My Picks – Red Burgundy/Pinot Noir @VanWineFest 2020|Best of Show/New & Noteworthy

Once again the Vancouver International Wine Festival provided an enormous opportunity to taste a wide range of wines from around the globe all in one room, as well as attend a wide spectrum of specialized wine events and have the opportunity to meet some of the wine world’s leading personalities. Having a focus specifically on pinot noir, the 2020 VIWF enabled me to taste sixty plus examples, create a Preview Guide to them and now share what I thought were the most interesting and best pinot noirs of the festival.

The key to doing all this is the Tasting Room Program made available on the VIWF web site before the festival starts. If you have a particular wine style or grape that you are passionate about e.g. sparkling wine, chardonnay etc., the Tasting Room Program is invaluable as it lists all the specific wines that will be at each booth during the festival. Make a note to yourself for next year to utilize the program to create your own curated list and explore more of the wines you especially enjoy.

You can use the menu just below to jump down the page to read reviews from a particular country.

New & Noteworthy

France | Canada | United States


Best of Show

France | Canada | New Zealand | United States


NEW & NOTEWORTHY

France

HUGEL & FILS

Pinot Noir 2016

Very pale, light in body with some slightly confected cherry son the nose. The cherry fruit notes follow through on the palate along with a graphite edged undertow of light but austere tannins.  There’s an enjoyable tension here however between the savoury fruit and the dustiness – similar in style to some spätburgunders.
C + ~  88

There has been an upsurge over the last decade or so in plantings of pinot noir in and around Alsace on both sides of the Rhine to the extent that pinot noir now represents 8% of total production in Alsace and Germany is currently the number three pinot noir producer world wide. Unfortunately, currently we only see a handful of these wines on our liquor store shelves in B.C. .

For availability in B.C. please contact: Select Wines



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Canada | British Columbia

Introduction to British Columbia’s GI and Sub-GI Appellation System

B.C.’s relatively new appellation system is based on what are called Geographical Indications or GIs. The new geographical indications were created using a combination of criteria specific to each region. The most important elements were a shared watershed area and/or elevation zones that encompassed both existing and potential growing areas.  There are now nine GIs throughout the province as well as four of what are known as sub-geographical indications (sub-GIs) currently all within the larger area of the Okanagan Valley GI. Sub-GIs demonstrate unique climates, soil types and the resulting wine styles. This similar to the term appellation, or sub-appellation used in the U.S.. These designations will be appearing more increasingly on your B.C. wine labels in the coming years.


DA SILVA VINEYARDS Naramata Bench, Sub- GI

Pinot Noir 2017

Very pale with a ruby rim, it opens with clear, clean aromas of cherry, vanilla and pomegranate.  Then it follows a simple line with pomegranate/strawberry fruit, good clarity and ending with a very soft tannin texture. Classic, lighter, easy drinking pinot noir flavour here.
C+ ~ 88

The pinot noir grapes for this wine came from two vineyards near Penticton. The first vineyard is the Hidden Hollow Estate Vineyard, adjacent to the Da Silva winery on the Naramata Bench.

The second is the Lazy Dog Vineyard, in Westbench, very near the SouthWestern most corner of Lake Okanagan. This is a remarkable, South facing piece of vineyard land with a 440 m elevation situated near Highway 97 South. Over the years, the Lazy Dog Vineyard also contributed to other pinot noirs in the Okanagan including Kettle Valley Winery. 

Located on the Naramata Bench Sub-GI, the winery was created in 2006.  The Da Silvas are long time Okanagan grape growers, currently drawing from eleven different vineyards. Previously they released wines under the Misconduct label but the brand is now evolving. An emerging secret and one to watch.

Da Silva Pinot Noir  – Current Vintage & Availability


DARK HORSE VINEYARD Golden Mile Bench, Sub- GI

Pinot Noir 2017

There’s a well sculpted, fuller ripeness with accompanying bigger body and intensity here that delivers a pleasing interweave of savoury sour cherry/black plum fruit, along with violets and a touch of dry, herbal, garrigue. 
C+ ~ 88

The Golden Mile Bench in the Southern Okanagan was the first Sub-GI, created in 2015. Until 2019 the Dark Horse Vineyard was a tier within the Arterra Wines Canada brand called Inniskillin. Now marketed separately, this is the first vintage under its new colours. 

After a hiatius of about a dozen years, Dark Horse Pinot Noir returned to the shelves in 2016. Attributable perhaps to a combination of the general evolution of Okanagan winemaking as well as an added decade of vine age (the Dark Horse vineyard was replanted in the late eighties) this is one of a small number of worthy if weightier pinot noirs made South of Okanagan Falls.  

The wine was aged eight months in French and American oak. From South and South-East facing vineyards in the South Okanagan. 300 cases produced.

