Friday, March 16, 2018

Vancouver International Wine Festival........EVERYONE ELSE!

Although we didn't know it at the time, we were about to spend a great amount of time tasting wines from NEXT year's host region, California. I was in the tasting room with several different groups of friends, and they all wanted to take a big bite out of Cali, and I believe I tasted at least one wine from every winery from that region (and the other USA wineries too). Also got to taste some wines from Uruguay, Hungary and Turkey! Let's see how they stood up!


Finca Decero 2013 Mini Ediciones Petit Verdot ($?)
Honestly don't remember how much this was but I intended to buy one but they were sold out. Beautiful aromas of pear and blueberry. Blueberry flavors abound, with a hint of spice and dark chocolate on the finish.

Finca Decero 2013 Syrah - 89
Finca Decero 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon - 88
Finca Decero 2016 Malbec - 88


Alpha Box & Dice 2014 Fog Nebbiolo ($42.99)
Oh my, this is not your father's Barolo. Aromas of walnuts, dates, rose petals, leather, tobacco and sandalwood. Tobacco and roses on the palate. Luscious, velvety mouthfeel and a long finish. I was told this will go for a decade or two just like big, fat Barolos. I bought two; one to drink now, because it's so damn good, and one to put away for a while. We'll see.


Harper's Trail 2016 Cabernet Franc - 88
Harper's Trail 2016 Silver Block Riesling - 88

Haywire 2014 Canyonview Pinot Noir - 87
Haywire 2016 Switchback Organic Pinot Gris - 86
Haywire 2016 Waters & Banks Sauvignon Blanc - 85

Hester Creek 2014 Reserve Cabernet Franc - 89
Hester Creek 2014 Reserve Merlot - 89
Hester Creek 2016 Character White - 87
Hester Creek 2013 The Judge ($45.00)
Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon. Aromas of red cherry, sage, vanilla and plum. Complex flavors including fig, blackberry, mint, cherry and vanilla. Finishes long. Tannins are strong in this one, it needs a good decade to really mature, but it's already very tasty. 
Hester Creek 2017 Trebbiano ($23.95)
Aromas of pear, citrus, green apple and pineapple. Citrus flavors up front, with asian pear and honeysuckle lurking in the background. The only example of this traditional Italian varietal grown in the Okanagan, and it is very special.

Harper's Trail 2016 Pinot Noir ($21.99)

From Kamloops' first winery. Ripe plums, strawberry, cherry and herbaceous notes on the nose. Flavors of strawberry, plum, leather and a hint of earth. Very tasty with a lot of potential for improvement. 

Harper's Trail 2016 Pioneer Block Riesling ($17.49)

Aromas of citrus and pineapple with impressive minerality. Slightly-off dry with a beautiful long finish and flavors of tropical fruit. Just delicious. 

Unsworth Vineyards 2015 Pinot Noir - 86
Unsworth Vineyards 2016 Pinot Gris - 86


Vina Montes 2015 Alpha Chardonnay ($23.99)

Pineapple, banana, mango and toasty oak on the nose. Peaches, pears, asparagus, vanilla and hazelnut on the palate. Juicy and delicious with a lovely finish. 

Vina Montes 2015 Purple Angel ($74.99)
Mostly Carmenere with a touch of Petit Verdot. Aromas of violets, nutmeg, blueberry, blackberry and clove. Blueberry, spice and violets on the palate. Finishes forever and it is still so young. This is a stunner.


Chateau de la Galiniere 2016 Rosé

This beauty from Provence is the only bottle of French wine we purchased; not because there wasn't other good stuff there, there was, but it was all sold out by the time we went to get it. And I can't even tell you about it, because ALL of my France notes were deleted from the app. GRRRR. Might go back to paper and pen next year.

This is a traditionally dry Rosé from Provence, made from Grenache and Mouvedre. Light salmon in colour, with intense aromas of white grapefruit, cranberry and lime. Finishes crisp and dry, flavors include pomegranate, citrus and anise. I really enjoyed this; we bought one and drank it this week and I think my wife liked it even more than I did! 


