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2023 LaStellina Rosato

90 points

A juicy, fruity, grapefruity, mostly dry, but generous rosé here from the Okanagan. I like the zest and vibrancy on the palate, the firmness. Raspberry and strawberry flavours lead, along with white cherry, and green herbs. Finish lingers nicely. Tasty and well worth a look. Value Rating: 5/5

John Szabo (MS) John Szabo (MS)  |  Wine Align  |  Tasted: May 2024

2023 Vivace Pinot Grigio

90 points

A lovely, lively, one might say vivacious, pinot gris/grigio here from La Stella, a leading project in the southern Okanagan to be sure. Balance is impeccable and, more importantly, flavour density and concentration outpace the expected in the price category. I like the mix of citrus, white, and yellow-fleshed orchard fruit flavours. Lovely wine; drink now or hold 1-3 years. Value Rating: 5/5.

John Szabo (MS) John Szabo (MS)  |  Wine Align  |  Tasted: May 2024

2019 Espressivo

92 points

Espressivo was a blend created in the 2016 vintage to bring cabernets to the forefront in a ‘super-Tuscan’ imagined style. There is 10% sangiovese in this vintage with 27% merlot then the balance almost equally split between cab franc and cab savignon. And indeed the herbal sage and rosemary herbal cab traits are on full display. The aromas are lifted and very perfumed with raspberry-currant fruit, those herbal notes and fine oak casing. It is medium-full bodied, firm, dusty and dry with considerable tannins that are quite chalky. Otherwise, this is very even, focused and the length is excellent. Best 2025 to beyond 2030.

David Lawrason David Lawrason  |  Wine Align  |  Tasted: Aug 2022

2019 La Sophia Cabernet Sauvignon

92 points

This pours inky black! Although approaching five years of age it remains very much a locked, firm cabernet sauvignon. Even though not expansive I admire the textbook cab blackcurrant fruit, violet, fresh sage/tobacco, graphite and almost chocolaty oak. It is full bodied, fairly dense, warm (14.5%) and still crusty, with a slightly green finish. Excellent length. Keep in the cellar another three years.

David Lawrason David Lawrason  |  Wine ALign  |  Tasted: May 2024

2019 La Sophia Cabernet Sauvignon

94 Points

Maturing, roasted, very ripe and concentrated, this smells like ambitious wine off the top. It pours inky black to make its statement, and washes over the palate with authority and massive fruit extract. Structure is terrific – tannins are thick and abundant, the muscle fibers coated with interstitial fruit extract-fat. Length and certainly depth and concentration are superb. Roasted coffee and dried black plum, roasted herbs and very savoury flavours lead among many. I can’t call this refined or elegant, but fans of, say, ‘mountain’ cabernet from the Napa Valley will find kinship in the density and extraction and structure. A classic steak house wine. Drink now (with salty-fatty steak), or hold into the early ’30s – I wouldn’t wait eternally, especially if you want to capture some fruit. Value Rating: 4/5.

John Szabo (MS) John Szabo (MS)  |  Wine Align  |  Tasted: May 2024

2019 La Sophia Cabernet Sauvignon

95 points

When you look at the last 10 years of Okanagan wine-growing there is no doubt that 2019 resides near the peak and is a vintage that should be filling collector’s cellars. La Sophia is one of those wines, a cabernet sauvignon with a track record that speaks to consistency and excellence. Imminently recognizable as both La Stella and their extension of Black Sage Bench terroir in Oliver. If any local cabernet will resonate with the Oliver equivalent of the Tuscan coast’s “Macchia Mediterranea” than La Sophia would be it. Not exactly balsamico or garrigue but yes something Italianate, of rich dark fruit set against fine-grained tannin and that brushy, herbal, vinous and resinous scents of the terrain. Black Sage Bench issue, nothing standard about it and it needs a name. Like Okanagan Briar or Chaparral, but regardless you can’t miss the outback in this wine. Yes the 50 percent new wood needs to integrate further and it will, given the requiem necessary, in air and also time. Drink 2026-2035.