Dark Horse Pinot Noir  – Current Vintage & Availability

Previous reviews of other B.C. pinot noirs from the South Okanagan
Tinhorn Creek Pinot Noir 2009
Burrowing Owl Pinot Noir 2011
Fairview Cellars 2008


FREE FORM BY OKANAGAN CRUSH PAD Okanagan Valley GI

Pinot Noir 2017

The colour here is very pale, almost rosé.  Very shy on the nose but round and fruity with a touch of dry earth.  Simple,very clean supple flavours of pomegranate and dry dirt with a longish finish. Distinctive.  
C+ to B- ~ 89

Innovation is the norm at Okanagan Crush Pad. In the Free Form series the pinot noir is made and fermented using native yeast in an 800-litre clay amphorae where it ages on skins for a number of months. It is usually pressed and left to rest for an additional two months and then bottled unfiltered.

Free Form Pinot Noir  – Current Vintage & Availability

Previous Okanagan Crush Pad Pinot Noir Reviews Haywire Pinot Noir 2010 | Haywire Canyon View Pinot Noir 2011


MORAINE ESTATE WINERYNaramata Bench, Sub- GI

Pinot Noir 2018

It begins with some soft, supple light cherry/pomegranate fruit underpinned by some fresh acidity. On the palate pomegranate, skin and pulp, lighter red fruits, supple, on the simple side, medium length with a shimmer of acidity in the finish.
C+ to B- ~ 89

The fruit here is all clone 777 from their 3.5 acre Sophia Estate Vineyard on the Naramata Bench.

Moraine is a family-owned winery and vineyard overlooking Okanagan Lake, located just minutes from the city of Penticton. The winery owners here are the husband-wife team of Oleg and Svetlana Aristarkhov. They relocated from Alberta, where they had lived for 15 years, bought a vacation home and planted a small vineyard. When a nearby winery ironically called Zero Balance went into receivership they purchased the property and it’s small existing vineyard.

Since Moraine made their first vintage of pinot noir in 2012, the wines have always been in good hands. A trio of prominent Okanagan winemakers have been involved. Michael Bartier was the original consulting winemaker followed by Jacqueline Kemp. In the Summer of 2018, Dwight Sick, previously at Stag’s Hollow Winery in Okanagan Falls for over a decade, took over as head winemaker.

See also a review of the Moraine pinot noir reserve 2018 in the Best of Show section below.

Moraine Pinot NoirCurrent Vintage & Availability
Previous Moraine Pinot Noir Reviews: Moraine Pinot Noir 2012


THE VIEW WINERYOkanagan Valley GI

Pinot Noir Reserve 2017

Very pale with a ruby rim, there is a very light drift of cranberry and some florals.  The fruit flavour components are likewise very quiet, some dry tannins dominate but there is also a juicy acidity. Made from younger vines, it’s early days here.
C to C+ ~ 87

This East Kelowna farm has been family owned for more than 100 years and opened as an estate winery in 2006. The winery’s gently sloping vineyards located South East of the city of Kelowna total 48 acres. Known chiefly for their pinotage, the winery added two estate pinot noirs to their lineup beginning with this 2017 vintage – an estate wine and also a reserve. Both wines are from 4 year old vines.   Cases Produced: 116

The View Pinot Noir ReserveCurrent Vintage & Availability



Canada|Quebec

VIGNOBLE DE DOMAINE ST. JACQUES

Pinot Noir 2017

Very pale with a rosé rim, mirrored by the nose that edges in subtly with a whiff of herb, a quaver of fruit flower, and some subdued, savory, mineralized fruit. As on the nose, shy fruit, but supple, feminine, with good acidity, light tannins, body and intensity.  Well balanced and some layering. 
C+ ~ 88
Harvest date: October 6 to October 11, 2017.
Alcohol: 12% alc./vol.
Production – 500 cases

Pinot noir from Quebec now …. the story of Canadian pinot noir continues to evolve and unfold. This is the first pinot noir I have tasted from Quebec and it is a solid introduction. The winery is located about 20 minutes South of Montreal in a Prairies-like farming area on relatively flat ground. Their first pinot noir vintage appears to be 2014 and they intently follow sustainable vineyard practices.

Domaine St. Jacques Pinot NoirCurrent Vintage & Availability

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United States

LA CREMA

Monterey Pinot Noir 2017

Slightly floral with some light strawberry, as well as savoury red fruit notes. Well balanced with flavours of strawberry, pin cherry and rose hips, some rounded acidity and a light mineral tang. Medium bodied and a little less than medium on the intensity.  A harmonious, classic expression of cooler climate Monterey pinot noir that hangs together very well.  
C+ to B- ~ 89

For availability in B.C. please contact: Summit Fine Wines









DUCKHORN PORTFOLIO | CALERA WINERY

Central Coast Pinot Noir 2017

Lean, herbal and dusty fruit on the nose with indications of limestone, dried pomegranate molasses, chokecherry and some floral. Just as the nose suggests, the flavours follow – grouped mainly in the mid-palate with a slightly less than medium intensity and a medium finish.  Worth noting that though this is not one of Calera’s famed single vineyard wines but one from the Central Coast AVA, it still bears a Calera flavour stamp.
C+ to B- ~ 89

Drawn from a variety of Central Coast vineyards that include: Bien Nacido, Pedregal, Eden Rift, Laetitia, Besson, Solomon Hills, Muns, Garys’, Flint. The wine saw 100% French oak barrel aging for 10 months with 10% new, 10% second fill and, 80% neutral.

