This past year I tasted a tremendous number of wines from around the world, but some wines really resonated with me. It may have been the great balance of fruit, sugar, acidity for a white wine, or the fruit, tannins and minerality in a red wine, or something else. Something that made the wine stand above the other wines. Could it be terroir? The use of organic farming principles? The perfect weather and harvest? The natural yeasts on the grapes fermenting? These are all possible explanations to why these wines earned my top scores for 2017. They are all either 4.5-5 or fully 5 star wines.
I had so many fantastic wines to taste this year that I had to separate my “best of” wines into this article for white, sparkling, and fortified wines, and a separate article covering red wines only.
The wines do come from around the world, as well as here in BC. We can and do make top quality wines. Enjoy reading my tasting notes and I invite you to purchase these wines and share them with family and friends. Celebrate.
Sparkling and White Wines
40 Knots Spindrift Extra Brut 2014, BC ($36.90) – This sparkling wine has medium plus gold colour, producing small bubbles in a light mousse that dissipates quickly when poured. Medium intensity nose, showing lees, baked and bruised apples and light toasty aromas. It is dry with crisp tart apple flavours to start, added later with baked apples and then lees. Higher acidity. Small bubbles that start off not quite creamy, but if you let the wine stay in your glass for a few minutes the wine becomes very creamy when sipped. The creaminess fills your mouth. Medium plus length with toastiness lasting to the end. You also get some salinity at the very end. This wine reminds me of excellent Champagne.
Champagne Billecart – Salmon Brut Rose, France (Spec) – Bruised apple nose. High acidity, dry with medium body and small creamy bubble. Some biting acidity. More bruised apple on the palate along with some cherries. A quality wine. –
Bella Sparkling Rose 2016, BC – production is small at 259 cases. Their initial fermentation is a “feral ferment”, meaning they use the indigenous yeasts, not cultured yeasts. Always a gamble, but you can gain additional complexity. The second fermentation, which occurs in bottle, and causes the bubble, uses Champagne yeast. The sparkler spends less than 1 year on the lees, but it is still an experiment for the winery. Should it spend more time? They want to still get good fruit flavours, but also balance the acidity and sugar in the wine. The wine was a very pale pear skin colour. There was more apples and less pears on the nose for me, along with some bready lees. It was dry, with high acidity, and lighter body. Crisp red apples and pears, with some breadiness. It also finished with tart fruit, mouth-watering acidity and some pepperiness. Medium minus creamy bubbles. Flavourful from the start to finish. Very fresh flavours. Very good quality. –
Jackson-Triggs Okanagan Estate Grand Reserve Entourage Brut 2010, BC – This is a sparkling wine that I didn’t know was available in BC, but was very happy to try it. It has a nice ripe citrus and apple plus toasty aromas. High acidity, with flavours of apple and lithe toast. Small bubble.
CedarCreek Estate Winery Platinum Block 3 Riesling 2015, BC – Light stone fruit and honey on the nose. Very tasty stone fruit flavours, mixed with apple and minerality. Off dry with medium acid. Delicious. I had this wine with my Christmas dinner.
Inniskillin Okanagan Estate Chenin Blanc 2014, BC – Light orangy nose. Chewy, round and soft. Medium acidity. Apples and stone fruit flavours. Very good, but only available at the winery!
Devonian Coast Wineries Gaspereau Riesling 2015, Nova Scotia – Floral, melon and petrol, medium intensity nose. Medium body, round and off-dry. Higher acidity. Flavours of citrus and apples. Very nice. –
Upper Bench Chardonnay 2016, BC – The grapes for this wine are sourced from 3 different vineyards; all picked at different degrees of ripeness to add complexity, acidity and tropical fruit flavours. 50% were fermented and aged in new French oak sur lee, while the rest fermented and cellared in stainless steel sur lie. This Chardonnay has a deeper pear skin colour. Pronounced aromas of baked apples, ripe tropical fruit, butterscotch and ripe pears. I love the heavy scent. The wine is dry, very smooth and round with a thick mouthfeel. You get medium acidity, and balanced fruit flavours; tropical fruit and ripe pears. The butterscotch aroma continues onto the palate as well. Long length, with the flavours continuing from start to finish. Finishing with baked apples, tropical fruit and oak. Dry finish. You can enjoy this wine now, but could easily age 4-5 years. –
Sperling Vineyards Old Vines Riesling 2011, BC (~$27.89) – Deep golden colour. Medium plus intensity nose, with petrol and apples behind. The aroma has depth. Minerality is very prominent on the palate. Medium plus body, very round with apples, citrus and petrol, along with some honey. Medium acidity. Longer length. Wonderfully balanced; fruit, sugar, acid.
