Sometimes with wine competitions it’s well worth checking the list of wines that didn’t quite win but came pretty close.
Not to take away the glory from the 14 stellar winners of the 2015 BC lieutenant Governor’s Awards for Excellence in BC Wine, however, this is the first year that the list of finalists has been made public. Or, I should say, the finalists receive a letter acknowledging that their wine made it into the final round.
If I were a betting man which I rarely am, I would suggest that most if not all of these “almost winners” are also well worth a look. This year was the first time we used a semi final round to whittle down to the 14 winners, from a field of some 425 wines from 116 wineries.
So, I would say that the “also-rans” (some from lesser-known wineries) are definitely well worth a look.
Here are a few of my highlights:
• Blue Grouse Paula Sparkling. This wine, perhaps as much as any other I’ve tasted recently from Vancouver Island, is a really good example of what could be taking place on the island on a broader scale. It’s superbly textured, with just a little sweetness and is a shoo-in for seafood and Asian plates. 91 pts. $25
• Intrigue Wines Pinot Gris 2014. From Lake Country, which could in time become a sub region to watch. If you like a little bit of skin contact then this pretty, gentle salmon coloured wine will appeal. Orchard notes on top with a crisp, clean palate of citrus and grapefruit notes before a clean finish. 90 pts $17
• 8th. Generation Classic Riesling 2013 From Summerland, made by people who can really lay claim to knowing their Riesling: Some tropical and honey notes on the nose followed by a full pallet with pear and stone fruit palate and a distinctive mineral background. Textbook, which is why it’s called “Classic” 91 pts $18.26
• Bench 1775 Glow Rosé 2014. This crisp, well-balanced and definitely shifting towards a dry style is emblematic of the direction in which better BC rosé producers are headed. Mainly Malbec (65%) with Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Sarah. Juicy, lightly red berry toned, crisp and well balanced fruity drop. 90 pts. $23
• Krazy Legz Skaha Vineyard Unoaked Chardonnay 2014 maybe it’s no surprise that the sequel to last year’s award winner popped up in the final round. This is a well-made, very honest varietal expression of Chardonnay, and in fact surprisingly rich and textured, with good structure and some honey, stone fruit and tropical notes. $19.95 90 pts.
• Sandhill Phantom Creek Small Lots Malbec 2012. I’m guessing this wine didn’t win more votes because it’s a Malbec, and at the end of the day there are only so many awards to go around. But it is from grower guru Dick Cleave’s spectacular vineyard… And shows every bit of its pedigree in an excellent vintage, made by Howard Soon. Aromas of plum and anise precede a generous, ripe and full fruited palate with structured acidity, firm tannins and a lengthy end. 92 pts. $35