Vancouver Magazine Wine Awards 2013

The only constant in wine is change. My blue box says it all:  it’s a big wine world out there. I’ve noticed trends that see rich, weighty reds and unoaked whites favoured, then Italy and France at the fore, and, especially in the last few years, the emphatic preference for juicy, fresh, articulate, lower alcohol wines where grape variety matters less, and the region has a stronger voice.

Our wine competition is a microcosm of an ever-changing wine world, and the diverse list of 100-plus winners from 13 countries spotlights the truly global and fluid nature of wine. This year our category winners are spread evenly over five countries: France, Italy, Spain, Australia, and Canada. Spain, Italy, and France had dozens of winners, of course, proving that historic regions will always hold their own. As usual, B.C. shone with 33 worthy winners; two-thirds of them being well-built, refreshing whites. Other trends? Less Malbec, more Pinot Noir, and finally, a longer list of winning Rosé wines—eight, in fact, built for year-round drinking. And two wines from Georgia. Yes, Georgia.

Our Best of Show winner, an impressive rich white from maritime Margaret River, speaks to the unfolding story of the new Australia. It also underscores a growing trend: Chardonnay is back, and we have permission to love this noblest of white grapes again. In many places it never lost its form but was the casualty of obvious winemaking tricks, overexposure, and, finally, consumer boredom. There are 16 intriguing variations on the Chardonnay theme in our list of winners. What distinguishes them from each other matters more than the grape variety they have in common. It is fitting that all three white category winners are Chardonnay wines—a first for our awards.

Over nine years our judging team has become a passionate and united voice. We work hard to select a range of wines that allow you to taste many styles and prices. So in the spirit of the ever-broadening wine world, we hope you enjoy the Mtsvane, Xinomavro, and Saperavi wines as much as more familiar standards.

The Judging Process

Judges were divided into panels, each with a facilitator. Flights of wine were organized by style, weight, and price and tasted blind on a like-with-like basis. Winners were chosen by consensus: judges collectively decided which wines offered the best quality, expression, and value. The four panels united for a playoff of all 10 category winners to determine our Best of Show: Devil’s Lair Margaret River Chardonnay 2009


The Winners

 Best Wine of 2013

Best of Show

Best Sparkling Wines of 2013 

Best Sparkling Wines

Best White Wines of 2013 

Best White Wines 

Best Rosé Wines

Best Red Wines of 2013 

Best Red Wines

Best Fortified Wines of 2013 

Best Fortified Wines

Best Dessert Wines of 2013

Best Dessert Wines

Best Bargain Wines of 2013

Best Bargain Wines

The Judges

DJ Kearney
Chief judge
Julian Scholefield Competition manager

Judge Facilitators

Michelle Bouffard Co-owner, House Wine
Mark Davidson Market development manager, Wine Australia USA
Park Heffelfinger Co-owner, Memphis Blues Barbeque House
Rhys Pender, MW Owner, WinePlus+


Christina Burridge Drink editor, Vancouver magazine
Sid Cross Wine and food educator
Kurtis Kolt Professional wine enthusiast
Judith Lane Wine, food, and travel journalist
Sebastien Le Goff
Service director, Cactus Restaurants
Roger Maniwa Sommelier, Hawksworth Restaurant
Neal McLennan Food and travel editor, Western Living magazine
Tim Pawsey Journalist, the Courier, North Shore News, and
Barbara Philip, MW Barbarian Wine Consulting, BCLDB
Iain Philip Senior wine instructor, Art Institute of Vancouver
Mark Shipway, AIWS Wine instructor and department head
Mark Taylor Owner, Siena restaurant

Back Room Staff

Dee Anand, Alana Dickson, Tammy Gamel, Pat Hake, Alex Kearney, Tish Thibault, Ron Thorne, Di Wu, Jason Yamasaki


Thank You

Special thanks to the Vancouver Club for hosting our three-day competition