Up, Up and Away: Bonamici Cellars 2015 Spring Releases

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Bonamici Cellars blasted onto the wine map last year when its first vintage of Cabernet Franc – Merlot (2012) won the prestigious Lieutenant Governor Award for Excellence in Wine. I tried it and I was impressed, but it should come as no surprise as the winemaker, Philip soo, who has been the winemaker for such wineries as Dirty Laundry Vineyard, Noble Ridge Vineyard & Winery, Gold Hill Winery, Adega on 45th Estate Winery, and Cassini Cellars.

Meaning “good friends” in Italian, Bonamici was founded by two friends, Soo and wine marketing veteran Mario Rodi. The two have worked together in the past at Andrew Peller, so continuing together with their own venture was a good fit. Bonamici doesn’t have their own winery yet, and while they produce their wines elsewhere, they are actively looking for the right plot of land where to stake their claim for a future winery.

Though without a home, this is one of the most exciting wineries in British Columbia, because their wines are some of the most exciting while offering good bang for the buck. This spring, they have come out with a Pinot Grigio for the first time, as well as a new vintage of the Cabernet Franc – Merlot, with which they skipped a vintage. Why, you ask? Because Soo and Rodi only make the wine when everything comes together. There’s no pressure to pump out wine vintage after vintage, because they work with vineyard owners rather than owning their own vineyards so they can pick and choose the time and place. And you can see this in the results. So let’s take their new arrivals for a spin.

Bonamici_2014_Pinot-GrigioBonamici Pinot Grigio 2014

Pinot Gris is the most planted grape in the Okanagan Valley. It’s rarely made in the Pinot Grigio fashion (La Stella’s Vivace is a good example of a well-made Grigio), so it’s interesting to see Bonamici go Italian. Branding-wise, it’s a natural fit, and what Soo has done with this wine is rather exquisite.

There’s a freshness and vibrancy captured in this wine that is very much a trademark of quality wines from the Okanagan, which is above the 49th parallel. Apples and citrus notes mingle atop a gorgeous old world charm that rounds out the experience.

My Vivino Rating: 4 Stars

Bonamici Cabernet Franc – Merlot 2013 Bonamici_2013_CabFranc-Merlot

This new vintage of Cab Franc – Merlot continues where its award-winning predecessor left off, but there’s even more. Aged in barrels that were previously used for the Belviaggio blend, there’s a gorgeous toastiness to the wine that is well integrated but adds to a finish that is one of the finest I’ve experienced from an Okanagan wine.

Still young and brash, this wine can be enjoyed now or laid down for a couple years, but if it’s now or never, a long decant is recommended. What you’re rewarded with is vibrant dark fruit, classic Franc spice, and toasted caramel. The caramel dominates on a lingering, luxurious finish.

My Vivino Rating:  4 1/2 Stars