Stag's Hollow Winery 2010 Syrah - 90pts

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

: Direct from the winery here  and VQA stores
Cost: $27.99
Alcohol: 13.8%
Production: 465 cases
Date Tasted: February 27th, 2013

Tasting Notes: One of the more aromatic Syrah produced in the Okanagan with a lovely blend of white pepper, lavender, canned plums and sweet potpourri on the nose; truly a delight to quaff. The delicate and moderately bodied palate follows with integrated tannins and lively red berry acidity. An all-round more subtle approach than the powerhouse 2009 edition; reflective of the cooler temperatures and longer growing season of the 2010 vintage. 8.5% co-fermented Viognier adds depth and boosts its feminine appeal. Ready to open now, yet, will hold nicely in your cellar for many years. Drink 2013-2017.
- Liam Carrier ©copyright 2013

Las Moras 2011 Reserve Tannat - 87pts

Las Moras 2011 Reserve Tannat (Valle del Tulum) San Juan - Argentina
Availability: BCLDB stores
Cost: $14-15
Alcohol: 14%
Date Tasted: February 25th, 2013

Tasting Notes: Makes a nice alternative to the region's bread'n'butter variety, Malbec, with unique smoky-blueberry characters and a 16 month oak program usually reserved for more expensive wines. Both rustic and modern with light earthy notes and medium tannins framing the extracted, plump blue fruit favours and full body. Moderate finish is a tad bitter though offers nice dried fruit and spice flavours. Ready to be enjoyed now and should hold for 2 more years. Drink 2013-2015.
 - Liam Carrier ©copyright Icon Wines 2013

Viña Santa Rita 2008 Medalla Real Cabernet Sauvignon - 86pts

Viña Santa Rita 2008 Medalla Real Cabernet Sauvignon (Alto Jahuel) Maipo Valley - Chile

Availability: BCLDB stores, general listing
Cost: $21.99
Alcohol: 14.5%
Date Tasted: June 26th, 2012

Tasting Notes: The nice, dark berry infused, intense Cab nose verges on Australian in its concentration and potency. Light mint and eucalyptus notes further the comparison, but the similarities end on the dry, heavily extracted palate where cassis, blackberry, green pepper, dried herbs, pine needle and licorise flavours blend with mineral and French oak notes. Ultra ripe is one thing. Extracting every molecule of intensity is another and the balance skews towards overdone and over-acidic in the Medalla Real and that makes it hard to enjoy without food. Drink 2014-2015.
 - Liam Carrier ©copyright Icon Wines 2012

Rodney Strong Estate Vineyards 2010 Pinot Noir - 88pts

Rodney Strong Estate Vineyards 2010 Pinot Noir (Russian River Valley) Sonoma County - California

Availability: Costco
Cost: $20-30
Alcohol: 14.5%
Date Tasted: August 27th, 2012

Tasting Notes: The intense nose of sharp raspberry puree, aromatic cedar and light cherry aromas is followed by a bright, fruit-forward, dry palate with red fruit, light earth and mineral notes. A solid expression of Pinot Noir with moderate tannins and good table manners: pair it with a wide variety of medium cheeses or fowl. Enjoy this wine over the next 2-3 years. Drink 2012-2015.
 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2012

Viña Santa Alicia 2010 Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon - 89pts

Viña Santa Alicia 2010 Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon (Maipo Valley) Chile

Availability: Everything Wine
Cost: $17-19
Alcohol: 13.5%
Date Tasted: March 21st, 2012

Tasting Notes: The Santa Alicia Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon is a drink me now wine, but that doesn't exclude it from deserved praise; few Cabernets designed for early consumption are this good and affordable. Neither tannin-heavy nor an extraction-a-ganza, the focus of this wine is the pure cassis and blackberry fruit expression delivered with minimal influence from oak, yet clearly produced from some quality, ripe fruit. Only medium-plus in body, the fruit is left to shine on its own resulting in a relatively light weight Cabernet full of complex terroir-driven flavours. The finish is long and v.well balanced with lingering smoke and dark berry fruit notes. Enjoy this wine in its youth. Drink 2012-2014.
 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2012

Chateau Des Charmes 2009 Cabernet-Merlot - 87pts

Chateau Des Charmes 2009 Cabernet-Merlot (Niagara-on-The-Lake) Niagara Peninsula - Ontario

Availability: Direct from the winery here and LCBO stores
Cost: $12.95
Alcohol: 12.5%
Production: 2079 cases
Date Tasted: October 10th, 2012
Re-tasted: February 13th, 2013

Tasting Notes: As the story goes, Chateau Des Charmes decided the quality of their Paul Bosc Vineyard Bordeaux varietals designated for their top-end blend Equuleus weren't quite up to their high standards in 2009 and, instead, consigned the fruit to their Estate Bottled program for this blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot. The result is an impressive "budget" blend that over-delivers for the price with a nice nose of cassis, blackberry, vanilla spice and oak aromas followed by a medium-bodied, smooth-tannin palate with a good balance of mature dark fruit and savoury herbs'n'spice flavours. The moderate finish offers some lingering acidity, tobacco leaf and oak notes.

