Saturday, April 28, 2012

Report from … Lunch with Banfi – April 20, 2012

Enrico Viglierchio
There are few lunches you want to miss less than a lunch where you get to taste through an array of Banfi wines (Italy) … on this Friday afternoon I came into Toronto to do just that.  So let’s get right into it.  Eight wines were tasted plus a delicious lunch prepared by the chef’s at Bravi Ristorante (40 Wellington Street) and hosted by Enrico Viglierchio – General Manager of Banfi and Export Manager Javier Rodriguez.

We kicked off with a vintage bubbly from one of their newest projects: Vigna Regali in the Alta Langa region – a region dedicated to Sparkling wine in the traditional method.  The 2008 Cuvee Aurora Rosé ($24.95) is a wine made from 100% Pinot Noir grapes aged in bottle for 24 months.  Interesting to note that the final make up of the wine is made up of 90% current vintage wine and 10% of previous vintage wine aged in barrel, giving the wine a firmer mouthfeel.  This is a very satisfying sparkler with strawberry, black cherry with a slight earthy quality yet is light and refreshing … great finish and nice acidity. (****+)

2008 La Lus Albarossa (****)
Sticking with the Vigna Regali line of wines our next wine was the 2008 La Lus Albarossa ($23.95) … a bottle of red made from the new Albarossa grape grown in the Piedmont region.  Albarossa is a crossed between Nebbiolo and Barbera – the two main grapes of Piedmont …Albarossa means “red dawn” – and because there is such an interest in this new grape it’s the dawning of a new era for Piedmontese winemakers.  10 years ago there was only 1 hectare planted, today there is between 50-60 hectares on its way to 100 or more.  The wine is deep and rich with cherry and cranberry notes on the nose and cherry, strawberry and spiced oak on the palate … it has great acidity and a long finish.  A gentle wine with plenty of fruit … juicy and delicious.  Keep an eye peeled for  this is one because you’ll want to pick up a few. (****)

Moving to the mother line we started with the Banfi 2009 Rosso di Montalcino ($22.95) a wine made from 100% Sangiovese aged 12 months in French oak with an additional 6 months of ageing in bottle.  And because the wine is aged in older oak barrels it keeps the fresh, fruity character of the wine intact.  Earthy, raspberry, sour cherry, good acidity and a cranberry finish. Elegant on the palate with fine but firm tannins. (*** ½+)

The real treat (like everything before this hasn’t been) came with a vertical of the Banfi Brunello di Montalcino: 2004, 2006 and 2007 ($32.95) … selected because of their similarity in vintage.  The real difference here is that in 2007 Banfi changed some of the vinification and viticulture practices, and it really has made all the difference.  All three wines were delicious in their own right but the 2007 had a depth of flavour and full fruited-ness not found in the other two.  2004 (****) – 2006 (*** ½+) – 2007 (****+)

2007 Alle Mura (**** 1/2)
Sticking with the ’07 vintage we tasted the home vineyard wine of Poggio Alle Mura – Brunello di Montalcino ($69.95), a 100% Sangiovese that is aged in barrel for 2 years, than another 2 years in bottle …fruit comes from the 60 hectare Poggio Alle Mura vineyard.  The nose is plum, black cherry, and blackberry; basically it’s full of ripe dark fruit. The palate is complex and intriguing giving the tongue a taste of both red and black fruits, balanced acidity and a stunning length of finish.  This wine is super-rich, balanced, and delicious with never a dull sip. (**** ½)

The 2006 Poggio All’Oro – Brunello di Montalcino Riserva seemed a little lean after the fullness of the Alle Mura, but I’m gonna chalked that up to the change in viti- and vini- culture techniques and look forward to trying the 2007 version of this wine (*** ½)

The last two wines are the IGT wines, those that use international grape varieties.  Starting with the 2007 Summus ($59.95) a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (40%) and Syrah (20%), the rest being the homegrown Sangiovese.  The nose is plum, cocoa, blackberry with slight brambly notes and white pepper.  Palate has lots of peppery spice, blackberry, and rich plum – spice is carried right through to the finish and stays around a good long while. Peppery plays a big part in the enjoyment of this wine (****+).  We ended our tasting with the 2007 Excelsus ($79.95) the only one in the line with nary a drop of Sangiovese, it’s all Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.  This one seemed almost Australian in style but with great balancing acidity and toned down spiciness.  The alcohol is a whopping 14.5% and its rich, juicy and jammy with lots of dark fruit and spiced mocha notes (**** ½).

