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Anthony Gismondi on Wine
Tasting Notes

Tastings: September 2021

30 September 2021

Michel Prunier et Fille Crémant de Bourgognetext
89PTS

Michel Prunier et Fille Crémant de Bourgogne NV

Burgundy, FranceThis traditional method sparkler sources fruit from three sites in Auxey-Duresses and Chorey-les-Beaune, with average vine age at 35 years, and from a mix of estate and grower vineyards. The blend of 50% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay, and 20% Aligoté was fermented in stainless, before going into bottle for secondary fermentation the following summer. This spent 24 months on lees. The creamy palate leads with yellow apple, green apple, tight cherry blossom, lightly toasted meringue, flax on a bright palate, finishing with a chalky grip. Smart crémant, ready for enjoying now.Prices: ON 39.95 Producer: Michel Prunier et Fille
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Benjamin Bridge NV Brut Méthode Classiquetext
89PTS

Benjamin Bridge NV Brut Méthode Classique NV

Gaspereau Valley, Nova Scotia, CanadaThe mainstay cuvée from Nova Scotia / Canada's preeminent sparkling wine house, the current iteration of the ever-evolving BB NV Brut blends 55% L’Acadie, and 45% Chardonnay, and left with 4.5 g/L RS. Both grapes are equally noticeable here, with the fragrant floral blossoms of the former up against the lemon steely backbone of the latter. Lime, white peach, Asian pear fill out the palate, bright with citrine, and fresh with marine air. A lovely, friendly fizz for enjoying now.Prices: BC 40.00 Producer: Benjamin Bridge
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Casa di Baal Il Tocco di Baaltext
88PTS

Casa di Baal Il Tocco di Baal 2019

Campania, ItalyThe Salerno family has been making wines for their own consumption for generations. In 2005, Annibale and Anna decided to create Casa di Baal and produce their own label from their 5 hectares of vineyard. Il Tocco di Baal is a natural and dry pét-nat of aglianico, unfiltered and with no added sulphites. This pours a cloudy peach hue, and has just a prickle of fizz to lift the pink florals, sour cherry, strawberry blossoms on the dry palate. There's a grapefruit pithiness that cleanses the finish of this lighter, fun wine.Prices: ON 27.95 Producer: Casa di Baal
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Blomidon Crémant Extra Drytext
88PTS

Blomidon Crémant Extra Dry NV

Nova Scotia, CanadaThis Crémant uses estate-grown Seyval Blanc, L'Acadie Blanc, and Chardonnay, with 10 months on lees, and a dosage of 16 g/L. The RS is required to counter the insane, ripping acidity (11.6 TA), yielding yellow apples, pear, kumquat, gooseberry, and stones that ride a juicy swell to a snappy, marine fresh finish, finishing off-dry. This is a friendly brisk fizz ready for drinking now.Prices: ON 32.95 Producer: Blomidon Estate Winery
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Claude Chevalier Crémant de Bourgognetext
88PTS

Claude Chevalier Crémant de Bourgogne 2018

Burgundy, FranceThis traditional method sparkler is a blanc de blancs, based on 85% Chardonnay. After transferring to bottle for secondary ferment, this rested on lees for 18 months, and was disgorged with 10 g/L. White flowers, pear blossoms, white peach fills a softer palate, laced with lemon pith, and trailing with a chalky grip that tightens the finish. The dosage keeps this super friendly, and approachable for drinking now.Prices: ON 34.95 Producer: Domaine Chevalier Pére & Fils
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Reichsrat Von Buhl Riesling Sekt Bruttext
90PTS

Reichsrat Von Buhl Riesling Sekt Brut 2017

Pfalz, GermanyOne of the biggest boosts to quality Sekt production in Germany was the arrival at Reischrat von Buhl of ex Bollinger chef de caves, Mathieu Kauffmann, in time for the 2013 vintage. While Kauffmann has since moved on, what he set in place has continued. This 2017 Traditionelle Flaschengarung (traditional method) was from earlier picked grapes, and only the very first part of the pressing was utilized for this fizz. After a short maceration, this was fermented and rested in stainless and 2400L barrel, before moving to bottle and 20 months' rest on the lees. It was disgorged with 6 g/L RS. Tight and crisp, with lemon blossom, red apple, green apple on a pithy palate, doused with ample toast and filled with ample tight acidity. Quite accomplished, drinking very well now.Prices: BC 70.00 Producer: Reichsrat Von Buhl
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28 September 2021

Coterie of Wildeberg Cabernet Franc Malbectext
89PTS

Coterie of Wildeberg Cabernet Franc Malbec 2018

Coastal Region, South AfricaThis Boutinot label is sourced from the Coastal Region and Franschhoek, blending 67 percent cabernet franc and 33 percent malbec. It shows lifted black currant with red cherry, black raspberry, and undertones of cedar and dried herbs. It strikes a nice balance between ripeness and savouriness, with concentration that is above the norm. Medium-full bodied, it's silky, soft, and ready to drink now. Well made.Prices: BC 24.99 Producer: Wildberg
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Moon Curser Border Vinestext
88PTS

Moon Curser Border Vines 2019

Osoyoos, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaBorder Vines is a cabernet sauvignon-dominant blend, fleshed out by cabernet franc, petit verdot, malbec, and carmenere. From three vineyards on the Osoyoos East Bench, the 2019 vintage shows rich dark berry fruit complemented by sweet spices after aging in a combination of French and American oak (20% new). It's lifted by purple florals, an aromatic trademark you can find across Moon Curser's red program. Medium-bodied with juicy freshness, the grippy, powdery tannins suggest this could benefit from another couple of years in bottle, or fire up the grill now and throw on some ground chuck burgers.Prices: BC 28.99 Producer: Moon Curser
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Moon Curser Dead of the Nighttext
90PTS

Moon Curser Dead of the Night 2019

Osoyoos, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThere was nothing particularly easy about the 2019 vintage, but Moon Curser makes it look that way with this blend of tannat (57%) and syrah (43%). It's quite the showstopper with dense, dark berry fruit; alluring spices like fennel and pepper; and floral notes that keep you coming back to the glass. The oak is forward but well-integrated, with 29 percent new French and Hungarian wood that plays well with the fruit. It’s really polished and well made, with dense tannins that are still fine-grained and suave. Sure, this will be better in 5 years, but it makes for quite the pour today. The alcohol is notable (15.7%), so serving this slightly chilled makes all the difference.Prices: BC 42.99 Producer: Moon Curser
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Synchromesh Tertre Rougetext
90PTS

Synchromesh Tertre Rouge 2018

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaFrom Naramata's Turtle Rock Farms, this is an 52/48 blend of merlot and cabernet franc, a huge style departure from previous vintages. Both grapes were fermented mostly whole cluster before aging 20 months in French oak (34% new) and heading to bottle without fining or filtration. Soft and welcoming, with plush black cherry, wild plum, pipe tobacco, and perfumed boysenberry on a silken palate, striated with wild scrubby desert herbs and green whole bunchiness, and framed by firm, integrated tannins. I like the use of whole bunch to offset the perfumed plushness of this wine, though it needs a year or two to integrate fully in bottle.Prices: BC 40.00 Producer: Synchromesh Wines Inc.
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27 September 2021

Peak Cellars Broken Granite Gewürztraminertext
89PTS

Peak Cellars Broken Granite Gewürztraminer 2020

Lake Country, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaBroken Granite Gew comes off Block 12, their oldest gew vines, with, yes, an abundance of broken granite in the soils. This was pressed long and slow, allowing for more skin contact. It was fermented in a mix of stainless and oak (40% saw time in 2 year old French oak), with weekly bâtonnage until January, when all was blended into tank. This cuts a sleek figure along the palate, with gooseberry, pear, white peach subtle scented with gingersnap spicing. Quite polished, if a bit shy, primed for drinking now.Prices: BC 30.00 Producer: O'Rourke's Peak Cellars
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Peak Cellars Gewürztraminertext
88PTS

Peak Cellars Gewürztraminer 2020

Lake Country, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaFrom two home estate blocks, this Gew was partial whole bunch pressed and fermented in stainless steel; partial whole bunch pressed and fermented in oak; and partial destemmed to open top fermenters, and fermented on skins with daily gentle punch downs. They arrested ferment in one portion to retain some sweetness, leaving this at 6 g/L final. After all the maths are done, the final blend is about 42% neutral oak, with 23% skin fermented. That's a lot of planning and working with this clean, bright, shining gew, with ample crunchy pink grapefruit, lemon verbena, and lime peel to a shorter, snappy finish. Friendly, and easy to crack and enjoy with mixed apps and a mixed crowd now.Prices: BC 21.00 Producer: O'Rourke's Peak Cellars
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Peak Cellars Gewürztraminertext
88PTS

Peak Cellars Gewürztraminer 2020

Lake Country, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaFrom Blocks 7 and 36 of Peak Cellars' estate-owned Carr's Landing Vineyard, this sees a combination of stainless steel, neutral oak, and partial skin contact. It's gently perfumed and floral, with apricot skin, zesty orange, and delicate ginger. Medium-bodied with just a hint of sweetness (6 g/L), there's a crispness to the acidity that speaks to the Lake Country terroir, with some phenolic texture from the skin contact. It's a lighter, fruitier style of gewürztraminer, with a restrained touch of spice, that's meant for easy sipping. However, I would like to see a little more concentration here.Prices: BC 21.00 Producer: O'Rourke's Peak Cellars
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Peak Cellars Broken Granite Gewürztraminertext
89PTS

Peak Cellars Broken Granite Gewürztraminer 2020

Lake Country, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaFrom Block 12, the oldest block of gewürztraminer at Carr's Landing Vineyard, this was fermented in a combination of two-year-old oak and stainless steel. There’s a notch more depth and ripeness here than Peak Cellars' entry-level gewürztraminer, upping the floral perfume and spice. Expect dried roses, ginger, and clove, with fruit that pushes into the tropical fruit spectrum. It’s still quite juicy and fresh, but it's both drier and with more concentration. Solid, but I wouldn't quite call this Alsatian in style.Prices: BC 30.00 Producer: O'Rourke's Peak Cellars
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24 September 2021

Corazon del Sol Malbectext
89PTS

Corazon del Sol Malbec 2018

Valle de Uco, Tunuyán, Central Region, Mendoza, ArgentinaThis malbec is grown among the rocky soils of Uco's Los Chacayes, at 1100m altitude and from their estate vineyard (planted 2008) plus neighbouring 100 year old vineyards in Agrelo and Perdriel. It is aged for 14 months in second and third use French oak. This is a brooding red, teeming with wild blackberry, black plum, black cherry, threaded with dusky violets, earthy notes, peppery spice, and darts of reduction and tar. Acidity is tight and bright, lifted with altitude.Prices: ON 34.95 Producer: Corazon del Sol
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Santa Julia Reserva Malbectext
90PTS

Santa Julia Reserva Malbec 2019

Valle de Uco, Tunuyán, Central Region, Mendoza, ArgentinaAnother winner from the Zuccardi family made with 100 percent hand-picked Uco Valley malbec grown at 1400 metres above sea level. The ferment and maceration took 20 days, and a portion of the wine is aged in older French oak for ten months. The nose is classic Zuccardi, fresh and red-fruited, evoking cherries, plums and blackberries, but even better is the texture and persistence of this wine you simply don’t see at this price level in Canada — simple but serious stuff that over-delivers for the price. Back up the truck, again and again.Prices: BC 16.99 AB 17.50 ON 14.00 QC 15.00 SK 16.99 MB 14.99 Producer: Familia Zuccardi
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Narrative Malbectext
89PTS

