Wednesday, December 23, 2009


To contact for the purpose of sending samples of your products for reviewing, please contact us for shipping and delivery instructions via email:

We remain unaffiliated with any wineries, agents or importers. Your wines will be scored objectively by ISG-trained reviewer Liam Carrier and contributors using the standard 100 point scale. Less than 80 = Below Average Quality; 81-85 = Average Quality; 86-90 = Above Average Quality; 91-95 = Exceptional Quality; 96-100 = Superior Quality.

Results will be posted on our website and may be used in articles on our site. Icon Wines enjoys a global and growing audience. Our reviews are frequently searched via Google and Twitter.

Please note that we are located in Vancouver, BC, Canada and that all appropriate duties must be prepaid with accompanying paper-work (if applicable).

Thursday, December 17, 2009

New Year's Eve Challenge: Wine Pairing

Every year my wife and I along with Hugh and his wife invite a few close friends to join us for a New Year's Eve getaway. The past number of years we have rented a cabin on British Columbia's Sunshine Coast to enjoy a few days away from the city. As a gourmet-chef-hobbyist, each year I plan an elaborate 4-5 course meal of my choosing. It is always a wine fest, but this year I thought I would up the ante a bit and turn it into a wine-pairing challenge for Hugh - put those Sommelier skills to the test.

Below is the menu I have planned with a list of ingredients. Hugh will add his wine-pairing choices below each course as they are selected - with his reasoning for the selection. - LC


First Course: Salad

Prosciutto-Cranberry-Mint Salad with Mango-Pomegranate Vinaigrette.
Ingredients: Lettuce, Fennel Leaves, Mint leaves, Prosciutto, Cranberries, Mango and Pomegranate Juice, Vinegar.

Wine Pairing:

To start things off before the salad a good palate cleanser is a sparkling wine. A nice Prosseco will pair well with brie or other soft, light-tasting, cheeses. This will prepare the palate for the other wines to come. The Prosecco I am choosing is the Prosecco Frizzante IGT - Mionetto Il Prosecco ($17.99 at the BCLDB).

Salad is one of the hardest things to pair with, and Liam made this one a hard with the complexity of flavours. I chose the Heartland Viognier - Pinot Gris ($24.99 BCLDB). I have not been disappointed by the Heartland products and the blend of Viognier and Pinot Gris will offer freshness and good acidity while complimenting the fruits with the fuller, more lucious Viognier.

Second Course: Pasta-Risotto Duo

Lobster and Ricotta filled Pesto Ravioli with Lobster and White Truffle Risotto.
Ingredients: Lobster, Risotto, Pesto Pasta, Basil, Parmesan, Onions, White Truffle Oil, Celery, Butter, Chanterelle Mushrooms.

Wine Pairing:

The ravioli and risotto will be rich and have a fair bit of weight. To compliment the weight of this course I am choosing a soft fruit and honey type Chardonnay. These types of chards are characteristic of areas in California; however, one of Icon Wines' favourite chards of the year was the Joie Farms Reserve Chardonnay from BC ($32 from winery). Weight to weight and bit of soft fruit and floral should be tasty.

Third Course: Meat

Beef Tenderloin in a Peppercorn and Red Wine sauce with Braised Vegetables.
Ingredients: Beef, Peppercorn Seasoning, Carrots, Asparagus, Fennel, Red Wine.

Wine Pairing:

A classic pairing for beef tenderloin with a red wine sauce is a powerful Cabernet Sauvignon. This course commands a wine that can stand up to its weight, but the dish allows for a wine that could have some depth and complexity. I have chosen the Edge Wines - Cabernet Sauvignon from California ($33.99 from the BCLDB). Simplicity with weight and power. The wine can offer some complexity as well.

Fourth Course: Desert

Chocolate Fondant
Ingredients: Chocolate Cake, Chocolate Fudge, Butter, Flour, Sugar, Vanilla,

Wine Pairing:

For the final course I wanted to add a wine from my home town. I chose the Stratus 2007 - Icewine Red ($39.85 from winery). This wine offers mid-sweet flavours of strawberry rhubard with some spice and good acidity. This combo of chocolate with strawberry flavours was hard to resist and should be a great topper to a fantastic meal.

Wines for Christmas Dinner

by Liam Carrier

"Which wine should I take to Christmas dinner?" "What pairs with turkey?" You may find yourself asking these questions over the next week as you get ready to either attend a Christmas dinner, host one or attend a similarly festive event. I have created two wine lists as suggestions to help you answer these questions: one with international wines and one with wines from BC.

Pairing Guidelines:

With Christmas Present Opening: You'll want a nice sipper that can stand on its own without food as you may be waiting a while for dinner with all of the presents to open.

Pre-Dinner: Something lively and crisp is needed here to wake-up those taste-buds and get them ready for the second-best dinner of the year (Thanksgiving being the best).

With Salad: You will want to continue the crisp theme with this pairing while adding a touch of complexity. Pick a versatile white to go with a wide-range of salads.

With Turkey (White Meat): If you were to pick one wine to go with all turkey meets, it would be the most recent vintage of Beaujolais. For fun I have broken it down into white and dark meat suggestions. For the white meat, go for an oaked, non-Chardonnay white wine. Something with character, but not too much.

With Turkey (Dark Meat) : I love Beaujolais and BC Gamay Noir with the dark meat. A subtle and medium-bodied Pinot Noir is a good substitute.

With Ham: Personally, I prefer ham at Easter, but for the Christmas-Ham folks out there I suggest a slightly off-dry white with orchard fruit flavours to match the apple-sauce.

With Roast Beef: For the roast-lovers I recommend making a splash and getting a great Bordeaux-style red or a nice Cabernet Sauvignon.

With Tofurky: A simple and refreshing white would work for the gamut of veggie side-dishes that may accompany the tofurky.

With Dessert: You will want a wine that is not as sweet as your dessert.

Post-Dinner: Finish off the meal with something sparkling. It's fun, it's sophisticated and it doesn't have to be expensive.

Night-Cap: Break-out your Port or Port-style wine and pour just an ounce or two into your glass to sip the night away with this powerful and complex wine. You'll need something strong on your palate after all the different tastes you will have had that day.


