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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Cellar Besllum 2008 Montsant - $20
This offering, a blend of equal parts Carignan and Garnache, has plenty of character on the layered nose and smooth palate. Smoke, cured meats, strawberry, cranberry and leather make up an eclectic mix of aromas for the developed bouquet.
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Quails' Gate Estate Winery 2009 Stewart Family Reserve Pinot Noir - $45
This is an intense and fairly full-bodied Pinot Noir with concentrated cherry and raspberry aromas on the pleasant, vibrant nose.
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La Frenz Winery 2011 Sauvignon Blanc - $22
Year-in, year-out the La Frenz Sauvignon Blanc is a top medal contender in every competition it enters. The 2011 release may be the winery's best yet with a rich offering of citrus and tropical fruit flavours and aromas.
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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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Eagle Bluff Estate 2010 Crooked Post Pinot Noir - $30
Produced by Fairview Cellars, not as a "second label" or inferior brand, but rather with a singular identify, separate from Fairview which is best known for big red blends and crisp Sauvignon Blanc.  No juice was bled off from the must to intensify the colour, resulting in a lighter Pinot in appearance, but one that delivers a full spectrum of flavours ranging from forest floor to juicy plum and raspberry fruit.
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Stag's Hollow Winery 2010 Renaissance Pinot Noir - $35
The Renaissance Pinot Noir is produced from 100% Estate Grown fruit from the winery's home vineyard in Okanagan Falls. Both the nose and palate transition nicely from an intense red fruit intro through to a more reflective warm earth finish. Complex, long and very tasty.
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Painted Rock Estate Winery 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon - $40
The youthful palate is not quite as complex as the nose with a leaner texture than the ultra-ripe 2009 version, yet, the balance, length and depth remain well executed and an absolute pleasure to enjoy.
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Fort Berens Estate Winery 2010 White Gold - $25
Fort Berens set-out to make a premium Chardonnay in 2010 with the excellent fruit they were able to source from the Black Sage Bench and succeeded admirably. One of only 2 wines to make both this list and the Values Wines list.
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JoieFarm 2011 A Noble Blend - $24
The final blend is 38% Riesling, 33% Gewurztraminer, 14% Pinot Blanc, 11% Pinot Auxerrois and 4% Schoenberger, yet the key ingredient is the balance of acid to residual sugar that JoieFarm pulls-off consistently each year no matter which varieties are used or from where they are sourced.
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River Stone Estate Winery 2010 Cabernet Franc - $26
The 2010 delivers a lovely, aromatic and spicy nose of berry fruits, violets, spice box, warm rocks and light oak aromas. Followed by an Old World-leaning, masculine palate rich with mineral and dark berry flavours supported by fine, round tannins.
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Fairview Cellars 2011 Sauvignon Blanc - $20
A multi-vineyard approach is employed for this Sauvignon Blanc which layers the unique characteristics of each vineyard creating a final product more complex than its individual parts.
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Intrigue Wines 2011 Focus Riesling - $20
The nose is subtle, but has depth with layers of pear, roasted lemon and lees. This is followed by an off-dry palate with measured acidity and a long, long, mouth-watering finish.
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Tinhorn Creek Vineyards 2008 Oldfield Series Pinot Noir - $30
This is an excellent Pinot Noir with a classic BC combination of earthy notes with red fruit and plum characters that emphasizes drinkability and food pairing.
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Cassini Cellars 2010 Quattro - $29
The Quattro makes a nice companion piece to Cassini's Cabernet Sauvignon heavy Maximus blend; consider it a take on a Right Bank, Merlot leading blend with a splash of Syrah for added colour, spice and tannin.
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Montaigne 2011 Old Vines Chardonnay - $45
Produced from single-vineyard sourced fruit from an Osoyoos vineyard by one of the partners in The Alto Wine Group custom crush facility in Okanagan Falls. This micro-label Chardonnay will likely show-up on restaurant wine lists around BC who are always seeking something unique and food friendly - this wine checks both boxes.
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 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2012

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