Wednesday, January 17, 2018

It's chilly, so let's go to Chilé and have some Chili!!

Kidding about the last part. There was no chili served.

Our latest theme night, months ago at this point (I suck on these updates), and it was a success as always. Lots of great food and wine consumed as the country of Chilé was celebrated. Let's get right to it!

Course 1

The wine:

Valdiveso 2013 Sauvignon Blanc ($13.99)

Light, subtle nose but the palate makes up for it. Fruity notes with citrus and yellow fruits. Medium finish. Decent bargain and it paired well with the shrimp.

Course 2

The wine:

Emiliana 2016 Eco Balance Chardonnay ($13.99)
Light buttery notes on the nose, framed by citrus and pear. Citrus dominates the palate, particularly fresh notes of lemon and lime. Balanced and a good deal for the money. Paired nicely with the dish.

Concha Y Tora 2014 Palo Alto Riserva II ($14.99)
Odd blend of Merlot, Shiraz, Tempranillo and Viognier. In-your-face jammy notes reminiscent of a cheap Zinfandel. Lots of pepper. A tiny bit of spice on the finish which was light and short. Just average. In fairness, everyone else at the party enjoyed this more than I did. 

Course 3

The wine:

Concha Y Tora 2015 Marques de Casa Concha Chardonnay ($22.99)

Aromas of toasty oak, hazelnut and clove. Big and buttery, lots of citrus fruits mingling with butterscotch and caramel. Lovely finish. An excellent deal and perfect pairing with the meal.

Torreon de Paredes 2014 Reserva Chardonnay ($24.99)
Pineapple and banana aromas are prevalent. High acidity, this one is young and needs to age to fully develop. Tropical fruits and citrus abound. Drinking well now but has potential.

Course 4

The wine:

Vina Montes 2014 Purple Angel ($69.99)

Now we are talking. Aromas of blackberry, black cherry, cassis and blueberry. Fruit forward. The palate is assaulted by fruit as well, cassis, blackberry, black plum and a hint of mint. Finishes so long with dark chocolate showing up at the end. A real treat and an excellent pair with this delicious dish!

Course 5

The wine:

Concha Y Toro 2013 Don Melchor Cabernet Sauvignon ($86.99)
As if the Purple Angel wasn't enough! Cassis, blackberry, black plum, eucalyptus and white pepper on the nose. Bright black fruit, licorice, dark chocolate and tobacco delight the palate. Long and luscious finish. Very, very special. Pricey, I know, but if you like Cabernet Sauvignon, you'd be hard pressed to find a better one at this price point. Seek it out.

Oh, and the steak sandwich was freaking delicious, and paired beautifully.

Course 6

The wine:

Santa Ema 2012 Amplus One ($32.99)
Predominantly Carmenere, with some Syrah and Carignan. Blueberry, cassis, red cherry and tobacco aromas. Blackberry, vanilla and cherry flavors dominate, with notes of violet echoing. Tasty!


Lapostolle 2015 Cuvée Alexandre Carmenere ($24.95)
Intense aromas of black fruit, cassis, bell pepper and vanilla. Black fruit, cedar and dark chocolate on the palate. Lovely finish. Excellent bargain!

I can't actually recall if we intentionally paired that wine with dessert, I think not in fact. My memory is foggy but I think we just drank this between courses and had the dessert with whatever wine was leftover. Anyway, it was good, as was the entire night of food, friends and wine. We are certainly hoping to actually visit Chilé in the not-too-distant future, and this was a nice little preview.

Up next in the blog, time to catch up on a bunch of good stuff we've been drinking recently, AND we are only days away from our next theme night, as we visit PORTUGAL!

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Year in Review: Top 10 Wines of 2017!!

A new yearly post, the 10 best wines I enjoyed this past year. Sorted strictly by score, with lowest price breaking ties. Here we go!

First, an honorable mention to one that I was expecting to make this list, but the list got even better than I thought. I had not yet reviewed this one so I will do so here:

La Stella 2008 Maestoso ($110.00)
Intoxicating aromas of black fruit, mushroom, cigar box, leather and a hint of vanilla. The decade in the bottle has soothed this savage beast, bringing intense fruit flavors mixing in with the flavors you might expect in an aged wine; leather, tobacco, earth and mushroom. We enjoyed this on New Year's Eve with a fantastic Beef Wellington and both were just superb. Really special.

