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2016 Fortissimo

Tasted Blind. Gold Medal Winner

2016 Fortissimo

Fortissimo is such an epic expression of south Okanagan Merlot. The nose simply detonates with ripe plum, fruitcake, floral perfume, and distinct herbal fragrance. I really admire how the rich flavours unfold – first with black cherry, then juicy raspberry, then dark chocolate, and finally a truly Italiante walnut skin bitterness to add a pleasant nip to the long finish. Potent yet juicy, with old world earthy vinosity, I swear you can really sense the 8% Sangiovese that kicks up 76% Merlot. 9% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 7% Franc. Do deploy at the dinner table with roast lamb or pancetta-wrapped pork roast. Tasted blind at NWAC June 2018.

2014 Arioso

I had the privilege of tasting their LaStella Arioso Sangiovese Grosso 2014 which is a wine club exclusive and, uh, it makes one damned tempted to join their wine club. Pitch-perfect Tuscan notes of violets, currants, fresh herbs, and earthy character mingle with hallmark Okanagan ripeness, acidity, and minerality.

2017 LaStellina Rosato

the pretty-in-pink LaStella Rosato 2017 blend of Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Sangiovese brings boatloads of rhubarb, strawberries, and a hearty dash of white pepper to the glass.

2017 Vivace Pinot Grigio

has a lovely touch of river-rock briney character meeting fresh, crisp citrus and sage…

2015 Espressivo

In a nod to the Super-Tuscan blends now rampant in Italy this combines 55% cabernet franc, 20% cabernet sauvignon, 20% merlot and 5% sangiovese – all aged in French and Slavonian oak. There is considerable oak vanillin, resin and spice on the nose with fresh herbs (dill, sage) and raspberry-like cab franc fruit. It is full bodied with firm acidity, some alcohol heat (14.8%) and fine, grassy tannin. The fruit gets a bit overripe on the palate with dried fig character. Tannins are still quite grippy. The length is excellent. Cellar it until 2020.

2016 Fortissimo

Fortissimo is based on merlot (76%) with smaller portions of cabernet sauvignon, sangiovese and cabernet franc. It has a quite lovely lifted, complex and savoury nose of fresh herbs/straw, cedar and spice around currant fruit. It is quite full bodied and powerful (14.3%) yet manages some mid-palate finesse as well, which I attribute to the vintage and inclusion of the cab franc and sangiovese. It is nicely focused, balanced and interesting with that dusty, herbal note carrying well. The length is very good to excellent. Best in another year or three.

2015 Espressivo

55% Ca[b] Franc, 20% Cab Sauv, 20% Merlot, 5% Sangiovese. French and Slavonian oak. Ripe, warm, cedary, spicy and with hints of tea and herbs. Lovely sweet berry and cherry fruit. Has a bit of earth and spice with a sweet lift to the fruit.

2014 Arioso

Sangiovese is a difficult enough grape in Tuscany, and even more difficult in terroirs beyond. There is at a bit growing in the south Okanagan of B.C., which sits a more northerly latitude than Tuscany but makes up with a hot growing season. This has a nose very similar to good Chianti or Brunello with lifted red currant, sun dried tomato, rosemary/sage, vanillin and spice. It is medium-full bodied, nicely balanced, warming, drying yet delicious, with fresh acidity. The focus and length are excellent. Very impressive and ready enough to drink with your next Italian meal. But it should also age well through the mid 2020s.

2014 Espressivo

Creamy, spicy, flashes of bitterness on the palate, dry and chalky texture. Lovely restraint here – the fruit is clearly ripe but not allowed to be overindulged. (RH)14.5% Drink 2018-2024

More red fruit character than the 2014. Still has a bitter tang to it, and the same chewy yet tender texture. (RH)14.8% Drink 2020-2030

2015 Fortissimo

Milk chocolate, blackcurrant, some herbal notes on the palate, gentle tannin giving just a hint of grip on the finish. Notes of coffee on the length. (RH)Drink 2018-2030

2014 Maestoso “Solo” Merlot  |  91 Points

Merlot is the number one planted red grape in BC. The majority are disappointing. Maestoso, “Solo”, aims to displace that thinking with this 100 percent merlot from the southern Okanagan. This is the top tier wine in the La Stella portfolio, and one of the priciest reds in BC at $90. Osoyoos and Golden Mile fruit, 17-22 years old, spend 8 months in French oak, 1/3 new, before being bottled unfined and unfiltered. Savoury and dense, this barely yielding even after one day open, showing just inky cassis, thick tobacco, espresso on the structured, firm palate. Tannins are rigid, though finely wrought, and well positioned to house the brooding fruit. This is a wine for cellaring, and shows the real potential for classic merlot in the southern Okanagan. Can’t wait to try again in five years.

