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Column: California wine release at BC Liquor Store

Five types of wines worth checking out on June 1.
Recommendations for the upcoming California Wine release at BC Liquor Stores on June 1, 2024.

On June 1, select B.C. Liquor stores will be releasing some very limited and sought after California wines. I had the pleasure of tasting a few of the wines being offered so here is my recommendations if you are interested in buying a premium California wine:

Chardonnays – the release features two very good Chardonnays that are reasonably priced for the quality: DuMOL 2021 Chardonnay Wester Reach ($118.99) and Ridge 2019 Chardonnay Santa Cruz Monte Bello ($109.99).  Each is distinctive with DuMOL being more minerally with tropical fruits whereas the Ridge is built for aging and is currently showing more citrus and peach notes.

Pinot Noirs – the release also features a number of excellent Pinot Noir offerings.  I really like the price point of the Brewer Clifton 2021 Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir, which is priced at $73.99. This wine has the heaviness of an American Pinot Noir and the austerity of Alsatian Pinot Noirs.The wine exhibits black cherry and floral elements. By contrast the DuMol 2022 Wester Reach Pinot Noir (priced at $139.99) is darker in colour with more minerality and pepper on the aftertaste.

Zinfandels – the Ridge 2021 Lytton Springs Zinfandel ($87.99) is another wine that has a high quality to price ratio. Zinfandels typically have high alcohol content but the intensity of fruit in this wine balances the alcohol content well. The wine also has acacia and lilac aromas on the nose. 

For a lower priced quality Zinfandel, try the Caymus 2021 Zinfandel ($59.99).  This wine shows consistent quality year after year and gives lots of black fruit and licorice on the palate with spice on the aftertaste. There is a six bottle limit on the Caymus Zinfandel.

Anakota 2021 Cabernet Sauvignon Knights Valley ($118.99) – I wasn’t that familiar with this winery, which was established in 2000 but the wine is prototypical American Cab.  This wine has dark fruit, violets and pepper on the aroma.  You will get blueberries, cassis and plums on the palate with an earthy and coffee aftertaste.  It is a full-bodied with prevalent oak and a smooth finish

Caymus 2019 Special Selection ($239.99) – this is the flagship wine of the winery and among with best known top shelf Napa Cabs worldwide.  This wine uses grapes coming from the best plots of the Caymus vineyards.  This vintage has a chalky, dusty texture with dill and dark fruit on the nose.  I love the layers of flavors on the palate, with blackberries, plums, oak, tobacco flavors. 

To see more of my tasting notes on these wines, see my video here.

For those who have the means, there are some ultra premium wines also available: Screaming Eagle 2021 at $5000/bottle, Screaming Eagle White 2020 at $2550/bottle and 2nd Flight (the second wine of Screamng Eagle) at $2550/bottle.  If you want to know what these wines taste like, see my review here.

There is also Opus One 2018 and 2019 available, priced at $680/bottle. I know these prices seem crazy for most people who drink wine but for those who actually have the means to purchase these wines, BC’s prices for these wines are actually quite reasonable compared to what you would pay around the world.

Hope my column peaks your interest to try some premium California wines.  Until next time, happy drinking!

Tony Kwan is a Richmond News columnist. Lawyer by day, and a food and wine lover by night. Kwan is an epicurean who writes about wine, food and enjoying all that life has to offer.