There is a story in every glass of wine but as regards North American pinot noir this one contains a particularly interesting and historical tale. In 1975 Josh Jensen purchased land on Mt. Harlan in the remote Gavilan Mountains of the central coast in California.  He loved red Burgundy and had become convinced that the secret of great Burgundy was to plant on soils rich in limestone.  It turns out there is not that much of this type of plantable soil in California (or Oregon or British Columbia for that matter) but by studying soil maps he discovered that Harlan Mountain had what he believed to be the right stuff.  His pursuit of this unicorn led to a lot of personal hardship but in the end Jensen became the first winemaker to demonstrate that world class pinot noir could be produced in California.  His story was told in the 2006 book by Canadian author Marc de Villiers called The Heartbreak Grape. That moniker for pinot noir has now passed into the wine language.

In 2017 Duckhorn Wine Company purchased Calera.  Jensen joined Duckhorn’s board of directors and was asked to consult for Calera for the next few years.

For availability in B.C. please contact: Vintage Corks

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BEST OF SHOW

France/Burgundy


MAISON JOSEPH DROUHIN

Côte de Beaune Rouge 2016

Fragrant, with lean and savoury strawberries and some floral on the nose.  Light bodied, with elevated dried strawberry/leafy cherry red fruit notes and a juicy acidity. Not a whole lot of stuffing here but charming, beautifully composed and balanced with a long and lingering ending. 
B – to B ~ 91

Sourced from a Drouhin 1 hectare site that overlooks the city of Beaune as well as from the younger vines of their Clos des Mouches and other Premier Crus of Beaune that have been declassified.

For the last 140 years, Maison Joseph Drouhin has been in the hands of the Drouhin family.With close to 90 different appellations, Joseph Drouhin offers a wide array of Burgundy terroirs and the flavours of their subtle variations.

For availability in B.C. please contact: Pacific Wine & Spririts


MAISON LOUIS JADOT

Beaune Clos des Ursules 1er Cru 2016

In the glass the depth is very pale with a rim shading to garnet.  Violets, strawberry/cherry and a bit of graphite start things off.  Steps in with assured but not intense savoury flavours of strawberries, cherries, red currants and violets. Light bodied but silky and persistently long on the finish.
B- ~ 90

Though the Beaune appellation has no grand cru vineyards it does possess thirty-six premiers crus including this one. Beaune 1er Cru Clos des Ursules is a closed-off portion of the Beaune 1er Cru Vignes Franches. It was purchased in 1826 by Louis Henry Denis Jadot and is solely owned by the Jadot family. This wine rated 93 points with Decanter, Wine Spectator and Robert Parker.





Clos Vougeot Grand Cru 2014

Very pale and garnet throughout, it discloses aromas of violets, lean pomegranate and black rich earth.  On the palate, a mingle of savoury strawberry fruit, rich earth, violets and some green herb drifts. It opens out onto a long echoing finish. The bottle age here allows a tantalizing glimpse of the magic Grand Cru Burgundy can possess with greater age.  
B ~ 92

There are only 33 grand cru appellation on the Cote D’or of Burgundy. This 125 acre Côte de Nuits grand cru vineyard was planted by Cistercian monks beginning in the 12th century. With 60+ plus growers however, some owning only a few rows, Clos Vougeot can disappoint. This wine is sourced from a relatively large five acre parcel in Clos Vougeot owned by Louis Jadot. 

For availability in B.C. please contact: International Cellars


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Canada|British Columbia


AVERILL CREEK VINEYARD Vancouver Island GI

Somenos Pinot Noir 2016

In the glass, pale with a ruby rim.  The nose shows soft, lush mulberry and blackberry bunch fruits.  As on the nose fresh and savoury darker red and black fruits are prominent, a silky texture and the very long plush yet leaner fruit finish maintains intensity throughout. Excellent acidity and balance.  Still young, the flavours here should elaborate over the next five to ten years.
B- to B ~ 91 On steady fruit intensity and poise.

The estate vineyard is located in North Cowichan on a South East facing lower slope of Mount Prevost. The Somenos Series is the winery’s top tier.
 
Silver medal – Wine Align National Wine Awards 2019  

The vineyards in the Vancouver Island GI are primarily located from the central island down to the Southern tip with the biggest cluster centered on the Cowichan Valley. Island wineries benefit from the mild maritime climate and have a long growing season with low frost risk.  The Cowichan Valley is the second most important location for pinot noir in B.C. after the Okanagan Valley.

