By John Schreiner
reprinted with permission
The eighth annual B.C. Iconic Red Wines tasting, which took place November 12, seems to prove that this event is becoming a tradition.
So it should. It reminds us that in 25 years, our wine industry has learned to grow wines that have taken their place among the world’s wines.
The tasting was conceived and is sponsored by SIP Wines, the Richmond VQA wine store operated by Simon and Sandy Wosk.
The idea of a competition among the best of British Columbia’s Bordeaux style reds emerged from a brainstorming between the Wosk and the late John Levine, an extraordinary wine lover.
The iconic reds generally are wines priced at $35 and up. The highest-priced red in this year’s tasting sells for $85, plus tax.
These are world class wines and should command aggressive prices. It costs money to grow premium grapes and turn them into premium wines.
For most consumers, these would be special occasion wines. They are the kind of wines bought by collectors with wine cellars.
Most of the vintages tasted here are comparatively young; all of them will be even better with four or five years of bottle age. Every one has the ability to cellar at least 10 years.
For this tasting, the wines were all double decanted and allowed to breath for several hours, effectively softening the tannins to make the wines more approachable now. The wines were served blind and in a random order. The 70 or so tasters scored each wine and voted for their favourites at the end of the evening.
I have provided either the winery’s tasting notes or, when those were not available, my own notes. I have listed the wines alphabetically, summarizing the results at the top.
These were the seven top choices by the tasting group.
1. Black Hills Nota Benefit 2103.
2. Lake Breeze Tempest 2011.
3. Cassini Cellars Maximus 2012.
4. Nk'Mip Cellars Mer'r'iym 2012.
5. Larkana Cellars Twelve 2012.
6. Church & State Quintessential 2012.
7. Gray Monk Odyssey Meritage 2012.
Congratulations to all who participated . There was not a single wine that I would not have in my cellar.
Black Hills Nota Bene 2013 ($61.99)
Cabernet Sauvignon 49%, Merlot 40%, Cabernet Franc 11%. Alcohol 13.7%. Production 3,300 cases.
Winery tasting notes: “Its tantalizing signature of sweet, ripe cherry complimented by its dusty earth undertones is salivating. Rich, smooth tannins coat the palate resulting in a juicy mouth feel with an alluring gilt of violets, flowery undertones and a lingering finish reminiscent of a sweet cigar box.”
Cassini Cellars Maximus Collector’s Edition 2012 ($39.99)
53% Cabernet Sauvignon, 44% Merlot, 2% Petit Verdot and 1% Cabernet Franc. Production 700 cases and 500 magnums.
Author’s tasting notes: “The wine has aromas of cassis and black cherry. The wine presents a polished texture of silky tannins, with intense flavours of cassis, cherry, blueberry, vanilla and cocoa.”
Church and State Quintessential 2012 ($58.99)
Merlot 45%, Cabernet Sauvignon 45%, Cabernet Franc 3.33%, Petit Verdot 3.33%, Malbec 3.33%. Alcohol 14.3%. Aged 22 months in French oak (33% new). Production 150 cases.
Author’s tasting notes: “The wine is generous in texture and in flavours. It begins with aromas of black cherry, black currants, vanilla and truffles. On the palate, there are flavours of plum, mulberry, black cherry and dark chocolate.”
Clos du Soleil Estate Reserve Red 2012 ($63.99)
Cabernet Sauvignon 53%, Merlot 27%, Cabernet Franc 13%, Petit Verdot 6%, Malbec 1%. Production 100 cases.
Winery tasting notes: “This 2012 red Estate Reserve is a highly perfumed and expressive wine, displaying a layered complexity. On the nose the wine offers beautiful violet and other floral notes, followed by ripe fruit aromas, dominated by raspberry and blackberry, on a background of cedar and exotic spice. On the palate the wine is fresh and lively, first showing juicy, fresh raspberries, blackcurrant, flinty stoniness, and spice. The wine is mouth-filling and rich with fine tannins, while maintaining a sense of elegance and delicacy.”
Clos du Soleil Signature Red 2012 ($48.99)
Cabernet Sauvignon 48%, Merlot 42%, Cabernet Franc 9%, Petit Verdot 1% . Aged 18 months in French oak barrels.
Winery tasting notes: “The nose opens with aromas of cassis, blueberry and dark cherry, on a background of spice and mixed herbs. On the palate the wine is full, long and elegant. Bright fruit flavours of cherry and black and red currant flow seamlessly into a long finish with notes of tobacco and black pepper. Enjoyable in its youth, the fine tannins and beautiful balance of this wine ensure its ability to age for a decade.”
Gray Monk Odyssey Meritage 2012 ($38.99)
Merlot 48.6%, Cabernet Sauvignon 28.6%, Cabernet Franc 17.1%, Malbec 2.9%, Petit Verdot 2.9%. Alcohol 13.7%. Aged in new French oak barrels. Production 860 cases.
Author’s tasting notes: “This is a lush and generous red, beginning with aromas of black cherry and vanilla. On the palate, there are flavours of black cherry, black currant and leather with a hint of minerality on the long finish.”
Hester Creek The Judge 2012 ($50.99)
Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc. Alcohol 14.2%. Aged 26 months in oak barrels. Production 900 cases.
Author’s tasting notes: “This is a dark, concentrated wine beginning with aromas of black cherry, plum and vanilla. On the palate, there are flavours of black cherry, dark chocolate, vanilla and cedar. The texture is rich and elegant with a long, long finish.”