Narrative Malbec 2018

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaFrom Cabana Vineyard overlooking Osoyoos Lake, this concrete-aged malbec shows dark, sappy bramble fruit lifted by violet aromatics and smoked spices. It's soft and supple, with juicy freshness that's calling out for a light chill. Forget Mendoza or Cahors; the Okanagan is producing some truly compelling malbec. Add this one to your list to try.Prices: BC 29.90 Producer: Okanagan Crush Pad Winery
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23 September 2021

Revana Estate Cabernet Sauvignontext
90PTS

Revana Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2018

Saint Helena, Napa Valley, California, United StatesThis estate cabernet sauvignon is a mix of clone 7 (vine cuttings from 1863 Chateau Margaux), and 337. It was aged in French oak (90% new) for 20 months. Very layered and textural, with black cherry, blackberry, dusky black plum, tobacco, baking spices, dried fig, finishing with a flush of warmth. Tannins are firm and strident at this point, ensuring a good life ahead in your cellar.Prices: ON 249.95 Producer: Revana Family Vineyards
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Revana Terroir Series Cabernet Sauvignontext
90PTS

Revana Terroir Series Cabernet Sauvignon 2018

Napa Valley, California, United StatesFrom a mix of sites in Napa Valley, including the Revana Estate Vineyard in St. Helena, this is 77% cabernet sauvignon (clones 7 and 337), 18% merlot (clone 6), 4% cabernet franc (clone 1), and 1% petit verdot (clone 2). This was native fermented in small lots, and aged 20 months in French oak (75% new), bottled unfined and unfiltered, and aged for one year in bottle prior to release. Plush and ripe, with black plum, blackberry, dark cherry, pipe tobacco, dark earth drawn across a textural palate. Tannins are chewy and dense. This is quite reserved at present, and will reward with airtime and / or cellaring.Prices: ON 164.95 Producer: Revana Family Vineyards
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Merryvale Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignontext
92PTS

Merryvale Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2016

Napa Valley, California, United StatesThough the label says Cabernet Sauvignon, this is actually a mix of 77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Merlot, 6% Malbec, 4% Cabernet Franc, with fruit sourced from Stagecoach, Hardman, and Rancho Chimiles vineyards. Each was native fermented separately in small tanks before completing MLF in French barrel (50% new). The wine remained here for 22 months before being bottled unfined and unfiltered. Pouring a deep, winey, plum hue, this fuller red feels quite fresh throughout, with wild blackcurrant, blackberry, black cherry, tobacco, woven with graphite and thorns. Tannins are still firm and grippy, though certainly woven with time. This elegant, finessed Napa cab is drinking well now, and with time ahead.Prices: Producer: Merryvale Vineyards
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Moon Curser Cabernet Sauvignontext
89PTS

Moon Curser Cabernet Sauvignon 2018

Osoyoos, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaSourced from Fernandes Vineyard on the Osoyoos East Bench, this shows off cabernet sauvignon's savoury side without being shy on fruit. It's a firmly structured, medium-full bodied cabernet that's led by graphite, dried mint, and sagebrush. But there's also bright cassis, and blackberry, with an aromatic lift of purple florals. It's still youthful, concentrated, and tightly wound, and is just starting to open up. The dense, medium-grained tannins still need some time, or a steak.Prices: BC 42.99 Producer: Moon Curser
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22 September 2021

Coolshanagh Chardonnaytext
87PTS

Coolshanagh Chardonnay 2018

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaCoolshanagh is a meeting place of friends. It is also a small vineyard that sits 7 kilometres north of Naramata. This chardy was whole-cluster pressed and fermented 50% in stainless, with the remainder in a mix of new 500L French puncheons and concrete tulips. After 9 months of rest, its on lees, the final blend was bottled without fining. Ripe and round, with ample toasted oats, smoked wood, baked pear, apple custard, butter, and smoked stone and ash through a blunter finish. This is somewhat disjointed at this stage, though a very rich cream sauced dish should help mitigate.Prices: BC 36.90 Producer: Okanagan Crush Pad Winery
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Da Silva Chardonnaytext
88PTS

Da Silva Chardonnay 2020

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaFrom Blenhim Hill Vineyard and Lazy Dog Vineyard, on the foot and Bench of Naramata, this chardonnay was fermented in stainless, and then rested in new American, medium+ toast barrels for 8 weeks on lees. The wood is up front, framing ripe green apple, juicy lemon, pineapple, and hints of guava across a slower palate. There is a spire of lemony acidity here, but is weighted down by the wood and ripeness at this point. Give some time in bottle to resolve.Prices: BC 27.00 Producer: Da Silva Vineyards and Winery
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21 September 2021

Le Clos Jordanne Jordan Village Pinot Noirtext
89PTS

Le Clos Jordanne Jordan Village Pinot Noir 2019

Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, CanadaIn addition to making Le Grand Clos for the third vintage in a row, in 2019 Thomas Bachelder also produced the Jordan Village line for the first time. This comes from select parcels in the Le Clos Estate vineyard, the Claystone Estate vineyard (both in Twenty-Mile Bench), and the Talon Ridge Estate vineyard in Vinemount Ridge. After a native ferment and several days on skins, this was moved to French barrels (25% new) for 20 months. It was bottled with a light filtration. Bright and silken with candle wax, cherry, raspberry, wet wood and moss. Tannins are fine and sticky / grippy, framing this to a baking spiced finish. Drink now, ideally with grilled sausages.Prices: ON 45.75 Producer: Le Clos Jordanne
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Bachelder Wismer Parke Wild West End Pinot Noirtext
92PTS

Bachelder Wismer Parke Wild West End Pinot Noir 2018

Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, CanadaThe Wild West End Pinot Noir is off a little north west slope 50 metres outside of the classic centre of the Wismer-Parke Vineyard, planted to a mystery clone and rooted in reddish magnesium rich dolomitic limestone clays. Only two barrels were made. Savoury and silken, the plumped plum, black raspberry is strung with a ferrous thread, and seasoned with forest spices running through the lingering, floral, limestone buzzed finish. Tannins are long and lithe, and acidity lofted. This softly structured, graceful pinot is drinking beautifully now, and with time ahead.Prices: ON 47.95 Producer: Mary et Thomas Delaney-Bachelder et Filles
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Le Clos Jordanne Jordan Village Chardonnaytext
91PTS

Le Clos Jordanne Jordan Village Chardonnay 2019

Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, CanadaIn addition to making Le Grand Clos for the third vintage in a row, in 2019, Thomas Bachelder produced the Jordan Village for the first time. This chardonnay comes from select parcels in the sustainably farmed Le Clos Estate vineyard, the Claystone Estate vineyard (in Twenty-Mile Bench), and the Talon Ridge Estate vineyard in Vinemount Ridge. It is whole-cluster-pressed, and native fermented moved to 228L French wood to finish fermentation. It remained in French barrels for 16-18 months (20% new) before bottling. As expected, this is a rich and polished chardonnay, with big white blossoms, lemon curd, gentle toast spices, butter, and honeycomb on an expansive, creamy palate. Thankfully, the limestone backbone rights this wine, holding it taut with freshness and extending long through the palate. Very much in youth, this sophisticated chardy will reward with cellaring.Prices: ON 45.75 Producer: Le Clos Jordanne
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Le Clos Jordanne Jordan Village Pinot Noirtext
89PTS

Le Clos Jordanne Jordan Village Pinot Noir 2019

Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, CanadaJordan Village is a new wine made from declassified le Clos fruit taken from select parcels spanning two Niagara sub-appellations within Le Clos Jordanne Estate, the Claystone Estate, and Talon Ridge Estate. Post ferment and several days on skins, winemaker Thomas Bachelder moves the juice into 25 percent French barrels for 20 months. The result is a pleasant light earthy, savoury pinot with just enough fruit to balance its silky mouthfeel. You can drink this now or hold it for three to five years. Either way, it's an enjoyable drop of pinot that would be perfect with salmon or a pulled pork sandwich.Prices: ON 45.75 Producer: Le Clos Jordanne
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Le Clos Jordanne Jordan Village Chardonnaytext
90PTS

Le Clos Jordanne Jordan Village Chardonnay 2019

Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, CanadaThomas Bachelder is back consulting and making the wine at Le Clos Jordanne, a project that once has so much promise and now, with Bachelder’s return, may finally fulfil its destiny. The chardonnay comes off select parcels sustainably farmed on Le Clos Estate vineyard, the Claystone Estate vineyard (Twenty-Mile Bench), and Talon Ridge Estate vineyard (Vinemount Ridge). It is native fermented in stainless steel and finished in French barriques, (20 percent new), and aged 16-18 months. The attack is fresh and floral with hazelnut undertones, citrus butter, and spices, all with a creamy texture. So young and pointy, this will only improve as time goes on. A wonderful food style chardonnay.Prices: ON 45.75 Producer: Le Clos Jordanne
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Bachelder Wismer Wingfield Ouest Chardonnaytext
93PTS

Bachelder Wismer Wingfield Ouest Chardonnay 2018

Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, CanadaThomas Bachelder is one of Canada's leading chardonnay and pinot noir specialists, honed through time in Bourgogne and Oregon, as well as years in the vineyards of his Niagara home base. Ouest is a powerful, structural white, sourced from a site under 7km from Lake Ontario, at 160m, and from 30 year old vines on sloping, dolomitic limestone soils. After a native ferment, this rested in French oak (none new) for around 16 months, sans bâtonnage. There is ample gravitas in this chardonnay, with broken stones, lemon, honeysuckle, wild herbs laced with humming minerality through a silky, lingering finish. Intense, with a lightness of being at 13%, this is drinking beautiful now, but will certainly grow in your cellar over the next years.Prices: ON 47.95 Producer: Mary et Thomas Delaney-Bachelder et Filles
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Bachelder Willms Chardonnay 1983 Plantation Old Vines I Vielles Vignestext
92PTS

Bachelder Willms Chardonnay 1983 Plantation Old Vines I Vielles Vignes 2018

Four Mile Creek, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, CanadaThomas Bachelder is one of Canada's leading chardonnay and pinot noir specialists, honed through time in Bourgogne and Oregon, as well as years in the vineyards of his Niagara home base. As the label notes, this is from old vines (planted in 1983) in the Willms Vineyard, 6km from Lake Ontario, and 4km from the Niagara River, with a soil combo of silt, loamy-clay, limestone, gravels, and sand. Thomas selects the eastern side of the vineyard for this wine. After a native ferment, this rested in French oak (none new) for around 16 months, sans bâtonnage. Bright and focused, with lemon pith, broken stone, riding a shimmery limestone base to a lingering herbal, saline finish. There is a beautiful light touch here, yet great complexity within. This is drinking beautifully now, and with years to come.Prices: ON 44.95 Producer: Mary et Thomas Delaney-Bachelder et Filles
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Bachelder Les Villages Chardonnaytext
91PTS

Bachelder Les Villages Chardonnay 2018

Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, CanadaThomas Bachelder is one of Canada's leading chardonnay and pinot noir specialists, honed through time in Bourgogne and Oregon, as well as years in the vineyards of his Niagara home base. Les Villages blends parts from their single vineyard, older vines grown in Grimsby, Beamsville, Vineland, and 4 Mile Creek. After a native ferment in primarily neutral French barrels, this rested 16 months sans bâtonnage before bottling. This 2018 shows stunning now, chiselled by stone and layered with lemon curd, green apple, crunchy pear to a lingering, flint-kissed, bitter almond end. The limestone-laced soils are expressive here and hum along with the lengthy finish.Prices: ON 34.95 Producer: Mary et Thomas Delaney-Bachelder et Filles
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Bachelder Wismer Parke Wild West End Pinot Noirtext
94PTS

