Vancouver Magazine Wine Awards 2015
January 1, 2015
What does it take to make really good wine? More than simply good land, decent farming, and sound technique. Memorable wines, those that rise to the top, take passion, dedication, hard work, discipline, selflessness-in short, heart and soul. The result of this special effort? Wines with effortless balance, structure, complexity, and length. Wines that are arrestingly delicious and pleasurable and authentic. Wines that tell a liquid story.
And what does it take to pull off a really great wine competition? The same passion, dedication, hard work, discipline, and selflessness from everyone involved: judges, volunteers, and logistics crew. The calibre of judges is critically important (and we truly have the best), but so is the right setting, the right leadership, a well-articulated vision, and unflagging support from the wine industry.
For 11 years now, 17 judges have gathered each autumn to evaluate about 750 bottles (the ideal number for a three-day event), each deeply feeling the responsibility to choose top wines for you to enjoy all year long. Before firing the starter's pistol, I stand on a soapbox and remind these experts of the singular features of this unique competition and of our overriding goal of curating a list of winners that offer quality, diversity, and value. I also counsel them to relax and taste: good wines have a way of announcing themselves.
Those tried-and-true metrics-quality, diversity, value-have consistently delivered a deserving list of 100-plus wines that span 10 style categories. As the judges sip, spit, think, and discuss (unshackled from any points scoring system), they select candidates that fit that triple bill, along with pure deliciousness. They never, ever forget that wine is about the senses and should stimulate as well as slake thirst.
So what fruit did the 11th annual awards bear? As always, there is a healthy crop of excellent B.C. wines, with Italy and France virtually tied for winners. Spain, Australia, and California also featured prominently with 16 stunning chardonnays, 15 pinots, seven rieslings, three gamays, two sakes, and one awesome pinotage. In short, a round-the-world trip of vinous delights to keep you stimulated and satisfied until we do it all again next year. Let's raise our glasses to quality, diversity, consistency, and, best of all, value.
Photographs by John Sinal
DJ Kearney Chief judge
Alana Dickson Competition manager
Michelle Bouffard, Co-owner, House Wine; president, Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers, B.C. chapter
Rhys Pender, MW Owner, WinePlus+
Iain Philip, Barbariain Wine Consulting: senior wine instructor, Art Institute of Vancouver
Terry Threlfall, Sommelier and wine consultant
Mike Bernardo, Wine director, Vij's Restaurants; Sommelier of the Year, 2014
Geoff Boyd, Wine director, Joey Restaurant Group
Christina Burridge, Drinks editor, CityGuide and Eating & Drinking Guide
Sid Cross, Wine and food educator
Anthony Gismondi, Gismondionwine.com, Wine Align principal critic
Kurtis Kolt, Wine consultant and journalist, the Georgia Straight
Sebastien Le Goff, Service director and sommelier, Cactus Club Café restaurants
Bryant Mao, Wine director, Hawksworth restaurant
Neal McLennan, Food and travel editor, Western Living magazine
Tim Pawsey, Journalist, the Courier, North Shore News, and HiredBelly.com
Barbara Philip, MW Barbariain Wine Consulting: buyer, BCLDB
Mark Taylor Owner, Siena Trattoria and Biercraft Wesbrook Village
Emily Walker, Wine director, Yew Seafood + Bar and Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver
Back Room Staff
Van Doren Chan, Beck Chung, Amber Dickson, Kieran Fanning, Ekaterina Gopienko, Lisa Haley, Alex Kearney, Kristi Linneboe, Roger Maniwa, Aldea Pallard, Jayton Paul, Peter van de Reep, Di Wu, and Jason Yamasaki
Special thanks to the Stanley Park Pavilion for hosting our three-day competition