Michael Godel Michael Godel  |  Wine Align  |  Tasted: May 2024

2020 Allegretto “Pie Franco” Merlot

90 Points

This is 100% merlot from un-grafted vines growing in the sandy soils of Osoyoos, a desert pocket on the Canada-USA border. It shows ripe, lifted aromas of blackberry and black olive, with a herbal note and gentle spice. It is medium-full bodied with some plushness, moderate acidity, warm alcohol (14.6%) and drying tannin. There is indeed a sandy, grainy note to the notable tannin. Very good to excellent length. It needs another two years of age, and should drink well into the next decade.

David Lawrason David Lawrason  |  Wine Align  |  Tasted: May 2024

2020 Allegretto “Pie Franco” Merlot

92 points

La Stella’s pure merlot from the 2020 vintage is a ripe, broad and dense wine yet without excess, full-bodied at 14.6% alcohol though not hot. The first stages of maturity have crept in to transform the fresh fruit into lightly dried, black plum to prunes, black cherry to cherry purée, all spiced up with discreet oak. I like the plump and plush palate, the framing nicely coated with abundant fruit extract, the honesty and forthrightness of it all. It would drink well now with some salty protein at the table, or hold comfortably into the early 2030s. Very satisfying.

John Szabo (MS) John Szabo (MS)  |  Wine Align  |  Tasted: May 2024

2020 Allegretto “Pie Franco” Merlot

92 points

Allegretto refers to musical direction that dictates a moderately fast pace. It stages between two other conductive measures, faster than andante but slower than allegro. So how does this relate to merlot? Well for one thing the vines are planted on their own rootstock (known as Piè Franco or Pied de Franc) raised in white silica sand and this means they represent a continuity with the pre-phylloxera era. And so being in the middle of musical directions is indicative of merlot well-paced, moderately energetic and comfortable in its own skin. The vintage is simply terrific to showcase the harmony of fruit and structure, chalky throughout, liquid in its movements and grainy, if also long-chained. A fine Allegretto in every respect and one to wait on, but also age for many years to come. Drink 2026-2032.

Michael Godel Michael Godel  |  Wine Align  |  Tasted: may 2024

2020 Arioso

92 points

Arioso the solo performer, of sangiovese grown in the southern Okanagan Valley. Varietal oratorio, or opera if you prefer, aromatically recitative before expanding into something of an aria because there is no separating this wine from La Stella’s larger body of work. Works that include signature merlot and blends that with additions of cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc. A terrific year for the Grosso variety of sangiovese and so the ode and nod is to Brunello (though also Chianti Classico), especially those vineyards planted for wines raised under the watchful eyes of oenologist Giulio Gambelli. The 2020 by La Stella expresses a richness but also a high-toned level of excitement indicative of red fruit transparency, smart acidity and that feeling often created by grandi botti. Then again this is warm Okanagan, the tannins show some roughness and the vintage was high caste for ripeness. The finish shows off a little bit of devilish swarthy character and so this will mature, unwind and morph through several stages in what should be a hopeful and complex tenure. Drink 2024-2030.

Michael Godel Michael Godel  |  Wine Align  |  Tasted: Dec 2023

2021 Classico d’Osoyoos

89 points

The 2021 Classico d’Osoyoos is the fourth release for this single vineyard, half sangiovese, fully Tuscan inspired blend. The other varieties are 18 percent cabernet sauvignon, (17) merlot and (15) cabernet franc which means the motherland influence is Bolgheri (more than Maremma). It’s a sangiovese thing but the Bordeaux varieties are instrumental in bringing the brushy savour and dark fruit to light. All that said it is the single Selona vineyard located within the Osoyoos Lake District West that determines this blend. Vines are just now coming into their sweet spot and while there is a hint of smoulder you could not imagine anything but clarity and precision within and without the Classico. The art of the blend is imagined and captured with inventiveness and motivation. Really well conceived and made despite the challenge of the season and harvest. Drink 2025-2028.

Michael Godel Michael Godel  |  Wine Align  |  Tasted: May 2024

2021 Espressivo

89 points

Considered a sibling to merlot-led Fortissimo, though Espressivo is both cabernet sauvignon and franc dominant. The fruit source is mainly Osoyoos Lake District with a smaller contribution from North Oliver and in this case the vintage has much to say. A smoulder and a verdancy infiltrating the layers of dark fruit in many shades. Espressivo is a bit stifled in 2021, tannins tighter and more austere to delay the coming together of the three Bordeaux varieties with (in or around) 10 percent sangiovese. Dries out at the finish after quite a notable interest compounding gathering of structural indemnity. Drink 2025-2028.