Bachelder Wismer Parke Wild West End Pinot Noir 2018

Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, CanadaThe Wild West End lies some 50 metres from the classic centre of Wismer-Parke Vineyard. According to Bachelder, the small north-western-oriented slope is planted to a mysterious suitcase clone that makes a hyper-flavoured iron-tinged wine. Production is tiny at 50 cases giving this wine an extra added selling point as if it needed it. Its silky textures and pale colour belie its rich savoury, somewhat bloody/meaty mid-palate and barrel spice finish. Impressive, to say the least. “It is Wild, and it is West, and it is named for an evocative Dire Straits song that was important in my musical development,” says Bachelder. In the true wild west, we are thinking about matching this wine with coq au vin.Prices: ON 47.95 Producer: Mary et Thomas Delaney-Bachelder et Filles
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Bachelder Wismer Parke Pinot Noirtext
93PTS

Bachelder Wismer Parke Pinot Noir 2018

Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, CanadaDelicious stuff but again more on the savoury, earthy, spicy side and, as winemaker Thomas Bachelder might say, “iron-tinged.” It sits inland just under 6 kilometres from Lake Ontario on Twenty Mile Bench. The soil is a mix of reddish magnesium and dolomitic-limestone clay with a solid silt component. The vines are reaching into their third decade; the clones are 115 and 667. The nose and the textures are, in a word, pretty, with bits of cherries and spice fighting for space. So complex and nuanced, it has a bright future in the bottle and is ultimately made for the dinner table.Prices: ON 47.95 Producer: Mary et Thomas Delaney-Bachelder et Filles
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Bachelder Wismer Wingfield Ouest Chardonnaytext
94PTS

Bachelder Wismer Wingfield Ouest Chardonnay 2018

Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, CanadaWinemaker Thomas Bachelder is effusive about the Wingfield parcel, calling it "simply incredible terroir, on a perfectly exposed, well-drained slope." It is the highest elevation and furthest from the lake of all the Bachelder parcels, and it's picked ten days to two weeks after the chardonnay sites. On the palate, this wine has it all: power, length, and transparency of terroir that gives its citrus, mineral, stony, salty flavours a complexity few chardonnays can claim. Chalk and persistence round out the finish. But, wow, this is something else. Bachelder says it is "surely destined to become a 'Grand Cru' if Canada ever classifies its vineyards and terroirs", and I couldn't agree more.Prices: ON 47.95 Producer: Mary et Thomas Delaney-Bachelder et Filles
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Bachelder Willms Chardonnay 1983 Plantation Old Vines I Vielles Vignestext
92PTS

Bachelder Willms Chardonnay 1983 Plantation Old Vines I Vielles Vignes 2018

Four Mile Creek, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, CanadaBachelder loves this vintage, suggesting it has the "precision that we didn't see after other equally warm summers." It is also the first chardonnay he has made from Niagara-on-the Lake, giving into a magic vineyard of old vines planted in 1983. The style is rich and honeyed for Bachelder, but the citrus core and minerality make it a quality chardonnay. No new oak is used, with all three cuvées sporting one to four year French oak, which mostly hails from Damy in Meursault. The site sits 6 km from Lake Ontario and about four kilometres from the Niagara River. Its silt, loamy clay, gravel, limestone, and sand soils are the perfect medium to grow chardonnay with elegance. Drink or hold through 2023 for best results. It would be a fine match with a savoury roasted chickenPrices: ON 44.95 Producer: Mary et Thomas Delaney-Bachelder et Filles
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Bachelder Les Villages Chardonnaytext
91PTS

Bachelder Les Villages Chardonnay 2018

Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, CanadaLes Villages is a compilation of fruit, à la Bourgogne, from older vines grown in Grimsby, Beamsville, Vineland, and 4 Mile Creek. Bachelder ferments them all in mostly neutral oak to preserve any notion of Niagara terroir. It is aged 16 months in barrel, on its lees, with no stirring. 2018 is precise with plenty of floral, stony mineral notes that preview a crisp, lemony, crunchy green apple style that persists across the palate, lined with smoky, flinty, toasted nuts. Delicate and powerful, this is a super stylish chardonnay that would look good in BC.Prices: ON 34.95 Producer: Mary et Thomas Delaney-Bachelder et Filles
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Bachelder Les Villages Pinot Noirtext
89PTS

Bachelder Les Villages Pinot Noir 2019

Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, CanadaThere is some bitterness and sourness in this pinot that some pinot insiders cherish in the same way they disdain ripe fruit. I say that only to inform those buying this wine that the juicy, bright, earthy entry is not a wild cherry affair but a dry, woodsy, somewhat reductive pinot that works at the dinner table but will not entice most New World pinot lovers. Best with pork or duck pizza at this point. Not sure ageing will achieve much more here.Prices: ON 24.95 Producer: Mary et Thomas Delaney-Bachelder et Filles
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20 September 2021

Black Hills Syrahtext
91PTS

Black Hills Syrah 2019

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaBlack Hills Syrah 2019 has a lovely rich mulberry colour, with glints of deep purple. The very appealing youthful nose combines plum and cherry with the sweet scent of violet, orange oil, dusty herbs, and earth. Even better are the array of classic syrah varietal aromas that follow: cracked black pepper, wood smoke, and cured meat. Balanced and trim, vivid acidity infuses red and purple berries with energy and savoury verve, and modest tannins emerge to caress the mouth. A lacquer of French oak spice is evident but sitting pretty in the wine. Fermented wildly with 20% whole bunches, this syrah rested in lightly toasted French oak for 18 months, just 20% new puncheons. Gone is the American oak used in the past. Fruit for this edition comes from the Black Sage Bench including a few plots of powerfully expressive clones 99 and 100, planted in 1994. Though in its infancy, there is a poise and completeness already present in this serious red. While dense with fruit there is no excess here, just pure, authentic syrah with a seductively silky texture. This wine embodies winemaker Ross Wise’s signature of purity, mouthfeel, restraint, and fastidious attention to detail. Newly released, you must let it breathe in a decanter or big wine glass and try it with a spice-rubbed pork tenderloin or herby lamb shoulder.Prices: BC 39.90 Producer: Black Hills Estate Winery
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Black Hills Syrahtext
91PTS

Black Hills Syrah 2019

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaWinemaker Ross Wise made the 2019 label, and it is singing. The colour is impossibly dark, the nose clean and bright but refined and Rhoney with its plummy sagebrush, desert scrub, and floral notes on a smoky, peppery backdrop. The palate is all this and more with a touch of smoked meat and spice to further excite, along with bright acidity. Best of all is an impeccable balance that suggests it will age effortlessly and only get better through 2030. A reduction in oak, 20% new puncheons for 18 months and no American wood, made for a simple fix and a big-time improvement in class. Lamb, anyone?Prices: BC 39.90 Producer: Black Hills Estate Winery
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Church & State Wines Syrahtext
91PTS

Church & State Wines Syrah 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis syrah points to a bright future in the south Okanagan, and it is in a perfect spot at five years. As rich and full-flavoured as it is, the acidity is even better, keeping it fresh and elegant through the finish. Blueberries and black fruits present with a fragrant, perfumed character that gobbles up the alcohol and tannins. Ready to go, but there is no rush for the next five years. Syrah with style.Prices: BC 52.99 Producer: Church & State Winery
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Church & State Wines Syrahtext
89PTS

Church & State Wines Syrah 2018

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaTwo sites, Détente and Coyote Bowl, find their way into the 2018 Syrah that opens with a fresh, bright, peppery nose and smoky licorice notes. The texture is already smooth, the tannins light with cool floral undertones and smoky black fruit on top. Not the juggernaut the 2017 CBS is, but in its way, its juicy, easy drinkability suggests lamb chops. Drink or hold this, it can work either way.Prices: BC 31.99 Producer: Church & State Winery
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Orofino Syrahtext
89PTS

Orofino Syrah 2019

Similkameen Valley, British Columbia, CanadaKeremeos is home to this older vine single vineyard syrah that sits above the valley floor on a windy, rocky site. It is natively fermented in open top fermenters and hand punched twice daily before spending 16 months in older French barrels. Wild and super-Similkameen, it opens with a spicy, meaty nose, firm, dense tannins, and plenty of minerals and black pepper. It’s all you could want in a big, mouth-filling syrah but with some volatility showing in the finish. Best with grilled meats. Drink now.Prices: BC 27.74 Producer: Orofino Vineyards
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Culmina Family Estate Syrahtext
88PTS

Culmina Family Estate Syrah 2018

Golden Mile Bench, Oliver, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaCulimina’s first syrah comes off two small blocks inside the high altitude Arise Bench on the Golden Mile Bench. The nose is a mix of floral, plummy notes with smoked meat and minerals. After 16 months in two-year-old French oak, 25 percent new, it presents as a savoury affair with black and blue fruits, coffee grains and smoke. The textures are bordering on silky, suggesting you can drink it now, but it is a baby. The winery match is a pan-seared duck with a blueberry sauce served with duck fat fried potatoes. Say no more.Prices: BC 42.00 Producer: Culmina Family Estate Winery
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17 September 2021

La Soeur Cadette Montanet-Thoden Garance Bourgogne Rougetext
91PTS

La Soeur Cadette Montanet-Thoden Garance Bourgogne Rouge 2018

Burgundy, FranceValentin Montenay is based in western Bourgogne’s Vézelay, where he is caretaker of his parents’ 22ha of organically farmed vineyards. In 2016, Valentin began a négociant business, creating the La Soeur Cadette range. This comes from his mother's organically farmed vineyards, with a higher proportion of clay in the limestone-laden soils. Destemmed grapes were native fermented and aged in older oak, with minimal sulphur imputes. Damson plum, iris, peonies, wild blueberry streams along the medium palate, lit with that limestone buzz, and framed with fine, long tannins to a wet stone finish. Acidity is naturally bright throughout. A very pretty, yet substantial pinot, drinking smartly now, especially with fall flavours. Reminiscent of Irancy.Prices: BC 45.00 Producer: La Soeur Cadette
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Quails' Gate Dijon Clone Pinot Noirtext
91PTS

Quails' Gate Dijon Clone Pinot Noir 2019

West Kelowna, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe Distinction Collection Dijon Clone Pinot Noir is an hommage to winery founder Benjamin Stewart, who pioneered numerous Burgundian clones in Canada. It is all hand-picked and harvested from fifteen-year-old vines planted in sandy loam. The Clones 828 and 777 bring a richer, denser style with a dash of tannin. The smaller berries lead to increased concentration, and you note it on the savoury floral nose. The ferment is 16 days with twice-daily punch-downs during peak ferment, followed by 17 months ageing in neutral French oak. Look for fragrant red berry flavours with a touch of blueberry and brown spice. Duck, anyone?Prices: BC 45.00 Producer: Quails' Gate Vineyards Estate Winery
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Unsworth Vineyards Pinot Noirtext
90PTS

Unsworth Vineyards Pinot Noir 2019

Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, CanadaThe 2019 Pinot Noir comes off Saison Vineyard (76%), Unsworth Vineyard (15%), and Zanatta Vineyard (8%), all in the Cowichan Valley's marine silt and glacial fluvial sandy loams. This utilizes clones 115, 667, 777, 828, plus 8% of an unknown clone, all destemmed, whole berry fermented in stainless before heading to barriques (10% new) for one year. Silky smooth on the slender palate, this streams forest floor, salal berries, wild raspberry, cherry blossoms, and cinnamon spicing, cut with a tart, sharp cranberry acidity. Tannins are soft and fine, through the pencil shavings finish. This new classic Island pinot is drinking well now, with a chill.Prices: BC 32.40 Producer: Unsworth Vineyards ULC
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Spearhead Pinot Noir Cuvéetext
92PTS

