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Josh tastes 118 wines at Top Drop

If there was one unforgettable takeaway uttered by a wine god during this year’s Wine Bloggers Conference, it was the keynote speaker Karen MacNeil (author of the Wine Bible) who opined – and I’m paraphrasing, here – that people should pay more attention to tasting the wines during such events. Of course, I was thrilled, because that gave me even more validation to ignore people. Ha! Key advice when the militant goal is to taste every wine during a well-curated tasting, but it’s harder than it sounds because I guess I like to wave and flail at people.

A regretful ode to the few tables I did not get to visit: Anthonij Rupert, Badia a Coltibuono, Elio Altare, Giusti, Latta, Montenidoli, Orofino, Scribe, Spottswoode Estate, and that miscellaneous Australia Table. Mostly disappointed I didn’t get a chance to do a “I taste a Latta berries” note. Bad life choices. Australia was this year’s country focus for the Vancouver International Wine Festival, anyways, and Italy is next year’s.

In-head soundtrack? Run the World by Beyoncé, for some reason.

Notes are in order of tasting; sanity slowly decreases after each note.

Credits to Christine McAvoy.

Frank Cornelissen 2012 Contadino 10 (IGT Terre Siciliane Rosso, Sicily, Italy)
Nerello Mascalese (85%) et al. Pure cherry and strawberry underlying earth and cranberry on the palate. Hints of funky energetic mushroom. 15% ABV but hella balanced. FRANKly (#bye), I really like this.

Frank Cornelissen 2012 Munjebel 9 (IGT Terre Siciliane Rosso, Sicily, Italy)
Fully Nerello Masc. Fatter palate, earthier, with mushroom and meat. Somehow all of elegant, stylish, earthy, and a bit gritty, like that one particular hipster in your life that you love to hate. Don’t lie, you pictured someone.

Cline 2013 Sonoma Coast Chardonnay (Sonoma Coast AVA, Sonoma County, California)
Subtle baked apple. Textured with lots of finesse and hints of toast. Clean and round: my head every four days.

Cline 2012 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir (Sonoma Coast AVA, Sonoma County, California)
Pure and playful red fruit and black cherry, but a bit vapid on the palate. Hints of herbaceousness and black pepper. Delicious only to a point, like when you Google someone but discover their LinkedIn only has like one thing from 5 years ago.

Cline 2013 California Zinfandel (California)
Light for a Zin, with vague dried fruit. Vibrant but slightly too flimsy for me. I bet Natalie MacLean loves this and dubs it a “Thursday Wine”.

Cline 2013 Ancient Vines Zinfandel (Contra Costa County, Central Coast AVA, California)
Punchier, more oak, older vines. Slightly more body but still elegant. Fine, medium tannins with vague fruit. I’m inCLINEd (#bye) to say that I’m only okay on this one.

Cline 2012 Big Break Zinfandel (Contra Costa County, Central Coast AVA, California)
Dried fruit, bramble, wine gums, and peppermint. Mouth-coating without being sticky, and a bit chunky. I wouldn’t kick this wine out of bed, but I’d sure cuddle with it because it’s hella warming at 15% ABV.

Cline 2013 Big Break Grenache (Contra Costa County, Central Coast AVA, California)
Wading through thick and humid overripe raspberries and eucalypt-scented air. Pillows and sloppy sex.

Baillie-Grohman 2014 Gewurztraminer (British Columbia, Canada)
Lychee, ginger, sunshine. Tasty and light and free and round and tastes like a basic bitch in the summer who posts pictures of their feet in the sand on Instagram. (That was a WSET-approved term.)

Baillie-Grohman 2013 Pinot Gris (British Columbia, Canada)
Crunchy green apple and white peach. Lightly textured with a savoury finish; simple but complete. Into it.

Baillie-Grohman 2012 Chardonnay (British Columbia, Canada)
Intentionally made in a reductive style. Full malolactic and 12 months in French barrel. Definitely some buttered popcorn but lots of briskness on the palate.

