What's Hot & New in Wine
McWatters, Trinchero Family Estates, Penfolds Icon
Wines, Don Melchor, Dr. Loosen, Akarua, Okanagan Crush Pad (Bartier Bros. B~S),
Director's Cut at TopTable
+ my top picks for the 2008 Bordeaux release October 1, 2011
posted: September 2011
by Daenna Van Mulligen
sister site to WineDiva
British Columbian wine pioneer, Harry
McWatters is the founding chair of the British Columbia Wine Institute (BCWI)
and he was instrumental in establishing the VQA (Vintners Quality Alliance) in
Canada. Most people know him better as the affable founder of Sumac Ridge
Estate, a winery that helped catapult BC wines to international recognition.
Together with his daughter Christa-Lee McWatters Bond and the prowess of
respected viticulturist Richard Cleve,
McWatters has finally launched his own label.
So far, McWatters has released his 2007 (two-thousand and seven) vintage
Meritage. At under $30 this is a great bang for your buck and one to put in the
cellar if you desire.
grapes all come from McWatters' own Sundial Vineyard (formerly Black Sage
Vineyard in the South Okanagan Valley) and is comprised of Merlot, Cabernet
Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc (60/35/5%).
Here you can expect plush aromas of chocolate cherries, crushed violets and
spice. The palate is nicely weighted with wonderful structure and generous
fruit, chocolate, vanilla and spice.
McWatters does have plans to produce a white Meritage (Semillon & Sauvignon
Blanc) in the future, to partner with his red Meritage.
Trinchero Family Estates
Now the second largest family-owned wine producer in California (after E&J
this Napa Valley based company makes wine under a significant number of labels,
many you may recognize, but a few are new.
Some names you may recognize are:
Trinchero, Folie a Deux, Menage a Trois, The
Show, and Sutter Home, Dona Paula...
But here are some new releases in Canada, that you may enjoy - I know I did.
Joel Gott - after trying the Joel
Gott Zinfandel earlier this year (review
here) and the Joel Gott Chardonnay (review
here) both around $20, I was happy to taste the pristine fruit forward
Oregon Pinot Gris '10, the floral and grapefruit scored California
Sauvignon Blanc '10 and the apple and marmalade scented Washington
Riesling '09 the Trinchero family/Joel Gott partnership also
Napa Cellars -Trinchero Family Estates purchased this Napa Valley
property in 2003. Under the Napa Cellars label, I tasted two wines; the hazelnut
praline, vanilla and orange peel scented Napa Cellars Chardonnay
(+$45) from high upon Mt.Veeder and the plush, chocolaty and fruit-laden
Stagecoach Vineyard 2008 Napa Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon (+$65).
Seriously delicious wines, which are drinking nicely now.
Trinchero Napa Valley offers some serious, ultra-premium wines that will
set you back $85 or more in private stores and restaurants.
I tasted three fantastic Cabernet Sauvignons from three different vineyards -
same winemaker, same vintage and their unique differences are compelling.
Trinchero Napa Valley 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, Mario's Vineyard St. Helena
My favorite of the three Cabernets, Mario's vineyard offers sweet, ripe fruits,
fine earthy/mineral notes, and pipe tobacco. The most feminine wine of the trio,
the palate is fine-boned but still concentrated with lovely complexity and
bright acidity to lift the wine. Chic.
Napa Valley 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, Cloud's Nest Vineyard Mt. Veeder
Slightly more closed than the Mario's Vineyard but still giving up cassis and
sweeter red fruit hints. Another concentrated wine, with berry and pipe tobacco
flavours, which move toward baking spices and toast on the finish.
Trinchero Napa Valley 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, Haystack Vineyard Atlas Peak
- Made with the addition of 2% Petit Verdot. From a single vineyard at 1500
feet above sea level, this wine the Haystack is the biggest of the three -
masculine and smoky, black fruits, savoury /spicy notes and nutty hints on the
nose. Firm but ripe tannins, a concentrated palate and impressive
Each year, winemaker Peter Gago travels the world upon release of the latest
Penfolds Icon and Luxury wines vintages. His endless enthusiasm and
boundless energy never fails to impress me. This man knows his wines and
can entertain an audience wherever he goes.
