Nota Bene : 20 years already!

By the ChacunSonVin Quebec team

This feature was commissioned by Black Hills Estate Winery

The Nota Bene, flagship of Black Hills Estate Winery, celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2018. By launching this high-end vintage in 1999, the two founding couples of Black Hills not only revealed their great ambition for this terroir where Bordeaux varieties were beginning to take root, but also inspired a whole generation of Okanagan winemakers. So much so that today, telling the story of the Nota Bene is a bit like telling the story of modern viticulture in British Columbia.

By following the evolution of the Nota Bene over the past 20 years, we can see how the Okanagan Valley has become, in such a short time, a must-see wine region. You can even follow the trends of the last two decades – from vineyard management to barrel ageing management – when you look at the subtle changes that the four winemakers who have taken Black Hills to new heights since 1999 have made.

In twenty years, the Nota Bene has seen some more glorious vintages and some perilous ones, but all seem to bear the same seal: that of balance and the sincere expression of a unique terroir. 

This anniversary vintage, made on one of the best vineyard sites in the Okanagan Valley, has just been released. Incidentally, 2018 is also an excellent vintage, marked by slightly cooler weather. Relatively cool, after all, since the climate of the Black Sage Bench is one of the warmest in Canada!

This escarpment located on the eastern side of the Okanagan Valley, between Oliver and Osoyoos, benefits, as a consequence, from a westerly exposure, with very hot end of days and exceptional sunshine. On the other hand, while the degree-days in the Black Sage area often exceed those in the Napa Valley, the surprisingly cool nights are a quick reminder that we are in a semi-desert zone. A climate composed of extremes, where Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot have obviously found a dream playground!

This is what came to mind when we tasted the 2018: all the generosity and opulence of the South Okanagan, with the restraint and elegance that is the hallmark of the best wines. And even though it is still very young and marked by its aging in new oak, its aromatic depth and breadth are beyond doubt. A wine that any Canadian wine lover will want to buy by the case, to follow its evolution in the cellar until the beginning of the next decade.