The wines of Lock + Worth from Canada’s Okanagan Valley

Website: Lock + Worth

Matt Sherlock and Ross Hackworth make some of the Okanagan’s most interesting wines under their Lock + Worth label (SherLOCK + HackWORTH). Long-time colleagues, they are also the team at nearby Nichol Vineyard, owned by Hackworth and his family, where jack-of-all-trades Sherlock does viti / vini / sales / marketing and more.

Homebased at the far end of the Naramata Bench, in Naramata Village proper, Lock + Worth have quietly changed the conversation of authentic, low-interventionist winemaking in BC. Certainly the minimalist labels don’t shout, and neither do the intelligent, modestly priced wines. It’s all part of their philosophy: honest wines that speak of place, and are affordable to all. Like many small producers, they have opted out of BC VQA marketing machine, which is why they aren’t on the radar of many journalists. Here are our (Treve Ring, TR) and Jamie Goode (JG) notes on these wines.

Lock and Worth Merlot Rosé 2022, Naramata Village, Okanagan Valley, Canada
This blush hued Merlot Rosé is sourced from Apricot Hill Vineyard, part of founder Matt Sherlock’s property on the Naramata Bench, planted in 2005 and dry farmed since 2020. The grapes, currently undergoing organic conversion, were whole cluster pressed with 3 hours skin contact, fermented in stainless before aging in older oak puncheons, bottled unfined and unfiltered. Summer strawberries, wild raspberries, cherry blossom, bergamot fill a streamline palate, subtly textured with wild herbs and salted sage. There’s a lovely meeting of savoury and fruit in this dry rosé, making it alluringly crushable. A dreamboat. 92/100 (TR)

Lock and Worth Cabernet Franc Rosé 2022, Oliver, Okanagan Valley, Canada
This grey labeled Cab Franc Rosé (partner to the pink label merlot rosé from Naramata) comes from a river bed vineyard in Oliver planted in 1997 and 2007. After 3 hours skin contact this was fermented in stainless where it remained until bottling unfined and unfiltered. There’s a lovely cushion of salted wild strawberry and lees that beds this streamline rosé, infused with fresh green herbs, and bright with rhubarb yogurt acidity through a lingering saline finish. Dry, savoury, and fresh. 89/100 (TR)

Lock and Worth Sauvignon Blanc & Sémillon 2022, Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, Canada
From a vineyard on the Naramata Bench planted in 2007 in sandy alluvial till, this 75% SB, 25% Sém was fermented in stainless, and rested in older 225L French barrels for a few months. The time in old wood slightly tempers the crisp green character of this wine, one still brisk with lemon verbena, lime peel, greengage, grapefruit peel, and kisses of passionfruit. Will continue to merge and develop in bottle. 89/100 (TR)

Lock and Worth Sauvignon Blanc & Sémillon 2020, Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, Canada
The 2020 Sauvignon Blanc / Sémillon blends 74% Sauvignon Blanc and 26% Semillon, all planted in Naramata. This was aged in neutral French oak, and bottled without fining or filtration. Tart and crunchy, this is very much in youth, with green hedge, gooseberry, passionfruit buffered with a padding of sémillon’s waxiness, finishing with a pithy grapefruit twist. Enjoy now on the patio, or lay down for a few years to allow Sém to work its aging magic. 89/100 (TR)

Lock & Worth Sauvignon Blanc & Sémillon 2013, Oliver, Okanagan Valley, Canada
12.2% alcohol. From a vineyard planted in 1999 in Oliver. Three-quarters whole bunch pressed, raised in neutral French oak. Notes of pear, lemons, toast and spice, with some nutty notes. Has a hint of toffee on the finish. Nice fruit intensity here, and showing some appealing development. Quite warm and mellow. 87/100 (JG)

Lock & Worth Sauvignon Blanc & Sémillon 2014, Oliver, Okanagan Valley, Canada
12% alcohol. From a vineyard planted in 1999 in Oliver, one-third whole cluster pressed, raised in neutral French oak. Really intense and vivid, with powerful limey fruit and some pithy notes, as well as subtle toast and spice. Stony and a bit nutty, too, with really high acidity. A really distinctive wine. 89/100 (JG)

Lock and Worth Kerner 2022, Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, BC, Canada
Until very recently I had no idea L&W made a Kerner. But I came across this 2022 (and a 2021) and was delighted. From a north Naramata vineyard planted in 1999, behind Nichol, this was fermented and aged in stainless, and bottled unfined and unfiltered. Fragrant lime pith and peel jumps from the glass of this youthful white, followed by lemon blossoms, cold cream, apricot fuzz across a textual, creamy palate. There’s an impression of sweetness from this aromatic German grape, but the wine presents and finishes dry, with a bitter lime and white pepper snap. 91/100 (TR)

