Black Hills Carmenere – 12 year vertical!

So this is why we didn’t have time to make a few more stops on the road up here: a 2PM appointment with this fabulous event.

The first of it’s kind! I suspect they may do this again a few times, although apparently some of the older vintages are down to their last few bottles.

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Black Hills Carmenere X 12!


2006: Leather, pepper, tobacco leaf and golden raisins on the nose. The palate is more herbaceous than fruity at this point, but it still shows some black plum and a touch of black pepper. This won’t get any better, but it’s still showing well. 91.

2007: Dusty sage, black raspberry, some other black fruits hanging around on the nose. The palate is juicy and still quite fresh – blackberry, raisins, licorice flavors come through. Peaking now. Delicious. 92.

2008: Red raspberry, white pepper and jalapeño on the nose. Black fruit dominates the palate which still features grippy tannins. This has more time left in it and might even get a touch better. 90.

2009: Red fruit, cigar box and leather on the nose. Strawberry, cranberry, tobacco leaf on the palate. Long finish. Peaking now. 91.

2010: Herbaceous nose, with some red fruit, vanilla and oak poking through the herbs. Dark chocolate, oak, jalapeño on the palate. Delicious now and still has lots of legs left to step up to another level. 92.

2011: Red fruit, green pepper, plum and cassis on the nose. Blueberry and cassis on the palate. Acidity seems high and the finish is fairly short. Drink now. 88.

2012: Red fruit, dusty notes of thyme and sage on the nose. Blackberry, green pepper and a touch of white pepper on the palate. Long, lovely finish. Has another 5-7 years in it. 92.

2013: Aromas of chocolate, oak and forest floor. Herbs and green pepper on the palate. Very short finish. This was the only vintage I didn’t like that much upon release, and it has not changed my mind. In fact, it has probably regressed. 85.

2014: Lighter nose of red fruit and a touch of black pepper. I actually preferred this vintage upon release, which is not to say it’s not still excellent, but it might have shut down a bit. It will be interesting to see this one in a few more years. 92.

2015: Black cherry, black raspberry, plum, smoke, black olive aromas. Menthol, herbs, red cherry and just a hint of the smoke that overwhelmed the Okanagan valley in 2015. Should still age beautifully. 92.

2016: Green pepper, funky mushroom and red fruit on the nose. Blackberry, cranberry, smoke and a hint of cigar box. Tannins are silky smooth. This one can go another 5-8 years at least. 92.

2017: This is a beast. A BEAST. Hot in every sense of the word, with thyme and sage on the nose and palate. Joined by a hint of black pepper, mint and strawberry. I wouldn’t touch this for at least 3 years, and it probably needs closer to 10. Tons of potential for a great wine, though. 90++.


As you can see from my scores, it wasn’t easy to pick my favorite vintage, it was a six-way tie. When it came right down to it, I went with the 2007 in a photo finish. Perhaps it was a nostalgic vote, as I had never tasted a Carmenere that was well over a decade old. What a treat!

Legendary BC wine critic and writer John Schreiner was also in attendance, and it happened that the next day we would run into him at Lariana Cellars, where he would mirror my sentiments about this initial event: A real treat for all concerned, and we should all be aging our Carmenere longer than we think !

Next up: We had one or two more wineries in us this day, and we would head up the road to Maverick Estate Winery!

Short Okanagan jaunt begins with our second visit to @LiberFarmWinery!

Finally getting around to reviewing all the wine we enjoyed on our little 3-day excursion to Oliver and Osoyoos. Driving up through the Similkameen, we usually stop at 2-3 wineries here but didn’t have time for that today, as we had an appointment to get to.

We stopped at Liber and pulled out a little picnic lunch, to enjoy while Mike, the owner, winemaker and just about everything else (he was out in the field chasing away varmints when we arrived!), took us on a tour of his new wines. Here we go!

Liber Farm & Winery 2018 Hello SunshineLiber Farm & Winery 2018 Everyday ChardonnayLiber Farm & Winery 2018 Sauvignon Blanc SemillonLiber Farm & Winery 2018 Estate RoséLiber Farm & Winery 2017 Let Me Be Franc

The next two wines are not even available for sale yet; one just bottled, the other one still in barrel. Prices are approximate.

