Trying to think of an exceptional quality wine to buy for someone in your family or a special friend? I have a few suggestions from the wines that I tasted over this past year. These wines cover all regions of the world, and have different price points. There should be something for everyone to love. 16 white and sparkling wines, and 31 red wines for your selection. I’ve classified the wines into White and Red wines, then Old World and New World to help you in your wine search. Enjoy!
White and Sparkling Wines
New World Wines
Wither Hills Sauvignon Blanc 2012, New Zealand ($19.99) – Quite a bit of asparagus on the nose. Higher acidity with asparagus and jalapeno pepper flavour up front followed by green bean. A complex wine.
Darioush Viognier, Napa Valley, California, 2013 – Nice honey and peach nose. Medium plus body, with a round, unctuous feel on the tongue. Light sweet spices, peaches and apricot flavours. Very nice.
Mt. Boucherie Semillon, 2011, BC (~$15.50) – This wine straight from the bottle has aromas of herbaceous, cut grass, citrus, lime ,and jalapeno pepper, which after a bit of air leads to stone fruits, in particular pears and peaches. The nose is quite aromatic. It is dry, with medium plus body and nice acidic prickle on your tongue. It does have a heavier mouth feel but overall feels light. It has a variety of fruit flavours, which are all balanced together. Citrus, grapefruit, pear, peach, followed by apple on the mid palate, and some nuttiness on the finish. The acidity in this wine grips you and pulls you in. The fruit flavours are quite delicate. There is also some minerality that I detected on the end. This is a very good wine; it is very exciting on the taste buds.
KWV Cathedral Cellar Sauvignon Blanc, 2012, South Africa ($16.99) – Ripe stone fruit and honey on the nose. Quite sophisticated. Medium body, round with medium acidity. I love the minerality in this wine. I get asparagus, stone fruit and honey on the palate. Mouthwatering finish with a bit of pepperiness. A classy wine!
Laborie Sauvignon Blanc, 2013, South Africa – Laborie is the name of a farm that KWV owns and produces wines from the grapes grown there. Nice asparagus and herbal aromas in the glass. Light body with green and asparagus flavours. Jalapeno pepper from mid-palate to finish. Minerality in the background. I swear I could taste limestone. Racy acidity on the finish. Yum.
Paul Hobbs Richard Dinner Chardonnay, 2012, California ($102.99) – I was told that 2012 was a perfect season for Chardonnay in California. This wine spent 11 months in French oak, 60% new barrels. While in barrel the went underwent malolactic fermentation, which converts the more sour malic acid into softer lactic acid. This wine was lemony green in colour. A more restrained, vanilla, toast and tropical fruit nose. Quite soft and round in the mouth, with flavours of tropical fruit, green peas and a hint of vanilla. There was also sweet spices that went from the mid-palate to the finish. An elegant wine. A wine with finesse and restraint to enjoy with a leisurely dinner.
Summerhill Organic Riesling, 2013, BC ($19.95) – Medium lemon in colour with a clean, youthful nose of citrus, honeydew melon, stone fruit and apples. With a very low alcohol content at 8.6%. this leaves a bit of residual sugar, and gives you a medium-dry wine. This wine has medium plus acidity which helps to balance out the extra sweetness. I really liked the flavours in this wine of green apple, pear and a hint of lime and honey. The apple and pear flavours in particular didn’t fade and stretched from first touching your lips till you swallowed. I also noted a bit of mineral backbone in this wine. It finishes off dry with green apple. You don’t notice the higher acidity till the finish, due to the medium sweetness of the wine. It was overall quite soft and round in your mouth and made a very pleasant wine to drink. A recommended wine for the summer.
Spierhead Pinot Gris, 2013, BC ($19.90) – I tried their 2012 last year and noted how much I enjoyed it, with it’s range of flavours from citrus to tropical fruit to apples. It won a Gold Medal at Okanagan Wine Festival – 2013 B.C. Wine Awards and other awards as well. Their 2013 was pale to medium lemon with a tint of green in the glass. On the nose I picked up Granny Smith and Red Delicious apples, together with melons and a hint of vanilla. With some airing, lemon and grapefruit aromas also became apparent. It’s dry with medium plus acidity, with an acidic prickle that dances on your tongue. Medium plus body, round mouth feel, some creamy lees, a hint of honey, and stone fruits, pears, lemons and Red Delicious apple flavours. Again with a bit of air, I also picked up lychee. Quite a mouthful of flavours. Mouth watering finish. This wine really tastes like fresh fruit to me. A very nice example of BC Pinot Gris.
