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Have to tell you, I am extremely excited and honoured to be one of 10 judges for the 2016 British Columbia Wine Awards run by the Okanagan Wine Festivals Society in September.

The competition will feature over 600 B.C. wines that will come under scrutiny from what looks like a stellar judging panel that includes:

  • DJ Kearney, Vancouver
  • Tim Pawsey, Vancouver
  • Barb Philip, Vancouver
  • Sebastien Le Goff, Vancouver
  • Gurvinder Bhatia, Edmonton
  • Paul Zitarelli, Seattle
  • Ben MacPhee-Sigurdson, Winnipeg
  • Sid Cross, Vancouver
  • Brent Muller, Victoria – Apprentice Judge

I have judged with many of the above people and can attest to their knowledge and sharp palates. The cream of the crop from the best of B.C. wines will surely rise to the top.

Gold, silver and bronze medals will be awarded over four days of competition and from those, judges will be choosing platinum medalists, which represent the top 1% of wines entered and then the Premiers Award for best wine in B.C. will be chosen from the platinum awards.

I’ve been fine-tuning my B.C. wine palate with a lot of vino from that wonderful province this summer.

Here are reviews from three different wineries — Haywire (plus Narrative, also made at the Okanagan Crush Pad), Fort Berens and Township 7.

Haywire

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Haywire Secrest Mountain Vineyard Gamay Noir Rose 2015 ($23, 92 points) — Definitely my style of rose with a personable nose of plums, deep, rich cherry, rhubarb, earth and freshness. Not perfectly dry, with just a hint of sweetness on the palate and a range of plum, black cherry and herbs. This is serious rose with texture, style and verve.

grisHaywire Switchback Pinot Gris 2014 ($25, 90 points) — Switchback is a gorgeous, relatively new vineyard in the Haywire family that’s been farmed organically since it was planted. The biggest planting is Pinot Gris, which is wild fermented and aged in concrete for 10 months on its lees. It has a gorgeous nose of fresh apple, melon, herbs and pear. It has some weight on the palate with rich and pure fruits, spicy apple, melon and a vein of zesty lemon through the finish.

Narrative XC Method ($25, 89 points) — This bubbly is crafted from 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay. Secondary fermentation took place in the charmat tanks at the Okangan Crush Pad. It has a lively, steady bead in the glass and a pale pink colour. It has fresh aromas of apple, tangerine and toasty-creamy notes. It’s mouth-filling with laser-sharp acidity and a range of apple, pear and citrus flavours through a brisk finish.

Narrative Red 2014 ($20, 91 points) — This blend of Gamay Noir and Syrah from grapes sourced from vineyards in Oliver has a nose of cassis, pepper, raspberry, deli meat and licorice. It gushes on the palate with a range of dark fruits, raspberry jam, spicy bits and racy acidity that dances on the palate. A remarkable red wine offered at a value price.

Narrative Riesling 2015 ($23, 88 points) — A lovely nose of pear, grapefruit, lime, wet-stone minerality and bin apple. Tastes a bit off-dry on the palate but balanced out by racy acidity to highlight the quince, grapefruit and peach flavours.

Narrative Fortified Small Batch ($45, 91 points) — This fortified wine (20% abv), crafted at the Okanagan Crush Pad by chief winemaker Matt Dumayne, is a blend of Merlot and Syrah, fermented in concrete, fortified with estate grape spirits distilled on site, and aged for two years in neutral oak. It’s rich and intense on the nose with thick, fortified cherry, chocolate, blueberry and plum notes. It’s sweet and lush on the palate with a creamy feel and a bevy of rich, ripe fruits and barrel spices. Enjoy as a nightcap or sitting with friends around the fire pit. Perfect!

Township 7

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Township 7 Unoaked Chardonnay 2015 ($18, 89 points) — A rich, fruity nose of pear, apple, lemon and cream. A lovely, clean Chard with a basket of orchard fruit and zingy citrus on the finish.

Township 7 Riesling 2015 ($25, 88 points) — Wow, such a lime bomb on the nose with a wave of honeysuckle, tangerine and grapefruit accents. It’s refreshingly tart and dry on the palate with a range of citrus and minerals through the zesty finish.

Fort Berens

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Fort Berens Rose 2015 ($18, 88 points) — A lovely summer sipper made from Pinot Noir and Merlot that shows rousing cherry and raspberry fruit on the nose and adds cranberry fruit on the palate in a relatively dry style.

FortBerens-RieslingFort Berens Riesling 2015 ($17, 88 points) — Rich in tropical-guava fruit on the nose with underlying citrus and apple fruit. It’s made a touch off-dry and shows lovely apple, lime, grapefruit and tropical fruits on the palate.

FortBerens-2012-PinotGrisFort Berens Pinot Gris ($17, 88 points) — A peachy-apple nose with a vein of zesty citrus notes. It’s flavourful on the palate with a basket of orchard fruit and a lemon kick on the finish.