Liber Farm & Winery 2017 RebelLiber Farm & Winery 2018 Viognier (Barrel Sample)

So that’s it for today! As I mentioned last year when we visited for the first time, I highly recommend visiting these guys any time you are in, or driving through, the Similkameen.

Next up: Our “appointment” that we had to get to was a pretty special event, a first-ever 12-year vertical of Black Hills Carmenere! Stay tuned, you don’t want to miss this one!

Chateau Lafite Rothschild, anyone???

So, yeah, this happened.

Not going to go into great detail about how this bottle fell into my lap, but it did, and we were damn sure not going to let it go to waste. So, a select handful of friends and my wife’s family were invited over to enjoy this special occasion.

To paraphrase Sideways: “The day you open a 1995 Chateau Lafite Rothschild, THAT’S the special occasion!”.

Amen to that.

Since a bottle of wine doesn’t go very far 9-ways, I planned a menu of food and other wines to fill out the evening. We were calling this the third of our “big hunks of meat” nights, but it was obviously more than just that.

We started with some assorted Charcuterie, paired with two wines recently reviewed from our Fraser Valley trip.

Singletree 2017 Victory

Glass House 2018 Madeline Angevine

Next up, a recipe from Chrissy Teigen’s book called “Perfect Seared Scallops”. Were they perfect? Not sure I’d go that far, but they were pretty damn good. For this one, we pulled out the first bottle of table wine to ever get a perfect 100-point score from a major critic:

Checkmate 2015 Little Pawn Chardonnay

With our next course, Brown Butter Risotto with BC Spot Prawns (delicious!), we selected an underrated California Chardonnay, and also cracked open a Magnum of a BC Pinot that I reviewed a few years ago (and it has definitely evolved to the high end of my range!).

Girard 2015 Chardonnay

Quails’ Gate 2013 Stewart Family Reserve Pinot Noir

For the main event (hey, it’s OK to have the main event in the middle of the night!), I cooked Filet Mignon with a simple Creamy Mushroom Sauce (by FAR, my favorite dish of the night), and it paired beautifully with the rest of the above Pinot Noir, AND…..drumroll please……the First Growth Bordeaux!


Chateau Lafite Rothschild 1995 Pauillac

After finishing up my review of this one, I feel like I need a cigarette.

Kidding. Kids, don’t smoke.

Kids: Also, don’t read wine blogs.

On to the next course, Balsamic Beef Short Ribs that had been developing in our Instant Pot (Slow cooker selection) for most of the day. They were pretty good, but I am just not a huge fan of short ribs. Just too fatty. To go with this, we selected a rarity: A BC Sangiovese!

Summerhill 2013 Sangiovese

Next up was some Flat Iron Steak, covered in a red chimichurri sauce. Very tasty! I didn’t even know that red chimichurri was a thing. To compliment this one, we went with two very different vintages of a BC favorite.

The oldest vintage I have reviewed a couple of times, and I stand by the fact that although it is still very good, it is on the decline.

Black Hills 2008 Nota Bene

We had never tasted the newest vintage (except as a barrel sample) until tonight.

Black Hills 2016 Nota Bene

On to dessert, a simple plate of cheese, nuts, and homemade blood orange gelato (IN-CRE-DI-BLE!!!), two very different wines!

Moulin Touchais 1997 Coteaux du Layon

Taylor Fladgate 20 Year old Tawny Port

What a night! Writing this has made the memories flood back and I think I need to lay down 🙂

Next up! Still a ton of random bottles to update you on, but last weekend we were up in the Okanagan for a few days, with two huge events to tell you about. First a 12-year vertical of Black Hills Carmenere, and then the annual Nota Bene Release Party! Not to mention we also got to tour a handful of other wineries. It was a great weekend, and I’ll start that report soon!



Finishing up the Fraser Valley tour with pizza, a patio, and some incredible wine @Blackwoodlane!

