This year I had many wines that I tasted this year that almost made my 5-star category; 27 white wines and 45 red wines. These wines I rated as 4.5-5 stars. When I check over them again, I can remember how much I enjoyed these wines. Having a 4.5-5 or a 5-star rating does not mean that you need to cellar these wines for 5, 10, or more years. Many you can enjoy right now, and cellaring will not harm them. If you age wines you can get interesting tertiary aromas and flavours like nuttiness, smokiness, or honey in white wines, and leather, tobacco, or forest floor in red wines. So don’t be afraid to buy a few bottles of each wine that interests you, try one now and cellar the others to sample over the next year(s).
As there are so many wines, I partially categorized the wines so that it is easier for you to navigate to the wines that interest you the most. Firstly the wines are divided into White and Red wines, then within these two categories, I have subdivided into New World and Old World wines. I also grouped BC wines at the top of each category, followed by other regions. I hope you find a few wines to pick up and enjoy in 2020 and beyond.
Meyer Family Vineyards McLean Creek Road Chardonnay 2017, BC – Light toasty nose along with apple aromas. Butterscotch and tropical fruit flavours, along with toast and oak. The wine has a medium body, is smooth, lower acidity and buttery mouthfeel. Yum. –
Privato Woodward Collection Chardonnay 2016, BC ($25.99) – Light lemon colour. I really enjoyed the smoky, toasty, tropical fruit nose. It has a medium body with medium intensity acidity. Tropical fruit, in particular, ripe pineapple flavour. Round with a buttery mouthfeel. Balanced. Elegant. –
Harper’s Trail Winery Riesling Silver Mane Block 2018, BC ($18.29) – Medium bright lemon colour. Floral, vanilla, white peach, flowers, and sweet fruit nose. A hint of orange aroma as well. Dryish with tart acidity. Oranges, stone fruit and a hint of petrol on the palate. A long lingering orangy citrus finish. Vibrant tension in this wine. –
CheckMate Artisanal Winery Little Pawn Chardonnay 2014, BC (bottle 3341) – Medium intensity bright lemon in the glass. Intense, pronounced ripe tropical fruit, butterscotch and oak on the nose. This wine is dry with a thicker, buttery, round mouthfeel, that has an acidic prickle that stretches from start to finish. This acidity adds liveliness to the wine. Flavours of ripe tropical fruit, roasted apples a hint of pears, and light butterscotch. Oak and vanilla from the mid-palate to the finish. The acidity balances out with the thicker mouthfeel. This wine has a long length, finishing with tropical fruit and butterscotch, and when they fade you get citrus. It is also a bit peppery on the finish.
Rating: – A very big buttery Chardonnay packed with tropical fruit and balanced by acidity.
SpearHead Winery Pinot Gris 2018, BC – Grapes come from their Golden Retreat Vineyard in Summerland. The grapes are hand-harvested and whole bunch pressed. 10% of the settled juice is fermented in 2-year-old French oak barrels with the remainder fermented in stainless steel tanks. The wine is a lighter lemon with a green tint in colour. Quite aromatic grapefruit aroma with touches of honey, peach and bramble leaf. With decanting the grapefruit aroma lessens and you get tropical fruit aromatics. The wine is slightly off-dry, with a nice mouth mouthfeel. Medium-plus body. I really picked up salty minerality on this wine. A mix of grapefruit (most), citrus, and then peach flavours. Some pepperiness on the mid-palate to the finish. The flavour profile stays the same with decanting, so no need to decant. Tart citrus and grapefruit along with some pepperiness on a long finish for this wine. Very tasty.
Rating: – Nice grapefruit on the nose and palate, together with light peach alongside. Bright acidity and round mouthfeel.
Phantom Creek Estates Viognier 2017, BC ($32++) – Ripe peaches and apricots and tropical fruits on the nose. Full body with a thick mouthfeel. Coconut, honey and ripe stone fruit flavours. Intense! –
Tinhorn Creek Vineyards Chardonnay 2017, BC ($20.99++) – According to Tinhorn Creek, the grapes are “…Hand harvested fruit is whole cluster pressed into French and American oak barrels (30% new) and allowed to go through fermentation naturally, while a portion of the wine is machine harvested and fermented in stainless steel with selected yeast. By November our two new concrete tanks had arrived, and the wine was then aged 33:33:33 into oak, concrete and stainless steel and allowed to age until May.”
