A Wine Lover’s Diary, part 713: Mission Hill Visit

Framed paper on a table next to a bottle of wine: Mission Hill Family Estate welcomes Tony Aspler & Family, Friday, December 7th, 2018

Thursday, December 6th: My old friend Anthony von Mandl (we met in Roederer’s cellars in Reims in 1976) invited us to stay for a long weekend in his guest cottage on Lake Okanagan, below Mission Hill Family Winery. It would give me a chance to see the new Martin’s Lane Winery and to taste through five of the wineries his company owns (he had just purchased Road 13). That evening, Deborah and I had dinner at Volcanic Hills’ Blu Saffron Bistro (wild salmon with a bottle of Volcanic Hills Pinot Noir 2016).

Volcanic Hills Pinot Noir 2015


Blu Saffron’s salmon in a curry sauce

Friday, December 7th: Awoke to a startlingly beautiful sunrise and awaited the arrival of my daughter Annabel, her husband Ian and Declan (going to be five on March 5th), for whom we had purchased a Lego truck to distract him while we taste wines.


Sunrise over Lake Okanagan


Mona Lisa squared


Declan test drives the Ducati

Lunched in Kelowna at a pizza parlor with a freaky Mona Lisa portrait on the wall and a Ducati motorbike parked by the counter (much to Declan’s delight). Then drove up to Mission Hill for a tour of the winery with Graham Nordin, Director of Wine Experience.


Mission Hill


Henry Moore bronze at Mission Hill


One of many sculptures placed on the grounds of Mission Hill


Sculpture at the entrance to Mission Hill’s wine store

Greeted at the entrance with a glass of Mission Hill’s new sparkling wine. In the tasting room we sampled:

  • Mission Hill Perpetua Chardonnay 2016: Bright, pale straw in colour; spicy, toasty, apple with evident oak backing; medium to full-bodied, dry, apple and pear flavours with well-integrated oak. (90)
  • Mission Hill Vista’s Edge Cabernet Franc 2015 (2nd vintage): Dense ruby colour; cedary, spicy, vanilla oak and plum on the nose; medium-bodied, dry, elegant, floral, plum and black cherry flavours with a herbal note. (92)
  • Mission Hill Reserve Series Meritage 2016 (35% Cabernet Franc, 32% Cabernet Sauvignon, 31% Merlot, 2% Petit Verdot): Deep purple-ruby colour; cedary, black fruits on the nose with oak spice; medium to full-bodied, dry, savoury, black plum flavour with a herbal note; firmly structured. (90)
  • Mission Hill Legacy Series Quatrain 2014 (Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon): Dense ruby-purple colour; cherry, dried herbs and vanilla oak on the nose; full-bodied, dry, savoury black fruit flavours; firmly structured with dark chocolate notes on the finish. (91)
  • Mission Hill Compendium 2014 (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot): Dense purple-ruby in color; cedary, spicy, plum and blackcurrant bouquet; full-bodied, dry, savoury, plum and blackcurrant flavours; firmly structured, earthy tannins. Well balanced but needs 3–4 years of bottle age. (90–92)
  • Mission Hill Oculus 2014 (50% Merlot, 24% Cabernet Franc, 21% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Petit Verdot): Dense purple colour; spicy, cedary, vanilla oak and plum aromas; medium to full-bodied, richly extracted, savoury and firm with dark chocolate notes on the end taste. Still tight, hold five years at least. (91–93).

Dinner at Bouchons Bistro in Kelowna. Started with Van Westen Vineyards Vino Grigio 2016 followed by a bottle of Mission Hill Vista’s Edge Cabernet Franc 2015 (which we liked so much at the tasting this afternoon.)  Snails and steak tartare. Declan got his first taste of snails.


Aperitif wine at Bouchons Bistro


Dinner wine at Bouchons Bistro

A tap with a brass plaque below is that says CHATEAU MARGAUX

Found in the men’s room at Bouchons Bistro (calling the plumber to install)

Saturday, December 8th: After breakfast we drove over to CedarCreek Winery to taste with winemaker Taylor Whelan. Mission Hill’s winemaker Darryl Brooker dropped in to say hello.

