British Columbia Critics’ Picks February 2015

A Special VIWF Edition

Our monthly BC Critics’ Picks is the place to find recent recommendations from our intrepid and curious BC critics – wines that cross geographical boundaries, toe traditional style lines and may push limits – without being tied to price or distribution through BCLDB or VQA stores. All are currently available for sale in BC. Don’t despair if WineAlign is not showing inventory. Some wines mentioned are only available in the BC Liquor Store at the Vancouver International Wine Festival Feb. 26-28, 2015. Others can be found at your favourite private wine shop.

It’s the week of the Vancouver International Wine Festival, and our BC critics have selected their top three recommended wines not to miss.

Cheers ~ TR

BC Team Version 3

Anthony Gismondi

It’s wine festival month in Vancouver and hard to believe it is year 37. I have attended them all in some fashion and written about most of them but I never really get tired of entering the international festival tasting room where hundreds of wines are poured daily for the trade and public. Each year I rate the best booths at the festival, ahead time, based on the wines that will be poured and the principal who will pour them. It is hardly an exact science and it’s not an indictment of the other wineries attending just a personal opinion based on, well, 37 years of experience.

Wynns Coonawarra Estate Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon 2012Zuccardi Tito 2011Yalumba The Octavius Old Vine Shiraz 2008My top three wines you shouldn’t miss in 2015 are:  Yalumba The Octavius, Familia Zuccardi Tito Zuccardi, and Wynns Coonawarra Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon.

Yalumba’s 2008 The Octavius is old vine shiraz sourced from Barossa and Eden Valleys, and is a powerful, rich, ripe and smooth flagship wine that was built to last. Yalumba’s global communicator and storyteller, Jane Ferrari, will be on hand throughout the week.

Familia Zuccardi 2011 Tito Zuccardi is Sebastian Zuccardi’s tribute to his grandfather Alberto, or Tito as he was known, and is a delicious mix of new and old grapes (malbec, cabernet sauvignon and ancellotta).

Finally vine star Sue Hodder will pour her amazing Wynns Black Label 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, a wine she has guided into the future with rich textures, moderate alcohol and plenty of fruit.

See you inside the tasting room.

DJ Kearney

I’ve just returned from a fast and furious week in South Australia and have nothing but Aussie wines in my heart and mind now… also a couple of new pairs of R.M Williams jeans on my legs too! Diversity and sheer joy of drinking is what we have in store for us as some of the biggest wine personalities in the world are coming to party with us in the last week of February.

Penfolds St. Henri Shiraz 2010Thorn Clarke Shotfire Quartage 2012Devil's Lair Chardonnay 2012I’ll be tasting as much as I can, but will not miss three favourites. Devil’s Lair in cool and breezy Western Australia make luxuriant oaked chardonnay, and you’ll find the 2012 Margaret River Chardonnay incarnation full of richness and finesse. It’s an emphatic reminder that chardonnay with a restrained embrace of oak is one of life’s great, great pleasures.

A wine that shows the cooler side of the Barossa Valley is the Shotfire Quartage 2012, from Thorn-Clarke. The wondrous 2012 vintage gives extra dimension and vinosity to one of the most consistent and lovely Bordeaux blends ever, at this price.

Finally – there will be a massive crowd around the Penfolds table, to taste the epic wines of course, but also to hang with DLynn Proctor, who won our hearts in SOMM, the 2012 movie that cast a vivid spotlight on a few characters in pursuit of the Master Sommelier pin.

Now Penfolds Winemaking Ambassador, he’s a smooth guy to listen to as you sip the glorious 2010 St. Henri. It is astonishing, and the $65 price is too-good-to-be-true. (For more from the world of Oz, check out my recent article: Oceans, Altitudes and Attitudes)

Rhys Pender MW

Vancouver Wine Festival is always a treasure trove of interesting wines. I recommend looking through the list and honing in on those wines that you can’t normally buy or taste. From the theme country Australia, look for Semillon young and old, Riesling, Coonawarra Cabernet and wines from some of the cooler re-emerging regions. There is much to learn about Australia.

Black Hills Nota Bene 2012Barossa Valley Estate Ebenezer Shiraz 2007Jansz Premium CuvéeOne wine style that few know about Australia is its sparkling wine. Tasmanian winery Jansz will be on hand and those in the trade should get a chance to try the Jansz Premium Cuvée N/V. Freshness, balance, acidity, excellent.

I’m looking forward to trying the 2010 vintage from Barossa Valley Estate’s Ebenezer Shiraz. There has been some 2007 kicking around in BC that was excellent value.

For a non-Australia wine, this festival might also be the first chance for many to try the Black Hills 2012 Nota Bene. After too very cool vintages in 2010 and 2011, this vintage finally shows all the work winemaker Graham Pierce and team have been doing.

Make sure to do a bit of research online before heading in to the festival tasting room and hit those interesting wines first. See you at the festival!

Treve Ring

Gonzalez Byass Noe Pedro Ximenez Aged 30 YearsSt. Urbans Hof Ockfener Bockstein Riesling Kabinett 2011D'arenberg The Dead Arm Shiraz 2009I trust you’ll be spending a lot of time in the Australia section (Treve’s Travels Part I and Part II may be added incentive). Be sure not to miss d’Arenberg 2011 The Dead Arm Shiraz, an iconic McLaren vale wine made in very small amounts due to the fact that the aged vine has been affected by ‘Dead Arm Disease’ and can only eke grapes out of one trunk. I have tasted the 2009, so looking forward to this new-to-shores release. Rarified and special.

Don’t forget about amazing wines from the rest of the world. I’m looking forward to trying the Weingut St. Urbans-Hof 2012 Riesling Ockfener Bockstein Kabinett. The 2011 vintage was exciting and intense, proving that low alcohol wines (8%) can be satisfying in their doe-nimble lightness.

And finish off with an exceptional example of one of the richest, most intense and rare sherries you’ve probably come across. Gonzales Byass Noe Pedro Ximénez is designated a VORS (Very Old Rare Sherry) with an average age of 30 years, staggering concentration, alluring sweetness and depth of flavour that you’ll be tasting as you head off (safely on transit / designated driver) from the tasting floor.

WineAlign in BC

In addition to our monthly Critics’ Picks report, we also publish the popular shortlist 20 Under $20, as well as the BC Wine Report, a look at all things in the BC Wine Industry. Lastly, Anthony Gismondi closes out each month with his Final Blend column – an expert insight into wine culture and trends, honed by more than 25 years experience as an influential and global critic.

Editors Note: You can find complete critic reviews by clicking on any of the highlighted wine names, bottle images or links. Paid subscribers to WineAlign see all critics reviews immediately. Non-paid members wait 60 days to see new reviews. Premium membership has its privileges; like first access to great wines!


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