Wine Recommendation
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Wine Recommendation

Hillside Estate Winery 2003 Cabernet Merlot  (Okanagan Valley)

Hillside Estate Winery

2003 Cabernet Merlot
(Okanagan Valley)

This wine is from the first vintage in which winemaker Kelly Symonds was working in the cellar at Hillside. She was born in Abbotsford in 1977, the daughter of a dentist who had grown up in Penticton. Symonds started taking arts at university, unsure of what career to follow until she signed up for a wine appreciation course. That led to a summer job in the tasting room at Sumac Ridge and a career decision. She spent four years in the University of Adelaide’s wine program in Australia, graduating in late 2002 with a bachelor’s degree in enology. Soon after returning to Canada, she was snapped up by Hillside as assistant winemaker. She was confirmed as the full-time winemaker in 2005.

Symonds did her practicum at a small McLaren Vale winery called Kangarilla Road. Some of the techniques learned there are finding their way into wine production at Hillside, both in more extracted reds and in more complex whites (she was impressed by what wild yeast ferments added to Chardonnay).

When this wine was made in 2003, Symonds still was working with Hillside’s former consultant, but in an arrangement which left her with considerable responsibility. This robust red wine is made with fruit entirely from the Naramata Bench. The Cabernet Franc characters tend to dominate, lending the wine a vivacious brightness and a gamey palate of red currant, blackberry and deli meat flavours. There are also notes of spiced plums, with a full-bodied texture. An excellent wine to accompany barbecued red meat. 85 points.

Reviewed October 23, 2006 by John Schreiner.

The Wine

Winery: Hillside Estate Winery
Vintage: 2003
Wine: Cabernet Merlot
Appellation: Okanagan Valley
Grapes: Merlot (49%), Cabernet Franc (49%), Cabernet Sauvignon (2%)
Price: 750ml $17.90

Review Date: 10/23/2006

The Reviewer

John Schreiner

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.