This wine has an intense lemon colour in the glass. A medium intensity nose offering pineapple, vanilla, ripe pears and an edge of sweet spices. The wine is slightly off-dry, soft, medium body, round with a slightly thick buttery mouthfeel. Ripe tropical fruits, pears, red apples, and pineapple flavours. There are also some oak and vanilla flavours to the wine. There is a hint of stone fruit flavours, in particular, ripe peach, that is behind those tropical fruit flavours, and it becomes more evident toward the finish. Long length finishing with light pepperiness, sweet spices and lingering tropical fruit flavours. Very good quality. I did not detect any major differences with decanting, so don’t wait.
Rating: – Rich ripe tropical fruits on the nose and palate. Round and mouth-filling flavours.
Okanagan Crush Pad Free Form Ancient Method 2017, BC – My favourite bubble of the night, and overall wine of the tasting. It has a light apple nose along with some red cherries. Medium body and high acidity. Crisp apple and red cherry flavours. Creamy small bubble. Exciting. –
Terravista Vineyards Fandango 2018, BC – This wine is a blend of Albarino and Verdejo grapes from their estate vineyard. The wine is a 63% Albarino and 37% Verdejo. The wine has a light lemon green colour. Light intensity, but deep peach, yellow apple and peach skin aromatics. Dryish (with 4.8 g/l of residual sugar), high acidity and medium body. Apricots and yellow apple flavours, but with air you also get lemon and lime flavours. Light salty minerality. Peppery. Long length. Lots of yellow fruit flavours in this wine. Another exciting wine from the 2018 vintage. –
Noble Ridge Reserve Chardonnay 2016, BC – You will notice that their Reserve line of wines have new labels, showing the head of a lion. It is quite nice. This wine has a light pear nose. Round, dry and soft. Quite flavourful, with flavours of butterscotch vanilla, nutmeg and roasted apples. Some pepperiness on the finish. A delightful wine. –
Tetrahedron Chardonnay, Celilo Vineyard, Columbia Gorge, 2016, Washington ($32) – Rich pear and vanilla aromas. Floral, butterscotch and ripe pears on the palate. –
Luigi Bosca Brut Nature NV, Argentina ($29.99) – sparkling wine is made with 60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir in the Traditional Method. It is bright, medium intensity lemon colour and has a nice toasted, oak and apple nose. It is dry, lighter-bodied with high acidity and very fine creamy bubble. Crisp apple, toast and lees on the palate with a bit of pepperiness. Longer length. Excellent quality. –
Luigi Bosca Finca Los Nobles Chardonnay 2016, Argentina ($35.99) – The grapes for this wine come from their oldest vineyard. The name of the vineyard is on the label. This wine is bright, medium intensity lemon in colour. It has a nice smooth tropical fruit, butterscotch and vanilla nose. Nice aromas! It is medium-plus bodied, very smooth, dry, soft and round. A thicker, creamy mouthfeel. Toast, tropical fruit and apple with a hint of oak and sweet spice toward the finish. Has some tart fruit mixed in on the finish. –
Tyrrell’s Wines “HVD” Hunter Valley Victoria Semillon 2013, Australia ($44.99++) – Very aromatic nose; petrol, beeswax, ripe citrus and apple aromas. Medium minus body, dry with a lighter mouthfeel. Petrol and apple flavour along with some minerality. One of my favourite wines of the tasting. –
Wente Vineyards Morning Fog Chardonnay 2017, Livermore Valley, California – Nice ripe pears and butterscotch aromas. Medium plus body, round with medium acidity. Tropical fruit, sweet spices, and a touch of oak. Elegant. –
Wente Vineyards Riva Ranch Single Vineyard (Monterey) Chardonnay 2016, Livermore Valley, California – Ripe tropical fruit, vanilla and butterscotch on the nose. Fuller body, rich and round mouthfeel. Medium acidity. Tropical fruit, butterscotch and oak flavours. Quality. –
Tahbilk Winery ‘Museum Release’ Marsanne 2011, Australia – The Marsanne vines here are actually older than the vines in Hermitage where the grape originated. This grape is known for its richness and freshness. It can also take on an oaky character even though no oak is used. This wine is made from 100% stainless steel ferment. The wine has a deep, bright lemon colour. Waxy, deep lemon, petrol and honey on the nose. Dry, full-bodied with floral, petrol, apple, lemon and woody flavours. There is also a waxy texture. Complex flavours. Medium acidity with some tannic dryness on the finish. A really nice wine. –