So, yeah, if that didn't make the Top 10, it must have been a fantastic year! Let's get right to it, starting with a terrific wine we enjoyed at my huge birthday wine event in November.


Two Hands 2012 Ares Shiraz ($169.99 USD from

Very dark purple in colour, the 2012 Ares is winemaking at it's finest. Intoxicating aromas of blackberry, black currant, black plum, blueberry, dark chocolate, mint and cedar. Black fruits dominate the palate, which is full bodied, juicy and chewy. The finish goes on and on for at least a minute. The tannins are settling but this will probably improve with even more cellar time. It doesn't need to improve.

Next up, a decade-old favorite, enjoyed on our patio one night when we just decided to cook meat and open great wine!

Silver Oak 2007 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($150 USD)
Incredible aromas of sweet blackberry and blueberry, mint, cedar, leather and cigar box. The wine jumps from the glass, attacking your mid-palate with black cherry, coffee, toasty oak and tobacco flavors. Long, luscious finish. Even at a decade old, this has a ton of life left, it could probably improve for another 10-15 years. There isn't much improvement needed. 

From "Italy" night, a real winner that we have enjoyed a few bottles of this year:


Collematoni 2007 Vigna Fontelontano Brunello di Montalcino Reserve ($129.99)

Intoxicating aromas of charred meats, dark berries, cedar, tea leaves and a touch of spice. Incredibly complex. Red fruits abound, as does cedar, leather and a touch of mocha. Tannins are smooth and supple. Finishes very, very long. This is a top-notch Brunello and is drinking incredibly well now. Very special. 

From my very special "birthday night" of great wine, the wines that come in at numbers 7 and 4 on this list. That was a FANTASTIC night of wine, obviously!


Hartford Family Winery 2014 Stone Côte Vineyard Chardonnay ($65.00 USD from winery)
Caramel jumps from the glass and assaults your nose, but if you pay attention, you'll notice some nutmeg, cardamon and cinnamon as well, followed by hints of wet stone and orange blossom. The palate is sublime, with notes of sweet vanilla, caramel, pear, hazelnut and underripe tropical fruit. Just amazing, featuring vibrant acidity. Crisp and refreshing. I need to get some more of these!

Next up on our countdown, the best Zinfandel I have ever tasted, and it's not really close.


Hartford Family Winery 2014 Highwire Vineyard Zinfandel ($60 USD direct from winery)

From a 100+-year-old-vineyard in the Russian River Valley, and aged in 100% French Oak (45% new) for 10 months. Deep and impressive aromas of licorice, blackberry, white pepper and black cherry. Black fruit dances on your palate, joined by some rich, luscious dark chocolate. The finish goes on longer than Pinocchio's nose in that Geico commercial. I honestly can't imagine that Zinfandel gets much better than this. I hope I get to find one even better one day. It won't be easy. 

From our "USA" theme night, a truly special Syrah from Washington State. 


K Vintners 2014 Powerline Syrah ($47.99 USD from

They are making some great Syrah in Washington and this one is near the top of the list. Roasted game, dark plum, blackberry, wet earth and black pepper on the nose. Meaty, almost chewy tannins. Flavors of black licorice, blackberry, black pepper, black plum (notice a pattern?). Finishes forever. This one is already a knockout and some further aging will only enhance. A triumph. 


Marchesi de Frescobaldi 2010 Luce Della Vita ($89.99)

Sweet Sassy Molassy.

55% Merlot, 45% Sangiovese

Dark flowers, nutmeg, blueberry, black currant, mint, cola, blackberry and a hint of delicious funk on the nose. Blueberry, cherry cola, blackberry and chocolate on the palate. A touch of mint shows up on the long, beautiful finish. Undoubtedly the best Luce I have ever experienced.

For our dessert on "Bordeaux" night, this beauty wowed all the guests.