Baillie-Grohman 2012 Reserve Chardonnay (British Columbia, Canada)
Intentionally made in a more oxidative style. Full malolactic as well, with more overt butter, cream, and texture. Misses a bit of fruit but it’s luckily not under-wined like numerous paunchy oaky Chardonnays that deserve medals etched with “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter!”

Baillie-Grohman 2012 Pinot Noir (British Columbia, Canada)
30% new oak. Sleek and svelte and valiant. Precise but with subdued black cherry and a fine amount of acid.

Baillie-Grohman 2012 Reserve Pinot Noir (British Columbia, Canada)
Slightly fuller with more flavour and concentration; brooding and quiet still. Slightly tight but the quality is there.

Baillie-Grohman 2013 Cabernet Franc (British Columbia, Canada)
Not yet released at the time of tasting! Black cherries and a hint of its compote with ripe viridescence. The fruit really clings to you on this one, but with a hug rather than a saccharine grasp.

Lallier R.012 Brut Champagne (Champagne, France)
Crackly citrus-driven fruit and breadcrumbs. Bubbly love. Lallier’s general house style and philosophy for their NV blends is to use less reserve wine, but older reserve wine.

Lallier Grande Reserve Champagne (Champagne, France)
More bread and yeast, and like if Harry Potter summoned his patronus except it’d be a bushel of apples instead of a stag. Evocative, finessed, luminous. Does JK Rowling even drink, do you know?

Lallier 2008 Champagne (Champagne, France)
Silent, at first. Maybe a hint more nutty but definitely very youthful and a bit of a clenched butthole.

Lallier Zero Dosage Champagne (Champagne, France)
Under cork instead of crown cap during lees ageing for oxidation. Softer with well-woven hints of blanched almond. My body is ready.

Lallier Rosé Champagne (Champagne, France)
An interesting combination of the saignée method and blending. Subtle herbs and pale strawbs. Lively on the palate. Clean and arrogant. This wine insists on being Miss Scarlet every time you play Clue.

La Rioja Alta 2008 “Viña Alberdi” Rioja Reserva (Rioja, Spain)
100% Tempranillo. Bruised strawberries and hints of soy. Medium-bodied and delicious despite being slightly without the fuller charm shown in the other examples in this row. A hint of mushroomy funk on the palate and a tongue-coating savouriness.

La Rioja Alta 2006 “Viña Arana” Rioja Reserva (Rioja, Spain)
Mostly Tempranillo with 5% Mazuelo. More sass. In the best way possible, this tastes like dirty ripe strawberries. Why have the 5-second rule when you can drink the liquid version of the 100-second rule? Exactly. Viña Arana for Mayor.

La Rioja Alta 2005 “Viña Ardanza” Rioja Reserva (Rioja, Spain)
Mostly Tempranillo filled out with 20% Garnacha. The mushrooms, leather, and umami just get more intense. More filling but somehow softer and more subtly charming than the Arana. Broad and long. I’m too lazy to make what should be a natural transition to a penis joke.

La Rioja Alta 2004 “904” Rioja Gran Reserva (Rioja, Spain)
Tempranillo with 10% Graciano. So much delicious stink on the nose, and the palate is distinctively non-fruity compared to the others. All about the savoury after-sensation compared to the attack. More obviously oxidative. Earthy, complex, and leathery. Put on a leather harness, put on some Enya, and then just sit and think in your half-naked glory.

La Rioja Alta 2001 “890” Rioja Gran Reserva (Rioja, Spain)
Tempranillo with 3% Graciano and 2% Mazuelo. Could’ve sworn this was a hint corked? Have you ever just wanted to cry

Philipponnat Royal Reserve Brut Champagne (Champagne, France)
Stones and bread evoke biblical scenes, even though a modern impression of Champagne evokes suits and shitty haircuts. Anyways, I mean to say that my tasting notes are stones and bread. (This does not refer to the pourer, who had a lovely haircut, I think)

Philipponnat 2004 Grand Blanc Champagne (Champagne, France)
Elegant and toasty nose with a bit of funk. Spiky; perhaps a bit of an unfamiliar earthy quirk on the palate that’s pleasant but which, in Champagne, I haven’t encountered prior to this.