Grand Tokaj 2014 Tokaji Muscat Late Harvest - 89
Grand Tokaj 2013 Tokaji Aszu - 87
Grand Tokaj 2014 Yellow Muscat - 89

Grand Tokaj 2014 Tokaji Harslevelu Semi-Sweet ($9.29)
A quality dessert-like wine for under $10? Sign me up! Sure it's not particularly complex or sophisticated, but if you want a dessert wine that is less sweet than a traditional icewine, and you like flavors of pineapple and honey, this is a steal.

New Zealand
Craggy Range 2014 Te Kahu - 85
Craggy Range 2015 Te Muna Pinot Noir - 87
Craggy Range 2015 Kidnappers Chardonnay - 87

Craggy Range 2017 Te Muna Sauvignon Blanc ($25.39)
Aromas of fresh cut grass and stone fruit. Typical of New Zealand style, the herbaceousness is paramount on the nose and palate. Flavors of pineapple and stone fruit with well balanced acidity.

Sileni Estates 2016 Hawke's Bay Pinot Noir - 88
Sileni Estates 2016 Hawke's Bay Chardonnay - 87
Sileni Estates 2017 Cellar Selection Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc - 87
Sileni Estates 2016 Straits Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc - 88

Stoneleigh 2016 Rapura Sauvignon Blanc - 87
Stoneleigh 2017 Latitude Sauvignon Blanc - 87

Oyster Bay 2017 Rosé - 86
Oyster Bay 2017 Sauvignon Blanc - 86
Oyster Bay 2016 Chardonnay - 88
Oyster Bay 2016 Pinot Noir - 87


Suvla Wines 2010 Sur - 87
Suvla Wines 2011 Kirte - 88
Suvla Wines 2016 Kabatepe Rosé - 86
Suvla Wines 2016 Karasakiz ($22.99)
Karasakiz is a native grape of Turkey (occasionally found in Greece). Reminiscent of a light-bodied Pinot Noir, with notes of balsamic, red fruit and herbs. The palate is lush and juicy, with flavors of dried herbs, strawberry and black plum. A nice change of pace for a good price!

USA - California

Duckhorn 2015 Napa Valley Chardonnay ($47.99)

Intense aromas of banana and papaya, with a hint of butterscotch hanging around. Flavors include pineapple, banana, macadamia nut, oak and caramel. Lovely.

Paraduxx 2014 Zinfandel - 88

Geyser Peak Winery 2016 Outlet Sonoma Sauvignon Blanc - 87
Geyser Peak Winery 2014 Outlet Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon - 88
Geyser Peak Winery 2015 Outlet Sonoma Chardonnay - 87
Geyser Peak Winery 2016 Sauvignon Blanc - 88
Geyser Peak Winery 2016 Pinot Grigio - 88

J Vineyards & Winery 2015 Pinot Noir ($30.49)

Fruit from three counties: Monterey, Sonoma and Santa Barbars. Intoxicating wafts of cherry and strawberry jam, baking spices and black tea. Very intense. Cherry cola, black pepper, red raspberry and black plum on the palate. Finishes beautifully. A steal.

J Vineyards & Winery 2015 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir ($40 USD from winery)
Another one of the "Trade only" wines that wasn't available for purchase, and believe me, I looked! Opens with red cherry, spice and sage aromas. Cola, raspberry, strawberry and pomegranate flavors. Juicy and delicious!

J Vineyards & Winery 2015 Russian River Valley Chardonnay - 88

Joseph Carr 2014 Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon ($40.00)
Joseph Carr 2016 Carneros Chardonnay - 89
Josh Cellars 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon - 88
Josh Cellars 2015 Reserve North Coast Cabenet Sauvignon - 90
Josh Cellars 2016 Chardonnay - 88

Kendall-Jackson 2015 Camelot Highlands Chardonnay ($47.99)
Tropical fruit of every kind on the nose, with notes of oak and toasted almond. Flavors of butterscotch, creme brulee, lime, cinnamon and pineapple. Lovely finish. So good, and SO much better than their entry-level Chardonnay which is one of the most popular California Chardonnays. Another great example of how you most often get what you pay for.

