Sunday, May 25, 2014

Best of BC: Red Blends

The red blends of BC take many forms. Some wineries stick to traditional Bordeaux-style (Meritage) combinations of the Cabernets and Merlot while other producers are experimenting with Syrah-based blends to the benefit of us all. Whichever way you like it, there are some quality red blends available today in BC.

Updated: 5-25-14

$20 and below:

Cellar Hand 2011 Punch Down Red - $20
This blend of 45% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Syrah and 11% Cabernet Franc offers sweet aromas of ripe cherry, spicy plum and mixed-berry fruit with Christmas sugar cookie and light oak notes rounding out the pleasant nose.
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$30 and below:

Bench 1775 Winery 2011 Cabernet Merlot - $23
This youthful, purple-ruby hued blend of 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon is a mouth-watering, yet, easy-drinking, food-enhancing wine that makes a near perfect companion to traditional, oven-roasted pizza. Where to buy: Direct from winery and VQA stores
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SpierHead Winery 2011 Pursuit - $24
SpierHead's Pursuit succeeds as a tasty, well-balanced, drink-now, Bordeaux-inspired blend of 48% Merlot, 42% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Cabernet Franc. Delivering a consistent and pleasing, easy-drinking medley of juicy, dark fruit, meaty, menthol smoke and charred oak aromas and flavours through to a dark chocolate and light spice-infused finish. 'Medium'... everything. Where to buy: Direct from the winery and VQA stores
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JoieFarm 2011 PTG - $24
Imagine a combination of cherry, raspberry, plum and cranberry fruit heated on a stove top with loads of spice and vanilla, then mix-in elements of the forest, bright acidity and savoury notes like oak and dried herbs and you have the 2011 PTG. Where to buy: Direct from winery and VQA stores.
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Stag's Hollow Winery 2011 Heritage Block - $25
The 2011 edition sees 56% Merlot (smoky, mixed berry fruit) and 37% Cabernet Franc (providing the lovely floral and perfumed aromas) supported by 7% Cabernet Sauvignon aged in American and French oak barrels for 18 months. The resulting wine is both fruity and serious with a smooth, sultry textured mid-palate and a long, mouth-watering finish with lingering spice and blackberry flavours. Where to buy: BCLDB stores and direct from winery.
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Fairview Cellars 2011 Two Hoots - $25
Despite its middleweight make-up, this wine packs a flavourful punch offering cassis, pomegranate, boysenberry, cran-apple and blackberry on the fragrant nose and fluid, smoky palate. Light tannins and vibrant acidity make this blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot assessable early, though, another 6-9 months of bottle age should do nicely. Where to buy: Direct from winery and select VQA stores
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River Stone Estate Winery 2011 Corner Stone - $28.50
blend of 53% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, 16% Cabernet Sauvignon and 11% Malbec which opens with lovely, deep aromas of blueberry, blackberry and cherry fruit with light, smoky, charred-oak notes and hints of dried herbs on the nose. Where to buy: Direct from winery
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Fairview Cellars 2011 Mad Cap Red - $29
Fairview's answer to a Merlot-driven blend with Cab Sauv and Cab Franc contributing complexity and added tannin to a fruit-forward, yet, "serious" red wine offering concentrated blackberry, boysenberry, vanilla bean, light mint and cedar aromas. Where to buy: Direct from winery and private wine stores
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Howling Bluff Estate Winery 2010 Summa Quies Vineyard Sin Cera - $29
A blend of all five Bordeaux varietals and aged in French oak for 18 months, the Sin Cera is an irresistible femme fatale that jumps out of the glass with potent, yet graceful, feminine aromas of baked cherry and blackberry fruit, plum preserve, cooking spice, sweet licorice, vanilla, toasted oak and holds your attention through to the equally seductive, fine tannin and similarly flavoured palate. Where to buy: Direct from winery and VQA stores.
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Fort Berens Estate Winery 2011 Meritage - $29
Grapes from both the Fraser Canyon home vineyard and from the famed Sundial vineyard along the Black Sage Bench were sourced for this year's blend of 47% Merlot, 34% Cabernet Sauvignon and 19% Cabernet Franc which delivers warm, mixed-berry, plum, crushed violet and mineral aromas enveloped by complimentary oak and light spice notes.  Where to buy: Direct from winery and VQA stores.
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$40 and below:

