Part 8 of a series on the Okanagan Valley, a remarkable wine region in British Columbia, Canada


Alan Dickinson (above) is making the Okanagan's most compelling Rieslings. He's a Riesling specialist, and it shows.

His first wine was from the 2010 vintage, and he was self-taught. 'I'd never used equipment before,' he says. 'I'd never made wine.' Since then, he's gone on to make compelling and well-priced wines of incredible purity and focus.

The debut wine 

This tasting was a pretty comprehensive look at the range of Synchromesh wines, not just the Rieslings, but also the stylish Cabernet Francs.

The home base for Synchromesh is the Storm Haven vineyard in the Okanagan Falls. But Alan also sources from vineyards where he has long term leases in Kelowna, Naramata Bench (where most of the wines come from) and Golden Mile.

The name? It gives away Alan's love for cars: he's a petrol head when he's not making wine.


Thorny Vines is located at the southern end of the Naramata Bench, immediately north of Penticton, and benefits from the moderating effects of Okanagan Lake. A cooler North facing vineyard. German clone 21B Riesling.

Synchromesh Riesling Thorny Vines Vineyard 2012 Okanagan Valley, BC, Canada
10.4% alcohol, pH 2.91, TA 11.2 g/l, RS 30.3 g/l. Naramata Bench. Clone 21B, third growing season. Lively and limey with lovely rich texture, yet precision at the same time. Pure with some honeyed notes, some baked apple. and also a hint of pith and a touch of petrol. There's also a fine herby note (fennel and thyme) in the background, and it finishes with some sweetness. Quite lovely. 91/100

Synchromesh Riesling Thorny Vines Vineyard 2013 Okanagan Valley, BC, Canada
9.2% alcohol, pH 2.69, TA 11.7 g/l, RS 33g/l. Vivid lime zest nose with some richer apricot and honey characters, as well as some baked apple. The palate is juicy and lemony with a bit of sweetness countering the keen acidity. Shows pithy focus. Satisfying stuff with some complexity and freshness. The acid is so well integrated. 91/100

Synchromesh Riesling Thorny Vines Vineyard 2014 Okanagan Valley, BC, Canada
9.8% alcohol, pH 2.64, TA 11.6 g/l, RS 36.5. Aromatic and herby with a bit of green pithiness on the nose. Zesty, youthful lemony palate with a distinctive citrus peel, herb, wax and mandarin character in the mouth. Fresh and herby, this is a bit different, with a core of intense citrus fruit. High acidity countered by some sweetness. 90/100

Synchromesh Riesling Thorny Vines Vineyard 2015 Okanagan Valley, BC, Canada
9.3% alcohol, pH 2.78, TA 10.96, RS 36.27 g/l. Linear, pure and lemony with pristine lemony fruit. Rounded and textured with nice focus and weight. Such a pure wine, showing lemons, herbs and ripe apples. Lovely density and weight here, with the very high acidity integrated really well. 92/100

Synchromesh Riesling Four Shadows Vineyard 2014 Okanagan Valley, BC, Canada
10.7% alcohol. Naramata Bench. TA 10.4 g/l, pH 2.73, residual sugar 51 g/litre. High elevation block, steeply sloped gravel and clay. This was first crop from this vineyard. Lovely ripe, sweet pear and mango notes with some peach and apricot. Ripe and sweet, this shows lovely depth of fruit with fine, well integrated acidity. Amazing depth here. Such a lovely wine. 92/100

Synchromesh Riesling Four Shadows Vineyard 2015 Okanagan Valley, BC, Canada
10.6% alcohol. TA 11 g/l, pH 2.78, rs 36 g/l. Very fine and lemony with lovely precision. Textured and fine, this shows lovely precision to the melon, pear and ripe apple fruit. There's some richness here, but also lovely precision and well integrated acidity. This has nice sweet, generous fruit, with some peachiness, but it’s also fresh. Superb balance. 94/100 

Synchromesh Riesling Kabinett Halbtrocken Storm Haven Vineyard 2010 Okanagan Valley, Canada
11.4% alcohol, TA 12.4 g/l, RS 25 g/l. Alan Dickinson's first wine. Just off dry, this has lovely lemony precision with a bit of pith and spice. Lovely focus to the fruit with some complexity and just a little development. Dense with a touch of lime oil on the finish and a bit of smoked lemon peel. Really pronounced acidity. 92/100