Spearhead Pinot Noir Cuvée 2019

East Kelowna, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaIn 2019 the Cuvée label was a mix of clones from the Golden Retreat Vineyard in Summerland and fruit off the home estate in East Kelowna. Winemaker Grant Stanley has done everything to stay out of the wine, and the results are spectacular. Plums and blueberries rule the palate, whose textures are pure layered silk before a dash of brown spice. This year, the fruit is cleaner and brighter, presenting with just a bit more purpose — a cool-climate northern pinot with style; this is a winner. Mushroom risotto, anyone? The pinot clones: 777, Pommard, 828 & 667, Mt Eden & 115 are separately hand-harvested, destemmed to small batches and cold-soaked for 5-7 days before fermentation by indigenous yeasts. The total time on skins is 16 to 21 days. After gentle pressing, the wine completes malolactic fermentation and is aged 13 months in French oak barrels (40% new). 430 cases.Prices: BC 42.00 Producer: Spierhead Winery
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Meyer Family Vineyards Pinot Noir Micro Cuvée McLean Creek Vineyardstext
90PTS

Meyer Family Vineyards Pinot Noir Micro Cuvée McLean Creek Vineyards 2019

Okanagan Falls, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaMicro Cuvée bottlings are barrel selections, in this case, from their estate McLean Creek Vineyard, in OK Falls. This pinot comes from a mix of Pommard 91, and 4 Dijon clones (114, 115, 667), planted across three distinct blocks, and on a range of sloping gravel and sandy loams. This was fermented and aged in two new French oak 500L puncheons, along with eight 1 year old French barrels for 11 months. It was bottled unfined and unfiltered. Rich and toasted, with baked cherry, raspberry jam, plum seasoned with ample wood and baking spices through to a warming sarsaparilla finish. Tannins are velveteen soft, cuddling this to the finish line. Quite a big, cushy pinot for only 13.5, reminiscent of Sonoma in generosity, intensity, and fruit.Prices: BC 60.00 Producer: Meyer Family Vineyards
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Merryvale Vineyards Pinot Noirtext
90PTS

Merryvale Vineyards Pinot Noir 2017

Carneros, Napa Valley, California, United StatesThis pinot comes from a number of vineyards in Carneros, including their own historic Stanly Ranch Estate. After a 5 day cold soak, this was native fermented in open top stainless fermenters before it was aged in French barrels (30% new) for 11 months. Soft and plush, with velvet tannins holding wooded plum, black raspberry, black cherry and floral brambleberry to a baking spiced finish. Acidity has kept this aloft, guiding a silken palate through a lingering finish. Quite polished, and ready for drinking now.Prices: Producer: Merryvale Vineyards
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Domaine Chevalier Côte de Nuits-Villagestext
91PTS

Domaine Chevalier Côte de Nuits-Villages 2016

Côtes de Nuits-Villages, Côtes de Nuits, Côte d'Or, Burgundy, FranceFrom 50 year old vines rooted in clay and chalky soils of the village of Corgoloin, in Côtes de Nuits, this Pinot Noir spent one year in wood prior to bottling. Showing a delicious amount of age, with forest floor, wild mushrooms pushing up through the dusky cherry, raspberry fruit on the mid-palate. Tannins are now worn soft and moderately sticky, guiding this to a bergamot / black tea / mineral licked finish. A lovely example of Côte de Nuits Village with some age, this is drinking very well now and with time still ahead.Prices: ON 54.95 Producer: Domaine Chevalier Pére & Fils
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Emandare Pinot Noirtext
90PTS

Emandare Pinot Noir 2019

Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, CanadaFrom their eponymous estate vineyard in the Cowichan Valley, this pinot noir was a joy to discover. There's real depth and character here, with a lifted nose of wild black raspberry, dark cherry, and perfumed violets. The fruit is pure and, well, just plain gorgeous. It's light on its feet with fine, silky tannins and great verve and energy. Well done. I look forward to trying more from Emandare Vineyard.Prices: BC 45.00 Producer: Emandare Vineyard
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Mirabel Estate Pinot Noirtext
91PTS

Mirabel Estate Pinot Noir 2018

East Kelowna, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe heavy bottle suggests you're about to pour a full-throttle pinot, and there is an element of truth in the packaging. Low yields of only 2.5 tons per acre have no doubt helped to give this remarkable concentration and fruit density, bolstered by the ripeness on display. It's medium-full-bodied, broad, and mouth-filling, with a smooth, glycerious texture and silky tannins to match. The fruit is also pushing into the dark end of the spectrum, with black cherry and black raspberry, but that's only part of the story. What makes this pinot so compelling is the layers of spice, dried red florals, underbrush, and beetroot. It draws you back into the glass, as pinot elusively can. The real deal and worth every penny.Prices: BC 49.00 Producer: Mirabel Vineyards
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Fitzpatrick The Elusive Pinot Noirtext
88PTS

Fitzpatrick The Elusive Pinot Noir 2019

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaFrom the southern blocks of Greata Ranch where Fitzpatrick is based, south of Peachland, this pinot noir was partially fermented with whole clusters and aged with sparing use of new oak. It's quite an extracted style, with the dark fruit to match. It's led by black cherry, with flecks of spice and stemmy herbs, but it's rather foursquare at the moment, and could benefit from another couple of years in bottle, which will also help to soften the surprisingly firm, gritty tannins. Best with gamey burgers if you're going to enjoy in the short term.Prices: BC 26.50 Producer: Fitzpatrick Family Vineyards
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Township 7 Benchmark Series Pinot Noir Remuda Vineyardtext
88PTS

Township 7 Benchmark Series Pinot Noir Remuda Vineyard 2019

Okanagan Falls, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaSourced from Remuda Vineyard in Okanagan Falls, this shows bright cherry fruit with peppery spice and subtle wood after aging 12 months in neutral French oak. There's nice freshness, clocking in at just 13.2% abv, but the fruit comes across somewhat simple. Enjoy now with cedar-planked salmon.Prices: BC 36.99 200 Producer: Township 7 Vineyards and Wineries
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Unsworth Vineyards Pinot Noirtext
90PTS

Unsworth Vineyards Pinot Noir 2019

Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, CanadaI love the light and juicy expression of coastal pinot noir that comes with a light colour and rich package of flavours and complexity. The entry is silky smooth with alluring forest floor aromas streaked with cherries and spice. The palate is a black cherry and wild raspberry affair with piercing acidity to keep it all taut. Island pinot at its best. A lot of the pinot noir off Saison Vineyard is spread around the island, but at Unsworth, they blend 76 percent Saison fruit with 15 percent Unsworth estate fruit and eight percent Zanatta Vineyard pinot. This Cowichan Valley pinot’s texture and freshness reflect its unique soils of BC marine silt and glacial, fluvial sandy loams. The complexity comes from a mix of clones: 115, 667, 777, 828, and a clone whose origin is unknown. The winemaking is simple: fruit is destemmed and whole berry fermented in stainless before spending one year in barriques, of which only ten percent are new.Prices: BC 32.40 Producer: Unsworth Vineyards ULC
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Thörle Spätburgundertext
91PTS

Thörle Spätburgunder 2018

Rheinhessen, GermanyThörle is a family domain, now in the hands of brothers Christoph and Johannes, who oversee the biodynamic Rheinhessen estate. This pinot noir comes from limestone soils, with partial whole bunch, and a native ferment and rest in oak (85% neutral German, 15% new French), where it remained until bottling without fining or filtration. This is bright and lifted, effortlessly, with the limestone soils shimmering underneath wild cherry, wild raspberry, and wild strawberry. Tannins are long and sapid, hugging this energetic wine to the spiced, buzzing, lingering finish line. This wine is in a lovely place now, with few years under its belt, and will remain so over the next few years easy.Prices: BC 25.99 Producer: Weingut Thorle
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Rudolf Fürst Klingenberg Spätburgundertext
90PTS

Rudolf Fürst Klingenberg Spätburgunder 2018

Franken, GermanyThe Fürst family can document their history as winegrowers in Franken back to 1638. The winery is nestled in the heart of the Centgrafenberg vineyard, and they farm 21 hectares, 60% of which is planted to spätburgunder (pinot noir). Klingenberg is a village level wine, sourced from young vines in the Grosse Lage of Schlossberg. The legend of the great German Pinot vineyard Klingenberg dates back to the Middle Ages, and some part of the south / southwest facing slope have a gradient up to 95%, with rocky red terraces that are a protected historical monument. This pinot used 50% whole clusters, and was matured for 13 months in used, small wooden barrels. Darkly fruited and perfumed, led by black cherry, black raspberry, forest floor, and dark chocolate along a silken palate. Tannins are fine and furry, housing this somewhat haunting, brooding pinot through a spiced finish. Drinking well now, ideally with wild mushroom or roast pork dishes.Prices: BC 84.00 Producer: Rudolph Furst
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Corcelettes Pinot Noirtext
88PTS

Corcelettes Pinot Noir 2020

Similkameen Valley, British Columbia, CanadaFrom Corcelettes' home vineyard on Upper Bench Road in Keremeos, this is a juicy, fruit-driven pinot noir led by black raspberry, red plum, and strawberry, with a subtle influence of toasty oak. A short time in barrel, with bottling in March 2021, has captured the vibrant fruit of the Similkameen and is all the better for it. Who says you need to barrel age BC reds forever? Enjoy this medium-full-bodied pinot with a light chill and pair with soy-basted pork chops if you're going to enjoy in the short-term. Well priced.Prices: BC 25.80 Producer: Corcelettes Estate Winery
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16 September 2021

Da Silva Merlottext
88PTS

Da Silva Merlot 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaFrom Blenheim Hill Vineyard and Lazy Dog Vineyard in Penticton, this is a full-throttle merlot, amped by 36 months in barrel (split between amply toasted American and French). Thick and potent on the palate, with wood spice, cedar stave ruling, and cassis, blackberry, dark soil, espresso flushing out the rest. Tannins are big though smoothed through to the toasted spice finish. A merlot for big cab lovers, perhaps, and one to trot out now with grilled lamb or beef.Prices: BC 35.00 Producer: Da Silva Vineyards and Winery
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Painted Rock Merlottext
92PTS

Painted Rock Merlot 2018

Skaha Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaFour estate vineyard blocks went into 2018, each harvested individually and handled in small batches. The fruit is cold soaked for four days and fermented for an additional 21 days on the skins with twice daily pump-overs. After 18 months in 30% new French oak, the final blend is bottled unfiltered. This wine has always been a bit hedonistic, even given its Bordeaux tilt, but it has another level of elegance that belies the variety. In this case, the secret sauce might be the Okanagan and its combination of freshness and savoury notes. Many will love the rich, showy notes and, frankly, the alcohol, but others will focus on its charm and mouth appeal. Drink or hold, it will serve you well in either case.Prices: BC 34.99 Producer: Painted Rock Estate Winery
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Corcelettes Merlottext
90PTS

Corcelettes Merlot 2019

Keremeos, Similkameen Valley, British Columbia, CanadaCorcelettes Estate Vineyard works with three separate merlot blocks, each pushed up against a stone wall of Black Rock Mountain along the property's northern edge. The vines are self-rooted in Similkameen stemwinder soils, giving them a unique, direct connection to the soil, something most BC grafted vines do not have. Winemaker Charlie Corcelettes mixes clone 181 (think pipe tobacco and more leathery, masculine flavours) with clone 184, which expresses more blue and black fruits like figs and blueberries. The key here is freshness and balance that hits you immediately upon sipping the bright fruit. Add in tobacco and a stony, mineral, dusty Similkameen signature, and you have an impressive bottle of merlot. The tannins are perfectly managed to shape the palate but not overwhelm it. It’s aged in a selection of French and American oak barrels and French 1000L vats for 18 months, with one quarter new oak. You can drink this now, but it will only get better through 2025 and beyond.Prices: BC 28.99 Producer: Corcelettes Estate Winery
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Mayhem Anarchy Reserve Merlottext
88PTS

