Checkmate 2015 Opening Gambit Merlot 750ml
I wondered what the confluence of one of hottest vintages ever (2015), meeting one of the warmest vineyards in Canada might spawn, but winemaker Phil McGhan had everything under control. The introduction of 4.5% cabernet franc to the 85.1% merlot and 10.4% petit verdot seemed to elevate the wine on the palate and throughout the finish. 2015 is a prototype of the hedonistic style, but in all its glory. It's not is baked or filled with overripe, dead fruit but rather fragrant with savoury, dried-herb garrigue that permeates the wine. Black fruits rule the day, but they pale against the creamy, silky tannins. It's ageing a little quicker, but all in the right way. The winemaking details include cluster-by-cluster inspection at the winery, hand sorting and gently destemming before another sorting of individual berries to retain only the most pristine as they head to the fermenters for a native ferment. Post ferment the juice is gravity drained into barrels for ageing 21 months. It is bottled unfined and unfiltered. One to drink sooner than later.
Score: 93 points -- Anthony Gismondi, gismondionwine.com, 2020