Chateau Rieussec 2013 Sauternes ($80.00)

Feel like having your mind blown? Pick up one of these. Or 10. Closing in on perfection, complex aromas of dried apricot, peach, lemon meringue pie, honey and a touch of mushroom. Full bodied and the perfect amount of sweet to go with the dessert. Finishes forever. FOREVER. A tour-de-force and it might even get better with further time. 

During the summer, we hosted our dear friends for "Big Hunks of Meat" night. Lots of different red meats to pair with a bunch of great Syrah. This one was the best.


Shafer Vineyards 2013 Relentless Syrah ($99.99 USD)

97% Syrah, 3% Petit Sirah

An intense inky purple colour. The aromas jump from the glass and dance seductively across your olfactory senses. Black fruit and BBQ meat, cedar, licorice, mint, lavender and sage all take their intoxicating turn. The palate is as complex as I have experienced. Blackberry, boysenberry, mushroom, cinnamon, nutmeg, blueberry, raspberry. Full-bodied and ridiculously decadent, this is a tour-de-force in winemaking and is nearly flawless. Find one (or more) of these. 

And, at the top of our list, the only "perfect" wine we experienced this year, and only the 2nd one to ever get that notable number (both Icewines....hmm, I notice a pattern).


Tantalus Vineyards 2015 Riesling Icewine ($65.13)

I actually have to take a deep breath while writing this review so I don't get overexcited. It starts off with the most beautiful, exotic aromas of pineapple, red apple, honey, citrus and caramel.

The palate features pineapple flavors all day long. They are not alone, with sweet apple pie, lemon meringue pie and even some peach and nectarine making appearances. It's sweet as you would expect with an Icewine, but not sickingly so; complex and brilliant, with a finish that goes on forever. For only the second time in the history of my wine blog, I can proclaim that this wine has reached the pinnacle of perfection. 

Friday, January 5, 2018

Okanagan Trip, Part 7: MAIN EVENT time, Nota Bene vertical tasting!

They say a picture paints a thousand words. This is about 50-thousand.

That's right, true believers, a vertical tasting of every year of Nota Bene that ever existed, including a barrel sample of the 2016.

A fantastic event, attended by such wine luminaries as Anthony Gismondi and "The Wine Diva" Deanna Van Mulligan.

I'll sum up my reviews of each vintage succinctly and sort them into three categories:

Past their peak:

1999: One of only two vintages (2012 the other) where Merlot is the dominate grape. Tons of leather, tobacco leaf, mushroom, forest floor and black licorice. Still finishes very long, and is tasty, but not a ton of fruit left. 88.

2002: Almost port-like in viscosity and mouthfeel. Blackberry liqueur, black currant, and cigar box. Not a very long finish. 88.

2004: Probably could go in either of the top two categories, but the slippage is just beginning with this one. Chocolate, vanilla and cherry aromas will give you the impression that it's still fresh, but the palate is overcome with earthiness and tobacco. Some fruit left for sure, but there probably won't be for much longer. 90.

2008: Prior to this event, the '08 was the oldest vintage I had tasted and reviewed, here, in 2015. At the time I wondered aloud if it would still improve, and the answer is a resounding "no". It's still very good, but time has started to show some flaws. 90.

Drinking beautifully now:

2000: Aromas of mocha, black olive and tobacco leaf. Black cherry, cassis and mint on the palate. This one has lots of fruit left but certainly won't improve at this point; drink it now! 92.

2001: Forest floor, mushroom, mint and leather on the nose. Cherry, tobacco and mushroom on the palate, finishes incredibly long. Another one to open up now if you have some! 92.

2003: From the incredibly hot year that featured the devastating fires in the Okanagan, this one was my favorite of the tasting (and my wife's, too!). A smokiness on the nose, for sure, with leather, black cherry, blackberry, mint and tobacco as well. Juicy and delicious flavors of black cherry, plum and boysenberry. Finishes forever. Brilliant. 95.

2005: The lightest aromas of the entire vertical, some chocolate and sage if you pay attention. The palate is so much better than the nose, dominated by black cherry and a touch of spice on the finish. 91.

2006: Like the 2002, this one has become viscious, almost thick, in time. Aromas of cassis liqueur, blackberry, leather, dark chocolate and plum. Blackberry and blueberry show up on the palate, which is delicious despite the unusual qualities. Long finish. 92.

