Sunday, May 19, 2013

BC wineries shine in the All Canadian Wine Championships

 CedarCreek's award-winning Darryl Brooker

British Columbia’s wine and cider producers did well this year at the All Canadian Wine Championships, held last week in Windsor.

BC producers took home 27 of the 52 double gold awards, including three of the top trophies.

Trophy for the top white wine went to Lang Vineyards Farm Reserve Riesling 2011.

Trophy for the top desert wine went to Mission Hill Family Estate Vidal Icewine 2011.

CedarCreek Estate Winery’s Platinum Reserve Syrah 2009 came within a hair's breadth of winning the trophy for top red (that went to Trius at Hillebrand for Showcase Red Shale Cabernet Franc 'Clark Farm Vineyard'). 

The double gold awards go to the top scoring wine in each category. Gold medals are awarded to wines scoring in the top 10% in each category, with silver to the second 10% and bronze to the third 10%.

This wine competition, which was inaugurated in 1981, drew about 1,300 entries from across Canada of grape and fruit wine, along with some meads.

The wines were judged over three days by about 16 judges (some were not there every day), working in panels of four or five judges. I was asked to be a judge this year.

It is hard work, believe me, to taste and rate about 150 wines a day on each of the first two days and about 80 on the third day. No matter what one does to refresh the palate, the mouth is pretty tired at the end of each day. In the ideal world, one should take five days for this … but the world is never ideal.

For me, the final morning was both the hardest and the most satisfying. My panel tasted and scored 54 Meritage and similar red blends, most of them young enough that the tannins were still aggressive. It took us about three and a half hours. It was an insane quantity of such wines, given the mouth-numbing tannin.

On the other hand, this was one of the best flights in the entire competition. With few exceptions, the average scores ranged from very good to outstanding. It was an impressive performance by the wineries and it justifies making blends, where the whole is often better than the parts.

None of the other big flights had quite the same consistent quality across the board, with the exception of the Rieslings. I was one of the judges on that flight and was generally impressed. The Sauvignon Blanc flight, on the other hand, seemed to prove that this is not Canada’s strongest suite.

Pinot Gris and Chardonnay flights seemed to have too many just average wines. I did not judge Chardonnays but I reviewed the scores and it looks like I did not miss much. The unoaked Chardonnays in particular rarely scored better than average.

Wine judging, however, is never a perfect exercise. At times, there were some significant differences among the judges, although I was generally impressed with the consistency of the scores from judges with varied backgrounds. Some are sommeliers; some are wine importers; some are members of Wine Judges of Canada; and some are wine writers. My colleagues all are knowledgeable.

Kudos to the British Columbia producers, among which CedarCreek was notable for bringing home two double golds and three gold medals. It is an impressive performance for winemaker Darryl Brooker who took over at CedarCreek in 2010. While he inherited the Syrah from his predecessor, he made the other winners (and finished the Syrah, of course).

The double gold winners include several new producers. Left Field Cider, located near Merritt, just opened last year, as did Double Cross Cidery in Kelowna.

50th Parallel Estate (which I believe also won gold for its Pinot Noir 2011) opened its tasting room for the first time this month. The winery is under development at Carr’s Landing in Lake Country.

Also note the win by Moon Curser Vineyards with the first release of Touriga Nacional from an Okanagan vineyard. This is a Portuguese red varietal that has rarely been planted in Canada because it is deemed not winter hardy. Good luck to Moon Curser, an Osoyoos winery that pioneered Tannat and grows a few Italian varieties also exclusive to its vineyards.

The All Canadian Wine Championships will eventually publish a complete winner’s list on its web site. Here is the list of British Columbia’s double gold winners.

Arrowleaf Snow Tropics Vidal 2012

Bench 1775 Whistler Sauvignon Blanc Icewine 2011

CedarCreek Estate Winery Merlot 2010

CedarCreek Estate Winery Platinum Syrah 2009

Desert Hills Cabernet Sauvignon 2009


Double Cross Cidery Fuji Apple Iced Cider

8th Generation Pinot Noir 2010

50th Parallel Estate Gewürztraminer 2012

Forbidden Fruit Speachless 2012 (Peach wine)

House of Rose Winter Wine 2011 (a Zweigelt dessert wine)


Kalala Dostana Merlot 2009

La Frenz Liqueur Muscat NV

La Frenz Cabernet Sauvignon 2012

Lang Vineyards Farm Reserve Riesling 2011

Left Field Cider Little Dry Cider 2012


Mission Hill Family Estate Reserve Vidal Icewine 2011

Moon Curser Touriga Nacional 2011

Ovino Winery Momento 2011 (Maréchal Foch)

Pentâge Syrah 2010

Quinta Ferreira Obra-Prima 2008


Red Rooster Riesling 2012

Red Rooster Reserve Viognier 2012

River Stone Pinot Gris 2012

Silverside Farm & Winery Tayberry 2011

SpierHead Rosé 2012


Tinhorn Creek Cabernet Franc 2010

Wild Goose Mystic River Pinot Blanc 2012


At May 20, 2013 at 4:16 PM , Blogger Stacey Sampson said...

Hi John. I don't see 50th Parallel under the Pinot Noir winners...?

At May 20, 2013 at 4:20 PM , Blogger JohnSchreiner at Goodgrog said...

It won gold. This post deals only with double golds.

At May 20, 2013 at 9:02 PM , Blogger JohnSchreiner at Goodgrog said...

At least, I think it won gold. The spreadsheet provided to the judges only highlights the double golds. I would have to do a lot of math to be assured it was in the top 10%; it seemed to me that the score was high enough.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home