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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.
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
Best of Show
Best Sparkling Wines
Best White Wines
Best Rosé Wines
Best Red Wines
Best Fortified Wines
Best Dessert Wines
Best Bargain Wines
DJ Kearney Chief judgeJulian Scholefield Competition manager
Michelle Bouffard Co-owner, House WineMark Davidson Market development manager, Wine Australia USAPark Heffelfinger Co-owner, Memphis Blues Barbeque HouseRhys Pender, MW Owner, WinePlus+
Christina Burridge Drink editor, Vancouver magazineSid Cross Wine and food educatorKurtis Kolt Professional wine enthusiastJudith Lane Wine, food, and travel journalistSebastien Le Goff Service director, Cactus RestaurantsRoger Maniwa Sommelier, Hawksworth RestaurantNeal McLennan Food and travel editor, Western Living magazineTim Pawsey Journalist, the Courier, North Shore News, and Hiredbelly.comBarbara Philip, MW Barbarian Wine Consulting, BCLDBIain Philip Senior wine instructor, Art Institute of VancouverMark Shipway, AIWS Wine instructor and department head Mark Taylor Owner, Siena restaurant
Dee Anand, Alana Dickson, Tammy Gamel, Pat Hake, Alex Kearney, Tish Thibault, Ron Thorne, Di Wu, Jason Yamasaki
Special thanks to the Vancouver Club for hosting our three-day competition