Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Top 25 Wines of 2012

The format for our Top 25 list uses a subjective approach taking into account availability, collectability and relevance in the world of wine. For simply the highest rated wines of the year please visit our Top 25 Rated Wines of 2012 list on All wines were released within the calendar year and reviews based on barrel samples were excluded.

#1 Icon Wine of the Year
Painted Rock Estate Winery 2011 Chardonnay - $30
This beautiful, bar-setting Chardonnay effortlessly combines the inherent crispness and pure fruit expression of an un-oaked example with the elegant texture and rich body derived from 100% new French Oak.

Tinhorn Creek Vineyards 2009 Oldfield Series 2Bench Red - $30
Few BC Meritage or Bordeaux "inspired" wines can accurately capture the true essence of Bordeaux and its sublime combination of terroir and fruit components. Many don't try, focusing instead on being un-apologetically New World, and we applaud that. However, the 2009 2Bench Red, whether by design or divine intervention, comes pretty darn close to a modern Bordeaux beauty and, that too, is worth round of applause.
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JoieFarm 2011 Pinot Blanc - $23
Sadly, not a wine that JoieFarm will release every vintage with no 2012 yet planned. Pinot Blanc has long had the potential to be a signature white variety for the Okanagan Valley yet only a handful of producers produce a single-varietal release. This wine is the new benchmark for the varietal in BC.
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Paul Hobbs Winery 2009 Beckstoffer Dr. Crane Vineyard - $180
Dense, complex and focused to the nth degree, this 100% Cabernet Sauvignon single vineyard release nears perfection. A special occasion wine for the celebration you're expecting sometime in 2014 when this wine will start to come into its own.
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Viña Montes 2007 Montes Folly - $87
This wine, produced from 17-18 year old vines, is the champion of all South American Syrah and the wine to gauge all challengers against. Aged in French oak for 18 months with a further 12 months+ of bottle aging prior to release.
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LaStella 2009 La Sophia - $75
Places down the Top 25 list a bit due to its lack of availability. If you managed to find a bottle, cherish it. Complex, captivating and feminine this beautiful Cabernet should last and evolve over a decade yet is tasting very well today.
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Paul Hobbs Winery 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon - $100
Cabernet Sauvignon with great concentration and refinement produced from fruit sourced from multiple AVAs in Napa Valley. 2% Petite Verdot added to the blend adds a touch of spice to the dense blackberry and cassis fruit flavours.
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JoieFarm 2010 Reserve Chardonnay - $30
A regular on our Top 25 list, the 2010 is another stellar vintage of Chardonnay from JoieFarm who each year release an amazingly consistent reserve-tier, robust, age-worthy wine, no matter what the growing season seems to throw their way.
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LaStella 2009 Maestoso - $100
The Maestoso is a massive wine that seeks to knock your socks off with its unapologetic, Old World, heavy tannins and bone-dry texture.
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Burrowing Owl Estate Winery 2009 Cabernet Franc - $33
The always appreciated Franc Funk is back in the 2009 vintage release of Burrowing Owl's single varietal release. The funk adds complexity and charm to the already very pleasing nose of super ripe mixed berries and licorice - a nose that I could sniff all day long.
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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

BC Wine Deal: December 4th, 2012

The following wines have been marked down at your local BC VQA and participating BCLDB stores.

Andrew Peller Cabernet/Merlot was $14.99 is now $13.99
Andrew Peller Merlot was $14.99 is now $13.99
Fork in the Road White was $17.99 is now $16.99
Inniskillin Pinot Noir Reserve was $18.99 is now $17.49
Inniskillin Chenin Blanc was $16.99 is now $15.49
Jackson Triggs Chardonnay Private Reserve was $12.99 is now $11.49
Jackson Triggs Merlot Black Series was $14.99 is now $13.49
Jackson Triggs Sauvignon Blanc Black Series was $13.99 is now $12.49
Jackson Triggs Viognier Silver Series was $13.99 is now $12.49
Kalala Cuvee Blanc was $11.95 is now $8.40
Open Cabernet/Merlot was $14.99 is now $13.49
Open Merlot was $14.99 is now $13.49
Open Sauvignon Blanc was $14.99 is now $13.49
Prospect Fats Johnson Pinot Noir was $16.99 is now $15.99
Prospect Chardonnay was $12.99 is now $11.99
Prospect Merlot/Cabernet was $14.99 is now $13.99
Prospect Regatta Red was $14.99 is now $13.99
Rigamarole White was $14.99 is now $13.99
Quails'Gate Merlot was $24.99 is now $22.99
See Ya Later Brut was $22.99 is now $20.99
See Ya Later Pinot Noir was $22.00 is now $20.00
Sumac Ridge Cabernet/Merlot was $14.99 is now $12.99
Sumac Ridge Private Reserve Gewurztraminer was $14.99 is now $12.99
Sumac Ridge Stellar's Jay Brut was $24.99 is now $22.99
The View Gewurztraminer was $16.98 is now $13.90

Monday, December 3, 2012

2012 Icon Wine of the Year

For the first time, we've elevated a white wine to be our Icon Wine of the Year as presented to the "best" wine released in the calendar year of 2012 that combines the following virtues: price, quality, pedigree, collectability, longevity and availability to the wine consuming public in Canada. The winner for 2012 is:

Painted Rock Estate Winery 2011 Chardonnay
100% Chardonnay
$30 - 500 cases - 14.3%
93pts - Icon Score

Congratulations to our runner-ups for this year's Icon Wine of the Year award: both from BC, the elegant Tinhorn Creek 2009 Oldfield Series 2Bench Red and the superb JoieFarm 2011 Pinot Blanc. All three wines are available direct from the wineries for $30 and under proving that great wine does not always have to come with a lofty price tag.

