardo Langhe Nebbiolo Il Giò Pi 2017

Langhe, Cuneo, Piedmont, ItalyThe Broccardo estate has been in the family since 1900 and is currently in the hands of the third generation, Federica, Filippo, and Laura. Their 13 hectares of vineyards are located in the Langhe, Monforte d’Alba, Barolo, and Novello. After a two week ferment in stainless, this rested 10 months in new to 10 year old 35hl Slavonian and French tonneaux, prior to a 10 month bottle rest before release. The orange glint gives away the nebbiolo, as does the alluring cherry, wild roses, fine spices, and ample grippy, fine tannins that are well integrated. The finish is lingering, and lightly warming, drinking well now (think pork or wild mushroom pasta) but will continue in your cellar short term.Prices: Producer: Filippo Broccardo
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Bruno Rocca Barbarescotext
91PTS

Bruno Rocca Barbaresco 2016

Piedmont, ItalyDocuments from the 19th century attest to the presence of the Rocca family in the township of Barbaresco since 1834. In a wedding document filed in 1864, Francesco Rocca was defined as "a farmer born and living in Barbaresco," the co-owner with his brother Giuseppe of "houses, sites, vineyards, and slopes" located within the township. Fast forward to 1987, when Bruno Rocca took charge of the family business and decided that all the wine produced by the estate would from then on be sold in a bottle. The family now farms 15 hectares of vineyards under Bruno's direction, described as "a consummate modernist, making wines with great intensity of fruit while retaining the structure and elegance of the Langhe at its best." Even in a challenging vintage like 2017, Rocca has achieved a level of quality that exceeds expectations. The grapes come from younger vines, grown at Neive, Cru San Cristoforo, Marcorino, and Fausoni. Fermentation is carried out in stainless steel tanks for 20-25 days before it's aged in French oak barriques for 18 months, followed by eight months in bottle at the winery. Look for classic forest berry and cocoa still in a youthful sleep. You can drink this now with rich fall dishes or comfortably hold it for five years and beyond.Prices: BC 75.99 AB 65.99 Producer: Bruno Rocca
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Fontanabianca Barbarescotext
90PTS

Fontanabianca Barbaresco 2016

Piedmont, ItalyThis is a $35 Barbaresco that drinks like it could be double the price. It has an attractive, restrained nose of dried roses and dusty red fruits. There's real precision here, even if it lacks some of the expressiveness of top examples. Medium-bodied, with firm, assertive tannins, the palate retains its verve thanks to fresh, balanced acidity. Recommended. I know I will be seeking out a few bottles for the cellar.Prices: BC 34.99 Producer: Fontanabianca
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Albino Rocca Barbaresco Cottà Barbarescotext
93PTS

Albino Rocca Barbaresco Cottà Barbaresco 2017

Piedmont, ItalyThe small Cottà vineyard is located in the municipality of Neive and has been part of the Rocca family since the 1970s. The vineyard soil is a mix of marl, limestone, light clay, and sand, over a warm southwest exposure. Post ferment, it spends at least 20 months in German and Austrian oak casks. It was first vinified separately in 2015 and is considered part of the historic Barbaresco area's soul. The 2017 opens with inviting floral wild berry notes. Fragrant, savoury and elegant, it brings a whole new meaning to Barbaresco. The finish is fresh and juicy with more dark cherry and spices throughout a long persistent finish. I love the balance here; drink or hold over the next five years.Prices: BC 85.55 Producer: Albino Rocca
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Araldica Corsini Barbarescotext
88PTS

Araldica Corsini Barbaresco 2014

Piedmont, ItalyAraldica is a modern, foreword thinking co-op in Piemonte located in Castel Boglione, in the heart of Barbera d'Asti. This Barbaresco opens with a light colour, and a lightly floral nose reminiscent of rose petals, tobacco, and brown spice. The palate is sturdy, with dense sweet tannins and a long dry Italian finish. It still needs a few years, but it will work with rustic meat or game dishes, or a hunk of well-aged cheese to smooth out the edges.Prices: BC 40.99 Producer: Araldica Vini Piemontesi
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08 December 2020

Aurelio Settimo Barolo Rocche Dell'Annunziatatext
91PTS

Aurelio Settimo Barolo Rocche Dell'Annunziata 2014

La Morra, Cuneo, Piedmont, ItalyAzienda Aurelio Settimo have just under 7ha of vineyards in the hamlet of Frazione Annunziata in the commune of La Morra. When Aurelio's father Domenico died in 1962, he decided to focus the polyculture farm into vineyards, eventually beginning his namesake label. When Aurelio passed in 2007, his daughter Tiziana took over the vineyards and winemaking, as she had grown up alongside her father in the winery. From their vineyard in the cru of La Morra's Rocce Dell'Annunziata, these 50+ year old vines are rooted in the deeper clays in the shelter of the Torriglione hamlet, around 270m, between the hills of San Martino and Cerequio-Brunate. A very traditional Barolo, this aged 1 year in concrete tanks before resting 2 years in large older French oak casks. Built around a succulent core of juicy cherry, this is layered with fresh and dried cherry, plum, leather, elegant along the slender, lengthy palate. Tannins are long and lithe, well integrated into the elegant fruit, giving their characteristic nebbiolo grip around the sides. This wine is in a beautiful place right now (I opened 1 hour before tasting), and will continue over the next few years in your cellar.Prices: BC 67.99 Producer: Aurelio Settimo
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Aurelio Settimo Barolotext
89PTS

Aurelio Settimo Barolo 2013

La Morra, Cuneo, Piedmont, ItalyAzienda Aurelio Settimo have just under 7ha of vineyards in the hamlet of Frazione Annunziata in the commune of La Morra. When Aurelio's father Domenico died in 1962, he decided to focus the polyculture farm into vineyards, eventually beginning his namesake label. When Aurelio passed in 2007, his daughter Tiziana took over the vineyards and winemaking, as she had grown up alongside her father in the winery. A very traditional Barolo, this aged 1 year in concrete tanks before resting 2 years in large older French oak casks. A bricking orange hue, with dried cherry, aged wood, and a thread of funky brett that persists, stubbornly, through the finish. Acidity is bright, and tannins are appropriately tuggy and absorbed into the fading fruit. This finishes with a warming flush, and best enjoyed now (at least my bretty bottle) with hearty mushroom risotto or pork tenderloin.Prices: BC 60.99 Producer: Aurelio Settimo
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Aurelio Settimo Barolo Riserva Rocche Dell'Annunziatatext
95PTS

Aurelio Settimo Barolo Riserva Rocche Dell'Annunziata 2012

La Morra, Cuneo, Piedmont, ItalyThe 2012 Reserve comes out of the oldest vineyards in Rocche dell'Annunziata, now more than 40 years old. The colour is a healthy orange/red, the nose is a mix of spice and balsamic, with licorice, sagebrush, orange rind and dark cherry. The wines come off 5.67 hectares of the famed vineyard and are crafted in the classical style. It's starting to show a touch of maturity at eight years old, but it remains mostly full-bodied, with tannins yet to dissipate. There is a sense of balance and elegance in the finish that suggests it is now food friendly, especially with beef and game dishes. Its ageing regime is unique: 36 months in concrete tanks, 36 months in big French oak casks. Just a delight to drink, and it's just beginning to unfold.Prices: BC 105.99 BC 219.99 1500 BC 500.00 3000 Producer: Aurelio Settimo
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Rocche Costamagna Barolo Rocche Dell'Annunziatatext
91PTS

Rocche Costamagna Barolo Rocche Dell'Annunziata 2015

Piedmont, ItalyRocche Costamagna consists of 14 hectares of vineyards owned by the Costamagna family for generations, with 5 of those hectares in the famed Rocche dell’Annunziata, one of the top vineyards in La Morra. Alluring from the start, with cherry, raspberry woven with fragrant rosemary and sage, wildflowers, and fine threads of minerality on a supple palate. Tannins are firm, though pliable and long, drawing this to a lingering, finely spiced finish. Impressive now, this still has a few years to go.Prices: BC 75.00 Producer: Rocche Costamagna
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Vietti Barolo Castiglionetext
94PTS

Vietti Barolo Castiglione 2016

Langhe, Cuneo, Piedmont, ItalyThe Castiglione is made with grapes grown across the Barolo region from vines as young as nine years old up to 42 years old, all planted in clay-limestone soil. The fermentation is done in stainless steel with daily submersion of the cap. Post ferment, Vietti ages the wine for 30 months in oak casks and barriques. Now add to that one of the finest vintages ever in Barolo, plus winemaker Lucca Currado, and you have magic. If you want a wine for your cellar that will hang around as long as you, this is it. This label is often characterized as an entry-level wine, but it is anything but in 2016. Rich and full-bodied with compellingly pure black plums, menthol, and flowers dusted in notes of umami. Length and balance are already here, foretelling a long life. Buy, wait, and be happy.Prices: BC 99.99 BC 202.99 1500 Producer: Vietti
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Casa E. di Mirafiore Barolotext
89PTS

Casa E. di Mirafiore Barolo 2014

Barolo, Cuneo, Piedmont, ItalyCasa E. di Mirafiore first become established in the 1870s, rising to renown only to disappear in the third decade of the following century. The name remained dormant for more than seventy years until its reappearance today, under the Fontanafredda vision. They have turned this into a pillar of sustainability, down to its predominance of recycled glass and natural ink used for packaging. Certified organic since 2018, Mirafiore sources the fruit for its wines from estate-owned vineyards primarily in Serralunga d’Alba commune, though the estate also owns rows in two of Barolo’s most famous crus, Lazzarito and Paiagallo. This was aged in large Slavonian and French casks for 2 years, followed by 1 year in bottle prior to release. 2014 was a very poor vintage in Barolo due to hail and rains, though this is drinking well today. Based on leather, this has dried and fresh morello cherry, dried florals, and medicinal raspberry and cherry notes throughout. Tannins are well integrated at this point, stretching this along the medium palate. Certainly at peak now, especially with wild mushroom or roasted winter squash dishes.Prices: BC 63.99 AB 48.18 Producer: Casa E. di Mirafiore
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Luigi Scavino Azelia Barolotext
93PTS

Luigi Scavino Azelia Barolo 2016

Piedmont, ItalyMixing the calcareous soil of Castiglione Falletto with the heavier clay soils of Serralunga d’Alba is the magic behind this beautiful wine. In all, six plots of vines from two villages, with vines verging on 50 years of age is the story behind fruit purity in this wine. The nose is exquisite with clean, pure cherries and black licorice. The tannins are dense but almost chalky, supporting a fruity, floral, cherry, licorice, mineral palate that lasts and lasts. Another impressive 2016 Barolo that is going to age for a long time. A dense, soft, modern Barolo with impressive styling after ageing 24 months in 25 to 50HL oak barrels of Slavonian, French and Austrian origin.Prices: BC 62.99 BC 75.49 Producer: Azelia di Scavino Luigi, Az Agr.
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Marchesi di Barolo Barolo Tradizionetext
92PTS

Marchesi di Barolo Barolo Tradizione 2015

Piedmont, ItalyThe grapes hail from the top hillside sites in the small communities of Castiglione Falletto, Barolo, and Monforte d'Alba. The soils are medium rich with a mix of quartz and sand that appear to help build intensity from the hand-picked grapes. After a standard fermentation and a malolactic ferment in concrete, the wine spends two years in traditional large Slavonian oak barrels. After bottling, the wine spends several months in the bottle before release, readying it for a long life in cellars worldwide. 2015 is beautifully aromatic with notes of wild roses and black cherries. There is even more intensity of black plum streaked with licorice and light hints of mint on the palate. Approachable now, but there is no rush to drink this for a decade.Prices: BC 59.99 AB 61.95 PEI 65.99 Producer: Marchesi di Barolo
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Bruna Grimaldi Barolo Bricco Ambrogiotext
91PTS

