Bartier-Scholefield 2010 White Table Wine - 88pts

Bartier-Scholefield 2010 White Table Wine (Summerland) Okanagan Valley - BC

Availability: Direct from winery here
Cost: $22
Alcohol: 12.8%
Production: 883 cases
Date Tasted: August 28th, 2011

Tasting Notes: Controversy surrounded the Bartier-Scholefield wines before they hit the shelves or were ever tasted by the public. The contentious issue at the center of the debate is if wines produced at "custom crush" facilities like the Okanagan Crush Pad, where anyone with grapes and the necessary funds may produce and release wine under the facility's winery license, skirt the spirit or even the letter of the Provincial liquor board laws. The legal issue doesn't hold my attention, but the pioneering element does and I find myself enchanted with the idea of more such "micro-labels", hitting the market over the coming years.... as long as they are reasonably priced and quality wines. Happily, the first release from Bartier-Scholefield is both.

A blend of Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc with impressive balance and concentration for a wine produced with minimal intervention in mind. If you were to make a "serious" wine out of Honest John's White from Road 13 Vineyards, where Michael Bartier was the head winemaker for many years, this would be the wine. Dry, crisp and loaded with supple fruit flavours and aromas. The long finish and lingering tartness make for the perfect summer sipper for those of you who prefer to avoid sweet whites on sunny days. Drink 2011-2013.
 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2011

Cassini Cellars 2010 Mamma Mia Pinot Gris - 87pts

Cassini Cellars 2010 Mamma Mia Pinot Gris (Golden Mile Bench) Okanagan Valley - BC

Availability: Direct from winery here and VQA stores
Cost: $19
Alcohol: 13%
Production: 620 cases
Date Tasted: August 29th, 2011

Tasting Notes: A fun, off-dry Pinot Gris with loads of apricot, apple and passionfruit flavours which is hard to miss on the shelves with its bold "Mamma Mia" branding and will pair nicely with your late summer BBQ fair or an early fall, spicy-Thai dinner. Residual acid keeps the sweetness in check leaving your palate refreshed for the next mouthful. The finish seems to go on and on and stays balanced with just a touch of lingering spice. Enjoy this wine in its youth. Drink 2011-2012.
 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2011

St. Supery Vineyards and Winery 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon - 89pts

St. Supery Vineyards and Winery 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley) California - USA

Availability: Private wine shops
Cost: $25-40
Alcohol: 13.9%
Date Tasted: August 20th, 2011

Tasting Notes: A dense, tart Cabernet Sauvignon with a fruity, cassis-dominant entry followed by savoury, toasted oak notes and a moderate, mouth-watering finish with lingering allspice. Showing nearly no signs of aging, this wine will live happily undisturbed in your cellar for another 3-4 years, but development may only be minimal. Drink 2011-2015.
 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2011

Viña Mayor 2004 Reserva - 92pts

Viña Mayor 2004 Reserva (Ribera Del Duero) Spain

Availability: BCLDB Signature stores
Cost: $28.99
Alcohol: 14%
Date Tasted: March 30th, 2011

Tasting Notes: Aged for 6 years prior to release, this smoky-textured, powerful and intense Tempranillo from Spain's Ribera Del Duero offers excellent complexity and character for the price. Earthy, spicy and savoury with dark berry, licorice, oak and tar notes galore. Palate remains elegant despite the intensity and the long, balanced finish is sublime. Pair with roasted red meats. Drink 2011-2014.
 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2011

Eroica 2009 Riesling - 91pts

Eroica 2009 Riesling (Columbia Valley) Washington State - USA

Availability: Private wine shops
Cost: $20-30
Alcohol: 12%
Date Tasted: June 20th, 2011

Tasting Notes: Not quite the blockbuster that the 2008 vintage offered, but a fabulous Riesling nonetheless with classic lemon, grapefruit and ripe apple aromas on the subtle, yet layered nose and concentrated citrus, herbs, apple and kiwi flavours on the effervescent, textured palate. Nearly off-dry sweetness compliments the prominent mineral notes on the palate and which contribute to the focused, coolness of the developing bouquet.

