Okanagan Trip continues at a winery that is quickly becoming a favorite: @Road13Vineyards!

So, last year I told you about Shelby, who had been in the wine industry for all of 2 weeks and already knew more about wine, and her products, then about 75% of the Okanagan tasting room staff. If you didn’t read that blog post last year, you can catch up on it here if you like.

She made such an impression on us that when we booked this year’s tasting, we specifically requested her, if she was still working there.

She was not. And, in fact, she’s left the industry entirely. That’s quite a loss for the industry, IMO.

How do we know this about her? Well, let me introduce you to Emma, who we quickly dubbed “new Shelby”. Emma started at Road 13 around the same time as Shelby and they are friends (in fact, they had lunch together a few days before our visit). Emma knows her stuff, and took excellent care of us. She was the only full-time tasting room staff member who stayed on during the pandemic, and Road 13 was smart to do whatever it took to hang onto her.

When we received the wine that we had purchased (we never take wine with us into the car, we always have it shipped), we received a lovely hand-written thank-you note from Emma. The little touches……

Of course, none of this would really matter much if the wine sucked, would it? But since we come here every chance we get, there wasn’t much chance of that. Let’s get to it!

Honestly, it’s tough to imagine a tasting, top to bottom, being much better than that. It was so good (this year AND last) that we joined the wine club – and we have actually been working to get LESS wine in the door, not more – the first new club we have joined in years.

That’s it for today. Next up: A fabulous Cabana tasting at Black Hills, where we get to taste all the new releases, including the 2019 Nota Bene!! Stay tuned!

Okanagan trip report continues at the brand new location @LiberFarmWinery!

So after leaving La Stella, it’s just a 2-minute car ride, basically across the street, to Liber Farm & Winery’s new location. Owner Mike Dowell is in the process of building a beautiful facility, hopefully to open at some point in 2022. For now, he has put up a really comfortable temporary tasting area, complete with an open-air, fully covered, Astroturfed seating area.

This will be a fairly short entry because we tasted a bunch of the new stuff earlier this year. You can see the blog entry here or the much more interesting vlog entry here.

For today’s report, just two other new wines to report on, and neither disappoints, including what is quite possibly the best red wine they’ve ever made.

And then there is this one, that isn’t even released yet (or at least it wasn’t when we were there). The website still lists the 2018 as available. The ’18 is very good, but this vintage is next-level, and an absolute steal at this price.

OK that’s it for now! Next up: After checking into the hotel and relaxing for the evening, we start off the next day with a beautiful tasting at Road 13! Stay tuned!

Okanagan trip, part 2, at one of our favorites every visit: @lastellawinery!

When we were members of La Stella (and their sister winery Le Vieux Pin), we were treated like family. Every visit. A couple of years ago we left both clubs, simply due to the fact that had we remained in all the clubs we were in, we would have shortly run out of places to put all the wine. Now that we aren’t in the clubs anymore…..they still treat us like family.

A lot of this is due to Alex Russo, their wine club manager. He is the best in the business, and we know anytime we need anything from either winery, he will take excellent care of us. That’s pretty great service for EX-club members. Alex recently celebrated his 10th Anniversary as part of the team, and if you know anything about staff turnover in the Okanagan, that’s pretty remarkable. I think it’s probably more mathematically likely that an employee would work at 10 wineries in one year than at one winery (OK, two, in this case I guess) for 10 years.

We show up for our appointment and are quickly greeted and escorted out to their beautiful patio. We haven’t checked into our room yet, it’s too early, so we still have the dog with us. They are certainly dog friendly on the patio; in fact there are two other groups out there when we arrive and BOTH are accompanied by a furry friend!

Our guide today is someone we haven’t seen before, but he is very knowledgable and takes excellent care of us as we would expect. Now, let’s get to the wine!

Next up, because I guess winemaker Severine Pinte decided that making world class wine for La Stella and Le Vieux Pin wasn’t quite enough work, she decided to create a third label. Artakama is a new label featuring just natural wines. We were lucky enough to get to taste one, and although I didn’t love it (I have not yet jumped on the ‘natural wine’ bandwagon), I look forward to seeing how these wines evolve. If I recall correctly, this is the only one currently being featured at La Stella, while they also have a Viognier/Roussane blend, a Pinot Noir, and a Syrah being sold online or from Le Vieux Pin. Those three are currently only available in Magnums.