I wrote about Gago and other celebrity winemakers in Vines Magazine
here and of my visit to the Penfolds Adelaide Magill Estate and
visit with Gago
Gago is the first to tell you, it is not just him, but a team of winemakers who
are behind the wines of Penfolds and he has no intention of mucking about with
the history and pedigree of these classics, that his only goal is to make them
consistently, a little bit better.
Penfolds Bin 51 Eden Valley Riesling, 2010 - always a favourite of mine,
I love the racy acidity, the talc floral and marmalade notes of this clean,
snappy white. $27
Penfolds Bin 311 Tumbarumba Chardonnay, 2010 - sadly not available but I
have become fully intrigued by the mostly unknown high altitude cool-climate
wine growing area in southern New South Wales. Pristine, delicate aromas -
floral and citrus notes with sweet ripe fruit on the palate. No heaviness here,
no tropical pineapple or butterscotch.
Penfolds Yattarna Chardonnay, 2008 - The Yattarna is a wine, which is
consistently held in highest regards world-wide and is used as a benchmark upon
which many premium Aussie Chardonnays are measured. This vintage contains mostly
fruit from the cool-climate island of Tasmania and the rest is Adelaide Hills
fruit. Inspiring complexity - praline and lemony citrus notes with fine toast.
It is smooth and elegant on the palate, but generous not austere. Simply
gorgeous with a wonderfully lengthy finish. $110
Bin 707 Cabernet Sauvignon, 2008 - Year after year, this is my favourite
Penfolds red release. Made from Cabernet from Coonawarra, Barossa and
Wrattonbully there is a unique dichotomy to this wine. The feminine nose offers
violets, cassis, brown spice and savoury herbal undertones. The palate is more
masculine - here the power and concentration shows but it still offers bright
acidity, chocolate and espresso, dark fruits and spice. Gorgeous texture and a
firm finish. $150
Penfolds Magill Estate Shiraz, 2008 - This wine could vie for my new
favourite. Made from the Penfolds Magill Estate fruit, in Adelaide this is a
delightful wine, full of brightness and life. The aromas are cedar chips and
crushed violets, raspberry and black cherry, licorice and baking spices. The
acidity in this wine appeals greatly to me, it is lifted and fresh and simply
Penfolds St.Henri Shiraz, 2008 - A classic wine like the Grange, this
ageable and yet still affordable collector offers mixed fruit, some black berry
and red fruits layered with pepper and savoury, meaty undertones. Wonderfully
weighted on the palate with a slickness, which is underscored by flavours of
spiced mocha and berries.
Penfolds Grange, 2006 - The pinnacle of Penfolds wines, coveted by
collectors everywhere is made from Barossa Valley and Magill Estate fruit and
has 2% Cabernet added in. Unique aromas of almond oil and violets, vanilla and
baking spice, licorice and mocha. The palate is smooth and generous but also
potent, almost but not quite brooding.
The tannins are fine but firm.
Don Melchor is not only the name
of the wine but also the name of the man who established Chile's renowned Concha
Y Toro winery.
Concha Y Toro produces dependable wines in multiple levels from entry to premium
to the iconic wines of Don Melchor - there is something for every budget and
Don Melchor is celebrating 20 years of making single vineyard, ultra-premium
Chilean wines. Winemaker Enrique Tirado was in Vancouver recently to introduce
the current and upcoming vintage of Don Melchor as well as a few back vintages
to show the cellar-worthiness of the wines.