Mayhem Anarchy Reserve Merlot 2019

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaFrom their Osoyoos estate Anarchist Mountain Vineyard, this blends 92.5% merlot with cabernet franc, with the franc 20% whole bunch. Post ferment, each was aged separately in French oak (50% new) for 18 months until blending in November 2020. It was bottled unfined and unfiltered. Ripe, round, and soft, this explodes out of the glass with violets, baked plum, fragrant blueberries, and blackberry vanilla jam which carry across the cushy palate. Tannins are pillowy, housing this to an anise-scented soft landing. Like a bear hug, for enjoying this summer.Prices: BC 19.13 Producer: Mayhem Wines Inc.
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Merryvale Merlottext
91PTS

Merryvale Merlot 2017

Carneros, Napa Valley, California, United StatesThis merlot comes from two vineyards in the cooler, southern part of the Napa Valley:Quail Knoll in Coombsville; and Truchard in Carneros. Both wines were fermented separately, and finished MLF in barrel. The wine was aged 18 months in French barrels (33% new). The wine was blended in April 2018 without fining or filtration. This is ripe and soft with black plum, black cherry, ripe raspberry riding a juicy, fuller palate flooded with baking spices and framed with toasted wood. Tannins are well absorbed into the wine, leaving a slight tug as they shoulder this to the dark chocolate finish. Drinking well now.Prices: Producer: Merryvale Vineyards
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Mayhem Anarchy Reserve Merlottext
88PTS

Mayhem Anarchy Reserve Merlot 2019

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaAnarchy comes off the Anarchist Mountain Vineyard, mixing mostly merlot with a small portion of cabernet franc. Post ferment, each variety was aged separately in 50 percent new French oak for 18 months, then blended and bottled unfined and unfiltered. The nose is a fragrant floral affair with cool licorice notes. On the palate, fresh savoury dark plum fruit mixes with black and blue fruits and soft tannins. A bit disjointed at the moment, but it should be fine with another year or two in the bottle. Best now with grilled beef.Prices: BC 19.13 Producer: Mayhem Wines Inc.
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Church & State Wines Merlottext
86PTS

Church & State Wines Merlot 2018

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaFoundation Vineyard is on the Osoyoos West Bench and is one of Canada's warmest sites. The heat usually works its way into the wine, first on the nose and, more often than not, in the finish. Like last year, it comes in at 15 percent alcohol giving it plenty of mouth presence with warm black fruit mixed with bitter chocolate and rich, grippy tannins. Toasted oak fights off quite a bit of smoke and rustic tannins that swallow up the fruit in the back end. Not as appealing as last year’s version. Serve this one with rustic meat dishes, or consider holding out for two to three years to let it pull itself together.Prices: BC 36.79 Producer: Church & State Winery
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Phantom Creek Estates Merlottext
91PTS

Phantom Creek Estates Merlot 2018

Osoyoos, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe Estate Merlot is made with a selection of blocks from the Black Sage and Golden Mile Bench. In 2018 it opened with violet notes and rich dark plums, all covered in a fragrant mist of vanilla and spice. The attack is fruity with elegant textures and long, layered, savoury flavours throughout the finish. The wine will have little problem ageing through 2028 and beyond, and will only get better. Classy. The wine is aged 18 months in 36 percent new French oak. My advice is to lay some away for seven to ten years and then pat yourself on the back.Prices: BC 42.00 Producer: Phantom Creek Estates
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Roche Merlottext
88PTS

Roche Merlot 2018

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe 2018 Merlot is the first single vineyard merlot from Roche grown at Kozier Organic Vineyard. The nose is a savoury affair with earthy, bloody notes and a light mist of spice. The palate is similar with more earthy mushroom red fruit mixed into dried herbs, leather and tobacco. More Bordeaux than New World, although in the end, it is a Naramata mid valley red. Drink or hold three to five years. Juicy red fruits and savoury spice round out this tasty sipper. Serve with grilled beef.Prices: BC 25.00 Producer: Roche Wines
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Nostalgia Merlottext
88PTS

Nostalgia Merlot 2018

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaFrom Nostalgia's home vineyard on Lupine Lane, this shows dark berry fruit with complexity coming from aging in a combination of American and French oak for 15 months. Medium-bodied, it's a fresher, livelier style of merlot for the Black Sage Bench. Best enjoyed with a light chill and paired with something from the grill to tame the firm, grippy tannins.Prices: BC 32.99 Producer: Nostalgia Wines Inc.
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CheckMate Artisanal Winery Opening Gambit Merlottext
94PTS

CheckMate Artisanal Winery Opening Gambit Merlot 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaOpening Gambit 2017 opens with an expressive and inviting nose of savoury black fruit from an 87/11/2 blend of merlot, petit verdot, and cabernet franc, the latter two bringing an extra dimension to the texture and aromas of this wine. The vines grow on a steep undulating slope on the Osoyoos East Bench between 330m to 437m, with many expositions. It seems as if each iteration of this wine improves in the mouth, and this one is simply delicious. Again the nose is fragrant and savoury, Bolgheri-like, with even more improvement in the silky textures and liveliness of the palate that is delicate yet persistent. The fruit is painstakingly inspected cluster by cluster, hand sorted and gently destemmed before another round of individual berry selection is done prior to the indigenous ferment. Post ferment, the juice is gravity drained into new French oak barrels for 21 months of ageing. All Checkmate reds are bottled unfined and unfiltered, so they will need to be decanted at some point in their history, one that looks long by the quality of this wine.Prices: BC 95.00 BC 215.00 1500 BC 480.00 3000 BC 989.00 6000 Producer: CheckMate Artisanal Winery
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CheckMate Artisanal Winery Black Rook Merlottext
90PTS

CheckMate Artisanal Winery Black Rook Merlot 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaBlack Rook is farmed on the poor soils of the Black Sage Bench, from a site pushed up against the Okanagan Highlands at 300+ metres above sea level, making this essentially a single vineyard wine. It is a warm, sandy site with low vigour that produces small clusters that yield intense black fruit with power and finesse. The texture leads to a well-defined black cherry and cassis affair with just the right level of roasted coffee and licorice in the finish. Opulent is a good word for this edition, entirely wild fermented. Black Rook has always been on the indulgent side, but as has been the case in the past with light feet. In 2017 it was drier (yeah), and along with a cool fall, helped to slow maturity, adding complexity to this unabashed New World merlot.Prices: BC 95.00 BC 215.00 1500 BC 480.00 3000 BC 989.00 6000 Producer: CheckMate Artisanal Winery
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Upper Bench Merlot Estate Growntext
90PTS

Upper Bench Merlot Estate Grown 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThere's some impressive merlot coming from the Naramata Bench, and this bottling from Upper Bench's estate on Upper Bench Road is certainly high on the list. It's led by spiced dark cherries with chocolate, menthol, and cedar. The oak is well integrated and there’s clearly the fruit weight and density to carry the 21 months in French barriques (33% new). Medium-full bodied, it's well balanced and proportioned, with impressive structure and freshness. The fine-grained tannins have just started to soften with some time in bottle and this will continue to age gracefully over the next 5-7 years. Bottled unfined and unfiltered. Only 84 cases produced.Prices: BC 40.00 Producer: Upper Bench Winery
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Upper Bench Merlottext
89PTS

Upper Bench Merlot 2018

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaAlways intense and aromatic, the Upper Bench Merlot shouts Okanagan on the nose and palate. Look for a scrubby sagebrush, black cherry, minty nose that spills onto the palate with strong spice notes throughout the finish. It is young and rambunctious but should settle in with three to five years of bottle age, easily attained by the freshness available. A work in progress that is progressing just fine.Prices: BC 28.00 Producer: Upper Bench Winery
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Hillside Merlot Dickinson Vineyardtext
92PTS

Hillside Merlot Dickinson Vineyard 2016

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaDickinson Vineyard is part of a trio of Hillside single-vineyard merlots available to buy most years. Dickinson sits above the main road as you drive north, toward the village of Naramata. It is the warmest and most luxurious style of the three merlots, and in 2016 it stays true to form but with even better structure and acidity. The nose is inviting and fragrant, offering a hint of mint and black cherries mixed with sweet pipe tobacco and dark chocolate. The tannins are dense and sweet, with more brown spice in a finish that remains elegantly Naramata. What a treat to drink this now, but it will age effortlessly through 2026 and beyond. So back up the truck, you won't be disappointed.Prices: BC 40.00 Producer: Hillside Winery
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French Door Merlottext
90PTS

French Door Merlot 2019

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis deep, brooding merlot is complex and generous, even at this early stage. There's no shortage of fruit, with dark cherry, plum, and cassis that's complemented by savoury notes of sage, licorice, and toasted oak spices. Medium-full bodied, this is round and plush, with density coming from 80 days on skins. This will benefit from additional time in bottle to allow the oak to more fully integrate and it should be more seamless in 4-5 years. Revisiting this the next day shows its true potential.Prices: BC 78.00 Producer: French Door Estate Winery
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15 September 2021

Argiano Brunello di Montalcinotext
95PTS

Argiano Brunello di Montalcino 2016

Montalcino, Siena, Tuscany, ItalyRecently retasted, and I can confirm we will be talking about the 2015 and the 2016 Brunello vintages for decades, and the wines will only get better while we do. If you have a cellar and the funding jump in if you want some real gems to lay down. Comparing the two years, I suggest there’s more fruit in 2015 and more structure and tannin in 2016. Both are outstanding years. Argiano opens with fragrant violet overtones with cedar, leather, anise, and wild fruit. The riot of flavours continues on the palate, fighting to get to the front of an overstuffed glass of flavours. Fresh, and more importantly, alive and vibrant, this is a winner with a long future, so put on a seat belt and get ready for the ride. Mushroom dishes are the match with meat or pasta. Drink through 2045.Prices: BC 74.99 AB 74.99 MB 85.00 ON 60.99 Producer: Argiano
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Argiano Non Confunditur NC Rosso Toscanotext
89PTS

Argiano Non Confunditur NC Rosso Toscano 2019

Tuscany, ItalyNon-Confunditur is the Argiano motto found on the family crest. It translates to unique, or as winemaker, Bernardino Sani translates it from the Latin, “not to be confused.” It is a Super Tuscan mix of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and sangiovese, but the fruit comes off younger 15 to 20-year-old vines. Sani describes NC as a baby or junior Super Tuscan, and it fits both its organically farmed fruit and the wine’s price point. It is fermented in stainless steel, and by variety, in two and three-year-old oak barriques. Expect plummy, savoury, wild berry aromas with a touch of oak. At the same time, on the palate, it is a medium rich red with earthy, savoury streaks punctuated the riper merlot fruit; the firmer, more structured cabernet sauvignon; the richer syrah; and the freshness of sangiovese. It is the soft tannins that give the wine its license to be drunk sooner than Solengo.Prices: BC 29.99 AB 29.95 MB 31.95 ON 23.88 Producer: Argiano
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Argiano Solengotext
94PTS

Argiano Solengo 2018

Montalcino, Siena, Tuscany, ItalySolengo is an IGT Toscana red blending cabernet sauvignon, petit verdot, merlot, and sangiovese, grown at 280 to 310 meters, over marl and ancient clay, with a high proportion of limestone. The two-decade-old plus vines are organically farmed and low-yielding. 2018 was up and down as a growing season, but it ended dry with large temperature swings between day and night, allowing for ideal maturation. Argiano’s star continues to rise, and the latest Solengo is no exception, flaunting its power and SuperTuscan status with bright blueberry and balsamic with a mineral, salty, fresh finish. Age for 10 to 20 years with ease. The grapes are fermented separately, spending about 20 days on the skins and going through a malolactic fermentation naturally in cement tanks. Finally, it spends 18 months in French barrique made especially for Solengo, with 60 percent new oak and the remainder in one-year-old barrels. In 2018 Solengo presents with fine balance, offering a harmony of flavours that would make Giacomo Tachis, its founder, proud.Prices: BC 99.99 QC 89.99 Producer: Argiano
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14 September 2021