With Christmas Present Opening: Duck Pond 2006 Pinot Noir Full Review
Pre-Dinner: Saxenburg 2007 Guinea Fowl White Full Review
With Salad: Mionetto Il Prosecco Full Review
With Turkey (White Meat): Robert Mondavi 2007 Fume Blanc
With Turkey (Dark Meat): Georges DuBoeuf 2009 Beaujolais
With Ham: Pfaffenheim 2007 Pinot Gris Full Review
With Roast Beef: Heartland 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon Full Review
With Tofurkey: Bollini 2007 Pinot Grigio
With Dessert: c Batasiolo 2008 Moscato D'Asti Full Review
Post-Dinner: Yellowglen Pink (Sparkling) Full Review
Night-Cap: 2006 Chateau Rieussec (Sauternes) Full Review

British Columbia

With Christmas Present Opening: La Frenz 2006 Pinot Noir Full Review
Pre-Dinner: Road 13 2008 Honeest John's White Full Review
With Salad: Fairview Cellars 2008 Sauvignon Blanc Full Review
With Turkey (White Meat): Burrowing Owl 2007 Pinot Gris
With Turkey (Dark Meat): Desert Hills 2008 Gamay Noir Full Review
With Ham: Lake Breeze 2007 Gewurztraminer Full Review
With Roast Beef: Laughing Stock 2007 Blind Trust Red Full Review
With Tofurkey: Averill Creek 2008 Pinot Grigio Full Review
With Dessert: Jackson-Triggs Sparkling Riesling Icewine or Elephant Island 2008 Apricot Dessert Wine
Post-Dinner: Sumac Ridge NV Tribute Brut
Night-Cap: La Frenz NV Tawny Port

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!

Monday, December 14, 2009

WCOW: Argentina Single Red Varietal Nationals

Country: Argentina

Manager: Liam Carrier

This week we head down to South America and look at a couple unique wines at opposite ends of the oak-aging spectrum. I haven't included a Malbec in this try-out (yet) to highlight the availability of quality wines made from unique grapes in Argentina. Both Bonarda and Tannat are originally from Europe but have found a welcome home in the wonderful grape growing regions of Argentina.

Wine #1: Los Moras 2007 Reserve Tannat
Cost: $15-17
Region: Valle del Tulum - San Juan
Notes: 16 months in oak. Great aging potential with fine tannins and good acidity. Shows promise as a unique alternative to Cabernet Sauvignon. Drinking a bit young at the moment.
Full Review: Follow Link
Score: 87+ points

Wine #2: Bodegas Sur De Los Andes 2007 Bonarda
Cost: $14
Region: Mendoza
Notes: Unoaked. Dark fruits, cherry nibs, blueberries, cassis and vanilla notes. Made the Icon Wines top ten list for value wines of 2009.
Full Review: Follow Link
Score: 88 points

Conclusion: The Bonarda fruit-bomb is one fun wine to drink. It is ready to drink now and i think will be a great entry into the WCOW next June in the Single-Red Varietal blind tasting. The Tannat, although a good quality wine in its own right, has not yet peaked. I'm hoping to get my hands on another bottle or two for my cellar to age for two years and see if the tannins mellow and balance out the palate.

The next time you are perusing the shelves of your local wine shop looking for a good under-priced, over-delivering Argentina wine, try skipping the familiar Malbec or Cabernet Sauvignon and pick up a bottle of Bonarda or Tannat. You will be pleasantly surprised. - LC

Friday, December 4, 2009

2009 BC Vintage Report

The following notes and quotes have been collected from numerous BC Wine industry contacts (as noted) describing what seems to have been an above average growing season, albeit a condensed one. - LC

Laughing Stock Vineyards: (Sep 29th)
"If you had asked us this spring, when snow still covered the vineyard, as to how the season would end, we would have been rather pessimistic with the latest bud break we've ever had thanks to the late arrival of spring. Coupled with the TSX at 7,500, things were looking pretty dire, with nature and the market obviously in cahoots. Fast forward 6 months, the TSX is over 11,000 and in the past 90 days of Okanagan sunshine, we've only had 2 days of rain, resulting in the earliest harvest ever at Laughing Stock."

From Burrowing Owl Estate Winery: (Oct 1st)
"Following an almost picture perfect grape growing summer the harvest has come upon us early. There is a good chance that you will see the action when you visit us during The Okanagan Wine Festival. Chardonnay (pictured here) and Pinot Gris were harvested Sept 21 & Sept. 22. Look for a spectacular vintage to result from this year's harvest. The quality of the grapes coming in are fantastic."

Road 13 Vineyards & Winery: (Dec 3rd)
"In the Okanagan Valley, cool climate viticulture is defined by its compressed growing season, which is possible with the long daylight hours that southern regions miss. 2009 was, hands down, the most compressed vintage that we’ve ever seen in the Okanagan. Bud break began almost 3 weeks late yet, despite the late start, the vines easily caught up with little rain and perfect temperatures for uninterrupted growth. We started into harvest well ahead of schedule which was fortunate because we were about to get hit with some unseasonably cold weather much earlier than normal. The growing season ended about 2 weeks early with a leaf killing frost (albeit on generally ripe grapes). We were fortunate for our ripeness to have caught up the way it did!
Obviously the weather conditions will have an impact on the flavours and textures of the wines, which will reveal themselves over time. Nobody honestly knows if the impact will be positive or simply “different”. The star wines that we have noticed so far in the cellar are definitely Chardonnay, which is showing excellent intensity and balance, and Merlot and Syrah, which are showing very good intensity as well as excellent tannic structure. Overall, we’re excited for the new vintage to be released and can’t wait to share them!"

Averill Creek Vineyard: (Dec)
"Averill Creek had a wonderful year in 2009 with a bumper harvest of very good quality, ripe fruit. We were expecting 65 tons of grapes and ended up picking 92 tons. The quality of the Pinot Noir was exceptional and we have great hopes for making a reserve which would be available in 2011. We will have good volumes of Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer for 2010 and we will be releasing a new wine made in a Beaujolais style from our Marechal Foch."