Michael Godel Michael Godel  |  Wine Align  |  Tasted: May 2024

2022 Fortissimo

90 points

Fortissimo is La Stella’s South Okanagan blend of 45 percent merlot, (27) cabernet franc, (20) cabernet sauvignon and (4) sangiovese. Feels like Fortissimo is Maremma to Classico d’Osoyoos’ Bolgheri (if such comparative inspirations are necessary), but either way the Bordeaux varieties here are the thing. A crisp, crunchy, herbaceous and higher tonal ascertained red blend plus one from a copacetic, binding and binate vintage that sees grapes, acidity and tannin in collective copacetic style. Good energy and vibes here, equal forces occupying and working as one. Drink 2025-2029. Value rating: 4/5.

Michael Godel Michael Godel  |  Wine Align  |  Tasted: May 2024

2023 LaStellina Rosato

90 points

A blend of nearly two-thirds percent cabernet franc and one-third merlot with a splash of sangiovese for a fruit forward and also quite honestly tannic Rosé. Very fresh and feeling like a wine that has yet to fully settle down and in, regardless of it being a Rosé. Crunchy and a bit salty with knowable red fruit moments, namely strawberry and cherry before sliding down into, resting and waiting in a structured hole. Will drink at its best towards the end of summer with grilled fishes, citrus sauces and peaches. Value rating 4/5.

Michael Godel Michael Godel  |  Wine Align  |  Tasted: May 2024

2023 LaStellina Rosato

91 points

This is a very lively yet serious rose based on merlot and cabernet franc. All kinds of aromatic lift here with red currant, rhubarb, sour cherry and classic BC sage and herbals. It is medium weight, spry quite bitter and edgy, with excellent length. Quite pithy and grapefruit-driven on the finish. A rose for the Mediterranean table. Value Rating: 5/5

David Lawrason David Lawrason  |  Wine Align  |  Tasted: May 2024

2023 Vivace Pinot Grigio

91 points

Vivace is South Okanagan pinot grigio from two sources, Kaur Vineyard and Eagle Bluff. No wood aging, only stainless and freshness is the key for a mid-weight, middle acid and spot on dry style. Grigio because, well Italy and Friuli would have to be the look to. Reminds of Colli Orientali because the ripeness is what stands out and neither saltiness nor botanicals make any real play. Not a PG that is about phenols but more so fruit. Really well made with an ever so slightly effervescent subtlety and a white pepper finish. Drink 2024-2026. value rating: 5/5

Michael Godel Michael Godel  |  Wine Align  |  Tasted: May 2024

2023 Vivace Pinot Grigio

92 points

Most BC pinot gris is labelled such, but La Stella operates with an Italian motif, thus the use of pinot grigio on the label. More importantly it is a lovely wine – very fresh and vibrant and ‘vivace’. Expect lifted yellow plum/peach, lemon and herbs, with a topical note that hints at lychee. It is medium bodied, very lively, warm and lemony with pleasant bitterness. The length is excellent. value rating: 5/5

David Lawrason David Lawrason  |  Wine Align  |  Tasted: May 2024

2020 Fortissimo

92 points

Tasted three times this month, Fortissimo is as impressive as it is charming. Large format puncheons and Hungarian/Slavonian oak (only 6.6. percent are new) keep the oak influence to a dull roar while allowing what looks like a terrific vintage room to expand in the bottle.

Plums, spiced fruitcake, and dusty, savoury, south Okanagan notes perfectly punctuate its fresh black and red fruit lined with desert scrub and tobacco, adding complexity throughout its long finish. Think richer foods, none better than braised veal shank, osso bucco, or Tuscan roast lamb with a rosemary crust.

The blend is 63% Merlot, 18% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Cabernet Franc, and 6% Sangiovese, all grown on Black Sage Bench and in the Osoyoos Lake District. Drink or hold this bargain.