Kendall-Jackson 2016 Vintner's Reserve Chardonnay - 88
Kendall-Jackson 2017 Vintner's Reserve Rosé - 87
Kendall-Jackson 2015 Vintner's Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon - 89
Kendall-Jackson 2013 Jackson Estate Hawkeye Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon - 87

Kenwood Vineyards 2016 Sonoma Chardonnay ($19.99)
It's ridiculous to get a Chardonnay this good for $20. Apple, citrus, toasty oak and pear on the nose. Terrific flavors of baking spice, apple, caramel and brown sugar. Buy this one by the case.
Kenwood Vineyards 2014 Jack London Cabernet Sauvignon ($39.99)

Aromas of red currant, blackberry, vanilla and red cherry. Blackberry dominates the palate, framed by hints of tobacco, eucalyptus and toasty oak. Finishes long. Excellent value.

Kenwood Vineyards 2014 Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon - 89
Kenwood Vineyards 2013 Artists Series Cabernet Sauvignon - 92
Kenwood Vineyards 2015 AVA Six Ridges Pinot Noir - 89

La Crema 2016 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir - 89

La Crema 2015 Monterey Pinot Noir ($31.99)
Aromas of rhubarb, black plum, black cherry and earth. Plum, red raspberry and orange flavors, with impressive minerality and balanced acidity. A treat and really good value.

La Crema 2015 Yamhill-Carlton Pinot Noir ($55.99)

The only wine in this category that doesn't actually belong here, as the grapes come from the Willamette Valley of Oregon. Aromas of wild berries, forest floor, baking spices and tobacco. Blackberry, black cherry, dark chocolate and clove flavors. Balanced acidity and a very long finish. So delicious and so different than it's cousin above.
La Crema 2015 Russian River Valley Chardonnay ($40.99)

Aromas of jasmine, butterscotch, stone fruit and Meyer lemon. White plum, pear, tangerine and citrus on the palate, which finishes with hints of butter and toasted hazelnut. Superb.

Lake Sonoma Winery 2014 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir - 87

Lange Twins Family Winery 2009 Old Vine Zinfandel - 91
Lange Twins Family Winery 2015 Old Vine Zinfandel - 88

Michael David Winery 2015 7 Deadly Zins - 87
Michael David Winery 2015 Lust Vinfandel - 88
Michael David Winery 2015 Earthquake Zinfandel - 88

Michael David Winery - 2015 Petite Petit ($25.99)
85% Petite Sirah, 15% Petit Verdot. So why is "Petit" spelled differently in those two grapes?? Full bodied with a rich, lush mouthfeel. Black fruit and vanilla on the nose. Black fruit, spice and oak on the palate. This bottle is just BEGGING for BBQ meat.

Oak Ridge Winery 2015 Lodi Estate Cabernet Sauvignon - 87

Signorello Estate 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon ($143.99)
Oh my goodness. Aromas of black cherry, blackberry, licorice, oak, spice, mint and rose petals. Full-bodied with flavors of red cherry, blackberry, spice, earth and tobacco. Subtle and understated, give this 3-5 more years in the cellar or decant for several hours. This should drink beautifully for 20-25 years.

On a related note, I had a nice chat with winery owner Ray Signorello, Jr., who had a terrific attitude in response to the total loss of their winery building in last fall's fires. They didn't lose any of the wine that had already been bottled and lost almost no grapes (and all of the grapes had already been picked), so while there will obviously be some significant work in getting everything back to where it was before the fires, there is little doubt that the quality of the wines will still be top notch.

