Born from a vision by Proprietor Anthony von Mandl, CheckMate Artisanal Winery is part of the Iconic Wineries of British Columbia collective.
Patriarch of one of the region’s pioneering winery families, with roots in the Canadian wine industry dating 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 – considered “one of the world’s last great undiscovered wine regions”.
Now available for the first time in the UK, CheckMate wines are meticulously handcrafted under the watchful eye of Australian-born Philip McGahan, who came to 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’. The culmination of more than three decades of sustainable farming and pushing the boundaries of winemaking in the Okanagan, these small lot Chardonnay and Merlot are some of the most highly scored wines in Canada. With each vintage, the quality and character of these wines continue to improve as McGahan 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.
Dr. Gregory Jones, PhD, one of the world’s most preeminent experts on climate and viticulture said: “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.”
On the recent UK launch of CheckMate wines, Paul Beavis, Managing Director of 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.”
At CheckMate Artisanal Winery, everything in the vineyard and at the winery is tended to by hand. All canopy management, leaf-pulling, and cluster thinning is done manually to ensure precision and gentleness. The resulting wines are truly artisanal, utilising wild yeast ferments and without recourse to fining and filtration. For the winery’s Chardonnay wines, the Chardonnay clusters arrive at the winery in small picking containers, where each bunch is inspected, hand sorted, and gently pressed. The whole bunches are then taken directly to be gently pressed, while the periodic stirring of the lees in the barrel serves to add textured and mouthfeel. The wines are then bottled unfined and unfinished to maintain the most complete expression of Chardonnay and terroir.
CheckMate’s 2016 Queen Taken Chardonnay is produced using grapes from 45-year-old vines from the Dekleva Vineyard on the Golden Mile Bench – the coolest CheckMate site, where the old vine Chardonnay is acclimatised to the true north environment. The old vines also hang fruit considerable longer into the season, allowing the grapes to retain their natural acidity, fermented in barrel and aged for 16 months in French oak.
On the nose, the 2016 Queen Taken Chardonnay has an inviting freshness, with aromas of white peach, pear, and good minerality alongside some floral notes. Stone fruit savours of white peach, nectarine and apricot are prominent on the palate alongside ripe red apple and pear, plus rich minerality. With good length, a light touch, layered richness, and textured minerality on the finish, the wine also has perfect, focussed acidity. Best stored on its side at 12-14 degrees Celsius, then stood for two hours or decanted prior to serving, allowing fine lees deposits to settle before pouring.
CheckMate Queen Taken Chardonnay 2016 is available from stockists including iwbc.uk (free postage and packaging) and Hedonism Wines. RRP £69.