Next, two Tuscan-style blends that never disappoint, from two very different vintages.

To finish up, I’m giving this wine a bunch of “+s” because I really am not sure just how great it’s going to be once given some more nappy time in the bottle. Don’t get me wrong, if you have one of these and want to open it now (please aerate and decant it for a couple hours), you will thoroughly enjoy it. But patience is the key here, as I think this just might become one of the great Merlots in Okanagan history. Time will tell!

That’s all for today! Next up: The Okanagan trip continues as we meet up with Mike Dowell from Liber Farm & Winery at his new location which is basically across the street from La Stella! Stay tuned!

Okanagan trip report begins where it often does, @vanessavnyrd !

Anytime we are driving through the Similkameen Valley, even when we aren’t necessarily planning to stop, it’s difficult not to reach out to Vanessa Vineyards and see if they can accommodate us for a tasting. This trip was no exception! As with our trip last year, we are accompanied by a dog and need our tasting to be outside, and they had no problems taking care of us. Last year we tasted on top of a barrel, but this year they had a picnic table set up and that was even more comfortable. Let’s get to the wines!

We picked up a bunch of these bad boys and also bought a few bottles of their 2018 Cabernet Franc, although it wasn’t available to taste. Our host Blair, who was excellent (same as last year), highly recommended it but suggested not to look at it or touch it for at least 5 years, so we are taking him up on that recommendation.

That’s it for today! Next up: We arrive in Osoyoos and head right to one of the more reliable wineries out there, La Stella!

Rosé all day, part 2!!

In case you missed part 1 of my (likely) 3-part series, you can find it here.

And if you missed my vlog where I reviewed most of the wines featured in this post, you can find that here.

Part 1 of the series featured exclusively BC rosés, this one also focuses on BC but there are a couple of French rosés thrown in for good measure. Let’s get to it, starting with the BC entries.

OK, now we’ll go across the pond for a couple of nice ones from Provence!

That ends part 2 of the series! Up next, I’ll start on the report from the wineries we visited on our Okanagan trip last week. First up, Vanessa Vineyards!

Stay tuned!

Three new releases from an underrated BC winery, @liberfarmwinery!

If you missed my YouTube video, you can see it here.

Full disclosure: I really enjoy this winery. The wines are good, the prices are reasonable, and the owners are outstandingly friendly. What’s not to like?

They are embarking on a new journey; moving from their previous home in the Similkameen Valley to Osoyoos. For this year, you can book tastings on their website using this link, which will be outdoors at the new location. They are hoping to have the new location open fully next year.

Just to clear up any confusion: Their new address is 14000 BC-97, Osoyoos. When I type that address, it comes up correctly, just up the road from Blue Sky winery and also very close to La Stella. If I type in 14000 Highway 97, Osoyoos, Mapquest gives me an address North of Penticton, which is clearly not correct.

In addition to the three wines I reviewed, they have an extensive portfolio of delicious wines, including a drop-dead gorgeous Chardonnay that sees some oak, and a big, fat, delicious Bordeaux-style blend called “Rebil”, available to Wine Club members.

Here are my full reviews of the three wines tasted in the latest video:

That’s it for today! We are hoping to visit the new locale during our upcoming trip to the Okanagan, and if we can make that happen, there will be quite a few more reviews from this winery, you can bet on it.

Up next: Part two of our Rosé series is still ongoing, shouldn’t be too much longer now. Stay tuned!!

Cheap and Cheerful (mostly), Episode 2!

Cheap and cheerful, or cheap and pretty crappy, depending on which wine from my latest YouTube video (link is here if you missed it) we are talking about. Here are my reviews.

And, man, did that Monastrell ever collapse into itself during the three hours it was decanting. It was drinking fine after a half hour (my score is based on that timeframe), but at the three hour mark, it was barely palatable. So, I would recommend the ol’ “pop and pour” if you happen to drink one of those.

That’s it for today! Up next: Part 2 of the Rosé reviews. It’s underway, but I still have another 7-8 to taste before wrapping it up. Stay tuned!