Wild Goose Vineyards: (Dec 8th)
"Anyone who thinks that farming is not exciting should have lived through the 2009 growing season! It started after one of the coldest winters that we had ever experienced in our 25 years of growing grapes. Although there was tremendous damage to vineyards throughout the entire valley, Wild Goose fared rather well in that we suffered only small losses to our crops, both at our vineyards and at those selected vineyards which grow for us. Many Okanagan grape growers suffered huge losses to plants and crops. The harsh winter slowed the start of spring, but things picked up in June when the sun began to heat our valley. Once things warmed up, the heat never let up! The intense heat led to one of our earliest harvests on record. The harvest came so fast that our Wild Goose Riesling was harvested in September, the only time in our history that we picked Riesling in September!! Every variety appeared to ripen at the same time. We proceeded to pick one variety after another, with no breaks in between. Fortunately most of our grapes were harvested when the entire valley was hit with -10 C temperatures on October 10. Many locals who live in the Okanagan say they had never experienced cold temperatures like this so early in October. Any grapes that were still hanging when the freeze occurred were unaffected by the frost because the grapes were already ripe and were just waiting their turn to be picked and processed. After this freeze the valley experienced seasonally normal temperatures. So what was the result of all of this strange weather on the wine industry? One of the best harvests we have ever experienced!! Lovely clean fruit with vibrant flavours and beautiful crisp acidity. 2009 will certainly be an excellent vintage to watch out for when the wines are released in mid April!"

Black Hills Estate Winery: (Dec 9th)
"As you may have heard, the 2009 vintage could well be one of the most outstanding of the decade! Mother Nature delivered unto the South Okanagan a beautifully hot growing season from June to late September. Lots of warm days to enable full ripening of the fruit and cool nights to help capture the acidity in the grapes. This resulted in a harvest that started two weeks early than normal and kept our vineyard crew hopping throughout September.

When an early frost hit the Okanagan Valley on Oct. 7, 8 and 9, the impact was nominal to us as most of our grapes had already been picked. What grapes were on the vine were quickly harvested and processed with no impact on their quality. All in all, our winemaking team is very excited by what is shaping up in the tanks and barrels. The flavor profiles are incredible!"

Wine Awards

2010 was another great year for wine consumption here in Canada and around the globe. Wine sales, worldwide, are on the rise again as the practise of drinking fermented grapes continues to become more and more popular. Good wine has never been more assessable to more people.

Icon Wine of the Year - coming soon
Top 25 Value Wines of the Year - coming soon


The "Top X Wines of the Year" lists feature the highest scoring wines that we reviewed in that calendar year.
The "Top X Value Wines of the Year" lists feature the wines we reviewed in that calendar year which we feel represent the best value to the consumer.
The "Wine of the Year" award is subjectively awarded to the wine that we feel was simply "the best" wine released to the public within the calendar year. Our top award.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The 2009 Wine of the Year

December 9th, 2009

Icon Wines is proud to announce.

The 2009 "Wine of the Year" representing the best wine released in this calendar year is:

Blackwood Lane Winery 2006 Alliance $60 - 94pts
Full Review

This exquisite wine was first tasted in August by Icon Wines partners Liam Carrier and Hugh Carter during a visit to the winery for a barrel tasting of the upcoming 2007 vintage (tentative Feb 2010 release date). At the time we scored the current 2006 release a very strong 94/100 points and were equally impressed by the upcoming 2007 release. This wine stayed fresh in our memory through the 2006 Bordeaux and Fall releases and remained our favourite of all the wines we had tasted this year. Subsequent visits to the wineries for follow-up tastings helped to solidify it as a must for this year's "Wine of the Year" award.

The winery also produces another amazing Meritage blend called Reférence as a micro-cuvée with ultra-fine tannins and a higher price tag. However, the accessibility, production and price-point of Alliance won us over and put it over the top.

For more information on Blackwood Lane Winery visit their website:

Blackwood Lane wines are available direct from the winery or via select private fine wine shops. (Everything Wine, Firefly Ales & Wines)

Honorable mentions for the 2009 "Wine of the Year":

Lake Breeze 2008 Gewurztraminer
Full Review

La Frenz 2007 Montage
Full Review

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Top Ten Value Wines of 2009

Icon Wines partners Liam Carrier and Hugh Carter have selected their top ten value wines for 2009. This list features the wines we reviewed in 2009 that we feel represent the best value to the consumer. No price limit was applied to the list, nor was a simple price-to-points equation used. With this list we allowed ourselves to be subjective.

1. La Frenz Winery 2007 Montage $20 - 90pts
Full Review

2. Heartland 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon $22 - 91pts
Full Review

3. Lake Breeze Vineyards 2008 Gewurztraminer $18 - 91pts

4. Binder-Mitchell 2004 The Gunslingers Shiraz $29 - 94pts

5. Fairview Cellars 2008 Sauvignon Blanc $20 - 91pts
Full Review

6. Bodegas Sur de Los Andes 2007 Bonarda $14 - 88pts

7. Stoneboat Vineyards 2008 Chorus $18 - 89pts

8. Luis Felipe Edwards 2006 Reserva Malbec $15 - 89pts

9. Road 13 Winery and Vineyards 2008 Honest John's Red $19 - 88pts
Full Review

10. Averill Creek Vineyard 2007 Pinot Gris $23 - 91pts
Full Review

Top Ten Wines of 2009

The following wines received the ten highest ranked scores when reviewed by Icon Wines partners Liam Carrier and Hugh Carter in the calendar year of 2009. The one exception is the "Icon Wines: Wine of the Year" which will be announced later on in December. Ties were broken by the wine's "x-factor" and investment potential.

Also see:

1. Binder-Mitchell 2004 The Gunslingers Shiraz - 94pts

2. Burrowing Owl Estate Winery 2006 Meritage - 93+pts

3. Mission Hill Estate Winery 2006 Oculus - 93+pts

4. La Frenz Winery 2006 Reserve - 93pts

5. 2006 Chateau Pape Clement - 93pts

6. 2006 Chateau Pichon-Longueville - 92.5pts

7. 2006 Chateau Rieussec - 92.33pts

8. Mission Hill Estate Winery 2006 Compendium - 92pts

9. Joie Farm 2007 Reserve Chardonnay - 92+pts

10. Mission Hill Estate Winery 2006 Perpetua Chardonnay - 92pts

Cellar Update: BC Icon Wines Fall Releases

The long-term value and viability of investing in BC Wine is yet unknown. Without a strong and healthy secondary market for BC Wine sales it is hard to speculate on the future value of any BC produced product. However, Icon Wines believes in the quality and longevity of the wine produced here in our home province and have decided to pick a few select wines for our portfolio.

The wines were selected based on their availability, price-to-point ratio, marketability and longevity. The following wines were added to the cellar:

Blackwood Lane 2006 Alliance
Fairview Cellars 2007 The Bear
Fairview Cellars 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon
Jackson-Triggs 2007 SunRock Shiraz
Joie Farm 2007 Reserve Chardonnay
La Frenz 2006 Reserve

WCOW - Results

Results from the Regional and National try-outs will be posted here as the country managers fill-out the rosters for the 2010 World Cup of Wine finals to be held in Vancouver, Canada in July, 2010. For full WCOW rules, click here.

