I've tasted over 500 Canadian wines through Carl's Wine Club's inaugral year. I am thrilled to say that there are so many more world-class wines produced in Canada that I look forward to discovering in 2021. 

Please see below for the full list of my Top 10 Wines of 2020, plus honourable mentions and top value wines. I hope my wine discoveries lead to enjoyable discoveries for you too!

Cheers,
Carl

*** Top 10 Wines of 2020 ***

#1

2018 Nota Bene
BC, Okanagan Valley VQA, Black Sage Bench
49% Cab Sauv, 41% Merlot, 9% Cab Franc, 1% Petit Verdot
96pts Carl's Wine Club | Dry wine (RS 0.3 g/ltr)

The 2018 Nota Bene is the 20th vintage of this iconic wine. This is a lovely Bordeaux blend made to perfection here in Canada. On the nose, this wine has pronounced aromas of ripe black fruits like blackberries, and plums. On the palate, the grippy tannins mix with flavours of blackberries, mocha, and dried herbs. 2018 is a classy and savoury, highly concentrated vintage for Black Hills Estate Winery's flagship Nota Bene. 5,580 cases produced.

Pairings: BBQ steak, Roasted lamb shoulder
Drink now until 2030

Winery price: $60 - Sold out at the winery
#2

2014 Spadefoot Toad Syrah
BC VQA, Okanagan Valley
100% Organic Syrah | Dry wine (RS 0.2 g/ltr)
95pts Carl’s Wine Club

First impression notes: Honestly, this is REMARKABLE.... ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC! A nose of blackcurrant and dark cherry compounded by tobacco and cedar. The nose on it’s own is worth the price of the wine. What makes this wine so special is the texture. I have rarely tasted a wine with that much of a silky texture. It's so fluffy! The dark fruits I had on the nose are right back on the palate lifted up from the white pepper and a complex long finish. There's a lot of elegance here. Nothing is in your face, instead this wine comes together like a symphony. Add a touch of cloves and bay leaf at the end for even more complexity. Again, the texture makes this wine very special! This wine is priming right now!

My more recent notes: Texture, Texture, Texture… OMG – so amazingly silky and velvety! Deliciously ripe aromas of blackberry, raspberry, and cherry kirsch which mingle with alluring notes of vanilla, sweet tobacco, leather and clove. On the palate, delight in flavours of black cherry, boysenberry, white pepper and a hint of black olive. This wine is priming at the moment. I would love to have unlimited supply of this wine, so I can enjoy forever! 489 cases produced.

Pairing: Pepper-crusted beef tenderloin, Chinese spiced duck
Drink now until 2027 | Winery price: $50.00 | Can be purchased via our previous Club feature here.

#3

2016 Martin’s Lane “Fritzi’s” Riesling
BC, Okanagan Valley VQA, Kelowna
100% Riesling
95pts Carl’s Wine Club

This experience starts with a very unique and define nose of lime and blood orange mixed with a subtile dose of ginger. The outstanding concentration on the palate is dry, linear and very straight to the point towards the bold, textured lime and green apple fruit. The minerality is absolutely spectacular. Zippy and cutthroat acidity as well as tangerine and lemon notes, with lots density and complexity. This wine is the best Riesling I’ve tasted from Canada, if not around the world.

Winery Price: $65.00

#4

2017 Mt. Boucherie Reserve Syrah
BC VQA, Okanagan Valley
100% Syrah
95pts Carl’s Wine Club

One of my favorite wines of the year. This is absolutely decadent. Rich, complex, well balance and stylistically unique. I tasted this GEM a couple of times now and came up with 95pts both times. The grapes are coming from the “Golden Mile” in Oliver and the Similkameen Valley, from 20-year-old vines. Showcases black raspberry, olive, wild-sage, and cracked pepper notes. This is juicy but also restrained with a certain focus and precision.

Winery Price: $45.00
#5

NV 13th Street Cuvée Rosé
Ontario, VQA Niagara Peninsula
70% Pinot Noir, 25% Chardonnay 5% Gamay
94pts Carl’s Wine Club

The nose hints at ripe red berry, mineral, light spice and subtle anise. The mousse is creamy and fine, but the wine is dry and quite bracing with a long, fine finish of fruit skin, ripe stone fruit and light toast. Sparkling wines such as this, with their hint of sugar, bright acidity and carbon dioxide, have all the necessary tools to age well for years.

