Friday, August 28, 2015

Judgment of BC pits BC wines against the world

 Photo: Winery owner Chris Jentsch

C.C. Jentsch Cellars opened its winery just two years ago in a converted apple processing plant beside the highway south of Oliver.

Even though the tasting room is quite visible and even though the wines are widely available, I still encounter consumers who have never heard of the winery.

That may change as a result of a recent tasting called The Judgment of BC. C.C. Jentsch Syrah 2013 emerged as the number one red wine in a field of 12 superb British Columbia and international Syrahs.

Take a bow, winegrower Chris Jentsch and Amber Pratt (right), Chris’s winemaker.

The Judgment of BC was a tasting that pitted six Chardonnays and six Syrahs from British Columbia against a similar number of Chardonnays and Syrahs from international wine regions. The wines were tasted blind and scored by a panel of 17 tasters, including British wine authority, Steven Spurrier.

The tasting, organized by the British Columbia Wine Institute, was modelled on Spurrier’s famous 1976 tasting, The Judgment of Paris, which put California wines in the map internationally.

The results of The Judgment of BC are unlikely to have the same shock value, for three reasons. British Columbia wines did not score a clean sweep; British Columbia does not have the market weight of California; and comparative tastings like this have become  routine.

In 1976 Spurrier was a wine merchant in Paris. He sold primarily French wines and he expected French wines to wine the tasting. When the result was announced, one of the outraged French judges demanded her ballot back. (All but two of the 11 judges were French and the scores of the others – Spurrier and an American – were not counted.)

You can understand why the French were outraged when an upstart like Stag’s Leap Cabernet Sauvignon beats a First Growth Bordeaux like Chateau Mouton.

The result launched California wines onto the world stage.

Having said that, there is always an asterisk about wine judgings. In the Wikipedia entry of The Judgment of Paris, Spurrier (left) is quoted as saying:  "The results of a blind tasting cannot be predicted and will not even be reproduced the next day by the same panel tasting the same wines."

Some judges are more consistent than others; others have good days and bad days.

While there were no wines of First Growth status up against the British Columbia wines, the competition was stiff.

Of the 12 Chardonnays, those ranking one through five all were from international wineries. Of the 12 Syrahs, British Columbia wines took places throughout the field, including number one.

My view is that British Columbia wines are now running with the pack. We can stop asking ourselves if we are world class yet. We most certainly are. Even a two-year-old winery like C.C. Jentsch can play with the big boys.

Here is how the wines were ranked.

Syrah results order

1. C.C. Jentsch Syrah 2013 | Okanagan Valley, BC | $30

2. Langmeil Shiraz Orphan Bank 2012 | Barossa, South Australia | $68

3. Domaine Vincent Paris Cornas Granit 60 2013 | France | $66

4. Nichol Syrah 2012 | Okanagan Valley, BC | $40

5. Le Vieux Pin Syrah Cuvée Classique 2013 | Okanagan Valley, BC | $50

6. Ojai Syrah 2011 | Santa Barbara, California | $30

7. Jackson-Triggs Okanagan Sunrock Shiraz 2010 | Okanagan Valley, BC | $30

8. Orofino Syrah Scout Vineyard 2012 | Similkameen Valley, BC | $29

9. J.L. Chave Selections Crozes-Hermitage Silène 2012 | France | $40

10. Tyrrell’s Shiraz Vat 9 2011 | Hunter Valley, New South Wales | $49

11. Laughing Stock Syrah 2013 | Okanagan Valley, BC | $38

12. K Vintners Syrah The Beautiful 2012 | Walla Walla, Washington | $70

Chardonnay results order

1. Soumah Chardonnay Single Vineyard 2013 | Yarra Valley, Victoria | $27

2. Kumeu River Chardonnay Hunting Hill 2012 | Auckland, New Zealand | $35

3. Hamilton Russell Chardonnay 2014 | Hemel-en-Aarde, South Africa | $40

4. Jean-Marc Brocard Chablis Premier Cru Montmains 2012 | France | $45

5. Bouchard Père & Fils Meursault Premier Cru Genevrières 2011 | France | $86

6. Blue Mountain Chardonnay Reserve 2012 | Okanagan Valley, BC | $30

7. Tantalus Chardonnay 2012 | Okanagan Valley, BC | $24

8. Robert Mondavi Chardonnay Reserve 2012 | Carneros, California | $44

9. Mission Hill Chardonnay Perpetua 2012 | Okanagan Valley, BC | $50 (tie)

9. Quails’ Gate Chardonnay Rosemary’s Block 2013 | Okanagan Valley, BC | $30 (tie)

10. Meyer Family Chardonnay Micro Cuvée 2012 | Okanagan Valley, BC |$65

12. Haywire Chardonnay Canyonview 2013 | Okanagan Valley, BC | $25


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