So what have we learned … the style of Banfi wines has changed … they are getting richer more concentrated wines and in my books they are real winners – look for Banfi 2007s and beyond to keep these same characteristic.  As for lunch… pictures are below.

Arugula Salad: honey crisp apples, shaved pecorino, toasted pistachio, lemon vinaigrette
Spaghetti Carbonara: smoked bacon, onions, black pepper, egg yolk shaved pecorino

Report from ... Celebrating World Malbec Day the Wine Writers Way - April 17, 2012

The wines tasted on Malbec Day
It is, or now was, World Malbec Day; a day to celebrate Argentina's signature wine grape.  A number of interested parties assembled at 580 King Street to listen about and taste a number of Argentinean wines ... including many Malbecs.

The seminar opened with fellow wine writer David Lawrason making some remarks he on his most recent trip to Argentina ... these were based on some assumptions he had made before leaving and what information he gathered while he was away:
1) Argentina is all about Malbec ... not true, there are plenty of other wines being made, the big challenge is to market those other grape varieties so that they are not taken as a "Johnny One Note".
2) All Argentina reds are cuddly, soft and smooth ... that perception did not change but there are changes afoot; but still ripe red wines are king.
3) Very little regional difference ... another perception that is changing but slowly, there are very few wines labelled with sub-app instead hanging onto the bigger geographical areas like Mendoza.
4) Argentinean wines represent good value ... this is true and across all prices; for better or worse FuZion set that mark; best values are in the $18-30 range
5) Argentinean whites don't matter ... stylistically its up to you; but there are plenty of whites being made.

The Panel

Two Argentine principals joined the panel (I did not catch their last names) ... one named Andreas, the other Victor:

Andreas comments ...
The Argentinean wine industry transformed in the 19th Century because of immigration of the Spanish, Italians and Portuguese.   Although much of the wines were drank domestically in the 1990s they (as an industry) needed to compete in the world market ...and because of their strong currency they have been able to invest in modern equipment, so that there are many big modern wineries in Argentina these days; and plenty of foreign investment is coming in: Moet established their first winery outside of France in Argentina.
Argentina is currently the 5th largest producer and 7th in exports ... 80% of the wines are still consumed domestically. The US, Canada, and Brazil account for 55% of exports (in order).

Victor ... filled in some of the blanks that Andreas left:
More than 70 countries take part in Malbec world day
Mendoza is the #1 region because of the 5 rivers that cross into the region
1/3 of all grapes are currently estate grown - the rest are in the hands of 8000 growers with an average holding of 20 hec

"The Loft" at 580 King
Quick Argentine Facts ...
Growing region is North - South:  26-42 degrees latitude but the real difference is the east-west altitude.
Mendoza is the oldest most historic regions with the oldest vines

Wine Regions to Look out For ...
Lujan... more classical style of wines - the Napa of Arg
Maipu ... more full bodied, riper and less acid
Uco ... important new region, where modern Argentina is happening
San Carlos ... is grouped into the Uco with new and best wines coming
Patagonia ... currently more fruit than grapes but that is changing.

The Wines of Note ...
Trapiche Sparkling Extra Brut ($11.95) ... pleasant, charmat method, good for the price ... has 70% Chardonnay, 20% Semillon, 10% Malbec (***+)

Domino Del Plata 2011 ‘Crios’ Torrentes ($14.95)  floral and hints of spice, long finish (*** ½+)

Santa Ana 2010 ‘La Mascota’ Chardonnay’ ($14.95) ... buttery with hints of vanilla, lovely peach with vanilla caramel sauce, touch of spice and acidity on the finish; really sweet fruit (*** ½)

Zuccardi 2009 ‘Q’ Malbec ($19.95) ... chocolate, blackberry, black cherry on the nose; palate has plenty of black cherry and spice (*** ½)