Pairings: Tuna tartar, smoked salmon
Drink now until 2024
Winery price: $29.95 - CWC Member price: $26.96 here.
#6

2015 Intersection “Axiom” Red Blend
BC VQA, Okanagan Valley
33% Cabernet Franc, 33 % Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot
94pts Carl's Wine Club

The nose is very explosive and exuberant. Blackberry and ripe raspberry, graphite, toastiness and cigar box. Loads of dark fruits like cassis and blackcurrant, black licorice, expresso coffee and black pepper. A wave of sweet vanilla brings a pleasant surprise in the mid-palate and adds extra complexity.
An Ultra complex package of flavours, acidity, texture, length, plus a toasty and spicy finish make this wine unique and special. With 6 years of age already, this wine is only entering it's prime. It will evolve and improve for another 5 to 8 years. This outstanding effort has so much more to offer... it gives me goosebumps only to think what it could be half a decade from now.

Winery Price: $45

#7

2019 Desert Hills “Flora & Fauna” Ancestral Method Sparkling
BC, VQA Okanagan Valley
54% Viognier, 36% Gamay Noir, 10% Chardonnay
94pts Carl's Wine Club

What an intriguing wine. The character and personality of this bubbly is unprecedented. Bottled while still fermenting, then riddled and disgorged by hand, this makes a very special connection between the people who make it and the people who drink it. Full of crisp minerality, refreshing stone fruit, guava, and white flowers...a very fragrant wine that delivers layers of refreshing intense fruit with very fine and lively bubbles.


#8

2017 Little Engine “Gold” Chardonnay
BC, Naramata Bench
100% Chardonnay
94pts Carl's Wine Club

Outstanding balance between oak, fruit purity and minerality! A new world style, Sonoma approach where you can appreciate the oak treatment but not get fed up by it. Beyond impressive richness and complexity, there's so much going on in your glass but all in a textbook harmony. A terrific effort from Scott Robinson, the very talented winemaker at Little Engine. This Chardonnay over delivers it's price-point by a lot.

Winery Price: $57
#9

2017 Big Head Wines “The Biggest Red”
Ontario, VQA Niagara Peninsula
45% Petit Verdot, 30% Cab Sauv, 15% Merlot, 10% Cab Franc
94pts Carl's Wine Club

They dried these grapes using a combination fan dry and kiln dry ranging from 40 to 55 days. They co-fermented all 4 varieties together in the large rectangular concrete tank for 2 months. There is a combination of fresh and stewed red fruit with an herbal and peppered undertone on the nose. A wave of vanilla in the middle palate brings another dimension to the wine and lots of complexity. The palate is quite dry, and the tannins grab hold, and the fresh red berry fruit is also layered with umami and a touch of salinity I assume from the Petit Verdot. This is a monster wine that needs decanting and leaving the decanter somewhere cool.

Winery Price: $70

#10

2017 Hester Creek “The Garland”
BC, Okanagan Valley VQA, Golden Mile Bench
84% Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Malbec, Merlot
94pts Carl's Wine Club

A sophisticated, Cabernet dominant blend and a true expression of “The Golden Mile.” The Cabernet and Merlot lots are fermented separately, while the Petit Verdot and Malbec are co-fermented. A rich, Bordeaux style wine showcasing a giant attack of dark fruits, mostly blackberry, cigar box and graphite, with big grippy tannins that will soften down the road. The finish is why this wine is part of our top 10, it goes on forever and the tannins hold on way longer than you will ever expect. Decanting is a must!!!!

Winery Price: $56

*** HONOURABLE MENTIONS ***


2019 Seven Directions Cabernet Franc Rose | Fruitvale Ridge Vineyard
BC, Okanagan, Summerland
100% Pinot Noir
93pts Carl's Wine Club

Aromas of rose petals, a palate of honeysucke and orange blossoms followed by stony minerals like citrus and a wonderful note of seashell. The ever so slightly off dry palate boasts a fresh juicy feel with citrus fruits and Asian pear. Silky and seamless from beginning to end. 255 cases produced.

