Stag's Hollow Winery 2010 Viognier - 90pts

Stag's Hollow Winery 2010 Viognier (Okanagan Falls) Okanagan Valley - BC

Availability: Direct from winery here
Cost: $21.99
Alcohol: 13.9%
Date Tasted: October 11th, 2011
Re-tasted: December 17th, 2012

Tasting Notes: A textured, rich and creamy example of the Rhone Valley varietal resulting from French oak barrel fermentation and extensive lees contact. The nose offers subtle aromas of honeycomb, green apple, river stone and vanilla bean. Followed by a dry, medium-plus bodied palate with lush orchard and tropical fruit flavours balanced nicely by abundant acidity contributed from the cool 2010 vintage. A long, tart finish with lingering oak and brioche characters sits in your mouth comfortably, reminiscent of a barrel fermented Chardonnay. Has some development potential but the synthetic cork enclosure may limit the effect of aging. Drink 2011-2014.
 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2011

Re-tasting Notes: In its relatively short life thus far, this rich, tasty Viognier has aged beautifully filling out its tropical fruit flavour profile to include papaya and star fruit. Development may have peaked now so don't wait too much longer to open the bottle you've been saving. Truly one of the best Viognier produced in BC.

Sperling Vineyards 2010 The Market White - 87pts

Sperling Vineyards 2010 The Market White (East Kelowna) Okanagan Valley - BC

: VQA and select BCLDB stores
Cost: $16
Alcohol: 11.5%
Date Tasted: January 28th, 2013

Tasting Notes: Billed accurately as a crowd-pleasing, easy-drinking, off-dry, mid-week sipper that combines Pinot Blanc with lesser-known aromatic varieties like Bacchus and makes a food-friendly companion when the night calls for fish or spicy fare. Not too-sweet and not too-crisp, though impressive concentration of apple, pear and peach fruit on the mild-mannered palate elevates this blend above the average entry-level sku. Drink now-2013.
 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2013

Fairview Cellars 2008 Sauvignon Blanc - 90pts

Fairview Cellars 2008 Sauvignon Blanc (Golden Mile Bench) Okanagan Valley - BC

Availability: Sold-out. Contact winery for library release info
Cost: $19.99
Alcohol: 13.5%
Date Tasted: September 29th, 2009
Re-tasted: January 26th, 2013

Tasting Notes: Winemaker Bill Eggert is known for making powerful and elegant red wines at his small Oliver, BC winery. He's developed a cult following for these reds with many enthusiasts and his wines are featured in most of the top restaurants of the province. In 2007 he released his first and only white wine, a blend of mostly Sauvignon Blanc with a touch of Semillon. The 2008 vintage shows remarkably well and perhaps may induce Bill to attempt more whites, we can only hope.
This pale-straw coloured wine offers classic Sauvignon Blanc aromas of gooseberries and grapefruit with lemon grass notes. On the palate the high acid kick is mellowed by the abundance of fruit flavours: papaya, grapefruit, lemon, more gooseberries and a hint of unripened mango. The mineral notes and citrus flavours make this light-bodied wine a perfect pairing for oysters. In fact Bill refers to this wine as his "oyster wine" right on the label and he is absolutely right. Drink 2009-2015.
 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2009

Re-tasted Notes: The Stelvin cap enclosure has kept this wine tasting amazingly fresh for a 5 year-old Sauvignon Blanc. The colour has deepened slightly to a light hay hue while the acidic kick is still alive and well. Age has developed a tasty unctuousness that wasn't present in 2009, making the palate more complex, though, the finish has suffered a little, ending sooner, yet still lingers with mouth-watering lime rind notes.
 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2013

Bodegas Resalte de Penafiel 2005 'Resalte' Crianza - 92pts

Bodegas Resalte de Penafiel 2005  'Resalte' Crianza (Ribera Del Duero DO) Spain

: Limited. Private wine shops like Everything Wine
Cost: $45-50
Alcohol: 15%
Production: 5000 cases
Date Tasted: January 21st, 2013

Tasting Notes: Everything seems to fit just right in this gorgeous 100% Tempranillo wine from Spain's Ribera Del Duero region. The right amount of smoke, the right amount of spice, the right amount of red fruit and just the right amount of spicy oak is balanced effortlessly on the juicy and silky-smooth textured palate and on the seductive, cola-infused nose. Good acidity keeps your mouth refreshed while the mature, yet, grippy fine tannins structure the complex flavour profile to near perfection.