Treve Ring  |  Tasted: Sept 2017

2014 Maestoso “Solo” Merlot  |  93 Points

Maestoso is one hundred percent merlot and the flagship red at La Stella. The style is a tip of the hat to the great Italian Masseto made by the Ornellaia folks. The blend of two vineyards, one in Osoyoos and one on the Golden Mile Bench is at the heart of this wine that while dense and structured is brimming with blueberries and Bing cherry fruit in 2014. The attack is spicy with more red and blue fruits, rich tannins and a warm smoky minty youthful tobacco back end. A T-bone steak would be the perfect match. The fruit comes off a mix of sites in Osoyoos Lake District and Golden Mile. It spends 18 months in 100 percent French oak barrels, 33 percent new, 56 percent second fill and 11 percent neutral oak.

Anthony Gismondi  |  Tasted: August 2017

2015 Fortissimo  |  89 Points

Reductive waves opens this youthful Fortissimo at first, a blend of 63 merlot, 17 cabernet sauvignon, 11 sangiovese, 9 cabernet franc from the south Okanagan. Fifteen months in French and Slavonion oak barrels and puncheons (16 percent new) was employed. After decanting (or do as I do and open it a day in advance) any reductive notes have resolved and you’re left with layers of sunripened cassis, wild blackberry, thorns, dried tobacco and dark earth, wrapped with firm, fine, gritty tannins. Serious and stately, this drinks well now with rabbit or lamb, but will reward more with time in the cellar.

Treve Ring  |  Tasted: Sept 2017

2015 Fortissimo  |  89 Points

The ’15 Fortissimo is a 63/17/11/9 mix of merlot, cabernet sauvignon, sangiovese and cabernet franc and it’s impressive from the get go. Large format puncheons and Hungarian/Slavonian oak have set the fruit free and the high level of merlot has kept the tannins manageable. The attack is juicy with bright black cherry fruit over a savoury underbelly, tobacco notes and even a touch of Italian earthiness. Veal osso bucco or roast lamb are classic matches. Love the new-found finesse here; it’s on the right road now. You can drink this now but it will be better in three to five years.

Anthony Gismondi  |  Tasted: August 2017

2014 Espressivo  |  90 points

Lovely savoury old-world stylings in this new “super tuscan meets BC” release from La Stella, A blend of cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon, merlot and a splash (5 percent) santiovese. Restrained yet powerful, with stones, dusky cassis, textured with worn wood and firmly structured. Tannins are potent, but fine, and gritty with the intent to house the fruit. Impressive now, and will be more so with age.

Treve Ring  |  Tasted: Sept 2017

2014 Espressivo  |  91 Points

Un assemblage rouge, en grande partie, de cabernet franc ainsi que 20% cabernet sauvignon, 20% merlot et une trace de sangiovese. Style Bordelaise avec une très jolie structure tannique qui mérite encore quelques années de garde pour s’assouplir. Elegant avec notes de feuilles séchés ainsi que des fruits rouges and noir. Belle fraîcheur en bouche.

