Tuesday, October 12, 2010

BC Wine Awards gold medalist wines

Photo: Adrian Capeneata's Cassini Cellars named best new winery

There are 34 gold medal wines among the award winners in the inaugural British Columbia Wine Awards, held last week in the Okanagan. Entries totalled 450 wines.

The complete list of gold, silver and bronze medalists is now posted on the Okanagan Wine Festivals Society web site.

I was one of the dozen judges. As always when I am judging, I find surprises among the results, especially when these results are compared with other competitions during the year.

For example: Painted Rock Winery’s Red Icon 2007 received one of the 11 awards in the Lieutenant Governor’s Awards of Excellence in June but a bronze in the B.C. Wine Awards. That should tell you that wine judging is not an exact science. It should also tell you that, if you cannot find gold medal winners in the wine stores, there are some awfully good wines among the silver and bronze medalists.

Twenty-seven wineries shared in the gold medals. The only multiple gold winners were Jackson-Triggs (five) and Sandhill (four). They also did very well in the silver and bronze categories. Traditionally, these two wineries have often taken home more medals than their peers. It is true that they enter more wines but both are very accomplished producers.

Other surprises on reading the awards:

* The judges did not like oaked Chardonnay. The two gold medal Chardonnays are fruit-driven examples. I note that with some sadness because I think wine judges are reflecting an unfortunate bias in the market against complex, barrel-fermented Chardonnays in favour of cocktail-party Chardonnay.

* Two fruit wines won gold medals. The Mulberry Pear dessert wine from Rustic Roots of Cawston is unusual and delicious while the Raspberry from Summerland’s Sleeping Giant Winery busts firm the glass as only good raspberry wines can.

* While the competition was open to Vancouver Island wineries, I am only aware of one that entered. That is hard to understand, given the quality of the 2009 vintage on the island. Perhaps the cost of entering deterred those wineries. Some may still be labouring under the misconception that the odds are against them in any Okanagan competition.

The competition handed out four super awards. The best white wine was judged to be Mission Hill’s Reserve Riesling 2007. The best red wine award went to Desert Hills Estate Winery for its Syrah Select 2007. The best dessert wine award went to Inniskillin Okanagan for its Dark Horse Vineyard Riesling Icewine 2008.

And the best “new” winery award went to Cassini Cellars of Oliver, which opened in 2009 and won four medals in what I assume was its first time competing in the Okanagan Wine Festivals Society’s fall competition. The award is made by the society, not by the judges, providing recognition to industry newcomers.

It is a big boost for Adrian Capeneata, Cassini’s owner, and Philip Soo, his consulting winemaker.

Here are the gold medal wines.

Arrowleaf Cellars First Crush Rosé 2009
Blasted Church Vineyards Chardonnay Musqué 2009
Cassini Cellars Pinot Noir Reserve 2007
CedarCreek Estate Winery Pinot Noir 2008
Church & State Wines Pinot Noir 2007 Hollenbach Vineyard

Desert Hills Estate Winery Syrah Select 2007
Domaine de Chaberton Estate Winery Siegerrebe 2008
Hester Creek Reserve Cabernet Franc 2007
Inniskillin Okanagan Riesling Icewine 2008 Dark Horse Vineyard
Intrique Wines Riesling 2009

Jackson-Triggs Okanagan Estate Proprietors’ Reserve Dry Riesling 2008
Jackson-Triggs Okanagan Estate Grand Reserve Riesling 2008
Jackson-Triggs Okanagan Estate Grand Reserve Merlot 2007
Jackson-Triggs Okanagan Estate Proprietors’ Reserve Shiraz 2007
Jackson-Triggs Okanagan Estate Grand Reserve Shiraz 2006

La Frenz Sauvignon Blanc 2009
Lake Breeze Vineyards Pinot Gris 2009
Laughing Stock Vineyards Portfolio 2008
Mission Hill Family Estate Reserve Riesling 2007
Nk’Mip Cellars Qwam Qwmt Cabernet Sauvignon 2007

Painted Rock Estate Winery Merlot 2007
Peller Estates Chardonnay Family Series 2009
Quails’ Gate Winery Optima Late Harvest 2008
Road 13 Vineyards Sparkling Chenin Blanc 2007
Rustic Roots Mulberry Pear 2008

Sandhill Pinot Gris 2009
Sandhill Small Lots Barbera 2007
Sandhill Small Lots Petit Verdot 2008
Sandhill Small Lots Syrah 2008
See Ya Later Ranch Brut N.V.

Silkscarf Winery Viognier 2009
Sleeping Giant Winery Raspberry 2009
Tinhorn Creek Vineyards Oldfield Series Syrah 2007
Twisted Tree Vineyards & Winery Tempranillo 2008


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