Lock and Worth Kerner 2021, Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, BC, Canada
Did you know L&W made a Kerner? Me neither! But I came across this 2021 (and a 2022) and was delighted. From a north Naramata vineyard planted in 1999 behind Nichol, this was fermented and aged in stainless, and bottled unfined and unfiltered, as the sediment in the bottom of the minimally sleek bottle displays. Wet stone, perfumed white peach, apricot blossom rules this textural white, with moderate buzzy acidity stencilled with lime pith and peel. There’s a feel of RS inherent to this Germanic-born grape, but this feels and finishes entirely dry. Really charming. 90/100 (TR)

Lock & Worth Chardonnay Whole Cluster 2018, Okanagan Falls, Okanagan Valley, Canada
11.7% alcohol. This is from the Losthorn Vineyard in the Okanagan Falls, planted 1995. Whole cluster pressed and then raised in neutral 500 litre puncheons. Unfiltered and unfined. This is intense and limey with amazing precision and purity to the fruit. There’s some matchstick minerality which threads through the lime and pear fruit, with a touch of fine bread and toast, and it finishes with keen acidity. A distinctive wine in a very linear style. Quite lovely. 93/100 (JG)

This is my second look at the 2018 Chardy, and I’m loving where this wine is currently sitting. This was the first L&W Chardonnay, sourced from an Okanagan Falls vineyard planted in 1995. After whole cluster pressing, this fermented (full MLF) in 500L puncheons, where it remained for 10 months on lees, with no bâttonage, prior to bottling without fining or filtration. The savouriness is building with time, infiltrating downy lees, green apple, verbena, and ample flake salts. There’s a luring flicker of reduction, finishing with ample salinity on the lengthy palate. If you can find this, stock up, and if you have some, lucky you. 92/100 (TR)

Lock and Worth Merlot 2022, Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, Canada
From a small sandy soiled plot on the original Poplar Grove Vineyard property planted on Naramata Bench in 1995, this was destemmed, cold soaked and fermented in 2 tonne open top tanks. Once ferment starts to rip (with around 5 days on skins), it’s pressed to stainless to settle, and then racked to old barrels for 4/5 months, bottled without fining or filtering. Atypical for Naramata merlot, the star region for merlot (IMHO) in BC, this fresh, very youthful example is tart and tight with crunchy plum, morello cherry, wild blackberry, and salty, herbal thorns. Acidity is racy, and tannins are slight and furry. Certainly early pick, this is a different lens for merlot than you’re probably used to. Give it a little time to settle in bottle, or decanter now, and then enjoy with a very slight chill. 90/100 (TR)

Lock & Worth Merlot 2020, Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, Canada
13.4% alcohol. From vines planted in 1995 on the Naramata Bench, this is raised in neutral French oak. This is rich and intense, with liqueur-like sweet black cherry and blackberry fruit with some hints of coffee, chocolate and spice. Lovely fruit intensity here: this is really rich and voluptuous, and is quite surprising: it diverts from the lean house style, but it does have deliciousness. Finishes salty. 90/100 (JG)

From a small sandy soiled plot planted on Naramata Bench in 1995, this was whole berry, entirely destemmed, and had five days of skin contact before being basket pressed into neutral French oak, where it remained for 7 months before bottling in spring, unfined and unfiltered. If you’re used to L+W’s regular light hued / near rosé merlot, you’ll be surprised by this vintage, because it actually looks and feels like RED WINE. Deep crimson in hue, with smoked plum, espresso, black cherry, on a soft palate, stencilled with a smoky granite note, and framed with balsamic scented, lightly grippy tannins. The finish lingers with bitter dark cherry. 89/100 (TR)

Lock & Worth Merlot 2017 Okanagan, Canada
Unfined and unfiltered, from vines planted in in 1995 on a sandy site on Naramata Bench. Destemmed, 5 days on skins then basket pressed. Finished fermentation and aged in seasoned French oak for seven months. Deep coloured, which is surprising given the short skin contact. This has fresh, intense, green-tinged raspberry and black cherry fruit with nice structure and acidity, and some grippy berry fruits. Nicely bright, concentrated and savoury, this is a serious expression of Merlot, with a slightly drying finish and some appley hints, indicating some subtle oxidative characters. Satisfying now and for some short-term ageing. 90/100 (JG)

