JoK 2023 Tasting Notes & Critical Reviews

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Last House Hillier Blanc Christian Block 2020 ($45)

This 100% estate Chardonnay... has a unique and savoury nose with a saline beginning then fresh-cut pear, golden apple, citrus zest/lemon oil and subtle spice notes. There is a subtle note of reduction on the palate followed by sweet pear, baked apple, lemon tart, wild sage, gentle oak spice and mouth-watering acidity to give the finish plenty of lift. ~ Rick Van Sickle

This single-block chardonnay from Prince Edward County has an inviting nose of kernel, caramel, golden apple, and baking spice. An energetic and electric palate that holds vibrating acidity. Apricot, lemon curd, golden apple and walnut notes. A sturdy and balanced mineral structure, and complimenting oak integration. Great length on the finish. Pure, energetic, and complex. ~ Leah Spooner

Really quite different to and in fact wholly apposite to the Petit Hillier Blanc bottle of 2020 chardonnay. The Christian Block may be less idiosyncratic by comparison but what it lacks in dreams it more than makes up for in hyperbole. The corn and peanut shell are entrenched into the aromatic swirl that’s truly a mess of resins, oils, tinctures and bitters. The palate delivers a broad swath of thick and unctuous fruit, lemon curd dotted by citrus oil, at times exotic, at others times white peppery. There is so much happening here you must pay close attention to keep up. Sensory overload in chardonnay. ~ Michael Godel

Lacey Estates Winery, 2020 “The Mentor” Chardonnay ($45)

Barrel fermented and aged in seasoned French oak for 36 months. Aromas of vanilla, caramel corn and citrus. Creamy lemon curd, citrus notes, butterscotch on the palate. Bright acidity and beautifully balanced oak shows through with touches of vanilla and spice.

Keint-He 2021 Little Creek Chardonnay-Benway Block ($45)

This lean Chardonnay is a perfect example of a cool climate Chardonnay. The nose is reflective of baking a lemon meringue pie, notes of honeysuckle with a flinty backbone. The palate begins with savoury succinic acid. Lemongrass offers a refreshing mid palate, unctuous oil extends to the finish. humid with minimal air circulation makes it a difficult vineyard to farm but keeps it tempered throughout the growing season. Winemaker believes this to be an exceptional vineyard for Chardonnay!

Redtail 2020 Chardonnay - Hubbs Creek Vineyard ($30)

A small 5 acre, family owned winery in a small town called Hillier. This Chardonnay was planted in 2010. It spent 18 months in Burgundian Oak, whole cluster pressed and wild fermented. Shows golden colour in the glass, with a smoky nose of ripe pear, golden apple, and subtle citrus zest.

Trail Estate 2021 Vintage V Chardonnay ($50)

Welcome to Vintage Five and the channel remains fixed, the song the same. Low alcohol (10.7 percent), drying, tannic, fino-like character and yet from 2021 a restraint not perceived in previous iterations of this chardonnay. The stage presence here is duly noted in a wine with more backbone than most. You would never accuse this of being round, soft and certainly not oily or fat. In fact the flesh and charm have yet to join the party but surely they will, given some time. Would really like to re-visit in a year, if not in 18 months. Drink 2024-2028. ~ Michael Godel (93/100)

Pouring already a fairly deep straw yellow, colour, Trail signals its natural, low sulfur approach to winemaking, matched by open, wooly aromatics nourished by lees and old wood. Candied lemon zest and lemon custard flavours lead on a brisk, lightweight but flavour-packed palate, registering just 10.7% alcohol, yet far from lean or shrill. Acids are indeed coated with flavour extract and softened by those yeasty lees, making for a highly sapid and saline expression. The finish lingers on impressively. All in all its a wine that defies simple explanations, featherweight but taut and dense with flavour, excellent in any case. Best now - 2026. ~ John Szabo (92/100)

A low-alcohol chardonnay that doesn't feel low alcohol due to its keen balance, salty approach, nervy disposition, and notable complexity. Mimimally handled yet cleanly made with lees that contribute delicate texture and a flavour of crème fraîche on toast. Ethreal, lightly nutty and with a gentle spice. Very small production so don't delay in finding yourself a bottle. Best now to 2026. ~ Sarah d'AMato (92/100)



While Brisbois is ingenious with the wilder side of winemaking that pushes the boundaries of natural and low intervention expressions of nouveau wine styles, her classic County Chardonnays are even more impressive. The trio of Chardonnays reviewed here, with eye-popping new labels, are a perfect example of terroir-driven wines all with their own personalities from the estate’s vineyard. The estate Chardonnay is hand-picked and sorted in field from the Trail Estate Vineyard. The North and South blocks were kept separate and vinified separately and blended prior to bottling. The grapes were pressed whole cluster and were put straight to barrel. They were fermented and aged in 500 litre French oak barrels, racked out of barrel, and bottled after 10 months aging and bottled un-fined and unfiltered with minimal sulphur levels. There are lovely notes of lemon and saline to start on the nose, then savoury/stony minerality, pear, yellow apples, and flecks of spice, never overpowering. It’s quite delicate on the palate with flinty/saline/salty notes, bergamot, quince fruit and nervy tension on the back end all culminating in a fresh, lifted, and finessed finish. ~ Rick VanSickle (92/100)