Wednesday, June 24, 2009

New releases from Mission Hill

At first glance, the most recent release of wines from Mission Hill Family Estate presented an unusual grouping - three wines from the winery's budget Five Vineyards tier and one from its premium Select Lot Collection (S.L.C.) tier.

Perhaps the winery was just illustrating how close the budget tier is to the quality of its other tiers. Good wine is being made here.

The star of this quartet is the S.L.C. 2006 Syrah ($36.99 in B.C.). This wine is from selected lots of hand-picked grapes from Mission Hill's own vineyards in the south Okanagan. The vintage was moderately cool but good farming enabled the winery to deliver the bold flavours one expects with this variety. The bonus of the year is that the alcohol is 13% and that accounts for some of the wine's elegance. Almost black in colour, the wine begins with earthy, gamey aromas of delicatessan spices, plums and red berries. On the palate, there are bold flavours of black cherry and blackberry with a touch of spice and pepper. The tannins are firm and ripe. The wine is generous and satisfying now but will age well. 91 points.

Mission Hill Five Vineyards Pinot Noir 2007 ($16.99) is one of several wines in the winery's growing range of Pinot Noir, as Mission Hill sets out to become a leading player with this variety as well. This is a fine, juicy example, with a dark colour, spicy aromas, flavours of plum and cherry that present on the palate as a dollop of sweet fruit. A very quaffable wine, indeed. 87

Mission Hill Five Vineyards Chardonnay 2007 ($13.99) is a very nice Chardonnay at this price. The wine is fruit-forward because it was cold-fermented in stainless steel and spent only seven months in American oak barrels. The result is a refreshing wine with citrus flavours and very subtle oak, with a crisp, clean finish and an appealing lightness in weight. 88

Mission Hill Five Vineyards Rose 2008 ($14.99). This is only the second rose wine from Mission Hill, a winery that usually is not on the lagging edge of a hot trend. This wine shows that Mission Hill is not playing catch-up. This wine is a blend of Merlot, Gamay and Pinot Noir juice. The wine begins with a vibrantly appealing hue and with aromas of strawberries and rhubarb. On the palate, there are flavours of strawberry and pomegranate. The wine is well balanced and has a fine dry finish, making it a great food wine. 88

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