At the grand age of 8 years old this Crianza has peaked but will hold for another year or two if you aren't yet ready to take the plunge, just don't wait too long or you will miss the sweet spot. Drink now-2014.
 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2013

Bartier Bros. 2011 Cerqueira Vineyard Semillon - 86pts

Bartier Bros. 2011 Cerqueira Vineyard Semillon (Black Sage Bench) Okanagan Valley - BC

: Select BCLDB stores
Cost: $22
Alcohol: 11.8%
Date Tasted: January 21st, 2013

Tasting Notes: A fresh and vibrant Semillon produced with zero oak contact and fermented using only wild yeast resulting in an honest and uncomplicated wine to pair with tangy or lush seafood dishes. Finishes a bit short after a tart, though, pleasing palate of honeydew, minerals, pear, lime rind and figs. Drink now-2014.
- Liam Carrier ©copyright 2013

La Frenz Winery 2011 Riesling - 89pts

La Frenz Winery 2011 Riesling (Naramata Bench) Okanagan Valley - BC

: Direct from the winery here
Cost: $20
Alcohol: 11%
Date Tasted: January 17th, 2013

Tasting Notes: Not a super concentrated or 'showy' Riesling but rather a nicely textured, layered gem that begins with a subtle nose of Asian pear and honeydew followed by a well balanced, off-dry-yet-lively palate of honey crisp apples, grapefruit, stonefruit and, again, honeydew. The longer the wine sits in the glass the more tropical the flavour profile leans with a hidden richness beyond the mouth-watering acidity. A supremely consistent wine for La Frenz worth aging for 1-2 more years if you have the patience. Drink Now-2015.
- Liam Carrier ©copyright 2013

Le Vieux Pin 2011 Ava - 89-90pts

Le Vieux Pin 2011 Ava (Black Sage Bench) Okanagan Valley - BC

Availability: Not yet released. Contact winery here
Cost: $35
Alcohol: 14%
Date Tasted: October 16th, 2012

Tasting Notes: The "Ava", a blend of 78% Viognier, 11% Marsanne and 11% Roussanne offers a slightly muted nose but, there's lost to like with peach and apricot fruit aromas adding to the pleasant, aromatic bouquet. Clean and crisp with good minerality on the rounded, medium-plus bodied palate. Good balance, length and depth. Enjoy now or cellar for 2-3 years for further development. Drink 2012-2015.
- Liam Carrier ©copyright 2013

Tinhorn Creek Vineyards 2010 Oldfield Series Cabernet Franc - 91pts

Tinhorn Creek Vineyards 2010 Oldfield Series Cabernet Franc (Golden Mile Bench) Okanagan Valley - BC

Availability: Direct from winery here
Cost: $34.99
Alcohol: 14.6%
Production: 374 cases
Date Tasted: December 28th, 2012

Tasting Notes: This small lot release is the first Cabernet Franc from Tinhorn Creek to be elevated to the "Oldfield Series" reserve tier of wines and it makes a fine addition with an intriguing nose of wild blueberry, huckleberry, vanilla, Irish cream and toasted oak spice. The mocha-infused palate bursts with vibrant, raw, field berry acidity and flavours supported by fleshy, ripe tannins and a long, balanced finish with lingering chocolate and herb spices.

For years the heart and soul of Tinhorn's portfolio has been their well-priced varietal series Cabernet Franc which was often considered an interesting "alternative" red wine for a public who more frequently sought-out Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon. Now that Franc is more mainstream (and becoming a signature red wine for BC) it is receiving its due and the same barrel-selection and French oak program treatment normally reserved for the province's top blends and showcase Pinot Noirs. The Tinhorn Creek Oldfield Series Cabernet Franc is a prime example of how the unique herb-infused expression of the varietal in BC benefits from a long maturation in barrel and improves: true élevage.

