A new winery in British Columbia seems determined to test the high end of the Canadian wine market. Their website creates the illusion of uber-high quality wines only made available through allocation to a few select 'members'. Five inaugural wines, all chardonnays, are priced from $80 to $125 per bottle. It appears no one but a select few critics have ever tasted them and how they might age is a complete unknown. Clearly, a page has been taken from the notebook of numerous Cali wineries who have successfully launched untasted, untested cabs at eye-watering prices.

Anyone biting?
Original Post
steve8 posted:

Bman, do you have a link for that because I can't find it? Or is it behind their paywall?

Probably behind a paywall.  The hard copy paper is probably still available in stores today, as there is no Sunday Globe.  Or you could come here for an offline tonight or this week and I'll give it to you for free!

I've probably had 9 or 10 various bottles from CheckMate the past few years, mainly with business meals and almost all of them being their Merlots.  I think Bruce Sanderson's notes are generally in line, they are quite good 91-93 point wines with power and a touch more complexity than I typically find in BC reds.  I particularly like the End Game bottling which I understand to be from a single vineyard on the lake at the very south end of Osoyoos by the US border.

Whether the merlots are worth $85 retail each is a personal call, but not terribly out of line compared to other "high end" BC wines. But at the current price point you are of course getting into some serious wine. 

Interestingly John Schreiner recently gave their Little Pawn Chardonnay ($110) 100 points, apparently his first 100 point score ever awarded for a BC table wine. I note Gismondi, who I find to be a good critic and a fair reviewer, just gave it 93 points.  So I expect it to be very good but again not sure about the value proposition at $110. 

So by coincidence, I was just there two weeks ago and tasted through all the Checkmate wines. They're actually quite good and in fact, were the best Chardonnays I tasted. There's some pretty good wine being made up in BC these days so I'm planning to go back soon.

Checkmate also had Gabriel Glas for tasting, and two wonderful girls, one of whom had gone through the WSET courses, so they're clearly on a mission to be one of the premier wineries in the region.

That guy Schreiner has been reviewing those wines for a while and you can't escape his scores. They meant nothing to me because I had never heard of him, but he's clearly the guy who's developed some history and expertise, having been tasting all those BC wines for a number of years. Consequently, if I were interested in TNs from critics, I'd probably give him some consideration rather than someone who was tasting the wines for the first time.

Not a knock to Bruce, who is a good taster, but Schreiner has been tasting those wines and watching their development, so I guess he would have more credibility, but I'd prefer to taste for myself, so that's what I did.

At any rate, to revive this thread after a number of years, the Checkmate wines are absolutely good Chardonnays. Far better than a number I've had from Napa and elsewhere in CA. But there's far more Chardonnay being made in CA and elsewhere in the US, so you can't really compare "California" to BC. There's some good Chardonnay in CA and I don't know, for me $85 for a Chardonnay, even with the 25% discount for the Canadian dollar, is a lot of money.  Chardonnay isn't my favorite white grape anyway, and since you can get really good stuff for $25-30, I'll stick with that. But if you're a Chardonnay fan, Checkmate is worth a try. I'd take that style over styles like Aubert, Kongsgaard, Kistler, etc., The Checkmate wines are lighter in body, more crisp, and while oaked, it's less dominant.

Anyway, that's just my take after a mere week tasting wines up there. I'm sure there are people who are far better qualified than I to opine on the wines.

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