Tinhorn Creek Vineyards 2010 Oldfield Series 2Bench Red - $30
Signature sweet tobacco and dark blackberry aromas are complimented nicely by ample toasted oak and spicy vanilla notes on the nose of this consistently excellent Meritage blend from Oliver's Tinhorn Creek VineyardsWhere to buy: Direct from winery.
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Perseus Winery 2010 Select Lots Invictus - $33
Concentrated and dense, the Invictus, Perseus Winery's take on a Meritage blend of 56% Merlot, 29% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9 % Petit Verdot, 4% Cabernet Franc and 2% Malbec, is rich in dark fruit aromas like cassis and blackberry with menthol, vanilla and pipe tobacco notes adding complexity. Where to buy: Direct from the winery.
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Church and State Wines 2009 Coyote Bowl Series Meritage - $35
Church and State's Meritage follows the Left Bank recipe of a Cabernet Sauvignon-leading blend with Merlot and Cabernet Franc adding backbone and approachable fruit to the otherwise, smoke-infused nose and palate where French-oak influence is prominent and appealing. Where to buy: Direct from the winery and VQA stores.
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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Fairview Cellars' 2009 Cabernets: A Retrospective

Not all vintages are created equally. Some are harsh and take clever winemaking techniques and hard vineyard decisions to counter Mother Nature's indifference. Others are relatively easy and favour minimal intervention, producing authentic wines that speak to their origin. Once in a while the Okanagan Valley is blessed with the potential for a great vintage which often comes down to the unique combination of vineyard site, variety and producer. 2009 was such a vintage for Fairview Cellars and it is the Oliver winery's Cabernet Sauvignon wines which warrant a retrospective, 5 years later.

For the 2009 vintage, Fairview Cellars released 3 bottlings of 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Each unique and noteworthy, offering exceptional, cool-climate examples of the variety. All three are ageing beautifully and although all three are sold out at the winery, look for future library releases via the Fairview Cellars wine shop.

Premier Series Cabernet Sauvignon - 91-93pts
Produced from estate grown fruit on the 6 acre vineyard perched above the 1st fairway of the Fairview Mountain Golf Course. Part of the, yet unofficial, Golden Mile sub-appellation, the vineyard enjoys an advantageous Southern-ish exposure and a gentle, sloped aspect to the Sun which allows the site to ripen Cabernet Sauvignon, even in non-perfect growing conditions.

The hotter than average vintage ripened the thick skinned grapes perfectly creating a dense, powerful and layered cool-climate Cabernet Sauvignon bursting with dark blue fruits and savoury black licorice on the seductive nose and intense palate. 18 months of French oak contact has left its mark and the wine entered the bottle needing more time to meld and mellow yet the refinement is there and hints of future development dance around on the textured palate. A touch of spice and cassis puree lingers on the long, mouth-watering finish.
Full Review

Premier Series Iconoclast - Not yet rated
Each year worthy of the extra attention, Fairview Cellars sets aside their four best barrels of Cabernet Sauvignon from the estate vineyard for an extended elevage to create a true reserve Cabernet Sauvignon called the IconoclastBC Cabernet Sauvignon are rarely so ripe and complex. This 2009 edition of the Fairview Cellars release displays the unique regional balance of dense, full-bodied blue fruit and savoury minerality without the jammy, sticky fruit notes of warmer-climate areas. This wine is a beast and is still much too youthful to fully appreciate the dense fruit and powerful tannins. Save yours until 2015 or beyond.

The Wrath - 92-94pts
This wine was awarded our Icon Wine of the Year for 2011. A single vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon hailing from a Golden Mile Bench property separate from the Fairview Cellars home vineyard. Intense, brooding and fantastically complex, this wonderful wine offers loads of dark fruit and French oak at the core of its flavour profile. Big tannins, big mouth feel, big nose, big presence... big everything! Yet, amazingly the wine remains refined and very smooth. Well balanced and beautifully long.

