Thursday, December 13, 2018

Top 15 Icon Wines of the Year

For 2018 we're returning to old format of the best of the best for our wines of the year awards. Here we are using 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 Rated Wines of 2018 list on All Top 15 Icon Wines of the Year were released within the calendar year in the BC market. Reviews based on barrel samples were excluded.

#1 - Icon Wine of the Year

Black Hills Estate Winery 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon - $100
Both sensual and powerful on the nose with deep, minty dark chocolate, pure cassis liqueur, cordial cherry and nutmeg aromas. The ultra fine tannin palate is equally intense and layered with similar flavours of menthol, cocoa, cassis, kirsch and spice. 
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#2 - Bodegas Catena 2015 Catena Alta Chardonnay - $39
Produced from select lots from two of Catena's high altitude vineyards with a combination of gravelly and limestone soils. This is an enchanting and elegant Chardonnay with gentle oak influence throughout the gorgeous, easy-to-love nose of vanilla cream, apple, melon and stonefruit aromas and the mango, mineral and grapefruit flavoured, slightly off-dry palate. 
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#3 - Cassini Cellars 2015 Cabernet Franc - $40
Winemaker and proprietor Adrian Cassini has a knack for producing ripe, elegant Cabernet Franc, year-to-year. The 2015 is no exception, though, in truth, it is quite exceptional. It is both true to the variety with an enchanting combination of savoury-floral and blue fruit aromas and flavours and confidently delivers the signature menthol/Eucalyptus notes of the house, or, rather, its essentialCassini-ness.
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#4 - Liquidity Wines 2016 Reserve Chardonnay - $52
Sourced from a single block of the winery's Okanagan Falls home vineyard from 22 year old vines planted exclusively to clone 76, this full-bodied, Tropical fruit upside-down cake inspired Chardonnay is sensual and tart at the same time. Flavoured similarly to its Estate cousin with layers of papaya, peach, baked pineapple, macadamia nuts, French vanilla, oak, minerals and a touch of lingering spice.
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#5 - Tinhorn Creek Vineyards 2015 Oldfield Reserve Cabernet Franc - $32
Another stellar vintage for Cabernet Franc, handled with precision and care by Tinhorn Creek who have helped elevate the prestige of the less-planted Cab in the Okanagan Valley. This reserve Franc spends a year in oak before being blended with 15% Merlot sourced from the same Diamond Back Vineyard along the Black Sage Bench, then it's returned to barrel for another 6 months prior to bottling. 
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#6 - Cassini Cellars 2016 The Aristocrat - $40
Another stellar vintage of the complex, long-lasting, single vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon known as The Aristocrat. Balanced and ripe, the 2016 shows excellent typicity for the label with telltale notes of mint and Fig Newton nicely integrated into the dark fruit and oak influence layers on the masculine, invigorating nose and the full-bodied, beautifully structured palate.
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#7 - Bodegas Catena 2015 Catena Alta Cabernet Sauvignon - $49
A blend of 95% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Cabernet Franc sourced from 3 of the winery's high elevation vineyards in different sub-regions of Mendoza: each lot selected for what it can bring out in the finished wine. In terms of relatability, think the concentration of California (sans the over-extraction) meets the finesse of the Haut-Médoc.
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#8 - JoieFarm 2016 "En Famille" Reserve Pinot Noir - $35
An intense Pinot Noir, in terms of complexity and power on the spiced-raspberry nose and the smoked, dark chocolate'n'cherry palate, not in terms of over-reduction or weight. The finish is long and elegant with savoury oak and a touch of forest floor notes making this beauty a great match for game or lean meats like Venison.
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#9 - Black Hills Estate Winery 2016 Nota Bene - $60
Ready earlier than recent releases, this beautiful, fruit-forward wine boasts layers of dark fruit, licorice, sage, incense, vanilla, mocha, mint, toasted oak and earthiness on the developing bouquet and the well-integrated, berry-sweetened, long-lasting palate. Further development is coming, but you can dive into this complex wine this year and over the following decade.
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#10 - Cassini Cellars 2015 Malbec - $40
French oak influence is well integrated, supporting the plumy-blackberry scented nose and the grippy,-tannin and licorice-menthol kissed palate. Savoury spice and pipe tobacco add depth on the long finish. A scrumptious red to be sure.
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#11 - Quails' Gate Estate Winery 2016 Stewart Family Reserve Chardonnay - $40
The luscious Quails' Gate Stewart Family Reserve Chardonnay is more discerning with its vineyard block selection and spends more time in new/newish French oak during fermentation and elevage compared to its leaner, "Estate" cousin (a blend of multiple blocks). Rich in tone and viscosity, yet balanced with a fine vein of citrus acidity and an echo of minerality throughout which contrasts the ripe, melon, Tropical and orchard fruit beautifully.
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#12 - Winemaker's Cut 2017 Sauvignon Blanc - $25
An excellent, elegant, yet, bracing (in a happy, mouth-watering way) Sauvignon Blanc from a single-vineyard in Oliver with a pleasantly pungent and citrusy nose and a crisp, off-dry palate of apple-pear-lemon flavours that finishes long and dry with a touch of lingering mineral and spice.
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#13 - Quails' Gate Estate Winery 2016 Stewart Family Reserve Pinot Noir - $40
A rounded and lush, New World Pinot Noir in the vein of Central Coast California, yet, clean and focused with only a trace of jammy berry fruit on the otherwise, elegant and long, dry palate. Fine tannins and raspberry acidity add texture and depth, supporting the dark chocolate-covered cherry cream truffle and vanilla-oak flavours. A touch of spice and candied, cherry skins linger on the finish.
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#14 - Rust Wine Co. 2014 Zinfandel - $35
Zinfandel doesn't always work in BC, the vintage conditions and handling of the variety in the vineyard have to be just right, but when it does work, its memorable and worth seeking out, like this full-throttle 2014 edition from Rust Wine Co. Big and bold, despite its medium body and tannin structure, with intense, exotic spice, sweet pipe tobacco and red fruit aromas and flavours on the spill-out-of-the-glass nose and the mouth-watering palate. Not for the faint of heart (though, ready to go now).
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#15 - Chateau Des Charmes 2016 Vidal Icewine - $28
Imagine the aromas and flavours of honey-drenched, canned apricots and melons and you'll be ready to sip this tasty Vidal ice wine from Niagara's Chateau Des Charmes. Unctuous, sweet and long, with a touch of citrus acidity mid-palate to add some balance to the custard-y texture.
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 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2018 

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