Bruna Grimaldi Barolo Bricco Ambrogio 2015

Serralunga, Cuneo, Piedmont, ItalyBricco Ambrogio is located in the northern part of Barolo, on a hillside fully exposed to the sun. You can smell the warmth and taste the sweetness it bestows on the fruit in 2015, complimenting the spicy, earthy undertow and exotic spices. Structural and focused, it is all Barolo on the palate but with silky textures that entice you to drink it now, even though it will age effortlessly over the next decade. It was aged in a mix of big Slavonian oak barrels and French oak tonneaux for two years. It is further bottle aged at the winery before release. Any rich dishes work here, from mushroom risotto to wild boar and aged Reggiano.Prices: BC 69.99 Producer: Bruna Grimaldi
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Bruna Grimaldi Barolo Badarinatext
93PTS

Bruna Grimaldi Barolo Badarina 2015

Serralunga, Cuneo, Piedmont, ItalyBadarina is the Grimaldi family's symbolic vineyard, as Bruna's mother was born in that village, and summarizes the power and minerality that she believes characterizes Serralunga d’Alba. From 450m, this grows in white marls and limestone, with clays and a sandstone base. After a month-long ferment and maceration, this aged 30 months in large Slavonian oak and French tonneaux, with additional time in bottle before release. Quite expressive and present, with medicinal kissed cherry scenting a base of leather and tar, perfumed black plum, roses, and dark earth. Tannins are firm and grippy. The whole is quite elegant and fresh, with depth and an alluring charm. Drinking beautifully now and will continue for the next 5+ years in the cellar.Prices: BC 78.99 Producer: Bruna Grimaldi
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Fontanafredda Barolotext
89PTS

Fontanafredda Barolo 2016

Serralunga, Cuneo, Piedmont, ItalyThe wines of Barolo have steadily risen in price for some time now, and 40+dollars is now the cost of entry. The good news: you can still get honest, solid wines like this Fontanafredda. It's quite savoury and traditional in style, led by leather and packed with spice. It's firmly structured, as you'd expect, though the tannins are surprisingly fine-grained and yield with some protein. Perfect for the winter months with something from the slow cooker.Prices: BC 39.99 ON 45.00 QC 40.00 MB 49.99 NS 45.99 Producer: Fontanafredda
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Fontanafredda Barolo Serralunga D'Albatext
90PTS

Fontanafredda Barolo Serralunga D'Alba 2014

Serralunga, Cuneo, Piedmont, ItalyI have always been a fan of this very affordable Barolo that comes with just the right amount of pedigree and styling. 2014 was hardly a world-beater vintage. It was a difficult year in the vineyards with both hail and plenty of rain, if localized, to challenge growers. In the end, the results are pretty decent, as seen in this offering from Serralunga D'Alba. The attack is juicy with light cherry undertones and classic dry forest floor with a touch of bitterness in the back end. It was the perfect bookend to a sausage pizza, but it has even more to offer beef. You can drink it now with a rustic dish, but I would be inclined to wait until 2022 to give this a chance to unfold in the bottle and your glass. I love the 13.5 percent alcohol level that leaves it lively on the palate.Prices: BC 44.99 ON 45.00 QC 40.00 MB 49.99 NS 45.99 Producer: Fontanafredda
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Araldica Flori Barolotext
90PTS

Araldica Flori Barolo 2014

Piedmont, ItalyAraldica is a third generation, family operated co-op based in Piedmont, working with over 230 growers across regions including Barbera, Gavi, Langhe, Moscato, Barolo, Barbaresco, Monferrato and Roero. This Barolo was destemmed and fermented over 12 days with daily pump-overs, being careful not to extract too much of nebbiolo's raging tannin. It was pressed off into 50hl Slavonian oak, where it remained for 3 years. Drinking very well upon opening, dried roses imbuing dried cherry, plum, mulberry, mushrooms, and fine, brown spicing. Tannins are appropriately quite gripping, keeping this upright with a firm to dark cocoa and tobacco-kissed finish. At prime drinking now, especially with roast pork and/or wild mushroom dishes.Prices: BC 46.99 Producer: Araldica Vini Piemontesi
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Prunotto Barolotext
91PTS

Prunotto Barolo 2014

Piedmont, ItalyThe Prunotto estate is located in Alba halfway between Barbaresco and Barolo on the right side of the Tanaro river. The Antinori family has made a substantial investment into this historic property, and it’s now beginning to show. 2014 is fermented in stainless steel and aged 24 months in wooden casks. The grapes come off vineyards in Monforte, Castiglione Falletto, and Serralunga, pitching a pale red/orange colour. The attack is fresh with earthy red fruit flecked with roses and cedar. The attack is supple and round with fresh raspberries and licorice that finishes dry, with streaks of spice and tobacco. Elegant but needs more time in the bottle. You can drink it now with a steak but it will be best after 2023.Prices: BC 51.99 Producer: Prunotto S.r.L.
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Mauro Molino Barolo Gallinottotext
92PTS

Mauro Molino Barolo Gallinotto 2015

Piedmont, ItalyMauro Molino was born in Piemonte, grew up amongst the storied hills and iconic vines, and graduated from Alba Winemaking School in 1973. After a few years of making wine in Emilia Romagna, he returned to start his own winery in the Langhe following the passing of his father. His two children, Matteo and Martina graduated from Alba Winemaking School, and now work alongside him in the winery. Gallinotto is the Molino family’s Barolo, and a real recovered treasure. This vineyard is located in Berri, in the community of La Morra, on the northwest of Barolo. Berri had long been an underestimated area, though thanks to the Molino family and other believers, it has regained its past splendor. These 40 year old vines are rooted in calcareous, clay, and marl soil at 360m, and this was fermented in stainless before aging aged in French barrels for 18 months. From the regal 2015 vintage, this is still very much a baby, with long layers of leather, cherry, mineral salts, and bergamot housed with tight, grippy, and firm tannins. Very structural and with all pieces in place; this will easily cellar for another decade+.Prices: ON 72.95 Producer: Mauro Molino Viticoltore
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07 December 2020

Louis Jadot Beaujolais-Villages Combe aux Jacquestext
86PTS

Louis Jadot Beaujolais-Villages Combe aux Jacques 2019

Beaujolais Villages, Beaujolais, Burgundy, FranceFrom one of the largest negociants running Bourgogne (and, hence, Bojo), the 2019 Beaujolais Village came from three sites around BV, including some grapes coming from the Cru Régnié. Vinified semi-carbonic, this shows classic and easy candied raspberry, juicy sweet strawberry, and fresh plum on a juicy palate, finishing quickly with a bitter twist. Best with a chill, and a platter of sausages.Prices: BC 19.19 ON 17.00 MB 19.00 QC 18.00 Producer: Maison Louis Jadot
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Jean Loron Rift 69 Sans Soufretext
87PTS

Jean Loron Rift 69 Sans Soufre 2017

Beaujolais Villages, Beaujolais, Burgundy, FranceThe roots of this family owned winery go back to 1711, and the 8th generation of family members currently oversee the negotiant operations. Jean Loron's chief winemaker, Jean-Pierre Rodet, first made wine under the guidance of Jules Chauvet, the famous scientist and oenologist widely recognised as a father of the natural wine movements. This youthful Bojo was partial carbonic, aged and rested briefly in stainless, and had no sulphur added throughout. Tight and light with some candied raspberry, cherry on the friendly palate, with a slight nub of tannins siding a silky smooth palate. Clean and bright, this is a characteristic young Bojo, and a naked view of it. #GoGamayGo.Prices: BC 25.00 Producer: Jean Loron
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Villa Ponciago Fleurie la Réservetext
91PTS

Villa Ponciago Fleurie la Réserve 2014

Fleurie, Beaujolais Villages, Beaujolais, Burgundy, FranceThe dream 2014 vintage explains why this pretty Fleurie La Réserve is so youthful, well-fruited and structured. It’s drinking perfectly now, displaying violets, cherries, baking spices and the sweet smell of granite. Juicy with abundant granitic acidity, the flavours express dark red and blue fruit beautifully complemented with a whisper of subtle oak. Just shy of medium weight, modest grippy tannins sit on the light side but feel soft, ripe and meltingly integrated plush fruit. Unlike much gamay in Beaujolais, this wine is not made using carbonic maceration but rather vinified in tiny parcels – some as whole bunches and some not - before a lengthy cool fermentation. A few lots see small oak barrels (1 to 4 years old) to enrich the silky, velvety texture. Stylish, sophisticated and confidently sporting a mauve label, it personifies the ‘Fleurie’ name. Villa Ponciago (pon-see-AH-go) is a thousand-year-old domain and one of the ten cru villages on the granitic hill that forms the heart of the Beaujolais appellation. Villa Ponciago, owned by champagne house Henriot, has been climbing in quality and finesse; low yields of 35 hl/ha and vines that are up to 80 years of age is part of the quality equation. 2014 is still the current release in BC, but try the next vintage when it appears on our shelves. Pair with pork rillettes, a veal braise, or you can even put to work with seared salmon.Prices: BC 25.00 Producer: Villa Ponciago
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Domaine Chapel Chiroublestext
91PTS

Domaine Chapel Chiroubles 2018

Juliénas, Beaujolais Villages, Beaujolais, Burgundy, FranceDomaine Chapel was founded by David Chapel and Michele Smith-Chapel in Régnié. The Chapels produced their first wine in partnership with Mathieu and Camille Lapierre of Domaine Lapierre in the 2016 vintage. The Chapels met there in 2013, when Michele, a wine director based in Brooklyn, NY, was visiting the region. This, their first Chiroubles comes from two high altitude (average 400 meters), steeply-sloped parcels of organically farmed vines: Saint-Roch & Poullet. Vines range from 40-65 years, and the soils are granite bedrock with pink granite and sandstone overlay. After a native semi-carbonic ferment over 3 weeks, this was transferred to cask where it rested for 8 months before bottling, unfiltered. Pretty and perfumed, with delicate red florals, raspberry, and strawberry blossoms. There's a fine rasp of tannins around the sides and a lot of easy acidity that raises to this a lingering cherry kissed finish. Very moreish. #GoGamayGoPrices: BC 22.99 QC 19.00 Producer: Domaine Chapel
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Domaine Chapel Julienastext
89PTS

Domaine Chapel Julienas 2018

Juliénas, Beaujolais Villages, Beaujolais, Burgundy, FranceDomaine Chapel was founded by David Chapel and Michele Smith-Chapel in Régnié. The Chapels produced their first wine, the 2016 vintage of this Juliénas, in partnership with Mathieu and Camille Lapierre of Domaine Lapierre. The Chapels met there in 2013, when Michele, a wine director based in Brooklyn, NY, was visiting the region. This is sourced from just under three hectares of vines in Juliénas, in the lieu-dit Côte de Bessay, a contiguous, southeast facing parcel that borders the northern cru of Saint-Amour. The vines are between 40-65 years, planted goblet on a mix of granite and pierres bleues (dark blue schist). Semi carbonic and native ferment over 3 weeks, this was then aged for 11 months and bottled unfiltered. Pretty and perfumed, with a sultry plum, sapid raspberry, soft sarsaparilla, and pomegranate. Acidity is prickly brisk thanks to the semi carbo, and tannins are soft, with a slight tug at the sides. This finishes with a fresh, stony astringency and great length. #GoGamayGo.Prices: BC 22.99 QC 19.00 Producer: Domaine Chapel
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Stéphane Aviron Julienas Vieilles Vignestext
90PTS

Stéphane Aviron Julienas Vieilles Vignes 2017

Juliénas, Beaujolais Villages, Beaujolais, Burgundy, FranceStéphane Aviron is one of Bojo's many younger producers making wines in a traditional Burgundian way (to beautiful success) with organic / biodynamic viticulture, extremely old vines, and classic Burgundian techniques. He focuses on Beaujolais Cru, and older vines (minimum 40 years old) to capture the site best. This comes from two well established growers, and vines averaging 50+ years growing on granite, sand, and chalk. The two plots are vinified separately up until the final blending and bottling. This is fermented in stainless before aging for 12-14 months in new and used oak casks. Opening with a lick of liquorice, this flows into downy black plum, dark raspberry, pink peppercorns and ample stony salts dotting the finish. Tannins are firm, fine, and slightly sticky, structuring this properly for duck paté or wild mushroom dishes.Prices: BC 27.00 Producer: Stephane Aviron
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Stéphane Aviron Chenas Vieilles Vignestext
92PTS