Lock & Worth Merlot White Label 2018 Okanagan, Canada
For the first time this year there are white and grey labels for this and the rosé because of a lack of fruit. The white label is from Naramata and is for domestic market, while the grey label is from Oliver and is for the export market. Pale cherry red in colour. Fresh, supple and elegant: an infusion, low-extraction style with some nice green hints. Very elegant and sappy, with some raspberry and red cherry notes as well as hints of rhubarb and celery. Fine and expressive, and really smashable and bright. Brave winemaking. 92/100 (JG)

Lock & Worth Merlot Grey Label 2018 Okanagan, Canada
This is from Oliver, in the south Okanagan, from a biodynamically farmed vineyard. 3 days skin contact with whole berries, then three months in old wood. Has a slightly reductive edge to the supple red cherry and plum fruit. Juicy, light and expressive with a nice sappy edge. Super-low extraction here, resulting in a focused, juicy, drinkable red. Would love to see this develop for a year or two in bottle, to shake off the reduction and unfurl aromatically. 90/100 (JG)

Lock & Worth Cabernet Franc V.6. 2017 Okanagan, Canada
This is the sixth vintage of this wine, from a vineyard planted in 1995 on the Naramata Bench. Unfined and unfiltered, raised in neutral French oak. This is ripe and expressive with sweet cherry and berry fruits, as well as a blackcurrant twist. Juicy and bright with nice crunchy structure and a smooth mid palate. Has a grainy, gravelly, slightly drying tannic structure under the sweet ripe fruit. Some oxidative hints hiding in the background, but lovely drinkability. Has a range of ripenesses, from fresh green notes but also some lushness to the fruit, too. 91/100 (JG)

Focus Sémillon:

Though Sémillon changes dramatically from youth through old age, it always carries itself with an air of nobility. With berries of golden rose, young Sémillon shows bright, sometimes racy acidity, citrus and hay/herb notes. With bottle age, the wines tend to fatness, with a waxy, honeyed heft that gains weight and complexity.

The early-ripening, thin-skinned grape is highly susceptible to rot, making it one of the most desirable to establish botrytis affected wines. It is one of the major grapes in the exalted sweet wines of Sauternes, playing well with its more common blending partner Sauvignon Blanc. The two grapes complement each other, with Savvy’s fresh fruitiness pairing up with Sém’s structure and backbone. Sole Sémillon is relatively rare today. After a blaze of popularity (it was once one of the most planted white grapes in the world), it has fallen out of fashion, making quality pure Sémillon a challenge to find. Australia, especially in the Hunter Valley, is the rare exception, producing brilliant, age-worthy Sémillons that compete with the top wines in the world.

As of 2019, there was 56.45 acres of Sémillon planted in BC, divided amongst numerous small producers. Lock & Worth has certainly proven to be the top of the pack solo, as well as with their Sauv/Sém blend. Ring and I were fortunate to taste through a mini vertical of L&W Sémillon at the end of 2021, which was quite revelatory (Ring has since tasted the latest releases). They recognize the value of aged Sém so much, that they’ve recently instigated a new pricing scheme for their Sémillons. If you buy the Sém upon release via their registered wine club, it’s $30 CDN, but if you wait for the winery’s 5 year latent release to the public, it will be $45 CDN. *Get in while you can.

The 2015-2019 wines below were tasted below in late October 2021. Ring recently retested the 2019, as well as 2020. This Sémillon is from Knorr Vineyard planted in Kelowna in 1993. This is at the cooler northern end of the Okanagan. The wine is raised in neutral French oak and then bottled unfiltered and unfined, and bottled in clear glass so you can often see deposits at the bottom of the bottle. Though they lost their Okanagan Falls Sémillon vineyard in 2021, they planted a new one in the region in 2022, so watch for that to come online over the next years.

Lock & Worth Sémillon 2015 Okanagan Valley, Canada
13.1% alcohol. Very light deposit. This is fabulously fresh, with subtle hints of toast and nuts as well as a core of dense limey fruit. It’s pithy, structured and bold, and is developing some of that lanolin and toasty complexity that Semillon seems capable of with age. Lovely acidity here: a really fine expression of this variety: laser sharp but developing depth and volume. This has a long life ahead of it. 94/100 (JG)

Fermented wild and whole cluster pressed before fourteen months on full solids in neutral French oak, prior to bottling without fining or filtering (evident from the ample clumps of harmless solids at the bottom of the bottle). Understated confidence, heady and concentrated with honeysuckle, flake salt, meringue and humming, buzzing minerality that rings on the saline finish. Acidity is bright and shining, streaming this textural, medium bodied (13%) along effortlessly. There’s a lovely moreish expansion on the savoury palate here, one that lingers long after the last drop. Stunning, and at peak. 95/100 (TR)