Anthony Gismondi Anthony Gismondi  |  Gismondi on Wine  |  Tasted: may 2023

2016 Arioso

91 points

Arioso comes from three different blocks in Osoyoos Lake District, and its heavy clay and gravels. It is only made in exemplary years; only 4 has been made since 2006. Sev has selected primarily the oval berried sangiovese clone (Grosso?), and fermented in open top fermenters before this is moved to neutral French puncheons for aging. 2016 is full of green olive tapenade, bright cherry, nubile leather, atop a clay base, and cut with crunchy acidity, and fine but firm tannins. Much fresher than the last incarnation, and one that drinks beautifully now (welcome pork loin or venison) but has time ahead.

Treve Ring Treve Ring  |  Gismondi on Wine  |  Tasted: Aug 2020

2019 Maestoso “Solo” Merlot

94 points

La Stella’s flagship red is Maestoso. The 100 percent merlot takes most of its fruit off the high terrace Lumeno Vineyard, north of Osoyoos. It’s a broader wine than the Allegretto, more along the lines of Washington State’s best labels. It spends 20 months in a mix of Slavonian, and French barriques and puncheons (60 percent new, but not that you notice it). Black plums and dark black cherries define its silky smooth palate awash in dense, refined sweet tannins that are only just settling in. Winemaker Severine Pinte is never heavy handed, so this wine, while rich, is light footed, and will be a super bottle down the road, and a wine of the vintage.

Anthony Gismondi Anthony Gismondi  |  Gismondi on Wine  |  Tasted: Dec 2021

2017 Maestoso “Solo” Merlot

92 points

Maestoso Solo is the flagship label at La Stella, and it’s 100 percent merlot. The majority of the fruit comes off the high terrace estate, Lumeno Vineyard, with the remainder coming off a site on Golden Mile Bench. It’s showier than Equinoxe, thanks to a 20-month sleep in a mix of Slavonian and French barriques and puncheons, of which 58 percent were new. The oak is well done but plays into the style and, when combined with savoury aspects of the south Okanagan, plumps up the mid-palate, bursting with black plums and dense, dark cassis. The tannins are 2017 sturdy but not overpowering. You could take a run at this now but leave it five years and beyond for best results.

Anthony Gismondi Anthony Gismondi  |  Gismondi On Wine  |  Tasted: dec 2020

2019 Allegretto “Pie Franco” Merlot

92 points

Allegretto Piè Franco is a rare, ungrafted, single-vineyard merlot rooted in white silica sand in the south Okanagan. In Italy, when a vine grows on its rootstock, it is referred to as piè franco. Winemaker Severine is the force behind this super fresh version of merlot, pitching spicy red plums and desert scrub. The attack is lit by acidity and minerality with black raspberry and medium dry, youthful tannins. This merlot is built to age and has a solid decade of ageing in bottle before we get its best. Very Tuscan-like.

Anthony Gismondi Anthony Gismondi  |  Gismondi On Wine  |  Tasted: dec 2021

2019 Espressivo

91 points

A Super Toscana-inspired blend of 32% cabernet franc, 31% cabernet sauvignon, 27% merlot, and 10% sangiovese, with 18 months in French barrels (10% new). This year’s shows ample ripe, dark, brooding fruit imbued with violets, peonies, black cherry, and dusky blackberry. The southern Okanagan heft is bound by ample, structural espresso-clad tannins that draw to a peppery / violet close. Very much in youth, this masterful handling will best reveal itself with time in your cellar. Take now with a decant and herbed lamb.

Treve Ring Treve Ring  |  Gismondi On Wine  |  Tasted: February 2022

2019 Espressivo

94 Points

Espressivo is Tuscan inspired and cabernet dominant, both sauvignon and franc, but in the end, it is all Okanagan, if not a ringer for Bolgheri blends. Winemaker Severine Pinte is making magic, blending the Italian penchant for challenging the norm with that special touch the French seem to have in the New World. I often describe it as having a keen understanding of the importance of acidity in the blend and getting to work with ripe fruit they could only dream of back home. It is one of the best BC red blends I have tasted in 40 years, and the key is a balance of everything: fruit, acid, savoury notes, oak (very little new oak), and texture. The winery suggests Swiss chard gnudi with lamb ragu of braised rabbit pappardelle pasta. Vegetarians can go with lentil pasta with braised tofu and mushrooms. The 2019 cepage is 32% cabernet franc, 31% cabernet sauvignon, 27% merlot, and 10% sangiovese.