These are Cabernet Sauvignon based wines from 6 lots of Cabernet Sauvignon and 1
plot of Cabernet Franc within the 114 hectare Puente Alto Vineyard in Maipo near
Don Melchor 1993 - This is the only wine in the lineup made with 100%
Cabernet Sauvignon and it is still lively. Aromas of bright fruit, mint and bay
leaf, saddle leather and some savoury bacon fat undertones. Smooth and quite
fine boned with plenty of freshness on the palate and a long finely spiced
Don Melchor 1995 Made with the addition of 3% Cabernet Franc, the '95
showed similar freshness and integrated aromas to the '93 - sweet ripe fruit,
leafy notes, chocolate, mint and smoked meaty undertones. The palate has al
ovely plushness, slightly greener flavours and sweet spice on the finish.
Don Melchor 2001 - Made with 9% Cabernet Franc the 2001 offers smoky
cassis, earth, green beans and a savoury core. Finely woven in the mouth with
lovely freshness and an appealing juiciness. Very good.
Don Melchor 2007 - Only 2% Cabernet Franc is in this currently available
vintage of Don Melchor. Nice depth and wonderful fruit expression with dark
chocolate and espresso. Excellent concentration and richness with balanced
acidity. Young still, but certainly drinkable at this stage. Chief winemaker
Enrique Tirado suggests that the 2007 has the best aging potential of all of his
vintages so far. $80+
Don Melchor 2008 - With 3% Cabernet Franc added, this youthful, tightly
wound wine is still in bottle ready to released in British Columbia either late
this year or in time for the 2012 Vancouver Playhouse Wine Festival. Great
bones, it offers rich fruit and tobacco with dark chocolate mocha. Concentrated
and a bit awkward yet, but it will come around with some time - its pedigree is
Read more about Concha Y Toro & Don Melchor
you hear the name Loosen in the wine community, Ernst Loosen
comes to mind. If you are simply a wine lover you may be more familiar with Dr.
Loosen's fantastically popular Dr.L Riesling.
When Loosen only took over his family's vineyards in 1988, he inherited a
piece of Mosel history, one that his politician predecessors had slightly less
enthusiasm for. Ernst took his two hundred old inheritance and focused on making
some of the world's best Rieslings, wines, which show the true expression of
their German terroir.
He has achieved that and more, making
Dr. Loosen and especially the
very approachable and fresh Dr. L wines, internationally recognized. The care
and attention put into some fairly ancient vineyards and the winemaking is
The Dr. Loosen Mosel estate has expanded to the Pfalz and the J.L Wolf
estate, which he purchased in
1996 and to his current partnership in Oregon with
J. Christopher, making Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc.
Villa Wolf Pinot Gris, 2010 - this consistent and fresh Pinot Gris
offers citrus and orchard fruit aromas, some faint undergrowth/mushroomy notes
and vague minerality. The palate is mouth-watering with tart green pear and
citrus flavours and has a pleasing, slightly oily weight.
Dr. L Riesling, 2010 - I cannot say I've had a vintage of the Dr.
L I have enjoyed so much. Fresh minerality, citrus and stone fruit with faint
floral notes. The palate is tangier this year, the acidity more pronounced -
nice sweet fruit expression, flavours of lemon drops and stone fruit lead to a
mouth-watering finish. $19
Dr.L Riesling Sekt - Fresh and fun and made with 100% Riesling, this
bubbly goes down very easy. Fresh lively fruit - apples and citrus are layered
with ginger and honey flavours.
Nice acidity and a kiss of sweetness - very clean.
Dr Loosen Wehlener Sonnenuhr
Kabinett, 2009 - Aromas of honey, some
quince and apple highlighted with citrus and obvious minerality.
Pear, apple and peach flavours spiked
with citrus lead to a cirsp fruity finish highlighted with apricot. I love the
clingy, oily finish of this Riesling.
