A lot of you will know him as the proprietor of the Mark Anthony Group (fun fact: he made up that name; nobody named Mark Anthony actually ever worked in the industry), which features Mission Hill Winery, arguably the biggest player in the BC wine business. If you've been paying attention, he has been throwing money around the way many of us might throw laundry into the washing machine.
And oh, so many more.
One of their latest ventures is Checkmate Artisanal Winery, an unapologetically expensive, high-end purveyor of Chardonnay and Merlot. As their main tasting facility is being constructed, they have opened up a beautiful little "pop-up" tasting room with a spectacular view of the valley.
|Mr. Boozy and the Author with a beautiful view in the background|
|Checkmate Artisanal Winery 2014 Capture Chardonnay ($90.00)|
|Checkmate Artisanal Winery 2014 Queen Taken Chardonnay ($125.00)|
|Checkmate Artisanal Winery 2014 Little Pawn Chardonnay ($110.00)|
|Checkmate Artisanal Winery 2014 Knight's Challenge Chardonnay ($85.00)|
|Checkmate Artisanal Winery 2014 Fool's Mate Chardonnay ($80.00)|
Aged 16 months in 85% French Oak (42% new) and 15% Concrete Egg. 67% Wild ferment. Sweet lime sorbet, butterscotch, almonds, graphite and honeydew melon on the nose. Stone fruits meet the palate up front, which finishes with beautiful salted caramel.
|Checkmate Artisanal Winery 2014 Attack Chardonnay ($115.00)|
Aged 16 months in Foudre (50% new, 50% used once). Aromas of white flowers, flint, Chinese 5 spice powder and hints of tropical fruit. In some ways similar to the above, with stone fruit flavors and a salted caramel finish, but the finish lingers a bit longer and you might notice a tinge of ginger and lychee showing up. Tasty.
|Checkmate Artisanal Winery 2013 End Game Merlot ($85.00)|
Aged 21 months in new French Oak. Aromas of vanilla, tobacco, black fruit and toasty oak. Black fruit, vanilla and herbaceous flavors compliment grippy tannins and a long, luscious finish.
|Checkmate Artisanal Winery 2013 Silent Bishop Merlot ($85.00)|
Aged 21 months in new French Oak. Violets, oak, cherry and a touch of spice on the nose. Red fruit, vanilla, chocolate and a hint of spice on the palate. Very long finish. My least favorite of the Merlots and it is still really special.
|Checkmate Artisanal Winery 2013 Opening Gambit Merlot ($85.00)|
Aged 21 months in new French Oak. Black cherry, blackberry and black currant on the nose. The palate has a creaminess, almost an unctuous quality. Black fruit with just a touch of black pepper showing up at the end. This is already a tour de force, and there is no telling just what heights it will reach after some proper aging. Magnificent.
|Checkmate Artisanal Winery 2013 Black Rook Merlot ($85.00)|
Roses dominate the aromas, but give it a minute and some raspberry, blackberry and loganberry all show up. Black fruits dominate the palate. Tannins are savoury and very firm; there is almost a chalky quality as it coats the mouth. This one may have the most potential to age in the very long term- it needs a decade from vintage date to settle down and come together - but you will be rewarded handsomely if you have the cellar and the patience. I am putting mine away for a few years.
Checkmate recently started up a wine club, which we joined (because we really needed more wine clubs), and got our first shipment the other day. I cannot tell you how much pride they take in their packaging. It is just one more example of the first class image they are striving to maintain.
All the wine is shipped temperature controlled by ATS Healthcare, so it is well taken care of during it's trip to your door. Fantastic!
That's it for today, next up is an unscheduled visit to their next door neighbor, Culmina Family Winery!!