Truchard Vineyard 2008 Syrah - 88pts

Truchard Vineyard 2008 Syrah (Careros) Napa Valley - California
Availability: BCLDB Stores
Cost: $24.99
Alcohol: 14.2%
Date Tasted: January 24th, 2012

Tasting Notes: An interesting cross between a full bodied and jammy Australian Shiraz with a more herbal, mineral and oaky Rhone Valley Syrah. Not the most pleasant of bedfellows but the wine does come together in the end with a fairly concentrated expression of the dually named variety. Tannins are fine and surprisingly mild yet the colour, a deep violet-ruby, remains as intense as ever. A pleasant wine to pair with BBQ beef or dark chocolate. Drink now-2013.
 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2012

Flora Springs Winery 2005 Trilogy - 92pts

Flora Springs Winery 2005 Trilogy (Napa Valley) California - USA

Availability: Private wine stores
Cost: $50-70
Alcohol: 14.2%
Date Tasted: January 8th, 2010

Tasting Notes: From the cellar. At seven years of age this Meritage blend from Napa Valley's Flora Springs has really come into its own. The enchanting bouquet has developed a smoke-laced blend of mixed berries, charred cedar, vanilla, white chocolate, pepper and savoury spices. The concentrated, dry palate follows with amble acidity, mellowed fine tannins and a lovely perception of sweetness from intense, ripe red and black fruit flavours. The finish is moderate but very well balanced with lingering blackberry and cassis fruit and a hint of oak. Be sure to decant prior to serving and avoid the sizeable deposits. Drink now-2015+
 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2012

Columbia Crest Winery 2009 Two Vines Cabernet Sauvignon - 86pts

Columbia Crest Winery 2009 Two Vines Cabernet Sauvignon (Columbia Valley) Washington State

Availability: BCLDB Stores
Cost: $14.99
Alcohol: 13.5%
Date Tasted: January 18th, 2012

Tasting Notes: Warm, inviting, ripe dark fruit and cherry-cola aromas greet you on the nose of this Cabernet Sauvignon from Washington State. A touch of sweetness is present both on the nose and palate which makes for a very easy-going drinking experience. The balance is a tad sharp to off-set the residual sugar and plum flavours. The finish is surprisingly lengthy for such a well-priced wine. An excellent option for dinner parties due to its mass appeal and food friendliness. Drink now-2013.
 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2012

Long Shadows Vintners Collection 2006 Pedestal - 92pts

Long Shadows Vintners Collection 2006 Pedestal (Walla Walla) Columbia Valley - Washington State

Availability: BCLDB Signature stores
Cost: $80
Alcohol: 14.7%
Date Tasted: January 14th, 2012

Tasting NotesThis is a world class Merlot produced under the direction of Michel Rolland from Columbia Valley fruit offering intense dark berry, smoky cigar box, cedar chip, vanilla bean, prune juice and savoury spice characters on the intriguing nose and uber-smooth palate. Fine tannins and well-balanced acid add structure and a refined finish with lingering spice stays with you through to your next sip. Still developing, the wine won't peak for another 2 years yet the youthful presentation is well worth enjoying now. Drink Now-2016+.
 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2012

Long Shadows Vintners Collection 2005 Sequel - 93pts

Long Shadows Vintners Collection 2005 Sequel (Walla Walla) Columbia Valley - Washington State

Availability: BCLDB Signature stores
Cost: $80
Alcohol: 14.7%
Date Tasted: January 14th, 2012

Tasting Notes: From the cellar. This stunning Syrah from the 2005 vintage is still tasting fresh and youthful. Intense, dense cherry liqueur aromas mingle with hints of french oak and cinnamon creating a gorgeous, sweet and light spice developing bouquet. The intensity and concentration continues through to the dry palate. The entry is fruity with licorice, oak and mineral notes which transitions to a serious, terroir-driven expression of the Rhone varietal. Has the tannins, acidity and pedigree to last another 3-4 years. Drink Now-2015+.
 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2012

