Mission Hill Winery2003 Oculus
Oculus is Mission Hill’s flagship Bordeaux red. Over four of five vintages, winemaker John Simes has been refining the blends, the target being an Okanagan wine of real world stature. When this wine was being assembled, Mission Hill also brought in Michel Rolland, the French super consultant. It is reported that Rolland, Simes and the rest of Mission Hill’s winemaking team canvassed closed to 140 blends before settling on the one just released.
The effort was worth it. This is, without question, the finest Oculus that Mission Hill has yet released. It comes from a somewhat warmer vintage than 2002, but the difference likely has as much to do with the blend as with the year. The 2002 Oculus was 50% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Cabernet Franc and 5% Petit Verdot. I no longer have a bottle for side by side comparison but memory tells me it was slightly more restrained than the 2003. An ageworthy wine but without the more immediate appeal of the 2003.
The 2003 Oculus already signals its richness with its dark colour. It has aromas of Christmas spices, chocolate and red berries, likely to the credit of the extra dash of Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc. The wine has sumptuous flavours of plums and black currants, along with a subtle note of oak picked up from 15 months in new and one-year-old French barrels. The structure is firm, but not harsh, with long ripe tannins that will help the wine age. The overall impression is of a highly polished and elegant wine that will continue to improve during the next five to 10 years. 94 points.
Production is limited to less than 2,500 cases. Thanks to the Michel Rolland association, the wine is so tightly allocated that Mission Hill sent no samples to reviewers.
Reviewed September 26, 2006 by John Schreiner.
Other reviewed wines from Mission Hill Winery
John Schreiner has been covering the wines of British Columbia for the past 30 years and has written 10 books on the wines of Canada and BC. He has judged at major competitions and is currently a panel member for the Lieutenant Governor’s Awards of Excellence in Wine. Both as a judge and as a wine critic, he approaches each wine not to find fault, but to find excellence. That he now finds the latter more often than the former testifies to the dramatic improvement shown by BC winemaking in the past decade.