I taste many wines at Trade tastings, plus public events like the Vancouver International Wine Festival or Taste Washington. People who know me, know that I make detailed notes as I taste and can back up my wine ratings. This year I went through all the wines I tasted in 2019 and have awarded my top 5-star rating to 10 wines. Many are from BC as I do taste many wines from here, but you will also see some wines from across the border in Washington state. I commend all these wineries for their excellent wines, and I look forward to tasting their wines again in the many years to come.
My next article will be on the wines I tasted that I ranked as 4.5-5 stars. There are many, and they are also very good. Cheers.
White and Sparkling Wines
SuLei Cellars Extra Brut Sparkling Chardonnay, Crawford Vineyard, Yakima Valley, NV, Washington ($40) – This is the first release of this wine and it is a great success in my opinion. It has nice pears nose. The pears continue to the palate along with bruised apple and lees flavours. The wine is dry with a small creamy bubble.
Privato Woodward Collection Tesoro Pinot Noir 2016, BC ($34.69) – To make Tesoro the top Pinot Noir barrels from all the wines are picked. The grapes for the wine come from across BC. Tesoro is the Spanish word for Treasure and indeed each vintage of this wine is a treasure. Always enjoyable. The wine spends 18 months in oak barrels and then 1 year in bottle. It is medium-plus intensity translucent garnet. A nice nose showing light intensity candied red cherries and nutmeg. With some swirling in the glass, you also get a vanilla aroma. I also initially pick up a hint of curry spice on the nose but it burned off quite quickly. The wine is off-dry, fuller body and silky smooth on the palate. It is very minerally. Red cherries and ripe raspberry flavours along with a touch of sweet spices. Bright fruit flavours. Dry finish, but not with any overly drying tannins. A very good wine.
Privato Grande Reserve Pinot Noir 2014, BC ($54.99) – a wine take takes 42 months of ageing before being released. This Pinot noir is whole berry cluster fermented. It has a medium-plus intensity translucent garnet colour. Ripe raspberries, candied red cherries and sweet spices along with a hint of curry spice on the very aromatic nose. Fuller body, round and soft. Slightly off-dry. Fine tannins with lighter acidity. Supple mouthfeel with flavours of red cherries and lesser ripe raspberries to start followed with floral, sweet spices and vanilla. Very high quality.
Tinhorn Creek Vineyards The Creek 2015, BC ($55++) – This wine is 99% opaque garnet in colour. Almost black at the core. Light capsicum/vegetal nose, along with sweet spices, cassis and dark fruit aromas. With decanting you also get light cedar, black cherry, and vanilla aromas. The wine feels slightly off-dry. I checked the specs for this wine and it only has 0.55 g/L of residual sugar, which is quite low. The wine has a fuller mouthfeel, round and supple with fine, soft tannins. Ripe sweet black fruit, cassis, and ripe raspberry flavours, together with hints of capsicum, black cherry, plum, vanilla, tarriness and oak. Very opulent flavours. With decanting you lose the capsicum and raspberry flavours, but pick up some light cedar and milk chocolate flavours. The wine has a long length finishing with mostly ripe sweet black fruit flavours, sweet spices, and very soft tannins. Also a little cedar and red cherry note on the finish. No need to decant. Tinhorn Creek suggests this wine has a cellaring potential of 15-20 years. I think it is too good to wait that long to drink. I would say from now to 10 years would be perfectly fine.
Rating: A very high-quality Bordeaux blend, Cabernet Sauvignon dominant. Lots of ripe, sweet black fruit, cassis and sweet spice aromas and flavours, which linger for a long time on the finish. Delicious.
Road 13 Vineyards GSM 2017, BC ($36.52) – is a blend of 51.4% Grenache, 34% Mourvedre, and 14.6% Syrah. It is about 80% opaque garnet from rim to core. The wine has a medium-plus intensity, a very nice nose, showing some smokiness, red fruit, black pepper, and juicy cassis fruit. There is no change with the nose after decanting; still very nice. This wine is medium-bodied, dry, and round with medium acidity and fine tannins. The wine has a smoothness to it but an acidic edge as well. It has bright ripe red fruit and cassis flavours along with floral, some smokiness that then leads into black pepper. This wine is very flavorful and the fresh juicy flavours I think are due to the acidity in this wine. With decanting there is also a noticeable salty minerality from the wine. It has a medium-plus length finishing with some pepperiness, tart red fruit and cassis, and light tannins. Decanting makes this wine even better.
Rating: with decanting. A lively medium-bodied dry wine with red fruit and cassis in abundance on the nose and palate, with a touch of floral and some pepperiness on the finish.
CheckMate Artisanal Winery Opening Gambit Merlot 2014, BC (bottle 6180) – This wine is deep garnet, about 98% opaque. It has a medium intensity nose that starts off with some smoked meat (that burns off quickly), together with ripe cassis and light touches of allspice, vanilla and oak. With decanting the wine has both smoky and floral aromas. The wine is dry, full-bodied, semi-round with a medium mouthfeel. You get waves of flavour, consisting of plums, black cherries, cassis and sweet ripe black fruit. Together with light cedar, oak, nutmeg and dark chocolate notes. Dense deep flavours. Medium tannins. With decanting the wine has a softer mouthfeel, no dark chocolate, but you now get a floral flavour. Medium-plus length finishing with grippy, yet fine tannins. Black fruits and some nutmeg. This wine can easily age for 5-9 years. Delicious.
Rating: A deep, brooding Merlot with waves of cassis, black cherry and black fruit flavours. Decanting this wine brings out floral notes on the nose and palate, and softens the wine.
Long Shadows Vintners Chester-Kidder Red Blend, Columbia Valley, 2015, Washington ($60) – Light ripe cassis nose, Big, round and fruity; Black fruits. Peppery. Fine tannins.
Quilceda Creek CVR Red Blend, Columbia Valley, 2016, Washington ($70) – This is my overall favourite wine that I tasted at Taste Washington. Quilceda Creek is well-known for producing top quality wines and this one does not disappoint. It has a nice ripe cassis nose. Full body, with flavours of ripe cassis, red cherries, vanilla, and pepper. Medium tannins.
àMaurice Cellars “Fred” Estate Syrah, Walla Walla Valley 2015, Washington ($45) – Floral and red fruit nose, reminds me a bit of a carbonic maceration-type aroma. Medium-plus body, dry with a lighter mouthfeel. Cassis and red fruit flavours, with fine tannins. Ethereal.
Craggy Range Le Sol Syrah, Hawke’s Bay, 2011, New Zealand ($110++) – Nice floral, toast, cedar and cassis nose. Fuller body, dry with a silky mouthfeel. Fine, soft tannins. Ripe cassis and red apple flavours. Mineral touch too. A seductive wine.