Rutini 2009 Malbec ($21.95) ... soft nose that hints at red berries, milk chocolate, and candied fruit, it follows on the palate, minus the chocolate with fine chalky tannins (*** ½)

Familia Schroeder 2009 Saurus Barrel Fermented Malbec ($25.00) ... touch floral and herbal with sweet blackberry and black cherry; not much of a nose to speak of but quite full in the mouth, sweet and juicy; candied red fruit on the mid-palate (*** ½+)

Kaiken 2010 Ultra Malbec ($19.95) ... soft and juicy, very blackberry with hints of chocolate notes, black cherry on the finish (*** ½+)

Colome 2010 Malbec Estate ($27.95) ... lovely blackberry, red cherry, milk chocolate on the nose; red cherry liqueur, chocolate, silky tannins, dark and red fruit mix with a little spice and some peppered notes (****)

Manos Negras 2008 Pinot Noir ($14.95) ... aromas of candied strawberry with a hint of raspberry; light fruity, cherry and strawberry, a little bit of fine tannin but not aggressive, this could be a patio Pinot to chill and bring out the red fruit and well priced for just that purpose (*** ½)

Graffigna 2008 Grand Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon ($16.95) ... full bodied black fruit, hints of dark chocolate, tannins dominate on the finish with fits of spice and red fruit on the finish, this really has nice flavour (****+)

Trivento 2008 Golden Reserve Syrah ($22.00) ... white pepper and red berries with a touch of violets; white pepper and red fruit does come through on the palate, there's a nice smoothness about this wine then it rears up at the end with the re-birth of pepper and spice, but pleasantly so (****)

Report from … Austria Uncorked - April 16, 2012

In the history of Toronto "trade tastings" I don't think I've ever known anybody's "credentials to be checked at the door" ... it seems that anybody can get in regardless of you association to the wine industry, if at all any.  Thus was the case at the Austrian tasting held Monday April 16 - in fact I bumped into a few well known sommeliers as I was leaving, after my hour-and-a-half run (literally) through a room at the brand new Trump Hotel, the room was getting hotter and more packed by the minute, it looked more like a push-and-shove-athon more than a wine tasting.  These originally excited sommelier (Austria is always a hot wine topic) took one look in the door and said, "not worth it".  Sure the room contained writers and restaurateurs but there were also members of the public that had no business being there, including a woman whom I overheard saying: "I only like red wine, what's with all this white?"  To her I wanted to ask, what the heck are you doing at an Austrian tasting.  I'm not saying that Austria doesn't make red, in fact they are doing a much better job then I have seen and tasted in the past (thank you global warming), but they are still a country known for crisp whites like Gruner Veltliner (their signature grape) and Riesling - which were the two predominant grapes on the tables.  It was a quick tasting around the 18 tables (it was 24 degrees out and felt doubly hot in the room) ... but here's my take on the wines I tried, notes where warranted. 

NB … Because of the cramp nature of the room I missed certain tables that were not set up in time, which brings me to my last complaint (for now) if the show is called for 2pm, be at your table at 2, if you’re not there are members of the media (me included) that’ll walk right by and not look back. 

Winzer Krems …
2011 Kremser Goldberg – Gruner Veltliner (****)
2009 Edition Chremisa – Blauer Zweigelt (****+) – sweet and sour cherry notes

Brundlmayer …
2010 Klassik Heiligenstein – Riesling (*** ½+)
2006 Steinmassel – Riesling (****)
2008 Reserve Lamm – Gruner Veltiner (****) – oaked for 6-7 months, creamy with nice acidity; real elegance here

Laurenz V …
2011 “Friendly” – Gruner Veltliner (*** ½+) – well named as it really is … friendly
2011 “Forbidden” – Gruner Veltliner (*** ½+) – new, off-dry and very fruity
2010 Reserve “Charming” – Gruner Veltliner (****) – grapefruit pith with a nicely spiced finish

Salomon Undhof …
2001 Klassik Undhof Kogl – Riesling (****) – floral, mineral, peach pit, lengthy finish
2006 Auslese – Riesling (****+) – succulent and sweet, really decadent