Stéphane Aviron Chenas Vieilles Vignes 2017

Chénas, Beaujolais Villages, Beaujolais, Burgundy, FranceStéphane Aviron is one of Bojo's many younger producers making wines in a traditional Burgundian way (to beautiful success) with organic / biodynamic viticulture, extremely old vines, and classic Burgundian techniques. He focuses on Beaujolais Cru, and older vines (minimum 40 years old) to capture the site best. This biodynamically farmed Chenas comes from pre-phylloxera vines averaging more than 100 years old, from a 13.6 acre parcel that Stephan Aviron has been producing from since 1993. The soil is light and made up of mostly sand and small pebbles over a layer of clay and quartz. The ancient vines and poor soils combine for incredibly low yields, and highly concentrated grapes. Made in the Burgundian way (no carbonic maceration), this was fermented in stainless and then aged one year in 1-4th use barrels. Chenas' alluring red floral charm is on full display here, with peonies, wild raspberries, and crunchy plum filling the graceful palate. Tannins are fine yet firm, and stencilled finely grippy, accentuating the buzzy quartz on the palate.Prices: BC 27.00 Producer: Stephane Aviron
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Blue Grouse Quill Gamay Noirtext
85PTS

Blue Grouse Quill Gamay Noir 2018

Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, CanadaThe Quill line comes from contract fruit, in this case, a nearby Cowichan vineyard. After ferment in tank, this moved to neutral French oak for MLF and 10 months barrel aging, prior to a stint in tank again before bottling. This gamay is tight and green, with sour cherry, green raspberry, and pasty, lightly sticky tannins. Best with a brisk chill.Prices: BC 27.00 Producer: Blue Grouse Estate Winery
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05 December 2020

Champagne Fumey Tassin Futur Antérieur Bruttext
91PTS

Champagne Fumey Tassin Futur Antérieur Brut 2009

Champagne, FranceMade only in exceptional years, Futur Antérieur blends 40% Pinot Noir and 60% Pinot Blanc with a porton of perpetual reserve wines, from 30 year old vines planted in Celles-Sur-Ource, in the Aube region of southern Champagne. After a ferment in stainless, this spent at least 8 years on lees prior to disgorgement with 8g/L RS. Red apple, brioche, green pear ride a bed of lees, along with a raft of acidity holding this mature wine fresh on the lingering finish.Prices: BC 65.00 Producer: Champagne Fumey Tassin
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Champagne Bollinger Special Cuvée Bruttext
92PTS

Champagne Bollinger Special Cuvée Brut NV

Champagne, FranceBollinger's Special Cuvée is known for a rich, powerful, oxidative style thanks to its liberal use of reserve wines, some of which have aged in magnum for 5-15 years. So, forget the fresh fruit. This is about baked red apple, hazelnut, and brioche from aging over two years on lees. It's utterly delicious, deeply concentrated, and a fantastic champagne that you can have throughout the course of a meal. It's worth every penny.Prices: BC 89.99 MB 80.25 ON 78.95 QC 76.25 PEI 74.95 NB 79.95 NS 79.95 Producer: Bollinger, Champagne
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Champagne Jacquesson Cuvée n° 743 Extra-Bruttext
91PTS

Champagne Jacquesson Cuvée n° 743 Extra-Brut NV

Champagne, FranceChampagne Jacquesson was founded in 1798 by Memmi Jacquesson and was a house favourited by Napoleon, who bestowed it a gold medal for its cellars. The winery has been innovative initially, instituting the radical notion of training vines in rows with Dr. Guyot's collaboration and patenting the muselet, the wire cage that holds the cork in place. However, the real innovation began in 1978, when the Chiquet family purchased the house, and brothers Jean-Hervé and Laurent spend the next ten years campaigning to their father to do something radically different, from the structure of the company to vineyard management. In 2000 they took a bigger risk and announced the 700 series. This numbered, vintage-based cuvée began with ‘728’, represented by the 2000 vintage. Rather than making a consistent NV wine every year, they aim to make the best possible blend for each vintage. Each year, a new-subsequently numbered-cuvée is released, maths meaning this current release 743 is from 2015. The Chiquet brothers are incredibly excited about the 743 and believe that it may be their best release in the 700-series to date. This was harvested from Ay, Dizy and Hautvillers (60%), Avize and Oiry (40%), with some reserve wines blended in. This was disgorged with September 2019 with no dosage. Opening with an oxidative swing, this moves into bread dough, red apple, meringue on lees and lemon curd-padded palate, held taut with ribbons of green apple acidity. Quite structural, the finish lingers with chalky salinity. Quite approachable now and has the structure to carry forward. Distinct, in its difference, as ever.Prices: BC 100.00 Producer: Champagne Jacquesson
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Jean Vesselle Brut Reservetext
89PTS

Jean Vesselle Brut Reserve NV

Champagne, FranceFor nearly 300 years, the Vesselle family has been tilling the chalky soils of Bouzy and cultivating some of the village’s best-placed Pinot Noir vines. The family’s 37 hectares of vineyards are currently overseen by winemaker Delphine Vesselle, planted to 90% Pinot Noir and 10% Chardonnay, and farmed lutte raisonée. This is an 80/20 Pinot Noir / Chardonnay blend, from vines up to 30 years. After a stainless ferment, this spent 3 years on lees before being disgorged in October 2019 with 11 g/L. Deeper yellow / gold in hue, this fuller, softer palate is flooded with ripe red apples, meadow florals, Rainier cherries, subtle marzipan, and some ginger spicing along the back end.Prices: BC 70.00 Producer: Champagne Jean Vesselle
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Leclerc Briant Rosé Bruttext
92PTS

Leclerc Briant Rosé Brut NV

Champagne, FranceThis rising star of biodynamic champagne has roots that go back generations. Lucien Leclerc founded the winery with four hectares of vineyards in Cumières in 1872. The business moved to Épernay in 1955 when Bertrand Leclerc married Jacqueline Briant, founding this négociant firm. Leclerc Briant was an early adopter of organic practices back in the 1960’s, and was one of the first to bottle single-vineyard Champagnes in the 1970’s. In the late 1980’s, Bertrand and Jacqueline’s son, Pascal, began integrating biodynamic principles and part of the production has been Demeter certified since 2003. Today, enologist Hervé Jestin, known for his biodynamics / bioenergetics oversees the wines of the house and its near 30ha of vines, plus another 20ha of organically farmed contract fruit. The Rosé Brut is labeled NV, but this bottle is from the 2015 harvest, and a blend of 95% chardonnay (from Chouilly and Montgueux), 5% pinot noir (from Les Riceys), native fermented in stainless, with a small amount of the pinot noir fermenting in wood. The cepage rests for two years on lees before being disgorged with 5g/l (this bottle in September 2018). Light salmon in hue, this is showing beautifully at present, streaming red currants, wild strawberry, cranberry, and brisk astringency, wrapped around a core of red fruit. A kiss of sweet raspberry lingers on the finish. Excellent food wine.Prices: ON 85.30 Producer: Champagne Leclerc Briant
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Leclerc Briant Brut Reservetext
89PTS

Leclerc Briant Brut Reserve NV

Champagne, FranceThis negoc house was founded in 1955 when Bertrand Leclerc married Jacqueline Briant. They were an early adopter of organic practices back in the 1960’s, and were one of the first to bottle single-vineyard Champagnes in the 1970’s. In the late 1980’s, Bertrand and Jacqueline’s son, Pascal, began integrating biodynamic principles and part of the production has been Demeter certified since 2003. Today, enologist Hervé Jestin, known for his biodynamics / bioenergetics oversees the wines of the house and its near 30ha of vines, plus another 20ha of organically farmed contract fruit. This wine, making up 75% of production, is a bit of a misnomer: there are no reserve wines (it's entirely the 2016 vintage) and it's actually extra-brut, with 5 g/L dosage, disgorged in December 2019. This blend of 40/40/20 pinot noir / pinot meunier / chardonnay was native fermented in stainless and oak (the latter 20%) before going into bottle for 3 years on lees. Weighty and confident, with red apple, patisserie, and almond, woven with oxidation throughout the dense palate, and closing out with a chalky finish.Prices: ON 79.95 Producer: Champagne Leclerc Briant
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Champagne Bérêche et Fils Brut Reservetext
92PTS

Champagne Bérêche et Fils Brut Reserve NV

Champagne, FranceThe domain was established in 1847, but it wasn't until more recently when Jean-Pierre Bérêche was one of the first growers to establish an independent reputation. His sons Raphaël and Vincent, now overseeing the house, have built on that work to craft some of today’s most distinctive Champagnes. They own 9 hectares across 4 villages and various terroirs. This organic wine is 30 percent Chardonnay (from Ludes), 35 percent Pinot Noir (from Ormes), and 35 percent Pinot Meunier (from Vallée de la Marne), including 30 percent of wines from perpetual blending system, aged on lees for two years before bottling. The base wines were aged in 60% wood (40% of which were small vats). There is no MLF here, and the wines were held under cork while in bottle. This, their flagship, is focussed and stately, with bright lemon and green apple acidity brightening a hazelnut brioche of creamy lees. Firm citrus and spiced stone structures the whole. Impressive.Prices: BC 70.00 Producer: Champagne Bérèche et Fils
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Champagne Pierre Gimonnet & Fils Special Clubtext
94PTS

Champagne Pierre Gimonnet & Fils Special Club 2012

Champagne, FranceSpecial Club (Club Trésors) is an invite-only group of 28 grower champagne vignerons, recognized for the quality of their wines. A Special Club champagne is different from their other cuvées, can only be made in outstanding vintage years, and is packaged in the special distinctive bottle. This is Gimonnet's only cuvée from a single lieu dit: Montagies. It spends 5 years on the lees, with a dosage of 4g/L. Very profound, deep chalk, anise, green apple, lemon pith, biscuit is all woven within layers of complexity, with alluring reduction throughout. Fantastic length and minerality on the finish. You can see the close family resemblance to Gimonnet's other wines, but this certainly stands aside.Prices: BC 121.25 Producer: Champagne Pierre Gimonnet
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Champagne Pierre Paillard La Grande Récolte Bouzy Grand Crutext
93PTS

Champagne Pierre Paillard La Grande Récolte Bouzy Grand Cru 2006

Champagne, FranceLa Grande Récolte represents the quintessence of the Paillard's vineyards. Crafted by blending only the first press of old vine Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, the 2006 release offers an intense and complex expression of the terroir of Bouzy. This was vinified in stainless steel, and was kept on lees for eight months until bottling. It then spent 9 years in bottle prior to being disgorged with 3.5 g/L. Rich and full, yet bright with acidity, the creamy palate streams meringue, lemon curd, subtle wild raspberry over a bed of grippy chalk, to a very lingering finish. Quite a gastronomic wine, drinking beautifully now, but still cellar-worthy.Prices: ON 80.00 Producer: Champagne Pierre Paillard
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Champagne Pierre Peters Les Chétillonstext
93PTS

Champagne Pierre Peters Les Chétillons 2013

Champagne, FranceRodolphe Péters took over the reins of this venerable estate in the southern Côte des Blancs in 2008, becoming the fourth generation to lead since the estate was founded in 1919, under the name Camille Péters. Today, Rodolphe holds 18 hectares of vineyards, predominantly in the grand cru of Les Mesnil-sur-Oger. Péters owns small holdings in several other grand crus (Oger, Avize and Cramant) but Les Mesnil-sur-Oger is where 45 of the 63 parcels he farms are located, and this special chardonnay comes from 3 parcels in the Les Chétillons vineyard there. Sleek and narrow, like all of their wines, this streams green apple, lemon along a very chalky base, finishing with a smack of lemon, and lingering salinity. Very finessed and elegant now, and will continue to be in your cellar.Prices: BC 160.00 Producer: Champagne Pierre Peters
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Champagne Fleury BdN Bruttext
90PTS

