October 2020 – Iconic Wineries of British Columbia is a collective of six artisanal wineries, each offering a unique representation of British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley, one of the world’s last great undiscovered wine regions. One of these wine producers, CheckMate Artisanal Winery, was born out of a bold vision by Proprietor Anthony von Mandl, patriarch of one of the region’s pioneering winery families with roots in the Canadian wine industry that date back more than four decades.
Anthony von Mandl believed that by harnessing the effects of climate change, it would be possible to produce extremely limited quantities of elegant, Burgundian-style Chardonnay and Bordeaux-inspired Merlot in a very unexpected place – the Okanagan Valley, a tiny region with just 10,500 vineyard acres, a fraction of the terrain available to wine producers in the ‘Old’ and ‘New World.’
CheckMate wines are now available for the first time in the U.K., and is scheduled to be rolled out throughout the US in 2021. Meticulously handcrafted under the watchful eye of Australian-born winemaker, Philip McGahan, these small lot Chardonnay and Merlot are some of the most highly scored wines in Canada – earning more than two hundred +90 point scores, including the first ever back-to-back perfect 100-point scores for a Canadian table wine.
With each vintage the quality and character of these wines continue to improve as McGahan painstakingly studies and researches rows within family-owned Estate vineyard sites to produce defined micro-blocks, each a pure expression of the soil and the unique microclimates that define the Okanagan Valley. This is the extreme edge of winemaking, the ‘Next World’ of fine wine.
Dr. Gregory Jones, PhD, one of the world’s most preeminent experts on climate and viticulture says: “The world’s wine map is changing as a result of changes in climate that have transformed the Okanagan Valley into a magical place to grow and ripen fruit and produce world-class wines.”
The Okanagan is the only wine region on Earth created first by volcanic activity and then shaped by two subsequent glacial ages. A desert in the rain shadow of the Coastal Mountains of British Columbia. Warm days, cool nights and the lowest rainfall of any wine-producing region in the world make this an optimal climate for producing wines of tremendous elegance and distinctiveness.
McGahan came to the Okanagan with the sole purpose of working within this new climatic band for winemaking to craft ‘New World’ Chardonnay and Merlot with ‘Old World Elegance’ at CheckMate Artisanal Winery. These extremely small lots of classic Burgundian and Bordeaux varietals are the culmination of more than three decades of sustainable farming and pushing the boundaries of winemaking in the Okanagan.
At CheckMate Artisanal Winery, everything in the vineyard and at the winery is tended to by hand – all the canopy management, leaf-pulling and cluster thinning is done manually to ensure precision and gentleness. The resulting wines are truly artisanal in their making, utilising wild yeast ferments and without recourse to fining and filtration, to let nature take its course and to give the wines layers of texture and nuance that provide the most complete expression of the terroir.
CheckMate is pushing the boundaries of winemaking and these distinct Chardonnay and Merlot vintages have been heralded as some of the best young wines coming out of Canada today.
Paul Beavis, Managing Director, Iconic Wineries of British Columbia adds: “It is very rare to find wines that display such impeccable character, integrity and quality. With Anthony von Mandl’s vision and Phil McGahan’s mastery, CheckMate wines represent the pinnacle of expression of the Okanagan Valley. Once experienced, the expectations for Chardonnays and Merlots will never be the same. The time has come to take these wines to the rest of the world, starting in the United Kingdom.”
Available in single bottles; or triple bottle gift box sets.