Hope Family Wines Treana Blanc 2015, California – A blend of 45% Viognier, 45% Marsanne, and 10% Roussanne. 100% stainless steel fermented. The wine is a deep, bright golden colour. Light tropical fruit and vanilla on the nose. Full body, thick and silky mouthfeel. Prominent sweet spices, together with deeply roasted pears, and some woodiness/nuttiness and pepper. Pronounced flavour. This wine has weight, viscosity, and density. One of the wines I purchased at VanWineFest. –
Freemark Abbey Napa Valley Chardonnay 2016, California – 100% Chardonnay from the cooler Carneros and Howell Mountain regions of Napa Valley. 0% malolactic fermentation with 82% of the wine aged in French oak. The wine had a nice butterscotch, tropical fruit, pear and roasted apple nose. Light bodied, medium acid with a soft mouthfeel. Tropical fruits and ripe pear flavours with light pepperiness and tart acidity on the finish. Lingering flavours. I enjoyed this wine and thought it made a nice pairing with popcorn. –
Tom Gore Vineyards Chardonnay 2016, Central & North Coasts, California – Earthy, flinty and apple on the nose. Fuller body with rich apple and sweet spice flavours. Round with medium acidity. Very good. –
Starmont Carneros Chardonnay 2015, California – One of the first things that captured my attention to this wine before tasting it was that it used a screw cap. I rarely see a screw cap for California Chardonnay. I have heard that the industry and consumers in California still prefer to have a wine with a cork stopper. I enjoyed the nice light tropical fruit and butterscotch aromas of this wine. The aromas followed to the palate with pronounced flavour. Fuller bodied, off-dry, medium acidity. Very smooth; buttery. I think this wine would be a perfect pairing with lobster. –
La Crema Russian River Valley Chardonnay 2016, California – This Chardonnay comes from the Russian River Valley from various vineyards and clones. All the grapes are barrel-fermented, then aged for 10 months in 100% French oak; 33% new oak. This wine is a deeper lemon in colour. Medium intensity toasty, butterscotch and ripe tropical fruit aromas. Medium body, silky with a soft mouthfeel, but has some tannins to give it structure. Buttery finish. Light tropical fruit, apple, baked pears, brioche (lees), nuttiness and sweet spice flavours. Buttery and medium intensity pepperiness on the finish. Deep aromatics. One of my favourite wines of the evening. –
La Crema Single Vineyard Saralee’s Chardonnay 2016, California – To Canadians, SaraLee will be chocolates and cakes, but there is also a Saralee in Napa. Saralee Kunde owned this vineyard with Chardonnay vines, which was then purchased by the Jackson Family Wines. This vineyard is located in the middle of the Russian River Valley and gets the daily fog coming from the Pacific Ocean. The grapes are barrel fermented for up to 1 month then goes through a malolactic fermentation that can take up to 2 months. The wine is aged for 9 months in 100% French oak; 29% new oak. Medium-plus lemon colour in the glass. Medium minus aromatic intensity, showing pears, sweet spices, butterscotch and baby powder. Medium minus body, semi-round with a lighter mouthfeel. Medium acidity. Lighter intensity flavours of pears, roasted apples, sweet spices and vanilla. Medium-plus length. Another very nice wine. –
Domaine Duseigneur Catarina Blanc 2018, France – a rainy year making this a difficult vintage. It is from a single vineyard. The wine is made from the Clairette grape. It is a bright medium intensity lemon colour. It has a nice rich tropical fruit nose. It is round with a rich feeling, medium-plus body. I enjoy the flavourful tropical fruit, butterscotch and sweet spices. It has a long length finishing with some pepperiness. With a bit of air, this wine becomes softer on the palate and you taste the minerality in this wine. –
Ca’ di Rajo LeMoss Frizzante IGT Sur Lie NV, Italy (needs a BC rep) – A sparkling wine from the Veneto region that is not Prosecco. This wine has it’s second fermentation in the bottle, like Champagne or Cava. It has a very aromatic peach and honey nose. Medium to lighter bodied, semi-sweet with herbaceous and peach flavours. Tart finish with some leafiness. –
Deinhard Schloss Johannisberg Riesling Rotlack Kabinett 2017, Germany – Light peach nose. Off-dry. Quite mineral. Peach and roasted pear flavours and a tart finish. One of my favourite wines. –