Produced from Columbia Valley fruit, the Eroica Riesling is a joint venture between Washington State's Chateau Ste Michelle and Germany's Dr. Loosen. The collaboration produces a spectacular Riesling year-in, year-out which seems to celebrate vintage variation rather than try to overcome it. Drinking beautifully now but will also reward careful cellaring with further development. Drink 2011-2015.
 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2011

Intrigue Wines 2010 "10" - 86pts

Intrigue Wines 2010 "10" (Kelowna) Okanagan Valley - BC

Availability: BC VQA stores
Cost: $16
Alcohol: 13.1%
Date Tasted: July 4th, 2010

Tasting Notes: A blend of Riesling, Gewurztraminer and Muscat Caneli that serves to intrigue your senses like a clever collage with the varietals each adding an element to the final product rather than a seamless, integrated presentation. The result is a fun, perfumed, aromatic wine with mouth-watering, tangy citrus fruit, some residual sweetness and and a touch of herbaceous character. Named for the vintage year in which is was produced.  Enjoy this wine in its youth. Drink 2011-2012.
 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2011

Aces Okanagan Estate Winery 2007 Pocket Kings - 89pts

Aces Okanagan Estate Winery 2007 Pocket Kings (Naramata Bench) Okanagan Valley - BC

Availability: Direct from the winery here and VQA stores
Cost: $35 (down from $65 release price)
Alcohol: 13.6%
Date Tasted: June 11th, 2011

Tasting Notes: Small boutique Naramata Bench winery, Aces Okanagan Estate, produced this Meritage style wine from grapes grown on the Osoyoos and Black Sage benches. A blend of 66% Merlot, 19% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Cabernet Franc delivering a sublime nose of dark berries, graphite and savoury, toasted oak and light spice. The dry, tart palate impresses with good continuity of characters from the nose and a long, balanced finish with lingering spice but lacks some of the complexity available in BC's other top-end blends. Drink 2011-2013.
 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2011

Flora Springs Winery 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon - 91pts

Flora Springs Winery 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley) California - USA

Availability: Private wine stores
Cost: $25-45
Alcohol: 14%
Date Tasted: January 8th, 2010

Tasting Notes: An intense, concentrated Cabernet Sauvignon blend of Rutherford and Oakville fruit offering potpourri of dark berries, licorice, vanilla, oak and dried fruit aromas. Followed by a palate that starts juicy and audacious then finishes dry and savoury with lingering fruit and herbs. By 2011, the wine has really come of age with mellowed tannins and acidity. Drink 2011-2014.
 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2011

Chateau Giscours 2005 Grand Vin - 93pts

Chateau Giscours 2005 Grand Vin (Margaux) Bordeaux - France

Availability: Private wine stores
Cost: $70-90
Alcohol: 13%
Date Tasted: December 25th, 2010

Tasting Notes: This Third Growth property from the Bordeaux commune of Margaux offers a wildly complex, perfumed and fruity nose of nibs, dark cherry, cassis, prunes and licorice. The concentrated, dry palate follows with mineral and granite characters accompanying dark fruit and tobacco flavours. The superb, well rounded 2005 vintage sees 60% Cabernet Sauvignon blended with 32% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc and 3% Petit Verdot yielding a wine with rounded tannins, a chalky texture and a long, balanced finish. Enjoyable now, but to make the most of your purchase I suggest waiting until early 2013 before unleashing this excellent, refined wine. Drink 2013-2020.
 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2011

Glaetzer Wines 2008 Wallace - 90pts

Glaetzer Wines 2008 Wallace (Ebenezer) Barossa Valley - Australia

Availability: BCLDB and private wine stores
Cost: $29.99
Alcohol: 15.5%
Date Tasted: March 26th, 2011

