Friday, July 13, 2018

Check and Mate, as Part VII of our Okanagan Tour kicks it up a notch or three.

Anthony Von Mandl.

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.

Martin's Lane
Adelsheim (Oregon)
Antinori (Italy)

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
So, after breakfast, Boozy and her Crew (Oh! Another nickname is born!!!!), hopped into the car and headed up to Checkmate for a tasting of all of their new offerings. All of the wines are names after Chess moves or situations, and every single one of these is going to improve with proper aging. I have a few of them in the cellar and am excited to report on their progress in the years to come.
Checkmate Artisanal Winery 2014 Capture Chardonnay ($90.00)
Aged 16 months in French Oak (49% new). 100% Wild fermentation. Pleasing aromas of citrus, baking spice and white flowers. Creamy stone fruit, lemon, lime and hints of oak on the palate.

Checkmate Artisanal Winery 2014 Queen Taken Chardonnay ($125.00)
Aged 16 months in French Oak (49% new). 88% Wild fermentation. Nose is slightly closed at first, but after about 10 minutes in the glass it explodes into aromas of lemon peel, white peach and toasty oak. Your mid-palate is assaulted with creamy flavors of stone fruit, wet stone and white flowers. Finishes long and luscious. This is just delicious already.

Checkmate Artisanal Winery 2014 Little Pawn Chardonnay ($110.00)
Aged 16 months in 100% French Oak (53% new). 50% Wild ferment. Perfume, rosewater and nutmeg leap from the glass. Flavors of creamy peach, oak, citrus and brioche. Finish is long and spectacular. This is already a top-notch Chardonnay; give it 3-4 more years and it may be legendary.
Checkmate Artisanal Winery 2014 Knight's Challenge Chardonnay ($85.00)
Aged 17 months in 100% French Oak (45% new). 100% Wild ferment. Intense herbaceous notes, fresh fruit salad, brioche and creme bruleƩ on the nose. Stone fruit dominates the palate, but what is that at the end? Is it possible that is just a flutter of a nutty Edam cheese? I think it might be......
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!!

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