Hillebrand Winery 2010 Trius Cabernet Franc - 87pts

Hillebrand Winery 2010 Trius Cabernet Franc (Niagara Peninsula) Ontario

Availability: BCLDB Stores and direct from the winery here
Cost: $14.99
Alcohol: 13.5%
Date Tasted: January 16th, 2012

Tasting Notes: The Trius brand from Hillebrand Winery offers impressive value with varietal and blends produced from Niagara Peninsula fruit. This Cabernet Franc from the hot and dry 2010 vintage makes a welcomed foray into the BC market offering some classic Franc funkiness on the blueberry and violet nose and the dry, tart and oaky palate. Not overly complex, but tasty and satisfying with good concentration and moderately intense tannins. The finish is long and balanced with lingering clove spice and a touch of minerality. Drink now-2013.
 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2012

Stag's Leap Winery 2007 Chardonnay - 87pts

Stag's Leap Winery 2007 Chardonnay (Napa Valley) California

Availability: BCLDB Signature Stores
Cost: $30-35
Alcohol: 14.2%
Date Tasted: January 11th, 2012

Tasting Notes: With a brilliant gold hue, showing some development, this Chardonnay from famed Napa Valley producer Stag's Leap Winery offers a nice expression of orchard fruit with well balanced acidity and texture. What it doesn't offer is value for money, at least, not when sourced in BC with the punitive provincial mark-ups. At $30-plus in this market one expects a more memorable experience, not "a nice wine". If you're saving a bottle, better open it relatively soon as this wine has peaked. Drink now-2013.
 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2012

Painted Rock Estate Winery 2009 Merlot - 88-89pts

Painted Rock Estate Winery 2009 Merlot (Skaha Bench) Okanagan Valley - BC

Availability: Direct from the winery here and select VQA stores
Cost: $40
Alcohol: 14%
Date Tasted: January 12th, 2012

Tasting Notes: Fruity, joyful and moderately complex describes the nose of this Merlot. Filled with dark berry fruit aromas, anise, spice and a hint of mint. The entry on the concentrated palate is serious with toasted oak, bitter wild berry and mineral flavours, tart acidity and coarse tannins. This savoury nature gives way to a finish with lingering ripe blackberry and cassis flavours creating a brief perception of sweetness. Not the powerhouse of a wine that the 2007 and 2008 vintages were, yet, a fine example of the Paul Giamatti-enraging variety. Drink 2012-2016.
 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2012

Painted Rock Estate Winery 2009 Syrah - 91-92pts

Painted Rock Estate Winery 2009 Syrah (Skaha Bench) Okanagan Valley - BC

Availability: Direct from the winery here
Cost: $40
Alcohol: 14.3%
Date Tasted: January 10th, 2012

Tasting Notes: The incredible nose of this estate grown Syrah from Skaha Bench producer Painted Rock must be quaffed to be believed. It is both seductive and fun with a sweetness to it that feels familiar and safe yet mysteriously absent from memory. Licorice, raspberry, dark cherry, caramel brittle, vanilla, clove and light oak aromas sit playfully in the glass.

The dry palate follows with a tart, ripe, pureed red fruit medley and Old World leaning French oak flavours. Pepper spice is very much present but sits subtlety in the background. A touch of smoke and minerality make you first think of Northern Rhone, but really this is pure Okanagan and the evolving fruity-yet-age worthy style we see coming out of the valley. Ready to be enjoyed now with lush tannins and bright acidity that may yet develop further after 1-2 years in your cellar. Another winner for Painted Rock from the stunning 2009 vintage. Drink 2012-2016.
 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2012

Sumac Ridge Estate Winery 2010 Private Reserve Gewurztraminer - 88pts

Sumac Ridge Estate Winery 2010 Private Reserve Gewurztraminer (Summerland) Okanagan Valley - BC

Availability: BCLDB and BC VQA Stores
Cost: $13.99
Alcohol: 12.9%
Date Tasted: August 16th, 2011
-Gold Medal winner at the 2011 Summerland Fall Fair

Tasting Notes: The best known Gewurztraminer in BC is also one of the most consistently well made with a straight-forward, classic presentation of Goo with nice candied lychee fruit aromas on the pleasant nose and just a touch of residual sugar on the satisfying palate. The 2010 version, however, is the best in years for the Vincor controlled winery due to the extra acid and long finish. The cool vintage was good to the mildly acidic Alsatian variety in BC leaving winemakers a more balanced toolbox to work with and providing a natural counterpoint to the oily, fullness Gewurztraminer often has.