Red Wine - Single Varietal
Red Wine - Blend - Posted November 22nd, 2009
White Wine - Single Varietal - Posted March 14th, 2010
White Wine - Blend - Posted February 7th, 2010

Red Wine - Single Varietal - Posted December 16th, 2009
Red Wine - Blend
White Wine - Single Varietal
White Wine - Blend

Red Wine - Single Varietal
Red Wine - Blend
White Wine - Single Varietal
White Wine - Blend

Red Wine - Single Varietal
Red Wine - Blend - Posted January 29th, 2010
White Wine - Single Varietal
White Wine - Blend

Red Wine - Single Varietal
Red Wine - Blend
White Wine - Single Varietal
White Wine - Blend

Red Wine - Single Varietal
Red Wine - Blend
White Wine - Single Varietal
White Wine - Blend

South Africa
Red Wine - Single Varietal - Posted January 10th, 2010
Red Wine - Blend
White Wine - Single Varietal
White Wine - Blend

United States
Red Wine - Single Varietal
Red Wine - Blend
White Wine - Single Varietal
White Wine - Blend

Profile: Hugh Carter

Hugh was born and raised in Niagara Falls Ontario Canada at the doorstep of the Niagara Wine region. Upon completing high school he attended the University of Waterloo where he completed his BSc in Biology where he focused most of his studies on plant and wildlife ecology. In 1999 Hugh moved out to Vancouver British Columbia with his girlfriend (now wife) and attended the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) where he studied forestry and renewable resource management and obtained a diploma in Forest Technology and an advanced diploma in Land and Resource Management. Hugh joined the work force in 2001 and did field inventories and measurements up and down the BC coast. Hugh started his MSc in forest biometrics in 2004 and completed it in 2007, where he focused on resource sampling while working full-time for with a natural resource consultant.

A trip to Okanagan Lake and the surrounding region in 2004 sparked a passion for BC wines. With such easy access to these wines it is hard not to love them. Anyone who lives in Vancouver knows how hard it is not to be a Canuck’s fan, this same logic could be applied to someone who has visited this gem of a wine region and not fall in love with the unique flavours that come out of this gorgeous landscape.

Through Icon Wines I hope to explore the economics and technical aspects of wine. I hope to help promote BC and Canadian wines and get people excited in drinking them, as well as investing in them. I am confident that there is a viable secondary market for the Canadian grape and good opportunities to make some money over time through the purchase of investment grade wine. - HC

Profile: Liam Carrier

Liam’s interest in wine was ignited at a quiet dinner party at the age of 25 in the form of a fine Alsatian Riesling matched perfectly with spicy Thai food which awakened his curiosity. To that point, wine had been but a drink to have with dinner, never an integral piece of the gastronomic puzzle. From then on, he gradually sought out more wines with which to challenge his late-blooming palate and thus began a life-long love-affair with wine.

Today, Liam is studying with the International Guild of Sommeliers to further his wine education and increase his enjoyment of wine. He hopes to turn into an internationally renowned website on Canadian wine and the icon wines of the world.

Born in London, Ontario he moved to British Columbia with his family at the age of six and has called both White Rock and Vancouver home. Currently residing in Port Moody, BC with his own, growing family, he splits his time as a wine reviewer and program manager in the software industry.

About Us is a wine consulting and wine review website that was established in May 2009 by writer and wine reviewer Liam Carrier. Wines from around the world are covered with a keen interest on the wines produced here in Canada. creates reviews and articles for the internet, social networking sites and print media that can be used to promote local and international wines. Reviews and articles remain separate and completely independent from any other services offered.

Main Contributors
Liam Carrier (articles, wine reviews)
Hugh Carter (events, tasting notes)

Icon Wines Mission
Our mission has two equally important objectives:
1) To become the Canadian gold standard in wine reviews and journalism by producing high quality, and innovative work and services.
2) Translate our passion and enthusiasm for wine culture and lifestyle to a global audience through current and pioneering technologies.

Icon Wines Vision
To generate an accessible secondary market for investment grade wines in Canada through the use of technology, social networking, marketing, and promotion.

Friday, November 20, 2009

WCOW: Canadian Red Blend Regional Try-outs

Country: Canada
Manager: Liam Carrier

This week we try-out two great BC red-wine blends. Keeping to the rules of the WCOW, the wines are at or under the $20 limit here in the host province of British Columbia. As the manager for Team Canada I want to try-out a number of red blends as I believe this is a category in which Canada will do well and may even win – especially at the $20 price-point.

Wine #1: Jackson-Triggs Vinters 2006 Proprietor's Reserve Meritage
Price: $20
Region: Black Sage Bench - Okanagan Valley
Country: Canada
Notes: Excellent, classic Meritage blend of 44% Merlot, 38% Cabernet Sauvignon and 18% Cabernet Franc. Needs 2hrs of decanting.
Full review: Follow Link
Score: 88 points

Wine #2: La Frenz Winery 2007 Montage
Price: $20
Region: Naramata Bench – Okanagan Valley
Country: Canada
Notes: A of Shiraz, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. The Shiraz is becoming a signature grape for BC and here adds warmly received spice to the blend. Amazing.
Full review: Follow Link
Score: 90 points

Conclusion: The La Frenz Montage wins and moves on to the National championship stage. It scored higher due to its impressive combination of complexity of flavour and approachability. This is a fantastic wine and a real steal at $20 and it's no wonder the winery sells out every vintage. For availability check their website:

WCOW - The Schedule

November 20th, 2009: For immediate release.

Icon Wines has released the schedule for the 2010 World Cup Of Wine. Consisting of weekly Regional and National try-outs. Coverage of each nation's try-outs will be hosted on BC's premier fine wine website: Results from each week's competition will be posted on Sundays.

The Managers for each participating country may hold regional and national try-outs to help pick the best wine for each category: Single-Varietal White, Single-Varietal Red, White Blend and Red Blend. View the list of rules here.

The Schedule:

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The World Cup of Wine - U20 Division

Icon Wines Presents The Inaugural:
The World Cup of Wine
U20 Division
Vancouver, Canada:
November 2009 – July 2010

Participating Countries:

Due to the current economic conditions, the inaugural Word Cup of Wine will be limited to 8 countries:
Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, France, Italy, South Africa, USA.