Averill Creek Somenos Pinot NoirCurrent Vintage & Availability
Previous Averill Creek Pinot Noir Reviews: Averill Creek Vertical tasting 2005-2012 | Averill Creek Pinot Noir 2006


CEDAR CREEK ESTATE WINERY Okanagan Valley GI

Platinum Block 2  Pinot Noir 2016

A combination of pomegranate and strawberry fruits display a silkiness here on the nose, along with a matching balance of acidity and some floral notes.  On the lighter and elegant side at first, there is a savoury touch to the lighter red fruit but it opens out to a finish that is charming, supple, haunting and long. This is very accomplished and polished classy pinot noir. 
B ~ 92 On charm, suppleness, length and subtle complexity.

The 26-year-old vines of Block 2 sit in predominantly clay soils on the lower slopes of the CedarCreek Home Block vineyard in Kelowna. The wine was wild fermented in 44% concrete, 56% stainless steel. Naturally farmed, it was bottled unfined and unfiltered and then aged twelve months in French oak. The alcohol here is a reasonable 13.9%

The 2012 vintage of Platinum Block 2 was named Best Canadian Red Wine over 15£ at the 2015 Decanter World Wine Awards in London, UK .

Cedar Creek Platinum Pinot NoirCurrent Vintage & Availability

Previous Cedar Creek Pinot Noir Reviews: Cedar Creek Estate Select Pinot Noir 2006 | Cedar Creek Platinum Pinot Noir 2006 | Cedar Creek Block 4 Pinot Noir 2007 | Cedar Creek Home Block Pinot Noir 2010 | Cedar Creek Platinum Pinot Noir Block 4 2011 | Cedar Creek Platinum Pinot Noir Block 2 2011


Platinum Block 4 Pinot Noir 2016

It begins with a lovely blend of pomegranate and cherry, a touch of briar and goes on to include tobacco, tea leaves, marionberry and graphite.  Then a hovering, sophisticated fuse of rich cherry, marionberry again, tobacco, chestnut and some serious, very long/ more savoury fruit. The body and intensity here are medium with relaxed tannins. Overall, somewhat more deeply shaded and defined than its block 2 sibling.  One of BC’s select pinot noirs.
B to B+ ~ 93 On overall class and distinction. Very accomplished.

The 2013 vintage of this Platinum Block 4 garnered 95 Points in the 2016 fall issue of Decanter Magazine.

The 21-year-old vines of Block 4 sit in sandy loam soils on the upper slopes of the CedarCreek Home Block vineyard in Kelowna. This vineyard block typically produces lower yields and increased concentration with smaller and darker coloured berries. The wine was wild fermented in 54% concrete, 46% stainless steel. Naturally farmed, it was bottled unfined and unfiltered and then aged twelve months in French oak. Alcohol 14.1%

Cedar Creek Winery has evolved it’s pinot noir program steadily since it’s first pinot noir release in 1994.  Originally released as three tiers of pinot noir from multiple properties, they evolved to making a “Home Block” Platinum bottling. Buy two sections (block 2 and block 4) within the Home Block began showing such distinct characteristics in their terroir that they are now bottled and labeled separately.

The Block 2 and Block 4 wines have really come into their own since 2012 (after the less-than-ripe 2011 vintage) and have grown more distinct, elaborated and classy year by year, aided no doubt by vine age and accumulating experience in their growing and vinification. 

Cedar Creek Platinum Pinot NoirCurrent Vintage & Availability

Previous Cedar Creek Pinot Noir Reviews: Cedar Creek Estate Select Pinot Noir 2006 | Cedar Creek Platinum Pinot Noir 2006 | Cedar Creek Block 4 Pinot Noir 2007 | Cedar Creek Home Block Pinot Noir 2010 | Cedar Creek Platinum Pinot Noir Block 4 2011 | Cedar Creek Platinum Pinot Noir Block 2 2011


CORCELETTES ESTATE WINERYSimilkameen Valley GI

Pinot Noir 2018

Red, soprano voiced fruits sing lead here including pomegranate, strawberry, dusty fresh cherry and cranberry.  On the palate simple, savoury cherry, strawberry, well balanced acidity and a harmonious touch of minerality.
B- ~ 90

The original pinot noir vineyard here was established by a winemaker named Lawrence Herder and known as Herder Winery. The Herder property was purchased in 2014 by Corcelettes Estate Winery – also located in the South Similkameen Valley. The original pinot noir vines were planted in 2005. The vineyards sit at the very base of a towering rock formation that stores and reflects heat back to the grape during the growing season.