Champagne Fleury BdN Brut NV

Champagne, FranceA winegrowing family for four generations, Champagne Fleury has been organic since 1970, and biodynamic since 1989. They own 15 hectares in the Aube, 90% of which are planted to pinot noir. Their success with biodynamics have inspired others in the village to begin farming this way, and Fleury are the largest certified biodynamic producer in Champagne. The winery is now in the capable hands of Jean-Sébastien Fleury and his sister Morgane. This biodynamic blanc de noir is entirely pinot noir, from the village of Courteron. Very red fruited, with cherry, raspberry brioche on a creamy palate.Prices: ON 72.95 Producer: Champagne Fleury
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Champagne Marie-Courtin Efflorescence Extra Bruttext
91PTS

Champagne Marie-Courtin Efflorescence Extra Brut 2012

Champagne, FranceChampagne Marie-Courtin is run by the feisty and energetic Dominique Moreau, and is named for her Grandmother. The estate covers 2 hectares in Polisot, near the Seine River in the southern Aube, and is planted to mostly pinot noir. She farms biodynamically, and ferments native in stainless before transferring to bottle for secondary ferment. The wines are bottled with zero dosage. Efflorescence is the most powerful and structural of her wines, utilizing 35-40 year old pinot from the foot of the sloping vineyards, rooted in heavy clay soils. This was native fermented and vinified in used barrels, affording an oxidative character to the wine. This spent 3 years on lees prior to disgorgement. Uncompromising in every way, this bold wine sets forth with firm cherry, raspberry brioche notes on an upright palate, lingering with rock salt and subtle cherry. There's certainly a potent oxidative backbone to this wine, so if that's your style, look here.Prices: BC 125.00 Producer: Champagne Marie-Courtin
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Champagne Marie-Courtin Résonancetext
92PTS

Champagne Marie-Courtin Résonance 2015

Champagne, FranceChampagne Marie-Courtin is run by the feisty and energetic Dominique Moreau and is named for her Grandmother. The estate covers 2 hectares in Polisot, near the Seine River in the southern Aube, and is planted to mostly pinot noir. She farms biodynamically and ferments native in stainless before transferring to the bottle for secondary ferment. The wines are bottled with zero dosage. This cuvée is from 40+-year-old vines and was disgorged in June 2019. Pristine and detailed, yet minimalist, this effortlessly and quietly convinces fine cherry, red currant, wild raspberry, rhubarb along a slender, patisserie lined palate. There's a lovely grip along the sides, reflective of pinot, trailing this to a lingering red currant kiss. Quite a serious, vinous wine, able to handle a myriad of foodstuffs, and delightful solo as well.Prices: BC 85.00 Producer: Champagne Marie-Courtin
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Champagne Augustin Cuvée CXVI Blanc de Blancs Sans Soufretext
86PTS

Champagne Augustin Cuvée CXVI Blanc de Blancs Sans Soufre 2014

Champagne, FranceBased in the village of Avenay Val d’Or in the South-East corner of Montagne de Reims, Marc and Emmanuelle Augustin own and biodynamically farm 23.5 acres on two prestigious terroirs: Avenay Val d’Or, Montagne de Reims Premier Cru; and Vertus, Cote des Blancs Premier Cru. Together the couple forms a powerful Champagne duo: Marc is 4th generation vigneron and winemaker, and Emmanuelle's wine lineage spans 5 generations. All of their wines are vintage (even when NV declared). This cuvée is without any sulphur, which is evident, as this is quite natty and raw, with oxidized fruit covering lemon, apple, and light toast. There is some nice freshness, but it swings towards mouse on the finish, unfortunately. Sulphur would have come in very handy here.Prices: BC 125.00 Producer: Champagne Augustin
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Champagne de Vilmont Brut Premier Crutext
89PTS

Champagne de Vilmont Brut Premier Cru NV

Champagne, FranceNew to our market, this is an MA (Marque d’ Acheteur), a brand name owned by the purchaser, usually a supermarket or wine merchant. This entry-level Champagne is particularly well-received / represented in Italy. Ripe and doughy, with lemon, strawberry brioche, peach yogurt on a cushy palate, this fills the plump palate with ample fruit, but holds the sweetness at bay with well placed acidity. A friendly, fuller champagne that works solo or with chicken or vegetarian dishes.Prices: BC 83.00 Producer: Champagne De Vilmont
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Moët and Chandon Rosé Minitext
89PTS

Moët and Chandon Rosé Mini NV

Champagne, FranceMoët has records dating back to 1881 showing Napoleon ordering the Rosé Impérial. Climate change is a definite thing in Champagne; Rosé only used to be produced in the best / warmest years. Now all the rosés in the portfolio make up 20% of production, up from only 2% 20 years ago. One thing that sets this rosé apart from most peers is pinot meunier in the base wine mix. Chef de Cave Benoît Gouez puts the pinot meunier through thermovinification, macerating the fruit for only 2 hours and pressing, with no skin or seed contact. This extracts a lot of colour and fruit, but it's not a long-lived production method. To this, they add pinot noir, macerated as normal. This is also the only red that goes into the reserves, as it has the structure and production method to last years. The two each make up 10% of the final blend of the Rosé Impérial, with chardonnay making up the majority at 80%. After up to 48 months on lees, this is dosed with 7 g/L. Strawberry leather, cherry brioche, red apple flood the juicy palate, tightened on the sides with a slight grip and lingering with cherry, strawberry. A friendly, welcoming fizz, though less presence and fizz in this mini bottle than the standard 750ml. Still, a fun pocket-able size.Prices: BC 28.99 200 Producer: Moet & Chandon
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Champagne Canard-Duchene Cuvée Leonie Bruttext
89PTS

Champagne Canard-Duchene Cuvée Leonie Brut NV

Champagne, FranceThe founders of Canard-Duchene, Victor Canard and Léonie Duchêne, launched the house in 1868, though this is only year two seen here in Canada. The Brut Cuvée is a 50/30/20 mix of pinot noir, pinot meunier, and chardonnay with 25% reserve wine that spends 36 months on lees. The nose is fresh gingerbread, mineral, and lees, while the palate blends light tropical fruit with toast and salty oyster liqueur. At 9 g/L residual sugar, it is just on the edge of soft, and should appeal to those who want a more approachable style of champagne. Perfect for baked seafood dishes.Prices: BC 54.99 QC 52.95 NB 56.99 Producer: Champagne Canard Duchene
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Taittinger Brut Reservetext
91PTS

Taittinger Brut Reserve NV

Champagne, FranceTaittinger has 300 hectares of vineyards across Champagne from which to choose fruit, giving it a wealth of grapes to work with each year. The multi-vintage blend is normally 40 percent chardonnay with 60 percent pinot noir and pinot meunier. The high percentage of chardonnay is the key to its finesse and elegant house style, a style that sets Taittinger apart from most of its competitors at this level. The nose opens with a whiff of smoke and toast over a rush of lemon, and white flowers which is offset with baked green apple and toast, across a creamy palate. It is simply an impressive brut Champagne you can count on year after year that sells for a very fair price.Prices: BC 69.99 AB 59.75 MB 69.41 ON 65.40 QC 59.90 NS 85.00 Producer: Champagne Taittinger
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Taittinger Prestige Rosétext
91PTS

Taittinger Prestige Rosé NV

Champagne, FranceA portion of red wine, pinot noir from Montagne de Reims and Les Riceys, is blended with the white wine base to give this a slightly darker rosé hue. The final tally is 50/30/20 pinot noir, chardonnay, and pinot meunier, which is aged on its lees for three years. It's poised and elegant, combining toasty autolytic character with subdued, fresh pinot fruit: strawberry, cranberry, and red apple. The mousse is fine and silky, with some verve to the palate. The lighter style makes it perfect to sip on while you're preparing dinner.Prices: BC 99.99 AB 105.00 QC 85.95 Producer: Champagne Taittinger
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Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame Bruttext
93PTS

Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame Brut 2008

Champagne, FranceThe widow (Veuve), Madame Barbe-Nicole Clicquot, is a legend in Champagne, taking over the winery after her husband's death in 1805 at the age of 27. La Grande Dame was launched on the winery's 200th anniversary in 1972 to pay homage to Madame Clicquot’s tireless work during trying times for Champagne, and no doubt, women. In 2008, the wine was a surprising blend of 92% pinot noir, 8% chardonnay, from near 70% estate vineyards. The pinot was predominantly sourced from the cooler Northern Montagne, for elegance and freshness, while the chardonnay comes from the powerhouse Le Mesnil. Traditionally La Grande Dame is fermented in stainless tanks, but from 2008 small portions have been aged in large oak foudres to add further complexity. Both the blend and oak use is a bold move by chef de caves Dominique Demarville, not unlike the audacious moves the widow pioneered herself. This is a powerful, muscular wine, rich with nougat and brioche. Blackcurrant and cherry reflect pinot's dominance, but chardonnay's rigid backbone holds this taut and upright. The palate layers patisserie with lemon curd, toasted hazelnut, and the aforementioned vanilla nougat and buttery brioche. This bottle was disgorged in January 2018, with 6 g/L RS. Opulent, yet balanced, take this alongside equally powerful dishes, like roast quail, sablefish, or butter-drawn lobster.Prices: BC 215.99 AB 349.95 ON 304.95 QC 249.00 NS 228.00 Producer: Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin
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Veuve Clicquot Vintage Bruttext
93PTS

Veuve Clicquot Vintage Brut 2012

Champagne, France2012 is the 66th Vintage release of Veuve Clicquot since Madame Clicquot first launched it in 1810. It was released in 2019, with a blend of 12 Grand and Premier Cru sites, with 51% Pinot Noir laying the foundation for the structure of this full flavoured champagne, joined by 34% chardonnay for the finesse and elegance, and finished off with 15% Pinot Meunier to rounds out the blend. Interestingly in 2012, about 11% of wines were aged in foudres (large wooden casks), adding strength and aromatic intensity, in effect spicing the fruit with a hint of vanilla toasted wood. Most drinkers will hardly notice the wood-aged wine given the freshness and power of this blend. Unique as vintage should be, it has an underlying power that screams Veuve Clicquot. I love the pear and hazelnut flavours, creamy texture, and the persistent saline, seawater finish. Impressive and should have little problem ageing through 2025.Prices: BC 105.99 AB 105.95 Producer: Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin
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Veuve Clicquot Demi-Sectext
89PTS

Veuve Clicquot Demi-Sec NV

Champagne, FranceDemi-sec is a sweeter category of Champagne ranging from 32-50 g/L residual sugar. Just because they're sweeter doesn't mean they're inherently less serious, though. They can be fantastic, versatile food wines and quite complex from the dosage. The Veuve Clicquot Demi-Sec is at the high end of the scale, weighing in at 45 g/L residual sugar. It doesn't show a lot of autolytic character in the glass, even though it's spent 2-3 years on its lees. Rather, the emphasis here is on the fruit, which shows a caramelized and honeyed character. It's well balanced for the style, but finishes a bit simple. Open this for dessert; maybe fresh fruit and cream.Prices: BC 79.99 AB 79.99 MB 85.00 ON 81.00 QC 79.00 NB 79.00 Producer: Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin
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Ruinart Blanc de Blancstext
93PTS

Ruinart Blanc de Blancs NV

Champagne, FranceRuinart Blanc de Blancs continues to ooze elegance and style, evocative of its classic bottle shape. It is made with 1er Cru fruit on the Côtes de Blancs and Montagne de Reims, with 10% each from Sézanne and St. Thierry. Aging on the lees is for a minimum of 28 months before disgorgement and top up of barely noticeable 8.5 g/L of sugar. Fineness, purity, light on its feet, ethereal, all speak to the styling of this almond-scented, toasted fizz framed with impossibly small bubbles that lead to a bright, lengthy, meringue-like finish. Nothing but finesse and elegance, and is a pleasure to nose and drink.Prices: BC 116.00 Producer: Ruinart Champagne
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Champagne Dom Pérignon Vintagetext
92PTS