Still lacks a unique identity that some of the smaller, boutique wineries are able to infuse yet probably the most classic example of Gewurztraminer available for 2010 and one that is offered with unmatched value. Drink now-2012.
 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2012

Schild Estate 2008 2nd Blend Barossa Shiraz - 88pts

Schild Estate 2008 2nd Blend Barossa Shiraz (Barossa Valley) Australia

Availability: BCLDB Signature Stores
Cost: $17.99
Alcohol: 14.5%
Date Tasted: January 6th, 2012

Tasting Notes: A dense, tart and juicy Shiraz with big, dark red fruit mingling with licorice and pepper aromas which envelope the nose sensually. Concentration continues through to the palate with similar flavours and intensity yet never strays towards the dreaded "jammy" character of so many modern Aussie Shiraz. Mouth-watering acidity brightens the palate and keeps the dense fruit and oak flavours feeling fresh with sour rhubarb notes.

Pair with your favourite recipe for BBQ ribs. Ready to be enjoyed now and has the tannins and acid to last another 3 more years, but development may be minimal, so why wait? Drink now-2015.
 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2012

Wayne Gretzky Estate Wines 2007 Estate Series Cabernet-Merlot - 90pts

Wayne Gretzky Estate Wines 2007 Estate Series Cabernet-Merlot (Vineland) Niagara Peninsula - BC

Availability: Limited in BC. Widely available in Ontario
Cost: $20-25
Alcohol: 12.7%
Date Tasted: April 2nd, 2011

Tasting Notes: Glancing at the label and noticing the low 12.7% alcohol one might assume that either the fruit never fully ripened or that a dreadfully sweet palate awaits within. Thankfully, neither is the case with this tasty Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot blend from the Wayne Gretzky namesake winery. The wine is presented as an interesting New World / Bordeaux cross with the juicy fruit one expects at the forefront of the flavour profile from a North American Meritage wine matched impressively well with the lean, mean, oak-loving style of Bordeaux. Cassis, blackberry, savoury oak, spice and smoke flavours are all present with good concentration, medium-plus tannins and a touch of cranberry tartness on the moderate-plus finish.

Be sure to look for the "Estate Series" on the label as the celebrity-fronted winery also produces a lower tier Cab-Merlot blend around the $15-17 range which isn't as complex or as refined as the top-tier release. Drink now-2013.
 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2012

Stag's Leap Winery 2007 Petite Sirah - 90pts

Stag's Leap Winery 2007 Petite Sirah (Napa Valley) California

Availability: BCLDB Signature Stores
Cost: $38-50
Alcohol: 14.3%
Date Tasted: December 31st, 2011

Tasting Notes: Dense, smoky and spicy with abundant dark-fruit on the concentrated nose and palate. A blend of Petite Sirah (86%), Syrah (8%), Grenache (4%) and Viognier (2%) this powerful wine pays homage to its hot and sunny Napa Valley origins and intrigues with layers of pepper and cigar box complexity. An ideal BBQ wine, but at this price one would be better off showcasing it alone to savour the intricacies and hedonistic qualities of the unique flavour profile. Drink now-2015.
 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2012

Howling Bluff Estate Winery 2009 Summa Quies Pinot Noir - 91pts

Howling Bluff Estate Winery 2009 Summa Quies Pinot Noir (Naramata Bench) Okanagan Valley - BC

Availability: Limited. Sold out at winery
Cost: $32
Alcohol: 13.3%
Production: 120 cases
Date Tasted: January 2nd, 2012

Tasting Notes: This is a hard wine to get a hold of, sadly. With just 120 cases produced and an avid following, you'll be hard pressed to track one down. But for Pinot Noir fans, it's worth the effort.