Dr. Loosen Urzinger Wurzgarten Kabinett, Mosel, 2009 - Peach and
quince aromas, lemon drops and some earthier/mineral focused undertones. We've
moved up a notch here in sweetness and intensity - the acidity balances the
sweetness but it's the finish, that holds tight to the peach and citrus flavours
that impresses me. Unique to this wine, is the finish which I found to have
almost a slight tannic grip may be from the red volcanic soil the vines are
grown in, which differs from other slate based vineyards. $26
Dr. Loosen Erdener Treppchen Kabinett, 2009 Slightly more citrusy
on the nose than the Urzinger Wurzgarten with musky honey and smoky mineral
notes layered with lemon and white tree fruits. The acidity kicks in on the
palate right away and sticks, crisp and mineral focused and racy. Loosen
suggests this wine has potential age-ability of 20-30 years.
Dr. Loosen Graacher Himmelreich Spatlese, 2009 - This is simply
fantastic! Raising the bar again from the Kabinett style of wines,
the sweetness and intensity kicks up a bit more. It offers white blossoms and
honey, green apple and apricot notes leading to a palate of fantastic intensity
and vibrancy. Balanced acidity cleans the palate, it has a lovely oily weight
and finishes with a hint of lemon peel and white pepper. $36
Dr Loosen Wehlener Sonnenuhr
Spatlese, 2009 - More intensity here of
the two Spatlese styles - earthy/mushroomy almost sous bois (aka firne in
German) aromas leads off with honey, quince and marmalade notes following. The
palate is weightier too - concentrated with nice complexity and flavours of
peach, mud apple and honey are cleaned up with brisk acidity. $36
What else is new?
recent Okanagan Crush Pad (OCP)
tasting brought Vancouver media & buyers to the new Boneta Restaurant location
off Blood Alley in Gastown to taste the pristine, British Columbia wines of:
Haywire, B.S Bartier-Scholefield and Bartier Brothers.
It's a dream team of Michael Bartier's impressive skills as a winemaker, David
Scholefield's understanding of consumers and the wine market and Coletta &
Associates brand building and marketing prowess...
Haywire Pinot Gris, 2010
read review here
Haywire Rosť, 2010
read review here
B~S Bartier~Scholefield White, 2010 - Made from a blend of Chardonnay,
Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris from a leased MacIntyre Bluff
vineyard in the South Okanagan.
Vibrant appley aromas with citrus and floral notes and whiffs of mixed orchard
fruits pique your interest and prepare your palate for a pristine fruit-cup of
flavours and mouth-watering finish. Chill it until your glass sweats and you
won't be able to resist refilling it again and again!
Bartier~Scholefield Rosť, 2010 - Made from 100% Gamay from the South
Okanagan at MacIntyre Bluff . I love the freshness of this rose - floral, cherry
and berry notes, hints of spice and pink grapefruit peel lead to bright juicy
palate. What also impressed me, was despite the use of 100% Gamay, this wine was
not overtly peppery which is common.
Bartier Bros. 'The Cowboy", 2010 - Winemaker Michael Bartier jokes that
this Cowboy is more of a cowgirl and I agree - fragrant and feminine aromas of
peaches, exotic citrus, and honey blossoms. Wonderfully fresh on the palate with
a weighty, almost oily texture and zesty, sweetly spiced finish. 50/50
Shonberger and Pinot Blanc.
Bartier Bros. 'The Goal', 2009 - This red blend of Merlot, Cabernet
Franc, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon is not as heavy as it sounds. The aromas are
earthy and layers of wild briary berries, floral and sage notes are
appealing. It is smooth and quite juicy on the palate with nice fruit expression
spiked with hints of pepper and vanilla. Very tasty.
Read more on what I have written about Okanagan Crush Pad
some rather impressive stops during my visit to Central Otago last spring, I
missed visiting Akarua. So when winemaker
Matt Connell and Akarua owner David Skeggs visited Vancouver recently, I was
pleased to revisit some great South Island Pinot Noirs.
Akarua estate is a whopping 50 hectares (that's a lot in New Zealand) in size
and is located in Bannockburn, Central Otago. 70% of their vineyards are planted
to Pinot Noir, the rest to Pinot Gris, Chardonnay and Riesling.
