Ringbolt 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon - 90+ pts

Ringbolt 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon (Margaret River) Western Australia - Australia

Availability: BCLDB Stores

Cost: $21.99

Alcohol: 14.5%

Date Tasted: December 29th, 2009

Tasting Notes: A very intense nose on this Cabernet Sauvignon produced in the cool-climate region of Margaret River on the West Coast of Australia. Inky-ruby in colour, this wine offers youthful aromas of green pepper, dark chocolate and dark fruit with hints of vanilla from its oak-aging. On the full-bodied palate are flavours of cherry nibs, mocha chocolate, cassis and forest floor with high acid and well-structured tannins.
At this price, this is a wine to purchase in pairs or triplicate in order to enjoy one now and put aside a few for future years. With some aging (2-3 years) this wine could easily reach 91-92 points, maybe more, all for just $22. Drink 2010-2015. - LC

See Ya Later Ranch 2006 Ping - 90-91 pts

See Ya Later Ranch 2006 Ping (Okanagan Falls) Okanagan Valley - BC

Availability: Widely available. BCLDB Stores. VQA Stores. The Wine Emporium.

Cost: $27.99

Alcohol: 14.3%

Date Tasted: December 25th, 2009

Tasting Notes: Another winner from Okanagan Falls producer See-Ya-Later-Ranch. This Vincor-owned Estate Winery produces an impressive flight of whites and reds that successfully find the delicate balance between quality, drinkability and price. This Bordeaux inspired blend is no exception. A mixture of 57% Merlot, 34% Cabernet Sauvignon and 9% Cabernet Franc, this wine offers you pleasant and welcoming aromas of dark cherries, nibs, vanilla and licorice. On the palate you will find an impressive continuity of flavours from the nose: dark cherries, nibs and the vanilla with added oak references and high tannins and acid.
With the prominent presence of the tannins and acid I will be curious to see how this wine ages as it is enclosed with a Stelvin cap which slows down aging to a crawl - to the degree that some believe no aging occurs (but the jury is still out on the agability of screw-top enclosed wines). It has the taste of a wine that needs further aging, even when given the full two-hour decanting, Venturi-pour and Eisch "Breathable Glass" treatment. My suggestion is to open the wine and the reseal a full day in advance of serving it as I found it drinking more "complete" the second day. Drink 2009-2012 (but maybe much longer). - LC

Tantalus Vineyards 2007 Pinot Noir - 92+pts

Tantalus Vineyard 2007 Pinot Noir (Kelowna) Okanagan Valley - BC

Availability: Kensington Square VQA Store

Cost: $30.00

Tasting Notes: A gorgeous wine. The best pinot noir of the year in my opinion. The appearance is ruby and concentrated. The nose was earthy and woody with notes of wet stone and forest floor. The palate had light oak with smooth cedar. The finish was long with medium tannins. An excellent terroir driven Pinot.

An elegant and subtle pinot noir with some old world style. The wine is extremely complex and I think it would benefit from 2-3 years in the cellar. Buy lots of this wine!!! HC

Therapy 2006 Pinot Noir - 88pts

Therapy 2006 Pinot Noir (Naramata Bench) Okanagan Valley - BC

Availability: Direct from winery

Cost: Can't Recall

Alcohol: $26

Tasting Notes: Very nice. The appearance was light strawberry. The nose was complex with caramel, vegetal, and savoury. The palate had milk chocolate, and candied fruit. The finish was peppery and long.

I bought this in 2006 and felt it needed a bit of work in the cellar. Wow I was right. This wine might be at its peak. I really enjoyed this wine. It was balanced and mature. HC

337 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon - 87pts

337 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon (Lodi foothills ) California - USA

Availability: BCLDB

Cost: $19.99

Alcohol: 14.5%

Tasting Notes: A nice Californian Cab Sauv. The nose was tar, black current, and plum. The palate has nice medium plus tannins, medium acid with chocolate notes. The finish was thick and chalky, with medium plus length.

