Here I have two bigger red wines from Hillside Winery, located on the Naramata Bench. One is their Heritage Series Cabernet Franc 2017, while the other wine is their Merlot Malbec 2018. The former is under cork while the latter is screwcap. These are two good indications of whether these wines are ready to drink now or can benefit from ageing. The Cab Franc under cork definitely is ageable, while the Merlot Malbec is to be enjoyed now. Before I get into these two wines, I thought I would tell you a little bit about Hillside’s winemaker, Kathy Malone.
Kathy has been at Hillside since moving from Mission Hill Family Estate Winery in 2008 to work in a smaller winery environment. Her style of winemaking has been described as having a gentle touch and minimal intervention. Kathy has recently released their Heritage Series of wines that showcase the nuanced flavours and elegant styles of the Naramata Bench. As you will see in my notes below, her Heritage Series Cabernet Franc is a more structured, and built to age wine.
My Tasting Notes
Hillside Winery Merlot Malbec 2018 (BC $26)
– 80% Merlot and 20% Malbec. 100% barrel aged with 20% using new oak.
Appearance: Deep, 90% opaque garnet with a ruby tint.
Nose: Medium intensity that starts with red fruits, then evolves to blackberries. Oak, vanilla and sweet spices. After decanting the aromas were toasty oak, a mix of black and red fruits, and sweet spices, in that order.
Palate: Dry, medium body and acidity, very smooth mouthfeel. This wine starts off with a more linear mouthfeel, but gets rounder with swirling. Medium-plus flavour intensity. Black cherries, plums, dark fruits, plums, along with some vanilla and oak, and a hint of floral. With decanting, the wine felt more angular again, the tannins had a chalky feel. Prominent floral flavour and minerality, along with raspberries to add to the other fruit flavours.
Finish: A dry finish, medium length, finishes with black cherries, pepperiness, a touch of cocoa, floral, and vanilla. The tannins were a bit firmer after decanting. I prefer the undecanted version, although the added aromas and flavours from decanting are nice as well.
Rating: Medium intensity aromas and flavours of red fruits that trend later to black fruits. Medium body with fine drying tannins on the finish.
Hillside Winery Heritage Series Cabernet Franc 2017 (wine club members only)
– aged for 18 months in oak barrels, 15% new.
Appearance: Almost completely opaque garnet in the glass.
Nose: This wine has very nice aromas. When you open the bottle you get a medium intensity nose that starts with a wide mix of vanilla, cedar, ripe red fruit, plums, floral, nutmeg and cinnamon, which fades to more black fruits, with a touch of cedar and vanilla. With decanting the aromas are a bit lighter. Mainly cedar, cinnamon, red fruits and vanilla, which again evolved to black fruits with time in the glass.
Palate: Fuller bodied, dry with a round mouthfeel. Lighter acidity. A mix of ripe red and black fruit, in particular black cherries and blackberries. Light cedar and a touch of vanilla flavours. With decanting there was more red fruit flavours on the palate.
Finish: A medium length finishing with grippy tannins, dark fruits, cherries, and oak. The tannins stayed strong after decanting. A wine for ageing. But if you must drink it now, enjoy it with a hearty dish, such as a beef stew, to soften the tannins.
Rating: – Red fruits, cedar and vanilla aromas to start, evolve to black fruits. Full body, round with ripe black cherries and black fruits. Strong drying tannins on the finish. An age worthy wine.
Where Can I Buy These Wines?
You can order their wines online through the Hillside Winery website. The Merlot Malbec wine may be available at other private wine shops, but you need to ask.