Sara d'Amato  |  Tasted: Juin 2017

2012 Arioso  |  90 points

Substantial, generously fruity, sustained by the right amount of acid and some well-polished tannins. The wine is four years old, but still feels extremely young, making the presence of new oak seem fairly justified, as this seems like it could age gracefully for many more years. Worth waiting for. (June 2016 – to be officially released in September)

Rémy Charest  |  Tasted: June 2016

2013 Allegretto Pie Franco Merlot  |  91 Points

Allegretto is a single-vineyard Okanagan Valley merlot with great intentions, to play at a pace slower than allegro but faster than andante, with interdiction and also grace. You really need to mull over this merlot with great concentration because there is a marker in the sand, as there has to be with merlot. “No one sees it ’cause the sand has covered over all the messages it kept, misunderstanding, what original truth was and out expanding.” On one side it is a pearl, of phenols ripe and so very happy. On the other there is massive concentration, extraction and a density as if it were jam. Where the marker might be there is savour, umami even, unheard, heralded or here ushered from sandy soil and ungrafted vines growing of their own volition. But it is these vines, their grapes and the deft hand of the maker that seem to know what it is that needs to be heard. La Stella’s merlot finds a lightness of being within its quick tempo, in other words it’s a beautifully balanced big red. “With the living, let, what is living, love.” Drink 2017-2022.

Michael Godel  |  Tasted: April 2017

90 points

Substantial, generously fruity, sustained by the right amount of acid and some well-polished tannins. The wine is four years old, but still feels extremely young, making the presence of new oak seem fairly justified, as this seems like it could age gracefully for many more years. Worth waiting for.

Remy Charest  |  Winecase.ca

2015 Fortissimo  |  90 points

Fortissimo is a lighter weight red (in the the La Stella universe) blending 63% merlot, 17% cab sauv, 11% sangiovese and 9% cabernet franc. It pours fairly deep purple-ruby and shows ripe grapy/blueberry fruit and dried rose petal with inlaid dusty oak earth and spice. It is medium-full bodied, fairly firm and slightly juicy with softer tannin engineered for more immediate drinking. The length is very good.

David Lawrason  |  Wine Align  |  Tasted: April 2017

2014 Maestoso “Solo” Merlot  |  92 points

This 100% “Solo” merlot weights in at 14.9% alcohol but it moves with poise and confidence nonetheless. The aromatics capture perfect wildberry/plummy fruit, raspberry seed, licorice, fine herbs and spices. It’s full bodied with impressive density, firm dusty tannin and a warm alcohol. Just a touch of south Okanagan herbality on the finish. The length and focus are excellent. Best 2019 to 2025

David Lawrason  |  Wine Align  |  Tasted: April 2017

2014 Maestoso “Solo” Merlot  |  92 points

La Stella’s “Maestoso”, a pure merlot and the winery’s flagship wine (“the reason we get out of bed”), has developed an admirable track record of consistent style, and it’s impressive. From vines now into their second decade, this 2014 continues in the line of dense, structured, complex wine. Clear your impressions of soft, plush, easy-drinking merlot – this is not that. Nearly 15% alcohol is cleverly disguised under a wash of black fruit; tannins are thick but velvety. This will need another 3-5 years at least to come around, but it will be a superb bottle. It’s in the running for one of the top merlots in the country to be sure.

John Szabo (MS)  |  Wine Align  |  Tasted: April 2017

2014 Espressivo  |  91 points

Expressivo is a new (as yet unreleased and unpriced) blend that attempts to express Tuscany, with 5% sangiovese tucked in among 55% cab franc, 20% cab sauvignon and 20% merlot. And indeed it does capture the red currant, earthy and wild fresh herbs and sour edges of an Italian red quite nicely. It’s full bodied, elegant, quite richly textured, warm and powerful, trailing warm alcohol (14.5%), French and Slavonian oak is nicely embedded here with the latter providing a subtle cedary/woodsy ambiance, along with the effect of the dusty tannin. The length is excellent.

David Lawrason  |  Wine Align

2016 Vivace Pinot Grigio

Made with care, Pinot Grigio can be truly satisfying and flavourful, and this 2016 Vivace is a great example of what the grape can do in the Okanagan. Bright but not bland, fruity but not sweet, present on the palate without any heaviness, it finds a really great balance. Very enjoyable food wine, more than just a patio sipper.

Remy Charest  |  Winecase.ca  |  Tasted: April 2017

2016 Vivace Pinot Grigio

PINOT GRIS MAY BE BC’S TOP WHITE, AND MOST VERSIONS HOLD TO A MORE ALSATIAN MODEL, BUT TRUE TO LA STELLA’S ITALIAN ORIENTATION THIS IS VERY MUCH A GRIGIO MODEL, WITH A LIGHT, ZESTY STYLE. THE NOSE SHOWS NICELY LIFTED LEMON, NECTARINE, GOOSEBERRY AND FRESH HERBS. IT IS VERY REFRESHING AND EDGY, SOMEWHAT BITTER ON THE FINISH. VERY GOOD INTENSITY AND BRIGHT. EXCELLENT LENGTH.