Heinrich …
2009 Leithaberg – Blaufrankisch (****+) – single vineyard with 28 months in oak, lots of lovely cherry and mineral; very aromatic and quite spicy

Loimer …
2011 “Lois” – Gruner Veltliner (*** ½) – most sold Austrian wine in the US
2011 Kamptal - Riesling (****)

Nigl …
2011 Gartling – Gruner Veltliner (*** ½+) – grapefruit and lemonade cocktail
2011 Senftenberger Piri – Gruner Veltliner (*** ½+)
2011 Domleiten – Rheinriesling (**** ½) – amazing minerality here

Zantho …
2010 Klassik – St. Laurent (*** ½+) – sweet cherry with a hint of spice
2009 Reserve –Zweigelt (****+) – 14 months, 60% new French oak; nice peppered cherry, slightly spiced with well balanced tannins

Huber …
2011 Klassik “Terrassen” – Gruner Veltliner (*** ½+)
2011 Klassik “Terrassen” – Riesling (*** ½+)
2010 Reserve Berg – Riesling (****)
2011 Reserve Alte Setzen – Gruner Veltliner (****)

Domane Wachau …
2011 Federspiel “Terrassen” – Gruner Veltliner (*** ½+)

Zahel …
2011 Goldberg – Gruner Veltliner (*** ½+)
2010 Leiten – St. Laurent (****) – aged in neutral 10 year old barrels; lovely black cherry, raspberry with nice tannin backing
2010 Kaasgraben – Gruner Veltliner (****+) – year on lees, all stainless, quite creamy

Beck …
2009 “Alte Lagen” – Blaufrankisch (****) – 1 year in “really old barrels”; lovely red fruit
2008 Altenberg – Blaufrankisch (****+) – aged 2 years in “really old barrels”, smooth cherry with great acidity

Pfaffl …
2010 “Am Berg” – Riesling (*** ½+) – peach and delicious apple
2011 Niederosterreich – Blauer Zweigelt (*** ½+) – candied cherry

Markowitch …
2010 Klassik “Rubin Camuntum” – Zweigelt (*** ½+) – earthy, sour cherry and other dark berries

Tement …
2010 Grassnitzberg – Sauvignon Blanc (*** ½+) – clean and crisp with nice leesy notes
2009 Zieregg – Sauvignon Blanc (*** ½+) – fume style

Empty Tables at 2:00pm included: Angerer Kurt, Rabl, Arachon T FX T, Johanneshof Reinisch, Jurtschitsch and Steininger – sorry folks I passed right by ya.

Report from ... the Ponciago, Fevre, Bouchard Tasting - April 4, 2012

It’s always a pleasure to get out and taste some fantastic old world wines, and the Ponciago (Beaujolais), Fevre (Chablis) and Bouchard (Cote d’Or) is one of those focused tastings that’s a pleasure to attend … just the right amount of wines and all of great quality.  With just under two-dozen wines it’s a tasting where you don’t feel rushed.  What follows are my favourites from the tasting – trust me this is a difficult list to amass …

Villa Ponciago …
2010 Fleurie – Cuvee les Hauts du Py ($30.00) … this one is all cherry, black and spicy; hints of mineral and woodsy notes bring it all together. (****)

2009 Fleurie – Grande Cuvee la Roche Muriers ($48.00) … a raspberry laden nose leads to a cassis / black cherry palate that seems almost creamy; rich with fruit. (****+)

William Fevre …
2010 Chablis Premier Cru Montmains Domaine ($49.00) … light pear with lime and lovely mineral notes. (*** ½+)

2010 Chablis Grand Cru Bougros Domaine ($81.00) … more robustly flavoured Chablis with more fruit than mineral with peach and pear leading the way; good weight and structure. (****)

2010 Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos Domaine ($107.00) … this one mixes the best of the above wines: the light fruit with pear and lemon curd, a touch of mineral adding the structure, good acidity and all leads to a long and lovely finish. (****+)

Bouchard Pere & Fils …
2010 Beaune Marconnets – Premier Cru ($58.00) … red fruit and earthy, good cleansing acidity with a cranberry finish; quite pleasant. (*** ½+)

2010 Gevrey-Chambertin Village ($55.00) … mineral and black cherry with nice fresh acidity with earthy and cranberry notes. (*** ½+)

