Why 2 Reviews of 4 Wines?
I received a shipment of wines from Gold Hill Winery in Oliver, BC, over the summer and I’ve been tasting them two wines at a time and writing my tasting notes for you. Twice during my tasting, one of the two bottles had a defect, so the wine was not review-able. When you are in a restaurant and order a wine, you could get a wine that has a defect. How can you tell? Did you know that you can tell the restaurant and get a replacement bottle at no cost for a defective bottle? The same for a BC government or private wine shop. There are many kinds of things that can go wrong and cause a wine to be faulty. A common problem is from corks, which was worse many years ago, but now with more rigorous testing the number of faulty corks is reduced. Overall, I believe I read that 3-8% of wine bottles have some sort of a fault. If it is closer to 8%, then 1 bottle out of every dozen would be faulty. So it is not that uncommon and it can happen to any winery.
Getting back to the four wines that I tasted from Gold Hill Winery, I tasted their Chardonnay and Rosé wines together, and then their Grand Vin Family Reserve and Cabernet Franc together. The defective bottles were the Rosé and the Grand Vin. The Rosé is under screwcap while the Grand Vin is under cork. If you thought that only wines with cork stoppers can be defective, then you would be incorrect. But as you will see, the aromas and tastes of these two wines are different, caused by different faults.
So I will give you my full tasting notes for the Chardonnay and the Cabernet Franc, then I will discuss our two faulty wines.
My Tasting Notes
Gold Hill Chardonnay 2019 (BC $19.99) – a pale, bright straw colour. It has a medium intensity nose with lots of stone fruit aromas, peach in particular, light bramble leaf, and apple. With decanting the stone fruit aromas intensify. The wine is dry, medium plus body, round and has an acidic prickle/edge. Tart citrus, green fruit, bramble leaf, and light peach flavours. Apple skin toward the end. I also picked up some minerality to this wine. Nice acidic tension in this wine. It finishes with green fruits, peaches, bramble leaf, and light peach and pepperiness. A very expressive wine that I think could be very interesting if aged as well.
Rating: An expressive Chardonnay with peach and citrus aromas and flavours. Bright acidic tension. A lovely wine.
Gold Hill Cabernet Franc 2015 (BC $34.99) – This wine has a deep dull garnet colour. It is about 95% opaque almost to the rim. It has a medium intensity nose consisting of cedar, leather, plum, blackberries and black fruits, floral and a touch of oak aromas. With decanting I also picked up bacon and sweet spice aromas. It does taste a little off-dry, is full bodied, smooth with medium roundness in your mouth. Medium acidity and medium intensity fine tannins. This wine’s flavours cover cedar, capsicum, chocolate, black fruit, plums, and raspberries, plus touches of vanilla and oak. With decanting the wine felt a little lighter in the mouth on the mid palate plus I picked up some minerality. It finishes with black pepper, ripe black fruit, black berries and oak. The medium intensity tannins leave your mouth lightly puckered. This wine has 15.9% alcohol, but surprisingly the alcohol is very well integrated in the wine as I did not get hotness on the wine. I’d love to have this wine with a hearty stew.
Rating: A big wine with loads of plums, blackberries, cedar and leather on the nose. It is smooth and very flavourful; black fruits, cedar, floral, capsicum and black pepper on the palate.
2 Faulty Wines
When you pour the wines and view them, both look good. The Rosé is clear and bright rhubarb red while the Grand Vin is a deep, dull garnet colour. For the Grand Vin I did not that the cork came out of the bottle rather easily which is worrisome as it could mean that air can more easily enter the bottle and prematurely age the wine. But the wine was not oxidized. I do think the cork was tainted as the following aromas and flavours point in that direction. The wine’s aromas were primarily leather and earthiness. The fruit flavours were muted. It tasted dusty combined with wet cardboard. This latter flavour is what points me to cork taint. The Rosé wine had aromas of rhubarb, red currants and red fruits, but then there was a bandaid smell. This bandaid smell continued to a strong bandaid flavour on the palate. The bandaid aroma and smell is indicative of Brettanomyces. A little Brett can add complexity to a wine, but too much makes the wine faulty.
So we had two different wine faults from wines that had two different closures. I hope my notes here help you identify a faulty wine. And remember that you can return the bottle for a replacement, whether in a restaurant, BC liquor store, or other wine shop.
I did review the Grand Vin 2014 in 2018 and recommended tasting it again in 3-5 years, so it would have been an interesting comparison. You can read my 2018 review of the Grand Vin here. If you want to learn about the different kinds of faults in wines, you can read this Wikipedia article.
Where Can I Buy These Wines?
These wines are available through Gold Hill Winery’s website. Also a wide list of retailers across BC at this link.