The name is a nod to "The Grapes of Wrath" and the hardship it suggests in getting the new vineyard site to the point where it would produce quality fruit (or any fruit at all for that matter). It could also refer to the wrath of God due to the seemingly spiteful nature of Bill's run of bad-luck with the site (feasting dear and wrathful hail). 2009 produced the first serviceable crop from the site and the timing couldn't have been better. The combination of the hot season and the vineyard site has produced the ripest Cabernet Sauvignon I have ever tasted in BC. 
Full Review

 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2014

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Try This, Cellar That - BC Gewurztraminer

This week we showcase BC Gewurztraminer:

Try This...
See Ya Later Ranch 2013 Gewurztraminer - $16
Playful nose and ripe, juicy, off-dry palate, balanced nicely with crab apple acidity. Lychee and white peach aromas and flavours dominate while apple cider and mineral notes add complexity. Enjoy this wine in the year it was produced.
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Cellar That...
JoieFarm 2011 "En Famille" Reserve Gewurztraminer - $28
Though it draws its inspiration from Grand Cru Alsatian examples, this is a classic BC Gewurztraminer with excellent balance and attention to detail from the refined floral medley and seductive tropical fruit on the nose to the lip-smacking, off-dry palate full of ripe lychee fruit and generous spice that lingers on the long, long finish. This single vineyard Gewurztraminer should improve further after another 1-2 years in your cellar - ageable Goo!
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 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2014

Friday, May 9, 2014

Try This, Cellar That - Southern Rhone

This week we showcase the Southern Rhone:

Try This...
Perrin et Fils 2009 Vinsobres "Les Cornuds" - $21-24
This is a well made Côtes du Rhône Village blend of 50% Syrah and 50% Grenache from the town of Vinsobres which yielded subtle notes of dark fruit and cool rocks on the reserved nose and then surprised with a massive concentration of plum, sour cherry, pepper, clove and oak characters on the mouth watering palate. With 5 years of age, this beauty is ready to go now. Or source a newer vintage if available.
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Cellar That...
Château de Beaucastel 2011 Chateauneuf-du-Pape - $92
Perhaps lacking in the power department when compared to the opulent and dense 2010, the 2011 thrives on subtle layers ofsweet red and dark fruit, dry rock, fragrant flowers, warm garrique and smooth tobacco aromas and flavours. Classic, quietly intense and long with ultra-fine tannins and an elegant character. Drink 2016-2030.
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 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2014

Thursday, May 8, 2014

BC Wine Deal: May 8th, 2014

The following VQA wines have been reduced in price at your local participating VQA and BCLDB stores.

Ancient Hill Gewurztraminer was $18.90 is now $15.99
Arrowleaf Pinot Gris was $17.95 
is now 16.95
Bench 1775 Chardonnay was $18.90 
is now $16.90
Bonitas Merlot Artist was $33.95 
is now $29.95
Bonitas Pinot Noir was $25.00 
is now $22.95
Calona Artist Series Sovereign Opal was $12.99 
is now $11.99
Cassini Cellars Reserve Chardonnay was $28.85 
is now $24.90
Daydreamer Rose was $22.00 
is now $20.00
Desert Hills Cabernet Franc was $26.90 
is now $21.99
Gehringer Brothers Riesling was $14.99 
is now $12.99
Gray Monk Odyssey Meritage White was $23.99 
is now $18.99
Harper's Trail Gewurztraminer was $17.95 
is now $16.90
Hillside Merlot was $18.99 
is now $16.99
Inniskillin Pinot Blanc Reserve was $13.99 
is now $11.99
Inniskillin Pinot Noir Reserve was $18.99 
is now $16.99
Inniskillin Zinfandel was $25.99 
is now $22.99
Jackson Triggs Reserve Merlot was $14.99 
is now $11.99
Jackson Triggs Private Reserve Sauvignon Blanc was $13.99 
is now $10.99
Jackson Triggs Private Reserve Viognier was $13.99 
is now $10.99
La Stella Lastellina Rose was $20.85 
is now $19.00
Le Vieux Pin Petit Blanc was $19.85 
is now $17.00
Le Vieux Pin Vaila Rose was $25.00 
is now $22.00
Little Straw Tapestry was $17.90 
is now $16.90
Lixiere Gewurztraminer was $19.90 
is now $18.50
Mission Hill Five Vineyards Chardonnay was $14.99 
is now $13.99
Paradise Ranch Cabernet/Merlot Late Harvest 375ml was $18.90 
is now $16.90
Perseus Sauvignon Blanc was $17.99 
is now $16.90
Perseus Viognier was $21.99 
is now $15.40
Prospect Shiraz was $15.99 
is now $14.99
Red Rooster Bantam was $14.99 
is now $13.49
Red Rooster Gewurztraminer was $16.99 
is now $15.49
Red Rooster Pinot Blanc was $16.99 
is now $15.49
Sandhill Sauvignon Blanc was $18.95 
is now $17.99
Sumac Ridge Private Reserve Merlot was $15.99 
is now $13.99
Sumac Ridge Private Reserve Sauvignon Blanc was $13.99 
is now $11.99
Summerhill Organic Alive White Blend was $19.95 
is now $18.95
Therapy Vineyards Freudian Sip was $17.50 
is now $15.50
Therapy Vineyards Merlot was $22.99 
is now $20.99
Thornhaven Pinot Gris was $17.90 
is now $15.90
Tinhorn Creek Gewurztraminer was $18.49 
is now $16.99
Tinhorn Creek Oldfield Merlot was $29.99 
is now $26.99
Tinhorn Creek 2 Bench White Blend was $22.99 is now $20.99
Volcanic Hills Gewurztraminer was $18.90 
is now $17.90
Whistler Merlot Late Harvest was $16.90 
is now $14.90