Corcelettes Pinot NoirCurrent Vintage & Availability
See a review of pinot noir made from same vineyard by different winery: Herder Pinot Noir 2010


Pinot Noir 2017

Begins with an intriguing blend of pomegranate, plum, wax crayon, some blackberry, cherry and sagebrush notes.  The bright, expressive fruit here is distinctly on the darker red toned side with gorgeous red berry fruit and mulberry, plus some darker plummy sub notes.  Fruit driven but with excellent balance a touch of minerality and a mild tannic undertow. The best pinot noir from all-Similkameen fruit I have tasted to date.
B- to B ~ 91

The Corcelettes Estate Winery is located on 150 acres in the Similkameen Valley with twenty-seven acres planted to grapes thus far. It succeeded a previous winery called Herder Winery & Vineyard. This pinot noir was sourced from two select vineyards in the Similkameen Valley. All wines are made from 100% Similkameen grown grapes.

Gold Medal Winner- 2019 All Canadian Wine Championships


Corcelettes Pinot NoirCurrent Vintage & Availability
See previous review of pinot noir made from same vineyard but by a different winery: Herder Pinot Noir 2010


FORT BERENS ESTATE WINERYLillooet GI

Pinot Noir Reserve 2017 

In the glass very pale with a ruby rim.  Displays notes of plum, earth, boysenberry, pomegranate and some savoury herb. The elegant, supple flavour blend here is of pomegranate molasses/strawberry/cherry, boysenberry, darker red fruits and a touch of cement basement/dustiness.  Clean and well delineated, medium intensity flavours linger on a longish finish.
B- to B ~ 91

The wine was aged in French oak barrels for 10 months and production was 238 cases. This wine won silver medals in 2019 at both the National Wine Awards of Canada and the All Canadian Wine Awards.

The grapes here come from their Dry Creek Estate Vineyard that was planted with five clones of pinot noir in 2009. Fort Berens’ first estate vintage of Pinot Noir was 2011.

The winery is located directly across the Fraser River from the community of Lillooet. Lillooet, is located 325 kilometers North of Vancouver and 140 kilometers East of Whistler just above 50°N in latitude. Despite being located at the intersection of deep gorges in the lee of the Coast Mountains, Lillooet experiences a warm-summer humid continental climate, has a long growing season and is often the “hot spot” in British Columbia Summer weather reports.

Once grouped under what were known in B.C. as Emerging Regions, Lillooet became its own GI in 2018.

Fort Berens Pinot NoirCurrent Vintage & Availability
Previous Fort Berens Pinot Noir Reviews: Fort Berens Pinot Noir 2008 | Fort Berens Pinot Noir 2012


LAUGHING STOCK VINEYARDS Naramata Bench, Sub GI

Pinot Noir 2017

A braid of cranberry/pomegranate/floral elements paired with dusty, cement basement and dry earth notes. This follows through on the palate with medium red fruits demonstrating that extra fraction of Naramata fruit concentration shown in some vintages, along with some whole berry escalation, a good balancing acidity and a dusty clay minerality in the finish. 
B – ~ 90

Laughing Stock does such a great job on other varietals that its pinot noir is often overlooked. It is also rarely seen as it is produced in small quantities, available only at the winery and usually sells out quickly .

Made with 100% Naramata Bench fruit sourced from the 1 Mill Road and Johnson Vineyards, it was whole berry fermented in oak puncheon and stainless steel, then barrel aged for 16 months in 35% new and 65% neutral French oak. Big but balanced. 425 cases produced. The whole berry fermentation was done using one oak puncheon and the remainder in stainless steel. Alcohol 14.2%

Laughing Stock Pinot Noir Current Vintage & Availability


MEYER FAMILY VINEYARDS – Okanagan Falls, Sub- GI

McLean Creek Road Pinot Noir 2018

On the pour, pale with a ruby rim.  Opening notes of light strawberry and pomegranate, evident fresh acidity, some graphite and dry earth.  Savoury pomegranate, cherry and strawberry flavours prevail in the mid-palate along with some tilled earth.  The balance is excellent here and the finish is one, long, sonorous note. Meyer’s longtime winemaker Chris Carson is at the helm here and has delivered another exceptional pinot noir. Meyer’s longtime winemaker Chris Carson is at the helm here and has delivered another exceptional pinot noir.
B ~ 92 On sophistication, focused fruit and expressive fine structure.

An indigenous yeast fermentation that lasted two weeks was utilized here and the wine was then transferred to 100% French oak barrels (25% new) where it remained for 11 months. The wine is unfined and unfiltered.