2010 Pommard Premier Cru ($72.00) … nose of floral/violets with a perfumed raspberry note; palate delivers black raspberry, cherry and nice acidity to balance the lush fruit.  (*** ½+)

2010 Volnay Caillerets Ancienne Cuvee Carnot – Premier Cru ($87.00) … smooth rich black and red fruit with raspberry, cherry and strawberry within the make, though the strawberry really leads the pack here; nice clean finish. (****+)

2010 Nuits-Saint-Georges Les Cailles Premier Cru ($118.00) … great black fruit and anise/licorice notes; finish is quite nice and has good length. (****)

2010 Beaune Greves Vigne de L’Enfant Jesus – Premier Cru ($124.00) … creamy upon entry with a raspberry mid with cherry and a hint of chocolate tannin; a great big acid hit on the finish with some spice; this has got a big league chew. (****+)

2010 Le Corton – Grand Cru ($124.00) … up front dark fruit with a lovely finish. (****)

2010 Corton-Charlemagne – Grand Cru ($192.00) … nice fruit character shines through with a seam of vanilla and butter that carries the wine, all with a nice backbone of acidity. (**** ½)

Other Wines …
Henriot Brut Souverain (non-vintage Champagne) - ****

They’re Not All Expensive …

There was also a small table of generally available Bouchard wines, both red and white, here were the two best from this mini-tasting:

Bouchard Pere & Fils 2009 Bougogne La Vignee Pinot Noir (*** ½) - $16.95
Bouchard Pere & Fils 2010 Macon Lugny St. Pierre (****) - $14.95

Friday, April 13, 2012

Report from ... Discover California Wines – April 2, 2012

The annual California / LCBO love it took the first part of the day.  California thanks the LCBO for its support and then continues by rubbing it in with enviable numbers like 196 million (dollars of California wine sold by the LCBO); 9 (percentage of increase in sales on the general list); 4 (where they sit in sales in the overall LCBO scheme); 1 (with 20% of Vintages sales that have taken over top spot); 72 and 84 (percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay – respectively – sold in Vintages).

Then up stood guest speaker, Evan Goldstein (MS) to speak about California and had a few of his own numbers to share: 7395 (number of wineries in the USA); 3519 (wineries in California); 18 (years of continuous growth of wine consumption in the US); 90 (percentage of US wine exports that were California wine).

Evan also gave his top ten of what is happening in the world of California wine ... some highlights:
1 - White wine is making a comeback – 40% of all new plantings are muscat and is the number 2 white wine, surpassing Sauvignon Blanc
2 - There is a Chardonnay Renaissance
4 - Alternative grapes are gaining traction
8 - Wines by the Keg at bars and restaurants – keeps freshness from first to last drop.
9 - Bloggers are the new world order –and don’t foreget social media.

Finally ... as for the wine, with close to 500 wines in the room it's hard to taste them all.
Prices given when available ... notes are limited

3 and a half star wines (*** 1/2)
Cuvaison 2010 Chardonnay - $29.95
MacRostie 2010 Chardonnay - $29.95
Aquinas 2009 Pinot Noir - $17.95
Freakshow 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon - $27.95
Esser Vineyards 2009 Merlot - $16.95
Pedroncelli 2009 Bushnell Vineyard Zinfandel - $21.95
Bennett Lane 2006 Maximus - $43.35
C.G. Di Arie Vineyards 2009 Red - $40.95
James Judd & Son Vineyards 2006 Malbec-Verdot - $26.00
Bacio Divino Cellars 2008 Cabernet Blend
C.G. Di Arie Vineyards 2009 Breakaway Zinfandel
Carneros Wine Company 2010 Fleur Pinot Noir
Justin Winery 2009 Syrah
Laurel Glen Vineyard 2009 Counterpoint Cabernet Sauvignon (fruit forward)
Paul Hobbs 2009 Chardonnay
Peter Franus 2009 Brandlin Zinfandel
World's End 2009 Against the Wind Cabernet Franc
Zaca Mesa Winery 2010 Viognier

