Sunday, March 27, 2011

March Meritage Rd2 - Elite Eight Results

The "round of eight" saw three #1 ranked wines make it to the Final Four. The only upset of Rd2 saw the La Frenz 2007 Grand Total Reserve squeeze out a victory over the Poplar Grove 2006 The Legacy in the Naramata Bench Conference. Other Rd2 winners were Black Hills 2008 Nota Bene over Burrowing Owl 2007 Meirtage in the Black Sage Bench Conference, Fairview Cellars 2008 The Bear over the Tinhorn Creek 2007 2Bench Red in the Golden Mile Bench Conference and the Mission Hill 2007 Compendium over the Stag's Hollow 2007 The Heritage Block in the Wild Card Conference. When asked about the lack of upsets, the organizing committee spokesman answered in a post Rd2 press conference, "I suppose it validates the pre-tournament ranking system... and the power of ouija."

Complete Box Scores:

Golden Mile Bench Conference

W - (1) FC '08 The Bear: Points: 91-93. Cost: $35
L - (3) TC '07 2Bench Red: Points: 91+. Cost $30
Game notes: In a battle of "drink now VS. drink later" most thirsty wine drinkers will opt for "drink now" the majority of the time when choosing to purchase a wine. Therefore, it's a testament to a wine's ability to be intriguing and alluring that possesses wine lovers to delay their carnal thirst 2-3 years in anticipation of a superior product at the climax. Such is the story of Fairview Cellars whose wines are built to last and are snatched-up by patient, patient folks. The wait is worth it, especially when the "now" is pretty fantastic as well.

Naramata Bench Conference

W - (2) LF '07 Grand Total: Points: 92-93. Cost: $40
L - (1) PG '06 The Legacy: Points: 91. Cost $50
Game notes: Riding the wave of confidence generated from a successful winery re-branding effort in 2010, the Grand Total looked the part of the Naramata Bench Conference champion and "Final Four" wine. The new label design pays homage to the scenic view of Naramata Bench as seen on the Canadian $100 bill circa 1954. The Cabernet Franc heavy blend proved too aromatic for The Legacy which, in spite of defeat, earned legions of new fans due to its impressive showing.

Wild Card Conference

W - (1) MH '07 Compendium: Points: 91+. Cost: $45
L - (3) SH '07 The Heritage Block: 88-89. Cost: $25
Game notes: Having earned the nickname "The Vincor Killer" after its first round victory over the '07 Petales d'Osoyoos, the Stag's Hollow 2007 The Heritage Block tried to live up to the infamy and go 2-0 against the big boys in its second round match VS. the Mission Hill 2007 Compendium. It was a valiant effort, but in the end the Kelowna-based winery's powerful Meritage proved to be too much for the Okanagan Falls charmer. With power and elegance the Compendium punches its ticket for the Final Four.

Black Sage Bench Conference

W - (1) BH '08 Nota Bene: Points: 91. Cost $57
L - (2) BO '07 Meritage: Points: 90-91. Cost: $45
Game Notes: A titillating match-up of two wines known as much for their brand recognition as for their excellent quality. Both wines attacked with a strong barrage of "word of mouth" and "notoriety" only to find that after 40 grueling minutes of action, the wines remained equal. In a moment of genius, as the first overtime stanza came close to concluding with the wines deadlocked, Black Hills played their Jason Priestley card and the minority shareholder tipped the match in their favour with an energetic explanation of the term "field blend".
 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2011

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

March Meritage Rd1 - Black Sage Bench Results

The first match in the Black Sage Bench conference saw #1 seed Black Hills 2008 Nota Bene cruise to an early lead and hold-on for the win against #4 seed Jackson-Triggs 2006 Proprietor's Reserve Meritage who played the "affordability" angle expertly.

In the second match was played in a frenzied cloud of feathers as the Burrowing Owl 2007 Meritage paced the Nk'Mip 2007 Qwam Qwmt Meritage.