Barone Ricasoli Albia 2016, Italy – Barone Ricasoli is well-known in Tuscany for their Chianti wines, but have you ever heard of a white wine from them? Indeed there is, with this one being made from Chardonnay grapes. I tasted this wine last year and was enthralled, and was very happy to see it on display for this tasting. It has a nice deep, ripe apple and peach nose. Smooth! Medium body with lighter acidity. Ripe apple flavour with a light touch of oak that gives it some structure. Some bitterness on the finish. –
Church & State Wines Coyote Bowl Series Syrah 2016, BC – Deep ruby in colour. Very aromatic; red apples, rich cassis and sweet spice aromas. Round with a thicker mouthfeel. Ripe cassis, rains and sweet spices on the palate along with ripe black fruit. Lower acidity. Soft tannins with a light peppery finish. Quality. –
Coolshanagh Pinot Noir, Naramata Bench, 2016, BC (not known) – Light translucent garnet colour. Very floral and red fruit aromas. Roses, raspberries and other red fruits on the palate. The wine is dry with a light body and also has a touch of pepperiness. Very good. –
Monte Creek Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2016, BC ($31.99) – This wine is 90% opaque garnet in colour. Capsicum, cassis and sweet spices on the nose. Full body with medium acidity and fine tannins. Great structure. Flavours of red cherries and black fruit, capsicum and dark chocolate that gets stronger toward the finish. Not overly drying tannins. Finishes with dark fruits and cherry flavours. Very good. –
Black Hills Estate Winery Syrah 2017, BC (Wine Club members only) – almost opaque garnet in the glass. This wine has a very fruity nose with aromas of ripe, sweet cassis, hints of cocoa, vanilla and nutmeg. It is full-bodied by medium mouthfeel. Dry with medium acidity. Ripe cassis and plums and blackberry fruit flavours on the palate. It has an almost silky mouthfeel then becomes peppery and the tannins firm up toward the finish. The wine has a longer lingering finish. Oak and vanilla on the finish. –
Black Hills Estate Winery Nota Bene 2017, BC (Sold Out online. Try a private wine shop.) – This vintage is 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 41% Merlot and 14% Cabernet Franc. The wine is almost opaque garnet in colour. It has a light capsicum and cassis nose. It is fuller-bodied, yet is soft and round, and slightly off-dry. Fine tannins that get stronger toward the finish. A medium acidic backbone as well. Ripe black fruit, cassis, and touches of vanilla, dark chocolate, and oak on the palate. It gets peppery on the finish. A very good structured wine with a constant level of fruit from start to finish. Accessible now but can age. –
Privato Pinot Noir 2017, BC ($26.99) – the grapes for this wine come from selected vineyards throughout the Okanagan Valley. This wine is a medium intensity translucent garnet in colour. Light smoke and red cherry aromas. Medium-plus body, smooth with a thicker mouthfeel. Fine tannins and light acidity. Red cherries and nutmeg flavours, along with a hint of roses. Also a bit peppery. Long length. Very elegant. –
Privato Grand Reserve Pinot Noir 2015, BC ($42.99) – 40% of this wine was whole-cluster pressed while 100% of the 2014 vintage was whole-cluster pressed. This wine is a darker translucent garnet colour. It has a riper red cherry, candied cherry and vanilla nose. The wine is off-dry with medium-plus body. Sweet red cherries and red fruit flavours. Thick ripe red fruit. There is a hint of dill, minerality and chocolate as well on the palate. Some floral with air. Fine, silky tannins. Long length. –
Mt. Boucherie Pinot Noir 2017, BC ($24.99) – The grapes for this wine come from the Similkameen Valley. I am not sure which clones they are using, but they do have 115, 667, 777, and 828. It has a very translucent limpid garnet colour. It has a quite pronounced nose with a mix of smokiness, light violets, red cherries, mixed red fruits, and hints of toasted oak, floral, and sweet spices. Quite interesting, with decanting you also get dill on the nose. It’s quite nice. The wine is dry, soft, and smooth with a light mouthfeel. Flavours of red fruits, sweet spices, raspberries, some floral and a hint of red cherries. Sweet spices and pepperiness start on the mid-palate. Decanting brings the dill aromas to dill on the palate. It has a good acidic backbone to support the light fine tannins. Medium-plus length finishing with some drying tannins, pepperiness and tart red fruits / raspberries / bramble berries / red cherries.
Rating: – A very light red-fruited Pinot Noir. Soft with acidity to give the wine some structure. Very elegant.