To the main event of this little trip. We were so pleasantly surprised with the overall quality of the wine on this trip! No surprises here, though, where we KNEW the wine was going to be fantastic.

Isn’t it nice when a winery does the bulk of the aging for you? That is the case here, where Proprietor Carlos Lee never releases a wine before it’s time. The wines below are all current vintage, not library wines. Let’s get to it!

Blackwood Lane 2015 Vicuna Roja

Blackwood Lane 2014 Cabernet FrancBlackwood Lane 2014 Reserve Merlot


Out onto the patio where we splurged on a bottle of their 2009 Reference, which I had previously reviewed here, last year. It did not disappoint, and it was nice to have a meal at a winery where we could get a bottle of their wine without paying a restaurant “upcharge”. We simply bought the bottle and took it outside to enjoy with our pizza, which was, by the way, awesome. And, even at $150, it’s an excellent value. Where else can you buy wine that is already aged for a decade? Pretty unreal.

Next up: A special night of wine, food, family and friends that saw us taste our first ever FIRST GROWTH BORDEAUX. Yes, you read that right! Stay tuned!


People in Glass Houses shouldn’t throw wine bottles!

OK let’s face it, NOBODY should really be throwing wine bottles.

Our next stop was at Glass House Estate Winery; a family winery that has recently been taken over by the Joseph Richards Group (JRG). Yes, the same JRG that runs all those public houses. You probably have a JRG pub in your neighborhood. We do.

They are as close to the US border as you can get; their address is 0 avenue. In fact, if you head across the street, you will be in the US. You will also be in a forest, a ditch, or a swamp. I don’t recommend trying that out.

Glass House takes a minimalist approach to winemaking, using only free run juice. And no cork here….in fact, no screwcaps either! They use glass stoppers in all their wine, and they have to be the only winery in BC doing this. Culmina uses a glass stopper in their rosé, but I can’t think of any others off the top of my head.

They have a lovely patio, and they are in the process of adding a full menu which they hope to be up and running sometime in June.

As we saddled up to the tasting bar, I hear a familiar voice telling me to make sure I am giving them a good rating! It’s Rob, who was our WSET instructor at Everything Wine last year! He has transitioned to the JRG and is helping them get their wine program up and running at Glass House. Always nice to see a friendly face, and he took over our tasting and made sure we got to taste through their rather large portfolio.

So, let’s get to it! Apologies for the lack of bottle images on most of these, they are just impossible to find and they have nothing on their website.

All of their whites and rosés are from Estate grown grapes (except where noted), and all of the reds are from single vineyards on the Naramata Bench. Also, all of the whites and rosés are priced identically.

Glass House Estate Winery 2017 Muscat Ottonel

Glass House Estate Winery 2017 Viognier

Glass House Estate Winery 2017 Bacchus

Glass House Estate Winery 2017 Pinot Grigio

Glass House Estate Winery 2017 Chardonnay

Glass House Estate Winery 2017 Millefiori

Glass House Estate Winery 2017 Rosé des Pinots

Glass House Estate Winery 2017 Cameo Rosé

Glass House Estate Winery 2014 Pinot Noir

Glass House Estate Winery 2014 Meridian

Glass House Estate Winery 2015 Austellus

And this wasn’t the last wine we tasted, but I left it for last because it was such an unexpected treat.

A little bit about this rare grape:

Madeleine Angevine is a white wine grape from the Loire Valley in France that is also popular in Germany, Kyrgyzstan and Washington State. The early-ripening grape is a cross between Madeleine Royale and Précoce de Malingre grapes that grows well in cooler climates.

I’ve never seen in on any shelf in BC (not that we get a lot of wine from Kyrgyzstan!), but I have seen it on restaurant menus in Seattle. I never paid it much attention. I certainly will now! And I guess if this grape can thrive in Washington State, it stands to reason that it would thrive in a winery just meters away.

Glass House Estate Winery 2017 Madeleine Angevine

So that’s it for this tasting, another impressive winery in the Fraser Valley. Who knew?? We are very much looking forward to our next visit once the restaurant is fully operational.