Complete Box Scores:

W - (1) BH '08 Nota Bene. Points: 91pts. Cost: $57.
L - (4) JT '06 PR Meritage. Points: 88pts. Cost: $20.
Game notes: The Nota Bene came out confident and aggressive with an enormous mailing list of customers who eagerly await each new vintage and sell-out the wine yearly. The early lead, however, was nipped at quarter-by-quarter by the modestly priced JT Meritage and its promise of "value". In the end, the pure sexiness of the Nota Bene brand was too much for the JT Meritage to handle and the match was lost.

W - (2) BO '07 Meritage: 90-91pts. Cost: $45.
L - (3) NM '07 QQ Meritage: 88pts. Cost: $30.
Game notes: Burrowing Owls are surprising vicious for such small birds. They may be easily turned into cute logos for bottle labels, but corner one and you're in for a fight. Such was the case when the Nk'Mip 2007 Qwam Qwmt Meritage pressed its attach and discovered first hand that the fuzzy little squawkers are not to be taken lightly. Sublime concentration and complexity from the Cabernet Franc leading Burrowing Owl blend trumped the easy-drinking, Merlot-heavy QQ Meritage blend.
- Liam Carrier ©copyright 2011

March Meritage Rd1 - Wild Card Results

The opening match of the Wild Card conference lived up to its billing as the Assenblage Magnifique! With the Div 1-sized Mission Hill 2007 Compendium out-dueling the play-in winner and boutique-sized Blackwood Lane 2008 Vicuna Roja.

The second match saw a slight upset as #3 seeded Stag's Hollow 2007 The Heritage Block squeaked-out the victory over #2 Osoyoos Larose 2007 Petales d'Osoyoos in a daring ploy to be "drinkable now".

The 2nd-round will see the conference's top seed, Consortium, er, Compendium take on the underdog from Okanagan Falls, The Heritage Block.

Complete Box Scores:

W - (1) MH '07 Compendium. Points: 91+pts. Cost: $40.
L - (4) BL '08 Vicuna Roja. Points: 88pts. Cost: $24.
Game notes: Was it the lack of Cabernet Sauvignon in the Blackwood Lane 2008 Vicuna Roja blend that allowed the Mission Hill 2007 Compendium to press its advantage and take home the victory? Or was it the excellent balance of ageability and approachability that led the "Legacy Series" Compendium to victory? We may never know.

W - (3) SH '07 The Heritage Block: 88-89pts. Cost: $25.
L - (2) OL '07 Petales d'Osoyoos: 88-90pts. Cost: $25.
Game notes: If the match were to have lasted 2-3 years, the Petales d'Osoyoos would likely have been crowned the winner as even the baby brother to the incubation-King Osoyoss Larose 2007 Le Grand Vin, has been built to last. The Stag's Hollow 2007 The Heritage Block proved to be better prepared on game day - perhaps to due to careful study of game film or perhaps due to its round tannins, complex palate and delightful nose.
 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2011

Monday, March 21, 2011

March Meritage Rd1 - Naramata Bench Results

The result may have been "chalk" as the two top seeds survived their first round match-ups but the battle was anything but predictable. In the first game, #1 seeded Poplar Grove 2006 The Legacy's size and weight seemed to have a clear advantage over the fluidity and refinement of the Kettle Valley 2006 Old Main Road. However, as they say in sports, "that's why you play the game".

In the second match, Naramata powerhouse La Frenz 2007 Grand Total Reserve took on Laughing Stock 2008 Blind Trust Red in a match of precision blending and great labeling.

The 2nd-round will see The Legacy take on the Grand Total Reserve in the Elite Eight.

Complete Box Scores:

W - (1) PG '06 The Legacy. Points: 91pts. Cost: $50.
L - (4) KV '06 Old Main Road. Points: 90pts. Cost: $35.
Game notes:  Kettle Valley put up a valiant effort against their Naramata brethren offering succulent, smooth tannins and excellent mouth feel. But in the end it was the Legacy's depth and complexity that carried the day and the Poplar Grove Meritage into the second round.