David Lawrason  |  Wine Align  |  Tasted: April 2017

2016 Vivace Pinot Grigio

THIS, MY FIRST TASTE OF LA STELLA’S PINOT GRIGIO, IS MEMORABLE. FROM THE PALE GREYISH TINGE TO THE EFFUSIVE AROMATICS IN THE RIPE CITRUS AND FRESH ORCHARD FRUIT (APPLE, PEAR, WHITE PEACH) SPECTRUM, AND THE BALANCED, FLAVOURFUL PALATE, THIS IS SOLID WINE. THERE’S A PLEASANT BIT OF PHENOLIC GRIP AND ATTENDANT FAINT BITTERNESS, AS IS TYPICAL FOR THE VARIETY, WHICH SERVES AS A COUNTERPOINT TO RIPE FRUIT ALONGSIDE MORE THAN SUFFICIENT ACIDS. VERY GOOD LENGTH. DRINK OR HOLD SHORT TERM.

john Szabo (MS)  |  Wine Align  |  Tasted: April 2017

2016 Vivace Pinot Grigio  |  90 points

This is such an impressive bottle of pinot grigio. As lively and bright as its name suggests, Vivace is back to its tighter, leaner form in 2016. Early picked, the fruit is sourced from vineyards 16 to 30 years old along the Golden Mile, Naramata Bench and as far north as Peachland. It spends five months on its lees for a welcome slip of padding under a bone-dry frame. Asian pear, green melon, yellow apple, mandarin blossom with fine, zesty spicing on a snappy, bitter lemon finish. An ideal counterpart to simply steamed clams or grilled halibut, and a style I wish more BC wineries would follow.

Anthony Gismondi  |  Gismondi on wine  |  Tasted: May 2017

2016 Moscato D’ Osoyoos  |  90 points

It’s hard not to marvel at this wine. While it’s true that muscat almost always trumps terroir, LaStella has managed to bring a little bit of d’Asti to its d’Osoyoos, offering a stunningly elegant version of a pétillant bubble. They have gone back to cork to better adjust the gentle pressure in the bottle and they have got it right. You can expect an explosion of perfumed fruit with just a hint of effervescence. Orange blossoms, nectarine skin, rose petals and more all jump from the glass. At less than 10 percent alcohol by volume this wine is multidimensional. Think aperitif, dessert or brunch wine – the winery suggests you try it with green curry and fish. Sounds perfect.

Anthony Gismondi  |  Gismondi on wine  |  Tasted: May 2017

2012 Maestoso  |  93+ pts

True to its impressive lineage, the 2012 Maestoso represents the peak of Merlot production in the Okanagan Valley. Elegant, layered and supremely complex. Look for dark berry, sweet plum, toasted oak, dark chocolate, fresh herbs, mocha, vanilla toffee, menthol and warm spice aromas followed by a medley of similar flavours on the ultra-dry palate with a strong focus on the juxtaposition of the berry and savoury characters.

Liam Carrier  |  IconWines.ca  |  Tasted: June 2015

91 points

Principally Merlot, this also includes Cabernet Sauvignon, Cab Franc and Sangiovese. It’s a rich and complex blend, showcasing ripe fruit-preserve flavors in a mix of ash, toast, butter, caramel and coffee highlights. This forward, powerful vintage is drinking very well already, no need to wait.

Wine Enthusiast  |  Tasted: 2015

2011 Maestoso “Solo” Merlot  |  91 points

This is pure Merlot, bursting with bright cherry-candy fruit. Stiff at first, it smoothes out beautifully with substantial breathing time, showing polish and purity. The overall balance and flavor intensity propels it to a high level. Drink now through 2025. Cellar Selection.

Wine Enthusiast  |  Tasted: 2015

2011 Fortissimo  |  92 points

This is a Merlot-dominant blend, with additions of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Sangiovese. At first tight, spicy and herbal, it then blossoms with dark, deep juicy black fruits. The finish is long and trim, bringing in more complexity, with coffee, cassis and espresso. Drink now through 2025. Cellar Selection.