LaStella Fortissimo 2013 ($41.99)
Merlot 39%, Cabernet Franc 38%, Cabernet Sauvignon 17%, Sangiovese 6%. Alcohol 14.9%. Aged 19 months in French and Slavonian barrels and puncheons (new and used). Production 833 cases plus 113 cases of 375 ml, 96 magnums and 12 double magnums.
Author’s tasting notes: “The model for this wine, which includes six per cent Sangiovese in the blend, is a Super-Tuscan blend. The Sangiovese adds the dusty tannins one finds in Tuscan reds (aging the wine 19 months in French and Slavonian oak also plays a role). The wine has aromas and flavours of black currant and cherry.”
Lake Breeze Tempest 2011 $51.99
Merlot 45%, Malbec 30%, Cabernet Franc 10%, Cabernet Sauvignon 10%, Petit Verdot 5%.
Winery tasting notes: “The sum is greater than its parts in this classic Bordeaux blend. Aged in new French oak for 15 months, this wine is full and rich.”
Lariana Cellars Twelve 2012 ($48.99)
Cabernet Sauvignon 53%, Syrah 25%, Merlot 21%, Carmenère 1%. Alcohol 14%. Aged 18 months in 90% French oak, 45% new. Production 480 cases.
Winery tasting notes: “Dominated by aromas of black fruits with a slight hint of black olives and licorice. The palate is further substantiated with a concentrated yet broad profile of Italian plums and black cherries [with] gentle supple tannins.”
Laughing Stock Portfolio 2013 ($45.00)
Merlot 41%, Cabernet Sauvignon 30%, Cabernet Franc 18%, Malbec 8%, Petit Verdot 3%. Alcohol 14.4%. Aged 19 months in French oak (55% new). Production 2,500 cases.
Winery tasting notes: The wine “is a complex layering of blackberry compote and clove spice aromas that jump from the glass. Solid notes of black fruit and dark chocolate, with tannins that are already soft and plush, thanks to a warm growing season. The end result is a smooth, long finish and a wine built to age.”
Mission Hill Compendium 2011 ($85.99)
Cabernet Sauvignon 44%, Merlot 43%, Cabernet Franc 13%. Alcohol 13.5%. Aged in French oak barrels for 13 months. Production 1,275 cases.
Winery tasting notes: “Rich and full bodied this wine has great colour, elegance and ripe fruit exhibiting smooth concentration. The nose is a lovely balance of cedar, dark chocolate, black plum, raspberries and blackberry jam. With ample tannins and fresh acidity, this wine will cellar well.”
Mission Hill Quatrain 2011 ($74.99)
Merlot 54%, Syrah 21%, Cabernet Sauvignon 13%, Cabernet Franc 12%. Alcohol 13.5. Aged in French oak barrels for 12 months. Production 1,200 cases.
Winery tasting notes: “Firm, rich and dense, the 2011 Quatrain combines power with finesse, offering a deep mix of chewy dark cherry and dark chocolate together with wild herb and loamy earth notes. Syrah adds a juicy-fleshy texture to this uncommon blend, lending a seamless profile of ripe fruit and spice to this harmonious and youthful wine.”
NK’Mip Cellars Mer’r’iym 2012 ($52.99)
Merlot 59%, Cabernet Sauvignon 22.7%, Malbec 12.3%, Cabernet Franc 6%. Aged in predominately French oak barrels for 18 months. Alcohol 15.09%.
Winery tasting notes: “Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Malbec all come together to create an elegant wine that is all about balance, texture, and length. Aromas are of blueberries, black currant, smoke and tobacco with flavours of dark fruit and cherry leading into a lengthy structured finish.”
Osoyoos Larose Le Grand Vin 2011 ($45.99)
Merlot 48%, Cabernet Sauvignon 33%, Petit Verdot 10%, Cabernet Franc 6%, Malbec 3%. Alcohol 13.8%. Aged 18 to 20 months in French oak (60% new). Production 3,000 cases.
Winery tasting notes: “The 2011 vintage features a very deep, intense colour. The nose is rich and complex with toasty caramel and espresso aromas, opulent black currant notes, spices and eucalyptus. Ripe velvety tannins enrobe a silky texture.”
Painted Rock Red Icon 2013 ($58.99)
Merlot 33%, Cabernet Franc 29%, Petit Verdot 21%, Malbec 12 %, Cabernet Sauvignon 5%. Alcohol 14.9%. Aged 18 months in French oak (30% new). Production 985 cases.
Winery tasting notes: “Dark and rich, cassis, blackberry, vanilla and spice on the nose. On the palate more ripe black fruit, dark chocolate, vanilla and baking spice with mouth filling ripe tannins & high acidity. Give this wine maximum cellar time for the ultimate reward.”
Perseus Invictus 2013 $56.99
Cabernet Franc 42%, Merlot 38%, Cabernet Sauvignon 13%, Malbec 7%. Alcohol 14.5%. Production 700 cases.
Winery tasting notes: “Our 2013 Invictus showcases the true potential that Bordeaux style wines can achieve here in the South Okanagan. This wine bursts out of the bottle with concentrated aromas of black cherry, ripe plum and dark chocolate. The bouquet is echoed on the palate with additional hints of clove, eucalyptus and smoked meats. This well-structured, balanced wine has a velvety mouth-feel with long, lingering tannins.”
Poplar Grove Legacy 2011 ($54.99)
Merlot 43%, Cabernet Franc 41%, Malbec 13%, Cabernet Sauvignon 3%. Alcohol 14.5%. Production 550 cases.
Author’s tasting notes: This firmly textured wine begins with aromas of black currant and black cherry, which are echoed on the palate, along with flavours of coffee and dark chocolate. There are spicy fruit flavours on the lingering finish.
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