  • CedarCreek Estate Riesling 2017 ($18.99): Pale straw colour; minerally, lightly floral nose of lime and grapefruit with petrol notes; light-bodied, just off-dry with honeyed, Meyer lemon flavours. Good length. (89)
  • CedarCreek Estate Platinum Block 3 Riesling 2012 ($30): 8% alcohol. Bright, pale straw in colour; minerally, lime and petrol nose; crisply dry, light on the palate, fresh and lively and elegant lie flavour with piercing acidity. (91)
  • CedarCreek Estate Platinum Block 3 Riesling 2017 ($30): Pale straw colour; minerally, apple and grapefruit bouquet; light-bodied, floral, apple and lime flavours, great length. (90)
  • CedarCreek Estate Platinum Chardonnay Block 5 2016 ($30): Bright straw in colour; spicy, oaky, apple nose; medium-bodied, dry, lots of energy here – driving lemon acidity with crab apple and lemon flavours. Like a Grand Cru Chablis, great length. (90)
  • CedarCreek Estate Platinum Pinot Noir Block 4 2012 ($60): Ruby colour with a violet rim; lightly cedary, black raspberry nose; medium-bodied, dry, raspberry and red plum flavours with well-integrated oak and a firm tannic finish. (89)
  • CedarCreek Estate Platinum Pinot Noir Block 4 2014 ($56): Ruby colour; lightly spicy nose of raspberries; medium-bodied, dry, well-extracted flavour of ripe raspberries with a firm tannic structure. (90)
  • CedarCreek Estate Platinum Pinot Noir Block 4 2016 ($60): Ruby colour; spicy, earthy nose of strawberries with a light oak note; medium-bodied, dry, fleshy, pomegranate flavour with a firm tannic finish. (89)
  • CedarCreek Estate Platinum Pinot Noir Block 2 2016 ($60): Ruby colour; spicy, raspberry nose (reminiscent of Volnay); medium-bodied, dry, elegant, sweet raspberry flavour with an orange peel note; earthy and palate-filling with a firm tannic finish. (92)
  • CedarCreek Estate Platinum Merlot Desert Ridge Vineyard 2015 ($50): Deep ruby in colour; cedary, savoury black cherry bouquet with a light floral note and suggestions of pencil shavings; medium to full-bodied, dry, richly extracted and mouth-filling flavours of sweet black cherry with notes of dark chocolate. Evident but ripe tannins. (91)
  • CedarCreek Estate Platinum The Last Word 2014 ($78): A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Malbec. Deep ruby in colour; cedary, spicy, blackcurrant nose; medium-bodied, dry, beautifully balanced and firmly structured blackcurrant and black plum flavours lifted with oak spice. Needs 2–3 years aging. (90–92).

CedarCreek winemaker Taylor Whelan

CedarCreek Estate Platinum The Last Word 2014

Then next door to Martin’s Lane, where Shane Munn, a New Zealander, is making some of the best Riesling and Pinot Noir I have tasted in Canada. Martin’s Lane is a homage label to von Mandl’s late father, Martin. (The “Lane,” he explains, “came from the double row of poplars on the winding road to our vineyard home.”) Apart from the dramatic building sited on the side of a hill (designed by the same architect who remodeled Mission Hill), the most eye-catching artefact is a huge head of Vincent Van Gogh resting on his injured ear at the winery’s entrance.


Van Gogh sculpture


Central stairwell at Martin’s Lane



Martin’s Lane “Mission Ear” 2015 DeHart Vineyard Pinot Noir


Declan meets Van Gogh


Martin’s Lane winemaker Shane Munn

Anthony von Mandl played off the coincidence of the percentage of red heads in the world and the plantings of Pinot Noir (both are around 2%) to commission artist Douglas Coupland to create a sculptural project entitled Redhead to celebrate the opening of the winery. Finding the red-headed Van Gogh’s doppelganger involved a worldwide search. The Van Gogh theme is extended to Martin’s Lane large format bottles – each has a large plastic ear adhered to the glass.

Following a tour of the building, we sat down in the tasting room with Shane Munn.

  • Martin’s Lane Naramata Ranch Vineyard Riesling 2014 ($65): Bright straw-gold in colour; a nose of grapefruit and peach; light-bodied, elegant, beautifully balanced, with flavours of greengage, and honeyed peach with a lovely mouth-feel. An ethereal Riesling. (94)
  • Martin’s Lane Fritzi’s Vineyard Riesling 2014 ($75) (the Vineyard named for von Mandl’s mother): Old gold in colour; earthy, minerally, grapefruit bouquet; light-bodied, dry, grapefruit flavour with a lovely mouth-feel; well-extracted, juicy fruit with a firm finish. (93)
  • Martin’s Lane Naramata Ranch Vineyard Pinot Noir 2014 ($100): Deep ruby in colour; earthy, mushroom and black raspberry nose with a light note of violets; medium-bodied, elegant, dry, savoury, raspberry flavour. Beautifully balanced, with a firm tannic finish. (93)
  • Martin’s Lane Simes Vineyard Pinot Noir 2014 ($100): Deep ruby in colour; lightly floral, black raspberry nose; medium-bodied, dry, elegant raspberry flavour, beautifully balanced, and elegant, with great length on the palate. (94)

Then back to Mission Hill for a tasting of CheckMate wines and those of the newly purchased Road 13.