2007: Aromas of cassic, black raspberry, mint and stewed prunes. Black cherry, plum, vanilla, toasted oak and cedar on the palate. This one, at a decade old, is hitting it's peak but has more time in it. 92.

2013: Brilliant aromas of cherry cola, blackberry and red cherry. Strawberry, raspberry, vanilla and white chocolate on the palate. Lovely, long finish. Hey, another couple years in the bottle will probably improve it even further, but it's drinking so well now! 93-95.

2015: What? The most current vintage ready already? Yes it is! The most approachable vintage yet. I'm just going to link to my review of this from June where I gave it 95 points, because nothing has changed. Delicious!

Needs more time:

2009: I wouldn't wait too long on this one, but it still has closed off tendencies. The nose is light and unimpressive, with sage and chocolate lurking in the background. Bright cherry, raspberry, strawberry and blueberry flavors. Finish is medium at best. 88-90.

2010: This one could probably go in the above category as well, it's "right there".....aromas of cassis, eucalyptus, cherry cola and black tea. Black fruits dominate the palate, with a lovely mouthfeel and long finish. Give it another year, maybe two, and you will not be sorry. 93.

2011: Another one with a light nose that seems closed off and unimpressive. The palate is a little hot, with flavors of red cherry and red raspberry. I'd give this one another 3-4 years and see what it is like when it hits the decade mark. 88-90.

2012: The second Merlot-dominate vintage features aromas of cherry cola, vanilla and mocha. Lots of red fruit up front on the palate, joined by some blackberry. Finishes long. This one is almost ready to go. Open before the 2011 for sure. 92-94.

2014: Light aromas of red cherry and herbs. Cherry and blackberry dominate the palate. This was really popular with a lot of the other tasters but I think it needs another 5-7 years to open up and reveal itself. 91-93.

2016: Well, duh....this was just a barrel sample, but it was already showing well. Black cherry and black tea aromas, with cherry and blackberry flavors. Rich, full mouthfeel. Tons of potential! 92-94.

At the conclusion of the event, we were asked to secretly pick our favorite. As I mentioned, my wife and I both (without knowing the other pick) chose the 2003 in what would have been a close call over the 2015. It was the 2015 that came out on top of the room-wide voting, however. Clearly this group of tasters preferred young, fresh wine, because the 2nd choice was a huge surprise to me.

1st: 2015
2nd: 2014
3rd: 2005

So that's it for this Okanagan trip! Next up, I still have to report on our last theme event (Chile!), have lots of great Holiday wine to report on and, a new annual feature, I'm going to spotlight my Top 10 Wines of 2017! Stay tuned!!

Friday, December 29, 2017

Okanagan Trip, Part 6, Is thar Gold in them thar Hills????

Gold Hill, a winery I hadn't tasted in many years. Our first visit to the winery. Nice, quaint tasting room, although a bunch of kids came running through the room during our visit which was a bit distracting I must admit. They feature an extensive portfolio, so let's get to it!

Gold Hill 2014 Chardonnay ($22.50)

No oak, no maloactic fermentation. Aromas of pineapple and green apple, followed by a touch of minerality. Peach, pear and citrus flavors. Refreshing if you are a fan of this style of Chardonnay.

Gold Hill 2013 Viognier ($22.00)
Light, almost imperceptible nose with just a hint of passion fruit. Flavors of citrus dominate but if you pay attention you may notice some lavender lurking.

Gold Hill 2012 Pinot Gris ($18.00)
5-year old Pinot Gris is rare to find in a tasting room, and perhaps this is the last vintage as it is nowhere to be found on the website. Nose is very light, as with the above. Pear, apricot and citrus hints on the palate.
Gold Hill 2014 Charisma White ($18.00)

Gewurztraminer/Sauvignon Blanc/Riesling/Viognier/Pinot Gris

Aromas of grapefruit, lychee and white flowers. Slightly off dry palate, dominated by pear and lychee, with a slight touch of spice showing up at the end.

Gold Hills 2016 Rosé ($20.00)

100% Cabernet Franc

Delightful aromas of plum, vanilla and strawberry. Red fruits are all over the palate, and a hint of spice shows up at the end. Tasty.