Champagne Dom Pérignon Vintage 2010

Champagne, FranceIn 2010 the blend was 54/46 chardonnay/pinot noir, and this bottle was disgorged in February 2019 with a dosage of 5g/L. The essence of Dom Pérignon, its subtlety and complexity, via citrus, bread crumbs, white pepper, and red plums all come together to be something much more than the parts. The bubbles are tiny, the texture creamy, and filled with persistent lemon curd and lees that lingers forever in a salty seawater finish. Elegance with power and persistence puts it into a league of its own most years, with only a handful of challengers. They have done a fine job of getting everything they could out of 2010, given that few other houses bothered to release a vintage label.Prices: BC 245.99 ON 250.00 QC 250.00 Producer: Dom Perignon
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Champagne Nicolas Maillart Brut Rosé Grand Crutext
91PTS

Champagne Nicolas Maillart Brut Rosé Grand Cru NV

Champagne, FranceFrom Bouzy, this is a 60/40 pinot noir/chardonnay blend, with 7% still wine (fermented in oak barrels from Chateau Margaux) and vines upwards of 30 years. The base wine spent 52 hours maceration on skins for that gentle blush hue and was fermented in a 50/50 blend of steel and oak. This was based on the 2015 vintage and dosed with 6 g/L when disgorged in December 2018. The skin contact doesn't just give the lovely blush hue. It provides some additional texture, threaded through wild strawberry, cherry, raspberry, studded with rock salts over a chalky underlay. Quite elegant and interesting.Prices: BC 79.99 Producer: Champagne Nicolas Maillart
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Champagne Bruno Paillard Rosé Première Cuvée Extra Bruttext
93PTS

Champagne Bruno Paillard Rosé Première Cuvée Extra Brut NV

Champagne, FranceMaison Bruno Paillard is the newest Champagne house, founded in 1981. Paillard has emphasized acquiring vineyards, and he now has near 90 parcels in numerous crus. This pinot noir dominant rosé has a secret splash of chardonnay tipped in "to bring the necessary vivacity." It was sourced from 12 different vineyards. This combines saignée pinot with still pinot noir to create the delicate blush peach hue. This rosé blends 25 vintages dating back to 1985. My bottle was based on the 2014 vintage, spent 36 months on lees, and was disgorged in July 2018, with a very low dosage. Very pristine and focused, with a drive of lively redcurrant, cherry, raspberry, over a deeper base of meringue. There's an alluring fine grip throughout, punctuated with grains of mineral salt. The finish is long and shimmering, with a kiss of cherry blossoms. Such a striking wine, it's hard to turn away. Now, about that clear glass...Prices: BC 110.99 Producer: Champagne Bruno Paillard
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Champagne Billecart-Salmon Brut Reservetext
92PTS

Champagne Billecart-Salmon Brut Reserve NV

Champagne, FranceChampagne Billecart-Salmon is one of the oldest original family-owned houses, founded in 1818 by the Billiard family, inhabitants of Mareuil-sur-Aÿ since the 16th century. One of their signatures is the use of double débourbage. After the standard clarification to settle the solids, they chill the juice down to 4C for 48 hours to achieve more pristine fruit. They own 15 ha of vineyards, rent a further 50+ha, and purchase from 100ha more, in addition to those holdings. Brut Reserve is 40 Pinot Meunier (from the Vallée de la Marne and the Coteaux Sud d'Epernay), 30 Pinot Noir (from the Montagne de Reims and the Grande Vallée de la Marne), and 30 Chardonnay (various villages in the Marne), with 9 g/L dosages, and a heady 60% reserve wines. Full and doughy on the medium-bodied, creamy palate, with summer strawberry brioche, lemon meringue flooding into a shimmery, chalky finish. There's a chiselled lift here that easily counters the pinots' dominance in this unusual meunier-led blend, embedding a freshness that extends this long on the palate. Classic, timeless, yet modern.Prices: BC 77.99 AB 78.95 ON 71.95 QC 67.00 Producer: Champagne Billecart-Salmon
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Moët and Chandon Nectar Impérial Rosé Demi Sectext
88PTS

Moët and Chandon Nectar Impérial Rosé Demi Sec NV

Champagne, FranceI have to admit; I was pretty baffled when I went to taste this bottle. Took off the foil, readied my hand on the base of the bottle - but - there was no punt! What I found was a black plastic disc covering the bottom of the bottle, with a button. So I, of course, pushed the button. And the whole bottle lit up, illuminated from the bottom, and shining the whole way through up to the cork (easily evident through the clear glass). ooOOOoo. You can see how the Demi-Sec category is aimed directly at the nightclub set. #bling. Once I finally got around to opening it, a few days of pushing the button later, I found as anticipated: a sweeter, fruit-dominant sparkler, with a spine of acidity to almost attempt and hold the sweetness at bay. As with all their wines, the exact assemblage is a trade secret, but the breakdown goes something like this: Pinot Noir: 45 - 55% (10% still); Pinot Meunier: 35 - 45% (10% still); Chardonnay: 5 - 10%. Reserve wines make up 20-30%, and it was dosed at 30 g/L. Strawberry jam, sugarplums, is tightened with a cut of cranberry acidity across a thick strawberry meringue base. This finishes bright enough, but certainly with a heady caramel sweetness that is best paired with an icy cold bucket of water and some dance music.Prices: BC 89.99 ON 88.70 QC 89.25 Producer: Moet & Chandon
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Champagne Bollinger Rosé Bruttext
93PTS

Champagne Bollinger Rosé Brut NV

Champagne, FranceThis elegant rosé blends the power of Bolly with generous fruit, resulting in a savoury, serious Champagne. Powerful, with 30% oak ferment and ample time on the lees to up the mouthfeel and presence, Bolly's fame with pinot noir is shining here. The cuvée is 62/24/14 pinot noir, chardonnay, and pinot meunier plus five to six percent still red wine (pinot noir), from at least 85% Grand Cru and Premier Cru fruit. True to house style, this NV was from drawn from older vintages. Bollinger famously stores reserve wines in magnums under cork for up to 15 years to use in their wines, and 5-10% is in use here. Expansive on the creamy palate, with cherry, red currant, subtle smoked stone, and a luring stream of potent acidity through the lengthy, saline finish. Such polish, and poise, this is a beautiful wine now, and with much time ahead in the cellar.Prices: BC 129.99 QC 99.25 Producer: Bollinger, Champagne
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Champagne Ayala Majeur Bruttext
90PTS

Champagne Ayala Majeur Brut NV

Champagne, FranceChampagne Ayala is one of the longer-established champagne houses, founded over 150 years ago in Aÿ. In 2005, the Bollinger family bought this neighbouring estate and set upon a resurgence for the brand, with a complete restoration of winemaking facilities and a bold new direction. This blend of 40/40/20 Chardonnay / Pinot Noir / Pinot Meunier was fermented in stainless, spent 3 years on the lees, and was dosed with 7 g/L. Strawberry brioche kissed with cherry are wrapped with toast, padded with a cushion of lees, and brightened with lemony acidity. Friendly and fruity is a lovely wine best matched with lighter fare like mushroom or salmon dishes.Prices: BC 75.99 AB 60.00 QC 60.00 Producer: Ayala
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Champagne Laurent Perrier Cuvée Rosé Bruttext
91PTS

Champagne Laurent Perrier Cuvée Rosé Brut NV

Champagne, FranceLa Cuvée Rosé is as recognizable for its distinctive bottle shape as for its smouldering taste. Entirely pinot noir, this was sourced from 10 crus in Montagne de Reims, spent up to three days in contact with skins before bleeding off (saignée), and spent a minimum of 60 months on lees before a disgorgement around 9 g/L. Wild raspberry, cherry is scented with perfumed strawberry and freshened with tart red currant acidity to a bright, lingering finish. Quite a classic, yet forward rosé champagne, it's easy to see why this is such a perennial favourite.Prices: BC 99.99 BC 245.99 1500 AB 91.35 ON 99.95 ON 174.55 1500 Producer: Champagne Laurent-Perrier
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Champagne Laurent Perrier La Cuvée Bruttext
90PTS

Champagne Laurent Perrier La Cuvée Brut NV

Champagne, FranceLa Cuvée is Laurent Perrier's revamped entry-level Champagne, and a solid introduction to this house's portfolio. It's now predominantly Chardonnay (50+ percent), with pinot noir and pinot meunier playing more of a supporting role. It has a lovely, complex nose: good brioche character from aging four years on its lees; nuts from a healthy dose of reserve wines; and fresh citrus. There's good precision to the palate, though the mousse is soft and somewhat frothy. Finishes dry, even at 10 g/L residual sugar, thanks to its zesty acidity.Prices: BC 78.85 ON 69.99 QC 65.60 Producer: Champagne Laurent-Perrier
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Louis Roederer Brut Vintage Champagnetext
94PTS

Louis Roederer Brut Vintage Champagne 2012

Champagne, FranceFrost, hail, and disease left the Champenois with a small crop in 2012, but what was left turned out to be terrific in the end. I like the idiosyncrasies of every vintage champagne because each tells a story of one year at a time on the property. At Louis Roederer, the grapes' blend is a 75/25 mix of pinot noir and chardonnay where the pinot noir comes from the Montagne de Reims. A high percentage of pinot allows for more refinement through ageing in oak foudres. The nose is bright but subtle, with light lemon supporting smoky, mineral notes, and lightly toasted almonds. In all, it ages on lees for 48 months, followed by a minimum six months' bottle age after disgorgement. The palate is rich with honeyed cashews and creamy textures that remain lively thanks to a persistent fine mousse through the end. It is only beginning to emerge and will pour well through the 2020s. Well done and fine value.Prices: BC 97.99 Producer: Champagne Louis Roederer
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04 December 2020

Bellingham The Bernard Series Old Vine Chenin Blanctext
91PTS

Bellingham The Bernard Series Old Vine Chenin Blanc 2017

Coastal Region, South AfricaChenin was sourced from Agter-Paarl, Durbanville and Bottelary Hills for this tribute series wine, named for the winery's founder, Bernard. From various Coastal, granitic-soiled, old bush vines (averaging 45 years) this is already destined to be low yielding and ripe fruited. Whole bunch pressed, this spent one year in French wood (half new) with regular batônnage. Creamy and powerful, but with a freshness and elegance brought by the very good 2017 vintage, this is based on a thick cloud of herbal lees, with perfumed lemon, ripe pear, honeysuckle, and scents of scrubby fynbos. The wood is evident through a constant spiced presence that doesn't overwhelm the heady fruit. Enjoy this full-bodied white all winter long, with richer squash or creamy dishes.Prices: BC 23.99 Producer: Bellingham - DGB
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Zarate Balado Albariñotext
92PTS

Zarate Balado Albariño 2018

Rías Baixas, Galicia, SpainFrom the oldest vineyard of Albariño in Rias Baixas, planted pre-phylloxera, these granitic-soiled vines in Val do Salnés are around 150 years old, and farmed with some biodynamic principles. After a native ferment in stainless, this is left on lees for 9 months, without bâtonnage, or MLF. Profound, and powerful, with echoes of medicinal white cherry, broken stones, white peach, herbal lees filling the medium+ palate. Quite structural and concentrated, yet saline and fresh.Prices: ON 45.00 Producer: Zarate
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Mastroberardino Falanghina del Sanniotext
89PTS

Mastroberardino Falanghina del Sannio 2017

Campania, ItalyThe Mastroberardino family, leaders in Italian viticulture, are largely responsible for the revival and elevation of Irpinian and Campanian winemaking post WWII. Working primarily with Campania’s ancient, native varieties, Fiano, Greco, and Aglianico, Mastroberardino has helped rescue would-be extinct grapes. This falanghina, the star white of DOC Sannio, grows in volcanic sandy-loam soils, and was fermented and rested briefly in stainless to preserve the fresh fruit. Almonds, wild citrus, quince glide along the slick palate, buffered by lees, and lingering with a saline buzz. Weight beyond its 12.5%, this is a great food wine for richer fish and shellfish, or lighter risottos.Prices: BC 33.00 Producer: Mastroberardino
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Natale Verga Bio Grillotext
88PTS

Natale Verga Bio Grillo 2017

Sicily, ItalyThis organic grillo is flooded with almonds, bitter lemon, musk melon and hay, running the lean, dry palate to a snappy, saline-kissed finish. Bright and light, ready for a variety of seafood, shellfish, or salad dishes.Prices: BC 15.00 Producer: Natale Verga
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François Mikulski Bourgogne Aligotétext
93PTS