This medium-plum hued beauty is 3 parts charm and one part serious Pinot. Add a sprinkle of happy-go-lucky fruity high notes and you have the makings of one heck of a Naramata Bench Pinot Noir. Think of it as a lovely Stoneboat Vineyards Pinot turned up to "11" - with a little less minerality and earthiness. Ripe and concentrated, raspberry, cherry and plum fruit characters are sublimely balanced on the nose and dry palate by the (mostly) new French oak treatment and mouth watering acidity. Fine tannins and an elegant mouth feel precede the long finish with lingering spice and vanilla flavours. Yum.

Screw-cap enclosure will keep this wine drinking fresh and bright for another 3-4 years. Drink now-2016.
 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2012

Osoyoos Larose 2008 Petales d'Osoyoos - 86pts

Osoyoos Larose 2008 Petales d'Osoyoos (East Bench Osoyoos) Okanagan Valley - BC

Availability: BCLDB and VQA stores
Cost: $25
Alcohol: 13.5%
Date Tasted: December 27th, 2011

Tasting Notes: A blend of all 5 red Bordeaux varieties with Merlot in the lead, this "second wine" from Osoyoos Larose takes a turn towards bitter oak and tobacco products for the 2008 vintage. A slightly cooler vintage compared to the 2007 and 2006 growing seasons, the 2008 has the intensity and complexity one comes to expect from the Petales, but the flavour profile on offer of cassis, tar, pepper, pine cones and toasted oak is dominated by somewhat unripe, course tannins and an ultra-dry mouth feel. May round a bit with more bottle time as we wait in anticipation of the ripe 2009 version to be released. Drink now-2014.
 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2012

Monthly Picks: January 2012

This month we feature nothing but red wines to help you battle the winter blues. Sorry, no bargain wines in this month's selections.

Fairview Cellars 2009 Bucket O' Blood - $27
Loaded with both Cabernet and Syrah character, the nose is robust and complex with layers of bright red and blue fruit with notes of mint, white pepper, vanilla and oak.
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Young and Wyse Collection 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon - $27
Impressively complex, possibly due to longer hang-time than typical during the 2010 vintage, with an unique savoury flavour profile of tobacco leaf, bitter mocha, licorice, pine sap, Christmas spice and cassis fruit.
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Cassini Cellars 2009 Syrah - $34
The dry, fresh and youthful palate will excite your taste and touch senses with concentrated flavours of ripe cherry, rhubarb, dark chocolate, oak, allspice and white pepper with a bright mouth feel due to prominent acid and a sexy, dense texture.
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Aces Okanagan Estate Winery 2007 Pocket Kings - $35
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.
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Meyer Family Vineyards 2010 Reimer Vineyard Pinot Noir - $40
This delightful purple-ruby hued Pinot Noir begins with a gorgeous nose worth taking the time to enjoy before moving on to the concentrated, tart palate. Rich, round aromas of dark cherry, raspberry seeds, ripe plum, vanilla, dried flowers and a hint of oak mingle nicely in the glass creating a pleasing bouquet that will make you smile.
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Laughing Stock Vineyards 2009 Portfolio - $42
A stellar example of a Bordeaux inspired Okanagan blend that boasts a dense nose of blackberry and cassis fruit, anise and clove spices followed by an exquisite, powerful, full-bodied palate of similar flavours with added savoury elements of coffee grinds, toasted oak and fresh tobacco leaf.
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Black Hills Estate Winery 2009 Nota Bene - $53
The fruit characters on the gorgeous nose and juicy, sublime palate are the ripest since the 2003 vintage. Higher extraction and more modern vinification techniques have upped the concentration and increased the potential cellar life for this highly collected blend of 46% Cabernet Sauvignon, 38% Merlot and 16% Cabernet Franc.
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