Meyer’s “McLean Creek Road Vineyard” estate vineyard is in the Okanagan Falls Sub-GI. The vineyard has a predominantly steep Southerly aspect made of a mix of gravelly and sandy loams. The pinot noir blocks are planted with a Pommard clone (91) and 4 Dijon clones (114, 115, 667, 777) in three distinct blocks that total 16 acres. The largest block has a steep southerly aspect, the second block has a gently sloping westerly aspect giving a slightly higher temperature from the afternoon sun, and the third and coolest of the blocks has a gentle Northwest aspect. Though not certified, they practice organic/sustainable farming principles.
572 cases produced. Alcohol % 13.5 Harvested:Oct. 5th – Oct. 27th, 2018
Bottling Date:September 1st, 2019

Meyer Family McLean Creek Rd. Pinot Noir Current Vintage & Availability

Previous Meyer Family Pinot Noir Reviews: Meyer Family Pinot Noir Okanagan Valley 2009 | Meyer Family Pinot Noir Reimer Vineyard 2011 | Meyer Family Pinot Noir McLean Creek Rd. 2011


Meyer Old Block McLean Creek Road Pinot Noir 2018

Strawberry, dirt, plum, cherry and a whiff of chocolate at first.  Of medium intensity and medium minus body but with elevated flavours of ripe and savoury cherry, some dry loam and a touch of savoury spice.  The second half just keeps on opening and changing – classy, charming and well architected with an ending showing a weave of cherry/plum/earth that is both focused and lingering.
B to B + ~ 93 On individuality of expression, a mantle of dark fruits and its earthy mysteriousness.

This bottling comes from the original 1 acre block in the McLean Creek Road home vineyard and was planted in 1994. The clone is unknown (in keeping with pinot noir’s mysterious nature…). The winery had long felt that the “Old Block” was capable of standing on its own but needed to wait until their new planting of Pinot Noir in 2009 had matured and came into full production. The first vintage of “Old Block” therefore was in 2014 and is one of the very top pinot noirs in B.C.. It consistently offers balanced, enticing and precise flavours that deliver an expression of place.

After an indigenous yeast fermentation the wine was then transferred to 100% French oak barrels (30% new) where it remained for 11 months. wine is unfined and unfiltered. 363 cases produced. Harvest Date: Oct. 19, 2018. Bottling Date: Sept. 1, 2019. 13.5 % Alcohol.

Meyer Old Block McLean Creek Rd. Pinot Noir Current Vintage & Availability
Previous Meyer Family Pinot Noir Reviews: Meyer Family Pinot Noir Okanagan Valley 2009 | Meyer Family Pinot Noir Reimer Vineyard 2011 | Meyer Family Pinot Noir McLean Creek Rd. 2011


MORAINE ESTATE WINERYNaramata Bench, Sub- GI

Reserve Pinot Noir 2018

Medium cherry notes with pomegranate, wet stone, some floral, baking spice and a touch of wood displaying good acidity and balance. a lovely meld of aromas if not quite classic pinot noir at this point. All mid-palate here and comes in a rush with supple, pomegranate/strawberry fresh juicy cranberries red currant and a complementary, bright acidity. The body and intensity here are this side of medium. Not well elaborated at this point but clearly a reserve with strikingly good balance it should develop out over the next three to five years or more. 90 on well balanced vivid red fruits and early complexity. 
B – ~ 90

Since Moraine made their first vintage of pinot noir in 2012, the wines have always been in good hands. Michael Bartier was the original consulting winemaker followed by Jacqueline Kemp. In the Summer of 2018, Dwight Sick, previously at Stag’s Hollow Winery for over a decade, took over as head winemaker.

The fruit for this vintage is exclusively from their Sophia Estate Vineyard on the Naramata Bench.  The vineyard was planted in 2010 and is named after one of the owners’ daughters.

2018 is the first vintage where a reserve pinot noir was released alongside their regular bottling. The winemaker Dwight Sick felt that the maturing vineyard had given them such great fruit in 2018 that one particular outstanding block could be used to create a reserve wine. Made from all clone 777 the wine was whole berry fermented with indigenous yeast, gravity transferred and aged on the lees in French oak barrels for 10 months.  Bottled unfined and unfiltered. Alc. 13.0% Production: 250 cases

Moraine  Pinot Noir ReserveCurrent Vintage & Availability
Previous Moraine Pinot Noir Reviews: Moraine Pinot Noir 2012


QUAILS’ GATE WINERYOkanagan Valley GI

Stewart Family Reserve Pinot Noir 2017

Bold notes of dense black cherry, graphite and briar start things off. This is a bigger shouldered B.C. pinot noir, its ample flavours mostly shrouded in youth, but does show leafy cherry, black raspberries, briar, dried tree bark and some barrel related elements on the palate. The balance of these elements is excellent. The tannins are unresolved but not astringent or excessive. At this point it resembles some cooler climate, enlightened California pinots. This is one to wait for.  It should show itself more completely in five to ten years.  
B – to B ~ 91

This Pinot Noir is a mixture of blocks and clones grown at Quails’ Gate’s West Kelowna estate on the Mount Boucherie Bench. Fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks using a combination of indigenous and French cultivated yeast strains. After fermentation, the wine is aged in new and old French oak barrels for 11 months before blending and bottling. The alcohol here is 14%. Date bottled: December 2018. 1150 cases produced.