The first vines were planted in 1996 by David's father Sir Clifford Skeggs,
which lends some significant age for vines in this region.
Akarua's award winning wines are new to British Columbia and watch for more
coming this fall.
Pinot Gris - The 2009, which is currently found in some private wine
stores and restaurants in Vancouver, offers creamy tropical fruit, some toast
and honeyed weight on the nose. Rounded on the palate it offers ripe fruit and
toasty flavours highlighted with tree fruit. A clean wine with the oak contact
showing through. $25+
The 2010 is more my style, pristine fruit - pear, citrus, floral and
mineral notes lead to a bright palate with just a kiss of sweetness cleaned up
with lively acidity. The finish is impressively long. (estimated arrival,
Akarua Rua Pinot Noir, 2010 - Winemaker Matt Connell calls the Rua the
approachable, drink-upon -elease Pinot Noir. It expresses dark cherry aromas,
earth, smoke and hint of violets. The palate is smooth, supple and as mentioned
approachable, but it's not light in body, it has a nice weight with juicy dark
fruit, dark cocoa and some coffee flavours followed by a lengthy finish.
estimated arrival November 2011 $26+
Akarua Pinot Noir - The 2009 is currently in private wine stores
in BC and in some restaurants. It was somewhat more restrained than the 2010,
firmer and slightly chewier. The fruit is sweet , dark and juicy it is a earthy
and nicely rounded on the palate.
The 2010 is slated to arrive in November 2011. It has very pleasing
aromas of black cherry and raspberry, the palate is supple, offers generous
fruit layered with brown spice, espresso beans and dark chocolate flavours. The
texture is slightly chalky - delicious!
Read more about Central Otago
Top Table group of restaurants has released their first group effort blends,
called Director's Cut at all four of their restaurants.
Top Tableís four wine directors - Araxiís Samantha Rahn, Blue Water Cafeís
Andrea Vescovi, CinCinís Sarah McCauley, and Westís Owen Knowlton debuted their
inaugural wine label, Directorís Blend, a duo of personally blended wines
produced by Laughing Stock Vineyards in British Columbiaís Okanagan Valley on
September 14th at Cin Cin.
The white is a blend of grapes consists of 50%
Pinot Gris, 20% Viognier, 15% Pinot Blanc,
15% Sauvignon Blanc grown on the Naramata Bench and East Bench Osoyoos. There is
a lovely richness and viscosity in this wine, nicely balanced with bright
acidity. Upon tasting the Viognier was quite obvious - musky honey notes
underscored with hints of caramel, toast and spice. Great paired with a variety
of dishes, this will be a compliment to all of the Top Table food styles. $65
The red is comprised of 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 15% Syrah, and 10%
Cabernet Franc from Naramata Bench and East Bench Osoyoos. Richly coloured, this
is a very approachable and generous red, but not without complexity. Dark berry
fruit and mocha roll across your tongue, the tannins are smooth. Very enjoyable.
Both wines are available only at West, Araxi, Cin Cin and Blue Water Cafe
Bordeaux 2008 Release - October 1, 2011
Plus my Picks for the upcoming Bordeaux Release in
BC Liquor Stores.
2008 Bordeaux releases - Fortunatley my picks are also the best value wines from
Chateau Grand-Puy Lacoste, Pauillac $78, dark & brooding but also
gobs of sweet fruit & floral
Chateau LeGrange, St. Julien $68 a Bordeaux for New World wine
Chateau Batailly, Pauillac $59 - Cherries & vanilla. Good value,
good structure, chewy tannins
Chateau Kirwan, Margaux $69 classic Bordeaux, old world style.
Chateau Calon Segur, St. Estephe $78 - savoury, silky, patchouli
Chateau Belgrave, Haut-Medoc $38 - great buy to cellar, awkward
now but wait for it!
Chateau Trotanoy, Pomerol $188 - the whole package - silky,
beautiful fruit expression...lovely!
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