Mt. Boucherie Merlot 2017, BC ($24.99) – The grapes for this wine come from the Similkameen Valley. It is almost completely opaque garnet in colour from the core to the rim. It has pronounced ripe black fruit, black pepper, plum, cassis, and a hint of cloves. The aromas are quite deep. With decanting the black pepper and clove aromas change to more general sweet spices. You also get tea leaf aroma, which is quite nice. This wine is slightly off-dry, fuller-bodied, thick and smooth with a round mouthfeel. Deep dense fruit flavours of ripe black fruits, together with ripe plums and raspberries. There is also a hint of floral perfume. From the mid-palate to the finish you also get pepper and oak. Decanting brings out some cassis flavour and I think makes the wine a bit smoother (It was already nice and smooth. This is extra nice smoothness.) The wine has a long finish with flavours of ripe dark fruit, some cedar, pepper and oak. You also get some meatiness at the very end. The wine finishes dry. Overall the tannins are fine and of medium strength.
Rating: – A deep brooding Merlot. Big black fruit flavours with hints of floral, red fruits and cedar. Quite smooth and mouth-filling. Delicious.
Mt. Boucherie SUMMIT 2016, BC ($54.99) – This fantastic red wine is a blend from their top blocks of estate grown fruit in the Okanagan and Similkameen Valleys. All the grapes are handpicked and sorted. The blend is 51% Merlot, 21% Cabernet Franc, 19% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Malbec, and 3% Syrah. The wines were aged in 100% French oak for 24 months, with 35% aged in new barrels. This wine is a deeper garnet in colour about 80% opaque but still translucent to the core. The wine has medium intensity aromas of black fruit and sweet spices primarily, together with lesser amounts of capsicum, milk chocolate and vanilla. With decanting you can add coffee, black pepper and vanilla aromas as well. The wine is off-dry, round, and has a thicker mouthfeel. It is quite mineral. Restrained flavours of black fruits, sweet spices, and oak together with lesser amounts of blackberries, cedar and milk chocolate. With decanting the wine has a softer mouthfeel. The wine has a long length finishing with tart black fruit (that changes to sweet black fruit with decanting), sweet spices and is quite peppery. You also get a light touch of oak. The wine has fine tannins that are never overly drying.
Rating: – This is a big red wine that whispers to you to pay attention. It has lots of black fruits on the nose and palate as well as a hint of milk chocolate from nose to palate. This wine is very nice to drink upon opening it, but adding some decanting time will give you a bit more aromatics and softness to the wine. Decanting recommended.
Winemaker’s CUT Pinot Noir 2018, BC ($38) – is a medium garnet in colour. Very translucent to the core. Between medium-plus and pronounced intensity nose starts with smoky raspberries followed by sweet ripe red fruit and then sausage at the end. With some air, it becomes floral which then fades away and you get sweet spices and tea leaves on the nose. With a longer decant you get lots of bramble and smoky raspberry aromas. It has very good fruit to acid to tannin harmony. The wine is dry lighter-bodied with medium intensity floral and red fruit flavours, and you get some raspberry flavours after the red fruit. The wine has a medium-plus length and finishes dry. Red fruit flavours on the finish along with oak some toastiness and sweet spices. With decanting the wine has some pepperiness as well on the finish. A great structured Pinot Noir.
Rating: – A great structured Pinot Noir with an ever changing nose of red fruit, floral and sweet spices. Floral and red fruit flavours. Very good balance of fruit, acid, and tannins. No need to decant this wine.
Noble Ridge Reserve Meritage 2016, BC – A blend of Merlot primarily with lesser amounts of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Malbec. Rich cassis and vanilla nose. Dry, medium body with ripe cassis and sweet spice flavours. Fine tannins. Quality. –
Wild Goose Vineyards Red Horizon 2016, BC – A blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Petit Verdot. Nice soft cedar and red fruit nose. Medium-plus body, slightly off-dry. Floral, cedar, and a mix of black and red fruits. Very tasty. –
Tinhorn Creek Vineyards Oldfield Reserve Pinot Noir 2014, BC ($31.99++, soon to be released) – According to Tinhorn Creek, the grapes were “…One batch was fermented in small open-top fermenters with 30% whole cluster and allowed to ferment naturally. The second was completely destemmed and fermented in closed top tanks with selected yeast… Aged in a small portion of new French oak and then blended and bottled in the spring 14 months after harvest. The wine was then aged in bottle for 18 months to allow proper bottle conditioning to occur and bring out the true complexities of this great variety.”
