On May 9, some of the biggest names in Ontario's wine-making industry came together in Niagara-on-the-Lake to celebrate the 20th annual Ontario Wine Awards. Founded by renowned wine writer Tony Aspler, the awards celebrate the very best that Ontario has to offer by recognizing VQA wines for their quality, distinction and brilliance.
We got a sneak peek at one of the judging sessions held a few weeks earlier, when a team of esteemed judges from the wine writing and teaching community met to sip (and spit) a total of 548 VQA wines submitted by 73 different wineries.
It's a tough job, but someone's got to do it. With more than 40 submissions in the Pinot Noir category alone this year, it's actually a much tougher job than you'd think. (And, incidentally, it's also a tough job for those who carefully clean and polish each wine glass by hand before it's used, so as to ensure there's absolutely nothing to interfere with the wine itself.)
Judges work their way through a blind tasting, one category at a time, evaluating each and every wine in the category for various characteristics, including appearance, aroma, taste, and typicity before assigning it a score on a 100-point scale.
The final list of gold, silver and bronze medal winners in 25 different categories was announced at the gala dinner, along with winners in the Winemaker of the Year, White Wine of the Year, Red Wine of the Year, Wine Journalism Award, and Best Label Design categories.
If you're interested in sampling some of the best tipple Ontario has to offer, here are a few of this year's gold-medal winners that are going on our must-drink list. For the complete list of 2014 winners, check out Ontario Wine Awards.
Sue-Ann Staff Estate 2012 Rosé
Winner: Niagara Airbus Rosé/Blanc de Noir Award
Angels Gate 2010 Mountainview Pinot Noir
Winner: Vintage Hotels Red Wine of the Year Award
Jackson-Triggs 2011 Delaine Syrah
Winner: The Miller Tavern Syrah/Shiraz Award
The Foreign Affair 2010 Temptress
Winner: The Ontario Wine Society Meritage and Cabernet/Merlot Blends Award
Ravine Vineyard Estate 2010 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
Winner: Post City Magazines Cabernet Sauvignon Award
Château des Charmes 2012 ‘Old Vines’ Riesling, Estate Bottled
Winner: Vintage Hotels White Wine of the Year Award, BlackSquare Inc. Dry Riesling Award
Château des Charmes 2012 Aligoté, St. David's Bench Vineyard
Winner: Luxor Realty Inc. Dry White Varietal Award
Peller Estates NV Ice Cuvée Classic
Winner: Q water Sparkling Wine Award
Angels Gate 2010 Mountainview Chardonnay
Winner: Bullfrog Power Oaked Chardonnay Award ~ Under $20