British Columbia

Uncorked: Okanagan wine achieves perfect 100-point score

To say Anthony von Mandl was surprised when his winery’s 2015 Little Pawn Chardonnay received a perfect 100-point score from one of B.C.’s top critics would be an understatement.

'I believe the Okanagan is headed for great, great acclaim,' said winemaker 

Owner Anthony von Mandl, left, with winemaker Phillip McGahan at a CheckMate Artisanal Winery vineyard in the Okanagan. (CheckMate Artisanal Winery)

To say Anthony von Mandl was surprised when his winery's 2015 Little Pawn Chardonnay received a perfect 100-point score from one of B.C.'s top critics would be an understatement.

"Totally stunned and astonished," said von Mandl, who owns CheckMate Artisanal Winery in Oliver, B.C.

In North America, wines are scored across a number of scales, but the 100-point system has become one of the most popular, and a perfect score is very rare.

Von Mandl says it's the culmination of years of hard work, especially over the last six years since he opened the winery.

"This is one of the great moments for the Okanagan Valley's wines," he said.

CheckMate Artisanal Winery's 2015 little Pawn Chardonnay received a rare perfect score. (CheckMate Artisanal Winery)

A winning wine

As a critic, John Schreiner has tasted many wines.

He goes into every tasting ready to zero in on which elements are ripe for improvement, so he was equally as shocked as von Mandl when he tasted the Chardonnay.

"I rarely run into a wine that I can't find something to grizzle about," said Schreiner, who has written several books on wine, including The Wineries of British Columbia. 

He says it's the first time he has ever awarded a 100-point score to a table wine, although he had previously given a perfect score to an ice wine.

 "It was such a harmonious wine," Schreiner said. "It had the flavours that I look for in the Chardonnay... and there was nothing out of balance."

Anthony von Mandl says the wine is only available to buy at the winery or online. (CheckMate Artisanal Winery)

 Schreiner says he has been tasting British Columbia wines since the 70s 'when they weren't very good." But over the last ten years, he says there's been a shift.

"Wines are so much better. They're grown better. They're made better," said Schreiner.

In fact, he expects he'll inevitably hand out a couple more perfect scores before he hangs his wine critic hat up for good.

A region all its own

Von Mandl says the Okanagan is finally at the point where it's being recognized as a world-class producer of wine.

He says the region offers something unique to the rest of the wine-growing world, particularly because it was formed by volcanic activity and repeated glacial ages, which he says helped create a complex microclimate.

"I believe the Okanagan is headed for great, great acclaim." 

He said Okanagan winemakers deserve recognition after years of hard work.

Von Mandl says the 2015 Little Pawn Chardonnay is only available at the winery, online and in select restaurants.

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