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B.C. wine awards plus new wine reviews for Hester Creek and Lakeside Cellars

By Rick VanSickle

In this B.C. Wine Report we taste and review new releases from Okanagan Valley wineries Hester Creek and Lakeside Cellars along with results from the Lieutenant Governor’s Wine Awards.

But first, the wine awards that were announced earlier this month.

B.C. Lieutenant Governor’s
Wine Awards Results

B.C. wine

In 2018, the Office of the Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia, with support from the Government House Foundation, and the Okanagan Wine Festivals Society announced a new partnership to celebrate B.C. wines with the creation of the B.C. Lieutenant Governor’s Wine Awards. “It is a genuine joy to produce this competition each year,” said Okanagan Wine Festivals Society General Manager, Elan Morris, “and we are thrilled to have the continued support of the Office of the B.C. Lieutenant Governor. We are proud to celebrate the 2021 winning wines and continue to do the important work of placing our B.C. wineries on the stage they so well deserve.”

“I couldn’t be more delighted with the growth in interest, the boost to the provincial economy, and the stellar reputation that fine B.C. wines enjoy around the world,” said B.C. Lieutenant Governor, Janet Austin. “This event is a celebration of (B.C. wineries’) tireless work, (their) commitment to creativity and craftsmanship, and (their) courage in the most challenging of circumstances. (They’re) an inspiration to all of us.”

The competition was open to all licensed B.C. wineries including those that produce fruit wines and mead. Silver and gold medals were awarded. The top 2% of medal winners received platinum medals, with one wine receiving the 2021 B.C. Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Wine of the Year.

After tasting over 800 wines, the judges awarded silver, gold, and platinum medals to 90 B.C. wineries that were recognized last night during a virtual award ceremony. Tim Pawsey, above, was also honoured with the 2021 Harry McWatters Founder’s Award. Pawsey has been covering the B.C. wine and dining scene for 30 years and has been an avid supporter of B.C. wineries that entire time. He was recognized for his passion about the wine industry and his devotion to increasing the awareness and appreciation of B.C. wines.

The 2021 British Columbia Lieutenant Governor’s Wine of the Year Award went to Tantalus Vineyards 2018 Old Vines Riesling.

The top wines that received platinum medals were:

• Arrowleaf Cellars – 2019 Riesling
• Burrowing Owl Estate Winery – 2019 Syrah
• CedarCreek Estate Winery – 2020 Platinum Home Block Rosé
• Chain Reaction Winery – 2019 Tailwind Pinot Gris
• Enrico Winery – 2020 Shining Armour Pinot Gris
• Inniskillin Okanagan Estate Winery – 2018 Estate Riesling Icewine
• Kismet Estate Winery – 2018 Cabernet Franc Reserve
• Liquidity Wines – 2020 Rosé
• Maan Farms Estate Winery – 2020 Raspberry Table Wine
• Mission Hill Family Estate – 2019 Terroir Collection Vista’s Edge Cabernet Franc
• Mission Hill Family Estate – 2019 Perpetua
• Mt. Boucherie Estate Winery – 2020 Original Vines Sémillon
• Mt. Boucherie Estate Winery – 2018 Reserve Syrah
• Silhouette Estate Winery – N/V Boyd Classic Cuveé
• Silkscarf Winery – 2017 Syrah-Viognier
• SpearHead Winery – 2019 Pinot Noir Saddle Block
• SpearHead Winery – 2019 Pinot Noir Cuveé
• SpearHead Winery – 2019 Pinot Noir Golden Retreat
• Tantalus Vineyards – 2018 Chardonnay
• Three Sisters Winery – 2019 Rebecca

The full list of winners is available here.

Note: Info for above information was provided by the Lieutenant Governor’s Wine Awards. Photos provided by the Okanagan Wine Festivals Society.

New wine releases from
Hester Creek Estate Winery

Hester Creek Old Vine Pinot Blanc 2020 ($16, 89 points) — The fruit for this Foundation Series Pinot Blanc comes mostly from Block 4 of the estate’s Golden Mile Bench vineyard planted in 1968. It shows bright apples, citrus and a touch of peach and melon on the nose. The fruit is ripe but not sweet with a riot of orchard fruits, honeydew melon, stony minerality and a vibrant finish.

Hester Creek Chardonnay 2020 ($22, 88 points) — This estate Chardonnay is from the Source Collection at Hester Creek with 45% of the fruit fermented in French oak, 35% of which is new oak. It has a lovely perfumed nose of pear, peach, cream, lemon blossom and well-integrated spice notes. It has a creamy texture with poached pear, toasted spices, golden apple and peach all delivered on juicy, citrus-laden finish.

Hester Creek Syrah 2019 ($30, 92 points) — This Syrah, from the Source Collection, was sourced from the estate and a trusted grower on the Black Sage Bench. The fruit was co-fermented with a small amount of Viognier and was aged on the lees for 12 months in a combination of French and American oak barrels. An enticing nose of pepper, cocoa, wild herbs, dark cherries, boysenberries, cassis, wild blueberries and meaty/savoury/spicy notes. There’s a lovely smokiness on the palate then dark berries, herbs, black pepper and dark chocolate with firm tannic structure and finishes with woodsy/spice notes on a lifted finish. Can cellar 5+ years.