Donatella Cinelli Colombini Il Drago e le 8 Colombetext
90PTS

Donatella Cinelli Colombini Il Drago e le 8 Colombe 2018

Montalcino, Siena, Tuscany, ItalyFrom Trequanda’s Fattoria del Colle, at 400m on hills of predominantly limestone and sandstone comes this Supertuscan blend of Sangiovese (60%), and equal parts Merlot, and Sagrantino. This was vinified in stainless before 18 months in large barrels and in 5-7 hl French oak tonneaux. Ripe and dark fruited, with blackcurrant, blackberry, black cherry, plum blossoms on a full palate, structured taut with the soils and acidity, taking this to a humming, stony, spiced finish. Tannins are firm and grippy, giving this a few years ahead in the bottle. 7500 bottles were made.Prices: BC 29.99 AB 39.99 ON 35.95 Producer: Donatella Cinelli Colombini
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Tornatore Etna Rossotext
91PTS

Tornatore Etna Rosso 2017

Sicily, ItalyThis blend of Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio came from Castiglione di Sicilia, on the northern slopes of Mount Etna. After destemming, partially crushing, these macerated in concrete tanks for 12 days and fermentation, after which the wine is pressed into large wooden barrels for 6 months aging, followed by 3 more months in bottle. Pouring a lighter red hue, this is filled with mountainous wild scrub, fragrant wild flowers, savoury wild plum, imbued with a medicinal raspberry rinse on the finish. Tannins are fine and sticky, housing this to a herbal finish. The soils and altitude keep this fresher than its 14% would suggest. Quite distinctly Etna; seriously smashable.Prices: ON 23.95 Producer: Francesco Tornatore
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Le Mortelle Poggio Alla Nanetext
93PTS

Le Mortelle Poggio Alla Nane 2015

Maremma, Tuscany, ItalyPoggio alle Nane is a DOC Maremma red wine grown by the Antinori family since 1999. The property covers 675 acres, over 425 of which are planted to vines, led by cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc followed by recent plantings of such white grapes as viognier, ansonica, vermentino, and a small amount of carménère. In 2015, conditions were favourable to ripen the grapes, and the rest was easy. Poggio alle Nane is a blend of the cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon, and a small portion of carménère. The style is bold and rich with intense savoury undercurrents. Earthy mushroom, licorice, cedar, and tobacco all punch through the palate. Wild boar comes to mind, or a favourite spaghetti Bolognese, to match the power here. Cellar a decade if you have the time and inclination.Prices: BC 89.99 QC 57.75 Producer: Marchesi Antinori
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13 September 2021

Bruna Grimaldi Nebbiolo d’Alba Bonureitext
90PTS

Bruna Grimaldi Nebbiolo d’Alba Bonurei 2018

Serralunga, Cuneo, Piedmont, ItalyAzienda Bruna Grimaldi is a family-owned winery in the hills of Barolo, now in the capable hands of Bruna, who takes over from the generations of winemakers who preceded her. Bruna and her husband, Franco Fiorino, put the winery on the map, bottling their first label in 1999. From younger (up to 25 years) vines on the mid-slope Barolo borders in Diano d’Alba, this Nebbiolo had 2-3 weeks skin contact and underwent ferment in stainless, followed by 6 months' aging in 500 and 700 litres tonneaux and big barrels. Graceful throughout, as is her way, this charms with wild roses, perfumed black cherries, wild raspberries, and a fresh woodsiness through the bright, tart finish. Tannins are slight and grippy, and acidity is lofted.Prices: BC 36.00 Producer: Bruna Grimaldi
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Bruna Grimaldi Scassa Barbera d'Alba Superioretext
90PTS

Bruna Grimaldi Scassa Barbera d'Alba Superiore 2018

Alba, Cuneo, Piedmont, ItalyAzienda Bruna Grimaldi is a family-owned winery in the hills of Barolo, now in the capable hands of Bruna, who takes over from the generations of winemakers who preceded her. Bruna and her husband, Franco Fiorino, put the winery on the map, bottling their first label in 1999. Scassa was named after the difficulties of ripping up the land to prep it for agriculture (to "scassare" in Italian). Barbera from various organically farmed limestone laced vineyards between 200-450m make up this serious red. This has 10-12 days of skin-contact, with fermentation in old concrete tanks before moving to tonneaux and large barrels for 6 months' aging. This is a full, and fleshy barbera, with black cherry, dark plum, ruling the mineral-laden palate. Tannins are ample and fine, with a stony grit and a lofted limestone acidity that helps prop up the weighted fruit. The finish lingers with black cherry, and just roasted espresso. You may be hard-pressed to wager 15% on this red, but that's what this Superiore clocks in at. Enjoy with richer braises this fall.Prices: BC 36.00 Producer: Bruna Grimaldi
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Moon Curser Carmeneretext
88PTS

Moon Curser Carmenere 2019

Osoyoos, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaCarmenere may still be a rarity in the Okanagan (0.1% of total plantings), but it’s showing promising results, especially on warm sites like the Osoyoos East Bench, where Moon Curser has sourced this wine. The fruit is a bit juicier here than the previous vintage. There's a combination of black and blue fruits, with dried mint, sagebrush, and a dusting of oak spices from aging in French barriques (31% new). Even with the elevated fruit ripeness, this is more medium-bodied than full, and it's not quite as concentrated as last year. The trade-off is that it's soft and ready to drink, making this worth discovering now.Prices: BC 42.99 Producer: Moon Curser
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Moon Curser Petit Verdottext
89PTS

Moon Curser Petit Verdot 2019

Osoyoos, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaPetit verdot may be more commonplace in the Okanagan than tannat or carmenere, but plantings are still sparse (0.7% of total plantings) and it's often used sparingly in a blend. This wine is a great example of what it can do on its own. It has an expressive, lifted nose, showing generous, plump brambly fruit, graphite, licorice, violets, and a smattering of oak (all French, 36% new). Medium-full bodied, it's quite linear with firm, medium-grained tannins that dry out the finish at this stage. But that's not altogether unexpected for petit verdot, and the concentration and balance suggest this will reward 4-5 years of careful cellaring. At the moment, this will need a hearty protein, though. Fans of petit verdot, and they can be ardent, will find a lot to like here.Prices: BC 33.99 Producer: Moon Curser
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Moon Curser Tannattext
89PTS

Moon Curser Tannat 2013

Osoyoos, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaIt doesn't get much rarer than tannat in the Okanagan. There are just three acres planted, representing 0.03% of total plantings, but it's far from a gimmick. Moon Curser has been working with tannat for a while now and, at eight years of age, the colour on this single varietal bottling is still impenetrably deep and purple, with just the faintest fading at the rim. It's quite savoury, led by warm spices and graphite that are complemented by still youthful dark plum and bramble. It's worth giving this some time in the glass, as the nose does evolve and open up nicely. Medium-full bodied, this is linear in texture with surprisingly fine-grained tannins that have resolved nicely over the last four years in bottle since we first reviewed it. It's an interesting, distinctive wine that’s an exciting discovery. It may not be cheap, but then how often are you able to try Okanagan tannat?Prices: BC 62.99 Producer: Moon Curser
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Conviviale Primitivotext
88PTS

Conviviale Primitivo 2019

Salento, Puglia, ItalyThis southern Italian red shows fleshy dark berry and a touch of cinnamon. It's quite a fruit-driven primitivo, which will certainly appeal to fans of California zinfandel. (The two varieties differ in name only.) Appealingly, it's done in an unoaked style and it's not masked by residual sugar, which seems to be an emerging trend among Puglia producers. It's not overly complex, but there's good character to the fruit and it makes for a satisfying pour at a more than decent price. Another winner from Boutinot. Recommended.Prices: BC 17.99 Producer: Adria Vini
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Garzón Tannat Reservatext
90PTS

Garzón Tannat Reserva 2020

Garzon, Maldonado, San José, Uruguay2019 was a roller coaster year in Uruguay that began with fine weather, followed by mid-season rain before ending dry and cool. In the end, it was perfection for red wines and one of the best at Garzón. Tannat seems to thrive in the poor, well-drained soils 17 kilometres from the cool Atlantic coast. Expect a deep purple colour, red and black fruits, and a grape variety not known for its elegance, with some of the softest textures in the business. But, it doesn't stop there. You can add some electric minerality to the mix giving the label life. The Garzón philosophy, led by Alberto Antonini and Germán Bruzzone Eduardo Félix, fully expresses the special terroir with 1,000 small vineyard blocks clinging to steep hillsides. The pair has crafted wines of amazing grace while retaining the power of tannat and its famous full flavours. Again, I hope this wine finally gets the recognition it deserves across Canada. So stock up; they are giving it away.Prices: BC 22.99 Producer: Bodega Garzón
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Garzón Single Vineyard Tannattext
91PTS

Garzón Single Vineyard Tannat 2019

Garzon, Maldonado, San José, UruguayBodega Garzón is close to Punta del Este, La Barra, and Jose Ignacio, Uruguay’s oasis, seventeen kilometres inland from the Atlantic Ocean. It was designed from the ground up with more than 1,000 small vineyard blocks covering its hillside slopes. The resulting varying microclimates, different humidity levels, and intense canopy management has spawned a wide range of special labels. The Garzón single vineyard is cooler than other blocks on the estate, and when you combine that with steep slopes and thin soils, you can add excellent drainage to the mix. This tannat came in at a moderate 13.5 percent alcohol, and after fermentation in concrete tulips, it spends 12 to 18 months on the lees in French barrels and foudres. Consulting winemaker Alberto Antonini works closely with Germán Bruzzone Eduardo Félix to assure elegance is at the heart of this wine, something few tannat producers can say anywhere in the world. The nose is a mix of red fruits, tobacco, and dark chocolate with a spicy undercurrent. The palate is juicy and fresh and more refined than earlier editions, with blackcurrant, blackberry and violets that are lifted to the finish by fine acidity. Steaks, anyone?Prices: CDN 53.00 Producer: Bodega Garzón
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Church & State Wines CBS Petit Verdottext
88PTS

Church & State Wines CBS Petit Verdot 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaPetit verdot is as big as it gets when it ripens, and in the south Okanagan, there is no problem ripening PV. Look for a deep opaque colour with a ripe, perfumed nose of violets and sweet black fruits, and peppery, black and blueberry jam on the palate, with smoky dark plum dusted in savoury Black Sage Bench sagebrush and pine. The tannins are deep and rich and will need five years to be mellow. Best with rich dishes like grilled steaks and barbecue pork ribs. Not for the timid.Prices: BC 80.00 Producer: Church & State Winery
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10 September 2021

Bruna Grimaldi Arneistext
90PTS

Bruna Grimaldi Arneis 2020

Langhe, Cuneo, Piedmont, ItalyAzienda Bruna Grimaldi is a family-owned winery in the hills of Barolo, now in the capable hands of Bruna, who takes over from the generations of winemakers who preceded her. Bruna and her husband, Franco Fiorino, put the winery on the map, bottling their first label in 1999. From organically farmed loam, limestone and clay soiled vineyards on the Barolo border, these grapes were fermented in stainless, with no MLF, and a couple of months on lees with bâtonnage. Silky and gentle, with lemon blossoms and crystalline lemon, subtly perfumed quince, and almond. The finish rings with buzzing limestone. Quite alluring in its simplicity.Prices: BC 32.00 Producer: Bruna Grimaldi
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Nigl Gärtling Grüner Veltlinertext
89PTS

Nigl Gärtling Grüner Veltliner 2020

Niederösterreich, Weinland Österreich, AustriaGärtling is a style of wine, akin to some Vinho Verde, where there is dissolved CO2 remaining in the wine purposefully to give it an ever-so slight spritz. This is a light 11.5 degree white, with subtle hints of elderflower, Asian pear, lime pith, and gooseberries, with a fine humming finish. The spritz is ever so noticeable, dissipating quickly in the glass, and leaving a spritely, fresh mouthfeel.Prices: ON 24.95 Producer: Nigl
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Maçanita Quanto + Arinto + Gosto de titext
92PTS