Tasting Notes: A blend of 80% Shiraz and 20% Grenache, this massive wine boasts ripe, cherry and blackberry characters with an underlying earthiness, grounding the bold fruit and adding a welcomed layer of complexity. Oak treatment adds texture and big, integrated tannins. Sealed with a Stelvin cap and targeted for early to mid-range consumption. Drink 2011-2014.
- Liam Carrier ©copyright 2011

La Frenz Winery 2010 Sémillon - 88pts

La Frenz Winery 2010 Sémillon (Naramata Bench) Okanagan Valley - BC

Availability: Sold out at the winery (here). Search private wine shops like Marquis Wine Cellars
Cost: $20
Alcohol: 12.5%
Date Tasted: August 14th, 2011

Tasting Notes: Possibly the tartest Sémillon you're ever likely to try - a far cry from the lush, chewy, South Australian examples of this white Bordeaux varietal that have become big sellers internationally. Tart, yet never sharp or unruly, with loads of grapefruit, honeydew, lemongrass and hay with rich undertones of tropical fruit which serve to mellow the residual acid. Augmented with 10% barrel fermented Sauvignon Blanc, its traditional blending partner, to add an extra layer of complexity and citrus kick. Drink 2011-2013.
 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2011

Dirty Laundry Vineyard 2010 Woo Woo Vines Gewurztraminer - 89pts

Dirty Laundry Vineyard 2010 Woo Woo Vines Gewurztraminer (Summerland) Okanagan Valley - BC

Availability: Direct from the winery here, BC VQA stores and LCBO Vintages
Cost: $17.99 (direct), $29.95 (LCBO)
Alcohol: 13%
Production: 1510 cases
Date Tasted: August 11th, 2011

Tasting Notes: Summerland's Dirty Laundry Vineyard makes a stunning three single-vineyard Gewurztraminers - this one, from the winery's oldest plantings of the Germanic varietal, offers an excellent balance of off-dry sweetness and crisp acidity, wrapped nicely in a loving embrace of candied fruit and river rock minerality. Delicate notes of lychee and crushed flowers dance on the nose while the lush palate finishes long with a touch of lingering spice. BC "Goo" has yet to be a proven cellar dweller for long haul development, thus, we recommend you enjoy this wine in its youth. Drink 2011-2012.
 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2011

Red Rooster Winery 2008 Reserve Meritage – 89pts

Red Rooster Winery 2008 Reserve Meritage (Naramata Bench) Okanagan Valley - BC

Availability: Direct from the winery here and BCLDB stores
Cost: $22.99
Alcohol: 14%
Date Tasted: August 6th, 2011

Tasting Notes: Recently awarded a Lieutenant Governor’s Award of Excellence, this Cabernet Franc leading blend (58% with 38% Merlot and 4% Malbec) offers an intense, tangy nose of dark berries, dark cherry, stinky cheese, licorice, anise and toasted oak aromas. The tanginess follows through to the dry palate where the acid is bright and powerful – definitely a wine best suited for food – a statement not meant to undercut the quality and well-earned accolades of this tasty wine. Sealed with a Stelvin cap, wisely, to lock in the freshness of the fruit flavours. Enjoy this wine now or hold for another 2-3 years. Drink 2011-2014.
 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2011

Sandhill 2010 Small Lots Program Viognier - 88pts

Sandhill 2010 Small Lots Program Viognier (Kelowna) Okanagan Valley - BC

Availability: Direct from the winery here and BCLDB stores
Cost: $25
Alcohol: 14%
Production: 658 cases
Date Tasted: August 4th, 2011

Tasting Notes: Leaner and crisper than its 2009 predecessor, losing a degree of richness in the overall balance in the process, yet still retaining the lush tropical fruit and fuzzy peach candy characters that make it one of the most consistent Viogniers in BC year-in, year-out. Good concentration on the fruity nose and mineral-filled, dry palate. The finish is very long with lingering orchard fruit and mineral flavours. Enjoy this vintage in its youth. Drink 2011-2012.
 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2011