Food pairing: salmon tartar, pesto pasta
Drink now until 2022
Winery price: $24.24
2018 Black Market Collusion White Blend
BC VQA, Okanagan Valley
75% Sauv Blanc - 25% Semillon | Dry wine (RS 2.5g/ltr)
92pts+ Carl’s Wine Club

One of the best white wines I tasted this year. Tropical, creamy and complex. The texture of this wine is very special! Soft aromas of gooseberry and citrus. This dry white blend has a round mouthfeel with a bit of weight and flavours of gooseberry, honeydew melon, grapefruit and toasted caramel notes on the finish. Crisp acidity keeps it fresh on the palate. Truly Okanagan…wow!!! 160 cases produced

Pairing: seared calamari, alfredo pasta
Drink now until 2024
Winery price: $24.00
2017 McWatters Collection Meritage
BC VQA, Okanagan Valley
56% Merlot, 34% Cab Franc, 8% Cab Sauv, 1.5% Petit Verdot, 0.5% Malbec | Dry wine (RS 4.0 g/ltr) 
93pts Carl's Wine Club

The fruit was carefully selected from some of the South Okanagan’s most pristine vineyards at the peak of ripeness. The wine was matured in small French oak casks for 16 months. A medium intensity nose showing red fruit, sweet spices, ripe red plums, candied cherries and a touch of vanilla. Big, elegant, with soft tannins, well-balanced fruit and oak characteristics with blackberry and cassis overtones. It's a bold wine with a generous character. 495 cases produced.

Pairings: prime rib, lamb stew
Drink now until 2028
Winery price: $35.00
2017 Stag's Hollow Renaissance Merlot
BC VQA, Okanagan Falls, Stag’s Hollow Vineyard
95.2% Merlot, 2.4% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2.4% Cabernet Franc
93pts Carl's Wine Club

This fruit-forward profile is balanced by delicate notes of dried herbs, cocoa, leather & toasty French oak. The palate is tight but elegant, and with air exposure, it shows bright and juicy flavours consistent with the nose. The finish is long with lingering ripe, chalky tannins and mouth-watering natural acidity, which should ensure a long life ahead for this wine. Decanting suggested. 160 cases produced.

Pairing: Roast beef, NY striploin
Drink now until 2028
Winery price: $40.35
2015 Kraze Legz Winery, Skaha Vineyard "Rogue"
100% Fortified Merlot
Skaha Lake, Kaleden, BC
93pts+ Carl's Wine Club

What a wonderful find! So glad that I tried it.
Velvety, smooth and super fresh, this rich but balanced dessert fortified wine showcases lots of caramel and toasty notes. The front palate has a spectacular acidity that makes the rest of the experience so easy. Mature fruits like cherry and raisins filled the mid-palate and finish strong with brown sugar, capuccino and toasted almonds. The aftermath is so long, it keeps lingering for almost a minute developing some interesting spice of white pepper and cloves. This is fantastic, and for $45, this can be $75 and I would not complain.

Winery price: $45

*** TOP VALUE WINES ***

Top Value #1

2019 Bella Terra Chardonnay - Sur Lie
Ontario, VQA Niagara Peninsula
Chardonnay (85%) & Viognier (15%)
92pts Carl’s Wine Club

Wow... one of the prettiest nose that I can remember. This is so appealing and inviting. Mango and cantaloupe are on display. The 8 months on lees allows this wine to feature a great creamy texture without being buttery and gives a stunning complexity for $20. The palate transitions seamlessly from green apple to honeydew and pineapple. The combination of bright acidity, length and complexity make this winemaking effort absolutely remarkable. Outstanding value!

Top Value #2

2017 Monte Creek Ranch Cabernet- Merlot
Merlot, Cab Sauv, Cab Franc
92pts Carl’s Wine Club

Holy Cow... one of the best $22 wines I tasted all year. The perfect every-day wine and great fit for big-body wine lovers. Perfectly balanced with smooth texture, a nice gentle oaky layer of vanilla and bang-on level of acidity. A rich palate of plums, dark cherries, blackberry compote and moka is beautifully complemented by soft and elegant tannins. The gentle white pepper on the finish brings even more complexity than I was hoping for at this price. A perfect weight for 14.5% alcohol, meaning that it's serious but not too heavy. This is juicy! I really, really like it... and at this price, I absolutely love it! Again, Monte Creek shows outstanding balance in all of their wines....

Winery Price: $22
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