Gold Hill 2013 Charisma Red ($ Unknown)
Another one that is gone from their website. A blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Malbec, Merlot and Pinot Noir. Everything but the kitchen sink. Aromas of plum, toffee, cherry, strawberry and vanilla. Blackberry, blueberry and stewed plums on the palate. Finishes off with a hint of cedar.

Gold Hill 2012 Pinot Noir ($24.99)
Light aromas of cherry and strawberry. Flavors of bitter cherry and cedar with a hint of tobacco. Doesn't leap from the glass like a top-notch Pinot can.

Gold Hill 2012 Merlot ($24.99)
Aromas of cherry, strawberry and dark chocolate. Takes a while, but those aromas translate to the palate as well, joined in by a touch of tobacco on the finish.

Gold Hill 2013 Cabernet Franc ($25.13)
Black currant, anise and black pepper on the nose. Enticing flavors include pepper, anise and cherry. Has all the parts to be special, but it stops short. With a longer finish, this could be a star.

Gold Hill 2013 Syrah ($27.00)
Pretty aromas of violets, lavender and vanilla. Once your nose is used to the feminine floral scents, your palate is assaulted by raspberry and cherry flavors, with a good dose of pepper on the finish. In terms of depth and quality of flavors, this rivals the above Cab Franc; but the finish lingers, pushing it up a notch. Nice.

Gold Hill 2015 Cabernet Merlot ($22.00)
Aromas of blueberry jam, vanilla, strawberry and a hint of cherry notes. The flavors follow through to the palate, joined by a touch of earthiness. This is simple and unsophisticated but if you are looking for that, and there's nothing wrong with simple sometimes, this could pair nicely with lighter cuts of meat or aged cheeses.

Gold Hill 2013 Malbec ($41.50)
Blackberry, violets, vanilla and baking spices on the nose. Opens up beautifully in the glass with a generous swirl. Flavors of blueberry jam, licorice, toffee, cinnamon and nutmeg. Finishes long and lovely. A top quality BC Malbec.

Gold Hill 2013 Meritage Reserve ($47.50)
Aromas of vanilla, toffee, blueberry and violets. Cherry, anise, cocoa and vanilla flavors. This is huge and needs time to settle. If you are drinking now, ensure a nice, long decant.

That's it for our first visit to Gold Hills. I'd like to see them consolidate their portfolio a bit and focus on what they do best. Perhaps they are already doing that, with several of the wines above disappearing from their website.

Next up: The Main event of this trip, a 19-year vertical tasting of Black Hills' flagship wine, Nota Bene!!

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Okanagan Trip, Part 5, our second visit this year to Burrowing Owl!

Quietly becoming one of our favorite spots to visit in the Okanagan. We had a terrific seated tasting here earlier this year, but there were a few new vintages released since then so we wanted to show up and try them out.

Burrowing Owl 2015 Pinot Noir ($30.00)
Beautiful aromas of black cherry, Christmas cake and savory herbs. There is a touch of spice on the palate, mingling in with flavors of red cherry, chocolate, black plum and cocoa. Delicious.

Burrowing Owl 2014 Merlot ($30.00)
Baking spice, holly, vanilla and red fruit on the nose. Juicy red fruit flavors, joined by dark chocolate, vanilla, blackberry. Vibrant acidity and a long finish.
Burrowing Owl 2015 Cabernet Franc ($33.00)
Red cherry, strawberry pie, vanilla and chocolate aromas. Intense and beautiful. Red fruit and a touch of spice on the palate. This one is a beast, and the tannins need time to subside a bit, but this is going to be really special. Give it 2-4 years, and if you just can't wait, aerate and decant for 3-4 hours.

That is all of the new stuff from Burrowing Owl to report on; one more stop before the main event of this trip, our first trip to Gold Hill winery!

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Okanagan Trip, Part 4, our first visit to Rust Wine Co.!!!!

Holy crap, it's four days until Xmas. It was October, like, yesterday. Sorry for the total lack of blog posts lately, things have been insane. But let's pick up the Okanagan Trip at a new (to us) winery. Started in part by Jesse Harnden, who was instrumental in the startup at The Hatch (aka Crazytown). We met Jesse at The Hatch on our first visit, only three weeks after they opened. He left to pursue other opportunities, which I guess came about when Rustico Farm & Cellars hit the market.