Wine Enthusiast  |  Tasted: 2015

2013 Moscato D’Osoyoos  |  92 points

This irresistible, lightly frizzante and utterly refreshing wine is a gem. Orange flesh and rind has a slightly candied potency, with outstanding purity, focus and length. In spite of the sweetness, it retains offsetting mineralogy and acidity, making it a perfect apéritif or brunch wine. Editors’ Choice.

Wine Enthusiast  |  Tasted: 2015

2013 LaStellina Rosato  |  Silver Medal

This Italian inspired Rosato, made from a blend of cabernet franc and merlot, is Queen Anne cherry in colour with medium-light intensity. Red fruit and berries – cherries, raspberries and wild strawberries on the nose. Well balanced with good mouthfeel. The flavours follow the nose with a medium mineral finish. A very good patio wine or serve with salmon or paella.

Sam Hauck  |  MyVanCity.ca  |  Tasted: Aug.2015

2012 La Sophia Cabernet Sauvignon  |  91 pts

Twenty-six year old vines from the southern Okanagan are presented unfined and unfiltered in La Sophia. Now with time in the bottle (and 12 hours of decanting), this 100 percent cabernet sauvignon is beginning to reveal its depth and expressiveness. Alluring leather, cassis, cigar and sweet tobacco aromas. The structured, full body shows some give around the corners now, revealing layers of dried black cherry, ripe cassis, worn leather, dark earth, dark florals and fine peppery spice, all supported by a vein of acidity. Tannins are firm and sinewy, trailing into sappy branch, and drawing the dense, sunned fruit through to a lengthy finish. Still a youthful wine, and with glimpses of what lies ahead 5+ years, when I plan on revisiting it. Pour now with rich pork belly or lamb.

Treve Ring  |  Wine Align  |  Tasted: July 2015

2011 Maestoso “Solo” Merlot  |  17.5/20

Gorgeous, succulent and chewy. Opulent fruit with superb purity and attractive earthy development. Impressive, clearly carefully selected fruit. (RH) 14.4% Drink 2015-2025 (note from winery: single highest score of the entire comprehensive tasting of Cross Canada wines.)

Jancis Robinson & Richard Hemming  |  Purple Pages

2013 Fortissimo  |  17/20

Spice, fruit cake, chewy but pliable. Sensitive but modern oak and a long, savoury finish. The acid is especially bright – is that the Sangiovese talking? (RH)14.9% Drink 2015-2018

Jancis Robinson MW & Richard Hemming  |  Purple Pages

2013 Fortissimo  |  92 pts

On the nose, this supertuscan-style blend (bordeaux with a hint of sangiovese) made me long for a pasta dish, with hints of tomato paste and basil, on top of some very nice red fruit, with a touch of smoke and vanilla. On the palate, it’s smooth and coherent, classy with a lot of character.

Remy Charest  |  Montreal Gazette, Palate Press

2013 Fortissimo

A blend of merlot, cabernet sauvignon, sangiovese and cabernet franc, the Fortissimo is aromatically complex, with blackberry, herbal, plum, anise and graphite notes showing well. Full-bodied and austere, the plum, raspberry and blackberry notes are rounded out by modest oak influence and soft tannins, and there’s a light splash of acidity here to keep things vibrant. Drinkable now or put away for a few years.

Ben MacPhee-Sigurdson  |  Winnipeg Press

2012 Maestoso

Though merlot is planted a great deal in the Okanagan, it rarely reaches great heights. This wine is one of the exceptions. Maestoso (the Beast) absorbs all of the southern Okanagan’s rich sunshine, rooted in heavy clay and gravel soils and compacts it into a dense, full bodied red. Deep blackberry, leather, black plum and cassis fills the nose. The compact palate is dominated by ripe plum, which leads wild blueberries, supple leather, bitter black cherry, finely ground spices and a hidden lift of mint along cushioned, chewy and ample tannins. An edge of tart acidity lifts all this density through a very long, bitter black cherry finish. Southern Okanagan merges with Italy via this wine. Just a baby, decant and pour now with herbed rack of lamb or wild boar, or be rewarded with 3-5 years in the cellar. Looking forward to tasting this again in future.