Philipponnat 2000 Clos Des Goisses Champagne (Champagne, France)
Not super aromatic at this point, but lots more intensity on the palate with cashews and dough. Oxidative, savoury, fresh, and definitely clinging to its youth. Fuck yes.

Alta Alella 2012 Privat Brut Nature Cava (Cava, Spain)
Rosemary? Sweat? Petrichor? Good value and boldly unpretentious.

Alta Alella 2013 Privat Brut Nature Rosé (Cava, Spain)
100% Monastrell! What the fuck?! Not much intense red fruit character on the nose, but on the palate there’s an intense sort of gamy savouriness. Into this.

Alta Alella 2011 Privat “Laietà” Brut Nature Cava Gran Reserva (Cava, Spain)
Some sorts of underripe pear and citrus with flinty earth and bits of nutty rosemary.

Alta Alella 2014 Pansa Blanca (Alella DO, Catalunya, Spain)
Tried this one a couple of weeks ago and swiped left, but I’m enjoying its fresh herb-tinged flirty ripe pears much more this time around. A bit funky, as Xarel-lo usually is, anyways.

Alta Alella 2014 Garnatxa (Alella DO, Catalunya, Spain)
Punchy red fruit, broad, satisfying, but maybe slightly artificial. Tastes like a pitch from a used car salesman. Like great, but can it stop talking?

Alta Alella 2012 Dolç Mataró (Alella DO, Catalunya, Spain)
Intoxicatingly mineral. Sweet, and made from dried Monastrell. Chocolate-covered dried cherries and cherry liqueur. I would sip this after sex.

Blue Grouse 2012 Estate Paula Sparkling (Vancouver Island?, BC, Canada)
Lots of floral and angular red apple on the nose. Very eager mousse with much more stone fruit on the palate. A burst of liveliness, like a Mario Party mini game.

Blue Grouse 2013 Estate Ortega (Vancouver Island, BC, Canada)
Not super aromatic or intense. A bit empty and heavy-handed; I feel like it’s all about the stony texture on this one. Grenache Blanc-like, even.

Blue Grouse 2014 Estate Pinot Gris (Vancouver Island, BC, Canada)
Too cold? A similar round neutral Switzerland vibe, but a little more pleasant chalky savoury intensity and sliced Granny Smith apples.

Blue Grouse 2014 “Quill” Rosé (British Columbia, Canada)
100% Gamay. A specific aroma of berry candies. Not super bright or intense, but lots of relaxed happy fruit. I’m not good at flirting, but this wine sure is. First date wine, therefore?

Blue Grouse 2013 Estate Pinot Noir (Vancouver Island, BC, Canada)
Sweaty red berries and hints of earthy BBQ. Playful and ripe. I want to drink this with Matt Bellassai and complain about things.

Lock & Worth 2014 Sauvignon Blanc Semillon (Okanagan Valley, BC, Canada)
Honeyed with hints of crystallized white peach. Sauvignon Blanc grassiness comes through on the palate. Simultaneously fresh and round with a skein of minerality and savouriness.

Lock & Worth 2013 Semillon (Okanagan Valley, BC, Canada)
What the fuck? Why isn’t this Semillon boring? Floral, hints of sunscreen, lots of starfruit, banana, and other tropical paraphernalia. Sandcastles? Beach balls? A sunburnt bald head, maybe? Totally vibed with a customer over this wine a couple days later.

Lock & Worth 2014 Merlot (Okanagan Valley, BC, Canada)
Stinky gamy red fruit; much more gritty and pleasurably gross compared to the purity of fruit in past vintages. Weird and lovely.

Lock & Worth 2013 “Square One” Cabernet Franc (Okanagan Valley, BC, Canada)
A real sense of place here, if said place is a pile of delicious soil-stained rubber tires of childhood summer. (And like, red fruit I guess.)

Stina 2013 Pošip (Dalmatia, Croatia)
Sort of a floral and slightly oily mineral sappiness. Not particularly extreme in any way, and reminds me of a white from Savoie that I’ve had which was 100% Jacquere.