He and his partners renamed the winery "Rust Wine Co". I guess it was just cheaper to use some white out on the "ICO". Perhaps it's a little more involved than that....

From their website, "Why Rust?"


Makes sense. I guess. Anyway, it's a little bit "out there", but what would you expect from someone who was involved in the launching of The Hatch?

To the wine!

Rust Wine Co. 2016 Riesling ($18.00)
Kind of a middle-of-the-road Riesling, with a bit of everything. Some minerality, off-dry but not sweet, soft, supple and round. Flavors of banana and pineapple. Terrific to just sit and sip.

Rust Wine Co. 2016 Pinot Gris ($20.00)
Putting your nose into this glass is akin to opening up a fruit cup and burying your head in the jar. Pear dominates the juicy palate. Very nice.

Rust Wine Co. 2016 Semillon ($22.00)
There is no mention of this on their website, so it's probably sold out. Sourced from an abandoned vineyard in OK Falls. Another fruit cup on the nose, with pear and nectarine really standing out. The palate features racy acidity and lots of lemon. This is not a patio sipper, you'll need to find the right meal to pair with this one.

Rust Wine Co. 2016 Rosé ($22.00)

Made from 100% Zweigelt and if you've ever smelled Zweigelt, that won't be a surprise to you. Tart strawberry and rhubarb aromas and flavors. Quite dry.

Rust Wine Co. 2015 Pinot Noir ($25.00)
Voluptuous aromas of strawberry with some herbaceous notes lingering. Red cherry, strawberry, fresh sage flavors abound. Give this one a couple years to fully flesh out and let the flavors integrate. Lots of potential.

Rust Wine Co. 2014 Golden Mile Zinfandel ($40.00)

You think you know Zin? You don't know THIS Zin. NOTHING like the big jammy Zinfandels you might be used to. Aromas of white pepper, blackberry and pencil shavings. Savory on the palate, with herbs and black pepper dominating, but not overpowering, the fruit. We decided this would be a terrific pairing with a Rosemary-crusted Prime Rib, and a couple of weeks ago I put that to the test. We were right. OH, so right. Absolutely delicious.

Well that's it for this entry, we left here satisfied with a bottle of Riesling and a couple bottles of that incredible Zin. Very friendly service and a nice space. Check this one out next time you are in the area!

Next up: Oh so much to still report on. Still have to report on our "Chile" night which was wonderful, and there are three more entries in this Okanagan Trip to come, including the main event of the trip. I'll try to get them all done before the New Year. And let's face it, I'm going to be drinking some great wine over the Holidays so that will be another report!

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Now THAT'S how to have a birthday party.

I'll just let pictures tell the story.

Showing off a couple beauties from the cellar!
And, no, we weren't serving these wines tonight.

Several different themed tasting tonight. First up, a vertical tasting of Quails' Gate Chardonnay. We served their Stewart Family Reserve Chardonnay, 2009-20015, and their Rosemary's Block Chardonnay, 2013-2015.

I've reviewed most of these wines previously so I won't go into full details on these ones, but the general consensus among the guests was that the 2009 was declining, the 2010-2012 were drinking beautifully, and the 2013-2015 were good but needed a bit more time. I would agree with all of that.

Next up, we featured some "BC vs. the World" rare grape varietals (rare to BC, anyway). Let's see what everyone thought of some BC Barbera, Gruner Veltliner and Chenin Blanc, against their more traditional cousins.

Sandhill 2014 Small Lots Barbera ($35.00 from winery direct)

Previously reviewed here, during  a recent Okanagan trip.

Fontanafredda 2015 Briccotondo Barbera ($18.49 from BC Liquor Stores)

Also previously reviewed, here, on Italy night.

I gave them both the same score, and I'd stand by that. My guests, however, preferred the Italian variation, by a fairly wide margin.

BC: 0, The World 1

Quails' Gate 2014 Chenin Blanc ($17.99 from winery direct)
92% Chenin Blanc, 8% Sauvignon Blanc

Even after 5 years of aging, fruit dominates the nose and the palate. Citrus right up front, with some papaya and mango joining the party on the mid-palate. Racy acidity, this wine should always be front of mind if trying to pair with seafood, particularly oysters.

