Monday, June 29, 2020

Mission Hill's astonishing wine release








Photo: Ben Bryant, former Mission Hill winemaker


This spring’s pack of samples from Mission Hill Family Estates was an astonishing 18 wines.

Astonishing because I don’t recall receiving as many wines at one time from Mission Hill. The quality of these wines is very high. That is not so astonishing: I have come to expect high quality from Mission Hill and the other wineries in Anthony von Mandl’s growing family of Okanagan producers.

The group now owns and farms close to 1,000 acres of some of the best vineyards in the Okanagan. The viticultural team delivers exemplary fruit to the winemakers. Good wine, as the aphorism goes, is made in the vineyard. Those vineyards are also in transition to organic practices.

Mission Hill has a team of winemakers in its cellars and they get involved in making many of the wines. The lead winemaker for these wines was Ben Bryant, the Australian winemaker who joined Mission Hill in the fall of 2018 and had a hand in making two vintages before leaving the winery in April this year.

Here are notes on those wines.

Mission Hill Reserve Sparkling Brut N.V. ($23.49). This is 90% Chardonnay, 10% Pinot Noir. The wine was matured in stainless steel. There are aromas and flavours of apple, peach and citrus. The Charmat method wine is clear and fresh, with a charming elegance. 92.

Mission Hill Reserve Pinot Gris 2019 ($21.99). The fruit for this wine blends two quite distinct terroirs: 79% is from Oliver, 21% from the winery’s Naramata Ranch. The wine, 20% fermented in oak, begins with aromas of pear and apricot. These are echoed on the palate, wound around a mineral backbone. 90.

Mission Hill Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2019 ($21.99). The wine jumps from the glass with aromas of lime, grapefruit and herbs. That is also repeated richly on the palate with a persistent finish. The bright acidity assures a lively and refreshing personality. 92.

Mission Hill Reserve Chardonnay 2018 ($21.99). This wine was 75% fermented and aged in oak (11% new) and 25% in a combination of concrete eggs and stainless steel. It begins with aromas of citrus and stone fruit mingled with buttery oak, echoed on the palate. There is a lingering finish with notes of tangerine. 90.

Mission Hill White Meritage Reserve 2019 ($21.99). This is 80% Sauvignon Blanc, 20% Sémillon. Twenty-five per cent was fermented in neutral oak and another 15% was fermented in new French oak. The wine begins with aromas of grapefruit and peach. On the palate, there is more grapefruit with a spine of minerality. The finish is crisp and fresh. 90.

Mission Hill Reserve Rosé 2019($21.99). A rosé with an appealing rose petal hue, the wine is 50% Merlot, 45% Syrah and 5% Pinot Noir. It has aromas and flavours of strawberry, raspberry and watermelon with a touch of spice on the dry finish. 91.

Mission Hill Reserve Merlot 2017 ($26.99). This wine is made with grapes from vineyards near Oliver and Osoyoos. The grapes ripened fully, yielding a big wine with 14.9% alcohol but with so much structure than there is lots of fruit to carry the alcohol. The wine, which was aged 15 months in French and American oak, begins with aromas of cassis, blackberries and cherry. The aromas are echoed in flavours that explode on the palate and linger on the finish. 92.

Mission Hill Reserve Pinot Noir 2018 ($27.99). This wine appeals to those of us who like bold Pinot Noirs. Aromas of cherry and blackberry mingle subtle toasty oak (the wine aged 10 months in French oak). The palate delivers layers of dark fruit. The colour is also dark and the finish persists. 91.

Mission Hill Reserve Shiraz 2017 ($26.99). This wine was made with grapes from the Black Sage Bench. It was aged 14 months in barrel (20% new French, 65% used French, 15% used American). The wine is dark, with aromas of plum and blueberry jam. There are flavours of plum, blackberry and cherry mingled with toasty oak. The long, ripe tannins give the wine length. There is a persistent and savoury finish. 91.

Mission Hill Terroir Collection Simes Vineyard Riesling 2018 ($35). This wine was fermented entirely in stainless steel. It begins with aromas of lime, lemon and apples. On the palate, the flavours echo the aromas with an intense electricity of bright acidity. While the wine is showing well now, it will reveal its potential fully with another four or five years of bottle aging. 92.

Mission Hill Terroir Collection Jagged Rock Vineyard Chardonnay 2018 ($45). This wine was fermented and aged in French oak barriques and puncheons. It begins with aromas of citrus and apples. On the palate, there is a buttery note along with flavours of apple and an intriguing core of cloves. 93.

Mission Hill Terroir Collection Border Vista Vineyard Rosé 2019 ($30). The blend is 74% Merlot, 13% Syrah and 13% Cabernet Franc. The wine is made in the classic style of a Provence rosé, with a delicate hue and a dry elegance. There are aromas and flavours of raspberry and wild strawberry. 90.


Mission Hill Terroir Collection Jagged Rock Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc-Sémillon 2019 ($35). This is 70% Sauvignon Blanc, 30% Sémillon. It begins with aromas of grapefruit. On the palate, there are flavours of grapefruit, passionfruit and apple wound around a spine of minerals and lovely acidity. The finish is persistent. 91.

Mission Hill Terroir Collection Vista’s Edge Cabernet Franc 2017 ($50). The wine, which was aged 15 months in French oak (25% new), beings with powerful aromas of cherry, blueberry, cassis and spice. On the palate, the layers of fruit reflect the aromas. 92.

Mission Hill Terroir Collection Reed Creek Organic Merlot 2017 ($50). This vineyard in the south Okanagan was a former orchard that had been farmed organically for 40 years. The wine, which was aged 18 months in French oak (20% new), is dark in colour. It begins with spicy, brambly aromas of red fruit. On the palate, there are flavours of dark cherry, black currant and spice. 93.

Mission Hill Terroir Collection DeHart Vineyard Pinot Noir 2018 ($45.99). This is made with clone 777 Pinot Noir. The wine was matured 10 months in French oak. The colour is deep. The wine begins with aromas of cherry mingled with toasty oak and hints of forest floor. The texture is full. The flavours reflect the aromas and show an earthy complexity on the lingering finish. 92.

Mission Hill Terroir Collection Simes Vineyard Pinot Noir 2018 ($50). The clone here is 667. The wine was aged 10 months in French oak. The wine has aromas and flavours of dark berries mingled with toasty oak. The texture is full, with a silken polish. There is a note of leather and spice on the finish. This is a bold and satisfying Pinot Noir. 93.

Mission Hill Terroir Collection Border Vista Syrah 2017 ($50). The fruit for this wine is from a vineyard on the east side of Osoyoos against the U.S. border. The wine was aged 14 months in a combination of new and used barrels. Aromas of dark fruit mingle with notes of oak. On the palate, there are rich flavours of blueberries, plums and dark cherries. The tannins are long, ripe and polished. 91.

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