Next up: We finish off this impromptu wine tour with the reason behind the whole dang thing: Pizza on the patio at Blackwood Lane!

Fraser Valley Wine Tour continues as we try to solve an age old philosophical riddle!

I believe it was Socrates who first posed the question:

“If a SingleTree falls in the forest, and there is nobody there to hear it, how does the Grüner Veltliner taste???”.

Ah yes, ancient philosophy. It always surprises me.

So, up the road to SingleTree, a winery I had heard quite a bit about around the ol’ water cooler. Or somewhere. Don’t really remember to be honest but I had heard good things. As we arrive to their quaint little tasting room, we notice they have a bunch of “charcuterie-ish” items for purchase, and since we are hungry, we partake in some meat sticks, crackers and cheese. It’s crowded when we get there, so they set us up on a secondary tasting station across from the main tasting bar, which is fine with us because it gives us plenty of room for our do-it-yourself-charcuterie-board and my notes.

I had been told that they make a good Grüner, but unfortunately it wasn’t open to taste…. until I asked them to open it with a very sad look on my face 🙂 That actually did the trick. It never hurts to ask, and it worked out for everyone. I probably would have bought a bottle anyway, but after tasting it, we ended up with 3, including one from a previous vintage. Let’s see how it all turned out!

Prices include all taxes.

Singletree 2017 Victory

Singletree 2018 Grüner Veltliner

Even my wife, not a huge Grüner fan, really enjoyed this. I mentioned above that we also bought one from last vintage; we didn’t get to taste it at the winery but we opened it up this past weekend. It received a couple awards, including a Double Gold, but honestly I preferred the ’18.

Singletree 2017 Grüner Veltliner.PNG

In keeping with their ability to grow certain types of cool-climate grapes in the Fraser Valley, they also had a bunch of Siegerrebe, a grape rarely found in the Okanagan, and we were fortunate enough to taste two different vintages.

Singletree 2015 SiegerrebeSingletree 2017 Siegerrebe

And, of course, we also bought a 2016 and 2018 untasted, because when are we EVER going to get the opportunity to have a 4-year vertical of Siegerrebe again?

Full report on those after we drink ’em.

Now, onto their reds, none of which are grown in the Fraser Valley. All the fruit comes from the Okanagan.

Singletree 2018 Rosé

Singletree 2016 Pinot Noir

Singletree 2016 Merlot

Singletree 2015 Harness

Last, but not least, a little dessert wine.

Singletree 2015 Late Harvest Kerner

We had a lovely experience here, and are looking forward to our next visit. The staff was friendly and helpful, the owner stopped by to say hello and introduce herself, and the wine was universally of high quality. We left here with a mixed case of wine.

Next up: Our next stop takes us back to Langley, nestled right up against the US border, to a winery that I had barely heard of: Glass House Estate Winery!

Don’t miss this one.

Fraser Valley wine tour, Part 2, our first Abbotsford winery: Seaside Pearl!



What a charming little wine shop. Looks more like a church out of “Little House on the Prairie” than a tasting room! But don’t let the looks fool you, there is plenty of room for a group tasting; the shop is much longer than it is wide. And as you can see, plenty of space to take a bottle outside and enjoy some wine with the beautiful scenery.

All of the wine is made on-site, with grapes from the Fraser Valley and the Okanagan.

The first two wines we tasted were a couple different vintages of a grape I had never heard of. I had to look it up:

Petite Milo

Pink, very early ripening. Cabernet Sauvignon, Riparia and Amurensis cross. Can achieve quite high sugar levels and retain good acidity.
Rates 8 for winter hardiness.

Seaside Pearl 2016 Petit Milo

Seaside Pearl 2017 Petit Milo

Seaside Pearl 2017 Fraser Gold Chardonnay

Seaside Pearl 2017 Sam and Isaac Pinot Gris

The next two wines were exactly the same, but completely different. Let me explain: They make this wine in two styles: One, a mass-produced version for retail (Save-On-Foods) and secondly, a house blend for sale at the winery. Quite a profound difference in the quality.