Loic Mahé 2012 Les Fougeries Saviennes ($27.99 USD from
Aromas of lanolin, tropical fruit, dried herbs, and a touch of honey. Medium-full bodied and slightly off-dry, with notes of herbs, citrus, and honey. This is a well regarded wine (94 points from Wine Enthusiast) but it didn't knock us over.

There was no question on this one, BC wins this challenge by a wide margin.

BC: 1, The World 1

Last but certainly not least, Gruner Veltliner.

The BC entry (Culmina 2015 Unicus ($27.00 from winery) is one which I had raved about in the past, and the one from Austria we had tasted before (a different vintage) and thought it was pretty good but not even in the same league. You can see the reviews of both here.

The vintage that we tasted on this night was better, for sure.

Domäne Wachau - 2016 Federspiel Gruner Veltliner ($19.99)

Exotic fruit aromas, a hint of white pepper, golden delicious apple and herbaceousness. Crisp acidity frames flavors of tropical fruit and a touch of white pepper on the finish. Very typical Austrian Gruner. Medium bodied and tasty. 

My guests agreed with my assessment that the BC example was the winner here, although it was much closer than it should have been, IMO.

BC 2, The World 1

So that should pretty much end the debate of whether or not BC can make quality wines out of grapes that aren't widely grown here. No question.

Now, to the main event of the evening, a blind tasting of 5 Australian Shiraz, all from 2012, with very, VERY different price points. I was the only person who knew which wine was which. After everyone had tasted them all, they ranked them from favorite to least favorite and I tallied the results. I assigned 5 points for every first place vote, down to 1 point for every last place vote. 

The wine that finished in first place was a real beauty.

Two Hands 2012 Ares Shiraz ($169.99 USD from

Very dark purple in colour, the 2012 Ares is winemaking at it's finest. Intoxicating aromas of blackberry, black currant, black plum, blueberry, dark chocolate, mint and cedar. Black fruits dominate the palate, which is full bodied, juicy and chewy. The finish goes on and on for at least a minute. The tannins are settling but this will probably improve with even more cellar time. It doesn't need to improve.

Voted into second place, which would have been third on my list, is one you'll all recognize and it's available just about anywhere wine is sold.

Wolf Blass 2012 Grey Label Shiraz ($34.99)
Aromas of blue and black fruits, just a hint of black pepper, toasty oak and dark chocolate. Black fruits dominate the palate, joined on the mid-palate by licorice, chocolate and vanilla. Really nice at this price. 

Voted into third place was another real beauty, and it was second on my list. This is one that's available in BC Liquor stores. 

John Duval 2012 Entity Shiraz ($62.99)

Blackberry, plum, crushed leaves, clove, vanilla, raspberry and cedar on the nose. A hint of well-integrated oak on the palate, joined by blackberry and black plum, with some herbaceous notes, smoke and vanilla. So nice. 

In fourth place was the wine which actually had the second highest price point, but I (and most guests) were somewhat disappointed in it. It's a very highly rated wine (95-97 points from Robert Parker!) but we didn't think that much of it for the price. Not that it was bad, just overpriced. 

Elderton 2012 Command Shiraz ($99.99 USD from
Dark and brooding, dominated by dark fruit on the nose and palate, with a touch of pepper lurking in the shadows. It's a good wine, and maybe it just needs time, but it finishes too quickly to compete with the wines rated above it.

Last and certainly least, IMO, was this monstrosity. This actually received a first place vote and a couple of seconds, but mine went down the sink. It wasn't completely awful, but life is too short to drink this stuff when there is so much better stuff sitting in a decanter 3 feet away.....

Wyndham Estate - 2012 George Wyndham Founders Reserve Shiraz ($17.49)

 Aromas of ripe plum, mint and blackberry. Full-bodied and almost jammy, with black plum and blackberry flavors. Oak is everywhere. Unimpressive.

That's it for today's report! Still lots of stuff to report on, gotta pick up on the last Okanagan report AND a few weeks ago we met for our latest theme night, some great wine and food from Chile! Stay tuned.