Stina 2012 Pošip Majstor (Dalmatia, Croatia)
“Burgundy-style”. Oaked version of the last, I believe, with more kernel and wood. A much more compelling riper palate and textured roundness.

Stina 2011 Plavac Mali Barrique (Dalmatia, Croatia)
Charred and charming. Smoky, slightly saline, meaty. Tons of tannin, but manages to keep its shit together. Ashy conclusion.

Stina 2011 Plavac Mali Majstor (Dalmatia, Croatia)
Pan’s Labyrinth by Guillermo del Toro? Lots of grim earthy intricacy whose black cherries manage to charm.

Stina 2011 Prošek (Dalmatia, Croatia)
Tarry crystallized black cherries and plum. Heart-shaped fruitcake. Chocolate-covered black cherries. I would also sip this after sex, but only if it wasn’t in my bed and the bedsheets were white.

Viña Cousiño Macul 2013 “Isidora” Sauvignon Gris (Maipo Valley, Central Valley, Chile)
Fresh herbs and ripe citrus; slightly heavier than the average Sauvignon Blanc cousin. Today’s episode of Top Drop is brought to you by the letter “pee”.

Viña Cousiño Macul 2011 Carmenere (Maipo Valley, Central Valley, Chile)
Intense fresh green pepper and plums. A stinky and fun skunky dried herb thing on the palate with a fair amount of earth. Solid.

Viña Cousiño Macul 2013 Syrah (Maipo Valley, Central Valley, Chile)
Meaty and peppery with ripe and lush fruit. Well-made if not a bit predictable. But in a good way, like a peppery rom com.

Viña Cousiño Macul 2012 Antiguas Reservas Merlot (Maipo Valley, Central Valley, Chile)
Gummy plum, subtle earth. And I can’t fight this feeling anymoooore. I’ve forgotten what I’ve started fighting fooooor.

Viña Cousiño Macul 2012 Antiguas Reservas Cabernet Sauvignon (Maipo Valley, Central Valley, Chile)
Dusty herby cassis that isn’t too forceful. Nice fruit density on the palate. Chris would like this, and then hate it, then eventually like it again, and then regret not getting the rosé.

Alderlea 2014 Bacchus (Vancouver Island, BC, Canada)
Indistinct white peach and pear with an imprecise palate. A hint bilious? I can’t

Alderlea 2014 Pinot Gris (Vancouver Island, BC, Canada)
Subtle peachy nose and baked pear with a little more intensity and flavour on the palate. That onion skin hue, like such versions of Nichol and Kettle Valley. Somewhere in between the drier former and the riper latter.

Alderlea 2011 Pinot Noir (Vancouver Island, BC, Canada)
Sweaty balsamic strawberries. Sassy and spicy. I would ignore this wine if it tried to add me on Facebook, and then eventually add it anyways.

Alderlea 2011 Clarinet (Vancouver Island, BC, Canada)
Lots of spice. Peppery black fruit with a bit of forest floor; somehow a bit disjointed but I also don’t fully understand the Foch, so thank goodness for these moments, I guess.

Alderlea 2012 Clarinet (Vancouver Island, BC, Canada)
Compared to the last, there’s more fruit to balance out the spice; smoother and more zen and one with the world.

Château Le Puy 2013 Duc des Nauves (Côtes de Bordeaux, Bordeaux, France)
Intoxicating charred earthy plum. Mirrored on the palate with a hint of olive and black fruit, and a chalky frame to contain it all.

Château Le Puy 2010 Emilien Expression Originale de Terroir (Francs Côtes de Bordeaux, Bordeaux, France)
Clay and balsamic plums. Lush medium body with notable cleansing acid and plenty of earth. Delicious. I feel like I’m not cool enough to drink this.

Château Le Puy 2009 Barthelemy (Francs Côtes de Bordeaux, Bordeaux, France)
Similar flavour profile as its younger brother, but there’s more spice, texture, and intensity. Take me. Take all of me.

Benjamin Bridge 2013 Vero (Gaspereau Valley, Nova Scotia, Canada)
Chardonnay (60%), L’Acadie (30%), Riesling (10%). Flowers and white peaches. Riesling sways a lot of the palate with intense ripe citrus. Round and energetic, like a bouncy ball you get from a loot bag that you definitely lose within the next 6 hours because you’re a dumbass that won’t stop throwing it everywhere. Get it together, Claire.

