The 2015 LG’s are in

The results have just been announced for the 2015 Lieutenant Governor’s Awards for Excellence in B.C. Wine. I’ve run the stats again this year and there’s some interesting things happening.

Firstly, congratulations to all of this year’s winners!

50th Parallel Estate – 2013 Chardonnay

BC Wine Studio -2012 Siren’s Call Syrah

Blasted Church Vineyards – 2012 Holy Moly Petit Verdot

Cassini Cellars – 2012 Cabernet Franc Collector’s Series

Church & State Winery – 2012 Quintessential

Enrico Winery & Vineyards – 2014 Tempest Ortega

Ex Nihilo Vineyards – 2013 Pinot Noir

Inniskillin Okanagan Vineyards Winery – 2014 Riesling Icewine

Lake Breeze Vineyards – 2012 Merlot

Noble Ridge Vineyard and Winery – 2010 “The One” Sparkling

Platinum Bench Estate Winery -2013 Gamay Noir Block 28

Red Rooster Winery – 2012 Syrah Reserve

Ruby Blues Winery – 2014 Commune Viognier

Wild Goose Vineyards and Winery – 2014 Mystic River Gewürztraminer

Now if you’ll allow me to get all sports-caster like and let me show you a little of what I’ve found based on the stats that now include this year’s results. I won’t do up charts like I did last year but there were some really interesting things in this year’s competition that included 425 wines from 116 wineries throughout B.C. There have now been 140 LG awards handed out in total over the 13 years that the awards have been held. 14 awards were handed out this year making it the largest pool of winners ever for a single year.

The big news this year for me is that Enrico Winery & Vineyards becomes the very first winery from Vancouver Island to win an LG! To me, this is huge in the same way that Fort Berens’ win last year was huge because it shows that great wine in BC can be grown in places other than the Okanagan. I visited their tasting room in the spring of 2012 and was very impressed by the experience and with the wines. Well done Enrico Winery! The Gulf Islands are now the only DVA to not have an LG award but that may change soon.

Wild Goose picks up another LG for the Mystic River Gewurztraminer, a vineyard that represents 4 of their total of 9 LG awards. Along with their great showing at the All Canadians, this is a nice way for the Kruger family to celebrate their 25th year in the wine business.

Two new varieties receive awards. Enrico’s win with an Ortega marks that varieties debut with a trophy and Blasted Church wins their second with a Petit Verdot. This is Blasted Church’s second LG award with the first coming in 2008 with the 2006 Syrah.

50th Parallel pick up an LG for their beautiful 2013 Chardonnay marking their first ever LG award win. It won’t be there last either. This is also the most northerly winery to win an LG award which I think is also fascinating. In previous years the competition looked like it had completely abandoned all wineries north of Naramata. I think it is great to see wineries from all over the province getting recognition through these awards and particularly from the northern half of the valley. Gray Monk’s win in 2010 for their 2007 Odyssey Brut was the previous northern limit for LG awards.

50th Parallel and Enrico are not the only newbie winners in this competition either. Ex Nihilo, BC Wine Studio, and Platinum Bench are also new the awards and will all be receiving the Honourable Judith Guichon, Lieutenant Governor of B.C. in late July.

As far as the single varieties go, only two changes have taken place in the stats. Viognier has overtaken Pinot Gris in number of wins (6-5) and Gewurztraminer has edges up over Riesling to take 4th place in the top 5 varieties in B.C.

Place Variety LG Wins % Total
1 Syrah / Shiraz 26 24.53
2 Pinot Noir 14 13.21
3 Chardonnay 11 10.38
4 Gewurztraminer 8 7.55
5 Riesling* 7 6.6

 * Table wines only – does not include Icewine 

So what does that tell us about the state of wine in our fair province?

Nothing!

But it’s fun to see what the stats can tell us sometimes. I’m also done studying for my WSET exams at the moment and have time for stuff like this.

Cheers from wine country!

~Luke

Correct Wine Pronunciations

As if my Grand Cru article earlier this month didn’t get me enough controversy, I thought I’d dig into this argument as well. I’ve always joked that wine bloggers know everything about wine except how to pronounce it. By that I mean that we read, search for, and type our technical terms or place names in articles but rarely have to actually speak those same terms. I was deservedly chastised by a colleague of mine last summer for pronouncing the Champenois region “Reims” incorrectly (allegedly), sounding it as “Reems”. Apparently this is a common Anglophone way of mispronouncing it, but is incorrect even though an archived CBC radio broadcast announcing VE day pronounced it exactly as I (allegedly) had. Her pronunciation “Roms” seemed odd to me so I consulted the Grand All-Knowing Knower of Everything (aka Google) which lead me to yet another pronunciation which, to English-speakers, makes “Reims” rhyme with “France”. For what it’s worth, another website also supports this same version. I learned that apparently “Reims” rhymes with “France”.

So now I know.

