A Wine Lover’s Diary, part 718: Big Head Tasting


Andrzej Lipinski

Wednesday, April 10th: Andrzej Lipinski invited me to a one-on-one tasting at his Big Head winery.

Big Bang Gris 2015 ($25.00 – 19 months on lees, machine riddled): Pale straw colour; white peach bouquet; well-balanced, lively, lemony-peach flavours with a touch of minerality. (89)

Big Bang Black Sparkling (100% Pinot Noir – 42 months on lees; $55): Pale straw colour; toasty, apple nose; great mouth-feel; bready, apple and lemon flavours. (91)

Big Bang 60 Months (5 years on the lees, 60% Pinot Noir/40% Chardonnay; 3.6g/L dosage of Chardonnay from appassimento grapes – $98): Pale gold colour; yeasty, lemony, nutty nose and flavour; very elegant with great length. The finest Ontario sparkling wine I have tasted! (94)

Big Head Pinot Gris 2017 ($35): Bright straw colour; ripe peach on the nose; full-bodied, dry, rich and creamy on the palate with the flavour of ripe peaches. Very Alsace in style. (91)

Big Head RAW Series Savagnin 2017 ($40): Light straw colour; minerally, nutty, buttery nose; full-bodied, dry, Macadamia nut flavour, beautifully balanced, fleshy, apple and citrus flavours. (92)

Big Head RAW Series Sauvignon Blanc 2017 ($40): Pale straw colour; grassy, passionfruit and guava flavours, rich mouth-feel. 13.3% alcohol. (93)

Big Head RAW Series Chenin Blanc 2017 ($45): Golden colour; honeyed quince and pear bouquet; rich and full on the palate, opulent and fleshy but well-balanced flavours of pear and honey. Reminiscent of Zind-Humbrecht style. (92)

Big Head Gewurztraminer 2017 ($22): Bright straw colour; rose petal and lychee, orange and ginger bouquet; medium-bodied, just off-dry, with rose water, grapefruit and lychee flavours carried on fresh acidity to along, lingering finish. (91)

Big Head Chardonnay Old Vines 2016 (barrel-fermented and aged seven months in new Slovenian oak – $38): bright, golden straw colour; toasty, spicy pineapple nose; medium to full-bodied, dry, well-integrated oak with pineapple, nectarine and mandarin flavours. (91)

Big Head Rosé 2018 (Cabernet Franc with 10% Gamay – $22): Very pale, flesh coloured; earthy, cherry bouquet with a floral top note; medium-bodied, dry, fresh and lively cherry flavour with an engaging note of bitterness on the finish. (89)

Big Head Gamay 2018 ($25–$28 TBD): Ruby colour; cherry with a banana note on the nose; medium-bodied, dry, fruity, sour cherry flavour carried on fresh acidity. (89)

Big Head Pinot Noir 2017 ($28): Light ruby in colour; lifted cherry nose; medium-bodied, dry, ripe cherry and tobacco flavours; well-balanced and firmly structured. (89)

Big Head Pinot Noir Select 2017 ($42): Ruby colour; lifted cherry bouquet with a light note of violets. Elegant and firmly structured; cherry flavour. (90)

Big Head Pinot Noir Knotty Vines Vineyard 2017 ($55): Light ruby in colour; floral, cherry nose; medium-bodied, dry, elegant, beautifully balanced and classic Pinot. (94)


Big Head Pinot Noir Knotty Vines Vineyard 2017

Big Head Big Red Select 2017 (60% Cabernet Franc/20%Merlot/15% Cabernet Sauvignon/ 5% Dornfelder – $30): Deep ruby colour; cedary, juicy, black fruit flavour with lively acidity and a firm structure, ending on a note of cinnamon. (90)

Big Head RAW Series Syrah 2017 (whole cluster carbonic maceration – $65): Dense purple in colour; spicy, blackberry nose with a floral grace note; full-bodied, dry, elegant, firmly structured, dark chocolate and blackberry flavours. Very Northern Rhône in style). (95)

Big Head Petit Verdot Select 2017 (15.6% alcohol – $65): Dense purple in colour; spicy, black plum nose; full-bodied, dry, peppery, cherry and plum flavours (reminiscent of Zinfandel). (90)

Big Head RAW Series Malbec 2017 (dried grapes – 16.1% alcohol, $65): Dense purple colour; black plum and dark chocolate nose; full-bodied, richly extracted and concentrated, smoky, black fruit flavours. (90)

Big Head The Biggest Red 2015 (50% Cabernet Franc, 40% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon – appassimento, 26 months fermentation, aged 34 months in Moldovian oak – $70): Deep purple-ruby colour; cedary, floral, spicy, black fruit aromas; full-bodied, juicy, rich and intense black fruit flavours. (92)

Big Head The Biggest Red 2014 (25% each of Dornfelder, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, 32 months in barrel – $75): Deep purple colour; cedary, vanilla, spicy blackcurrant bouquet; full-bodied, dry, intense and concentrated black fruit flavours; great balance and length. (92)

Big Head Chenin Blanc BA 2017 ($38, 375 mL – 92 grams residual sugar): Old gold colour; spicy, honeyed mango and lemon flavours; beautifully balanced. (91)

Big Head Select Late Harvest Riesling 2016 (157 g/L residual – $38, 375 mL): Golden straw colour. Waxy, honeycomb and peach nose; full-bodied, sweet, honeyed peach and pear flavour with a floral top note. Great tension between sweetness and acidity and a long finish. (93)

Big Head Riesling Icewine 2014 (217 g/L residual – $108): Deep golden colour; high-toned nose of honey and ripe peaches, flavours that replicate on the palate; intense and rich but enough acidity to stop the wine cloying. A truly great Icewine. (95)


Big Head Riesling Icewine 2014

Notes on other wines:

Waterkloof Circle of Life Sauvignon Blanc/Chenin Blanc 2015 (Stellenbosch, South Africa – 72% Sauvignon Blanc/28% Chenin Blanc; $19.95): Bright straw in colour; minerally, lightly herbaceous nose of pear; medium-bodied, dry, quince, pear and green peach flavours with lively acidity. (89)

Quails’ Gate Chardonnay 2017 (Okanagan Valley): Bright, pale straw in colour; toasty, spicy apple nose; medium-bodied, dry, apple and green pineapple flavours with well-integrated oak; mouth-freshening acidity that gives the wine along, lemony finish. (90)

Culmina Hypothesis 2014 (Golden Mile Bench, Okanagan – 45% Cabernet Sauvignon; 33% Merlot; 22% Cabernet Franc): Dense purple ruby colour; cedary, spicy plum nose with vanilla oak notes; medium-bodied, dry, savoury-herbal flavours of blackberries and dark chocolate ending on ripe tannins. (90)

Arterra Pinot Noir 2017 (Niagara – $29.95): Deep ruby in colour; minty, earthy, cherry and tomato-leaf nose; medium-bodied, dry, well-extracted plum and cherry flavours with a touch of residual sweetness and a tannic lift on the finish. A nicely balanced wine. (89)

Yalumba Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 (Australia): Deep purple-ruby in colour; cedary, spicy, plum and currant nose with an evident note of oak; medium-bodied, dry, savoury, plum flavour with lively acidity. (88.5)

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