Mission Hill Family Estate Winery has
released all of its big guns this spring in an impressive display of
The notes below are for the winery’s three
premium tiers. The Legacy wines are at the top of the pyramid: Oculus,
Compendium, Quatrain and Perpetua.
Select Lot Collection is the tier just
below, referring to wines made from select blocks or even rows of vines in its
vineyards. This speaks to the maturity of its vineyards and the winery’s
understanding of its terroir – that it now identifies top areas in the vineyard
for its premium wines. This is good move away from a practice once common in
the Okanagan – selecting the “best” barrels for premium releases.
By identifying the best terroir, a winery
has a shot at producing wines with more distinction.
The winery’s third premium tier is its
Reserve range. These are also limited production releases but generally are blends
of good grapes from more than one vineyard.
If you are on a budget, Mission Hill’s
entry-level tier is called Five Vineyards. None are reviewed here at this time
but they are solid and reliable wines at competitive prices.
Here are my notes.
Hill Oculus 2008 ($80). In this vintage, the winery produced 1,100
cases of Oculus. I am told that most of the wine has been allotted for
collectors and restaurants although there usually are some bottles on sale at
the winery. It would be worth the drive. The wine is a blend of 46% Merlot, 29%
Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Cabernet Franc and 3% Petit Verdot. It is a
concentrated, brooding wine built for the long haul (think 2018). It begins
with aromas of black currants, figs and cedar, and tastes of currants and dark
chocolate. There is an earthy tone on the finish but with cellaring, this
complex wine will reveal its powerful fruit. 93.
Hill Compendium 2008 ($50). This is the “little”
brother to Oculus – actually, with 14.5% alcohol compared with 14% for Oculus,
it is even riper. It is a blend of 43% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Merlot, 26%
Cabernet Franc and 3% Petit Verdot. The
wine also has a brooding, contemplative personality that demands you savour it
slowly. The aroma is dominated by sage and by the mint and brambly red berries
of the two Cabernets. On the palate, there are generous flavours of black
currant, black cherry, chocolate, tobacco. The tannins are ripe; the body is
Hill Quatrain 2008 ($50). This wine is called
Quatrain because it is a four-grape blend: 34% Merlot, 22% Cabernet Franc, 15%
Cabernet Sauvignon and 29% Syrah. The Syrah seems to elevate the fruit flavours
and to contribute t0 the chewy texture of the wine. It has aromas of plum,
spice and vanilla, with flavours of plum, black cherry, liquorice and tobacco.
Hill Perpetua 2009 ($40). This is the winery’s most elegant Chardonnay,
made with three clones and 25% fermented and aged in new French oak for 10
months. The barrels and the time on lees add to the texture without covering
the bright fruit flavours. It begins
with citrus aromas; the winery’s own tasting notes suggest there are also notes
of fennel, hazelnut and vanilla bean. On the palate, there are flavours of lime
and grapefruit. The finish is crisp, tangy and persistent. 92.
Hill Select Lot Collection Chardonnay 2010 ($22). This Chardonnay is a little more fruit forward, with 35% aged
in French oak for eight months. Also elegant, the wine begins with peach, mango
and citrus aromas and offers an abundance of citrus and tropical fruit flavours.
Hill Reserve Viognier 2010 ($21.99). The appeal of
this wine begins with its moderate alcohol – 12.5%. The wine gains in elegance
and loses nothing in character for not being as alcoholic as Viognier sometimes
can be. The wine’s aromas remind me of a good citrus-based marmalade. It has
flavours of citrus, pineapple and apricot. It has a crisp finish with the
classic feather of tannin in its spine. 90.
Hill Reserve Riesling 2010 ($19.99). The winery is
a rising star among the Okanagan’s Riesling producers. This wine begins with
citrus aromas, delivers flavours of lime and green apples, displays good
minerality and has a crisp, bright finish. 90.
Hill Martin’s Lane Riesling ($25). This elegant
wine is a fine tribute to Anthony von Mandl’s late father, Martin. It has
flavours of pink grapefruit and apples with a spine of minerals. The bright
acidity is beautifully balanced to a crisp, dry finish. 91.
Hill Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2010 ($19.99). This
crisp, delicious wine recalls the New Zealand style, with its herbal
and citrus aromas and its zesty flavours of citrus, gooseberry and herbs. It
has more weight than many Kiwi examples, reflecting the Okanagan terroir, but
it remains lively and refreshing. 90.
Hill Select Lot Collection Sauvignon Blanc
2010 ($26). Forty percent of this wine spent four
months on French oak barrels, which shows in the full texture but not in
flavour. That’s a good thing because the marvellous flavours of the varietal
can be submerged in oak. This wine has fresh aromas of herbs and tropical
fruit, with flavours gooseberry and grapefruit. Whether you prefer this wine
for its complexity or the reserve for its vibrancy is a matter of taste. 90.
Hill Select Lot Collection Merlot 2009 ($35). This is a ripe and concentrated Merlot from select blocks in
Mission Hill’s Osoyoos vineyard. The wine spent 15.5 months in oak, resulting
in some aromas and flavours of the oak. But most of the wood was soaked up by
the rich, juicy flavours of plum, black currant, blackberry and chocolate. The
wine is good now and will blossom to another level over the next five years.
Hill Reserve Merlot 2009 ($24.99). Here is a big,
bold Merlot that defines the best the Okanagan can do in a good year.
Concentrated in texture and certainly age-worthy, it flavours of black currants
and black cherries, with a very long finish. 91.
Hill Select Lot Collection Syrah 2009 ($45). The 2009 vintage produced such rich-tasting Syrah that the
wine was aged 16.5 months in French oak. It begins with aromas of spice and red
berries, delivering flavours of raspberry, blueberry and plum. The impression
is that the wine has a satisfying core of sweet berry flavours on the middle of
the palate, with a long, polished finish. 91.
Hill Reserve Shiraz 2009 ($22.99). Presumably, this
is called Shiraz,
not Syrah, because it is meant to emulate the rich Australian style. Dark in
colour, it begins with aromas of plums, cherry, vanilla and spice and delivers all
of that on the palate. 89.