In Bordeaux, it is common for esteemed châteaux to produce second label wines from the fruit not selected for use in the grand vin. For many savvy drinkers, these wines represent exceptional value for the money, often using grapes from younger vines but vinifying them in the same style as wines that can cost hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars more. While it is a less common practice in other regions, second label wines are starting to take hold at wineries that aspire to the heights of Bordeaux, and Canada’s finest are no exception.
The Okanagan Valley’s Phantom Creek Estates may only be seven years old, but it has set its sights on greatness. With winemaking legends Mark Beringer and Olivier Humbrecht at the helm of winemaking operations, plantings that date back to 1977, and a stunning modern winery, the Bordeaux-inspired outfit is setting the pace for wineries decades older. And with most recent vintage of its second tier estate blend, the 2020 Petite Cuvée, it’s showing that it aims to compete with wineries centuries older too.
For the Petite Cuvée, the 2020 vintage—a blend of 43 per cent cabernet franc, 33 per cent cabernet sauvignon, 16 per cent merlot, 4 per cent petit verdot, 2 per cent syrah, and 2 per cent malbec—is the finest one yet. On the nose, slightly underripe cherries and strawberries and subdued sagebrush aromatics present themselves and then follow onto the palate. To finish, stewed pit fruits and a well-integrated oak quality suggest that even though this is Phantom Creek’s version of a second label Bordeaux blend, there are many years of development ahead. And at its second label price, there’s no harm in stocking your cellar and finding out what a decade or two will bring.