Benjamin Bridge 2014 Cabernet Franc Rosé (Gaspereau Valley, Nova Scotia, Canada)
Fairly aromatic nose with mouthwatering cranberry on the palate. Pair this with a Thanksgiving dinner to which you were dragged against your will, or before a dull high school reunion.

Benjamin Bridge 2008 Méthode Classique Brut Reserve (Gaspereau Valley, Nova Scotia, Canada)
Chardonnay (61%) and Pinot Noir (31%). Steely, yeasty, and blasts of intense crunchy bright green apples. Ear-splittingly amazing with loud citrus and almost overbearing guitar power chords.

Benjamin Bridge 2008 Méthode Classique Brut (Gaspereau Valley, Nova Scotia, Canada)
L’Acadie (42%), Seyval (40%), Pinot Noir (10%), and Chardonnay (8%). Much more aromatics and dough. Slightly more sea spray and intensity. Relaxed and flamboyant. You should want a bad Bridge like this. Drop it low and pick it up just like this. If you didn’t read that in Iggy Azelea’s voice you might as well just stop reading here.

Benjamin Bridge 2011 Brut Rosé (Gaspereau Valley, Nova Scotia, Canada)
Mostly Pinot Meunier. My first exposure to BB was when my ex-boss brought this over from the east, and I remember it pairing divinely with brie (God bless his soul). Bright and elegant ripe red fruit. Powerful but friendly. And pair this with those Apple commercials from 2005 that feature dancing silhouettes.

Benjamin Bridge 2014 Nova 7 (Gaspereau Valley, Nova Scotia, Canada)
Pétillant. And I’m too lazy to think up real descriptions besides orange blossom, petrichor, and 7-Up, so I’m going to say that this tastes like what the music video to Groove is in the Heart looks like.

Inglenook 2012 “1882” Cabernet Sauvignon (Rutherford, Napa Valley, California)
Cassis, herbs, something smoky. Big, seductive, soft and savoury. More like CABARET Sauvignon…ugh. (#bye)

Inglenook 2011 “Cask” Cabernet Sauvignon (Rutherford, Napa Valley, California)
Many more herbs and cedar. Stands up straighter and bolder.

Inglenook 2011 Rubicon (Rutherford, Napa Valley, California)
Heady cassis and sex in cedar cabins without pillows. Heaps of ripe tannin and framework without too much succulence.

Kangarilla Road 2012 Shiraz (McLaren Vale, South Australia, Australia)
Milk chocolate, spice, plums, and perfume. Soft and a savoury conclusion that makes the mouth water. Not super lively but relaxed. I’m pretty sure this is what a man bun tastes like in wine form.

Kangarilla Road 2011 Devil’s Whiskers Shiraz (McLaren Vale, South Australia, Australia)
More intense blackberry skin, heat, and spice. Warming, more to the brim with savoury florals. Love.

Kangarilla Road 2012 “Scarce Earth” Shiraz (McLaren Vale, South Australia, Australia)
Subdued and more earthy with an ashy end. A bit more raisined like my grandma, ripe like an ignored bowl of blackberries, but tasty, like neither of those things.

Kangarilla Road 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon (McLaren Vale, South Australia, Australia)
Well-woven autumnal spice and green pepper. Playful cassis and prominent fine tannin.

Kangarilla Road 2013 Terzetto (McLaren Vale, South Australia, Australia)
Sangiovese (45%), Primitivo (40%), and Nebbiolo (15%). Red flowers and ripe red fruit – almost simultaneously jellied and dried. Hints of cranberry sauce and love. Tight hugs. Irritatingly satisfyingly, like if Red Red Wine by UB40 immediately started playing as soon as I put this wine in my mouth.

Truchard 2013 Roussanne (Carneros, Napa Valley)
A woman just spilled liquid on her top and she was freaking out so I told her I thought it was part of her shirt’s pattern just to calm her. Anyways, white peach and nectarine tea. Poised balance of creaminess and restraint. The moderate stone fruit joins ethereal herbal tones. Hints of oak? If it’s there its judicious and nicely entwined.