McWatters Collection Chardonnay 2016, BC ($24.99) – This wine comes from grapes on the Black Sage Bench in Oliver. The wine was barrel fermented and aged for 9 months in French oak, 30% new) and had regular battonage to add mouth feel. This wine is medium, bright lemon colour. It has a medium intensity, youthful nose, with aromas of vanilla, tropical fruit, sweet oak and white flowers. Another wine I really enjoyed to linger over the aromas. It is dry and round with a lighter mouth feel. With decanting there was more texture to the wine. Flavours of tropical fruit mainly, some pears, along with vanilla and oak. Also a light touch of honey. Good acidity to the wine to balance out the fruit in this wine. With decanting you also get butterscotch flavour from the mid palate to the finish. Also with decanting you get a slightly longer finish. On the finish the wine has some tartness and oak. For the full benefit of this wine, I recommend decanting. Should be a nice wine for an upcoming holiday dinner. –
Cantina di Verona Lugana DOC Terre di Verona 2016, Italy (needs a BC rep) – 100% Trebbiano di Lugana. Nice tropical fruit and juicy fruit gum aromas. More tropical fruit on the palate, along with apples and oranges. Dry and round with medium acidity. Very nice. –
Baillie-Grohman Estate Winery Chardonnay 2014, BC (~$23.49) – Light, elegant nose showing pears and sweet spices. Lighter body, dry, soft and round. Flavours of light tropical fruit, sweet spices and a touch of oak. Excellent. –
Hillside Winery & Bistro Gewurztraminer 2016, BC (~$16.29) – Lots of lychee on the nose. Dryish, with medium acidity. Flavours of apples and orange up front, followed by lychee later on, and honey at the very end. Very tasty. –
Tinhorn Creek Kerner Orange Wine 2014, BC – Ripe apricot skin colour. Nice nose, with aromas of dried and fresh apricots. Dry with medium minus body, which may surprise you at first sip, as the aromas of the wine are so fruity, you would guess the wine is sweet. The wine has a lighter mouth feel with lots of apricot flavour along with a cider note. Medium dry, tannic finish, and a long length. A really different and neat wine that you can only get at the winery. –
Tinhorn Creek White Pinot Noir 2016, BC – Pale, pink and orange in the glass. Toasty oak, apple and honey on the nose; light, not too strong. Medium body, round with full mouth feel. Flavours of apple followed by sweet spice, in particular nutmeg, along with a touch of oak and honey. Medium acidity. –
Inniskillin 2014 Montague Vineyard Chardonnay, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario – Bright medium plus intensity lemon colour in the glass. Light, buttery, tropical fruit nose. Fuller body, round and rich mouth feel. Dry on the palate. Buttery. Tropical fruit and oak flavours as well as some sweet spices and minerality at the finish. Quality. –
Torres Milmanda Chardonnay 2014, Spain – Medium minus lemon colour. Nice bright tropical fruit nose, along with some vanilla. Medium body, dry with higher acidity, but still round. Restrained flavours of melon, pepperiness and oak later. My favourite wine of the tasting. –
Chamisal Vineyards Chamise Chardonnay 2014, California – Deeper lemon in colour. Restrained nose with aromas of oak, butter, vanilla, and apple. Medium plus body, round, with a fuller mouth feel. A mix of apples and tropical fruits, along with nutmeg and other sweet spices. A thicker mouth feel. Quality. –
Recline Ridge Hummingbird’s Kiss 2015, BC – Nice mandarin orange nose. More mandarin orange on the palate along with some apricot flavour. Medium sweetness and light body. Salty minerality on the finish.
Esporão Verdelho 2016, Portugal – This single varietal white is made from the Verdelho grape. This wine has lots of herbal and guava aromas. Medium plus body, dry and round mouth feel. Guava and green fruit flavours. Very good. Probably my favourite white wine of the tasting. –
Boschendal The Pavillion Chenin Blanc 2016, South Africa – Boschendal does have a Pavillion on the picnic grounds of their farm. This is their entry-level wine, but at this quality point, it is much more than entry-level. This wine is wonderfully aromatic; full of tropic fruits, ripe stone fruits and honey. It’s full-bodied, dry, round, and soft with medium acidity and a waxy mouth feel. You get super ripe pears and apples, honey and toasty oak. There is some green fruit too. Long length with a touch of salty minerality on the finish. Wow. –
Seven Terraces Sauvignon Blanc 2016, New Zealand – Nice gooseberry nose! More gooseberry on the palate along with peaches and some green herbaceousness. Dry, medium acidity. Totally balanced.
Domaine Laroche Chablis 1er La Chantrerie 2013, France (Spec) – Chablis in case you don’t know is made from the Chardonnay grape. This wine has a light, ripe peach nose. Medium body with a hint of nutmeg and salty minerality. Round mouth-feel with ripe pears on the palate. –
Little Farm Winery Chardonnay 2016, BC – The cool summer month extended the growing season and allowed extra flavour and complexity to develop in the grapes. The grapes were fermented in old neutral barrels and aged on their lees after a wild ferment. A tiny 240 cases of this wine is produced. It is right lemon in colour. The nose is a mix of light charcoal, toasted almonds, and lemons. It is medium body, soft and silky, with medium acidity and some creaminess on the palate. It has restrained peach, nuttiness and nutmeg flavours. It has good acidity to the finish. Lovely buttery popcorn flavour at the very end. –
Taylor Fladgate 1966 Single Harvest Tawny Port, Portugal (~$259.99) – Medium minus intensity translucent tan colour in the glass. Fuller intensity nose, showing brown sugar and apples. Heavier, thicker, semi-sweet with spicy peppery flavours, and rich oxidized fruit. One of my favourite ports. –
Taylor Fladgate 1994 Vintage Port, Italy (~$332.99) – Medium dull garnet in colour. Very nice nose with ripe sweet cherries, vanilla, sweet spice, floral, and a dill note to the nose. Medium plus body, lightly off-dry. Medium spicy and peppery with flavours of dark cherries and light vanilla. Supple and inviting! –
Martha’s Wines 20 Years Old Tawny Port, Portugal – A blend of Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Barroca, Tinto Cão, Tinta Amarela, and Tinta Roriz. This tawny is indeed a beautiful colour. It has a light apple and “cognac” nose. Full body, heavy mouthfeel, semi-sweet with flavours of toffee and oranges. Peppery too. While it starts with a heavy mouthfeel, it finishes light. –
Sandeman 20 Years Old Tawny Port, Portugal – Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz, Tinta Amarela, Tinta Barroca, and Tinto Cão. Nice red fruit and “cognac” nose. Red fruit, sweet spice, pepper, and toffee flavours, with apples later on. Full body, medium sweetness. Delicious. –