A beautiful pale, crystal clear garnet coloured wine. There may be a slight brickish tinge to it. Medium intensity flavours of red fruits, floral, sweet spices, bramble, cinnamon, with hints of smoke and vanilla. The wine is dry, angular but still some roundness. Medium body and acidity. Red fruit, raspberries, and floral flavours. Oak and pepper on the mid-palate that gets stronger toward the finish. There are also sweet spices that trend toward cinnamon. With decanting the wine loses some of its pepperiness and floral perfume. A longer finish with firmer tannins, lots of pepper, tart red fruits, then raspberry jam and cinnamon at the very end. No need to decant this wine.
Rating: – A light smoky red fruit nose, leading to floral, red fruit, and pepper on the palate. A nicely structured wine.
Quails’ Gate Winery Boswell Syrah 2015, BC – We have not talked about grape clones, but for this wine, winemaker Ross Baker made it known that this is from the French clone 877, and has 4% Viognier co-fermented in this vintage. This wine is Opaque garnet in colour. Nic deep violet and dark fruit nose. Off-dry, full body with medium acidity and fine tannins. Dark fruit, vanilla and black pepper on the palate, along with some salty minerality. Medium-plus length. A very big fruity wine. –
Greywacke Pinot Noir, Marlborough, 2015, New Zealand ($49.95++) – Medium intensity ripe red fruit nose. Medium body, round with medium acidity and fine tannins. Ripe red fruit, cassis and cherries on the palate, along with some pepperiness. A quality wine. –
C.C. Jentsch Cellars Syrah 2015, BC – This Syrah has a very ripe black fruit nose along with some sausage. It is very full-bodied, velvety and round with sweet ripe black fruit flavour, medium-fine tannins and balanced acidity. You can see the legs on the wine when you swirl it. I checked and it is at 14.9% alcohol. You also get nice touches of oak and vanilla and a peppery finish. A delicious wine. Enjoy with family and friends for the holidays. –
Luigi Bosca Finca Los Nobles Cabernet Bouchet 2013, Argentina ($78.99) – We were told that their Cabernet Sauvignon and Bouchet grapes grow mixed together in the vineyard. The grapes are harvested and fermented together then spend 20 months in new French oak barrels. I was not familiar with Bouchet but we were told by Alberto that Bouchet is a very old clone from Cabernet Franc. In St. Emilion in France, there is still a little Bouchet grown. This wine is a deeper translucent garnet colour. It is very aromatic with aromas of ripe red fruit, cedar and vanilla. A beautiful nose. These aromas continue to the palate. The wine is off-dry with a thicker, silky round mouthfeel. Very fruity on the palate. Along with the ripe red fruits, cedar and vanilla, I also picked up coconut and chocolate flavours. Fine tannic finish. An elegant and sexy wine. –
Luigi Bosca Icono 2011, Argentina ($137.99) – This is their flagship wine and makes only 500 cases per year. It is a blend of Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon that comes from a single parcel for each grape. Parcel 41 for Malbec and Parcel 51 for Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine is deep, almost opaque garnet in colour. You get ripe black fruits, chocolate, vanilla and cedar aromas along with some dusty chalkiness. The wine is off-dry, full-bodied, silky and round in the mouth. Medium acidity and fine tannins. Ripe sweet black fruit, cedar, vanilla, truffles, and chocolate flavours, along with kirsch cherries. Long lingering finish with medium drying tannins. Quality. –
Paul Hobbs Winery Crossbarn Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, California – Medium-plus translucent garnet. Nice nose, almost porty, showing cassis, apples and red cherries. Medium minus body with a light mouthfeel and medium acidity. Firmer tannins. Red cherries, red apples and nice sweet spice flavours. Very elegant. –
Ponzi Vineyards Reserve Pinot Noir 2015, Oregon – Very light vanilla and red fruit aromas. Light body, dry and soft. Light red fruit and a touch of vanilla and cedar. Soft tannins. Some pepperiness and nutmeg on the finish. –
Long Shadows Vintners Pedestal Merlot, Columbia Valley, 2015, Washington ($65) – Light cassis nose. Fuller body, dry and round, with firm tannins. Cassis and vanilla with some pepperiness. Another wine to age 5-10 years. –
Naches Heights Vineyard Estate Syrah 2015, Washington ($26) – Ripe cassis on the nose and palate. You also get ripe black fruit, pepper and chocolate flavours. Firmer tannins. –
Beaulieu Vineyard Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, Napa Valley, California – Medium intensity cassis aroma. Fuller body, dry with a soft mouthfeel. Capsicum, cedar and silky black fruit flavours. Medium acidity and fine tannins. –
Novelty Hill Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, 2015, Washington ($26) – Nice cassis nose. Full body; round. Cassis and pepper on the palate. –
Novelty Hill Cascadia Red Bordeaux Blend, Columbia Valley, 2016, Washington ($50) – This is a Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot blend. It has a nice, light sweet spice and dark fruit nose. Full body, soft and round mouthfeel. Sweet spices and cassis flavours. Good quality. –
Girard Winery Artistry 2014, Napa Valley, California – This wine had a big hurdle to be made with the drought in 2014 plus earthquake. I’m glad it was made as it is top-rated by me. It is a blend of 56% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, 11% Cabernet Franc, 11% Malbec and 7% Petit Verdot. It has a light cedar/oak nose. Full body, dry with firm tannins. A mix of ripe red and black fruit flavours. I’d say you can age this wine for 8-12 years. –
Hahn Family Wines Pinot Noir Monterey County 2017, Monterey County, California – When I think of a Pinot Noir that I would like to drink from California, I think of Hahn Family Wines. You cannot go wrong with any of their Pinots. This wine has a nice light flinty and red fruit nose. It is dry with medium minus acidity and a light mouthfeel. Tea leaves, ginger (really), and red fruit flavours. Excellent.