Truchard 2013 Chardonnay (Carneros, Napa Valley)
Evokes theatres, because of all the buttered popcorn and legit bits of savoury sweet corn. Also, I once drank a bottle of this on Christmas eve and had a terrible hangover.

Truchard 2012 Pinot Noir (Carneros, Napa Valley)
Pure and beaming strawberry fruit on forest floor. Pleasantly intense on the palate. Part vapid and part voluptuous; porn star-esque.

Truchard 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon (Carneros, Napa Valley)
86% with the rest filled out by Cab Franc, Petit Verdot, and Malbec. The herbs are ripe, the black fruits are savoury, and the body is medium and finessed. Not sticky. Thumbs up.

TH Wines 2014 Riesling (Okanagan Valley, BC, Canada)
Plump ripe pears and maybe a just a whisper of salt. Distinctively soft and not too jagged. This wine tastes like it would have a toothy smile and hair slathered with Dippity Do.

TH Wines 2014 Viognier (Okanagan Valley, BC, Canada)
Peaches, but mostly the pit. Popcorn, for some reason. Nice sprightliness for Vio.

TH Wines 2013 By Hand White (Okanagan Valley, BC, Canada)
Maybe suffering from a bit of SO2 and needs to blow off? Borders on off-dry with crystallized green fruit and white peach. Cheerful and sugar-dusted.

TH Wines 2013 Pinot Noir (Okanagan Valley, BC, Canada)
Black cherry. Tender fruit on the palate, with a balanced note of compote and bitterness, like some sort of dance battle between ripeness and unripeness. It’s Pinot, so it’s like a Viennese Waltz dance battle. So basically it’s Dancing With the Stars. This is why I should never be allowed at wine tastings.

TH Wines 2012 Cabernet Merlot (Okanagan Valley, BC, Canada)
Don’t get it twisted, bitches. This is Franc, not Sauvignon. Tricky! Pure plummy red fruit and earth. And lighter than you’d expect, really. Or than I expected, at least.

Vaglio 2014 Temple (Anchoris?, Luján de Cuyo DOC, Mendoza, Argentina)
A mix of clay and loam soils. Malbec (blend)? Brambly and plummy black pepper, on the fuller side. Delicious even though Vaglio sounds like a cream to treat yeast infections.

Vaglio 2014 Aggie (Gualtallary, Mendoza, Argentina)
Alluvial soils. Malbec (blend) again? Similar flavour palate with darker fruit and game. Slightly more mouth-filling, grippy, and unforgiving.

Vaglio 2014 Chacra (Agrelo?, Luján de Cuyo DOC, Mendoza, Argentina)
Heavy clay soils. Third of this Malbec (blend) trilogy? Softer fruit compared to the Aggie, though still large and with a fine tannic outline.

Vaglio 2014 Chango (Cafayate?, Salta?, Argentina)
Sandy soils. 65% Malbec, 20% Tannat, and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, I’ve been told, though it looks like previous vintages have been higher in Tannat. Gummy dark fruit with some dried grassiness. A hint saline. Would love to retry all of these wines considering the emphasis on terroir.

Vina Falernia 2012 Pedro Ximénez Reserva (Elqui Valley, Coquimbo, Chile)
A cocktail of pear, fresh herbs, and citrus. Round and reminiscent of Alsace with its ability to penetrate but perhaps not as pure. Subtle viridescence.

Vina Falernia 2012 Pinot Noir Reserva (Elqui Valley, Coquimbo, Chile)
Meaty and charred wild red fruit. Lots of expressiveness of the red fruit on the palate: yum. The wine has a pleasurable gaminess but it’s perhaps not as animally as I remember.

Vina Falernia 2010 Syrah Reserva (Elqui Valley, Coquimbo, Chile)
Black pepper as per Syrah, yes, but an herbaceous and almost salty oregano character that’s absolutely evident on the tongue, or maybe I just really want pizza crusts right now. As I often do.