Disney says “It’s a small world”, but that doesn’t seem to apply to the world of wine!

Admit it, you’ve got that song in your head now, dontcha?? You’re welcome.

So, this blog post is dedicated to that whole, huge world of wine far from our doors. OK not necessarily THAT far, but nothing from Canada in this report (I’ll do that separately).

This is the great stuff we’ve been drinking in the past few months that I have not yet reported on. We’ll take you down the coast to California, across the ocean to France, Germany and Italy, and finish up way down in Chile, with (spoiler alert), the best wine of the report.

Let’s get to it!

And….drumroll please……last, but certainly not least, the best of the bunch (and it’s a pretty good bunch):

That’s it for today! Not a bad bottle in the bunch, and some really special stuff.

Coming up! The BC stuff…yes, I still have lots of that to review! Stay tuned!

Everyone knows you can’t get amazing Bordeaux-style blends in the Fraser Valley, right? Not so fast.

***SPOILER ALERT*** This post started out being about this one wine, but before I got to post it last night, we enjoyed something that was EVER BETTER. I’ve left the original post intact, and added on to the bottom.

I first tasted this wine in 2013. That seems like a lifetime ago; so long ago that I was rating wine on a 10-point scale. It wasn’t until later that I moved to the more-traditionally 100-point rankings. At the time I gave this wine 9.5/10, which was more than likely a tie for the highest score I ever gave ANYTHING during my /10 days.

Last night on #BCWINECHAT, someone was asking about the best wineries in the Fraser Valley, and I mentioned that my favorite was Blackwood Lane, specifically for their high-end reds. This bottle was $99.99 when I bought it in 2013, and I believe the current vintage (which is 2013) sells for over $150 now. It’s a big ticket for a BC wine, and even more-so for a wine from the Fraser Valley.

And OMG it’s worth every penny.

Today, a prominent BC wine judge and writer who’s opinion I value mentioned to me that he had opened this very bottle about a month ago and although he thought it was still good, it wasn’t as good as it had been previously. He felt it had passed it’s peak a bit. So, it seemed like I’d been waiting for a good reason to open this beauty, and he had just given it to me!

Thankfully, my bottle had not (IMHO) passed it’s peak. It’s one of the best bottles of BC wine I have ever had. It’s going on my “best of the best” list (it was actually already there, based on the original 9.5/10 rating) officially now, and is tied with a handful of other top BC reds with the highest score I have ever awarded to a BC red wine. Ironically, the 2009 version of this wine, of which I have a bottle in my cellar, is also on the same list.

***UPDATE***

So, last night, we cracked open this incredible bottle of grape juice. At 22 years old, it could go to Vegas, bet all it’s money on Red 7, and then have to stay in a friend’s hotel room because it can’t afford it’s own room. Not that I would know anything about that particular confluence of events or anything.

This bottle came from a parcel I won at this year’s Vancouver International Wine Festival Bacchanalia auction. Due to the pandemic, the 2021 Festival was cancelled, and their annual Bacchanalia gala and auction went virtual. For $880 (including tax), I won 6 bottles of very well aged Chilean wine. This was the first one we have opened.

Wow. Just. Wow.

The only review I can find of this online was from Wine Enthusiast who scored it 90 points, way back in 2002. Let me tell you, the nineteen years since have made QUITE a difference. My wife and I were blown away. Not only is the fruit still singing, it was in a decanter for about four hours and it didn’t lose it’s edge. This bottle might not improve any further, but I believe it would still be drinking well in another decade.

Hoping that at least a couple of the other bottles from that parcel are as good as this one!

That’s a pretty good 1-2 punch of wine over the course of two days!!

BC Rosé reviews, part 1!

As an accompaniment to my latest YouTube video which you can see here if you missed it, here are reviews of the three wines tasted in the video and a bunch of other BC rosés we’ve tasted so far this year.

Last year, I did three separate blog entries on BC rosé, there were so many to try. We’ll see if this year brings us as many, but this post certainly won’t be the only one. Let’s get to it!

That’s it for today! There will be lots more Rosé to come, including a couple that are perennial contenders for “Best-BC-Rosé-of-the-year” honors, like Quails’ Gate Lucy’s Block and Cedarcreek’s Platinum Home Block.

Stay tuned!