The Rules:

1. Each country will submit four wines to compete in The Finals which will be held in June, 2010. The four wines must consist of: one white single-varietal, one red single-varietal, one white-blend and one red-blend.

  • All wines must be available and cost $20 or less in the host country of Canada.
  • The single-varietal selections must have at least 85% of one varietal.
  • The blends may not have more that 70% of any one varietal.

2. Competition will consist of category specific Head-to-Head battles.

3. The 100 point scale will be used to score the Head-to-Head battles.

  • One wine must be declared the winner, there can me no draws.
  • In the case of a tie following the initial scoring, tie-breakers will determine the winner:
    · Availability. The yearly production of the wine and the public’s access to purchase.
    · Price point. How much the wine costs versus its competitor?
    · X-factor. The judges’ gut reaction to the wine.

4. The World Cup of Wine “Finals” will be contested in June 2010 and will consist of two pools that have been randomly drawn:

  • Pool A: Australia, Argentina, Canada and Italy.
  • Pool B: Chile, France, the USA and South Africa.

Selecting The Teams:

1. Team Managers will be responsible for selecting the wines for the participating countries.

  • Jordan Carrier will be managing Team France and Team Italy.
  • Hugh Carter will be managing Team Australia, Team South Africa and Team USA.
  • Liam Carrier will be managing Team Argentina, Team Canada and Team Chile.

2. Each Team Manager may hold regional and national tryouts in order to pick the strongest competitors for each country.

  • Tryouts are optional.
  • Regional and national tryouts will mimic the “Head-to-Head” format of The Finals.
  • All tryouts will be covered by the Icon Wines staff. Results will be posted on The Cellar Experiment blog and full reviews will be posted on Icon Scores.

3. Team Managers will be allowed to enlist the help of specialists and of the general public to make their team selections.

  • Specialists may include winemakers, wine store experts and critics.
  • The general public will be able to have their say online by way of polls and comments.

The Schedule: Coming Soon...

Friday, November 6, 2009

Guided Wine Tastings by Icon Wines

Company principles, Liam Carrier and Hugh Carter, work with the clients to design custom events that can be both entertaining and educational.

Events can range from small, private gatherings to larger, corporate parties. The guided tastings can be tailored to meet the client’s unique demands: showcasing specific wine regions or themes such as “The Best $20 Wines” or “The Wines of BC” to name but two.

Set your budget and the Icon Wines team will provide you with:
  • Theme suggestions
  • Multiple wine list choices
  • Expert advice
  • Wine tasting 101 tips
  • Tasting note sheets
The Icon Wines' Guided Wine Tastings are appropriate for:
  • Holiday parties
  • Corporate events
  • Private parties
To contact the Icon Wines team and find out their availability for the upcoming holiday season and for pricing information, email

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Upcoming BC Wine Events

Event: John Gerum's BC Uncorked
Date: November 7th, 2009 6:30 pm – 9:00 pm
Details: Tickets $40-50. Twenty BC wineries featured including Icon Wines favourites: Cedar Creek, Road 13, Kettle Valley and Lake Breeze.

Event: Marquis Wine Cellars: Champagne and Sparkling Wine Tasting
Date: November 14th, 2009 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Details: Free event. 3rd annual. Tasting: Paul Bara Brut Reserve, Le Brun Servenay Brut and Veuve Clicquot Brut among others.

Coming in 2010… The Icon Wines Tri-Cities Wine Club featuring both New World and Old World wines.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Gewurztraminer: BC's Signature White?

Is Gewurztraminer BC's Signature White Varietal? Icon Wine's Liam Carrier Makes The Case...

Lovers of BC Chardonnay need not fear (nor write nasty letters), nary a negative word will be written in this article knocking the many fantastic Chardonnays produced in the Okanagan and Similkameen Valleys. Rather, I simply desire to highlight the lesser-publicized varietal that is our small-bunched and blue-ish friend.

One cannot define, with a single sentence, the Okanagan Valley's climate and selection of diverse terroir except, perhaps, to state that "it is perfect for growing Gewurztraminer". However, does this statement alone make Gewurztraminer the region's signature white varietal? Of course not. It takes a group of talented winemakers to work with the grapes and produce the quality aromatic and often delicate wine many of us "Wurz-heads" love so much.

Gerwurztraminer excels in the warm areas of cool climate regions which fits the Okanagan Valley to a tee. The valley's winemakers are also excelling in their own right using cool fermentation methods to preserve the natural aromatic qualities of the varietal producing an array of different Gewurztraminers to choose from. The wines, ranging from bone-dry to ice wine, showcase the uniqueness of each planted area in the valley and reflect the winemaker's vision for the final product.

The following Gewurztraminers represent a wide selection of the fine product available to BC consumers. Sadly, very few make it out of the province although I have seen the Lake Breeze offering as far East as Winnipeg. Seek them out where you can and compare to the excellent Ontario product if you have the means.

2007 Township 7 - $18.99
The Towship 7 offerings is very dry and very subtle. Good acidity with strong mineral notes and tropical fruitiness on the palate. Muted, yet layered floral and orange-spice aromas on the nose. 88pts

2008 Red Rooster - $15.99
Near-dry and very tasty. Crisp and balanced. Will match nicely with many spicy Asian dishes. Excellent price-point. 87pts

2008 Tinhorn Creek - $16.99
Golden Mile Bench grown grapes in this fairly classic Gewurztraminer. Lychee, peach, grapefruit and melon aromas and flavours. Good medium acidity help make this a nice and refreshing wine to match with food. 87pts

2007 See-Ya-Later Ranch - $17.01
Off-dry. Floral aromas with grapefruit and lychee accents. Honey dew melon and more lychee fruit flavours with medium acidity which balances the fruit-sweetness very well. 89pts.

2008 Grey Monk Estate Winery - $16.99
Light spice and orchard fruit nose with tropical fruit and melon flavours on the palate. Decent complexity but lacking in intensity of aromas and flavours. 85pts

2008 Cedar Creek - $17.90

Off-dry. Orange blossom and lychee spice aromas with citrus and tropical fruit flavours with mineral notes. Lacks intensity on the nose and acidity on the palate. Pair with spicy-savoury fare. 86pts

2008 Lake Breeze Vineyards - $16.99

Touch of residual sugar. One of the most pleasant noses you will ever smell. Full of intense floral, perfume and tropical fruit aromas which carry through to the palate. Perfectly balanced wine with good crisp acidity on the finish. The best Gewurztraminer in BC for 2008. 91pts

Full Review

2008 Thornhaven - $17.99
An off-dry verging on medium-dry, tropical fruit bomb. Match with spicy Asian fare to discover the hidden complexity of lychee, minerals and moderate acidity. 88pts.

