Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Lieutenant Governor's Excellence in Wine Awards 2016

Photo: the 2016 LG award winners

A record 506 wines were entered this year in the 2016 Lieutenant Governor’s Awards for Excellence in British Columbia Wines.

In keeping with the rigor in which the competition is judged, 12 wines were singled out for awards from among the 46 excellent wines that made it into the final round. One winery owner has been quoted as saying this is like winning the Stanley Cup. It is an apt comparison, considering that award was established by a Governor General.

The wine award was established in 2003 by The Honourable Iona Campagnolo when she was Lieutenant Governor. It was continued by her successors, The Honourable Steven Point and the current incumbent, The Honourable Judith Guichon. All British Columbia producers of grape wines are eligible to enter.

A slight amendment of the judging procedure last year improved the rigor of the competition, assuring that the best wines were winners.

The judging team was enlarged and three panels were established. In the first round of judging, each panel tasted about a third of the wines, narrowing down the selection of wines for the semi-final round.

For the semi-final round, the judges regrouped into two panels. These refined the selection to 46 wines for the final round of judging. Inserting the semi-final round of judging is new since last year.

Thus, the winning 12 wines were tasted twice by all nine judges, and three times by some judges. There was unanimity or strong majorities for the winners.

This year, the winning wineries are all in the Okanagan. They include both repeat wineries and four first time winners.

As has become customary, the Lieutenant Governor will present the awards at each winery. This year’s tour, however, has been moved to the first week of September. In previous years, the tour took place in the last week of July.

Here are the winners.

Bordertown Vineyard & Estate Winery Living Desert Red 2013 ($25). The winery’s notes: “This signature blend is comprised of the finest blocks of Cabernet Franc and Merlot on the estate which were cropped low and meticulously farmed. Various lots were aged separately in a combination of new and seasoned French oak barrels. It showcases aromas and flavours of red and black fruits, dark chocolate, sandalwood, and the wild herbs that grow amongst this region’s vineyards.”

Ex Nihilo Vineyards Pinot Noir 2014 ($39). The winery’s notes: “Lovely ripe cherry aromas are sprinkled with strawberry, violets and coffee. The satin palate is well balanced with dark spice on the finish.  After whole berry fermentation the wine was aged 9 months in a combination of French and American Oak. The Result is a wine with a gorgeous texture that will please the Pinot Noir enthusiast.”

Gold Hill Estate Winery Meritage Family Reserve 2013 ($40.99). This is a blend of 40% Merlot, 30% Malbec and 30% Cabernet Franc. Tasting notes: “The wine begins with aromas of cassis and cherry. The flavours are complex and bold, featuring black currant, plum and a hint of blueberry. The tannins are polished and the wine is elegant.”

Hester Creek Estate Winery Syrah Viognier 2013 ($24.95). The winery’s notes: “Lifted aromas of white and black pepper, a wisp of smoke and dark berry are underpinned by the subtle violet and lavender perfume of the Viognier. The palate is an exotic blend of dark fruit, tobacco, smoked meat and freshly ground coffee.”

Intersection Estate Winery Cabernet Franc 2013 ($24.90). The winery’s notes: “Long, even ripening late into October produced this elegant wine with generous berry fruit, herbal/mineral notes and fine tannins. Aged 12 months in French and American oak. Clarified by time and gravity, it remains unfiltered. Bold and rich in its youth, this wine will gain in complexity over several years.”

Kismet Estate Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2013 ($29.90). Tasting notes: “This elegant wine is notable for its long silky tannins. It has aromas and flavours of black currant, plum, cherry and dark chocolate.”

Lunessence Winery & Vineyard Riesling Icewine 2014 ($54 for 200 ml): The winery’s notes: “Grapes were picked and pressed on November 30, 2014, at 43.5 brix. Picked at -16C during an ice-cold but sunny day. The final yield was 15% which underlines our commitment to focus on quality, not quantity. The wine was fermented in a stainless steel tank for 120 days. The flavour profile in this is true to the essence of the varietal, extracted through long and careful pressing at temperatures close to -20C. The wine is a rich golden hue with a bouquet of ripe apples and mandarin. Residual sugar is 310 grams per litre.”

Okanagan Crush Pad Winery Haywire The Bub 2014 ($29.90). The winery’s notes: “The Bub is bottle fermented and aged using Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes gown on cool vineyard sites in Oliver and Summerland. A fresh and lively wine with nice warm bread aromas and a crisp green apple finish, which is a shining example of what the Okanagan does best - crisp, fresh, and delicious. The Bub is proudly made by Okanagan Crush Pad’s sparkling winemaker, Jordan Kubek, who recommends pairing it with soft cheeses, fresh oysters, or enjoying it purely on its own.”

Quails’ Gate Stewart Family Reserve Chardonnay 2014 ($40.11). The winery’s notes:There are intense aromas of ripe orchard fruit, butterscotch, spice and toasty oak on the nose. The palate is very complex with flavors of baked apple, pear and peach complimented with spice, vanilla and brioche. The mouth feel is opulent, creamy and full bodied. We suggest pairing with seafood such as lobster and crab. Fresh BC halibut and creamy pasta dishes are also recommended as are soft cheeses such as Brie and Camembert.”
Red Rooster Winery Reserve Merlot 2012 ($25). The winery’s notes: “Garnet colour with a 'Rooster' ruby red rim.  An intriguing bouquet of sweet cherry, cedar chest, cigar box and baking spice.  This is a medium to full-bodied Merlot with velvety tannins and food-friendly acidity.  Fruit flavours of cherry and plum dusted with baking spice caress the palate.  The juicy lingering finish shows notes of red berries, cherry and spice.”    
Ruby Blues Winery Commune Viognier 2015 ($25). The winery’s notes: “In this Viognier we have grapes from the two winery sites. Now the fruit lives under one roof in one bottle... in a commune. Beautiful fragrance of spring blossoms and tropical flavors with a hint of citrus. Pairs perfectly with lobster, mussels, scallops or crab meat.”

St. Hubertus & Oak Bay Estate Riesling 2014 ($16.75). Tasting notes: “The wine displays the classic hint of petrol on the nose and in the flavour. On the palate, notes of lemon and lime mingle with minerality. The wine is balanced to finish dry.”


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