Seaside Pearl 2016 Landing Road Blend SaveOnFoods version

Seaside Pearl 2016 Landing Road Blend House Blend version

Now, onto the last couple big reds, both from Okanagan grapes.

Seaside Pearl 2016 Lovers Lane Merlot

Seaside Pearl 2016 Engineers Petit Verdot

We thoroughly enjoyed our first visit here, and will be back whenever touring Abbotsford. It’s a delightful site.

Next up: To the winery everyone has been talking about, another newbie in Abbotsford, Singletree!

Can you get great wine in the Fraser Valley? Let’s find out!

So, things have been not-so-great on the “mothers” front for us lately. As I mentioned previously, my mother-in-law passed away a few weeks back, and my Mom has Alzheimer’s and has deteriorated to the point that we had to move her to a full-time care facility. Now, in the grand scheme of things, this is a very good thing; she will be safer there and will be well cared for. However, she spends all day, every day, waiting for us to come and get her to take her “home” (back to her last place). She is miserable.

Anyway, this has caused an unusual amount of stress in the household, so a couple weeks ago our dear friend decided that to get away from it for a while, we should all go to Blackwood Lane in Langley for “pizza on the patio!”. What a great idea….and we decided to make a day of it, and do something we have been talking about for years but have never got around to: a little Fraser Valley wine tour!

We started off at the closest winery that was open at 11 AM, which was Township 7. We have been to the Township 7 in the Okanagan once but this was our first visit to their Langley location. One thing I noticed right away was that they have reserved the best parking spots for their Club members. A cool perk for those loyal to you. Other wineries should do this!

They had 6 wines for us to taste, let’s see how it went!

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So that was it for our first winery on this little impromptu trip. You may have noticed that NONE of the grapes in any of these wines are actually grown in the Fraser Valley. That would change, soon, as this trip unfolds.

Next up: To Abbotsford we go, our first visit to a really new player in the game, Seaside Pearl!



La Tour Eiffle, and one heck of a dinner

In Vegas for 6 magnificent nights last week, and we decided to make our last dinner of the trip, our “date night”, particularly special. It turned into the most expensive dinner we have ever had, which was pretty much 100% because of the wine.

We started at the bar, while we waited for our table, with a couple glasses of this little gem.

Moet & Chandon 2006 Dom Perignon

For appetizers, my wife chose a salad while I had lobster bisque. To accompany those, we bought a half-bottle of this. The Eiffel Tower has the most incredible selection of half-bottles that I have ever seen.

Miner Family Vineyards 2016 Viognier

Now, for the main event, and pairing with a couple of Filet Mignons (both so big we could not possibly eat them all), how about a 33-year old Bordeaux??

Chateau Haut-Bailly 1986 Pessac-Léognan

We finished off the meal with a sublime chocolate soufflé, and then rolled ourselves out the door back to our hotel. What a meal, and a perfect way to end a simply spectacular vacation. Cannot wait to go back.

Up next: Lots of random stuff we’ve been drinking to update you on. Stay tuned!

VIWF: Part 6: The rest of the world!

Well I had this blog post about 90% done last weekend and was all ready to get the VIWF finally finished when we suddenly lost my mother-in-law, making blog posts seems pretty unimportant. As if that wasn’t enough, I came home from the hospital with the flu. I cannot remember ever being that sick. My wife, who had JUST got over that same flu she picked up in the same hospital, while visiting her mother a few days earlier, did yeoman’s work taking care of me and nursing me back to health, all while dealing with the loss of her mother. I am a very lucky man.

Life goes on. And so does the blog. Let’s get to it.

We tried hard to get to at least one booth from every represented country, and I think we did a pretty good job. One year it would sure be nice to taste everything at the Festival, but in order to do that, I’m pretty sure we would need a time machine. We even picked up our first-ever bottles from Croatia and Romania. To the wine!


