Tasting notes from Sommelier Kimberley Collins
Kimz Korner is a place in which you can find details about Blackwood Lane wines and how our older vintages are doing. My notes about the wines that guests bring to our Saturday Night Wine Challenges will also be posted here from time to time, along with any other bits of wine information that may be of interest. The name and spelling of Kimz Korner is in memory of my late brother, Todd, who created his cool webspace in the beginning days of the internet, which he named Todz Place.
Blackwood Lane Winery has been making fine wines since 2004, and I've had the pleasure and opportunity to grow along with the winery since the beginning. We may be a small winery in comparison with many in our beautiful B.C. wine regions, but we have a lot of heart and passion for good wines that are delicious and can stand the test of time. You might have a bottle or two of our wines resting in your wine cellar or wine fridge (or closet!), and you might be wondering when would be the best time to open it. From time to time we open an older vintage to see how it’s doing. I hope Kimz Korner will help you decide when you would like to drink your cellared Blackwood Lane wines.
If you're wondering about a particular wine of ours, please write a line to [email protected] and I'll be happy to share what I may know about its characteristics and how it's aging. It could give me a good reason to open one of our special wines too!
2012 Cabernet Franc
April 24, 2021
March 6, 2021
Feb 20, 2021
Delectable graphite, violet, and dark rich fruit nose. Plummy, with some tart sensations, followed by rich black fruit. The minerality and tannins buoy up the dark fruit on a solid finish. Some light prune flavours are left on the palate after the dark fruit and tannins subside. A little tight at this stage fresh out of the bottle. I recommend decanting it for a couple of hours. Many years of cellaring left in this beauty.
January 16, 2021
November 20, 2020
The Alliànce has a special characteristic that has shown up in every vintage -- that of graphite! Minerality drawn from the rocky soil of a repurposed rock quarry turned vineyard in Oliver gives a left bank Bordeaux quality to this wine (and to The Referènce).
The 2004 vintage was our first official release of this wine in 2007. The Alliànce became Blackwood Lane's signature wine. We named it Alliànce (an alliance of grapes) and it is always made up of a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc.
The 2004 has a deep, rich, slightly savoury bouquet of black currants, black plums, graphite, cedar, and violets. Its age is beginning to show with some vegetal notes, and it has smoothed out beautifully. The fruit flavours are still intense and succulent and taste of cranberry sauce and blackberries. I feel this vintage could have another 5-8 years of good life in it.
November 14, 2020
Would you like to know how your 2009 Alliànce is doing? Here is how it is tasting currently…
The colour is a deep garnet, with a thin rim indicating its age. It has a hot bouquet of toffee, molasses, stewed cherries, along with some savoury notes. Flavours of ripe cranberries are so prominent, with some sweet almond notes emerging in the mid palate, ending with stewed cranberries on the long finish. The flavours are pleasantly tart, with a lot of red berry characteristics.
This would be a delicious wine to serve with your Christmas dinner this year!
2014 Reserve Merlot
Enough said! Holy!!
2007 and 2009 The Referènce
Feb 20, 2020
Our Blackwood Lane family enjoyed a vintage bottle of Reference last weekend. The 2008 is one of my personal favourites! I find it to be one of our richer References. Every vintage of The Reference is complex with a variety of fruit flavours, floral notes, earthy, mineral components, and the characteristics that fine French barrels lend to a beautiful Bordeaux style blend, such as chocolate, cedar, and mocha; however, the 2008 has a little magic going on with the structure, oaky notes, and the syrupy black currant, black cherry, bell pepper, maraschino cherry, and plum sauce flavours. Currently the acidity adds a little tangy overtone, and the tannins are gentle, but firm. This vintage is aging well and has many years left in it. I recommend decanting it for an hour or two if you open it now. I anticipate that it can handle a few more years of cellaring and that it will continue to be an exceptional wine well into 2028 (its 20 year mark), and beyond.
