Okanagan tops Align awards – Aug. 15, 2015

By Anthony Gismondi

The 15th annual look at Canadaa��s best wine is out, courtesy of 2015 WineAlign National Wine Awards.

As co-head judge, I can tell you it was a massive undertaking this year, involving 205 wineries and 1,408 wines from across the country. Both of those numbers set a record for entries. It would appear freshness, liveliness, sense of place, balance, length and tension are the new hallmarks of our best wines as well as more concrete ferments and less new oak, alcohol and gross intervention during the winemaking process. Ita��s the evolving cool-climate, Canadian style.

One of the most interesting aspects of 2015 is the parity coming to Canadian wine production. Faulty wines are now few and far between and when it comes to medals, the best are spread wide and far. The ultimate platinum medals given to the top one per cent of all entries totalled 14 and they were spread among a dozen wineries.

British Columbia wineries did remarkably well and I want to share with you a prestigious list of the top 10 performing B.C. wineries, complete with one of their top medal winning wines. Many of the wines are only sold direct from the wineries or in VQA stores or restaurants. I have highlighted some of the best in my weekly picks. The rankings are based on a mathematical formula that measures the performance of each wineries top five entries.

No. 1 in the country, for the fourth time in 15 years, is Mission Hill Family Estate Winery, grabbing one platinum, four gold, six silver and 10 bronze medals. Our pick is a delicious Mission Hill 2013 Reserve Riesling ($16.99). A huge performance from Arrowleaf Cellars landed it second in the country and B.C. with five gold, two silver and two bronze medals. A standout was the super fresh and mineral Arrowleaf 2014 Pinot Gris ($14.79).

Road 13 Vineyards a�� with two platinum, two gold and 10 bronze medals a�� just missed the top prize again this year but remains a steady, high-end performance machine and the only winery to grab two platinum medals. You cana��t go wrong with the Rhone lookalike grenache/syrah/mourvA?dre blend Road 13 Vineyards 2013 GSM ($35), already sold out at the winery. No. 4 in B.C. was Church & State Wines with one platinum, two gold and three silver medals. We have loved the Church & State 2014 Trebella ($22) every year and this edition is no exception.

Nearby on the Golden Mile Bench, C.C Jentsch paced fifth and made an impression grabbing one platinum, two gold, one silver and four bronze medals. The wine to look for is C.C. Jentsch 2013 Syrah ($29.90). West Kelowna is the home of No. 5 in B.C., Quailsa�� Gate Estate Winery, winner of three gold, three silver and five bronze medals. Setting a standard for quality is the Quailsa�� Gate 2013 Pinot Noir ($24.39) from volcanic slopes and 20-plus-year old vines.

A touch northeast across the lake CedarCreek Estate snared three gold, three silver abnd 10 bronze, led by a stellar bottle of CedarCreek 2012 Platinum Meritage Desert Ridge ($40). Summerland newcomer Haywire Winery rocked the awards with a 7th place B.C. finish, producing three gold, two silver and one bronze medal. Among the pink hits of the show was the Haywire 2014 Gamay Noir RosA� ($22.90), a delicious drop of summer.

From nowhere to 9th, and the top scoring wine of the competition, Naramataa��s Deep Roots Winery made a memorable debut with one platinum, two gold, three silver and one bronze medal. The Deep Roots Winery 2014 Gamay ($24) was the top gamay and the top wine by score of the entire competition. Rounding out the top 10 BC wineries is another Naramata producer: Tightrope Winery winner of two gold, three silver and two bronze medals. The pick is a vibrant fresh Tightrope Winery 2014 Riesling ($27.54).

It was an impressive showingA� and encouraging from the standpoint of both old and new B.C. wineries and wines coming from all over the valley.

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