The Wine
This beautiful, bar-setting Chardonnay effortlessly combines the inherent crispness and pure fruit expression of an un-oaked example with the elegant texture and rich body derived from 100% new French Oak. Intense and concentrated with lush, tropical, melon and stonefruit characters supported by a vibrant backbone of citrus acidity and a long, long, balanced finish of tangy, green apple, tangerine and brioche flavours.

Light caramel, vanilla spice and oak notes add complexity and depth to the sublime palate which avoids the perils of over-oaked, butter-bomb Chardonnay by limiting the secondary malolactic fermentation to only 20% of the barrels used in the final blend and by integrating the oak influence so completely, you barely know it's there.

The Story
This sublime balance was achieved with an elaborate harvesting plan which saw the single-vineyard fruit picked on three separate dates each targeting the particular characteristics of individual vines. The three lots remained apart through vinification and a further 5 months in barrel prior to blending allowing the winemaking team to compile the finished wine from the unique attributes of each component. A time-consuming effort but one that has paid dividends for Painted Rock who have implementing the technique in subsequent vintages and taking it even further by introducing a vine-by-vine coding system for pruning.

In 2011, Painted Rock was narrowly beaten out by Fairview Cellars for that year's top honors for their outstanding 2009 red blend. This year we couldn't overlook their contribution to BC wine by raising the bar on single-vineyard Chardonnay production in the province; creating a product delightfully complex and supremely balanced - a true icon wine.
 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2012

Also see:
2011 Icon Wine of the Year
2010 Icon Wine of the Year
2009 Icon Wine of the Year

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Monthly Picks: December 2012

"Which wine should I take to Christmas dinner?" "What pairs with turkey or ham?" You may find yourself asking these questions whether you celebrate Christmas on the 24th or 25th or whether you're hosting a similarly festive event during the holiday season. Below are suggestions to help you answer these questions with Canadian wine selections.

Paired with...

...pre-dinner snacks
Something lively and crisp is needed here to wake-up those taste-buds and get them ready for the forthcoming dinnerpolooza.

Fairview Cellars 2011 Sauvignon Blanc - $20
As total production for this refreshing and crisp wine jumps from 190 cases in 2010 to 600 in 2011, you should have an easier time sourcing it at VQA and private wine stores.
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La Frenz Winery 2011 Sauvignon Blanc - $22
The 2011 release may be the winery's best yet with a rich offering of citrus and tropical fruit flavours and aromas. The balance of residual sugar-to-rich fruit-to-crisp acidity is nearly perfect and makes for a lovely, mouth-watering mouth feel.
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...turkey (white meat)
For the white meat, go for a barrel fermented, single-varietal or blended white wine. Something with character, but not too much.

Road 13 Vineyards 2010 Stemwinder - $15
A blend of 66% Chardonnay, 26% Sauvignon Blanc and 8% Chardonnay Musqué, this pale gold hued wine offers a lovely bouquet of pears, apples, honeydew melon, vanilla and light citrus aromas.
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Stag's Hollow Winery 2011 Renaissance Sauvignon Blanc - $25
100% barrel fermentation in new oak and active lees contact. Despite this, the wine never feels heavy or overdone like many-a-Fumé Blanc from California, while the lees contact adds complexity in the form of sweet brioche notes on the nose and texture on the palate.
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...turkey (dark meat)
I love Gamay Noir with the dark turkey meat. A subtle and medium-bodied Pinot Noir is a good substitute.

Generation Seven Wines 2012 Nouveau - $12
Produced as an ode to Beaujolais Nouveau, this charming Gamay Noir is immediately engaging when you get your first sniff of the vibrant raspberry jam and maraschino cherry aromas on the playful nose.
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SpierHead Winery 2010 Pinot Noir - $18
Nice sweet cherry notes on the nose blend nicely with light French oak aromas and a hint of vanilla. The dry palate offers similar flavours and a nice vein of acidity.
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For the Christmas-Ham folks out there I suggest a slightly off-dry white with orchard fruit flavours to match the apple/honey glaze.

Little Straw Vineyards 2011 Tapestry - $17
Apple, pear, pineapple, papaya and grapefruit flavours are supported by a nice balance between the full-ish texture produced from 17 g/l of residual sugar and the proportionate citrus acid that leaves a tangy finish with hints of mineral and spice notes.
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JoieFarm 2011 A Noble Blend - $24
For the second year in a row the blend for the JoieFarm flagship wine remains a Riesling-Gewurztraminer leading concoction of exotic fruit characters and well-balanced, refreshing acidity.
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...roast beef
For the roast-lovers I recommend making a splash and introducing your family and friends to the joys of BC Cabernet Franc.

Fort Berens Estate Winery 2010 Cabernet Franc - $25
Dense and intriguing on the dark berry nose enhanced with sage, menthol, vanilla bean, oak spice and light anise aromas.
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River Stone Estate Winery 2010 Cabernet Franc - $26
An Old World-leaning, masculine palate rich with mineral and dark berry flavours supported by fine, round tannins. Good acidity balances the mouth feel and completes the mouth-watering finish which lingers with peppy cardamon and coffee grind notes.
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Generally, any sweet wine is considered a dessert wine where the key pairing rule is that the wine should be sweeter than the pudding its being served with.

Tinhorn Creek Vineyards 2011 Oldfield Series Kerner Icewine - $30 (200ml)
It's the juxtaposition of the sugary, fruit puree syrup and mouth-watering acid that makes for the uniquely icewine experience: an intense, lively texture, worth the price of admission.
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Cassini Cellars 2010 Moscato - $24 (375ml)
This charming, honeydew and spicy peach flavoured wine opens with a lovely nose of pecans, tangerines and violets and will compliment your favourite nutty pie or crème brûlée rather than compete with it.
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 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2012