Overall the wine was smooth. Considering the alcohol level I thought it would have been bolder and more full bodied. Generally it was well balanced. There are better value wines out there. HC

Mission Hill Estate Winery 2007 Reserve Pinot Noir - 86 pts

Mission Hill Estate Winery 2007 Reserve Pinot Noir (Kelowna) Okanagan Valley - BC

Availability: Widely available. Direct from winery. BCLDS stores. VQA stores

Cost: $21.99

Alcohol: 13.5%

Date Tasted: December 26th, 2009

Tasting Notes: The Mission Hill tier of wines can be tough to navigate. At the top is the Legacy series which features their flagship Oculus Bordeaux-style wine. Next is the "SLC" series which stands for Select Lot Collection which are sometimes one-off releases and experiments and are often excellent wines. Below the SLC comes the "Reserve" flight of wines of which this Pinot Noir is a prominent member. The Reserve series are better-priced and more widely available than their SLC cousins and yet they can sometimes be their equal in taste and quality.

This Reserve Pinot Noir is tasty and very drinkable but is as straight and narrow as they come. No fun surprises or deep complexity here and yet I can happily recommend it due to its pleasant nose and palate. Medium intense aromas of blueberries, plums and vanilla with flavours of dark berries, vanilla, light oak and medium tannins and acidity. Drink now through 2011. - LC

Golden Mile Cellars 2006 Sauvignon Blanc - 86pts

Golden Mile Cellars 2006 Sauvignon Blanc (Golden Mile Bench) Okanagan Valley - BC

Availability: Limited. BCLDB stores

Cost: $13.99-19.99

Alcohol: 12.7%

Date Tasted: December 23rd, 2009

Tasting Notes: The "Golden Mile Cellars" transformation into "Road 13 Winery and Vineyards" will one day be studied by marketing students across North America as a near-perfect example of a successful re-branding. The old label (pictured above) was completely adequate but far from memorable. The new Road 13 labels and colours pop and get your attention.

This Sauvignon Blanc was managed by the same winemaker, Michael Bartier, as the Road 13 flight of wines. Nice minerality and aromas of gooseberries and lemon-grass on the nose if not served too chilled. The light-bodied palate offers developing flavours of slate, grapefruit and a hint of orchard fruits.

Sealed with a stelvin cap, this 2006 vintage has peaked and is ready to drink. Drink 2009-2010. - LC

Desert Hills Estate Winery 2008 Gamay - 87pts

Desert Hills Estate Winery 2008 Gamay (Black Sage Bench) Okanagan Valley - BC

Availability: Direct from winery. Wine Emporium, Langley VQA

Cost: $17.99

Alcohol: 14%

Date Tasted: December 19th, 2009

Tasting Notes: Winner of a Bronze medal at the 2009 Canadian Wine Awards, this Gamay is a light and spicy charmer perfect for the holiday season. Light, warm pepper-spice on the nose with dark cherry and vanilla notes. The medium-minus bodied palate offers flavours of dark fruits, white and black pepper with a medium-length finish and a pleasant, lingering spice sensation on the tongue.
Produced by Black Sage Bench producer Desert hills Estate Winery in the Southern Okanagan, this versatile wine will go with many holiday-inspired foods including turkey, lamb and ham. Also enjoy as a stand-alone sipper as you are curling up in front of the fire with a loved-one or a good book. Excellent wine at a great price. - LC

Las Moras 2007 Reserve Tannat - 87+pts

Las Moras 2007 Reserve Tannat (Valle del Tulum) San Juan - Argentina

Availability: Private wine shops

Cost: $15-17

Alcohol: 14%

Date Tasted: December 12th, 2009

Tasting Notes: Tannat is another unique grape to North Americans that is historically grown in France but has found modern-day success in South American countries Uruguay and Argentina. Think of a spicy, Syrah-Cabernet Sauvignon cross with similar aging potential.
On the nose this inky-purple coloured wine offers youthful aromas of blueberries, white pepper, pencil shavings and toasted-oak notes. The high-minus bodied palate offers flavours of oak, white pepper, dark fruit and cooking spice notes.
This wine was aged in oak for 16 months and has very high acid and tannins which are a bit unruly. With another year or two of aging the tannins should mellow and the wine will become more balanced and accessible. - LC

Quails' Gate Estate Winery 2003 Fortified Vintage Foch - 89pts

Quails' Gate Estate Winery 2003 Fortified Vintage Foch (Kelowna) Okanagan Valley - BC

Availability: Limited. Private Cellar

Cost: $25 (375ml)

Alcohol: 20%

Date Tasted: December 12th, 2009

Tasting Notes: This port-style, inky-garnet coloured, charmer from Kelowna producer Quails' Gate Estate Winery is aging beautifully after three years in my cellar. On the nose are developing aromas of prunes, blackberries, coffee grounds and a hint of chocolate. On the full-bodied, sweet palate are flavours of plums, blackberries, coffee grounds with hints of Christmas spice and almonds.

