Food & Drink » Anthony Gismondi on Wine

Wines align with high performance

B.C. wineries deliver some stand outs at 'The Nationals'



Of all the results that came out of the WineAlign 2013 National Wine Awards (née Wine Access Canadian Wine Awards) the most meaningful may be The Performance Report that ranks just how well each participating winery performs when measured against its peers. (Full disclosure: I have been a co-head judge at the awards for 13 years.)

To be eligible, a winery has to enter a minimum of six wines in the competition. The computer then chooses the winery's five, top-scoring wines and applies a formula that rewards each medal earned — gold, silver or bronze — with a set number of points.

The value of each medal is determined by taking into the account the difficulty of winning a gold, silver or bronze medal. In short, the harder it is to qualify for a medal, the more valuable the medal in question. We think it's a very fair measure of a winery's performance and a useful tool for wineries to know where they stand among their peers.

At the WineAlign 2013 National Wine Awards of Canada (a.k.a. "The Nationals") grabbing gold is, as it ever was, a difficult task. This month I wanted to share with you a special list of the top 10 B.C. wineries, and some of the wines that got them there. The standings are based on a winery's overall performance at the competition that involved over 150 wineries and just under 1,200 wines all grown and produced in Canada.

First place in B.C., and the country, went to West Kelowna's Mission Hill Family Estate. It's the third time winemaker John Simes has captured the accolade since 2001. Mission Hill amassed 9,901 points to finish atop the standings. The judges awarded the winery five gold medals, two of which eventually became platinum medals by virtue of obtaining a score out of 100 that placed them in the top one per cent of entries. The wine to look for — and one of the best red blends in the country — is the Mission Hill Family Estate 2009 Compendium ($50). Steaks, anyone?

At 7,042 points, Road 13 Vineyards finished second among B.C. producers and third in the country. Winemaker J.M. Bouchard is the man behind the wines and his passion is evident throughout each of his wines that begin and end with terroir. "Delicious" describes the Road 13 Vineyards 2009 Home Vineyard Sparkling Chenin Blanc ($35); a surprise standout was Road 13 Vineyards 2011 Syrah Malbec Red Blends ($32). Overall, it was an impressive performance by the Oliver-based winery.

Number three in B.C. and fourth in Canada was Moon Curser Vineyards at 6,728 points. A surprise to some, but not to this writer who has enjoyed several excellent wines of late from the Osoyoos-based winery. Moon Curser's loud, shiny labels are not for everyone, nor do they reveal the serious nature of their wines, but that's why we taste blind. Best bets here include the 2011 Touriga Nacional ($35), 2012 Afraid of the Dark White ($22) and the 2010 Border Vines ($25).

On the Naramata Bench, winemaker Karen Gillis continues to impress with her fresh clean style that helps to better express B.C.'s terroir in her acclaimed Red Rooster wines. Red Rooster placed fourth in B.C. and seventh in the country with 4,589 points, and a big gold medal for its Red Rooster Winery 2011 Reserve Meritage ($25). Equally impressive is the 2012 Reserve Viognier ($22).

Number five in the province and 10th in the country is the fast-rising Meyer Family Vineyards at 4,469 points. The Okanagan Falls producer is actively pursuing the Burgundian holy grail of pinot noir and chardonnay in Okanagan Falls. At "The Nationals" they struck gold with their 2011 McLean Creek Chardonnay ($30) and 2011 Pinot Noir Reimer Family Vineyard ($40).