Treve Ring  |  Gismondi on wine  |  Tasted: June 2015

2013 Fortissimo

The most immediately gratifying of the new releases from LaStella.

Timo  |  Wineshout.com

2013 Fortissimo  |  92 pts

This is a true to its name bold wine.

John Schreiner

2014 Vivace Pinot Grigio  |  90 pts

Perhaps it was the warm 2014 summer, or the lower than average yield, but this vintage of Vivace, with its gently concentrated, pure-fruited, finessed form, especially impresses. Wild desert herbs, orchard pear, fine lees and lemon zest roll across the textured palate, brightened by crisp green apple tartness and bitter white grapefruit pith. Fragrant melon, subtle meadow blossoms and stones linger on the finish. Lively, dry and elegant, this is a grown up grigio.

Treve Ring  |  Gismondi on Wine  |  Tasted: May 21, 2015

2014 LaStellina Rosato  |  88

Welcoming and friendly like a hug, this wine’s only downside is that it’s far too easy to drink. An elegant, off dry sipper of wild fragrant perfumed strawberries and spicy dried sage and thyme. Cabernet franc, merlot and sangiovese knit seamlessly into a round, silky palate of blue plums, ripe cherries, raspberries, rock roses and sweet cinnamon on the finish. Generous and elegant, the ideal partner to your chèvre, cured salmon and cherry compote.

Treve Ring  |  Gismondi on Wine  |  Tasted: June 19, 2015

92 pts

The blend is Merlot (39 per cent), Cabernet Franc (38), Cabernet Sauvignon (17) and Sangiovese (6), a stew of Right Bank Bordeaux varietal intention with Memphis soul. Unashamedly rich, viscous, earthy deep, chalky and endowed with unctuous, chocolatey Osoyoos texture. The palate gives plum, dark red berries and more chocolate chew with a graphite and oozing Cassis centre. Then arrives the dusty Mulberry, bruised, hematic and pulsating with energy. The acidity follows with wow factor spirit. Has got Billy Preston finger roll and Stax tang, plus horn squeals and endless staccato fitful layering. It’s 14.9 per cent alcohol is curt yet remarkably not that hot. Put this king Okanagan away for five years minimum and listen to it linger for 10 or more. Drink 2020-2030.

Michael Godel  |  WineAlign.com and Godello.ca  |  Tasted: May 2015

92 pts

La Stella Fortissimo 2012 Okanagan, Canada
A blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon with a splash of Sangiovese. Supple and vivid with nice blackberry fruit, and some spicy, minerally notes. Nice definition and wears its high alcohol (14.9%) well.

Jamie Goode  |  WineAnorak.com  |  Tasted: June 7, 2015

2014 LaStellina Rosato

A lazy afternoon with friends and a delicious local cheese board? Nothing wrong with that. The only thing you want to keep in mind here is cheese’s salty side, and the need for a wine that’ll lap it up well. Enter La Stella’s 2014 LaStellina (Okanagan Valley, B.C.; $19.19, LaStella.ca), a delightful local pink crafted from Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Sangiovese that’ll shower you with strawberries, red currants, white pepper, and delight.

Kurtis Kolt  |  Georgia Straight  |  Tasted: May 13, 2015

91 pts

I’m so happy not to be tasting 2010 and 2011 Okanagan reds I’m wondering if I’m over reacting to the 2012s. Fortissimo is said to be a nod to Tuscany, not so much for the style but the fact that they challenged the traditions of earlier Italian winemaking. In 2012 it boasts its highest ever percentage of cabernet franc at 38 percent in addition to 39 percent merlot, 17 percent cabernet sauvignon and finally six percent sangiovese grosso most of which spends time in large format puncheons (35 percent new) of Hungarian/Slavonian oak. It is fragrant on the nose with a beautiful savoury south Okanagan streak that feeds into its silky textures and black cherry fruit. Love the elegance and styling. This will age effortlessly for a decade. Bravo.

 

Anthony Gismondi & Stuart Tobe  |  Gismondi on Wine  |  Tasted: May 2015

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