Vina Falernia 2013 Carmenere Syrah Reserva (Elqui Valley, Coquimbo, Chile)
Carmenere (60%) with a third that’s been dried; “Appassimento” Syrah (40%). Plummy spicy red fruit. Intense balance of spice and enjoyably overripe red fruit that stuns. Very good value.

Vina Falernia 2012 Carmenere Reserva (Elqui Valley, Coquimbo, Chile)
Grapes have undergone some drying, I believe. Dried fruit and herbs. Pleasantly bitter like my soul and savoury like a lonely barbecue potato chip.

Vina Falernia 2013 “Donna Maria” Syrah  (Limarí Valley, Coquimbo, Chile)
Quite ripe but finessed and softish with a fair amount of pepper. Bramble and gummy red fruit. Not available yet, I don’t think? I don’t know – words that I’m hearing are starting to blur but my taste buds are resilient. (My parents obviously raised me well. *hair flick*)

Vina Tabali 2014 Talinay Chardonnay (Limarí Valley, Coquimbo, Chile)
Simultaneously buttered and finessed and steely. A bit of greenness. Did I mean apples, herbs, or weed? I don’t remember. All? Was it a suggested pairing?

Vina Tabali 2013 Sauvignon Blanc (Limarí Valley, Coquimbo, Chile)
Lime, green pepper, and distinctly saline. Literally pair with ceviche, I guess. This is terrible, now I’m hungry and I think I might eat garlic bread at 11:30PM, which I know, has nothing to do with ceviche.

Vina Tabali 2013 Pinot Noir Reserva (Limarí Valley, Coquimbo, Chile)
Intoxicating floral-tinged berry jam. Pure and exuberant.

Vina Tabali 2013 Talinay Pinot Noir (Limarí Valley, Coquimbo, Chile)
Corked? Woody? Unclean? Something funky along with its red fruit. After discussing notes with a colleague – like dirty wine gossip – we’re pretty sure this was perhaps corked. Need to retry.

Vina Tabali 2011 Syrah (Limarí Valley, Coquimbo, Chile)
Smoky stretched rubber. Pungent spice with a lush texture. Exotic and ballsy and long.

Vina Tabali Cabernet Franc? (Limarí Valley, Coquimbo, Chile)
My parents warned me against strangers who pour me mystery wine from bottles whose labels consist of stickers with questionable default typefaces, but I did it anyways. Dark chocolate and leaves. Rich, with a pleasant chocolatey bitterness. Or was this even Cabernet Franc? Who knows. Decadent with berries and leaves, like Little Red Hiding Hood walking through a forest and mostly having sweets in her basket?

Vina Tabali 2010? Tinto Reserva Especial (Limarí Valley, Coquimbo, Chile)
Gummy lighter red fruit. Warming hugs and love. Plenty of ripe structure. Still contemplating whether or not that “Cabernet Franc” had poison in it or something. Vision slightly blurry? Yes. For other reasons, of course.

Château Musar 2014 Jeune White (Bekaa Valley, Lebanon)
Honey, oxidized peach, and cantaloupe. Floral on the palate. Soft and curvy, and not at all surprised to find out now that it is 30% Viognier, 40% Vermentino, and 30% Chardonnay. YASSS.

Château Musar 2014 Rosé (Bekaa Valley, Lebanon)
100% Cinsaut. Potent red fruit with a hint of something both balsamic and something viscid. I am getting real fucking tired of those monochromatic and delicate dry rosés that taste like they were made by Sears, so I really appreciate this wine.

Château Musar 2012 Jeune Red (Bekaa Valley, Lebanon)
Cinsault (50%), Syrah (35%), Cabernet Sauvignon (15%). Dusty, dried herbs and plenty of earth and dark fruits. Intense and full with a beautiful chalky frame. I can even.

Château Musar 2007 Red (Bekaa Valley, Lebanon)
Cab Sauv, Cinsault, Carignan. Savoury soy with hints of meat amongst the paler dark fruit. Stuffed, softer, and appealingly worn, like a vintage leather jacket.