Friday, May 2, 2014

Try This, Cellar That - BC Riesling

This week we showcase BC Riesling:

Try This...
Quails' Gate Estate Winery 2013 Dry Riesling - $17
Pale straw in colour, this Riesling from West Kelowna's iconic Quails' Gate Winery is crisp and vibrant delivering apple, pear, pinapple and citrus fruit aromas and flavours grounded by a strong backbone of stonefruit. The palate gets some body from 9g/l of residual sugar, yet, finishes dry and refreshing thanks to well-balanced grapefruit acidity. Enjoy this Riesling in its youth as a go-to Summer Sipper.
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Cellar That...
Stag's Hollow Winery 2013 Riesling - $20
This is a single vineyard Riesling sourced from the Osoyoos area which focuses on the juxtaposition of its sweet and acidic characters by way of contrasting ripe orchard and tart citrus fruit flavours and aromas. This Riesling has a great shot at ageing gracefully thanks to Botrytis affected fruit at harvest time. Look for nectarine-like aromas and flavours to appear over the next 3-4 years.
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- Liam Carrier ©copyright 2014

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Monthly Picks: May '14 - Church and State

For May's monthly picks we offer a showcase of recent Church and State releases. The Black Sage Bench-based winery produces 3 tiers of wines plus random offerings via a 2nd label called "Church Mouse". The new releases this Spring are mostly single varietal red wines from the 2011 vintage from their "Church and State Series" as well as the new vintage of their tasty single-vineyard Chardonnay. Also worth exploring is the still available 2009 Meritage from the winery's premium "Coyote Bowl Series".

To order these wines, order direct from the winery here (discounts are occasionally available) or search-out their wines at your local VQA and BCLDB stores.

Church and State Wines 2011 Merlot - $20
Quite an intense nose for a moderately priced BC Merlot with loads of blackberry and black currant puree aromas and some savoury notes like coffee grinds, spice  and cedar adding depth. The finish, although a tad bitter, is moderately long and offers the distinct taste of Christmas cake in all its spicy-candied fruit glory.
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Church and State Wines 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon - $25
Lots to like and pick-out on the nose of this Osoyoos-sourced Caberner Sauvignon with aromas of blackberry, cola, mint, black raspberry and light French oak. Pair with a chocolate plate after a savoury dinner to finish off the night in style.
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Church and State Wines 2011 Cabernet Franc - $25
After 2 hrs of decanting, this youthful Cabernet Franc will begin to reveal sweetened pot-pourri and crushed fresh flower notes which float delicately above the blueberry, black cherry and vanilla aromas.
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Church and State Wines 2012 Gravelbourg Chardonnay - $27
An exploration of texture and of the masculine qualities of the Burgundian grape, with the former enhanced from extended lees contact during élevage, adding fullness to the mouth feel and imparting brioche aromas and flavours.
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Church and State Wines 2009 Coyote Bowl Series Meritage - $35
nother excellent Bordeaux-inspired blend from the Southern Okanagan's hot 2009 vintage. At 5 years of age, the dusty tannins are beginning to mellow and round, yet, the acid and dark fruit core remains youthful and vibrant. Will easily hold for another 5-6 years with proper cellaring, though, its peak will come sooner.
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 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2014