W - (2) TC '07 Grand Total Reserve: 92-93pts. Cost: $40.
L - (3) LS '08 Blind Trust Red: 89pts. Cost: $28.
Game notes: Fans may think of "excellent varietal wines" first but La Frenz Winery proved to have formidable blending power in its playbook and when Laughing Stock seemed to have the upper-hand with imaginative stock exchange labeling, it managed to match each and every graduated cylinder full of tasty Meritage that the Blind Trust Red threw at it and won the day.
 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2011

Thursday, March 17, 2011

March Meritage Rd1 - Golden Mile Bench Results

Competition was fierce in the Golden Mile Bench conference in the first round. #1 seeded Fairview Cellars 2008 The Bear edged-out #4, Hester Creek 2007 The Judge, in a battle of wines with "the" in the title.
In the second match, triple overtime was needed in order to proclaim a winner in the hotly contested face-off between #2 seed Cassini Cellars 2008 Maximus and #3 seed Tinhorn Creek 2007 2Bench Red, with the sold-out 2Bench pulling off the upset.

The 2nd-round will see Bill Eggert's The Bear take on Sandra Oldfield's 2Bench Red.

Complete Box Scores:

W - (1) FC '08 The Bear. Points: 91-93. Cost: $35. Production: 320 cases.
L - (4) HC '07 The Judge. Points: 89pts. Cost: $45. Production: ?
Game notes: Sadly, Hester Creek's "The Judge" is not named in reference to an ancient demon who wreaked havoc on the second season of Buffy The Vampire Slayer ("What-up!" Joss Whedon fans).  Too bad, because in a battle of Gavel VS. Claws... claws win.

W - (3) TC '07 2Bench Red: 91+pts. Cost: $30. Production: 335 cases.
L - (2) CC '08 Maximus: 91pts. Cost: $29. Production: 862 cases.
Game notes: Despite being sold-out and behind in "availability", the 2Bench Red pulled-off a last-minute play to force overtime and change the momentum of the match. The mysterious "+" set-play always confounds readers and wine drinkers alike - what exactly does it mean? Well, it means Tinhorn Creek won the match (and has aging potential).
 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2011

Friday, March 11, 2011

BC Wine Deal: March 11th, 2011

The following wines have been reduced in price at participating VQA wine shops like Taylorwood Wines in Yaletown. Some reductions are due to new vintages being released and others are simply to help move stock.

Greata Ranch Pinot Noir was $24.90 IS NOW $20.00
Greata Ranch Chardonnay was $20.00 IS NOW $15.00
Mt. Boucherie Pinot Gris was $16.00 IS NOW $14.90
Mt. Boucherie Semillon was $14.95 IS NOW $12.90
Quinta Ferreira Cabernet/Merlot was $22.90 IS NOW $21.90
Quinta Ferreira Mistura Branca was $19.90 IS NOW $17.90
Quinta Ferreira Mistura Tinto was $19.90 IS NOW $17.90
Quinta Ferreira Rose was $19.90 IS NOW $17.90
Road 13 Pinot Noir was $24.99 IS NOW $22.99
Sumac Meritage White was $24.99 IS NOW $15.99
Sumac Sparkling Rose was $22.99 IS NOW $18.99

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Upcoming Wine Events in BC

Banée 2011
April 16th, 2011 @Spirit Ridge Resort in Osoyoos
Taste the wines of the South Okanagan Winery Association whilst mingling with the winemakers and grape growers who put their heart and soul into their product. Tickets are $200.00 per person and include a wine reception, a family style feast and a live auction. Call Oliver Twist Winery @250.485.0227 to purchase your tickets. will be in attendance.
Taste the Bench
April 21st, 2011 - 6:30 to 9:00pm @The Westin Bayshore Hotel
Taste the spring releases of 18 Naramata Bench wineries paired with tasty nibblies from top Vancouver restaurants. Tickets are $89 and can be purchased by calling 1-800-663-1900 or online through

Winery Dinners:
Nichol Vineyard Estate Winery
March 23rd, 2011 @Tapenade Bistro - 3711 Bayview Street in Richmond
Enjoy fabulous food and the exciting wines of Nichol Vineyard from the Naramata Bench. Tickets are $99 including tax and gratuity. Call the restaurant at 604 275 5188 to book your table.