Hahn Family Wines SLH Pinot Noir 2017, Santa Lucia Highlands – Light bramble nose. Dry and soft with medium acidity and soft, fine tannins. Bramble flavour to start followed by tea leaves and some pepperiness on the palate. –
Robert Mondavi Winery Maestro 2014, Napa Valley, California – A Bordeaux style blend of 73% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Cabernet Franc, 2% Merlot, and 2% Petit Verdot. Light, ripe cassis nose. Full body, dry with firm tannins. Ripe cassis and capsicum flavours, with a mineral streak. Very good. –
Sebastiani Chalk Hill Pinot Noir 2016, Sonoma County, California – Light intensity smoky and red fruit nose. Light, dry mouthfeel. Red fruit and oak, with light vanilla and hints of bramble on the palate. –
Silverado Vineyards Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, Napa Valley, California – Nice red fruit and cedar aromas in the glass. Medium body, dry with medium tannins. Cassis, red apples and cedar flavours on the palate. Nice. –
Louis M Martini Winery Lot 1 Cabernet Sauvignon 2006, California – The grapes come from 6 AVAs across Napa and one from Sonoma to provide you with different expressions of the Cabernet grape and layers of flavour. This wine was opaque garnet in colour. Medium minus intensity nose of ripe dark fruits. Full body, silky with medium acidity and medium-plus fine tannins. Ripe black fruit, prunes, vanilla flavours with hints of floral, dark chocolate and some minerality. A muscular wine with density weight and structure. Slight sweetness on the finish. Longer length. –
Signorello Estate Padrone 2009, California – This wine is produced by picking the best blocks from their Cabernet grapes. This wine is opaque garnet in colour from core to rim. Saddle leather, cherries and a touch of vanilla oak on the nose. A nice, complex nose. Full body, round with firm fine tannins. Rich black fruit primarily but also some red cherries, oak and sweet vanilla. This wine has structure! Very tannic finish. Needs to be aged. –
The Hess Collection Mount Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon 2010, California – The grapes come from Mount Veeder, with the vineyard at 1000 ft asl. All grapes are from the estate. There is also 3% each of Malbec and Petite Verdot added to this wine. Opaque dull garnet in colour. Floral, capsicum light black fruits, with touches of cinnamon and dark chocolate on the nose. Grainy texture then feels smooth in the mouth. Dry and soft with fine tannins. Floral and sweet black fruit and some cedar and mineral notes. Finishes soft. An elegant wine. –
Yealands Family Wines Estate Single Vineyard Pinot Noir 2017, New Zealand – Medium minus intensity translucent garnet. Lots of ganja and bramble leaf on the nose with lesser red fruit. These aromas continue on the plate. The wine has bright acidity and medium minus intensity fine tannins. Finishes with tart red fruit. A very cool wine. –
Fontanafredda Barolo DOCG Riserva Centosessant Anni 2010, Italy – also made from the Nebbiolo grape. This wine has a medium translucent garnet colour. A nice cedar, red apple and red fruit nose. It is off-dry, lighter bodied with a soft mouthfeel. Sweet red fruit, candied red fruit and light cedar flavours. Medium acidity and light tannins. An elegant wine. –
Rocca delle Macie Chianti Classico DOCG Gran Selezione Riserva di Fizzano 2015, Italy – from the Castellina commune in Chianti, the wine is made with 93% Sangiovese grapes and 7% Colorino. The vineyard is between 250-300m asl. After fermentation, the wine matures for at least 2 years in 35 hl French oak barrels with a small proportion aged in 225 l barriques. This is a historical brand from the estate and viewed as their Grand Cru. It was first produced in 1990 as a Riserva. Until 2010 the blend was 85% Sangiovese, 10% Cab Sauv and 10% Merlot. When Gran Selezione started, this wine was moved into the Gran Selezione category and they changed the blend to 95% Sangiovese and 5% Merlot. The wine was changed one more time; Merlot was dropped and the blend changed to 93% Sangiovese and 7% Colorino.
