The medals are pouring in to Desert Hills for their recent releases. That is not a big surprise for a winery that is going into their 16th vintage on the Black Sage Bench south of Oliver. This is the Okanagan Valley’s big red country and it’s no surprise that their red wines are highly decorated.
The Cabernet Sauvignon in particular stands out not only for its fullness, power, and complexity. The wine is a beautiful deep brick red in colour and shows aromas of currents, sweet spice, mint, and eucalyptus. The palate is deeply textured with bright berries, dark chocolate and ripe bell peppers. It is reassuringly smooth without any harsh tannins or astringency. There is clearly a reason why this wine has taken home numerous medals including Gold medals at both the All Canadian Wine Championships and the L.A. International Wine Competition.
Desert Hills is not all about power in their reds. Their Gamay is famously rich flavoured while remaining an elegantly medium-bodied red. Multiple medals adorn this wine: Silver medals from the San Francisco International and L.A. International wine competitions, Decanter World Wine Awards, and the All-Canadian Wine Championships. Priced at $19.90, the Gamay is also one of Desert Hills’ best values. Winemaker Anthony Buchanan’s history with Pinot Noir could have a hugely beneficial effect on the Gamay, which could take it to new heights in future vintages.
Do not miss out on Ursa Major, the new top-tier wines started by Rajen Toor, Desert Hill’s co-owner Randy Toor’s son. The Syrah is a seriously complex and profound wine on a level rarely seen in the Okanagan. Ursa Major wines will soon be featured on their own in a new winery located a little further north on Black Sage Road but are currently available in the Desert Hills wine shop.
Chris Temos and Anthony Buchanan
~ Luke Whittall