Averill Creek Vineyard
March 25th, 2011 @Averill Creek Vineyard - 6552 North Rd in Duncan
Enjoy an evening of food and a guided tasting of Averill Creek Vineyard wines to celebrate the release of Island Wineries of British Columbia. Tickets are only $65.00, and include a copy of the book. Visit for more information.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

March Meritage!

We at love sports and silly wordplay almost as much as we love wine. On the heels of last year's epic World Cup of Wine, we bring you March Meritage! in honor of the US collegiate hoops tournament beginning soon. Fill-out the bracket below and score along at home.

The wines in competition are all from BC and are Meritage by nature if not by name. These fine blends of Bordeaux varietals range from cellar-dwellers to super-sippers and everything in between. Price-point was capped at $55 to make the competition easier to follow at home. Results will be posted from March 15th through April 4th.

Round 1
Golden Bench Conference
Naramata Bench Conference
Black Sage Bench Conference
Wild Card Conference

Round 2
Rd2 - Elite Eight

Round 3
Rd3 - Semi Finals

Round 4
Championship: Fairview VS Black Hills

Golden Mile Bench Conference
(1) Fairview Cellars 2008 The Bear
(2) Casini Cellars 2008 Maximus
(3) Tinhorn Creek 2007 2Bench Red
(4) Hester Creek 2007 The Judge

Naramata Bench Conference
(1) Poplar Grove 2006 The Legacy
(2) La Frenz 2007 Grand Total Reserve
(3) Laughing Stock 2008 Blind Trust Red
(4) Kettle Valley 2006 Old Main Road

Black Sage Bench Conference
(1) Black Hills 2008 Nota Bene
(2) Burrowing Owl 2007 Meritage
(3) Nk'Mip 2007 Qwam Qwmt Meritage
Jackson-Triggs 2006 Prop-Res Meritage

Wild Card Conference

(1) Mission Hill 2007 Compendium
Osoyoos Larose 2007 Petales d'Osoyoos
Stag's Hollow 2007 Heritage Block
(4) Blackwood Lane 2008 Vicuna Roja

 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2011

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Hester Creek's New Look

The origins of Hester Creek Estate Winery date back to 1968 with the first planting of Trebbiano grapes in their home vineyard in the Southern region of Okanagan Valley were made amidst the absence of a strong winemaking industry. Today, more than 40 years later, the industry has grown and much has changed, including ownership, new plantings of popular Bordeaux varietals, a modern production facility and a Mediterranian-styled Villa where guests can enjoy the vineyard lifestyle in the lap of luxury. Some of the original Trebbiano vines remain, producing one of their signature wines, but like all successful businesses, Hester Creek has embraced change and have recently announced the launch of a re-branding effort which updates the look and feel of its labeling.

Gone is the inconsistent branding of the past which offered little connection between the winery's two ranges of Classic and Reserve wines. Personally, I always liked the simple blue label of the reserve wines, but there was no continuity to the rest of the product line.

The new labels are modern, attractive and most importantly, display a consistency across the portfolio that was sorely lacking in the old labels. This attention to detail is happily reflected in the new releases under the direction of winemaker Robert Summers who joined the winery in 2006 and who has been working to upgrade and modernize its equipment.

New Releases include:

2009 Pinot Blanc - $15.99
The hot 2009 growing season produced amble sugar in the grapes which for this Pinot Blanc has been mostly fermented, leaving only a touch of residual sugar and loads of juicy, citrus fruit flavours.
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2009 Semillon-Chardonnay - $15.99
Folks looking for an off-dry white that offers decent complexity and pairs well with rich food need look no further.
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2008 Reserve Cabernet Franc - $25.99
Hester Creek consistently produce one of the Provinces top Cabernet Franc each year and the 2008 vintage is no exception.
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2007 The Judge - $45
Hester Creek's first foray into the land of premium Meritage wines results in a well made and easy drinking blend of Bordeaux varietals.
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 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2011