François Mikulski Bourgogne Aligoté 2018

Burgundy, FranceFrançois Mikulski’s father was Lieutenant Mieczyslaw Mikulski, an escapee from occupied Poland in 1939, fleeing to England and joining the Resistance troops of the Free Polish Forces. It was there he met his future wife, a Burgundian working on an English army base. They moved to Brussels where François was born and raised. François spent his formative summers in Burgundy, where he fell in love with wine culture (fortunately for us). These organically farmed 1929 and 1948 planted aligote vines are in prime Meursault, native fermented in tank and older wood. Tight lemon verbena rules the saline palate, mouthwatering with mineral-lined acidity, and lined with a fine layer of lees. Meadow herbs, wild green herbs fill the rest of the slender frame, extending long on the finish with a mineral buzz. Wow - such an impactful, yet subtle aligote, and amongst the best I've tried.Prices: BC 45.00 Producer: François Mikulski
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Aphros Loureirotext
91PTS

Aphros Loureiro 2019

Vinhos Verde, Northern Portugal, PortugalVasco Croft is one of the pioneering biodynamic vintners in Portugal, and Aphros is his personal project. From Vinho Verde's Lima subregion, this loureiro spent time on skins before pressing into inox for fermentation and two months ageing on lees before filtration and bottling. Juicy and bright with lime, fresh pear, honeydew, verbena, orange blossom on a bright, slender palate. There's a refreshing granitic grip that keeps this lively, buoyed by bright acidity to a lip-smacking finish—a lot of impact for 11%.Prices: ON 22.95 Producer: Aphros
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Brovia Roero Arneistext
91PTS

Brovia Roero Arneis 2017

Piedmont, ItalyThe arneis is the only white wine made at Brovia, but it takes a back seat to no one. It is produced in the Roero district from a sandy, .80 hectare block in Vezza d’Alba that was planted 40 years ago. The fruit is handpicked before undergoing a short 18 to 21-day maceration and fermentation in stainless steel, where it remains until the spring and then is kept in a bottle until the fall. The wine is delicious, from its green apple and almond bouquet to its mineral, wet stone, citrus notes and creamy textures. It finishes with a hint of spice and salt. Impressive and perfect for serving with shellfish or a favourite vegetarian casserole.Prices: BC 41.99 Producer: Brovia
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Villa Sparina Gavi del Comune di Gavitext
88PTS

Villa Sparina Gavi del Comune di Gavi 2018

Gavi, Piedmont, ItalyGavi di Gavi, the wine, takes its name from Gavi's region and is made with the cortese grape. The grapes are uniquely suited to the hillsides of the province of Alessandria. It’s stainless steel fermented, and the result is a deliciously floral, mineral, citrus white with a squeeze of lime. It is delicate, fresh, seafood-friendly, and a lot of fun to drink.Prices: BC 21.49 Producer: Villa Sparina
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Villa Sparina Monterotondo Gavitext
89PTS

Villa Sparina Monterotondo Gavi 2016

Gavi, Piedmont, ItalyThis all-cortese white comes off a historical single-vineyard located in Gavi's Municipality, where the vines average 40 years of age. Like its little brother Gavi di Gavi, Monterotonda leads with a stone mineral thread underlies the entire wine. The textures are smooth and rich with a strong citrus flavouring mixed with peaches and a hint of guava on the palate. The site is a mix of clay marl, adding to the richness of texture here, and it gets plenty of sunshine facing mostly South, South-West at 310-350 m a.s.l. The ferment is three weeks long in stainless steel, but the game-changer is two years in oak barrels resting in cellars that date back to the 18th Century.Prices: BC 47.99 Producer: Villa Sparina
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Suertes del Marqués Vidoniatext
92PTS

Suertes del Marqués Vidonia 2018

Tenerife, Canary Islands, SpainFrom Tenerife's volcanic soils, this organically farmed old-vine listán blanco was rooted at 350-450m. Vidonia is an old colloquial term for the historic whites of the island, traditionally dominated by listán blanco, and generally field blends. This mineral-driven blend was native fermented in neutral 500 L oak casks, before spending another 11 months rest there. Saline led, wild herbs, meadow grass, lemon rind, broken stones is braced with firm veins of flint, and bedded with a gently expansive palate. Riper and rounder than the 2017, this is drinking well now, and with life ahead.Prices: ON 48.00 Producer: Suertes del Marqués
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Envinate Benje Blancotext
92PTS

Envinate Benje Blanco 2018

Tenerife, Canary Islands, SpainThe fruit for the Benje wines comes from vineyards in Santiago del Teide, high on the northwestern volcanic slopes of Tenerife, around 1000m. This is organic, bush vine Listán Blanco, each parcel vinified separately in concrete and open tubs, with 25% skin contact for up to 40 days. The wine is aged for 8 months in 60% concrete and 40% old French barriques. Saline dominant and nervy with acidity and via soils, this streams tight humming minerality, crystalline lemon, subtle quince, elderflower, and meadow grass, with a bed of herbal lees, and a fine grippy riff to the sides.Prices: BC 35.00 Producer: Envinate
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Albino Rocca Moscato d'Astitext
90PTS

Albino Rocca Moscato d'Asti 2019

Alba, Cuneo, Piedmont, ItalyOnce you have experienced a Moscato d'Asti in Italy, you will always embrace it whenever you come across it. It's slightly fizzy, sweet, and fresh, and it dances on the palate. And in this case, it has enticing floral, citrus, and pear. It's considered a lovely dessert wine, but here in British Columbia, I think it works equally with a wide assortment of South Asian food. It is made with moscato bianco grape from the Piedmont province of Asti. What I like about Moscato is its low alcohol, usually around 5%. It's an asset before dinner and after. Albino Rocca is highly regarded for its Piedmont wines, and their less is more winemaking techniques seem a perfect match for this moscato.Prices: BC 27.50 Producer: Albino Rocca
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Reyneke Organic Chenin Blanctext
90PTS

Reyneke Organic Chenin Blanc 2019

Stellenbosch, Coastal Region, South AfricaReyneke was South Africa’s first certified biodynamic vineyard and winery, and remains one of the few today, with their wines made without additives or deletions. Young RSA star winemaker John Reyneke is old vine genius. This organic range (vs their estate-only biodynamic range) is seen as an 'entry tier', which is laughable and laudable due to the high quality here. For the 2019 vintage, the grapes were sourced from a Stellenbosch vineyard planted in 1976. After destemming, this was native fermented in stainless, where it rested on lees for 6 months prior to blending and bottling. Expansive white peach, honeycrisp apple, subtle quince, meadow herbs, is bedded with a downy cushion of downy lees, and threaded with grapefruit pith to hold aloft. A lovely blend between fruit and soils here, this is a joy to drink now and will continue to be over the next few years.Prices: BC 30.00 Producer: Reyneke
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03 December 2020

Wakefield Cabernet Sauvignontext
88PTS

Wakefield Cabernet Sauvignon 2017

Clare Valley, South Australia, AustraliaBig, ripe, and potent, this Clare Valley cab leads with a medicinal-hued black cherry and cassis note, imbued with tobacco leaf, green sap, anise, gravels, and a wave of eucalyptus on the warming finish. Tannins are firm but slightly sanded, with cedar and oak propping up the ripe fruit. The wine was gently pressed to French oak barrels to complete ferment, and it remained there for 1 year (10% new wood). Best taken now with grilled burgers or steak.Prices: ON 19.95 BC 20.00 Producer: Wakefield Wines Pty
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Santa Margherita Cabernet Sauvignontext
86PTS

Santa Margherita Cabernet Sauvignon 2018

Veneto, ItalySanta Margherita is well known for its pinot grigio, so much so that the two seem to be synonymous sometimes. And yet here is a cabernet sauvignon from the Veneto. The style isn't far removed from the Veneto's more familiar Valpolicella wines. It's a light, juicy red wine with tart red fruits, leafy herbs, and a leesy note. The tannins are negligible, softened by a pinch of sweetness (3 g/L), making this an easy-drinking style best served with a light chill. A fine offering, though I'd be tempted to go with a Valpolicella instead.Prices: BC 21.00 ON 19.95 QC 19.95 Producer: Santa Margherita S.P.A.
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Viña Chocalán Cabernet Sauvignon Reservatext
88PTS

Viña Chocalán Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva 2018

Valle del Maipo, Region del Valle Central, ChileThis is a full-throttle Maipo cabernet sauvignon that doesn't pull any punches. From liqueur-like black fruits to dried mint and bay leaf to mocha coffee oak, it packs a lot in for $18. Led by a sweet attack, not a surprise given this ripeness level and 14% abv, the palate is medium-full bodied, dense, and smooth, with a dry, grippy finish.Good value. 85 percent cabernet sauvignon and 15 percent cabernet franc.Prices: BC 17.99 MB 14.69 Producer: Viña Chocalán
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Sterling Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon (Aluminum Bottle)text
86PTS

Sterling Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon (Aluminum Bottle) NV

California, United StatesThe Sterling aluminum can looks good, and in the half-bottle format, it's an easy buy for hikers, beachgoers and picnickers. The wine itself is a very entry-level California cab with a soft, round, sweetish entry sure to appeal to those who like easy-sipping cabernet. Look for cherry, chocolate, cassis mixed with cedar, tobacco, and vanilla. The finish is warm and spicy. Ready to drink. Ribs, chicken, burgers and roast beef sandwiches all work here. The sleek aluminum can be reused to carry and liquid in a compact container.Prices: AB 7.99 375 MB 7.50 375 ON 9.95 375 NB 11.45 375 YK 11.45 375 Producer: Sterling Vineyards
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Arboleda Cabernet Sauvignontext
88PTS

Arboleda Cabernet Sauvignon 2018

Valle de Aconcagua, Region de Aconcagua, ChileThis is an archetypical Chilean cabernet from Aconcagua: ripe and powerful with cassis and no shortage of pungent pyrazines. As a result, the fruit effortlessly carries the oak (14 months in French barriques, 30% new) but lacks dimension. Medium-full bodied, though lacking some concentration on the midpalate, the tannins are dense but fairly fine, with a disjointed tartness to the finish. This may not capture the next wave of Chilean winemaking, but it's still a satisfying, hedonistic pour, and will pair nicely with a flank steak topped with chimichurri sauce.Prices: BC 29.77 ON 19.95 NS 22.99 Producer: Viña Arboleda
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Chateau St. Jean Cabernet Sauvignontext
87PTS

Chateau St. Jean Cabernet Sauvignon 2018

Sonoma County, California, United StatesThis combines lovely, old school packaging with a modern take on California cabernet sauvignon. Expect bold, jammy black fruits with confected vanilla oak. The palate is medium-bodied, soft, and easy, with 5 g/L residual sugar and some tartness to the finish. It's more about the style than the variety or place, and it's clearly made to appeal broadly. Perfect for when you just want a solid New World red in your glass. You don't need food, just Netflix.Prices: BC 30.00 AB 17.59 QC 19.45 NB 22.99 Producer: Château Saint Jean
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Frind Estate Premier Cabernet Sauvignontext
88PTS

Frind Estate Premier Cabernet Sauvignon 2019

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaFrind Estate Winery is a new lakefront winery on the historic Bennett Property in West Kelowna. Markus Frind purchased the property in 2017 after he sold his company Plenty of Fish. With over 500 years of family farming history, Markus wanted to combine his two passions; technology and agriculture. He employed Erik von Krosigk, ex-of Summerhill, to make the wines. This youthful cabernet sauvignon is amazingly kept to 12.7%, though compact with dense dark cherry, cassis, and blackberry. The wood plays a welcome, integrated supporting role, while tannins are near negligible. Take this easy, youthful red with grilled sausages or burgers.Prices: BC 37.99 Producer: Frind Estate
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Burrowing Owl Cabernet Sauvignontext
90PTS