Maçanita Quanto + Arinto + Gosto de ti 2017

Douro Valley, Northern Portugal, PortugalHow much plus arinto do I love you? This Douro arinto comes from vineyards up to 550m, was whole bunch pressed and fermented in a mix of 70% older barrique and 30% stainless. Lovely to see arinto with some age, still holding its acid backbone, but wrapped with pine nuts, kernel, honeysuckle, with kisses of brown butter on the saline finish. There is a lovely completeness to this wine, drinking now.Prices: ON 73.85 Producer: Maçanita
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Quails' Gate Chenin Blanc Clone 220text
90PTS

Quails' Gate Chenin Blanc Clone 220 2020

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaClone 220 hails from Alsace but has been in the ground on the estate vineyard for more than 20 years. The Distinction release is a small-batch, fermented egg effort, a portion of which is aged in the same vessel. The method is all about gentle handling and delicacy. All the wine, including the other portion, is aged in neutral oak barrels for six months. The nose is bright and lively, led by lime and quince notes. The palate is similar, with a new updraft throughout. A delicious, complex, food-friendly white perfect for mild curry dishes. Impressive, and as is the aim, it is distinctive.Prices: BC 39.99 Producer: Quails' Gate Vineyards Estate Winery
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Envinate Benje Blancotext
90PTS

Envinate Benje Blanco 2019

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 (aka Palomino), 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. Pouring a golden yellow hue, this rings of the sea, with salinity cutting through a puff of reduction, crystalline lemon, crunchy pear on a slight 12% palate. There are kisses of quince and lees to gild the ample texture coming from the skin contact and the concrete, striking an ideal balance. Crack with any matter of shellfish or white fish, including boquerones, liberally.Prices: BC 35.00 Producer: Envinate
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Casa di Baal Fiano di Baaltext
88PTS

Casa di Baal Fiano di Baal 2018

Campania, ItalyThis organic and biodynamically farmed Fiano is rooted in the Salernitan Hills’ sandy clay soils. It was native fermented and rested on lees in stainless for 9 months. This opens with a shy nose of almond blossoms, apricot blossoms, and pear skin, gentle on the mid-palate, and tightened on the finish with a grapefruit rinse. Gentle and fresh, this lighter white is ready for drinking now.Prices: ON 28.95 Producer: Casa di Baal
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Torres Forcadatext
89PTS

Torres Forcada 2016

Penedès, Catalunya (Catalonia Cataluña), SpainForcada is an ancestral white variety rescued from oblivion by the Bodegas Torres's project to revive ancestral varieties, which began over thirty years ago. More importantly, it has shown a natural resistance to the progressive rise in temperature, drought and various diseases. As Torres says, it makes “them part of a current reality that already looks towards the future in terms of climate change.” Forcada was found in the northwestern part of the DO Penedès, in the foothills of the Roca Forcada Mountain. It grows well in the region's clay soils at some 450 meters above sea level. The nose offers intense aromatic notes and freshness with a citrus, floral, herbaceous palate and firm, bright acidity: a stylish seafood wine and a new direction for Spanish white wine.Prices: QC 60.00 Producer: Miguel Torres Spain
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Stag's Hollow Albariño Shuttleworth Creek Vineyardtext
88PTS

Stag's Hollow Albariño Shuttleworth Creek Vineyard 2020

Okanagan Falls, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThe Stag’s Hollow style is ripe and rich, with full flavoured peach, pineapple, and honeyed notes leading the way. Its leesy textures are equally generous, with a sprinkling of sea salt and minerals. The fruit comes off Shuttleworth Creek Vineyard's gravel, till, and silty loam that seems to build a richness of fruit that complements the winemaking, designed to bring complexity to the wine. This is albarino that can rise to richer fish dishes.Prices: BC 24.00 Producer: Stag's Hollow Winery and Vineyard
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Garzón Albariño Reservatext
91PTS

Garzón Albariño Reserva 2021

Garzon, Maldonado, San José, UruguayAlbarino has been the flagship white since the start at Garzon, with minor fine-tuning along the way, namely additional skin contact to better express the salinity of the soil thanks to the nearby Atlantic ocean. The property faces southeast (a cooler direction in the southern hemisphere), and the blocks sit close to the winery in a group of hills of decomposed granite. The soil is incredibly poor, but the albarino vines are accessing more and more minerality as the roots go deeper over time. Look for a brilliant pale yellow/greenish colour and a fresh aromatic seaside nose with peach and light citrus pith streaks on the palate. The attack is fresh and full of minerality. In all, a delightfully crisp testament to the site and elegant wine growing and winemaking. Here on the west coast, this east coast white will pair well with almost any seafood. Bodega Garzón is close to Punta del Este, La Barra, and Jose Ignacio the heart of Uruguayan paradise. The property sits a mere 17 kilometres inland from the Atlantic Ocean and is farmed to respect more than 1,000 small vineyard blocks covering its hillside slopes — a paradise for vines too. Fine value and ridiculous you can't buy this in government stores.Prices: BC 30.00 Producer: Bodega Garzón
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06 September 2021

M. Chapoutier Crozes-Hermitage Les Meysonniers Rougetext
91PTS

M. Chapoutier Crozes-Hermitage Les Meysonniers Rouge 2018

Crozes Hermitage, Northern Rhone, Rhone Valley, FranceWe are continually impressed by the quality Crozes-Hermitage that comes off the lower slopes and the flats south and east of the hill Hermitage. The vines at Les Meysonniers are a quarter-century old and are farmed 100 percent organic. Chapoutier suggests the vineyard's soils allow the roots to go deep, tapping minerality you do not see in other Crozes-Hermitage. The nose is already highly attractive, showing a persistent red and black plum fruit with black pepper spicing and garrigue dusting. That attack is open and a fine example of how syrah can be elegant instead of just powerful. Look for a meaty, peppery, savoury affair long into the finish. Chapoutier describes Meysonniers Rouge as a "bistro-nomic" red made for home cooking. We couldn't agree more.Prices: BC 28.99 AB 28.49 MB 29.95 QC 27.65 Producer: M. Chapoutier
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Peter Lehmann The Barossan Shiraztext
88PTS

Peter Lehmann The Barossan Shiraz 2018

Barossa Valley, South Australia, AustraliaAs the name suggestes, The Barossan is to summarize Peter Lehmann's view of the Barossa Valley, with fruit drawn from numerous vineyards across the valley floor. Post stainless ferment, this aged 15 months in American oak (25% new). The power and intent of this massive wine is achieved, and felt, with gobs of sweet, plummy fruit lashed with chocolate and vanilla, and padded with cushy, sueded tannins, trailing off with baking spices and a swell of warmth. Thankfully, this is now settled a bit with time, and at a prime place for drinking now, with juicy steak.Prices: BC 22.99 AB 22.95 MB 23.09 NS 22.98 Producer: Peter Lehmann Wines Limited
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Langmeil Shiraz Valley Floortext
89PTS

Langmeil Shiraz Valley Floor 2018

Barossa Valley, South Australia, AustraliaThis is a bold, brash shiraz, with gobs of coconut-tinged American oak, mint, and jammy blackberry and blueberry. The Valley Floor Shiraz is sourced from low-yielding vineyards across Barossa (73%) and Eden (27%), with vines ranging from 9 to 100+ years old, and that's evident in the concentration of this rich, broad, full-bodied red. Soft and plush, this hedonistic pour is ready to drink now, preferably with something smoky off the grill.Prices: BC 34.99 AB 32.99 MB 34.99 Producer: Langmeil Winery
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Hollick Wrattonbully Shiraztext
87PTS

Hollick Wrattonbully Shiraz 2019

Wrattonbully, Limestone Coast, South Australia, AustraliaWrattonbully is not far from Coonawarra, with similar red soils and a notch more warmth. From vines planted in 1998, this smoky, spicy shiraz shows subdued plum and blackberry. It's varietally correct, but lacking the fruit definition and complexity to take this to the next level. Medium-full bodied, there's solid freshness here even at 14.5% abv, but the finish is detracted by some grittiness to the tannins. Enjoy now with dry rub ribs.Prices: BC 25.39 Producer: Hollick Wines Pty
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Yangarra Shiraztext
92PTS

Yangarra Shiraz 2018

McLaren Vale, South Australia, AustraliaWinemaker Peter Fraser is riding high in McLaren Vale, as evidenced by this single vineyard 98/2 shiraz/viognier grown at 180m on North Maslin Sands, which is estimated to be 54 million years old. Intense dark fruit, bright spice, and supple tannins tell the story in this impeccably balanced wine. The finish is long and persistent with perfect tannin balance and more dark fruit and licorice. The texture is amazing. Fraser works with 47 acres of shiraz to choose from, divided into thirteen individual blocks, each defined by different aspects and subtle variations of the sand and Ironstone soils. 2018 was a fine vintage, and Fraser went 50% whole berries with 20% whole bunches cold-soaked, and was wild fermented in open top tanks. It's aged in French oak for ten months on its lees (20 percent new).Prices: BC 45.99 AB 38.99 SK 49.99 MB 49.99 ON 34.95 Producer: Yangarra Estate Vineyards
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Condor Peak Syrahtext
85PTS

Condor Peak Syrah 2020

ArgentinaThis simple Mendoza syrah shows muddled dark fruits and a vague spice note. There's not a lot of varietal character but if you're after an approachable red at a decent price, this will do the trick. Chill it down and enjoy with burgers.Prices: BC 11.99 Producer: Andean Vineyards
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03 September 2021

Blue Mountain Estate Cuvée Pinot Blanctext
90PTS

Blue Mountain Estate Cuvée Pinot Blanc 2020

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaIt's safe to say this is one of the benchmark pinot blancs coming from the Okanagan Valley. It starts with 35-year-old vines and it's elevated by thoughtful winemaking, evidenced by the restraint and elegance on display. It's whole cluster pressed, wild fermented, and aged on lees in a combination of stainless steel, foudre, puncheons, and older barriques. And it's not rushed to bottle either. The fruit ripeness seems dialled back a notch this year, with a combination of lip-smacking lemon and crunchy pear, accentuated by a delicate touch of lees and oak spices. It's focused and precise, leading to a pithy, mineral-laden finish. At this price, you'll want to tuck a few bottles away in the cellar. This should age beautifully.Prices: BC 24.90 AB 26.85 Producer: Blue Mountain Vineyard & Cellars
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Villa Wolf Pinot Blanctext
87PTS

Villa Wolf Pinot Blanc 2018

Pfalz, GermanySince 1996, Ernst Loosen oversees the wines at Villa Wolf Winery, originally founded in 1756 in the Pfalz. This Weissburgunder (pinot blanc) was done entirely in stainless, with no MLF or botrytized fruit. Ripe red and yellow apples, pear, rule the slender palate, with a thread of earthy hay, finishing off-dry on a shorter palate. An easy, accessible version of the grape.Prices: BC 18.70 Producer: Weingut Dr. Loosen
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02 September 2021

Play Cabernet Franctext
88PTS

Play Cabernet Franc 2019

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaFrom their Wild Horse Estate Vineyard, this spent 16 months in French barrels. The toasted wood has sunk well into this savoury, cedar-edged red, with concentrated black cherry, ripe plum, cracked pepper at the fore, and the toasted wood propping up the fruit from underneath through to a warming finish. Tannins are ample, and well integrated at this stage, allowing for cracking alongside roast pork or root veg now.Prices: BC 32.99 Producer: Play Estate Winery
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Gold Hill Cabernet Franctext
87PTS