Monthly Picks: August 2011

La Frenz Winery 2010 Rosé - $18
With a kiss of sweetness on the palate, the wine handles the balance of acid and tannin effortlessly with a good expression of red fruit and a hint of savoury chracters to add complexity.
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Fort Berens Estate Winery 2010 Pinot Gris - $18
Produced from West Kelowna grown fruit and fermented in stainless steel tanks, this Pinot Gris is fruit forward and terroir driven with excellent austere characters to balance the orchard fruit and lemon zest notes.
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Stag's Hollow Winery 2010 Sauvignon Blanc - $19
tropical fruit notes compliment the austere style resulting in a delicious and well priced Sauvignon Blanc to be enjoyed in the company of your favourite hot tub (or hard cheese like Gruyère).
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Chateau Des Charmes 2008 St. David's Bench Vineyard Gewurztraminer - $20
An excellent, focused, single-vineyard Gewurztraminer offering classic peach, apricot and lychee fruit characters with a juicy, full-bodied and expressive mouth feel.
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Stoneboat Vineyards 2009 Pinotage - $25
On the nose, blueberry, prune and black pepper aromas mingle pleasantly with the likes of moody toasted oak, barnyard and saltine notes. The dry palate entertains with a vein of sweet dark fruit followed swiftly by savoury oak and spice flavours.
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Le Vieux Pin 2009 Viognier-Roussanne - $29 (on-sale from $35)
The inaugural release is impressive, to say the least and shows great promise for future vintages. The key to this wine is the lush tropical fruit character and rich, chewy texture which is very well balanced by crisp, but not tart acidity.
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Robert Mondavi Winery 2007 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon - $40
Certainly, a Napa Valley Cab through and through, but not the foundation block to build a cellar of the same upon. Enjoy now for the pure masochistic pleasure of a young Napa Cab but the highly extracted nature of this wine needs time to mellow.
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Sperling Vineyards 2009 Old Vines Foch - 88pts

Sperling Vineyards 2009 Old Vines Foch (East Kelowna) Okanagan Valley - BC

Availability: Direct from the winery and VQA stores
Cost: $26
Alcohol: 13.2%
Production: 99 cases
Date Tasted: August 1st, 2011

Tasting Notes: Only a few vineyards of Foch vines survived the post-NAFTA replanting initiative and likely none are as old as the Sperling Vineyards plantings in East Kelowna (circa 1960's). Foch may not have the name recognition that many of the French and Italian grapes enjoy but this cool-climate loving hybrid should be explored due to its unique flavor profile that produces interesting and occasionally, very tasty wines. This example offers ample character on the nose and palate with mocha chocolate, cedar, ripe blueberry jam and campfire roasted marshmallow flavours and aromas. Pair with smoky, BBQ sausages to bring out the rustic elements of this wine. Drink 2011-2014.
 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2011

Township 7 Vineyards and Winery 2009 Sauvignon Blanc - 89pts

Township 7 Vineyards and Winery 2009 Sauvignon Blanc (Naramata Bench) Okanagan Valley - BC

Availability: BCLDB stores
Cost: $17.49-$18.99
Alcohol: 13%
Production: 639 cases
Date Tasted: August 1st, 2011

Tasting Notes: This is a delicious Sauvignon Blanc done in a weighty (almost chewy), Californian Fumé Blanc style, bursting with tropical and citrus fruit aromas on the nose. The dry, rich palate follows with intense pineapple, passion fruit, lemon-lime, melon and white pepper flavours.

Produced from fruit sourced from southern Okanagan Valley vineyards near Oliver and Osoyoos which benefited from the hot, late summer of the 2009 vintage, yet retained enough acid to create a refreshing, long finish with lingering mineral notes and spice. Has the weight and texture to hold another 2, even 3 more years, but I'm not sure why you'd want that lush fruit to sit around waiting to be opened. Drink 2011-2013.
 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2011