3 and a half plus star wines (*** 1/2+)
MacRostie 2008 Wildcat Mountain Vineyard Chardonnay
Foley 2009 Pinot Noir Rancho SR
Chateau St. Jean 2008 Cinq Cepage - $74.95
Lucas & Lewellen 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon - $39.95
Vineyard 7 & 8 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon
Dry Creek Vineyard 2006 Mariner - $45.00
Bacio Divino Cellars 2008 Janzen Beckstoffer To Kalon Cabernet Sauvignon
Conway Vineyards 2008 Deep Sea Pinot Noir (earthy, sour cherry and cranberry)
Deerfield Ranch Winery 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon - $29.95
Deerfield Ranch Winery 2006 Old Vine Zinfandel - $56.75 (nice complexity)
Thomas George 2009 Starr Ridge Chardonnay
Thomas George 2009 Estate Pinot Noir
Vina Robles 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon (with a touch of Tannat to make it interesting)
World's End 2009 Little Sister Merlot

4 star wines (****)
Dry Creek Vineyard 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon - $24.95
Elyse Winery 2007 Tietjen Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon
C.G. Di Arie Vineyards 2008 Sierra Legend
Justin Winery 2009 Isosceles - $73.95
Justin Winery 2009 Savant
Star Lane 2007 Happy Canyon Red - $44.95
Bacio Divino 2008 Pazzo Sangiovese Blend
Bliss Vineyard 2007 Brutocao Hopeland Ranches
Bliss Vineyard 2010 Chardonnay - $16.99
Cliff Lede Vineyards 2010 Breggo Cellars Pinot Noir - $48.00
Cliff Lede 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon - $74.00
Simi 2008 Landslide Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon - $45.00 (juicy black cherry)
Deerfield Ranch Winery 2007 Red Rex - $27.50
Rosenblum Cellars XXXII Zinfandel Cuvee
Foppiano Vineyards 2009 Pinot Noir
Peter Franus 2006 Red Bordeaux Blend (smooth)
Thomas Fogarty 2006 Lexington Meritage (beauty of fruit with chocolate finish)
Thomas George 2009 Cresta Ridge Pinot Noir
World's End 2009 Crossfire Cabernet Sauvignon
Zaca Mesa Winery 2009 Chardonnay (1/2 stainless steel to keep the fruit)
Zaca Mesa Winery 2009 Syrah (first to plant Syrah in Santa Barbara county in '78)

4 plus star wines (****+)
7 Deadly Zins 2009 Zinfandel - $24.95
Bogle Vineyards 2008 Phantom - $26.95
Vina Robles 2009 Red4 - $17.95
Elyse Winery 2007 C'est Si Bon - $29.95
Bliss Vineyard 2008 Zindandel (friendly, juicy, delicious)
Bonny Doon Vineyard 2007 Le Cigar Volant
CA'Momi Wines 2010 Zinfandel - $25.00 (nice balance)
Elyse Winery 2008 Morisoli Zinfandel - $39.95 (really good)
Ravenswood 2007 Pickberry Red Blend
Thomas Fogarty 2009 Pinot Noir (earthy yet juicy)

Monday, April 9, 2012

Report from ... A Tasting of British Columbia Wines - April 30, 2012

Terroir Wine and Spirits came by to visit with the members of the Wine Writers`Circle of Canada for a sampling of the BC wines they are bringing into the province.  These Ontario born and bred boys (Alex Pyne & Jamie Crain) fell in love with "the competition" while visiting the West Coast about 4 years ago - they started their passion project agency in 2008 to promote the wines they fell in love with.  They say they have been called traitors on occasion, for bringing in the wines of BC - but as the LCBO shows us time and time again, there is always room for wines other than Ontario-made here in the province.  The focus of Terroir Wine and Spirits is boutique wineries of the Pacific Rim - mainly BC (they represent 35 wineries) - plus 6 Washington, 3 Oregon, and 1 California.  Most of their wines are available through private order and restaurants, though some have made it onto the shelves of the liquor monopoly of this province (approximately 15-20% of what they bring in are available thru vintages outlets).  Below is a list of some of their wines and some notes and scores about each ... I have to say that that majority of the reds were wonderful, while the whites ... well, let`s just say that Ontario still has a leg up on our West Coast counter-parts in that department.  You'll also notice that the prices once they get into our province isn`t cheap (must the currency exchange that makes them cost more ... yeah, that's it)

