Back to the Future with Gold Hill Merlot 2014 and Cabernet Merlot 2017

Gold Hill Winery founders in the vineyard

Gold Hill Winery founders in the vineyard (Image courtesy Peacock and Martin Imports)

Here are two big red wines from Gold Hill Winery from Oliver in the South Okanagan.  Both are Merlot based.  Their Gold Hill Merlot 2014 coming in at 16.1% alc, and their Gold Hill Cabernet Merlot 2017.  It is interesting that the Merlot has a screw cap, while the Cabernet Merlot has a cork closure, with the screw cap being on the older vintage.  I would have thought the newer vintage would be screw cap.   

In case you didn’t know, owners, brothers Sant and Gurbachan Gill, called their vineyards and winery Gold Hill because of its location along this famous stretch–and because they wanted to produce the very best wine possible; the Gold standard. Their latest winery news is that in May 2020 Gold Hill Winery brought in Val Tait as their winemaker and viticulturist. Val was previously the winemaker at Bench 1775.  Val is an excellent winemaker and I look forward to tasting her wines from the 2020 vintages onward.

My Tasting Notes

Gold Hill Merlot 2014 (BC $34.99) – a deep dull garnet colour about 90% opaque in the glass.  2014 was a very hot and long growing season in the Okanagan so that grapes could reach full maturity.  It does show strong tears on the sides of the glass showing that 16.1% alc.  It has a medium intensity nose showing cedar, lots of sweet baking spices and red fruits, along with lesser amounts of red cherries, vanilla and blackberries or black fruit.  With decanting it stays with lots of red fruit, cedar and sweet spices; a wonderful nose.  It is slightly off dry, round and very smooth with a lighter mouthfeel.  Lighter acidity and tannins.   Lots of sweet red fruits and sweet spices, in particular nutmeg, along with plums, vanilla and a touch of blackberries.  These flavours continue with decanting, and you can add red plums. It has a medium plus length finishing with plums, sweet spices, nutmeg, black pepper, and cedar flavours.  There are some drying tannins on the finish.  Surprisingly this wine does not feel hot from the high alcohol level.  Very enjoyable either with or without decanting. Buy this wine and enjoy over the next 2 years.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars5 out of 5 stars Lots of inviting red fruits, plums and baking spices on the nose and palate.  It is slightly off-dry, very smooth with light tannins and acidity

Gold Hill Cabernet Merlot 2017 (BC $24.99) – is a blend of Cabernet Franc and Merlot. This wine is a medium plus intensity garnet; translucent to the core and slightly dull in colour.  It has a very aromatic inviting nose with mostly red fruit, some black fruit, tobacco, ripe plums and red cherries, sweet spices and light oak.  After a bit of swirling you get noticeable tea leaves or ganja aromatics as well.  With decanting you get more black fruit aromas on the nose and the tea leaves / ganja disappear.  This wine is dry with medium plus body.  It’s semi-round with medium intensity acidity and dusty tannins.  Ripe red fruits, cocoa, light capsicum, vanilla, and raspberry flavours.  With a bit of air you get a significant amount of tea leaves or ganja as well on the palate.  With decanting you get more black fruit flavours, and much less capsicum, tea leaves or ganja.  A medium plus length, finishing dry.  Sweet red fruits, cocoa and sweet spices, raspberries and some black pepper at the very end.  The tannins get stronger with some swirling and continue to be firmer with decanting.  I think I slightly prefer the first opened bottle, but both are delicious to enjoy.  Can age 3-4 years.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars A very inviting red blend.  It has lots of ripe red fruit on the nose and palate along with sweet spices and tea leaves. It is dry, semi-round with fine dusty tannins finishing with red fruits, cocoa, sweet spices and black pepper.

Gold Hill Merlot 2014 and Cabernet Merlot 2017 with wines in glasses

Gold Hill Merlot 2014 and Cabernet Merlot 2017 with wines in glasses

What I Said About their 2014 Merlot 2 Years Ago

Checking my tasting notes, I realized that I reviewed their 2014 Merlot two years ago.  Below are my published tasting notes.  It is interesting to see what I wrote about this wine at two points in time.  It’s back to the future.

Gold Hill Merlot 2014 (BC $34.99) – This wine comes in at an amazing 16.1% alcohol. It is opaque, almost from core to the rim, garnet coloured.  The wine has a medium intensity nose, with ripe, dark fruit, black currant, dark chocolate, some dustiness and a hint of oak, and leather at the end of the aromatics.  With air, I also picked up some black tea leaves and sweet spices on the nose.  The wine is dry, round, with fuller mouthfeel and flavour intensity.  Medium acidity and medium fine tannins.  The wine flavours are primarily dark, ripe dense black fruit, along with some red fruits, ripe raspberries, and oak.   With decanting the red fruit component lessened.  The wine has a longer length and gets spicy and peppery, along with some bitterness.  The dark fruit flavours continue to the finish.  The tannins get a bit grippier and at the same time, you get some acidity to balance it out. A wine with 4-5 years of ageing potential.

Rating4 out of 5 stars4.5 out of 5 stars  A big wine with dark, dense black fruits on the nose and on the palate.  Some red fruits in the background to help add some flavourful interest.  Finishes peppery, with grippy oak and bright acidity.  This wine can age for 4-5 years.

Where Can I Buy These Wines?

You can purchase their wines through the Gold Hill Winery website.  BC retail locationsRetail locations in Alberta.  Their 2017 Cabernet Merlot is available at 2 BC Liquor stores


Drink Good Wine. That is my motto and I really want to help you drink good wine. What is good wine? That can be a different thing for each people. Food also loves wine so I also cover food and wine pairings, restaurant reviews, and world travel. Enjoy life with me. MyWinePal was started by Karl Kliparchuk, WSET. I spent many years with the South World Wine Society as the President and then cellar master. I love to travel around the world, visiting wine regions and sharing my passion for food & wine with you. Come live vicariously through me, and enjoy all my recommended wines.