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van westenI discovered this beauty on British Columbia’s Naramata Bench, a viticultural sub-region on the southeast corner of Okanagan Lake. Robert Van Westen’s family has been growing fruit in the Okanagan Valley for three generations. He now makes about 2000 cases of Bordeaux varietals, Pinot Gris, and Viognier.

This is their signature Bordeaux-style blend, the best wine we tasted on our two week stay on the lake.

This wine is very expressive. Rich and evocative with bold fruit and complex, earthy aromas, it develops an edgy, chiseled mouthfeel, but with all its steel and grit cannot hide its inner lusciousness. Voluptuous indeed but in a transgressive, slap-you-around way.

Seductive aromas of Kalamata olive, black cherry and mocha are framed by sage-infused graphite and dusty earth.

A bit of oak emerges on the polished midpalate, prelude to a slowly unfolding, gravel-like,mineral seam  giving the wine a wonderful vibrancy as the sandy tannins provide increasing firmness. The earth and olive theme persists on the medium length finish.

A dense, complex nose, full bodied, layered textures, and mineral driven vitality all add up to the same earthy, visceral eroticism to be found in Joan Armatrading’s I Love it When You Call Me Names.

Technical Notes: A blend of 67% Merlot and 33% Cabernet Franc, aged for 20 months in new French oak, 33% new. The Naramata Bench is a relatively cool region, warm enough for Merlot and Cabernet Franc although Cabernet Sauvignon will struggle to get ripe. Cooler climates favor the earthy, savory style exemplified by this wine.

Score: 92

Price: $35 (Purchase Here)

Alc: 14.7%