Feb 1, 2020
In the old days of Blackwood Lane, we had two tiers of wines. One had our black “Sommelier Series” label, and the other had a cream coloured label. The cream labelled wines were for such wines as our house wines and white wines. The 2005 Chardonnay was in the cream label category and we produced 300 cases. It was priced at $19/bottle, which was intended to be an introductory price to enable us to more easily enter the restaurants as a new winery in the market. This worked exceptionally well, and this wine was also received very well in our tasting room at the winery. People LOVED its buttery, rich, oaky flavours. The wine soon began to have an enthusiastic following. Some was kept cellared by the winery and through the ensuing years it has been brought out now and then to compliment creamy seafood bisques and as a special treat. Recently it was enjoyed at a dinner at a fine dining restaurant in downtown Vancouver. Again, it caused “oooohhs” and “aaaahhs” and enhanced the food pairings beautifully.
A good quality oaked Chardonnay can cellar for many years, and this one is no exception. It would be a nice surprise to find this wine in your wine collection. Serve it slightly cooled to get the full benefit of its rich flavours, and enjoy it with a creamy pasta, roasted chicken dish, scallops, a lobster bisque, or truffle paté.
’05 Chardonnay (library price $50)
Warm amber colour, unfiltered, fine sediment, dry, full-bodied. Still contains good acidity. Extraordinary flavours of caramelized apple, butterscotch, marinated pear, ripe pineapple, demerara sugar, ripe lightly baked yellow plums, and has gentle toasty notes.
Nov 10, 2019
“The Referènce” is Blackwood Lane’s “Alliànce” in high heels. The “Alliànce” is our flagship blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc and “The Referènce” includes an additional two varietals, Petit Verdot and Malbec, and the blend goes through a second set of French oak barrels to age further, making it a more complex and fuller bodied wine than the “Alliànce”. Many people are not aware that Malbec and Petit Verdot are grown in our Okanagan Valley, as they are grown in smaller quantities than the more abundance Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. They make up a smaller percentage of “The Referènce”, adding both colour intensity and tannin structure to the blend. An interesting fact is that Merlot is the most widely planted varietal in the Okanagan, and it comprises almost 30% of the red grapes planted in the Okanagan Valley.
“The Referènce” takes over 5 years to create, from harvest to bottle. The best grapes from the finest well-tended older vineyards, premium French oak barrels, 80% free run juice (the juice extracted from the must before pressing), and years of time go into the making of this wine.
Carlos’ signature fruit forward flavour profile shows up again in this vintage. Compared to previous vintages of “The Referènce”, it has a more grippy acidity. The bouquet is sophisticated and has prominent aromas of violets. The finish gives you a mouthful of red berry richness with gentle notes of sweet tobacco and cherry and impresses your palate for a very long while. The texture is smooth and the tannins are very fine.
You can lay this wine down for a few more years to further soften out, or you can drink it now when it has that little punch of mouthwatering fruit. It is definitely a special wine to accompany a special dinner or to help you celebrate. Of course, any occasion is a special occasion when you open a “Referènce”!
"The President" 2010 Vintage
May 26, 2018
Premium Bordeaux style blend
Reserve Magnum $880
What a superb wine! If you have a spare $880 (1.5 litres), this wine is a real treat to be savoured.
2010 was a very good year for our Okanagan grape harvest, which produced a wine so delicious that it deserved to be put on a pedestal. "The President" is a full Bordeaux style blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Malbec. Each varietal was aged in well-seasoned French oak barrels, blended, then aged once more in Puncheons (530 Litre barrels). Each puncheon, made of French oak derived from various forest areas in France, gave the blend an array of flavours and aromas. The final blend is complex and full of succulent flavour.
The bouquet opens up to French Bordeaux-like aromas of leather, sous bois, cassis, bell peppers, blackberry jelly, black plums, and violets. From beginning sip to mid-palate to the finish, it is full-bodied and luscious. It has a velvety mouthfeel that paints your palate with a perfect balance of mouth watering acidity, fresh berry sweetness, and the bright tartness of juicy Montmorency cherries; with ultra fine tannins. Your tongue is then left with the sensation and clean flavour as though you had just eaten a handful of freshly picked blackberries.