Marisco Vineyards, The Kings Favour Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, NZ, 2013 (BC $19.99 SPEC) – Love the guava aroma in the glass. Starts off feeling quite full bodied in your mouth but then lightens up. Flavours start with stone fruit and gooseberry, then herbal notes on the mid palate, and spice to finish. Also enjoyed a mineral component to this wine. Highly recommended.
Pedroncelli Signature Selection Chardonnay, 2012, California ($17.95 SPEC) – This wine had a light stone fruit nose, with more stone fruit following on the palate. Round on the palate with a heavier mouth feel. Sweet spices along with the stone fruit flavours, and some pepperiness on the finish. A quality wine.
Old World Wines
Cave de Lugny Cremant de Bourgogne Cuvee Millesimee, 2010, France – A sparkling wine with light bready and citrus aromas. Dry, with small, fine bubbles. Citrus and minerality on the palate. Mouth watering finish. Very good.
Domaine Laroche Saint Martin Chablis, 2012, France (SPEC $29.99) – Chablis wine is made from Chardonnay grapes. This wine had light aromas of citrus and vanilla. Medium body, with higher acidity. Light citrus and vanilla, together with some flowers and minerality. An elegant wine.
Alves de Sousa Reserva Pessoal, 2005, Portugal – a blend of Malvasia Fina, Gouveio, and Viosinho. Deeper peach skin colour in the glass. Nice aromas of dried stone fruits and honey. Dry, low acidity, soft mouth feel. Dried stone fruits and spice on the palate. Balanced finesse.
Domaine Des Deux Arcs Chenin Blanc, 2012, France – Nice medium tropical fruit nose. Medium plus body; quite fruity, with apples, honey and sweet spices. Heavy mouth feel. One of my stars of the tasting.
Domaine Xavier Mourier Condrieu Domaine de Pierre Blanche – Resurgence, 2012, France – This wine is from the Condrieu region that uses the Viognier grape for white wines. This wine was very expressive with a Mandarin orange nose. Medium body and quite round in the mouth. Sweet spices and oranges on the palate. Another one of my favourites.
Nicholas Maillart Platine Brut Premier Cru, France – Champagne time! Light lees and citrus aromas in the glass. Light body and light creamy bubbles in your mouth. Light citrus flavour up front followed by red apples on the mid palate. Very good quality.
New World Wines
Siduri Keefer Ranch Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, 2012, California – Smoky raspberries and strawberries on the nose. Dry with high acidity and a mineral streak on the palate. Ripe red cherries and sour cherries, with a hint of vanilla. Long length with sweet spices.
Thomas George Estates Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, California, 2011 – Juicy raspberry nose. Soft with medium acidity. Ripe raspberries, light vanilla, and some pepperiness. Also picked up some nice minerality.
Hahn SLH Pinot Noir, 2012, California (Not Available in BC) – A blend of grapes from 3 vineyards in the Santa Lucia Highlands. Purple fruit with a hint of burnt rubber on the nose. Medium body, silky and mineral, with ripe blueberries, other berry fruits and nutmeg. Medium acidity with long length. A very elegant wine.
Lucienne “Lone Oak” Pinot Noir, 2011, California (BC $59 SPEC) – A single vineyard designate wine. Plum, raspberries, and a whiff of vegetal on the nose. Medium body, silky texture, with flowers, red cherries, red berries, sweet spices and light amount of vanilla. Also some minerality. Nice fruit. A very nice wine. I paired this wine with Joe Forte’s cioppino and it was a hit.
Renwood Winery Clarion Red Blend, 2011, California (BC $24.95) – Clarion is their flagship red blend. It is composed of 75% Zinfandel and 25% Syrah. This wine was almost solid ruby from the core to the rim. It has a youthful, medium plus intensity of aromas covering vanilla, cocoa, sweet spices, sweet, ripe black fruit, raspberries, and blueberries. I should also note, that upon opening the wine, there is also a wonderful cedar aroma, which with a bit of air evolves into nutmeg. The nose on this wine is very mesmerizing. I gave the wine 2 hrs of decanting time and the only changes were less intense aromas, and some mintiness. So I would not decant this wine. Open and enjoy it.
It is dry with medium acidity and medium plus body, and a silky mouth feel. It has medium tannins that get firmer toward the finish, giving you nice structure. Flavours of ripe raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, plums, vanilla and cloves fill your mouth. With decanting there was also some nutmeg and blackcurrant leaf, but it was quite subdued. This wine had a lingering finish with dark ripe fruits, sour cherries and cocoa. You can drink this wine now, and I think enjoy it for several years with aging in your cellar.