Gold Hill Cabernet Franc 2016

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis is a giant red, even now 5 years on, with gobs of blackberry jam, black cherry, plum compote on the full palate. Streaks of oxidation show its age, and the over-ripeness of the fruit. Tannins are still ample and somewhat gritty, drawing this to a warming, brown spiced finish. Tasting a bit tired, and best poured alongside hearty pork, beef or mushroom stews.Prices: BC 34.99 Producer: Gold Hill Winery
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Da Silva Cabernet Franctext
88PTS

Da Silva Cabernet Franc 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaFrom Oliver's Avila Family Vineyard, and its clay loam soils, this cabernet franc was aged for 36 months in a split of French and American oak, both with medium+ toast. The wood is upfront and dominant, with bacon fat, ripe cassis, baked blackberries on a dense, thick palate, seasoned with ample baking spices and camp smoke. Tannins are somewhat ragged, giving you more to chew through up to the warming finish. Not a shy wine, this requires fire grilled meats to match.Prices: BC 40.00 Producer: Da Silva Vineyards and Winery
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Synchromesh Cabernet Franc Turtle Rock Farmstext
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Synchromesh Cabernet Franc Turtle Rock Farms 2017

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaFrom a single vineyard high up on Naramata Bench, on a granite and gravel base, this cabernet franc was whole cluster fermented before spending 22 months in French oak (50% new). The wine was then bottled without fining or filtration. The black cherry, blackberry, black raspberry that floods the deeper palate is threaded with espresso, tobacco, and dusty gravels. Acidity is lofted and bright, and tannins are ample, but well integrated into the pillow of fruit. The generosity of fruit is very well handled here, resulting in an elegant, fuller, floral expression of site and grape.Prices: BC 50.00 Producer: Synchromesh Wines Inc.
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Nichol Vineyard Cabernet Franctext
89PTS

Nichol Vineyard Cabernet Franc 2019

Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaPlanted at the home vineyard tucked at the far end of the Naramata Bench in 1989, these cab franc vines are rooted into granite bedrock. Destemmed grapes were fermented in neutral wood and basket pressed into neutral French barrique, where it remained for a year prior to bottling without fining or filtration. A tightening twinge of balsamic rinses this medium bodied red, brightening cherries, crunchy raspberries, and a thorny green note. Tannins are fine and downy, leading this to a snappy, lightly spiced, and gently warming finish. Best with a light chill.Prices: BC 27.00 Producer: Nichol Vineyard
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Pearl Morissette Racines du Cieltext
91PTS

Pearl Morissette Racines du Ciel 2018

Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, CanadaThis cab franc comes off their Home Farm Vineyard in Creek Shores. Destemmed grapes were native fermented and aged in one old foudre and a mix of demi-muids and barrels, racking-free, for 19 months. It was bottled unfined and unfiltered in May 2020. Sultry and silken, yet finely textural, this is alive with thorny wild blackberry, sapid black plums, crunchy black cherry running along a slender, softer palate (seemingly characteristic of their Home Farm site). Tannins are fine and well integrated, finishing with a lick of balsamic. Quite an authentic view of franc, and one worth seeking out.Prices: ON 43.00 Producer: Pearl Morissette
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Township 7 Benchmark Series Cabernet Franctext
88PTS

Township 7 Benchmark Series Cabernet Franc 2018

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaThis cabernet franc may come from the sun-soaked Raju Vineyard in Osoyoos, but it reflects the moderate 2018 growing season. There's an appealing freshness to the fruit, with ripe dark cherry and black raspberry that's been softened by 24 months in barrel. That's bolstered by a satisfying mintiness and smokey, char character. Medium-full bodied, it's suave and polished, with the juiciness you'd expect from the vintage. Ready to drink now, but this will hold over the next 3-4 years.Prices: BC 33.97 Producer: Township 7 Vineyards and Wineries
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Church & State Wines Cabernet Franctext
89PTS

Church & State Wines Cabernet Franc 2017

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaWe're tasting this with the benefit of another year in bottle, and the wine's all the better for it. Some tertiary character is starting to emerge and the tannins are beginning to relent and soften. The dark berry fruit is still ripe and opulent, complemented by lifted aromatics of dried florals and herbs, pepper, and cedar. Fans of bold cabernet franc will find a lot to like here, and it's likely still 2-3 years from peak. Sourced from three Oliver-based vineyards: Foundation, Bella and Coyote Bell.Prices: BC 31.99 Producer: Church & State Winery
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Château du Hureau Tuffetext
91PTS

Château du Hureau Tuffe 2018

Saumur, Loire, FranceThe Vatan family has been making wine in the Loire for more than 300 years, with fifth generation Philippe and his daughter Agathe Vatan currently in charge of their 17 hectares. This organic / biodynamically farmed cabernet franc was sourced from 14 parcels scattered around Saumur and Dampierre, rooted in the region's tuffeau (soft limestone) soils. Amazingly, this is their 'entry-level' wine, which really raises the bar for what comes next. This was native fermented over one month, before resting in underground tanks for up to 20 months prior to bottling. So perfumed, with heady rose petals, iris at the fore, leading into fragrant ripe plum, blueberry, boysenberry, lavender, and rosemary. Tannins are fine and grippy, boning this to the lingering stony finish. Such a beautiful, finessed expression of cabernet franc, and one I wish we had more access to here in BC (listen up BC winemakers!)Prices: BC 30.00 Producer: Chateau du Hureau
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Summerhill Pyramid Winery Organic Cabernet Franctext
87PTS

Summerhill Pyramid Winery Organic Cabernet Franc 2018

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, CanadaFrom Esther Vineyard in Kaleden, this cabernet franc was fermented in foudre and then aged in neutral barriques for 26 months. That time in barrel has made this soft and approachable out of the gates. It's an easy-drinking style of cabernet franc, especially in contrast to what you can find throughout the Valley, buoyed by a perception of sweetness to the palate. The time in barrel also gives a lifted quality to the aromatics, with softened cherry and blackberry fruit that's joined by toasted cedar. Solid, if a bit simple, it's best enjoyed in the short-term with a slight chill. Certified organic.Prices: BC 29.00 Producer: Summerhill Pyramid Winery
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01 September 2021

Callejuela Las Mercedestext
92PTS

Callejuela Las Mercedes 2019

Sherry Jerez - Manzanilla, SpainBrothers Pepe y Paco produce some incredibly dynamic Palominos from el Marco de Jerez, some fortified and some not, and some with flor and some without. Their father, Francisco Blanco Martínez, ‘el Blanquito’ founded the business in 1980. Originally, he worked as an almacenista de mosto, farming his own vineyards and selling the base wine to bottling houses. His sons came on board in the late 1990s, and consolidated the operation in a cellar atop the slope of Pago el Hornillo on the estuary side of Sanlúcar de Barrameda. Today they own 28 hectares of vines across four pagos. Las Mercedes is a parcel in the Albariza de lentejuelas soils of Añina, near the coast and with ample sea swept winds. The juice is fermented in old Manzanilla botas, and the wine is aged on fine lees with 10% ullage for 7 months of ageing under a thin film of flor. The thin film, combined with shorter ageing, emphasizes more of the Albariza limestone over the yeast. Pouring a shining golden yellow, this medium+ white is showing ample marine minerality and salinity, livening green apple, hay, pear skin, crystalline lemon peel, stretched along a deep chalk base. You can feel the earthiness of the flor here, but it is a sheen in the background, rather than the forerunner of this complexed, lively wine. Many beautiful, savoury, salty layers to unravel in this open white, drinking perfectly now.Prices: BC 36.99 Producer: Callejuela
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Callejuela Blanquito Manzanilla Pasadatext
92PTS

Callejuela Blanquito Manzanilla Pasada NV

Sherry Jerez - Manzanilla, SpainBrothers Pepe y Paco produce some incredibly dynamic Palominos from el Marco de Jerez, some fortified and some not, and some with flor and some without. Their father, Francisco Blanco Martínez, ‘el Blanquito’ founded the business in 1980. Originally, he worked as an almacenista de mosto, farming his own vineyards and selling the base wine to bottling houses. His sons came on board in the late 1990s, and consolidated the operation in a cellar atop the slope of Pago el Hornillo on the estuary side of Sanlúcar de Barrameda. Today they own 28 hectares of vines across four pagos. This Manzanilla Pasada comes from Hornillo, and is named for Francisco Blanco. It has had a full 12 years of aging in solera, and will continue to mature and grow in bottle. Certainly showing some age (beyond its golden hue), you're seeing the burnished lemon, toasted marcona almonds, hay, and caramelized honey notes hovering atop an electric palate, one lined with tea leaves, dried peach, dried apple, wild mint, and based on deep chalk. The finish lingers with iodine and ample salinity. For all its intensity there is a lot of freshness here still, resulting in a lovely harmony. Impressive now, and with years to come.Prices: BC 52.99 500 Producer: Callejuela
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Callejuela La Chozatext
93PTS

Callejuela La Choza 2018

Sherry Jerez - Manzanilla, SpainBrothers Pepe y Paco produce some incredibly dynamic Palominos from el Marco de Jerez, some fortified and some not, and some with flor and some without. Their father, Francisco Blanco Martínez, ‘el Blanquito’ founded the business in 1980. Originally, he worked as an almacenista de mosto, farming his own vineyards and selling the base wine to bottling houses. His sons came on board in the late 1990s, and consolidated the operation in a cellar atop the slope of Pago el Hornillo on the estuary side of Sanlúcar de Barrameda. Today they own 28 hectares of vines across four pagos. La Choza is the Blanco brothers’ own small vineyard at 74m within the prized, warmer inland Macharnudo site. The old vines here are still cultivated the traditional method of vara y pulgar (stick and thumb), whereby each year the vines are pruned to an active arm (the stick), which will carry perhaps eight bunches, while the thumb side has the sprouts which will develop into next year’s stick. The juice is fermented in old Manzanilla botas, and the wine is aged on fine lees with 10% ullage for 7 months of ageing under a thin film of flor. The thin film, combined with shorter ageing, emphasizes more of the Albariza limestone (here, Albariza de barajuelas) over the yeast. The warmer site brings a gentle expansiveness to the palate, with toasted almond, warm hay, lemon and mandarin peel, honeysuckle, and smoked stone, before dissolving into an earthy toasted oat / barley note. Ample salinity rings throughout, and a savoury brown butter note lingers. So much concentration and intensity for 13%, with length for days, and time ahead in your cellar. Seriously impressive.Prices: BC 36.99 Producer: Callejuela
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Callejuela Manzanilla Origentext
91PTS

Callejuela Manzanilla Origen NV

Sherry Jerez - Manzanilla, SpainBrothers Pepe y Paco produce some incredibly dynamic Palominos from el Marco de Jerez, some fortified and some not, and some with flor and some without. Their father, Francisco Blanco Martínez, ‘el Blanquito’ founded the business in 1980. Originally, he worked as an almacenista de mosto, farming his own vineyards and selling the base wine to bottling houses. His sons came on board in the late 1990s, and consolidated the operation in a cellar atop the slope of Pago el Hornillo on the estuary side of Sanlúcar de Barrameda. Today they own 28 hectares of vines across four pagos. This Manzanilla is a blend of 3 of them: 50% Añina, 30% Macharnudo, 20% Callejuela approximately, and a mix of various albariza soils. The later harvested vines are fermented in stainless, and post-fortification they move to butts with little headspace, allowing for a thinner layer of flor. With each step in the solera (moving to subsequent crideras), the ullage is increased. This remains in barrel for 4-5 years, with seasonal bottlings. Tight and bright, with focused lemon peel, lemon blossoms, salted marcona, and white grapefruit across the structural palate, finishing with a generous wash of flaked sea salts, and a kiss of herbal anise. Great intensity and focus; allow this to open in the glass.Prices: BC 29.50 Producer: Callejuela
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