Signorello Estate 2013 Padrone - 92-94
Signorello Estate 2015 Veilles Vignes Chardonnay - 92
Signorello Estate 2015 Seta - 93

St. Supery Estate Vineyards 2016 Virtu White Blend - 87
St. Supery Estate Vineyards 2014 Napa Valley Elu Red Blend - 89
St. Supery Estate Vineyards 2014 Rutherford Napa Valley Merlot - 89
St. Supery 2017 Napa Sauvignon Blanc ($34.99)
Interesting colour, almost a combination of pale yellow and green. Lemon, lime, pink grapefruit and passion fruit on the nose. The palate is dominated by lime with touches of grapefruit and lemon. Intense and delicious, and an excellent example of what Napa can do with this varietal.

St. Supery 2015 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($61.99)
Aromas of blackberry, dark cherry, anise, nutmeg and plum. Black cherry, black licorice, red raspberry, vanilla and mocha on the palate. Tannins are round and finish is long. This is a beauty.

Trefethen Family Vineyards 2014 Merlot ($53.99)
Intense aromas of dark chocolate, black cherry, and vanilla. Savory notes of black cherry, chocolate, mushroom, black pepper and earth. This would pair beautifully with any peppery dish; try it with a peppercorn-crusted prime rib or filet mignon.

Trefethen Family Vineyards 2016 Napa Valley Riesling - 89

USA - Washington
Canvasback 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon ($47.99)

Duckhorn's Washington-based Cabernet from the Red Mountain is a treat at this price. Mountain berries, plum and wild strawberry on the nose. Black fruit, strawberry, caramel and a hint of mocha on the palate. Ripe tannins and a lovely finish.

Charles Smith Wines 2014 Boom Boom Syrah - 86
Charles Smith Wines 2015 Kung Fu Girl Riesling - 88
Charles Smith Wines 2014 The Velvet Devil Merlot - 88
Charles Smith Wines 2014 Eve Chardonnay - 87
Charles Smith Wines 2014 Chateau Cabernet Sauvignon - 87

Chateau Ste. Michelle 2015 Columbia Valley Syrah - 88
Chateau Ste. Michelle 2015 Indian Wells Chardonnay - 88

Chateau Ste. Michelle 2015 Indian Wells Cabernet Sauvignon ($28.49)

From one of the warmest vintages in Washington State history, aromas of dark fruit leap from the glass. A touch of Syrah is blended in to give the wine richness and concentration. Black fruit, a hint of spice and mint on the palate. A nice value; compares favorably to California Cabs around this price point.

K Vintners 2014 Motor City Kitty Syrah - 88
K Vintners 2015 Wines of Substance Cabernet Sauvignon - 88

K Vintners 2014 Wines of Super Substance Merlot ($39.99 USD from

Beautiful aromas of rose petals, vanilla, chocolate and red cherries. The cherries stick around on the palate, joined by anise, mocha and red raspberries. Tannins are strong, this one will age beautifully for a decade, but it's already drinking so well. This is another one of the "Trade only" wines that I would have bought at the Festival had it been available, but I was able to find one on

Bodega Garzon 2017 Estate Pinot Grigio - 87
Bodega Garzon 2015 Estate Cabernet Franc Tannat - 89
Bodega Garzon 2016 Albarino Reserva - 89
Bodega Garzon 2015 Tannat Reserva - 86

This was the only winery from Uruguay present and all the wines were available for purchase, but by the time we went to look for them they were all sold out. We would have definitely picked up the Cab Franc/Tannat blend.

So, not a single wine from Italy or Germany tasted (there was only one German winery present), and not much reviewed from France or Australia. There is just not enough time, and I was at a total of 5 tastings, plus 2 other events. There is SO MUCH WINE! Every year we seem to do a really good job tasting just about everything from one country, and this year that country happened to be the USA. As I mentioned previously, we were obviously unaware that next year's host region is California, so I guess we'll just have to suck it up and taste a bunch more great wine from that region next year. Oh, the humanity.

Another wonderful Festival. Until next year, and CALIFORNIA !!!........................

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