Anthony Gismondi Anthony Gismondi  |  Gismondi on Wine  |  Tasted: 23 DECEMBER 2021

2019 Fortissimo

90 points

It was no surprise finding out that this wine was from La Stella, who have been bottling intelligent, complex blends from the beginning. All the grapes of the blend (mostly merlot, with cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc) bring something to the table in a deep and complex wine. A stunner. (tasted blind @ Wine ALign Nationals)

Tom Firth Tom Firth  |  Wine Align  |  Tasted: Oct 2021

2017 La Sophia Cabernet Sauvignon

92 points

La Sophia is 100 per cent cabernet sauvignon and while comparisons can lead to stigma there can be no missing the Bolgheri comparison here. In fact tasting this side by side with San Felice’s Bell’Aja opens the discussion. La Sophia shows great concentration, surely a vintage related answer to a question but more than that there is this evergreen scintillant streaking tight and right through. Wound taut is what’s happening and there could be some forgiveness afforded should the grace of this haute-volupté cabernet not be noted for being immediately gratifying, open and generous. In fact tasting this over the course of three days only eschews confusion and replaces deliberation with pleasure. Speaks to the structure and the wood work. See this hit its Okanagan stride some time in late 2022 or early 2023. Drink 2022-2027.

Michael Goedel Michael Goedel  |  Wine Align  |  Tasted: January 2021

2020 Vivace Pinot Grigio

90 points

Vivace is not your grandmother’s Pinot Gris. Like its moniker, it is vivacious, following down the mineral, salty, citrus route. Taut and alive, it is also a fabulous food wine. Post ferment, it feeds on its lees for a few months to add a touch of cream to an otherwise crisp, lip-smacking gris that screams for seafood — first-class effort.

Anthony Gismondi Anthony Gismondi  |  Gismondi on wine  |  Tasted: March 2021

2017 Allegretto “Pie Franco” Merlot

93 points. 4/5 value value

Being asked to imagine “your bare feet in warm sand” is a blessed opening gambit for a slower than Allegro Okanagan Valley merlot. The phrase “piè franco” is invoked and with thanks to Italian wine scholar Jeremy Parzen, “in Italian wine parlance denotes ungrafted rootstock and is often employed to designate wines made from ungrafted, pre-phylloxera vines, like the Cappellano Barolo Piè Franco. It is akin, although not derived from, the French franc de pied.” This 2017 piece performed in that soil to vine movement is beautifully and dutifully paced, a deeply resonant, firm and earthbound red with both feet squarely, if magically anchored in white silica sand. You can taste the controlled lightning, a flash of metalliferous virtuoso and the “campo franco,” or free field form of a vineyard-tethered merlot. The potential here is great. The lingua franca notated speaks to B.C. and to La Stella’s style. Also worth noting, once again with a nod to JP, that one of the earliest instances of Piè is found in the humanist poet Politian, a.k.a Poliziano, who was from Montepulciano. This Allegretto is very reminiscent of merlot produced in the southern Tuscan appellation. A curious reference point, if only for a fleeting, piè franco moment. Drink 2021-2028. Tasted January 2021.

Michael Godel Michael Godel  |  Wine Align  |  Tasted: Jan 2021

2017 Allegretto “Pie Franco” Merlot

Such a wine. 30ish year old own rooted [pie franco] vines in white silica sand. Canada’s top merlot, yet again.

Treve Ring Treve Ring  |  Gismondi on wine

2017 La Sophia Cabernet Sauvignon

91 points

With its inky black colour, dark, roasted fruit, and firm, grainy tannins, this is a large scaled, severe, chewy and structured cabernet from La Stella. The palate is loaded with chewy tannins, giving an astringent texture overall, and length is very good to excellent. It’s still several years away from prime drinking, but should make for a bold and satisfying wine in 2-3 years; best after 2023. Tasted January 2021.

John Szabo (MS) John Szabo (MS)  |  Wine Align  |  Tasted: Jan 2021