My Favourite Wines From The Judgement of BC #TryThis

By / Wine + Drinks / November 1st, 2018 / 7

On Wednesday, October 24th I was one of a pretty big group of wine professionals, Canadian and International, who took part in The Judgement of BC, an annual benchmarking event in which 12 carefully chosen BC wines are pitted blind against international wines (all readily available in BC) in two categories. This year we tasted at the beautiful, historic Hotel Eldorado in Kelowna.

View to Lake Okanagan from the Hotel Eldorado

Two years ago I was a judge for the Riesling and Pinot Noir versions, with very interesting results, and this year it was Traditional Method Sparkling Wines and Bordeaux Blends.

Our director, celebrated BC wine professional and Sommelier DJ Kearney, made it clear that this wasn’t an exercise designed to let BC “win,” but instead an excellent and fair way to see where they stand in the world of wine. The competition was strong. We were asked to rank wines from 1-12 in each category (with 6 BC and 6 International wines in each flight), and try to identify the BC wines, which was quite difficult for many of them.

Results were varied, but – as expected – interesting and thought (and conversation) provoking. The full results are well documented here, but the key result is that the BC wines held their own, and more so.

Interestingly, the highest ranked Bubbly was an off-dry Roederer bubbly from California, but then there were two Champagnes before getting to the top rated BC version, from Blue Mountain.  I had ranked one of the Champagnes as my top, the Pierre Paillard Les Parcelles Bouzy Grand Cru Extra Brut XIII, Blue Mountain second, Veuve Clicquot third and the Roederer fourth, so clearly my tastes were similar to the group.

For the Bordeaux blends, BC had the first two positions, held by Poplar Grove ($52) and Laughing Stock ($50), followed by two Napa reds, roughly double the price (Blackbird Arise is $86 and Dominus Estate Napanook is $125.99).  I also had the Poplar Grove as my #1, with Blackbird #4, Laughing Stock #5 and Dominus # 6.  I had a lighter, more herbal Ch. De La Dauphine, a $50 Bordeaux, as my #2, an indication of my preference for that sort of food friendly Bordeaux.

View of the judging room from fellow judge Tim Pawsey ( 

Here are my notes for the top 3 BC wines:

Blue Mountain, Blanc de Blancs R.D., 2010, Okanagan Valley, BC, $39.90

  • Intense but pleasing autolytic (leesy) nose, with stone fruit (apple, pear) on the nose and palate, creamy texture, mouth-filling, with a dry finish. Excellent bubbles, and very versatile.

Poplar Grove Winery The Legacy, 2014, Okanagan Valley, BC, $52

  • A mineral driven, Bordeaux-like nose (pencil lead, graphite), but with lots of dark fruit, including black currant, on the palate, good body, and a dry, elegant finish, with balancing acidity. Drinking very well now but should age.

Laughing Stock Vineyards Portfolio, 2015, Okanagan Valley, BC, $50

  • A bit shy on the nose, with light smoky notes, and a pleasant herbaceous aspect, probably from Cabernet Franc. The palate, though, has big, dark fruit and leathery tannins, which are pretty classic, along with some heat. This is a brooding wine that will get better with some age.

Craig Pinhey discovered good drink circa 1985 at Ginger’s Tavern/Granite Brewery in Halifax and has been writing about beer, wine and spirits for 25 years. A Certified Sommelier and BJCP judge, Craig lives in New Brunswick where he runs his own writing and consulting business and is the beverage columnist for Brunswick News. He is the only person to have judged all of the national wine, spirits and beer awards of Canada.

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