Synchromesh Riesling Storm Haven Vineyard 2011 Okanagan Valley, Canada
9.3% alcohol, TA 12.1 g/litre, RS 55 g/l. Really refined nose with flowers, lime, elderflower and grapefruit pith. Sweet on the palate with amazingly vivid acidity, good concentration and bright lemony fruit. Pure, clean and linear, and with lots of potential for development. Such a good wine, with amazing clarity. 93/100

Synchromesh Riesling Storm Haven Vineyard 2012 Okanagan Valley, Canada
10% alcohol, pH 2.88, TA 12.7, RS 29.1 g/l. Beautifully aromatic with ripe apples, wax, pineapple, honey and lemons, as well as a hint of almond. So complex. The palate is really fresh with keen acidity and nut and wax complexity. Lively and a bit pithy, this tastes drier than the analysis would lead you to expect, and it’s not as clean as some of the others, but it has such detail. Such acidity too! 92/100

Synchromesh Riesling Storm Haven Vineyard 2013 Okanagan Valley, Canada
8.2% alcohol, pH 2.68, TA 12.2, RS 35g/l. Cork sealed from this vintage onwards. So pure, pristine and linear with textured pear and citrus fruit. The high acidity (astonishingly high, looking at the analysis) is well integrated into the wine, with grapefruit, lemons and real delicacy. Such balance and purity, with potential for development, and just a touch of honey on the finish. World-class. 94/100

Synchromesh Riesling Storm Haven Vineyard 2014 Okanagan Valley, Canada
9.4% alcohol, pH 2.63, TA 12.6 g/l, RS 35 g/litre. So pure, linear and fine, with well integrated acidity, even though it's so high! Delicate and fine with amazing finesse. There’s a smoothness to the citrus fruit, with a bit of grapefruit alongside the lemon. Youthful but not at all aggressive, with real harmony and purity. Refined and linear, and with incredible potential. Just a touch of apple pie filling and mango richness hidden away, but the lemony purity is the real driver. 95/100

Synchromesh Riesling Storm Haven Vineyard 2015 Okanagan Valley, Canada
8.9% alcohol, pH 2.85, TA 10.95 g/l, RS 45.82 g/l. Very stony on the nose, with a gravelly edge to the citrus fruit. Pithy, limey and intense with concentrated fruit. It's so dense and focused right now it's hard to assess properly. It has put on a bit of weight since the summer when I last tried it, but there’s a lot more to come. Lovely, potentially. 93/100

Bob Hancock Vineyard: gently sloping gravelly clay facing south, 21B Riesling, ungrafted.  

Synchromesh Bob Hancock Riesling 2014 Okanagan Valley, Canada
10.1% alcohol, pH 2.72, TA 10.2 g/l acid, RS 35.3 g/l. One of the last vineyards on the Northern tip of the Naramata Bench this vineyard looks South, gently sloping over gravelly clay. Lively and really fruity with some grapefruit and lemon as well as stony minerality. Fresh and detailed with a bright personality. Lovely. 91/100

Synchromesh Bob Hancock Riesling 2015 Okanagan Valley, Canada
11.28% alcohol, pH 2.82, TA 10.8 g/l, RS 32.89 g/l. Fresh and direct with a hint of oyster shell on the nose, alongside the lemony notes. The palate is really fresh and direct with linear citrus fruit. There's a bit of pith and herbiness here, as well as some structure. Really bright and focused. 91/100

Synchromesh Turtle Rock Farms Cabernet Franc 2012 Okanagan Valley, Canada
13.2% alcohol. From Naramata Bench. Stony and mineral with lovely gravelly blackcurrant and black cherry fruit. Sweet berries and cherries. Sweet and bright with lovely supple, juicy berry fruits. Supple and a bit leafy: this is benchmark Cabernet Franc. 92/100

Synchromesh Turtle Rock Farms Cabernet Franc 2014 Okanagan Valley, Canada
13.4% alcohol. From Naramata Bench. Fresh, vital and detailed with a green-tinged blackcurrant character. Gravelly, spicy and nicely savoury with good concentration of fruit. Fresh and detailed with nice acidity. 92/100

Mission Hill
TH Wines
Cedar Creek
Blue Mountain

See also:

Visiting Ontario's wine regions, Canada (series)

Wines tasted 11/16  
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