Spent last week ensconced at Government House in Victoria judging the 11th Lieutenant Governor Awards For Excellence in BC Wines.
This is a competition for wines from 100% grapes grown and processed within British Columbia to determine the best of those entering and celebrate “excellence” in our home grown product regardless of the grape variety or the blend. Every winery can enter up to 4 wines with no entry fee charged and no restriction on the vintage submitted to be judged by 7 wine judges all knowledgeable on BC wine – of which I am one. We tasted 400+ wines and came up with only 12 winners – less than 3%! Pretty strict in our top selections.
Ontario has followed this with their own similar program for Awards based on Ontario wines now in the 3rd year. There are lots of other big wine competitions out there including the Los Angeles International Wine Competition going for 7 decades with nearly 100 judges. The International Wine Challenge in England and International Wine & Spirit Competition have been around for a while. Decanter World Wine Awards is still somewhat the new kid on the block but now in the 10th year has really expanded with an impressive line-up of world judges and over 14,000 entries. The Aussies have lots of these and are the pioneers of all these medals with the Sydney International Wine Competition still going strong for 13 judges processing 2000 entries (the final 400 being judged with food pairings) resulting in a Top 100.
Blind wine judging is always interesting and very educational for the judges. However, it is a very subjective process and I usually take in all these many competition results with a grain of salt. Are the Awards actually credible? I want to know how many wines were entered, what the wines were, who were the judges, and what was their experience with the wines they were tasting. Naturally the wineries that win are ecstatic and undoubtedly it should help them with their subsequent advertising campaigns. I guess I still have mixed feelings on their overall reliability to guarantee for me that the winners will satisfy my own personal nose and palate preferences.
Would be interested in your comments on what Wine Competitions you respect or feel you can rely on both internationally and locally to help you with your own wine purchasing decisions.