856 THE ADVOCATE
VOL. 78 PART 6 NOVEMBER 2020
inate the front end, and the grippy Cab Franc provides the finish. Pick it up
at the winery and drink it with a burger and fries.
Continuing just south of the town of Oliver, one finds two viticultural
areas—the Golden Mile Bench on the west side of the valley and the Black
Sage Bench on the east. Travelling from north to south on the Golden Mile,
you may visit Tinhorn Creek, Gehringer Brothers, Hester Creek, Checkmate,
Culmina and Road 13, among others. Moving in the same direction
on the east side of the valley, you will pass Le Vieux Pin, Stoneboat, Church
& State, Phantom Creek, Black Hills and Desert Hills.
We had the opportunity to taste three different Chardonnays from Checkmate,
the artisanal project of Mr. von Mandl, where winemaker Philip
McGahan is crafting small batches of Chardonnay and Merlot from six different
vineyards in the South Okanagan. The Checkmate wines are admittedly
expensive, but if you are faced with the task of trying to convince a
skeptical friend that very fine wines are being produced here in B.C., this
would be a good place to start. And chess players will take delight in the
names that have been chosen.
We started with the 2014 “Fool’s Mate” Chardonnay ($80), a blend of
grapes from all five Chardonnay vineyards—Jagged Rock and Sunset on the
Black Sage Bench, Dekleva and Combret on the Golden Mile Bench, and
Border Vista, hugging the Canada–U.S. border. Eighty-five per cent of the
wine was aged in French oak and the remainder in concrete “eggs”. The
result is pale golden wine with notes of pears, pineapple and lemon rind on
the nose and peach, apple, pine nuts and a little nutmeg in the mouth. This
is neither Corton-Charlemagne nor Russian River—it lacks the complexity
of the former but is more elegant and nuanced than the latter.
Next we tasted the 2015 “Capture” Chardonnay ($90), which comes
entirely from the Border Vista Vineyard and is aged for 16 months in French
oak. There are butter, peach and lemon-lime notes and apricots, honey and
baking spices on the tongue. There is a long, slightly flinty finish. This is an
elegant and approachable wine that would be easy to pair with food; we
drank it with a salad niçoise, and it was perfect.
Finally, back in Vancouver at a recent lunch at the Wedgewood Hotel’s
Bacchus restaurant, we tasted the 2013 “Little Pawn” Chardonnay, later
vintages of which have been given 100 points by John Schreiner. This is a
big, creamy, floral wine from the Jagged Rock Vineyard that will delight you
if you like your Chardonnay in a more buttery style. It is $110 and available
only to wine club members, but you will find it on some restaurant wine
lists for about twice that price. For our taste, we preferred the Fool’s Mate
bottle, and for now it is more readily available.