Familia Zuccardi 2016 Q Malbec – 90
Familia Zuccardi 2017 Q Chardonnay – 89
Familia Zuccardi 2016 Tito Zuccardi Paraje Altamira – 92
Familia Zuccardi 2014 Jose Zuccardi Malbec – 92


Barossa Valley Estate 2016 Shiraz – 92
Barossa Valley Estate 2016 GSM – 88
Barossa Valley Estate 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon – 91
Barossa Valley Estate 2015 E&E Black Pepper Shiraz – 94

Tahbilk Winery 2016 Shiraz – 88
Tahbilk Winery 2018 Ngambie Lakes Marsanne – 89
Tahbilk Winery 2018 Viognier – 88
Tahbilk Winery 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon – 88



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Monte Creek Ranch 2017 Riesling – 88
Monte Creek Ranch 2017 Pinot Noir Reserve – 88
Monte Creek Ranch 2017 Sparkling Reserve – 88

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One Faith Vineyards 2013 Grand Vin – 93
One Faith Vineyards 2014 Grand Vin – 93
One Faith Vineyards 2016 Certitude – 92


Viña Santa Ema 2017 Amplus Merlot – 87
Viña Santa Ema 2015 Catalina – 87
Viña Santa Ema 2017 Amplus Cabernet Sauvignon – 89

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Coronica 2013 Gran Teran – 87
Corinica 2017 Malvazija – 88

Korta Katarina 2016 Rosé – 84
Korta Katarina 2016 Posip – 86
Korta Katarina 2009 Plavac Mali – 87
Korta Katarina 2008 Reuben’s Private Reserve – 88

Krolo Winery 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot – 84


Casale del Giglio 2016 Cesanese – 88
Casale del Giglio 2015 Madreselva Riserva Rosso Lazio – 90

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Di Lenardo Vineyards 2017 Pinot Grigio – 86
Di Lenardo Vineyards 2017 Father’s Eyes Chardonnay – 91

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Marchesi di Barolo 2014 Barbaresco DOCG della Tradizione – 89
Marchesi di Barolo 2014 Barolo DOCG della Tradizione – 89

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Tenuta Argentiera 2016 Poggio ai Ginepri Rosso – 91
Tenuta Argentiera 2018 Poggio ai Ginepri Rosé – 88
Tenuta Argentiera 2015 Bolgheri Superiore – 92

Ville Le Calvane 2013 Colli della Toscana Centrale Borro del Boscone – 88
Ville Le Calvane 2011 Toscana Matriarca – 88
Ville Le Calvane 2016 Chianti Colli Fiorentini Quercione – 88
Ville Le Calvane 2011 Super Tuscan Oltre Strade – 87



Real Companhia Velha 2015 Evel Tinto – 87
Real Companhia Velha 2015 Touriga Nacional – 89
Real Companhia Velha 2016 Evel Branco – 86


Liliac 2017 Sauvignon Blanc – 87
Liliac 2015 Red Cuvée – 87
Liliac 2016 Feteasca Neagra – 88

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Elk Cove 2016 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir – 89
Elk Cove 2016 Mount Richmond Pinot Noir – 92
Elk Cove 2016 Clay Court Pinot Noir – 91

King Estate 2017 Willamette Valley Pinot Gris – 88
King Estate 2016 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir – 87


Aquilini Red Mountain 2017 Horse Heaven Hills Syrah Rosé – 87
Aquilini Red Mountain 2015 Red Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon – 91
Aquilini Red Mountain 2015 Red Mountain Family Blend – 92

Wines of Substance 2017 Substance Cabernet Sauvignon – 89
Wines of Substance 2015 Motor City Kitty Syrah – 86
Wines of Substance 2017 ViNO Pinot Gris – 87
Wines of Substance 2015 ViNO Rosso – 87


Bodega Garzon 2016 Estate Cabernet Franc Tannat – 87
Bodega Garzon 2016 Reserva Tannat – 88
Bodega Garzon 2018 Reserva Albariño – 88
Bodega Garzon 2018 Estate Pinot Noir Rosé – 86

That’s a wrap to the 2019 Vancouver International Wine Festival! Already looking forward to next year!

Next up for the blog: SOOOOO much random stuff to catch up on!