You can cellar this wine for another 10 years if you wish for a more mellow wine; but it is beautiful to drink now. Decanting is recommended.
2009 Pinot Noir
November 22, 2018
The Pinot Noir 2009 was a one time vintage of Blackwood Lane Pinot Noir, created from an extraordinary harvest of grapes from the Naramata Bench in B.C.’s Okanagan Valley. Its very special bouquet is perfumed with aromas of dried strawberries, wild West Coast thimbleberries and soft sandalwood, and has a gentle expression of sweet and savoury butter tarts. The flavours match the aromas, and this wine so beautifully paired with roasted beets, squash and roasted chicken.
This Pinot Noir is tasting wonderful and should still have another few years of good life. Best to decant it, as it has some sediment.
November 15, 2018
Blackwood Lane’s cellared 2009 Merlot is an extra special treat. If you have some in your wine cellar, you may want to dust it off for your next special occasion. The texture of this wine now is so soft and velvety after aging nine years. It has an enticing bouquet of black plums, raspberries, black cherries, violets and dark chocolate; with smooth flavours of sour cherry pie, lightly toasted hazelnuts, dark chocolate, and plum pudding.
We anticipated longevity for our Sommelier Series wines right from the beginning when we released our first vintages of Blackwood Lane wines, and we’ve definitely been vindicated. So far there hasn’t been one Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Alliànce or Referènce that hasn’t lived up to long cellaring standards. Our wines are made from the finest grapes, and are aged in the best quality French oak barrels, and they contain no additives. The result is a truly natural wine that can stand the test of time. This Merlot can be cellared for many more years, depending upon how smooth and developed you prefer your red wines to be. Personally, I prefer a red that still has prominent fruit flavours and a medium weighted structure, yet is velvety and smooth, with softened tannins. I find that Blackwood Lane Bordeaux style wines are at their best in this regard at around the 10 to 15 year mark. If a super soft texture and flavour is your preference, I feel Blackwood Lane Bordeaux wines should continue to mellow nicely to your preference. Keep in mind that as a red wine ages, the fruit flavours drop as well as the tannins.
October 21, 2018
Our newest vintage of Merlot is being released this month. It’s a 2014, aged long in French oak barrels, which gives this wine a very special quality like a delectable holiday fruit cake made from an old family recipe. The flavours will lend themselves well to your feasts and gatherings with good friends. I enjoy drinking this wine on its own also, because the body is not too heavy like some Merlot can be, and it has a natural sweetness and layers of complexity to mull over. It’s a wine very worthy of enhancing any special occasion.
Only a small quantity of this bold and complex 2014 Merlot was released. It has developed tertiary aromas of stewed dark plums, cassis and chocolate with pronounced aromas of sweet vanilla and violets, and a luscious, full body of abundant fruit providing rich layers of ripe black plums, black cherries, sweet baking spices, vanilla and coffee. The tannins are soft and light and this Merlot has a characteristic heat that warms your palate. This wine has perfectly balanced acidity and an extra long velvety smooth finish that lingers on the palate long after the glass is empty!
I wish you all a wonderful holiday season!
Stin ygeia mas (Cheers in Greek) and Saluté
October 13, 2018
Old World wine style from Carlos’ Cellar
After spending a few weeks away in Greece and Italy last month, drinking lovely local white wines and rosé in those hot sunny parts of the world, I’m also happy to be back at Blackwood Lane drinking our rich, luscious reds on these cooler Autumn days.
Since we’re releasing our new 2014 Merlot very soon, we took the opportunity recently to open one of our 2007 Merlot to see how it’s doing. It’s drinking very well and has developed an elegant, perfumed bouquet of violets, spiced plums, and cedar. It’s a fine dry wine, with good acidity and flavours of blackberries and red delicious apples. This wine still has good structure and fruit and should cellar well for another 10 years.
EPIC Wine Challenge!
