A was afforded the rare and precious opportunity to visit Blackwood Lane’s winery in Langley, and couldn’t pass up the chance to pick up a bottle of the red blend Icon Wines awarded their Wine of the Year label in 2009. Even better, I was able to taste a nicely decanted sample during my visit, an opportunity often lacking for many of the wines I collect on faith (and lots of detailed research!). Although a $60 wine at the winery (and significantly higher-priced in private stores), Alliance is actually the baby brother to Blackwood Lane’s “The Reference”, a 95-point Bordeaux-style blend that retails for more than $100 in stores. Having decided that I’m willing to “settle” for 94 points, I opted for the Alliance, and my decision was cemented when I smelled the incredible aromas coming out of my glass in the tasting room. I was not ashamed to admit out loud that I wanted to stay and smell that glass all day long. My purchase was guaranteed without even needing a taste, but a couple of sips of that incredibly balanced, smoothly-textured delight and I was hooked. With bottle in hand I grudgingly left, already wondering if I could afford a second one to open immediately – I sadly have to wait until 2013 to taste it again if I follow my own cellaring strategy. Of course it should be even better by then, and hopefully will be followed by subsequent vintages: I’m told the 2007 is just as amazing, and awaiting bottling – I think Blackwood Lane may become an annual pilgrimage!