So, is Gewurztraminer BC's signature white wine? Well maybe, maybe not. It would be hard to say that the Province's best Chardonnays and Rieslings wouldn't compete for that title as well. However, many of the premium Chardonnays command a premium price whereas BC's top Gerwurztraminers do not. All of the wines featured in this article are below the $20 price-point. One could therefore propose that Gewurztraminer is "BC's signature budget white wine" or "BCSBWW", but that's a terrible title and in the end that all doesn't matter. We'll keep signing BC Gewurztraminer's praise and you can decide for yourself.

At Icon Wines we are always interested in your feedback. Please share your thoughts about this or any other article at

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Our Favourite Lower Mainland Wine Shops

Fraser Valley
#500-22259 48th avenue, Langley
We like: Best VQA selection. Good prices. Weekly tastings.
About: The Wine Emporium is a VQA affiliated store located in Langley and id the Fraser valley’s best kept secret. Owner/manager Frank Valente will help you pick the perfect wine for any occasion. They are the only VQA store in the Lower Mainland to carry Icon Wines favourite Fairview Cellars. Prices match BCLDB and they often have wines that are sold-out at the winery.

PoCo Signature BCLDB
Nicola Station: 1097 Nicola Avenue, Port Coquitlam
Westwood Center : 2748 Lougheed Hwy, Port Coquitlam

We like: Decent BC section. Good vintage section. Marked-down items.
About: There are two “Signature” BC Liquor Stores in Port Coquitlam and they are two of the best in the Lower Mainland. Bargain hunters will often find good wines marked-down. The Nicola Station has a great selection of 2006 Bordeaux still available.


Kensington Square Wines
6626 Hastings St, Burnaby

We like: Weekly tastings blog. Good VQA selection.
About: Sign-up for owner/manager Leah’s email notice to receive her weekly blog about what they are tasting at the store each Friday and Saturday. Friendly staff will help you find a bottle of VQA goodness. Good selection of Road 13, See-Ya-Later Ranch, Mission Hill and Cedar Creek.
1034 Davie Street, Vancouver

We like: Wines of the weekend specials. Fun events.
About : Marquis Wine Cellars has the best selection of French and Spanish wine in BC. They are the place to go to make your Bordeaux Futures order and have a great “Wines of the Weekend” discount program. They also have a knack for bringing in top value Argentinean and Chilean wines that the BCLDB don’t carry.

Flagship Signature BCLDB
5555 Cambie Street, Vancouver

We like: Vintage selection. Events.
About: BCLDB’s largest in-store selection of wines. This stores hosts most of the bigger wine events; both paid and free. Knowledgeable staff in all BCLDB Signature stores but this location seems to have the most “experts” on staff.

North Vancouver

998 Marine Drive, North Vancouver

We like: Huge selection. Mari Kane’s wine blog. Events.
About: Everything Wine has an impressive wine list that covers all regions and price points. Many offerings are at par with BCLDB prices and some aren’t; you’ll have to shop wise. Great selection of wine accessories and we especially like their wall of 90+point wines. Owner/manager Mari Kane’s wine blog is a nice addition to the informative website. Sign-up for email notifications for upcoming paid and free events.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Mission Hill's Legacy Series New Releases

Mission Hill Family Estate put on a tasty show on Wednesday, October 7th for wine and restaurant industry personnel at the amazing Shangri-La Hotel in downtown Vancouver. The winery were pouring their full range of brands but the stars of the show were the four new releases that make up the firm's "Legacy Series": the 2007 Perpetua, the 2006 Quatrain, the 2006 Oculus and the latest addition to the line-up the 2006 Compendium.

2007 Perpetua - $32.99
The winery's mission for the Perpetua label is to showcase a stripped-down, single-vineyard Chardonnay with minimal winemaker or oak influence. They have succeeded nicely. The Osoyoos vineyard growing the fruit produces classic Chardonnay flavours of pears, apple, lemon, minerals and aromas of citrus, butter and honey. This wine will benefit from further aging. 90pts

2006 Quatrain - $45
This is the sophomore vintage for the winery's Rhone-valley inspired blend. This year they chose to promote Syrah to the majority varietal in the final blend and its spicy pepper notes show prominently on the very impressive nose. Disappointingly, the intensity of expression dips on the palate and you are left with a slightly bi-polar wine; intensely complex on the nose and suspiciously-subtle on the palate. 87pts

2006 Compendium - $40
The new addition to the Legacy Series portfolio is an excellent Bordeaux-style blend with a good price-point that is very approachable now and will compete admirably with similarly priced BC Meritage blends. Good fruit intensity on the nose and palate with excellent tannin and acid structure. 1-2 years of aging will improve this wine even further. 92pts

2006 Oculus - $70
The latest Oculus release is a return to form after the disappointing 2005 vintage. Layers and layers of complexity and concentrated aromas and flavours make this a compelling wine. 2-3 years of cellaring is needed to make the most of your $70 investment and the excellent tannin and acid structure should allow you to enjoy this wine for a decade. 93pts

For full reviews of these wines please visit our Icon Scores website HERE.

Monday, October 5, 2009

U20 World Cup of Wine Press Release

The World Cup of Wine – U20 – Presented by Icon Wines
June 11th – July 11th 2010
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

World Cup team try-out coverage begins in November, 2009.

For Immediate Release - Icon Wines is proud to present the inaugural U20 World Cup of Wine. Eight countries will compete in the tournament in the following categories: Single-Varietal White, Single-Varietal Red, White-Blend, Red-Blend. All wines must be purchasable for $20 or under in the host city of Vancouver.

The participating countries are:

Pool A: Argentina, Australia, Canada and Italy
Pool B: Chile, France, the USA and South Africa

Regional and national team try-outs will begin in November 2009 and will be covered by the Icon Wines ( and Icon Scores ( websites.

“The Finals” tournament, held through June 11th and July 11th 2010 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada will consist of round-robin play in Head-To-Head match-ups within the pools. The winners of each pool will cross-over to face the second-place finisher of the other pool. Then the round two winners will face-off for the 2010 World Cup on July 11th, 2010. - IW

Cellar Update: 2006 Bordeaux Purchase

On October 3rd, 2009, Icon Wines partners lined-up early in the morning to be one of the first to purchase 2006 Bordeaux wines at the Westwood Centre BCLDB store. This was our first Bordeaux release purchase and it was a learning experience as we made a couple of rookie mistakes, but it all worked out in the end.

