Last week I was privileged to spend the best part of three days with a very focused group of wine judges from BC, across Canada and Kansas City.
I’m convinced that, aside from an overall willingness to truly work together, the right setting enhances the process. As it turned out, with its ‘collegial’ personality, super staff, and cosy ‘character’ feeling, The Naramata Heritage Inn was the perfect place to judge.
Awards results always make for interesting study. When the spitting was all done, I’d say we came up with a pretty convincing line-up of winners. You can glean the entire list at the link below. But before you leave, here’s a run-down of what’s new and noteworthy—a few highlights from this year’s medal haul.
First Time Platinum
This year the Okanagan Wine Festival introduced a Platinum tier, representing the top one percent of entries, with one wine singled out from that select group for the Premier’s Award. While there has been the odd platinum nod in the past, this year marks the the first formal ranking. I’d be remiss not to mention them all, as they really do represent the pinnacle of all the wines entered, as well as comprising an interesting cross section of varieties and wineries.
Baillie Grohman Cabernet Franc 2012
Quails Gate ‘The Boswell’ Syrah 2012 (25th Anniversary range)
See Ya Later Ranch Rover Shiraz – Viognier 2012 / Premier’s Award
Silkscarf Viognier 2013
Spierhead Pinot Gris 2013
As you can see, there’s a strong showing for Syrah / Shiraz, a theme that echoed through the contest. Both of those awarded were extremely convincing contenders.
Not to be overlooked by any means is the impressive haul also of gold medals for Syrah—and blends (Sandhill Phantom Creek, Stag’s Hollow, Thornhaven, Moon Curser).
Baillie Grohman Cabernet Franc ((powerful and polished, with a seductive, juicy acidity and elegant viscosity) while made in Creston, is actually Okanagan grown. (Winemaker Dan Barker is a stickler for using the best fruit he can find. Point proven.)
Silkscarf’s Viognier is no stranger to praise. A textbook offering, it won Best of Varietal in the Okanagan Spring Festival.
Rounding out this elite group, Spierhead well structured, tropical toned Pinot Gris rose to the top through a field of (as tends to be the case in BC) very varied styles.
In the ‘don’t knock it until you’ve tried it’ category, it was gratifying to see Saxon Winery’s plush and plummy Léon Millot come through for a gold, while, more esoteric but still worthy Mooberry Raspberry and Meadow Vista Ostara Honey Wine also grabbed gold.
I’m reluctant to single out wines that we collectively medalled. Suffice to say that any wine winning gold here was subjected to pretty rigorous scrutiny and deserves to be at that level.
You can find all of the awards here