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Wine Guy: Destined for Phantom Creek Estates

The Vancouver Sun – James Nevison – June 22, 2022

As the wine touring season kicks off, this is a definite destination winery in the South Okanagan

It’s good to have anchor points. Both literally and figuratively. Whether the North Star or a stable, go-to friend, these reference markers can provide confidence and direction. In wine, destination wineries are like anchor points. When Mission Hill Family Estate opened its landmark winery in 2002 it became a beacon for the Okanagan Valley. It was a defacto anchor point to base wine touring adventures around. Two decades later, as the wine touring season again kicks off, there is another destination winery in the South Okanagan: Black Sage Road’s Phantom Creek Estates.

Phantom Creek Estates 2019 Pinot Gris, British Columbia ($27.99, #58485)

What makes for a destination winery? Admittedly, it’s subjective. But providing a “wow factor” offers a good start, and there’s no denying the grandiose stature of Phantom Creek Estates. Fortunately, the wines in the bottle live up to the hype — marble sculptures, extravagantly elegant barrel room and VIP tasting room — and see the same level of attention to detail. Their Pinot Gris, for example, is fermented with Indigenous yeasts and rests 16 months in large-scale oak foudres, creating an amazingly layered nose of honeyed orchard fruit, flowers and subtle oak. It’s complex yet balanced and approachable, an elegant fish and seafood partner.

Bottom line: A, Contemplative patio sipper.

Phantom Creek Estates 2019 Petite Cuvée, British Columbia ($37.99, #457116)

After a couple of uncertain, pandemic-fuelled years, Phantom Creek Estates has truly returned to become a destination. This summer the winery is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and its restaurant is currently offering lunch service Thursday to Monday. A number of tours and tastings are on offer (ranging from basic to extravagant) along with farmers’ markets and concerts throughout the summer. While there check out the Petite Cuvée, a gutsy red blend bringing together a myriad of grapes (Cabernet Franc is dominant at 42 per cent of the mix) in a bold and ripe, dark-fruited and savoury bottle crying out to be served with grilled ribeye or lamb — whether tonight or ideally in a few years.

Bottom line: B+, Bold, persistent red.

Phantom Creek Estates 2019 Becker Vineyard Cuvée No. 27, British Columbia ($60, available through the winery)

The first two wines are generally available at B.C. Liquor Stores, however Phantom Creek Estates offers a multitude of different bottles (another motivation to sip the wines in situ). Their Becker Vineyard Cuvée references the pioneering Becker Project, a late ’70s exploration led by Dr. Helmut Becker to determine the viability of growing quality wine grapes, vitis vinifera, in the Okanagan Valley. The Becker Vineyard is located on a higher-elevation stretch of the Black Sage Bench and is now planted to red varieties, represented in this cuvée by Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Carmenere, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s all dark fruit and dark chocolate, punchy yet elegant with some spice and toasty oak on a grippy, tannic finish.

Bottom line: A-, An anchor point red

To read the full article with photos: Vancouver Sun