Arriving at 8:00 am Saturday morning, a full 1.5 hours before the doors were to open at 9:30 am at the Port Coquitlam store; we figured we had over done it due to the fact that there was no visible line. Therefore, we decided to go have a leisurely breakfast at the DeDutch restaurant in the adjoining plaza and go over our strategy for the day.

Our strategy was simple: focus on the wine we feel is the star of the vintage, Chateau Pontet-Canet (Pauillac, $129, 94pts WA), and then pick a few more wines with good points-to-price ratio for our cellar and to be used in future Icon Wine events.

After finishing breakfast around 9 am we decided to go line-up anyway and mingle with the small crowd that was beginning to form. Waiting at the door a BCLDB employee popped their head out to ask if we had already placed a “bottle order” earlier in the morning. Having no idea what he was referring to we were intrigued to learn that the store had been taking order forms for the hot 2006 wines since 5:30 am that morning. Quizzing him on what was left, we discovered that they were already out of the Pontet-Canet.

HC decided to go try the other PoCo BCLDB store (Nicola Station) to try and get the coveted Pontet-Canet and I would stay in line at Westwood to look looking for the points-to-price purchases. I picked-up:

Chateau Marsau (Cotes de Francs) $25 – 88pts WA
Chateau De Fonbel (Saint-Emilion) $29.00 – 89pts WA
Chateau Pavie Macqui (Saint-Emilion) $99.00 – 92+pts WA
Chateau Rolland-Maillet (Saint-Emilion) $29.00 - 90pts WS

As it turned out, the Nicola Station BCLDB had little to no crowd and no pre-orders snatching up the 2006 favourites. HC picked up the Pontet-Canet and returned to meet me at the Westwood store to complete our order. In the end we got the wines we wanted and learned what to do better next time around. Of course, the jury is still out on the purportedly weak 2007 vintage. We’ll do our research throughout the year and make up our minds if their will be a 2007 purchase or not. - LC

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Naramata Bench Wineries' Simply Red Event

On September 22nd, Icon Wines had the privilege of attending the Naramata Bench Wineries Association's "Simply Red" event held at the fabulous Goldfish Pacific Kitchen in Vancouver, BC. Many fantastic producers were at the event and most had at least one new release to show off.

Located in the Yaletown area of downtown Vancouver, Goldfish Pacific Kitchen restaurant is a great venue for this short of industry event. The floor was opened up to allow easy access to the winery tables and the staff were very courteous to all in attendance. The food was first rate. A very well organized event that allowed the wines to take center stage.

Our palates were in heaven tasting the many new releases on hand but, unfortunately, they got tired before we could complete the full circuit and visit every winery table.

We visited:

Howling Bluff Estate Wines
Howling Bluff were unveiling their two new releases: 2007 Pinot Noir and the 2007 Sin Cera.

La Frenz Winery
Winemaker Jeff Martin was on hand to help pour all of the La Frenz current and new releases. New (and recent) releases include their 2006 Reserve, 2007 Shiraz and their 2007 Merlot.

Poplar Grove Winery
Icon Wines got to finally meet the winemaker/proprietor Ian Sutherland who was on hand to show off the release of their 2006 Merlot and Cabernet Franc as well as their new wine boxes for second lable Monster Vineyards products.

Van Westen Vineyards
Winemaker Robert Van Westen was pouring a two vintage vertical of his powerhouse Voluptuous (2005 & 2006).

Laughing Stock Vineyards
Proprietors Dave and Cynthia Enns were on hand to pour their soon to be released 2007 Portfolio and their second-lable red blend, 2007 Blind Trust Red . The Portfolio was presented in a three vintage vertical (2005, 2006 and 2007).

Kettle Valley Winery
KVW were pouring their complete line-up of current releases. Old Main Red was a stand-out.

Lake Breeze Vineyards
Lake Breeze were pouring their Seven Poplars Pinot Noir, Meritage and their signature red blend the 2006 tempest.

Black Widow Winery
Black Widow only make one red wine and this was on hand: their 2007 Hourglass which is a Merlot/Cab blend.

Look for full reviews of this fall's new releases from the Naramata Bench appellation to be posted soon on Icon Scores soon. - LC

Monday, September 21, 2009

Cellared in Canada

Much has been written recently about the "Cellared in Canada" issue, the unfortunate practice of a few Canadian wine producers importing bulk wine from other countries, bottling it in BC or Ontario and then passing the wine off to consumers as a local product with the complicit help of provincial liquor boards. We thought we would weigh in on the issue as well and help raise awareness in case there are any Canadian wine lovers or those that wanted to try Canadian wines who are not yet familiar with the practice.

The main issue, in our humble opinion, is the blatant deception at work. There is a place for budget import wines, but that place is not in the BC or Ontario wine sections of the liquor stores. We have been known to open a bottle of the easy drinking and affordable Copper Moon Cabernet Sauvignon for example, but we knew what we were opening. We fear that many people do not understand the difference, as all consumers are not complete wine geeks like we are at Icon Wines and read every word of the back label. These wines should be placed in a separate section and referred to as "Bulk Wine" or "Value Wine" as to not mislead the average wine consumer into thinking they are getting a Canadian grown and produced wine.

Even Wikipedia now has an entry on the subject ( which is curiously dated June, 2009 despite the fact that this practice has been going on for years. It is only recently, in the past three months or so, that the issue has gotten widespread attention and we believe this is, in part, due to the growing reputation of quality that BC and Ontario wines are attracting both at home and abroad. This could be the silver lining in the whole debacle. Canadians now care enough about their native wine industry that they don't want this reputation sullied by these impostors and are spreading the word on "Cellared in Canada". We don't think this public outcry would have taken place 5 years ago.

The logo from the "Boycott Cellared in Canada wines" Facebook page.

Tracking the issue online, articles on the subject started appearing early in the year, but it seems to have taken a couple foreign personalities to get the home front truly riled up. (Both internationally renowned Janice Robinson and the pro-business magazine "The Economist" have chimed in on the debate.) That's not meant as a criticism; it's very Canadian. Our own wine blog has been mum on the issue until now.

