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The International Food & Wine Society – Sid Cross – June 20, 2022

Our final winery visit was the “piece de resistance” with an extensive tour, tasting, and outstanding lunch at PHANTOM CREEK ESTATES on the Black Sage Bench. The entrance into a most special place is noted by the welcoming exquisite two angels tall sculpture by Wu Ching Ju on our arrival. The Estate vineyards started in 1977 as the Becker Project are cleverly guided by Olivier Humbrecht MW organic/biodynamic master from Alsace. The winery founded by Richter Bai is a spectacular showpiece including the finest of everything from the 22 Austrian custom-made best Franz Stockinger (built a second plant to fulfill this remarkable order) oak casks to the beautifully crafted Dale Chihuly mouth-blown glass of 270 pieces chandelier in the Level One tasting room. Their amazing capable team also includes Director of Winemaking globally experienced Mark Beringer, and new attentive General Manager Bill Lui (also has One Faith Vineyards).

Reception was in the interesting History Room with framed soil profiles worth studying of their 4 different vineyard terroirs: Kobau, Evernden Spring, Becker, and Phantom Creek sipping 2019 VIOGNIER only 360 cases. It is from Kobau (gravel with cool afternoons) on the Golden Mile Bench using both stainless & oak in a fresh perfumed elegant textured style showing to advantage in the those classy German Stolzle Lausitz perfect glasses. Tasted 5 more wines:

RIESLING Estate 2019  $33 On elevated SW slopes in Okanagan Falls it is a salute to Alsace with the wonderful vibrant balanced mouth feel.

CHARDONNAY Small Lots Similkameen 2020 $48 Hot days cool nights for 16 Barrels fermented full cluster purchased grapes with partial malolactic fermentation shows strong fruit forward flavours at sensible 12.9 abv with some further development expected as it ages.

KOBAU CUVEE 2018 $80 From 2005 plantings on Golden Mile Bench of 45+ Merlot (savoury bramble), 35 Cab Franc (herbal spices + elegance), 19.5 Syrah (darker assertive fruit) co-fermented with Viognier at 14 abv. Spent 21 months in barrels of 45% new oak. Like the open raspberry violets aromas.

BECKER CUVEE 2016 $70 Merlot dominant Bordeaux blend showing success from late ripening of older vines with Cab Franc adding freshness at 14.5 abv with expressive interesting earthy almost mushroomy bouquet developing.

PHANTOM CREEK CUVEE 2018 $150 (Magnums $300) Best expression of their Cabernet Sauvignon (40%) dominant blend with Petite Verdot, Malbec, Cab Franc & Syrah for 21 months in 65% new French oak is powerful 14.5 abv has minty almost eucalyptus notes with bramble herbal blackberries and black pepper (more than bell pepper) and is a promising unique standard of what top Okanagan reds are capable of producing for cellaring.

Lunch was a tour-de-force culinary treat by talented Chef Alessa Valdez and her skilled brigade using local ingedients where possible to match the stellar wines produced. Ambitious lunch menu of excellent inspired choices including as shown artistic presentations of shaved root salad, killer burrata course, Halibut, and Duck Confit. Where are those new Michelin Guide investigators for Toronto when there is a worthy 3 star award Canadian winner right here in the Okanagan BC waiting to be crowned?

To read the full article with photos: The International Food & Wine Society