As with all Oldfield Series wines, this Cabernet Franc has been released when it is ready to be enjoyed but will also feel at home in your cellar for another 3-4 years. Drink 2013-2017.
 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2013

Cassini Cellars 2009 Syrah - 90pts

Cassini Cellars 2009 Syrah (Golden Mile Bench) Okanagan Valley - BC

Availability: Direct from winery here
Cost: $34
Alcohol: 14.8%
Date Tasted: September 8th, 2011
Re-tasted: January 11th, 2013

Tasting Notes: Inky ruby-purple in colour with an extremely dense and complex nose of intense black cherry, blackberry, sweet tobacco, incense, tar, peppercorn, toasted oak, and cola aromas. 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. Tannins are plentifully but not intrusive, adding to the texture and longevity of this Syrah.

A long, balanced finish of lingering spice completes the experience with a nice, light acidic kick at the end to make you eager for another splash. Another 6 months to a year of bottle aging will help to reign in this beast a bit, mellowing the attacking, powerful palate. Drink mid-2012-2016.
 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2011

Re-tasted Notes: Aging nicely with a deepening nose producing more toasted oak aromas within the still-developing bouquet. Palate is still maturing, moving from a bright mouth feel to a darker, denser one, yet, far from feeling tired. Finish has muted slightly, but remains long with more tobacco and cola now present accompanying the lingering spice. Look for this beauty to peak around 2015.
 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2013

SummerGate Winery 2009 Riesling Two - 90+pts

SummerGate Winery 2009 Riesling Two (Summerland) Okanagan Valley - BC

Availability: Inquiries can be made direct to the winery here and Liberty Wine Merchants
Cost: $19.90
Alcohol: 13.6%
Production: 120 cases
Date Tasted: March 8th, 2011
Re-Tasted: January 9th, 2013

Tasting Notes: Sourced from the certified organic Stohler Family vineyard in Summerland, the secret to this Riesling's success is the inclusion of 5% botrytis affected fruit which adds depth and complexity to the nose and somewhat-dry palate. Melon, mineral and citrus fruit characters are complimented by candied-fruit notes from the botrytis affected berries. The wine is more austere on the palate than on the nose which offers abundant fruit.

Harvested in late October, the extra hang-time on the vine contributes to the impressive concentration in this wine. The acid is handled well and never seems tart due to the excellent balance of stonefruit flavours. There is some aging potential with this beauty, but you certainly don't have to wait for it to mature as it is drinking very well now. Drink 2011-2015.
 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2011

Re-Tasted Notes: At close to 4 years old, this impressive Riesling is still showing as youthful and energetic with the acid holding well and the mineral notes nicely intact. May hold past my original drinking window of 2011-2015, with the upside being more honeycomb characters on the palate.
 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2013

Van Westen Vineyards 2011 Vivacious - 85pts

Van Westen Vineyards 2011 Vivacious (Naramata Bench) Okanagan Valley - BC

Availability: Direct from winery here and VQA stores
Cost: $18.90
Alcohol: 13.5%
Production: 334 cases
Date Tasted: January 6th, 2013

Tasting Notes: Naramata Bench winery, and long-term grower, Van Westen Vineyards' "Vivacious" is primarily made with Pinot Blanc with a splash of Pinot Gris to round-out the flavour profile. Produced from estate-grown fruit, this medium-bodied wine starts promising with a light nose of Mott's Fruit Cup aromas and apple fritter notes. Unfortunately, the palate that follows is a bit confusing. You get a juicy and mineral-infused entry with intense, lively, orchard fruit flavours (very much on-brand for the Vivacious blend) followed by overwhelming green apple acidity on the finish which puckers your mouth quite distractingly. A wild ride.
 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2013

Road 13 Vineyards 2011 Stemwinder - 87pts

Road 13 Vineyards 2011 Stemwinder (Golden Mile Bench) Okanagan Valley - BC

Availability: BCVQA and BCLDB stores
Cost: $14.99
Alcohol: 13%
Date Tasted: January 4th, 2013

Tasting Notes: For the 2011 vintage the blend switches from a Chard-Sauv Blanc mix to a Chard-Viognier concoction with plump, orchard fruit flavours on the easy-drinking palate and lovely white peach and orange blossom aromas on the round, pleasing nose. Not quite as complex or powerful as its 2010 predecessor, yet, perhaps, possesses more broader appeal with a nice mellow tang while maintaining its fat, creamy texture. Its balance of juicy melon, pear and peach fruit paired with mannered citrus acidity makes it a true.... well, let's just call it "dangerously easy-drinking" rather than using the cruder reference to removing female undergarments.

Enjoy this well-priced wine in its youth. Drink 2013-2014.
 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2013