Burrowing Owl Cabernet Sauvignon 2018

Oliver, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaWinemaker Kent MacDonald has quietly taken Burrowing Owl to another level. No wild reinventions or reimaginations here, just solid winemaking. Take this cabernet sauvignon. There's density and freshness to the fruit; integrated, quality oak; and diligent tannin management (and a pinch of residual sugar) that makes this structured but drinkable now. A herbal lift would add a missing aromatic component, but otherwise this checks all of the boxes.Prices: BC 40.00 AB 48.00 ON 44.95 Producer: Burrowing Owl Vineyards
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Kaiken Selección Especial Cabernet Sauvignontext
88PTS

Kaiken Selección Especial Cabernet Sauvignon 2018

Mendoza, ArgentinaKaiken has always been a good idea; having the Montes family of Chile working in Argentina is a very sustainable way to tell the land's story. After all these years, we finally see the results, especially as they filter down to the entry-level wines. The fruit is pure and highly expressive, pitching fresh blackberry and blackcurrants from front to back. Add some savoury spicing, and for the price, it's hard to beat. Think grilled beef as the Argentines do, and you will have a solid experience. Ready to drink, and the price is terrific.Prices: BC 15.99 AB 15.00 SK 19.99 Producer: Montes Wines
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Lake Sonoma Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignontext
89PTS

Lake Sonoma Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon 2018

Sonoma County, California, United StatesStewart Family Estates is one of the rare Canadian wine companies to have ventured abroad, in this case to Sonoma. The brand is still operationally based in the Okanagan, though, and this Sonoma County cabernet sauvignon shows some consistency with Quails' Gate's winemaking style. The fruit is ripe and dark, with ample oak spice and toast, while maintaining cabernet's inherent structure. The firm, medium-grained tannins lead to a decidedly dry finish. Decant and serve with a beef roast if opening over the holidays, or hold for 2-3 years.Prices: BC 28.99 AB 26.00 MB 29.99 ON 33.00 QC 31.00 NS 33.79 NB 33.79 SK 36.99 YK 32.80 Producer: Lake Sonoma Winery
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Painted Rock Cabernet Sauvignontext
89PTS

Painted Rock Cabernet Sauvignon 2018

Skaha Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaFrom Painted Rock's 2.15 acre block of cabernet sauvignon, this was cold-soaked and then fermented on skins for 21 days before ageing in French oak for 18 months (30% new). This is a dark, brooding cabernet sauvignon, intensely extracted with concentrated black and blue fruits, huge weight, and pronounced firm, grainy tannins. If you want a big Okanagan cabernet, this is it, but it's going to need some time to come into its own. The oak and alcohol (14.2%) both seem disparate now but will integrate with a few years in bottle. The question will be how long it will take for the tannins to resolve. Only 305 cases were produced.Prices: BC 39.99 Producer: Painted Rock Estate Winery
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02 December 2020

Il Poggione Brunello di Montalcinotext
89PTS

Il Poggione Brunello di Montalcino 2014

Montalcino, Siena, Tuscany, ItalyOne of Montalcino’s largest wineries, Tenuta Il Poggione covers an area of 600 hectares, 125 hectares of which are vineyards. Its wine history began at the end of the 19th century when Lavinio Franceschi purchased the estate, and today Leopoldo Franceschi is the current generation. This comes from vineyards between 200-400m, all around Sant'Angelo in Colle, south of Montalcino hill. From the cooler 2014 vintage, this was deliberately picked from the lower elevation vineyards. After a 3 week native ferment and maceration in stainless, this moved to French 30 and 50 hl barrels for 30 months, followed by a few months' rest in the bottle. Leather, darker cherry, sultry black plum, tomato paste rule the bigger palate, still firmly gripped with tannins. There is some freshness throughout to lift, but this feels somewhat weighted down, most certainly thanks to vintage. Best drinking now, with roast lamb or beef.Prices: BC 76.00 ON 74.00 Producer: Tenuta Il Poggione
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Cortonese Poggiarelli Brunello di Montalcinotext
90PTS

Cortonese Poggiarelli Brunello di Montalcino 2015

Montalcino, Siena, Tuscany, ItalyThough Cortonesi’s estate is based at La Mannella, on the flats just to the northeast of the Montalcino hill, this single vineyard wine comes from a block they farm from the warmer, southern part of Montalcino at 420m of elevation. This vigna, I Poggiarelli, faces southwest, and is planted on galestro. This is the only wine young superstar winemaker Tommaso Cortonesi ages in small oak, following a stainless ferment and maceration over 3 weeks. The wine then remains in 500L French tonneaux for two years, followed by another year in bottle. Quite big, rich and dense, reflecting the generous 2015 vintage, this has plush red fruits, firm, dark chocolate costed tannins, and a velvet texture to the fuller palate. Quite youthful and exuberant still, this could use some time in bottle to settle down.Prices: ON 122.00 Producer: Cortonesi
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Caparzo Vigna La Casa Brunello di Montalcinotext
93PTS

Caparzo Vigna La Casa Brunello di Montalcino 2012

Montosoli, Siena, Tuscany, ItalyCaparzo is located in the north of Montalcino, and are the fortunate caretakers of part of the cru of Montosoli hill. The property is in the hands of Elisabetta Gnudi Angelini, though her daughter Alessandra Angelini returned to the property in 2017 to work alongside her family. This vigna (single vineyard) La Casa is a special site on Montosoli, facing S / SE. It was one of the first single vineyards in Montalcino. After a native ferment and two weeks on skins, this was transferred into oak for two years, followed by a few months in bottle prior to release. A lovely perfumed nose leads to and elegant palate of cherry and wild raspberry, intertwined with a savoury saline element, which lingers on the lengthy finish. Quite a finessed wine, and a real charmer now, but with time still ahead in your cellar.Prices: ON 124.95 Producer: Caparzo
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Talenti Brunello di Montalcino Pian de Conte Riservatext
93PTS

Talenti Brunello di Montalcino Pian de Conte Riserva 2013

Montalcino, Siena, Tuscany, ItalyPian di Conte is the estate where Pierluigi Talenti landed when he moved from Romagna, and established his winery, very close to Sant'Angelo in Colle. Today, his grandson Riccardo Talenti oversees operations. This vigna (single vineyard) Brunello comes from that special site, one Riccardo sees as a Cru, and is not made every year. From 35 year old vines at 400m on sandy loam and heavy stone, this faces southwest. After a three week ferment and maceration in stainless, this moved into 500L French tonneaux and 15-25hl Slavonian oak for two years' aging, followed by two more years in bottle prior to release. An intoxicating nose lures into layers of leather, iodine, dark cherry, dried florals. Tannins are firm and ample, but very well integrated, providing a solid backbone and structure for aging. A beautiful freshness and acidity keeps this feeling finessed and elegant through the lingering, buzzing finish. Beauty now, and will continue to hold in your cellar for some years.Prices: ON 106.00 Producer: Talenti, Az Agr.
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Sesti Brunello di Montalcinotext
91PTS

Sesti Brunello di Montalcino 2015

Montalcino, Siena, Tuscany, ItalyGiuseppe Maria “Giugi” Sesti did not initially choose a career in wine. Instead, his Venetian upbringing inspired him to study music, art, and astronomy, the last of which became his profession. After marrying, he moved his family to Tuscany, where they bought the abandoned ruins of the hamlet and castle of Argiano, all 102 hectares, on southern boarder of Siena. He started planting vines in 1991, and his four children grew up amidst the vines. In 1999 daughter Elisa joined the estate full time to take care of the 9 hectares of viticulture and winemaking. From the generous 2015 vintage, this wonderfully benefits from a corridor of refreshing sea breezes, from the Mediterranean 35km away. From 350m, and sandy marine soils, this is quite firm and savoury, with graphite, tobacco, and dried scrubby Mediterranean herbs seasoning the fresh and dried cherry wrapping around the core. The finish is long with the hum of broken stones, and browning spices. After a two week ferment in stainless, this moved into Slavonian oak barrels for 3 years aging, followed by one year bottle rest. Drinking well now, and will continue in the cellar for the next 5+ years.Prices: ON 132.00 Producer: Sesti
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Casisano Brunello di Montalcinotext
88PTS

Casisano Brunello di Montalcino 2010

Montalcino, Siena, Tuscany, ItalyCasisano's 22 hectares of vineyards are situated at 480m, on a natural terrace facing south east of Montalcino, and on a rocky base of sandstone, schistous marl, galestro, and veins of volcanic origin. In 2011, the Tommasi family, of renown Veneto fame, purchased the property, and today the 4th generation of siblings is involved with running the company. This is now showing quite deep browning of fruit, fully in the autumnal range, with well worked leather, dried cherry, and dried florals. Quite a traditional style, these drying, gripping tannins require food to mitigate.Prices: ON 70.00 Producer: Tommasi Viticoltori
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Argiano Brunello di Montalcinotext
89PTS

Argiano Brunello di Montalcino 2014

Montalcino, Siena, Tuscany, ItalyIn Montalcino's south/southwest area, this site is situated between Poggio all Mura and Sant Angelo in Colle, on a clay/limestone laced plateau at 300m. From the very challenging 2014 vintage, this had to be managed carefully and strategically. This was native fermented and macerated for 2 weeks in steel and cement, before ageing two years in French oak of various sizes. Soft in the mouth, this is fading now, with autumnal fruit, pulling through sticky tannins, through to the warming, brown spiced finish. Ready to drink now, ideally with roast pork or root veg dishes.Prices: BC 68.99 ON 63.00 Producer: Argiano
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Col d'Orcia Brunello di Montalcinotext
92PTS

Col d'Orcia Brunello di Montalcino 2015

Montalcino, Siena, Tuscany, ItalyCol D'Orcia is explained in the name: sun slope, down to the Orcia River, at the southwest border of Montalcino. This is the hill on which the 140 hectares of south west vineyards are planted and all the wines come from (140-440m). The image on the label represents the 3 rows of hills, and the hand pointing to the starts illustrates their reach for excellence. 2015 was an excellent vintage, with a solid warm period to provide mature and round tannins, but a cooler harvest to preserve acidity and freshness. This was fermented over 3 weeks in stainless before 3 years' rest in varying sized Slavonian and French oak casks. Lovely firmness and structure here, with savoury, dark cherry, tobacco, dark cocoa dusted tannins, a ripe cherry core, ample splices, and a spire of freshness driving this to the medicinal hued finish. Quite bold, as is the vintage, but still quite elegant, drinking very well now and will continue with 10+ years in your cellar.Prices: BC 55.99 ON 55.95 QC 53.75 1500 Producer: Col d'Orcia
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Franco Pacenti Brunello di Montalcinotext
93PTS

Franco Pacenti Brunello di Montalcino 2015

Montalcino, Siena, Tuscany, ItalyThis estate, tucked into the northeast of the region, above the hill of Montalcino, dates back to the 14th Century. Franco Pacenti was born into the family business in 1958, and took over from his father in the 1980s. Now his three children have joined him in the cultivation and winemaking from their 10 hectares of vineyards. The site is certainly an anomaly in Montalcino, facing north, but with climate change fully in effect, this could well be the future. Their vineyards are planted at 300m, in profound clay with various minerals dispersed throughout. After a month-long fermentation and maceration, this aged 3 years in 50hl Slavonian and French barrels, followed by 6 months in the bottle prior to release. Lovely morello cherry, wild raspberry, fresh and dried roses is firmly structured with tight tannins, but beaming with ample verve. Such a young wine, this has a long way to go, but is such a charmer now.Prices: ON 67.00 Producer: Franco Pacenti
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Tenuta Luce Brunello di Montalcinotext
95PTS

Tenuta Luce Brunello di Montalcino 2015

Montalcino, Siena, Tuscany, ItalyThe Brunello is a latecomer to the Luce mix of wines but no less important. Luce is in the Montalcino region, so it makes sense to make a Brunello from what is a small, select block of vines inside the 217-acre estate. The grapes come off some of the higher, cooler sites planted to sangiovese over sandstone and limestone. It’s aged a year in mostly old Slavonian oak, only ten percent is new, to protect the terroir and the impressive fruit. 2015 is big and powerful, but I love its balance, diminishing its hefty, 15.5 percent alcohol level. The attack is juicy and inviting with no shortage of rich, dark cherry streaked with a dry, earthy, black tea finish. Long and elegant and persistent and powerful, let this sleep through 2025 and beyond in the bottle.Prices: BC 149.99 AB 149.99 ON 149.95 QC 149.75 Producer: Tenuta Luce
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Canalicchio di Sopra Brunello di Montalcinotext
94PTS

