Vancouver Magazine Wine Awards 2014


ur wine awards are different. Ten years ago we set out to create a competition that celebrated diversity and had the consumer (that’s you) at heart. Our primary desire is to select wines to enjoy year-round that are as interesting as they are delicious. The judging process works like this: wines are tasted blind on a like-with-like basis, and flights are organized by style and price. Winners are chosen by consensus among the judges, who collectively decide which wines represent top quality and value. From the final 110 we choose category winners that best exemplify each of the 10 distinct styles, from sparkling to dessert. We then come to the final playoffs among the category winners, where a super-Tuscan might do battle with an Okanagan rosé or cru Beaujolais for Best of Show. This year the Champagne Le Mesnil Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru triumphed over very stiff and worthy competition.
Our winner embodies what we try to do each year: find wines that evoke emotion, that make you sit up, take notice, and feel something, while overdelivering on value. Le Mesnil is a wonderfully expressive grand cru champagne wine from a reputable growers’ cooperative established in 1937. Our judges loved its creamy finesse, generous fruit, and classic lines, declaring it outstanding value. It also represents the heady pace of change in this ultra-traditional region—the rise of growers and quality cooperatives.
Since our inaugural competition in 2004 we have evaluated over 7,000 wines, had winners from 17 countries, and chosen six red and four white Best of Show winners, two of which have been sparkling. Our awards show that the wine world is perpetually in flux. Recently, taste in wine has migrated from bold to restrained, and we’ve chosen many more light and juicy examples. There’s also more rosé, reflecting the pink-all-year trend.
Other changes I’ve noticed? How about 13 riesling and 16 pinot noir wines on this year’s list (as much as 75 percent more than in past years) and a chart-topping 17 versions of chardonnays. B.C. wines anchor the list yet again (34) with France, Australia, Italy, and Spain following. All in all this year we recognized 37 different grapes (plus rice and raspberries!) from 14 countries to delight and cultivate your senses.
There’s immense energy, intellect, and palate power that the judges bring to the table each year, as they swirl, slurp, think, discuss (or sometimes heatedly argue), and whittle down the list. Locked in a room for three days, they all agree that it’s a joy to choose wine based on pure deliciousness, as well as other factors that wine experts must pay attention to, like structure and balance, typicity, and value. And finally the best constant of all: each year, the best wines win.



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: Le Mesnil Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru.





Best of Show

Best Sparkling Wines of 2014 

Best Sparkling Wines

Best White Wines of 2014 

Best White Wines

Best Rose Wines 2014 

Best Rosé Wines

Best Red Wines of 2014 

Best Red Wines

Best Fortified Wines of 2014 

Best Fortified Wines

Best Dessert Wines of 2014

Best Dessert Wines


DJ Kearney
 Chief judge
Alana Dickson Competition manager

Judge Facilitators

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


Geoff Boyd VP bar and concept development, Joey Restaurant Group

Christina Burridge Drink editor, Vancouver magazine

Sid Cross wine and food educator

Kurtis Kolt wine consultant

Sebastien Le Goff service director and sommelier, Cactus Restaurants Ltd.

Bryant Mao wine director, Hawksworth restaurant

Neal McLennan food and travel editor, Western Living magazine

Tim Pawsey journalist, the Courier, North Shore News, and

Barbara Philip, MW Barbariain Wine Consulting; buyer, BCLDB

Iain Philip Barbariain Wine Consulting; senior wine instructor, Art Institute of Vancouver

Samantha Rahn wine director, Araxi restaurant

Mark Taylor owner, Siena restaurant

Terry Threlfall sommelier and wine consultant


Back Room Staff

Erin Chambers, Tayler Colton, Pat Hake, Sean Kearney, Roger Maniwa, Kayli Tayler, Tish Thibault, Peter van de Reep, Di Wu


Thank You

Special thanks to the Stanley Park Pavillion for hosting our three-day competition