Kangarilla Road Shiraz, 2011, Australia (Specialty $24.99) – Very deep garnet coloured with sweet ripe plums, berries, and vanilla aromas. Medium body, with silky tannins that progressively get stronger in your mouth. The tannins for the Shiraz are more prominent than in the Cabernets. Ripe berry flavours. Wine gets peppery toward the finish and is complemented with minerality. A very nice wine.
Kaiken Ultra Cabernet Sauvignon, 2011, Argentina – The “Ultra” line comprises 3 full-bodied wines which could correspond to Montes’ “Alpha” series in Chile. The Cabernet comes from the 80 year old vines of Vistalba (80%) and the remaining grapes from the Arboles? region. This wine has a very concentrated nose with sweetness, ripe dark fruit, and vanilla. Full bodied, with ripe cassis and dark fruit flavours. Very peppery. Fine tannins. Some mouth watering acidity on the finish. I really liked this wine. Aurelio recommends that you have a slow oven roasted beef with herbs to go with this wine.
Kaiken Ultra Malbec, 2010, Argentina – Just noticing the year, this would be Aurelio Montes Jr’s first vintage in Argentina and first try at Malbec. The grapes come 100% from the Uco Valley, high altitude gives acidity, minerality, and spice. Dark, ripe candied cherries and dark, ripe sweet fruit on the nose. Full body, with purple fruit, and roses. It has spice, but it is not overpowering, shows up at the mid palate and disappears before the finish. Fine tannins, some minerality, and balanced acidity. Aurelio recommends this wine with a big bbq. The charring on the meat goes nicely with the Malbec.
Haywire Pinot Noir, 2012, BC – Medium minus translucent ruby from rim to the core. It has a very pretty nose, showing cinnamon, nutmeg, baked apples, red cherries and a hint of perfume. With a few minutes of air, you also get cranberry and tea leaves on the nose. It is dry, medium weight and shows some roundness. You first get violets on the palate, followed by red cherries, raspberries, and a whiff of nutmeg. Again with a bit of air, you will also get tea leaves. There is some silkiness to this wine. It has a medium plus length, and finishes with sweet spices and red cherries. The acidity in the wine is not overpowering and provides support to the fruit flavours. This is a very “feminine” wine, in style, aroma, and flavour. Great style with very nice red fruit aromatics and flavours. Highly recommended.
Perseus Syrah, 2012, BC ($19.90) – This wine is a deep, solid purple colour in the glass. It is sweet-smelling with ripe fruit; raspberries, black cherries, red currants, and cassis. Vanilla, flowers (from the 5% Viognier in the wine), and sweet spice round out the aroma profile upon first sniff. After 6 hrs, I could smell the oak that went with the vanilla plus lovely milk chocolate. It is dry, full-bodied that fills your mouth with fine tannins and a silky texture. What I enjoyed is that the flavours kept going strong and did not fade toward the finish. Ripe raspberries, black cherries and black fruit, together with a hint of cinnamon, tobacco and vanilla on the palate. I also picked up some minerality in the background. The wine has medium acidity, and that acidity together with the minerality makes the fruit in the wine shine. After 6hrs of air, I did pick up on the oak more together with the milk chocolate, red fruit and red currant flavours, but the minerality was toned down. Medium plus length with red cherries, vanilla and oak on the finish. This is a very nice wine, and feels very masculine. I would be happy to drink this wine now, or to let it age for a few years for added complexity. Decanting helps open up this masculine wine, full of fruit flavours supported by acidity and minerality.
Paul Hobbs Beckstoffer Dr Crane Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, 2011, California ($237.99) – Light intensity nose with baby powder and purple fruit aromas. Full body, round, with a medium tannic structure. Ripe red fruit and plum flavours, together with a mineral component. Understated vanilla. Long length, and elegant. Ripe fruit flavours, together with a tannic structure and minerality give this wine elegance and length.
Belle Glos Pinot Noir Dairyman, Russian River Valley, California, 2012 ($42.99) – Nice red cherry nose together with some sweet spices. More nutmeg on the palate together with red cherries. Soft tannins. This is a very tasty Pinot Noir.
Auntsfield Single Vineyard Pinot Noir, Marlborough, NZ, 2012 (Southern valleys). The Southern valleys have clay-based soil, which holds in water and helps to drive the richness of flavour, and has a cooler climate, which results in later ripening (that can also enhance grape flavour and richness). This wine was quite deep garnet in colour, with a prune and savoury nose. Full body, dry and soft, with ripe dark cherries followed by some dark chocolate flavours. The acidity provides tingling freshness. I really liked this wine.