Ready to be enjoyed today and will hold for another 1-2 years. Drink now-2014.
 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2012

Fairview Cellars 2009 Cabernet Franc - 90+pts

Fairview Cellars 2009 Cabernet Franc (Golden Mile Bench) Okanagan Valley - BC

: Sold out. Contact winery for library release info here
Cost: $26.90
Alcohol: 14.9%
Production: 300 cases
Date Tasted: February 7th, 2012

Tasting Notes: This Cabernet Franc, produced from heat-soaked yet acid-retaining grapes from the 2009 vintage, is really starting to come into its own at the beginning of its fourth year revealing maturing aromas of wild berries, fresh mint, vanilla and oak aromas with light, rustic earthy notes. The dry, juicy palate is still quite youthful with mouth-watering acidity and fine, medium tannins supporting ripe mixed berry and licorice flavours. Light spice and cassis puree lingers on the finish. Drink mid-2013-2017.
- Liam Carrier ©copyright 2013

Chateau Des Charmes 2010 ‘Old Vines’ Riesling - 89pts

Chateau Des Charmes 2010 ‘Old Vines’ Riesling (St. David's Bench) Niagara Peninsula - Ontario

Availability: Direct from the winery here and select LCBO stores
Cost: $16.95
Alcohol: 12.5%
Production: 1025 cases
Date Tasted: February 6th, 2013

Tasting Notes: Though the balance is dry with nice lemon/lime acidity providing crispness the overall impression of this tasty Riesling from Chateau Des Charmes is of an intense, juicy wine with inviting aromas of stonefruit on the nose and concentrated flavours of ripe green apple, minerals and nectarine on the palate. The finish is long with lingering lemon and pear flavours. There is aging potential with this Riesling that may reward 2-3 years of extra bottle age, but feel no pressure to do so as the wine is tasting beautifully today. Drink now-2015+.
- Liam Carrier ©copyright 2013

Jackson Estate 2011 "Stich" Sauvignon Blanc - 90pts

Jackson Estate 2011 "Stich" Sauvignon Blanc (Marlborough) New Zealand

Availability: BCLDB stores
Cost: $19.99
Alcohol: 13%
Date Tasted: February 4th, 2013

Tasting Notes: This wine wins with its excellent balance of citrus acidity and light residual sugar on the rich, concentrated palate of gooseberry, kiwi fruit and mineral flavours. The finish is impressively long for this price point with lingering, mouth-watering lemon-lime peel notes and just a hint of spice. Enjoy this wine in its youth. Drink now-2014.
 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2013

Sileni Estates Winery 2011 Cellar Selection Pinot Noir - 88pts

Sileni Estates Winery 2011 Cellar Selection Pinot Noir (Hawke's Bay) New Zealand

BCLDB stores
Cost: $19.99
Alcohol: 12%
Date Tasted: February 1st, 2013

Tasting Notes: A consistantly well-made, vibrant Pinot Noir that admirably delivers New Zealand's balance of subtle barnyard, candied cherries, stewed berries and meaty components on the charming nose and the lightly effervescent, mild-tannin, easy-drinking palate. Light-to-medium bodied wine that will pair perfectly with lamb, turkey or beef stews.
 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2013

La Frenz Winery 2007 Montage - 90pts

La Frenz Winery 2007 Montage (Naramata Bench) Okanagan Valley - BC

Availability: Sold-out. 2011 vintage due in June 2013.
Cost: $24
Alcohol: 13.5%
Date Tasted: August 25th, 2009
Re-tasted: February 2nd, 2011

Tasting Notes: This unique blend of Shiraz, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon is a treat and a real bargain at $20 (original release price in 2009). Access to the wine is limited to ordering direct from the winery which is a shame as all BC wine lovers should try this mouth-watering, well-balanced and complex blend.

On the nose are dark berries and earthy aromas. The palate offers vanilla (aged in both French and American oak) and loads of dark chocolate. This dark-ruby wine has a finish that seems to go on and on in the most pleasant way. Fine tannins complete the experience. Drink now or age up to 5 years.
- Liam Carrier ©copyright 2009
Re-tasting Notes: The nose has developed a sublime bouquet of licorice All-Sorts and cherry-cola aromas followed by a much-mellowed palate where the tannins have dissolved into the background behind the rich, concentrated red and blue berry fruit flavours. Acid has stood the test of time and keeps the palate feeling fresh, though the finish has shortened. Drink now.
- Liam Carrier ©copyright 2013