Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Top Drops of 2008

By Julianna Hayes

From the mail I get, the article identifying my top 25 wines of the previous year seems to be my most anticipated column.

While I try to impress upon people to trust their own palates, I understand the appeal a list of this nature has to the consumer. I also clip recommendations of this type written by other critics. I enjoy discovering new wines and I want to taste anything a critic raves about that I haven’t tried yet.

I was asked last year how I selected the wines for this list. I can tell you it isn’t easy. It’s not a matter of simply selecting the wines that got the highest scores, but also about the wines which made the best impression on me. Certain wines seem to leave their mark and typically they are ones I choose to fill my own cellar – assuming I can even find them again.

Here are my 25 picks from the past year. I’m including brief tasting notes.

My Top 25 Drops of 2008

1. Mission Hill Perpetua 2006 Chardonnay $33
Orange, green apple, hints of lime, some buttery notes, a touch of toast and mineral and lovely vanilla. Very fresh on the palate with just enough roundness and creamy character without being overly woody. Citrus, apple skin, tree fruit flavours, a hint of nuttiness and a clean elegant finish.

2. Lang 2007 Farm Reserve Riesling $20
Fabulously bright, green apple, white peach, mineral, spice, lime and the slightest hint of petrol. Loads of mouth watering acidity and a snappy finish that lingers.

3. Black Hills Nota Bene 2006 $43
Black cherry, cassis, black plum, smoke, tobacco, menthol, leather, earth, toast, blueberry and violets. Big entry, firm tannins and elongated finish
Overall Impression: A yummy wine with a lot big fruit and surprisingly easy to drink for its youth.

4. Sandhill 2006 Phantom Creek Vineyard Small Lots Syrah $35
Black cherry, cassis, black pepper, jam, violet, chocolate, herbal notes, toast. Luscious entry with a great deal of complexity on the palate, moderate tannins, slightly hot, elongated finish.

5. Burrowing Owl Cabernet Franc 2006 $33
Cedar, savoury, earthy, chocolate, dried cherries, bell pepper, orange rind, cigar box, black pepper. Hard tannins require some time in the bottle.

6. Sumac Ridge 2005 Pinnacle (Red) $50
Blackberry, tobacco, leather, plum, jammy black fruits, nuts, baking spice, olive. Ripe, luscious entry, velvety texture, rich, warm and mouthfilling, extended finish, moderate tannins

7. La Frenz 2005 Shiraz $29

Earthy, cherry, plum, pepper, a bit of smoke and savoury meatyness. Spicy, plum, blueberries, cherries, sweet oak on the palate. Elegant and silky texture, medium weight, supple tannins and elongated finish.

8. CedarCreek 2006 Platinum Reserve Merlot $40
Spice, plum, black cherry, blueberry fruit, chocolate, orange peel, vanilla, mineral and some savoury notes. Luscious big fruit on the palate with a long finish. Needs some age.

9. Jackson-Triggs 2006 SunRock Vineyard Shiraz $35
Peppery, meaty, savoury, earthy notes with black fruits, a touch of smoke, and chocolate. Quite firm tannins, and a slightly hot finish that will soften up over time.

10. Laughing Stock Portfolio 2006 $39
Black fruits, dried cherries, chocolate, mint, dark vanilla, leather, violets, coffee bean, leather, meaty notes with ripe luscious black fruits on the palate. Savoury finish, lovely effort.

11. Quails’ Gate 2006 Family Reserve Chardonnay $30
Apple, pear, vanilla, citrus, buttery leesy notes with nutty, spicy, baked apple character in flavours. Mouth-coating and buttery on the finish.

12. Stoneboat Vineyards 2006 Pinot Noir $22
Nice complexity on the nose with bright fruit aromas of Bing cherry, straw.berry and a touch of rhubarb accented by tobacco, vanilla, white pepper and a bit of smoke. upple mouthfeel with bright fruit flavours, pepper and good length on the finish.

13. Sumac Ridge 2004 Steller’s Brut $27
Displaying a fine mousse with long lasting bubbles and a slightly peachy hue. This sparkling wine offers up a crisp nose, aromas of apples, yeasty notes and mineral. Nice, clean effervescence on the palate with loads of crisp acidity on the finish.

14. Wild Goose 2007 Autumn Gold $19
A delightful blend that includes Riesling, Pinot Blanc and Gewurztraminer, it features baked apple, rose petal, apricot and spicy notes. Bright and fresh fruit character on the palate with some mineral and lime on the finish.

15. Road 13 2007 Old Vines Chenin Blanc $18
Floral, grass, green jujubes, green apple, mineral, yellow grapefruit, lime, gooseberry. Clean, crisp entry, touch of spritz on the palate, zippy finish. Fabulous price.

16. Blasted Church 2006 Syrah $27
Perfumy aromas of blueberry, plum, violets, blackberry jam, pie crust, vanilla and spice. Luscious on the plate with black fruit flavours, lots of elegance and a smooth, round and slightly spicy finish.

17. Red Rooster Winery 2006 Malbec $23
Complex nose of crushed violets, plum, blueberry, leather, pepper spice, smoky oak, vanilla. A big, weighty mouth feel with good fruit concentration, toasty oak, coffee bean, earth and moderate to firm tannins.

18. Tinhorn Creek 2005 Oldfield’s Collection Merlot $28
Excellent effort – gets better each year. Features jammy blackberry, black cherry, herbaceous, savoury flavours, some menthol. Robust on the palate with a long peppery finish.

19. Osoyoos Larose 2006 Le Grand Vin $45
Black cherry, pepper, savoury, leather, black vanilla, coffee, meaty, smoke, herbaceous notes, licorice, black olive. Has flavours of black cherry, herbal, leather, spice, earthy, coffee bean, meaty, vanilla. Elegant and multi-layered.

20. Peller Estates 2006 Private Reserve Pinot Noir $18
One of this winery’s four gold medal winners from the Okanagan Fall Wine Festival, this is a stunning wine at an affordable price. Lovely cherry, chocolate characteristics with some earthy herbaceous notes. Silky texture. A best buy and widely available.

21. Church & State 2006 Syrah $26
Black cherry, mocha, pepper, some savoury notes, licorice, vanilla. Black fruit flavours, mocha, smooth tannins, orange peel. Quite pleasant to drink even young.

22. Inniskillin 2005 Discovery Series Zinfandel $30
Bing cherry, blackberry, jam, chocolate, perfume, coffee, toast, earth. Licorice, pepper, vanilla. Super ripe and luscious, full bodied wine. Well made.

23. Quinta Ferreira 2006 Obru-Prima $35
Blackberry jam, plum, pie crust, smoke, violets, cedar, coffee, vanilla, spice. Luscious ripe fruit, big mouthfeel, dryness on the mid-palate with some tannin and a long peppery finish.

24. Nk’Mip Cellars Qwam Qwmt Chardonnay 2006 $25
Aromas of baked apple, honey, spice with leesy and oily notes. Flavours of pear, apple, honey, spice and a creamy, fat, sweet, nutty texture in the mouth. One of the bigger, creamier B.C. chards with. Appealing to those who like fat, juicy wines a touch on the sweet side.

25. Van Westen 2007 Viognier $25
Distinct spicy, ginger, butter, floral, peach and lemony character. Apple and lemon peel, some floral, orange flavours. Crisp citrusy finish.

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