This wine has a deep translucent garnet colour. A lighter intensity nose, with a hint of capsicum and very light intensity dark fruit aroma. The wine is full-bodied, smooth, round and mouth-filling. Fine tannins and good acidity. Ripe, sweet dark fruit and light oak on the palate. Drying tannins on the finish. –
Dievole Chianti Classico DOCG Gran Selezione Vigna di Sessina 2015, Italy – from the Castelnuovo Berardenga commune. 220m asl vineyard in sandy soil, Macigno Toscano. This wine is made from 100% Sangiovese grapes and spends 17 months in 41 hl untoasted French oak barrels. The wine is fermented in concrete egg. It is a medium translucent garnet in colour. It has a very light red fruit and dusty nose. It is dry, medium body with a lighter mouthfeel. Medium acidity. Raspberries, red fruits, floral and a touch of Old World oak on the palate. Medium length with some grippy tannins on the finish. Polished. Nice texture. Light delightful. –
Castello di Albola Chianti Classico DOCG 2015, Italy – 100% Sangiovese. Light cedar nose. Light body with a mineral streak. Floral, nutmeg and red fruit flavours. Medium acidity and fine tannins. Classy. –
Cantina Castelvecchi Chianti Classico DOCG Gran Selezione Madonnino della Pieve 2015, Italy – 100% Sangiovese. Almost opaque garnet in the glass. Light intensity aromas of cedar, dark fruit and vanilla. Full-bodied, round and soft with medium minus tannins. Off-dry or just fruity? Lots of ripe red and black fruits. Rich sweet flavourful fruit. –
Château de la Tuilerie Cuvée Eole Costières-de-Nîmes – Rouge 2016, France – Deep, dull garnet colour. Likely unfiltered. Light sausage/meaty, black olives and dark fruit nose. Fuller body, dry and round with medium acidity and fine tannins. Clove, nutmeg, and black fruit flavours. Peppery. A very cool wine. –
CUNE Viña Real Reserva 2012, Spain ($33.99++) – 90% Tempranillo and 10% Garnacha / Graciano / Mazuelo. Deep translucent garnet in colour. Ripe red and black fruit, cedar and a hint of licorice on the nose. Fuller body, almost silky. A mix of red fruits and apples on the palate. Juicy fruit; good balanced acidity; and fine tannins. Some tart red fruit and dry tannins on the finish. Delicious! Paired nicely with wine-soaked cheese. –
CUNE Reserva 2014, Spain ($25.99++) – 95% Tempranillo and 15% Garnacha / Graciano / Mazuelo from 35-40 year old vines. Deeper dull translucent garnet in the glass. Light intensity, deep red fruit and red cherry nose. Medium-plus body with a soft, round silky mouthfeel. Tasty red fruit, light cedar and oak flavours. Medium acidity. A very balanced wine. Vanilla, red fruit and cherries on the finish. Very good quality. –
CUNE Imperial Gran Reserva 2011, Spain ($90.99++) – 85% Tempranillo, 10% Graciano and 5% Mazuelo. This wine is only made in exceptional years from 3 of their estate vineyards. 60-year-old vines produce grapes for this wine. This wine is a deep, semi-translucent garnet colour. Very aromatic nose showing cedar, ripe red fruits and some dustiness. Medium body, semi-round, with firm yet fine tannins. Very ripe sweet red fruit and cherry fruit flavours, along with sweet spices. Light cedar on the finish. If the grapes are not up to the quality needed for Imperial then the grapes are used in the Gran Reserva wine. Still exceptionally good in my opinion. The 2004 Imperial was the first Spanish wine to win #1 wine by Wine Spectator. –