Icon Wines strives for independence and are not big on boycotts, but hitting companies (the large wine producers and the monopolistic liquor boards) where it hurts most, on the bottom line, seems the best way to get the seriousness of the issue across. The most disturbing part of this issue is that the large wine producers are basically saying "we don't care about our international reputation as long as we can make some money". I realize that these are businesses but can Canada afford to have their reputation tarnished when the industry is so young? Therefore, the partners of Icon Wines will pledge not to purchase any "Cellared in Canada" wines until these wines are mandated to be removed from the Canadian section in all liquor stores. We will research and name the guilty brands to avoid, but here's a hint: if you are considering a bottle of "Canadian" wine that is under $10, stop and read the back label. Chances are you will see "Cellared in Canada" in the fine print. - IW

Further reading on the subject:

The Vancouver Sun's Gord Hamilton article:
Janice Robinson's blog:
Uncorked Ontario blog:

Friday, September 18, 2009

Weekend in Woodinville - Part 3 of 3

Words and Photos by Liam Carrier
Edited by Sheila MacCallum

Novelty Hill/Januik

The first boutique winery on our itinerary was the joint venture Novelty Hill/Januik. The two firms share the same winemaker, Mike Januik, who was head winemaker at Chateau Ste-Michelle for ten years prior to leaving in 1999. The partnership is handy for a winemaker who, as a result, can increase his resources and production while showcasing his own label. The two wine lists are heavy with Washington State’s signature grape, Cabernet Sauvignon. Both lists offer single-vineyard terroir-driven wines, as well as blends and entry-level labels. The distinction between the two independent wineries, who share a production facility and tasting room, is in how they source their grapes. Januik wines are made from grapes sourced from select Columbia Valley vineyards; Novelty Hill relies primarily on grapes grown on its estate vineyard, Stillwater Creek.

By this point in the day, my wife was done with wine tasting. However, she found something else at the winery to satisfy her taste buds, something more precious and appealing to her palate than wine: pizza. On the day we visited the tasting room, the winery was offering stone-oven baked pizza as a lunch specialty. She enjoyed most of the pepperoni pizza, while I tasted wine for a $10 fee:

Novelty Hill 2005 Merlot – Columbia Valley. - $22
92% Merlot; 6% Cabernet Sauvignon; 2% Petit Verdot. 87pts.

Novelty Hill 2006 Sangiovese – Stillwater Creek Vineyard. - $25
95% Sangiovese, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. Paired nicely with our pizza. 86pts.
Januik 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon – Champoux Vineyard. - $50
Wine Advocate rated the '05, '04, ’03, ’02 and ’01 vintages 93 pts, 93 pts, 94 pts, 91 ptsand 95 pts, respectively. 92pts.

Januik 2006 Reserve Red. - $65
90% Cabernet Sauvignon; 7% Cabernet Franc; 3% Malbec; 2% Merlot. Wellstructured and balanced. This wine should age nicely with its high tannins and acidity. 93pts.

Brian Carter Cellars

We finished our Woodinville wine-tasting adventure at the smallest of the day’s wineries: Brian Carter Cellars. This was a wonderful way to end the day, as BCC strive for quality over quantity, making nothing but blends - thisadds uniqueness to the tasting experience compared to a standard winery that would offer both blends and varietal-specific wines. Many of the blends mimic famous regional specialties, but the flavours are pure Washington.

BCC uses grapes sourced from a number of different vineyards in Eastern Washington and creates a number of familiar blends: Bordeaux, white Rhone Valley, Chateauneuf-du-Pape and Super-Tuscan. When we visited they were tasting four wines, but, sadly, not their flagship Bordeaux blend “Solesce”, whose current release is from the 2005 vintage and retails for $58.00.

At BCC I tasted:

2006 Oriana - $24
This is the winery’s take on a Rhone Valley white blend of 45% Viognier and 35% Roussanne with 20% Riesling added to aid the acidity and aromatic notes. This is a lovely wine full of apple blossoms, apricots and tangerines; would pair nicely with spicy seafood. 89pts.

2006 Tuttorosso - $30
69% Sangiovese, 19% Cabernet Sauvignon and 12% Syrah. Floral and berry notes, medium-bodied pleaser with a spicy finish. Pair with pizza or tomato-sauce pasta. 90pts.

2005 Byzance - $30
This is BBC’s take on a Chateauneuf-du-Pape blend of 57% Grenache, 22% Syrah, and 21% Mourvedre. Lots of spicy notes with a good balance of tannins and acidity. A satisfying long finish. 90pts.

2005 L’Etalon - $30
A Bordeaux-style blend of 55% Merlot, 28% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc and 7% Malbec. Layers of dark fruits, chocolate, leather, licorice with balanced tannins and acidity. This wine should age nicely for many years. Pair with your favourite cut of red meat when you pull it out of the cellar. 91pts.

In Conclusion

The Seattle/Woodinville wine region has a wide variety of wines and wineries to offer the consumer. It is a unique wine tasting experience for any enthusiast used to visiting Estate Wineries (like those from the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia). Other wine regions could learn from this “bring not only the wine but the winery experience to the people” mentality. However, not all Washington producers follow this model, including some of the top Estate Wineries.

I very much look forward to my next trip to the Woodinville wine region as I only scratched the surface this time. There are many top producers that I have yet to visit, and many of the best wines that I have yet to taste – what a happy thought! I do have more anniversaries, both traditional and made-up, to celebrate in the years to come.

With the alcohol limit of 1.5 liters per person (with a 48-hour or longer visit to the U.S.A.) we were limited to bringing two bottles each home to Vancouver, BC. Having tried lots of great wine at the wineries we visited, I would have loved to have come back with a case or more, especially of the Brian Carter beauties. However, not wanting to break any laws, we stuck to the legal limit. Here’s what we bought for the cellar:

· One bottle of the fantastic and well-priced L’Etalon from Brian Carter Cellars, purchased direct, at the winery, so my tasting fee would be waved.
· One bottle of the spice-fest Byzance for $24.99, purchased at the Burlington Costco at a savings of $5 from the winery price.
· Two bottles of the 95-point scoring Flora Springs 2005 Trilogy for $39.99 each - also purchased at Costco.

Full-disclosure: the bottles of Flora Springs have nothing to do with the wineries in this article. They were simply too good a deal to pass up. Having visited Napa Valley’s Flora Springs earlier in the year and not being able to secure this fantastic wine, I was eager to add the bottles of Trilogy to my collection. Hopefully, this purchase will be a success story for The Cellar Experiment. - LC

Below are links to all of the wineries I visited on this trip: