Notebook: 2020 Legacy Collection

Ratings for Mission Hill's latest flagship releases

Notebook: 2020 Legacy Collection

I’ve been thinking a lot about my recent tasting of Mission Hill’s latest Legacy releases, conducted via Zoom with President Darryl Brooker at the winery and me at home, with my young son running interference. Rhys’ antics weren’t the only memorable part of the session.

The two wines from 2018 — the Perpetua Chardonnay and Prospectus Pinot Noir — are looking to be the best yet.

Prospectus is a work in progress that's heading in the right direction. Perpetua is definitely next level. I’ve said elsewhere I wish this chardonnay was bottled in magnum. That’s how much I think about its ability to age. Or command attention by bringing a large format to the table to enjoy right now. 

My impression of the trio of 2016 reds wasn’t as immediate. They’re more thought provoking. Mission Hill’s Legacy reds are typically blockbuster wines, the labels that brought the notion of Icon/flagship wines to the Okanagan in a meaningful way. But 2016 isn’t a blockbuster vintage. To my taste, it’s better that way.

These are richly layered wines, with ripeness and concentration but less "stuffing" than we’re used to. The word “elegant” might be one way to convey the point of difference, but these selections are too intense and flavourful to wear that mantle.

I really enjoyed them, especially the new look Quatrain with more syrah in the blend to strike more contrast with the conventional Bordeaux blend character of Compendium and Oculus. I tasted the wines over the course of three days and happily monitored their evolution over time. They’re more age-worthy than my immediate impression would have suggested.

Other notes:
Mission Hill’s Chief Winemaker Ben Bryant arrived in July 2018 and spent the time leading up to harvest getting acquainted with the various vineyards and individual blocks that are part of the winery’s holdings. He previously worked at Pernod Ricard Winemakers in Australia, with a focus on the St. Hugo and Jacob’s Creek wines.

Mission Hill enjoys total control of their fruit sourcing, with no effort or expense spared. These wines are the major beneficiaries — they have first pick of lot. Organic certification for all estates is well underway.

The winery’s vintage notes: “The 2018 harvest began earlier than anticipated due to above average growing degree days in the spring. Summer arrived with cooler temperatures, encouraging the fruit to develop beautiful acidity and allowing more time for full flavour retention. One of the coolest Septembers on record followed, slowing down the sugar accumulation and allowing the fruit to fully develop phenologically. Harvest concluded on November 8, with the extended season yielding a crop of uniformly ripened fruit with mouthwatering freshness and acidity.” 

“The 2016 harvest lasted 76 days and set records for being our longest harvest ever on record. The weather was ‘optimal’ with an early start to the season. April and May were warmer than average and bud break was three weeks early. The lack of heat waves in the summer kept sugar levels and phenolic maturity in sync so that ripening progressed slowly and predictably. The berries were firm and had perfectly healthy skins and therefore vivid, deep flavours, great acidity and excellent freshness. The harvest concluded on November 9th, marking an exceptional Okanagan vintage, and producing stunning wines for the 2016 vintage.”

Mission Hill Family Estate Winery Perpetua 2018
SCORE: 94 PRICE: $60
100% chardonnay. Clones 76, 95, 96 and 548. 52% Border Vista (eastern Osoyoos), 48% Naramata. After a gentle pressing, this wine was fermented and aged sur lie for 9 months in a combination of French oak barriques and puncheon. 

This exciting chardonnay continues to be streamlined, with the richer and riper character of chardonnay grown in Osoyoos nicely contrasted by the more bright and lively flavours coming from grapes grown further north in Naramata. Increased use of larger format oak barrels has seen an increased use of new oak, without adding more oak derived aromas and flavours in the finished wine. Really exciting and enjoyable style. Drink now to 2027.

Mission Hill Family Estate Winery Prospectus 2018 
SCORE: 91 PRICE: $60
100% Pinot. 44% Simes Vineyard, 39% Fritzi’s Vineyard, 17% Dehart Vineyard. Fermented on skins for 19 days, 25% whole bunch clusters, in small stainless steel and concrete tanks. 10 months in French oak

Serious and structured style. Richness and complexity, with some grip and a mouthwatering finish. Winemaking team sought out northern vineyard fruit to play up this savoury character, leaving more fruit driven components for other cuvées. Best with a meal.  Drink now to 2026. 

Mission Hill Family Estate Compendium 2016
SCORE: 94 PRICE: $80
38% Cabernet Sauvignon, 38% Merlot, 24% Cabernet Franc. 90% Osoyoos, 10% Oliver. Fermentation & extended maceration in French Oak fermenters. 20 months in French oak.

Lovely richness, concentration and complexity here. Attractive mix of ripe dark fruit, with smooth texture and nicely integrated oak notes. Ready to drink, but with stuffing to hold. Drink now to 2030.

Mission Hill Family Estate Quatrain 2016
SCORE: 93 PRICE: $80
34% Syrah, 31% Merlot, 28% Cabernet Franc, 7% Cabernet Sauvignon. 100% Osoyoos East. Fermentation & extended maceration in small French Oak Fermenters. 20 months in French oak.

Exciting to see this label step apart from its Bordeaux brethren and show true syrah character. Love the ripe core of sweet fruit (blueberry / blackberry) that’s nicely enhanced by youthful (polished) tannins, peppery notes and overall freshness. Oak very much a supporting role here. Drink now to 2030.

Mission Hill Family Estate Oculus 2016
SCORE: 94 PRICE: $120
56% Merlot, 27% Cab Sauvignon, 17% Cab Franc. 78% Osoyoos and 22% Oliver. Fermentation and extended maturation in small French oak fermenters. A small portion fermented in a concrete fermenter. 20 months in French oak (27% new).

The cooler vintage gives a different look to Oculus, but this remains Mission Hill’s flagship wine with good reason. You could say this is a more elegant expression, but that word doesn’t suit a wine with such concentration and layers of flavour. Yes, it’s fresh and harmonious, but it’s also dense and complete. Drink now to 2032.

About the Author

Christopher Waters

Christopher Waters

Christopher Waters has been writing about wine for two decades. He is the wine and spirits columnist at The Globe and Mail, education director of IWEG Drinks Academy and a WSET certified instructor at the Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute, Brock University.
For 21 years, he was the editor/co-founder of Canada's largest circulation wine publication, VINES, and author of the nationally syndicated column, Waters & Wine.
An internationally recognized wine judge, Christopher represents Canada for the Six Nations Wine Challenge and served as head judge and organizer of the InterVin International Wine Awards form 2009-2019. He was awarded the Business Citizen of the Year at the 2011 Niagara Grape and Wine Festival and was received the VQA Promoters Award for Education, also in 2011.
Christopher has been organizing and conducting unforgettable corporate and private fine wine events for 20+ years. He has developed and conducted masterclasses and seminars and moderated panels for organizations, such as The Wine Marketing Association of Ontario, Wines of British Columbia, Wines of Chile, Wines of Germany and Wines of South Africa.