This Stewart Family Reserve pinot noir wine has been made now for over twenty-five vintages. It has won numerous medals in Canadian and international competitions over the last 15 years.

Stewart Family Reserve Pinot Noir Current Vintage & Availability

Previous Quails’ Gate Pinot Noir Reviews: Quails’ Gate Pinot Noir 2006 | Quail’s Gate Family Reserve Pinot Noir 2007 |Quail’s Gate Pinot Noir Clone 828 2010 | Quails’ Gate Dijon Clone Selection 2008


UNSWORTH VINEYARDSVancouver Island Sub-GI

Pinot Noir 2017

Scented with earthy black fruit, lightly jammy, married to engaging richer floral notes, and with with a core of forest floor tones this wine is still formative and plush, fruit/woodsy driven at this point – but endlessly beguiling.  The palate confirms, with gorgeous, silky, balanced, blackberry bunch fruit, allied with undergrowth/forest floor but will need to wait to see if ageing will embellish and elaborate it into other realms.
B to B- ~ 91

The blend here is 25% clone 777, 25% clone 667, 50% 828. It was tank fermented and spent 15 months in French oak barrels and despite its rich fruit core is a remarkable 11.2% alcohol. Production: 540 cases

The grapes for this wine are sourced from the eight acre Saison Vineyard in the Northern part of the Cowichan Valley (the valley is likely to be the next B.C. wine area to achieve Sub-GI status.). The high density vines (2100 plants per acre) were established in 2009 on a remarkable South-facing slope, in the rain shadow of a line of mountains that borders the valley. Saison vineyard utilizes traditional farming techniques and is one of the few vineyards practicing dry farming on Vancouver Island.

Unsworth Pinot Noir Current Vintage & Availability
Previous Unsworth Pinot Noir Reviews: Unsworth Pinot Noir 2012


Canada|Ontario


PELEE ISLAND WINERYKingsville, Ontario

Pinot Noir Vinedressers 2017

Dry, turned earth, light red fruit with floral notes evokes a savoury, lighter side Burgundy.  The pomegranate, wild strawberry, rhubarb and loamy earth combination here is very appealing. With light acidity, good fine grained tannins and lighter alcohol body and intensity are this side of medium. 
B- to B ~ 91

Made from 100% Pinot Noir grapes, French Oak Aged for 12 months and alcohol: at 13%. Available for purchase only at the winery.

For me, Pelee Island pinot noir stands out from other Ontario versions of the grape. There is a larger, fresher fruit component in Pelee Island pinot versus the more heavily limestone influenced flavours that tend to mark wines from both the Niagra Peninsula and Prince Edward County.

When I first tasted pinot noir from this winery a year ago, I checked the map to see where Pelee Island was but must confess I noted only briefly that it was a pinot noir outpost standing apart from the other two Ontarios wine areas. It remained a footnote on my wine mental margins until I tasted it again this year at VIWF 2020. Impressed again this year with the wine I researched a little more deeply and discovered that what I had to be a wandered tendril of the country’s wine story was in fact one of the original shoots of the Canadian wine industry with a remarkable story.

Let’s start with its location. If you grew up in Western Canada as I did, the perception of the Southern border with the United States, aside from some ocean related ins-and-outs around the Gulf islands and Southern tip of Vancouver Island, is one of being a perfectly even line (curving belly-like on some maps). But actually, just after it crosses into Ontario from Manitoba it wiggles its way to the Thunder Bay area, dips down sharply as it bifurcates Lake Superior and then plunges precipitously at Sault St. Marie until it reaches the Southernmost populated place in Canada – Pelee Island. It is so far South that in terms of latitude (41.77 N.), it draws even with the tip of Northern California. Though part of Canada, it is nevertheless somehow equidistant between Detroit and Cleveland.

Pelee Island is in fact, the oldest wine region in Ontario. It was the location of Vin Villa, Canada’s first commercial winery, which was founded in the 1860s (yes,1860’s). The ruins of Vin Villa can be seen on the Northwest shore of the island. Today, the vineyards (the first 50 acres planted 1979, now expanded to 550) are on Pelee Island but the winery itself is on the mainland in Kingsville , part of the Lake Erie North Shore VQA appellation – an hour and a half ferry ride away.

Until 2012 Pelee Island Winery had its own VQA appellation of origin (VQA Pelee Island). In 2013 this appellation was subsumed into the larger VQA Lake Erie North Shore appellation. But in 2015 the Vintners Quality Alliance, recognizing that the climate (with the longest growing season in Canada) and soil on the island are unique, created a sub-appellation called South Shore.

