Canada's annual "best wine bargains" list is out courtesy of Wine Access magazine, and the results of the 2010 International Value Wine Awards, held each summer in Calgary, Alberta, are well worth noting for the upcoming entertaining season. I mean, seriously, who doesn't like a bargain?
As the chief judge for all six competitions, I can easily state that the 2010 results are by far the richest in terms of winners and bargains, and because I'm responsible for assembling the 25 talented Canadian-based wine tasters who spend a week tasting some 1,100 entries, believe me, the results are worth noting. Many of the wines are tasted twice by different panels to finalize a list of winners that sell for less than $25 somewhere in Canada.
Since we pay the most for wine in Canada and seldom see the lowest price for any wine it only makes these results more useful. I've chosen the most interesting categories for this time of the year and will share some of the top scoring wines that are available here in British Columbia. Two things are certain - you can rely on these wines to over-deliver for the price and you can be confident that under blind tasting conditions (the judges are told only the grape content of each bottle) each wine twice defeated dozens of its competitors to become a category champion or to rank among the top 10 picks labelled "judges' choice" by the IVWA.
For complete results look for a copy of the Wine Access , October/November issue on newsstands around the city, or better yet order your own subscription online at wineaccess.ca.
Fifty years should stand for something. It's been that long since the now departed Rodney Strong set up his cabernet sauvignon shop in the Alexander Valley, where the days are warmer and the vineyards escape the cooling influence of the Pacific Ocean. The 2006 is a delicious drop of red with that characteristic Alexander Valley black fruit and chocolate undercurrent. Judges' Choice: Rodney Strong 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma County, California, United States $23
CHARDONNAY - OAKED
Too much oak has been the mantra of wine writers for more than a decade so when wineries get it right, especially in this price range, we pay attention. So it was that we selected two Category Champions: Errazuriz 2009 Estate Chardonnay, Valle de Casablanca, Chile $14 and Beringer 2008 Founders' Estate Chardonnay North Coast, California $20
CHARDONNAY - UNOAKED
Just when you think unoaked chardonnay as a category is finished, along comes Cono Sur's 2009 organic version and all is right in the wine world. Too much oak in chardonnay shouldn't be the motivation for making unoaked chardonnay. Pureness of fruit, lively acidity and intelligent lees management can build structure in a pleasing manner that supports the fruit without overwhelming the wine. Category Champion: Cono Sur Organic Chardonnay 2009, Valle de San Antonio, Chile $14