Hester Creek Cabernet Sauvignon 2019 ($35, 92 points) — The grapes for this Cab Sauv from the Storied Series were planted over 15 years ago on the estate’s Golden Mile Bench vineyard and the wine was aged in mostly French oak barrels fro 18 months. It’s rich and bold on the nose with black currants, cassis, black cherries, warm chocolate, touch of black cherries and lovely spicy/earthy notes. It’s mouth coating and rich on the palate with a riot of dark fruits, licorice, cocoa, savoury spices, firm tannic structure and a finessed finish. Can cellar 7+ years.

Hester Creek Joe’s Block 2019 ($35, 92 points) — The Joe’s Block “Italian” Merlot comes from Block 13 of the estate’s original plantings from 1968. The fruit spent 15 days in Italian Ganimede fermenters followed by aging in French oak barrels for 18 months. It has such an exciting nose of black currants, black cherries, cassis, black olives, earthy/peppery notes and profound spices. It’s both elegant and rich on the palate with cassis, other full-blown dark berries, ripe dark cherries, pepper, toasty vanilla and spice with a long, finessed finish. Lovely wine that can be cellared 5+ years.

Hester Creek Garland 2018 ($60, 94 points) — This is crafted to honour the estate’s 53-year-old vineyard from where the fruit comes from. It’s a blend of mostly Cabernet Sauvignon with small amounts of Petit Verdot, Cab Franc, Malbec and Merlot. It’s aged for 24 months in mostly French oak barrels and has a beautiful and enticing nose of black currants, cassis, blackberries, toasted oak spices, fresh turned soil and dried herbs. It’s full-bodied and highly structured on the palate with firm tannins to go with robust, dense dark berries, black licorice/tar notes, the full range of fine oak spice notes and power and length through a long, lifted finish. A blockbuster red that will improve nicely for 10+ years.

New Releases from Lakeside Cellars

Lakeside Cellars Sauvignon Blanc 2020 ($23, 89 points) — The fruit is sourced from the estate’s east bench in Osoyoos and boasts some of the oldest vines (22-years-old) available to the family. This is a riper style of Savvy with a nose of peach, grapefruit, citrus and Asian pear. There’s a subtle leesy tinge on the palate, which adds texture and complexity, to go with lime/grapefruit, pear, mineral, gooseberries, guava and a pleasing herbaceous note on the finish.

Lakeside Cellars Portage White 2020 ($19, 88 points) — The blend for this refreshing porch-sipper is 35% Sauvignon Blanc, 34% Pinot Gris and the rest unoaked Chardonnay. The nose shows a lovely mélange of apricots, nectarine, peach, lemon and fresh apples. It’s dry on the palate and packed with ripe nectarines, apple/quince and zippy citrus notes.

Lakeside Cellars Portage Red 2017 ($22, 88 points) — The blend for the Portage Red is 50% Cabernet Franc, 30% Merlot and the rest Cabernet Sauvignon with aging in neutral French and American oak for 24 months before blending. It has a bright and inviting nose of plums, brambly raspberries, dark cherries, black currants and subtle spice notes. It’s friendly on the palate with light tannins and ripe dark and red berries, anise, pepper, spice and a juicy finish.

Lakeside Cellars Syrah 2017 ($24, 90 points) — The fruit was sourced from the east bench of Osoyoos and the wine was aged for 24 months in new and second-fill American oak barrels. It has a big, spicy nose of black pepper, cassis, dark cherries, savoury/earthy notes, ripe plums with leather and spice. It’s rich and savoury on the palate with fine-grained tannins providing the structure followed by a rich broth of cassis, plums, cracked black peppercorns, spice and a tangy, lifted finish. Attractive right now but can cellar 5+ years.

Lakeside Cellars Cabernet Franc 2017 ($26, 90 points) — This estate single vineyard CF is sourced from a site nestled under Mount Kobau on the Golden Mile Bench. The wine was aged in neutral French and American oak for 24 months. It shows bright and brambly raspberries, cherries, violets, herbs and integrated spice notes on the nose. The palate reveals a basket of savoury red berries, mulled herbs, some tannic structure, spice and a lifted finish.

Lakeside Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 ($25, 92 points) — The fruit is from the Lakeshore Vineyard, perched on the east bench of Osyoos Lake, planted in 1999. The wine was aged in American oak for 24 months. It shows a deep, dark purple colour in the glass with a nose of ripe black currants, blackberries, anise, Cuban cigar leaf, caramel and spice. It’s quite thick and rich on the palate with firm tannic structure in support of a full range of dark berries, earthy/spicy notes, mocha, and a finessed finish. A nice Okanagan Cab Sauv that will reward with 6+ years in the cellar.