Pelee Island Vinedressers Pinot Noir Current Vintage & Availability

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New Zealand

STONELEIGH VINEYARDS

Wild Valley Pinot Noir 2018

A lightly savoury, slightly floral cherry on the nose with some dry, varied, herbal drifts but overall fairly subdued.  Savory, pomegranate/cherry on the palate initially, and body/ intensity well this side of medium. The best feature here is an unusual and enticing herbal/savoury fruit mix including a touch of garrigue. Relatively simple but well made and unique, at least to me.
B- ~ 90

This wine is 100% wild fermented. The 2016 won a silver medal at the International Wine And Spirits Competition. 100% wild fermented by micro-flora that occur naturally in the vineyard.








Latitude Pinot Noir 2016

Beautiful floral cherry, and a trace of red, berry fruit.  Cherry, baking spice and a taut acidity combine with a medium minus body and intensity. Fine grained tannins contribute to the overall complexity in the protracted finish.
B- ~ 90 On grace, balance, and fine textured tannins well allied with floral, accented red fruits.

Grapes for Stoneleigh Latitude are sourced from an area known locally as ‘the Golden Mile’ in the Northern Wairau Valley in New Zealand. The vines are between 10 and 23 years old.

For availability in B.C. please contact suzanne.macdonald@pernod-ricard.com

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United States

JACKSON FAMILY WINES

Penner-Ash Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2017

Very pale with a ruby rim, the nose shows elevated floral and baking spice notes that decorate a base of darker red fruits including loganberry and black raspberry. Especially elegant rich, red fruit flavours with supporting acidity, long and feminine.

Sourced from twenty different estate vineyards, the wine was aged for ten months in 34% new French oak, 29% 1 year-old French oak, 24% 2 year-old French oak, and 13% neutral French oak. 1000 cases produced. Harvested September 13 – October 27, 2017. Alcohol: 14.1%
B- ~ 90

For availability in B.C. please contact: Summit Fine Wines




WillaKenzie Estate Willamette Pinot Noir 2016

Darker, rich, cherry and strawberry Oregon fruit mingled with some sweet baking spices.  Silky, elegant red fruit with an elevated intensity and appropriate acidity. Then, a long,well sculpted, slow fade finish. My only quibble a taste of elevated alcohol (14.4%) but not a deal breaker.
B- ~ 90 On balance, elegance and length.

The first plantings began at this winery in 1992 and the first wine was made in 1995. They produce a range of estate and single vineyard pinot noirs. The winery was sold to Jackson Family Wines in 2016. This wine is all from estate vineyards in the Willamette Valley. 3,000 cases produced.

For availability in B.C. please contact: Summit Fine Wines







Siduri Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2018

Displays a weave of cherry, boysenberry and ripe, purple plum.  The texture here is silky and lux with expressive, bright ripe cherry/plum notes. Fuller flavoured and well balanced though not especially elaborate as yet, with a medium plus, echoing finish.
B – to B ~ 91 On rich, balanced fruit and length of finish.

Specializing in cool-climate pinot noir, Siduri produces mostly single-vineyard and single-variety wines from twenty vineyards stretching from Santa Barbara to the Willamette Valley.

For availability in B.C. please contact: Summit Fine Wines





Oregon Zena Crown Vista Pinot Noir 2015

Deceptively pale on the pour, the nose is scented by effusive wild cherry with a soothing, complementary undertow of graphite and ember. On the palate the layered, luxurious cherry, black raspberry, plum notes & smoke are matched with an aerial acidity.  There is a supremely silky and modulated texture here that later involves mulberry, some earthiness and a touch of dry tobacco. A very long echoing finish keeps the fruit refracting as it recedes. The extra few years of bottle age here undoubtedly contributed the extra complexity on how here.
B + ~ 94 On interesting, intense fruit matched with elegance.

One of the challenges for pinot noir winemakers in vintages when the vineyard and vintage deliver superlative fruit, is to deliver bigger flavour intensity without weighing down the charm, elegance, complexity and nuance – that pinot noir can simultaneously deliver.  This wine does an admirable job of hitting that golden mean.

Jackson Family Vineyards purchased the 115-acre vineyard in 2013 and with that vintage released its first Zena Crown Vineyard label. The vineyard is located in the Eola-Amity Hills AVA and was originally developed by Premier Pacific Vineyards in the early 2000s.

Sourced from 12 year old vines of clones 4, 667 and 777 planted on Jory and Witzel Soils. The wine was aged 17 months in French oak, 63% new. 335 cases produced.

For availability in B.C. please contact: Summit Fine Wines


LA CREMA

Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 2017

Very pale on the pour and shading to garnet at the rim.  Cherry, savoury with some edgy, lifted minerality on the nose.  Distinctly fuller on the palate, silky, plump, tar tinged cherry fruit.  Seductive, though driven in part by higher side alcohol. Not elaborate but so appealing it would be hard to put the glass down. 
B ~ 92 On luxuriant, balanced, vectored and tangy red fruit.

Sourced from grapes in the Russian River valley, the wine is crafted from 100% Pinot Noir and spent 10 months in barrel.

For availability in B.C. please contact: Summit Fine Wines


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