Blackwood Lane ...
2008 Vicuna Roja ($47.95) ... red cherry, hint of dark chocolate, red currant and cassis, red licorice, touch of anise; nice plummy finish (****+)

Cassini Maximus
Cassini Cellars ...
2009 Maximus ($47.95) ... lots of fruit, cherry and strawberry, lovely big fruited good tannin balance with decent acidity, bittersweet chocolate, peppery notes that compliment the complexity of the fruit - lots of chalkiness (**** 1/2)
2009 Collector's Series Syrah ($47.95) ... lovely sweet fruit notes, blackberry, touch of milk chocolate, raspberry jam, cherry and anise notes (****)

Aces Wine ...
2009 Seven Deuce ($27.95) ... juicy, plummy, black cherry, cassis, nice peppery notes (****)
2007 Pocket Kings ($39.95) ... black cherry, smoky vanilla, smoked meat spice, hint of white pepper and touch of chocolate (*** 1/2)

Moon Curser Winery (formerly Twisted Tree) ...
2009 Dead of Night ($44.95) ... Tannat-Syrah blend - chocolate nose, chocolate and licorice on the palate, deep dark black cherry and lovely spice and white pepper on the finish; just a lovely smooth and delicious wine (**** 1/2)
Moon Curser Merlot
2009 Merlot ($44.95) ... this is just lovely and chocolatey, dark fruited with juicy deliciousness and a hint of pepper (**** 1/2)
2009 Border Vines ($44.95) ... alcohol is noticeable, but there is an element of chocolate; big spice but still smooth over the palate; a nice silkiness (*** 1/2+)

Mt. Boucherie ...
2010 Pinot Gris ($21.95) ... grapefruit cocktail, with a hint of sweetness on the palate, the 14% alcohol keeps it from being delicate but it is tasty. (*** 1/2+)
2007 Summit Reserve Merlot ($29.95) ... juiciness of fruit and a bit of chalkiness; interesting wine with some depth (*** 1/2+)

Lulu Island Winery ...
2010 Meritage ($24.95) ... dark cherry, which follows nose to mouth, juicy cherry, though it seems to be almost a one note wonder with that fruit (*** 1/2)

Church & State ...
2009 Cabernet Sauvignon ($43.95) ... nice mouth feel, big tannins, acidity is okay, almost too woody, needs some time to see if everything will come into balance (*** 1/2)

Eau Vivre ...
2008 Pinot Noir ($24.95) ... juicy, cranberry, cherry, hints of strawberry with nice acidity (*** 1/2+)
2009 Cabernet Franc ($29.95) ... tobacco spice and black cherry, a little tough almost chewy, nice stony component to the finish (*** 1/2+)

Silkscarf ...
2011 Ensemble Blanc ($32.95) ... Gewurztraminer / Pinto Gris / Riesling - sweet floral notes, Gew is all over this. (***)
2008 Ensemble ($46.95) ... juicy and red cherry, simple yet pleasureable (***+)

Fort Berens ...
2009 Meritage ($49.95) ... silky smooth, cherry liqueur, cassis and kirsch (****)
Meyer - Reimer Pinot Noir

Meyer Family ...
2010 Chardonnay - McLean Creek Road Vineyard ($44.95) ... creamy, buttery, vanilla - very Chardonnay. (***)
2010 Chardonnay - Sonja Gaudet Tribute Series ($44.95) ... nicest of the Chardonnay tasted, some creaminess and supple of fruit and flavour; nice creamed vanilla and with a little limeade and meringue (*** 1/2+)
2010 Chardonnay - Okanagan Valley ($44.95) ... almost spritzy, minerally, apple and lemon notes (*** 1/2)
2010 Pinot Noir - McLean Creek Road Vineyard ($59.95) ... floral, sweet cranberry, cherry, nice acidity (****)
2010 Pinot Noir - Reimer Vineyard ($59.95) ... intense cinnamon and vanilla, spice and cherry, lovely acid balance, good dark fruit with elegance, finesse of fruit and a great finish. (****+)