Château Musar 2000 Red (Bekaa Valley, Lebanon)
Similar ingredients as the 2007. Opened the day previous, I think? Autumnal and sepia-toned with graceful staccato. Woody like a pew, but patient and morose. This wine reminds me of church, in a sense that I would definitely drink this during a boring sermon about being abstinence or something. Out of a straw.

Château Musar 2007 White (Bekaa Valley, Lebanon)
YES the return of Obaideh and Merwah. Throwback to when I had the 1991 and called it delicious honeyed garbage water and mushrooms after rain but this time there’s so much more life. Wish I could have spent more time with this, but there’s no shortage of thrilling stone fruit, dried white flowers, spice, and honey. I walk away (I MUST *dramatic moment*) and the soundtrack in my head immediately changes to some depressing form of Katy Perry’s The One That Got Away, like an acoustic cover by Boyce Avenue or something.

Synchromesh 2014 Riesling (Okanagan Falls, Okanagan Valley, BC, Canada)
Off-dry electric chalky lime candy. Ear-piercing, chalky, but beautiful, like scratching your freshly-done nails on a chalkboard.

Synchromesh 2014 Bob Hancock Vineyard Riesling (Okanagan Falls, Okanagan Valley, BC, Canada)
More perceptible ripeness; bright citrus on the nose. Lemon meringue comes to mind with the short time I have. Sean would like this, obviously.

Synchromesh 2014 Thorny Vines Riesling (Okanagan Falls, Okanagan Valley, BC, Canada)
Lime cordial; medium dry. Vibrant and zesty enough to wake me up in the middle of the night if I even dreamt of it. So maybe I should drink it until I have a dreamless sleep.

Synchromesh 2014 Four Shadows Riesling (Okanagan Falls, Okanagan Valley, BC, Canada)
Spiky chalk on the nose, but canned white peaches and bits of tropical fruit on the palate. I’m done with comparing Riesling to the sharpness of dangerous weapons so I’m going to say that this one tastes like my mom giving me a backhanded compliment when I tell her who I’m dating.

Synchromesh 2014 Storm Haven Vineyard Riesling (Okanagan Falls, Okanagan Valley, BC, Canada)
Oxidized white peach and honey. Graceful legato ending with tangy peach. Sluttier but retains its steeliness.

Synchromesh 2013 Cachola Family Vineyard Cabernet Franc (Okanagan Falls, Okanagan Valley, BC, Canada)
Huh: I’m pretty sure my grandma was a Cachola. Anyways – funky but easygoing red fruit. Ripe flavours that hug the tongue with a ballsy and slightly ashy finish.

Synchromesh 2012 Tertre Rouge (Okanagan Falls, Okanagan Valley, BC, Canada)
Plum and pencil shavings. Velvety medium body with upright but pretty tannins, like a tall manicured hedge around a mansion.

Elk Cove 2013 Willamette Valley Pinot Gris (Willamette Valley, Oregon)
Round and mellow texture, and the flavours are all ripe and crunchy green apple. This is the kind of wine you’d bring home to mom.

Elk Cove 2013 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir (Willamette Valley, Oregon)
Charming red fruit, strawberries, and suggestions to oak. Well-balanced. I can’t feel my face when I’m with you. But I love it. But I love it.

Elk Cove 2013 Clay Court Pinot Noir (Chehalem Mountains AVA, Willamette Valley, Oregon)
Jory soils. Sweet strawberries and charm. The red fruit here is a bit more structured and spicy. Betty Cooper.

Elk Cove 2013 Mount Richmond Pinot Noir (Yamhill-Carlton AVA, Willamette Valley, Oregon)
Willakenzie soils. Smoother and much more lush amongst the earthy red fruit. Bolder with dried fruit, bordering on black cherry. Veronica Lodge.


DipWSET, Certified Sommelier, garbage person.

  • Joanne

    Great lead in this article! I couldn’t make the event this year. And I’m happily surprised that Synchromesh and other BC wineries were so present.

    September 19, 2015 at 2:06 am
  • Saša

    I laughed so hard on the Stina descriptions. Love your articles man, thanks for shining positive light on young wine experts like ourselves. Stay awesome!

    November 21, 2015 at 8:26 am
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