Lock & Worth Sémillon 2016 Okanagan Valley, Canada
12% alcohol. Planted 1993, unfined, unfiltered, raised in neutral French oak. Complex citrus fruit with some pear and fennel notes, and a bit of grip. Nice density with a sweet fruit edge to the textured palate. Has a bit of pith. Such an interesting wine. 92/100 (JG)

Lock & Worth Sémillon 2017 Okanagan Valley, Canada
12.4% alcohol. Heavy deposit here. Waxy and lemony on the nose with a touch of mandarin. Bright, intense and vivid on the palate with some subtle green hints under the laser-sharp citrus fruit with a juicy, limey twist on the finish. A very bright, linear expression of Semillon – it’s in its teenage years at the moment and I’d hold this for a few years before broaching it. 91/100 (JG)

From Kelowna’s Knorr Vineyard, planted in 1993 on clay, gravels and schist. After whole cluster pressing and a native ferment in 6-11 year old French barrique, this rested on full solids in neutral French before being bottled unfined and unfiltered, which is evident in the cloudiness of this lemon-hued wine. Green apple, verbena, hedgerow is still at the fore of this Sém, perhaps reflective of an early pick / less ripe fruit. A thin pad of lemon sour lees beds the slight 12.4% palate. The finish is snappy and softly saline. This is Sém in awkward teenagedom it seems. Try again in 5 years. 90/100 (TR)

Lock & Worth Sémillon 2018 Okanagan Valley, Canada
10.4% alcohol. No deposit. Very attractive open yellow plum and mandarin nose. The palate is tight and lemony with keen acidity, and some notes of pear and grapefruit pith. Open, fruit-driven and still quite primary with a juicy quality to the pure fruit. Tart, mouthwatering finish. This has lots of potential for development. 93/100 (JG)

Whole cluster pressed and native ferment, raised in neutral French puncheons for 18 months on full solids, mostly undisturbed. It was bottled unfined and unfiltered in January 2020, hence the characteristic white sediment in the bottom of this wine. Tight and light at 10.4 degrees. Honeyed pear, quince, gooseberry, verbena, wild lemon, fresh basil rule this medium bodied Sém, padded with earthy lees, and sharpened with lemon peel, with a dusting of white pepper on the snappy finish. In a beauty place now. 92/100 (TR)

Lock & Worth Sémillon 2019 Okanagan Valley, Canada
10.4% alcohol. Just a very light hazy deposit at the bottom. This is lovely. There’s a subtle creamy, slightly toasty edge to the textured citrus fruit: I get mandarins and lemons, with a lovely tapering finish. Fine and primary, with the keen acidity beautifully integrated, this is a delicate, fine but still potentially ageworthy expression of Semillon. Delicious now with its primary fruit, or I reckon cellar it for another five years to get the beginning of maturity. 93/100 (JG)

One of two Sémillons produced by Lock & Worth from 2019 (the other from Okanagan Falls) comes off the lauded Knorr vineyard on Mount Boucherie in West Bank, planted in 1993. Whole cluster pressed and native fermented in stainless, it was raised in neutral French puncheons (full MLF) for 2 years on full solids, mostly undisturbed. It was bottled unfined and unfiltered. Lemon verbena, green apple, green herbs is lit with a buzzy energy. Kissed with white honey, this Sém (a finicky grape) is coming into its prime, starting the shedding of gawky elbows and unifying. Beautifully understated, this slender, subtle, savoury white is always entirely overlooked, but always one of BC’s best. 93/100 (TR)

Lock & Worth Sémillon 2020 Okanagan Valley, Canada
One of two Sémillons produced by Lock & Worth from 2019 (the other from Okanagan Falls) comes off the lauded Knorr vineyard on Mount Boucherie in West Bank, planted in 1993. Whole cluster pressed and native fermented in stainless, it was raised in neutral French puncheons (full MLF) for 2 years on full solids, mostly undisturbed. It was bottled unfined and unfiltered. It was bottled unfined and unfiltered. Very much in youth still, with that telltale greengage, tart lemon, crunchy green apple, green herbs, and ample flake salts. Some youthful angles to shed still, but this wine and grape is well known to go the distance. Will retaste in future. 92/100 (TR)

Treve Ring

Treve Ring is a wine writer and editor, judge and speaker, and perpetual traveller. [She is also Correspondent Anorak.]