Coal Pit Tiwha Pinot Noir, Central Otago, NZ, 2011 (Gibbston Valley) – Smoky strawberries and cherry aromas. Medium plus body with a silky mouth feel. Has some sweetness at the back of your mouth throughout your sip. Soft red fruit flavours and herbs, with smokiness being quite prominent. Spicy on the finish. An excellent wine.
Siduri Russian River Pinot Noir, 2012, California – Raspberry and bramble berry nose. Medium body, dry with raspberries and spice, followed up with some oak. Very high quality.Le Vieux PIn Ava 2012 ($35) – Is a blend composed of 61% Viognier, 21% Roussanne and 18% Marsanne. This is a very interesting wine that changed a lot while I sipped and savoured it over about a half hour. It started out with light baby powder, sweet spice, peach and apricot aromas. Medium plus body with round mouth feel and weight. Fairly intense fruit flavours, which showed up in layers on my palate, starting with apricot, and progressing through tropical fruit, citrus, red delicious apple, and peaches on the finish. All the flavours were light and balanced. There was also some vanilla but supported rather than overpowered the wine. I also picked up a bit of pepper on the tongue. Medium plus length. With half an hour of the wine breathing in my glass, I started to pick up on herbaceousness, honey, flowers, and oranges on the palate. So savour this wine and enjoy all that it offers. This is an excellent white wine that you can drink now or hold for a year.
Painted Rock Red Icon, 2011, BC – A blend 30% Malbec, 27% Cabernet Franc, 20% Merlot, 20% Petit Verdot, and 3% Cabernet Sauvignon. Quite surprising to have a BC red blend that has Malbec in the largest proportion followed by Cabernet Franc. An interesting blend that maybe pushes us in new directions? The wine spent 18 months in 50% new french oak. It has a lighter intensity nose, with vanilla, red fruit and cassis aromas. Higher acidity and some minerality. Dry with medium plus body, Dark fruit, cherries and plums on the palate. Finishes dry but not puckering, and you do get some mouth watering acidity. I really enjoyed this wine.
Painted Rock Cabernet Sauvignon, 2011, BC – Medium intensity nose, understated, with vanilla, and hint of capsicum, dark chocolate and black fruit aromas. Fairly full body with a medium weight feel. The tannins come in silky and build, becoming firm on the finish. Also has minerality running through it. Dark fruit, oak and vanilla flavours on the palate. Another good quality wine.
Bodegas Vistalba, Corte A, 2011, Argentina – Plums, chocolate, raspberries and other nice juicy ripe fruits on the nose. Full body, round with a good tannic backbone. Ripe raspberries and dark fruit flavours. A very good wine.
Vina Cobos, Bramare Lujan de Cuyo, Malbec, 2010, Argentina – Ripe dark fruit and dark chocolate nose. Full body, round and south in the mouth with medium acidity. Ripe dark fruit with a hint of sweet spices. Very soft tannins. Very good quality.
Old World Wines
Antinori Estates Marchese Antinori Chianti Classico DOCG Riserva, 2010, Italy (SPEC $39.99) – I was told that this is the house wine at Antinori Estates. it is a great wine and I’d love to have it as my house wine too! Earthy, smoky, together with red cherries on the nose. Medium body, silky, with a nice balance between red fruit flavours, spice, and minerality on the palate.
Brigaldara Amarone della Valpolicella Riserva, 2007, Italy (Veneto) – Old wood/oak and dill on the nose. Full body, with ripe juicy purple fruit and vanilla flavours, followed with a hint of dill later on. Dry yet silky on the tongue.
Campolargo Pinot Noir, 2009, Portugal – (Available in BC) Here is one wine made with non-indigenous grapes, Pinot Noir. It had an earthy, cherry nose. Medium plus body, soft and dry, with apples and red cherry flavours, together with a mineral streak. Soft tannins. Very nice.
Gabriel Meffre “St. Theodoric” Chateauneuf-du-Pape, 2010, France ($39.99 SPEC) – Ripe cherry and strawberry aromas. Medium body, soft and silky on the palate, with the tannins showing up mid-palate. Red cherries and dark chocolate flavours for me. Very good.
Famille Perrin Chateau de Beaucastel Chateauneuf-du-Pape Rouge, 2011, France – Ripe, juicy dark fruit nose. Medium body, juicy raspberry and dark fruit with a hint of spice behind and some minerality. Fine tannins. Very good quality.