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Next week we start at Stags Leap Wine Cellars, then Opus One, Shafer, Spring Mountian, Schramsberg, and other wineries on a par with those.

Epic. A great adventure. If you don’t do it someone else will.


Foxtrot – an Okanagan star

After The Olympics I got all emotional about Canada and decided to focus on reviewing BC wines. And then the samples arrived…

I’ve been very impressed with Foxtrot, from start to finish. The wine quality is of course paramount, and they deliver. But importantly, the Torsten family are smart operators in so many respects. I never did meet the family, but we spoke on the phone, and they’re good wine producers in production and marketing.

The Chardonnay is 90-92 points. It shows some real style with a peach and citrus combination, my personal favorite, with some toasty notes from the oak. I like the palate because it is dry, with good weight and some depth, and streaks of mineral, citrus, and peach. Good lenght, and good finish. We’re not a far cry from Meursault here.

The Pinot 2007 is 92-93 points and has superb supple tannins and a lovely bouquet which is at once fresh, perfumed, and delicate. I admire the restraint in trying to extract too much colour and succumb to modern trends of deep color extraction. The palate is silky soft, creamy, with delicate red fruits. Excellent quality. I love it.

Additionally, I was impressed by the packaging which is “wild” , depicting a woman getting friendly with a bear! It’s characterful but classic in a new world sense, and then there’s the brilliant back label text. It’s bold, fun, and minimalist – I love it. This is how to market wine. It’s stylish, but not stuffy.

This is the type of wine and the forward thinking amongst boutique producers that will take the Okanagan to the next level. And any wine produced here must be VQA for an enduring and powerful brand image. Cellared in Canada is the death of the B.C. industry. And as for pricing, I would try and break the $100 mark asap in BC because image plays such a huge part in selling wine. Napa cab sold at $1.99 30 years ago. Somebody needs to make something exceptional and charge $120 for it, and it to be “outstanding quality”, even if just a few cases (100).

My hope is that more Okanagan vintners travel to regions around the world and take ideas. Last week at v sattui in Napa I saw, again, a massively succesful business with unique techniques. Unless we travel, we won’t know what the best are doing. But hot tip, the Okanagan terroir is out of this world and will become a world classic.

Napa Valley

I spent a special few days in Napa and went to meet some of the top winemakers, like Kathleen Heitz and Bo Barrett, and Janet Trefethen and Mark de Vere, and then there was Tom the chief winemaker at Chandon…. it was a great time.

Napa is in a league of its own. It is the greatest wine region in the world for wine lover tourism. The hotels are beyond 1st class, the restaurants on a par with the best anywhere, and the wines – well they’re blow your socks off – certainly on a par and better than many grands crus classes.

It’s sophisticated too, and the companies are often corporations that have become very successful. But when you get to meet the owners they are always very welcoming and fun.

With Americans drinking more wine than beer for the first time, and increasing affluence, Napa Valley is all set for another boom. Now is a good time to buy land in Napa.