July 14, 2018
The wine line-up from the July 14th Master Wine Challenge, featuring Bordeaux blends, price range from $150-$200:
Mission Hill “Oculus” 2013, Okanagan Valley, BC
Caymus 2014 Select, California
Domaine de Chevalier 2008, Pessac-Leognan, Bordeaux, France
One Faith 2012, Okanagan Valley, BC
Chateau La Dominique 2010, St. Emillion, Bordeaux, France
Once in awhile we hold a “Master Wine Challenge” at the winery, that features our “Reference” Bordeaux style blend. We invite our wine club members to bring a premium Bordeaux or Bordeaux style wine for a friendly “challenge” up against our Reference. We have to keep Carlos on his toes! Our July 14th Master Wine Challenge was full of nice surprises.
It isn’t often we get to try other iconic wines, and in this setting we have the opportunity to sample a FEW wines held in high esteem by wine lovers, and all in one glorious evening! We truly appreciate the effort our wine club members put into choosing the wines they bring. The caliber of wines has been very exciting. After all, wine is best when shared, and that is definitely the case on these special nights, tasting great wines with great friends.
If you would like to participate in our wine challenges at the winery, you can find upcoming dates on the Calendar of Events. We feature a different varietal or blend during each challenge. It’s always educational and enjoyable and is open to our wine club members. Bring a good bottle of wine and an appetizer, per couple, to share with the party. The numbers are encouraged to be kept to 12 so that everyone gets a good sampling of each wine.
Cabernet Sauvignon Wine Challenge
June 9, 2018
2013 Burrowing Owl (Okanagan Valley)$45
2015 St. Supéry (Napa Valley) $65-$75 U.S.
2013 Fuse (Napa Valley) $80 U.S.
2014 Penfolds (South Australia) $65
2010 St. Estephe, Les Pagodes de Cos (Bordeaux) $165
2006 Margaux, Chateau du Tertre (Bordeaux, Grand Cru Classé) $230
If you missed this Cabernet Sauvignon wine challenge at the winery, you may be a little disappointed, because the line up of wines was spectacular!
Not only did we have one of our fellow B.C. wines from a winery considered to be in the top echelon, but we had two fine Napa Valley wines, a Penfolds from Southern Australia, and to top it all off….two Bordeaux wines, including a Margaux! For those who aren’t sure, Margaux is a Grand Cru Classé highly esteemed in the wine world. Margaux is the only major appellation with a chateau named after the region, Chateau Margaux. Cabernet Sauvignon is the main grape in Margaux, followed by Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec and Carmenere. Margaux wines are among the most floral in all of Bordeaux.
It’s tough to beat one of Carlos’ Blackwood Lane wines, and even though this amazing collection of Cabernet Sauvignon from around the world was a fabulous and more expensive representation, Blackwood Lane’s 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, made from grapes grown in our southern Okanagan Valley, came out consistently as the top choice of the evening as it has more layers of flavours and huge aromas and flavours of vanilla, soft, smooth tannins and an extremely long finish. The other favourite came as no surprise – the 2006 Margaux Chateau du Tertre.
The 2006 Margaux has an ultra smooth mouthfeel that glides across your palate with finesse. The bouquet is floral; however, we detected a slight rubber tire aroma when freshly opened, which dissipated after decanting and became savoury and leathery with hints of cocoa. It has good fruit and layers of well balanced flavours, with a blackberry and cherry finish.
This is a good opportunity for me to bring up a winemaking practice used in many wines lately, as a few of the wines we’ve had at our wine challenges are made with this additive. SUGAR. In the winemaking world, the addition of sugar after wine fermentation is called “back sweetening”. This is a practice used to add sweetness to balance the flavours of a wine that is perhaps a little too acidic or doesn’t have the strength of flavour the winemaker would prefer. It also can bring a wine up to the level of sweetness the masses prefer. One of the downfalls of a back sweetened wine can be that the end product has limited flavours that are dumbed down from the overpowering sugar and can come across as one or two dimensional with a uniform flavour.