Canalicchio di Sopra Brunello di Montalcino 2015

Tuscany, ItalyFrancesco Ripaccioli is the third generation, along with his brother and sister, taking care of these lands. Francesco took over the winemaking from his father, overseeing the 19 vineyards across 2 cru, including their estate vineyards on the famed Montosoli Hill. This is an alluring mix of ripe red fruit, and fine, firm structure: sapidity and sweetness. A bed of leather is studded with mineral salts and layered with dried flowers, fresh and dried cherry, red currant along a very long, layered, lingering frame. Amazing presence, even now in youth, this will continue to unravel and grow in your cellar over the next decade+.Prices: ON 106.00 Producer: Canalicchio di Sopra
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Fattoria dei Barbi Brunello di Montalcinotext
91PTS

Fattoria dei Barbi Brunello di Montalcino 2012

Tuscany, ItalyThe Barbi family traces its lineage to this site back to 1352, and Stefano is the 6th generation, representing 834 years of lineage. In addition to being historic, the family was also very pioneering. In 1892 they were the first to export wines to Asia, North America, and Europe. This Reserva (red label) Brunello is not made every year, but when conditions are right, it comes from the oldest vines rooted in the best parts of the vineyards at 250-400m. This rested in smaller oak barrels for the first few months, and then aged in larger oak barrels for a total period of three years. Salted and leathery, with worn dark cherry, bergamot, worn wood ruling the full palate, quite compact, but certainly fading some with age. Tannins are sanded long and left now slightly sticky, drawing this to a warming finish. Drinking well now, with roast lamb or pork.Prices: ON 134.00 Producer: Fattoria dei Barbi
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Tenute Silvio Nardi Brunello di Montalcinotext
90PTS

Tenute Silvio Nardi Brunello di Montalcino 2013

Tuscany, ItalyTenute Silvio Nardi is located in Casale del Bosco, in Montalcino’s northwest area. The estate farms 80 hectares of vines divided into 36 vineyards. This Brunello comes from two estates owned by the Nardi family: the original rocky, volcanic-laced property in the NW corner, purchased by the family in 1950; and the newer property in the east on clay, schist, and sandstone soils. Together they make a very elegant whole. This was native fermented in stainless, before a year's rest in 750L and 1900L oak barrels. Warm, worn cherry, leather, perfumed roses run long along the elegant palate, with a bright spire of acidity poking through. Tannins are polished, but still have a stickiness to them, tugging this along to a brown spiced finish. Drink now, with grilled lamb or pork.Prices: ON 49.95 Producer: Tenute Silvio Nardi
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Poggio di Sotto Brunello di Montalcinotext
90PTS

Poggio di Sotto Brunello di Montalcino 2015

Tuscany, ItalyPoggio di Sotto’s certified organic estate was founded in 1989 on the south-eastern side of Montalcino overlooking the Orcia valley and in 2011 became part of the ColleMassari family of wines. Switzerland's Tipa Bertarelli family oversees this property. The vineyards for this Brunello are across 3 elevations, giving a range of soils and freshness to the wine. Elegant and stately, if a bit severe, this old school Brunello glides along the palate with dried cherry, leather, autumn leaves, finishing with some dusky brown spices. Tannins are well integrated, with a tug on the sides. One for now with veal or lamb, or better yet, tuck into the cellar.Prices: ON 243.95 Producer: Poggio di Sotto
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Donatella Cinelli Colombini Brunello di Montalcino Riservatext
89PTS

Donatella Cinelli Colombini Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 1999

Montalcino, Siena, Tuscany, ItalyFrom the cellar. Aged wood, worn leather, dried cherries take the lead of this supple, worked palate, housed by big, still tuggy tannins to guide this to a fading, spiced finish. From the cooler, sleeker 1999 vintage, this has held very well. If you've some bottles left, think about enjoying them now.Prices: Producer: Donatella Cinelli Colombini
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Tenuta Fanti Rosso di Montalcinotext
89PTS

Tenuta Fanti Rosso di Montalcino 2018

Montalcino, Siena, Tuscany, ItalyThe Tenuta Fanti estate has belonged to the Fanti family since the beginning of the eighteenth century. It extends across 300 hectares in Toscana, 52ha of which are specialized certified sustainable vineyards. Made from 15-20-year-old vines, the wine was fermented for 20-25 days in stainless before ageing for one year in oak barrels, 300L French oak barriques, and 3,000L oak barrels. The wine then aged in a bottle for 7 months before release. Dark cherry is darted with roses, tulips, and spices flooding the slight body. Fine, long tannins guide this to a delicately spiced finish.Prices: ON 29.95 Producer: Tenuta Fanti
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01 December 2020

Candor Zinfandel Lot 7text
85PTS

Candor Zinfandel Lot 7 NV

Lodi, Central Valley, California, United StatesFrom gnarly, 60+-year-old vines and a 4th generation farming family in Lodi, this deep, dense, sweet and rich zin was fermented in stainless before going into used French and American barrels for 18 months. Hedonistic, and most certainly beyond its 14.5 declared alcohol, and there is 11% merlot tipped in. However, all you can taste in the browning glass is sweet red fruit, on a plumped palate, with minimal tannins and maximum jamminess, to a browning spiced finish—such a shame to treat these old vines in this way.Prices: BC 24.99 ON 18.75 Producer: Candor Winery
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Candor Zinfandel Lot 7text
86PTS

Candor Zinfandel Lot 7 NV

Lodi, Central Valley, California, United StatesI want to like this wine for its exuberance and natural zinfandel fruit, but the sweetness is tough to take. Pruny and super ripe, with a mocha chocolate note that finishes soft and fat and lifted, in a way reminiscent of fortified wine. It doesn't need my approval to hit a chord with sweet red wine lovers.Prices: BC 24.99 ON 18.75 Producer: Candor Winery
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Fitapreta Moreto Chão Dos Eremitas Vinhas Velhastext
90PTS

Fitapreta Moreto Chão Dos Eremitas Vinhas Velhas 2018

Alentejo, Central and Southern Portugal, PortugalWinemaker António Maçanita came across this special vineyard first planted over 150 years old, and knew he needed to make wine of it. His new Chão dos Eremitas range honours these near-extinct grapes, named after the vineyard they are rooted in, in honour of the Hermit monks of the Order of São Paulo who worked these lands. This is Moreto (50 year old vines), a crossing between Sarigo and Alfrocheiro Preto. 30% was bled off to give concentration before fermentation with 30% whole bunch, over 40 days. Post ferment, this rested one year in older barrels. Bright and fresh, with pomegranate, blackcurrant jam, and graphite, this has a tight, firm structure, a fleshy palate, and an elegance not typically associated with the variety, or with Alentejo. Tannins are fine, but firm, and acidity is vibrant to a very lengthy finish, carrying the 15%. Only 1993 bottles were produced.Prices: ON 71.95 Producer: Fitapreta
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Undurraga Sibaris Carmenere Gran Reservatext
86PTS

Undurraga Sibaris Carmenere Gran Reserva 2018

Valle del Colchagua, Valle del Rapel, Region del Valle Central, ChileFrom Colchagua, a classic carménère with a peppery, crushed leaf nose with hints of dill and roasted onions. The attack is fresh with red cherry dusted in smoke and cedar, with medium soft tannins and a smoky, crushed dried leaf aftertaste. Love it or hate it, it is carménère, and best with barbecue fare.Prices: BC 18.49 AB 16.80 MB 17.85 Producer: Viña Undurraga
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Tiger Horse Old Vine Cinsaulttext
87PTS

Tiger Horse Old Vine Cinsault 2019

Western Cape, South AfricaCinsault is mostly unheralded wherever it's planted, or at the very most, it ends up in a blend of shiraz and grenache or the like, but this Boutinot label from the Cape is a solo version and a pretty good one. The vines are 40-plus years old, and they yield an intense dark cherry that slides down easily. Add a bit of cola and brown spices, and you have the perfect red for lamb chops or chicken brochette. Almost pinot noir like, it offers fine value.Prices: BC 14.99 Producer: Boutinot
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Stag's Hollow Dolcetto Shuttleworth Creek Vineyardtext
88PTS

Stag's Hollow Dolcetto Shuttleworth Creek Vineyard 2018

Okanagan Falls, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaBright and earthy with tangy rhubarb, red currant, bramble berry, and tart cherry, this dolcetto comes from Okanagan Falls' Shuttleworth Creek Vineyard's gravels, glacial till, and loam. Destemmed fruit went into stainless and concrete for fermentation and an 8 month's rest prior to blending the parts. Tannins run down the sides of the slender palate, housing with a gentle tug to a snappy, tangy finish. Take with a light chill and a platter of grilled veg and/or sausages.Prices: BC 21.99 Producer: Stag's Hollow Winery and Vineyard
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Lake Sonoma Zinfandeltext
86PTS

Lake Sonoma Zinfandel 2016

Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County, California, United StatesThere's a touch of volatility here lifting a juicy black cherry, blackberry nose. The palate is similar in flavours as the fruit eventually wins out. Not quite up to the excellent 2018. Ready to drink and best when served in a barbecue environment.Prices: BC 24.49 AB 25.50 QC 26.00 ON 29.00 NB 29.79 PEI 30.25 Producer: Lake Sonoma Winery
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Quinta De Chocapalha Castelãotext
87PTS

Quinta De Chocapalha Castelão 2015

Central and Southern Portugal, PortugalFrom calcareous and clay soils and 29-year-old vines, this Castelão was fermented in stainless steel and then sent to barrel for 1 year before bottling. Still very primary and fruit-forward, with juicy plum, blueberry, earth spliced with a wave of reduction, before settling into a dusky finish. Tannins are sticky, and acidity is bright—a suitable red for cracking alongside burgers or ribs now.Prices: BC 24.99 Producer: Casa Agricola Das Mimosas
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Stags' Leap Petite Sirahtext
92PTS

Stags' Leap Petite Sirah 2016

Napa Valley, California, United StatesThe ’16 Petite Sirah is better than ever a year down the road. It comes from a handful of ancient vines on the estate and a few sites in the north and south of Napa Valley. It’s beginning to lose a bit of its rich, fat, baby fruit as it puts on some midpalate weight and more complexity. Black pepper, raspberries, and bitter, dark chocolate rule the palate with plenty of acidity to balance it all out in the mouth. The star is the texture of this wine; the tannin management has left it with dense sweet tannins that coat the palate but do not dry out your mouth. You can drink this now, and that is its charm and brilliance. Winemaker Paubert practices traditional winemaking methods and a varying mix of syrah, grenache, and mourvèdre to add further layers of interest. A first-class red, you can cellar this beyond 2026 with ease. Finally, the wine went through a relatively short maceration period (9-12 days on average) that included the co-fermentation of two lots with the viognier to reinforce the floral character of the petite sirah. The wine aged for 12 months in American oak barrels (25% new).Prices: BC 42.99 AB 42.95 ON 58.99 Producer: Stags' Leap Winery
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Estanción Carmeneretext
81PTS

Estanción Carmenere 2017

Valle del Colchagua, Valle del Rapel, Region del Valle Central, ChileOpening with a tsunami of reduction, which is tricky to move past, this then moves into rubber, asphalt, roasted root veg, and some roasted black fruits. Tannins are grippy, and the warming finish is thankfully short.Prices: BC 14.99 ON 13.00 AB 13.00 Producer: Estampa Assemblages of Chile
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Quara Estate Tannattext
88PTS

Quara Estate Tannat 2018

Cafayate, Calchaqui Valley, Salta, North, ArgentinaIt's always the unexpected that charms you in the wine business, and this tannat from a remote high-altitude vineyard in Salta does just that. After a brief bit of reduction (splash decant to help), you come upon a spicy, minty nose with round, soft, mineral, dusty, stony black fruits that melt in your mouth. Juicy and ready to drink, it way overdelivers for the price. Back up the truck.Prices: BC 14.99 Producer: Felix Lavaque
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