  • CheckMate Artisanal Winery Capture Chardonnay 2015: Pale straw in colour; spicy, creamy nose of apple with a mineral note; medium-bodied, dry, creamy mouth-feel; elegant, firmly structured with an engaging tannic lift on the finish. (91)
  • CheckMate Artisanal Winery Queen Taken Chardonnay 2015: Pale straw colour; minerally, spicy, apple nose; medium-bodied, dry, apple and pear flavours with a thread of minerality and well-integrated oak. (92)
  • CheckMate Artisanal Winery Queen’s Advantage Chardonnay 2015: Pale straw colour; spicy, apple and toasty oak on the nose; medium-bodied, dry, apple and pear flavours with an earthy note; beautifully balanced. (92)
  • CheckMate Artisanal Winery Knight’s Challenge Chardonnay 2015: Bright, pale straw; savoury, barnyard nose of apple; medium-bodied, dry, creamy texture with a spicy, apple flavour and lively acidity. (92)
  • CheckMate Artisanal Winery Attack Chardonnay 2015: Pale straw colour; minerally, spicy apple with oak notes on the nose; medium-bodied, dry, apple and pear and lemon flavours; well-balanced with well-integrated oak; lovely mouth-feel with a light grassy note on the end taste. (91)
  • CheckMate Artisanal Winery End Game Merlot 2014: Deep ruby colour; spicy, pencil lead, plum and vanilla oak nose; medium-bodied, dry, black cherry flavour; firmly structured with well-integrated oak, a floral flourish on the end taste and firm tannins. (91)
  • CheckMate Artisanal Winery Silent Bishop Merlot 2014: Deep purple colour; creamy vanilla oak and black cherry bouquet; medium-bodied, dry, firmly structured, earthy, minerally black fruit flavours with evident tannins. Needs 3–4 years. (90–92)
  • CheckMate Artisanal Winery Opening Gambit Merlot 2014: Deep purple in colour; spicy, Mocha chocolate and black cherry nose; medium-bodied, sweet plum and cherry flavours; firmly structured with an earthy, tannic finish. Hold 3–4 years. (91–93)
  • CheckMate Artisanal Winery Black Rook Merlot 2014: Deep ruby in colour; creamy, vanilla oak and black cherry nose with cedary notes; medium-bodied, dry, ripe cherry flavour; elegant, beautifully balanced and firmly structured. A seductive wine. Hold 3–4 years. (92–94)

Black RookRoad 13 Marsanne 2017 and Viognier 2017

A quick glass of water and then into the Road 13 wines.

  • Road 13 Viognier 2017: Bright, pale straw colour; spicy, floral, peach nose; medium to full-bodied, nicely balanced with fine acidity and a tangerine note and a touch of bitterness for added interest on the finish. (89)
  • Road 13 Marsanne 2017 (4% Roussane, 2% Viognier): Bright, pale straw in colour; earthy, peach pit nose and slightly reductive; medium-bodied, dry, apricot flavour with a lively acidic finish. Delicious! (92)
  • Road 13 Gamay Noir 2017: Solid ruby colour; spicy, cherry and vanilla oak on the nose; medium-bodied, dry, rose petal and cherry flavours and well structured. (89)
  • Road 13 GSM 2016: Deep ruby in colour; spicy, cedary, savoury-herbal nose of blackberries; medium to full-bodied, dry, fruity, blackcurrant flavour with a lively spine of acidity and a firm tannic structure. (90)
  • Road 13 Jackpot Syrah 2016: Dense purple-black in colour; inky, herbal, spicy, licorice, blackberry nose with vanilla oak notes; full-bodied, intense and concentrated, sweet, spicy blackberry flavour. Beautifully balanced. (92)
  • Road 13 5th Element 2013 (45% Merlot. 19% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Syrah, 13% Cabernet Franc, 5% Petit Verdot): Dense purple-black in colour; cedary, herbal, spicy, vanilla oak nose of blackcurrant and blueberry with a floral grace note; full-bodied, dry, well-balanced, spicy blueberry flavour; great length to a firm, tannic finish. (92)

In the evening we cooked dinner in the Lake house cottage (pasta) and worked with Declan on his LEGO truck.


Declan teaching his grandparents LEGO


Anthony von Mandl greets Declan

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