Today it seems that traditional French winemaking is fast becoming a lost art. If you begin with well-grown grapes and use good quality oak barrels, and don’t rely on additives, with care and skill you can create a delicious natural wine that has good complexity and is smooth and flavourful. I’ll speak another day about other additives that are used in many wines these days.
The moral of the story is that you can buy a Blackwood Lane wine at a much lower price than many coveted wines on the market and enjoy it just as much, or much more, as we consistently find is the consensus of our wine challenge guests. So, the next time you’re reaching for a special occasion wine, please remember Blackwood Lane wines.
MASTER WINE CHALLENGE
April 7, 2018
:) Feeling Spoiled!
Those of us who were at this wine challenge had the pleasure of tasting five fine wines alongside Blackwood Lane's "The Referènce", all in one evening; PLUS a 2006 "The Referènce" from our cellar library! (Some of the wines would have benefited from decanting). The line up included:
Cassini 2014 "Maximus" from their Collection Series. Okanagan Valley. Full bodied, drank quite smoothly. Flavours and aromas of leather, pepper and dark fruit. This is still a young wine that could use longer cellaring to soften and drop its slightly sharp and astringent tannins. $55.
Corcellettes Estate Winery 2015 "Menhir" Cabernet Sauvignon blended with Syrah. Similkameen Valley. Soft leather nose with a hint of a savoury element. Balanced well with the sweetness rounding out the fruit, acidity and very fine tannins. Once it opened up, one of our club members pointed out it had a familiar aroma just like opening up a little red box of Sultana raisins. $35 range.
Orofino 2013 "Beleza". Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Petit Verdot. Similkameen Valley. Dark purplish ruby colour. Leather, earthy notes, tart wild berries, tight, slightly sharp and astringent tannins. Rather simple flavour despite the blend of four varietals. Short finish. $30 range.
Clos des Jacobins 2010. A St. Emillion blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Ruby colour, rich bouquet of black currants, cigar box, floral and herbal aromas. Full, dry, complex wine that still has quite strong tannins and could age for another few years to tame them. $80.
Château Smith Haut Lafitte 2010. A Pessac-Leognan, Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Dark cherry red, thick leathery bouquet with a slight cigar box aroma, cassis and spices. So smooth and rich with gorgeous flavours of cherries and dark red fruit, fine tannins and a mineral backbone. Powerful and well-balanced. At $350, this was a special treat indeed!
Blackwood Lane The Referènce 2009. Okanagan Valley. There is a such a complex and enticing bouquet of violets, vanilla, plums, blackberries and minerality emerging from this wine. Smooth and fine right out of the bottle. The various French oak barrels used to age The Reference give it beautiful and unique characteristics. $150.
2006 The Referènce was opened at the end of the evening as a special and rare tasting. The gentle mineral and chocolatey nose is a little muted compared to the 2009, of course due to its 11 years of cellaring. Plums, violets and herbs and still plenty of fruit flavours with an ultra smooth mouthfeel. The integration of acidity, fruit and tannins is amazing! Soft and silky. I feel that this wine is beginning to peak, and I recommend finding, or spontaneously creating, a special occasion to drink it. $200.
Our 2005 Chardonnay
March 31, 2018
At our recent Saturday Night Wine Challenge at the winery, we welcomed our wine club members to bring on their best bottle of Chardonnay to share and compare. This gave us an opportunity to pull out an old 2005 Blackwood Lane Chardonnay which was our first vintage of Chardonnay. We released it as one of our introductory wines for restaurants before our tasting room was opened. It was a big hit with oaked Chardonnay lovers, and we gained a following (and some good friends) with this wine!
The grapes for this rich Chardonnay were grown on the Golden Mile in the Okanagan Valley. The wine rested on the lees, in french Burgundian style oak barrels for an extended length of time, giving it lots of body. The flavours are still holding up after all these years, offering a rich, full bodied wine with a tantalizing butterscotch bouquet and scrumptious flavours of baked pears and chestnuts. If you still have one of these babies in your cellar, we recommend drinking it now with a buttery or creamy dish, or simply with a bowl of freshly popped, buttered popcorn.