Pronunciation of words in other languages is, I think, part of the reason that wine is considered inaccessible to some people. The cynic in me believes that Chardonnay and Merlot were as popular as they were (or still are) simply because they are easy to pronounce. Growing up as I did in a French-speaking province, words that aren’t in my native tongue (which is English) are not problematic for me nor do they cause me any grief when trying to order a wine in a restaurant. I know from watching people at the tasting that I am part of the minority (ironic really, since that’s what I was in when I lived in Quebec) and that lots of people find these words difficult.

French words in particular are everywhere in wine, mostly because the names of grapes are usually of French origin – common ones like Cabernet, Pinot Noir, Merlot, and Sauvignon Blanc. There are more obscure ones like Marichel Foch, Madeline Angevine, and Auxerrois that don’t help either. The Germanic varieties (Gewürztraminer, Ehrenfelser, and Siegerrebe) are tougher at first but easier once you get used to them. There are a lot of those varieties in the Okanagan and it used to be hard to do a wine tour here without seeing at least one, although that is changing.

One of the German varieties in the Okanagan that still poses problems though gets its own heading.

The Special Case of Riesling

One grape variety that I find the most irritating to hear pronounced incorrectly is “Riesling”. So please let me be as subtle as I can folks. It is pronounced

Rees-ling.

Not Righ-sling, it’s Rees-ling. The “ie” vowel combination in German in the middle of a word is always pronounced “ee.” Germans are not known for making up multiple rules or adhering to them willy-nilly the way we do in English. There is only one way to pronounce this grape variety. End of story.

If its confusing to you (the way it was for me) which sounds belong to “ie” and “ei”, I can offer you a good way to remember. Think of Albert Einstein. The “Ei” in Einstein is pronounced “Ine-stine”. That means that the “ie” in Riesling is pronounced “ee.” Otherwise he would have been Albert “EenSteen”. See? Simple.

You’re welcome.

There is also the issue of the “s” which can be softened to a “z” in English but that is also not Germanic. Somehow this doesn’t bother me as much so I’ll let it go. This time. Don’t make me write another article about it though…

Get on with it

“Meritage” (rhymes with “heritage” is another confusing word that seems to stump people now and then. My first winery job was at Blasted Church where I worked in the cellar for a vintage. The wine shop people told me that they would get people at least once  week that would ask for the “Hatfield’s Fusé”. They would pronounce the English word “fuse” as “few-zay”! Why? Who knows.

Maybe it’s a defence against appearing to be dumb that people get irritated with having their pronunciation corrected. Maybe it reminds them of their high school French classes too much? Whatever the reason, I believe that wine is complicated enough with all these interesting words and the best way to learn about it all is through the oral tradition of the wine shop. So take the time to listen as well as taste and smell on your next wine tour.

Cheers from wine country!

~ Luke

Podcast 128 – BCWine 101 Okanagan Falls

20130218-203437.jpgWelcome to BC Wine 101, where I will focus in on a different wine region in each episode. This is for anyone who is interested in learning about BC wine but with a particular nod to the wine bloggers who will be traveling to Penticton for the Wine Bloggers Conference coming up in June.

You can listen online here or download our podcast on iTunes.

Okanagan Falls (or as the locals call it, OK Falls) has a wide variety of wineries and scenery. Some of my all-time favourite BC wines come from this region. The Okanagan Falls Winery Association represents the marketing and promotional needs of the majority of wineries in this region and in this podcast, I speak with marketing and events coordinator Kristin Peturson-Laprise about what makes Okanagan Falls so special.

MacIntyre Bluff and Vaseaux Lake, looking south.

MacIntyre Bluff and Vaseaux Lake, looking south.

Here are the wineries in Okanagan Falls to remember:

Blasted Church
Blue Mountain Vineyards
Kraze Legz
Liquidity Wines
Meyer Family Vineyards
Noble Ridge
Painted Rock
Pentage
See Ya Later Ranch
Stag’s Hollow
Synchro Mesh
Tangled Vines
Top Shelf
Wild Goose Winery

20130218-203429.jpg

I have had some amazing experiences in the wineries and vineyards of Okanagan Falls. My first wine touring experience ever brought me to Okanagan Falls in 2003 where I learned a little more about how to taste wine in a wine shop from an awesome host at Hawthorn Mountain Vineyards (now See Ya Later Ranch). My first job in a winery as a cellar hand was in OK Falls. I have interviewed many winery owners and wine makers for this podcast and other media. It is a place that I truly enjoy visiting any time I can.

There are both long established family-run wineries and historical vineyards there alongside newly built boutique wineries that are creatively following their own vision. It’s a very dynamic region where you will find rich and bold Merlot’s at one winery, beautifully aromatic whites at the one next door, and unbelievable sparkling wine just around the corner. Far from being scattered, this area represents the diverse Okanagan wine experience in microcosm, where the drive, passion, science, and creative artistry all meet at the south end of Skaha Lake.

Cheers from wine country,

~Luke

Painted Rock

The vineyards of Painted Rock Estate Winery from the west side lookout above Skaha Lake.

North to OK Falls

Looking north from above Vaseaux Lake. Hawthorn Mountain is on the left. Blue Mountain is behind the bluff on the right and Noble Ridge is center.