Enjoy as an after-dinner sipper or poured over vanilla ice or for something more savoury serve with a cheese plate with strong blue cheese. Drink 2009-2012. - LC

Bodegas Sur De Los Andes 2007 Bonarda - 88pts

Bodegas Sur De Los Andes 2007 Bonarda (Mendoza) Argentina

Availability: Marquis Wine Cellars

Cost: $14

Alcohol: 13.6%

Date Tasted: July 20th, 2009

Tasting Notes: This un-oaked, fruit-bomb from Mendoza is made of 100% Bonarda grapes which many North Americans may be unfamiliar with. Think intense, full-fruit, un-oaked Merlot.

Dark purple in colour, the nose offers youthful, intense aromas of dark fruits, cherry nibs, blueberries, cassis with notes of vanilla. The fruit aromas carry through to the palate with medium-plus acidity and tannins with a slightly shortened finish.

An excellent wine offering great value to be enjoyed now as an accompaniment to grilled meats. Drink 2009-2010. - LC

Blackwood Lane 2006 Alliance - 94pts

Blackwood Lane 2006 Alliance (Langley) Fraser Valley - BC

Availability: Direct from winery. Private fine wine shops

Cost: $60-75

Alcohol: 14.3%

Date Tasted: August , 2009

Tasting Notes: Winner of Icon Wines' "Wine of the Year" award for 2009, this Bordeaux-style red blend is a phenomenal wine full of complexity and flavour.

Produced from Southern Okanagan valley grapes, this meritage blend of 58.5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Merlot and 12.5% Cabernet Franc offers youthful aromas of cassis, vanilla, dark fruits and leather. The smooth-as-silk palate offers youthful flavours of cassis, plums, chocolate, roasted coffee beans and cooking spice. This wine has near-perfect acidity and tannin structure which will allow it to age beautifully for 10-15 years - outstanding for a wine from British Columbia.

Despite the aging potential, the wine is approachable now and could be served comfortably on its own or with a fine cut of red meet or lamb in a simple, savoury sauce. This premium Canadian wine will be one to watch as its distribution and reputation increases. - LC

Township 7 Vineyards and Winery 2007 Gewurztraminer - 88pts

Township 7 Vineyards & Winery 2007 Gewurztraminer (Naramata Bench) Okanagan Valley - BC

Availability: Direct from winery. Select VQA stores
Cost: $18.99

Date Tasted: October 27th, 2009

Tasting Notes: The Towship 7 Gewurztraminer is very dry on the palate and very subtle on the nose. Given time the nose opens in the glass to reveal its complexity of aromas ranging from orange blossoms to rose petals with a nice spicy undertone. Good acidity and strong mineral notes with tropical fruit flavours. Medium-plus finish and well balaned.

A quality wine that will match well with Spicy Aisian fare. Drink now. - LC

Thornhaven Estates 2008 Gewurztraminer - 88pts

Thornhaven Estates 2008 Gewurztraminer (Summerland) Okanagan Valley - BC

Availability: VQA Stores. Direct from winery

Cost: $17.99

Alcohol: 14%

Date Tasted: December 5th, 2009

Tasting Notes: An off-dry Gerwurztraminer verging on medium-dry. Full of tropical fruit flavours including pineapple, papaya and lychee. Match with spicy Asian fare to discover the hidden complexity of peaches, minerals and moderate acidity. Medium-plus finish and body.
May be slightly too sweet for some red wine lovers. Drink now through 2012. - LC

Domaine de Chaberton 2006 Meritage - 86pts

Domaine de Chaberton 2006 Meritage (Langley) Fraser Valley - BC

Availability: The Wine Emporium, Direct from winery

Cost: $24.99

Alcohol: 14%

Date Tasted: November 30th, 2009

Tasting Notes: Black Sage Bench grown Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot were used for this Meritage red blend wine from Fraser Valley producer Domaine de Chamberton. An easy-drinking and tasty wine with medium intensity aromas of cassis, blueberry and nibs. Flavours of dark fruits with a touch of red cherries with muted oak notes.

Lacks tannins and acidity for longevity but would be good accompaniment to BBQ'd meats over the next two years. Drink now through 2010. - LC