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Recent Articles

Jan. 26 - 2005 A Miracle Vintage ~ Tumultuous Week of Highs and Lows

Jan. 19 - Looking for Value? ~ Wines from Argentina to the Rescue

Jan. 12 - Looking Back - Looking Ahead ~ Spanish Wines Looking Up

Jan. 5 - New Year Bargains

Dec. 29 - Having a Sparkling New Year's Eve

Dec. 22 - Sumptuous Sippers ~ For days with Slippers

Dec. 15 - Wine Awards Canada - Charting 339 of Ontario's Best ~ Toasting Ontario's Best Sparklers from Brut to Gently Sweet

Dec. 8 - A Sparkling Vintages Release ~ But buy carefully

Dec. 1 - Holiday Gifting ~ The twin pack is the way to go

Nov. 24 - Eight Buys from Today's Vintages Release

Nov. 17 - Introducing the Signature Selection

Nov. 10 - 2005 Burgundy ~ The wine gurus like it!

Nov. 3 - Magic in Montreal ~ Le Marché an Inspiration for Local Wineries

Oct. 27 - Scary Times at Vintages ~ From Tricks to Treats

Oct. 20 -Best of the West

Oct. 13 -Today at Vintages ~ Bordeaux and Much More

Oct. 6 - Wine Auction Fever ~ Confessions of a Wine Auction Junkie ~ Forget Screaming Eagle and pass the Rum

Sep. 29 - Southern French Accents

Sep. 22 - Perfect for an Autumn day ~ Is that a bottle of spicy wine under your kilt?

Sep. 15 - A Celebration of the Ontario's harvest ~ Faces behind great wines

Sep. 8 - Reel Wines for Real Film Lovers ~ Can't snuggle? Here's what to smuggle! ~ Plus Ontario Recommendations

Sep. 1 - Dust off your Lederhosen ~ Austrian Wines Finally Unleashed in Vintages

Aug. 25 - Summer Twilight Selections ~ Spanish Synergy

Aug. 18 - The Wines of Chile ~ Soaring to the peaks of the Andes

Aug. 11 - Discovering Greece - a wine odyssey ~ Splendid Assyrtiko from Santorini

Aug. 4 - Spain - From the Classics to the Cutting Edge ~ Revving up for Rioja

Jul. 28 - Days of Wine & Roses no more! ~ Under $10 wines a rare breed

Jul. 21 - Que Sera, Syrah ~  Big, Smoky and Beautiful

Jul. 14 - Finding the best wine matches ~ Sizzling Seafood at Scaramouche

Jul. 7 - Sizzling Sauvignon Blanc ~ Vintages Best Buy Whites

Jun. 30 - In search of the Ontario Idol ~ Tracking down the best for Canada Day

Jun. 23 - Vintages Price Hikes ~ Hitting the customer where it hurts

Jun. 16 - Life After Yellow Tail

Jun. 9 - Rosé Rules ~ From serious to casual, unearthing that ambidextrous rosé

Jun. 2 - The ones that didn't get away! ~ Unearthing recent best buys - all under $20

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Wine Awards Canada
Charting 339 of Ontario's Best
Toasting Ontario's Best Sparklers
from Brut to Gently Sweet
© Michael Vaughan 2007
National Post Weekly Columnist
Saturday, December 15, 2007

All listings are automatically linked to the LCBO database
If there is a product that interests you, just click on the name below and you will instantaneously connected with the LCBO database. The product will appear in blue and all you have to do is click on the name again and then the next screen will provide details along with the store search. Just click on store search. The number of bottles in each store is updated nightly. Call the store first to see if stock still remains (each store phone number is listed).

I recently received letters from readers searching for a guide to Ontario's top wines. As a critic, I am inundated with lists, award announcements, various buying guides, you name it. Unfortunately, there is no single source revealing all of Ontario's award winning wines - at least until now.

Trying to get an overview, my assistant and I worked through the results of five key competitions, all of which focused on Ontario wines. Having personally participated in a number of these, I am well aware of the limitations of the end results, which tend to reflect group consensus rather than a consistency of a single palate.

Another problem with the results is that some wineries refuse to enter their wines. This happens when they don't have sufficient volume, meaning that the wine sells out regardless of the award. In other cases, it is fear of having the reputation of a wine damaged - i.e. coming up with only a bronze medal for a high-priced reserve. I have also been told that non-entry is due to the inconsistency and unreliability of some of the fee-based judgings.

In 2007, there were a total 394 awards - 23 from Artevino, 24 from Cuvée (gold awards only), 72 from the Ontario Wine Awards, 102 from the All Canadian Wine Championship and 173 recently announced awards (representing 44% of the total) from the Canadian Wine Awards.

What makes the results so surprising is the lack of consensus. Of the actual 339 award-winning wines, 287 (85%) got awards in just a single competition. A total of 49 (14%) got awards in two competitions, while only three wines (1%) got awards in three. In fact, only 20 wines (6%) received the same award in two competitions. Not a single wine got an identical award in three or more of the competitions.

It is also worth noting that when it comes to gold awards, results vary from Cuvée (100% gold) to the All Canadian Wine Championship (39% of their awards) down to a measly 9 golds (5%) from the Canadian Wine Awards. Readers wanting to investigate these results can download our Wine Awards Canada summaries sorted by wine type or by winery on my website. You will find it useful when ordering an Ontario wine from a restaurant wine list.

Trying to actually buy the award winners, however, isn't going to be easy. Many selections are now gone and/or vintages have changed. For example, of the sole four wines that received two gold medals virtually nothing remains. Only remnants of the double-gold Henry of Pelham 2005 Reserve Chardonnay (252833) at $14.95 linger on the LCBO general list shelves. It has been replaced with the still youthful 2006, which doesn't seem quite as appealing.

Looking for a great sparkler? Try the Cuvée gold medal Cave Spring Cellars 2004 Brut (49981) an October 12th Vintages unpresented in-store discovery, which as of last Wednesday was still available in 32 stores at $29.95. Dry, crisp and gently toasty, this 100% Chardonnay is made in the traditional Champagne method.

Also at the LCBO is one of only three wines to get three awards, Peller Estates Ice Cuvée (53199) at $30.15 along with 10 bonus airmiles. This méthode classique sparkler has a small dosage of icewine. It's effervescent, very gently sweet, ripe melon flavours make it wonderful holiday aperitif. It also works perfectly with soups and appetizers.

Of course, many first class wines are never entered meaning that they reside undiscovered at the wineries. From Peninsula Ridge, for instance, I recently tasted two terrific whites. The first was Peninsula Ridge 2006 Fumé Blanc, which is fairly rich and very tangy with yellow grapefruit and buttered toast flavours. A bit too big for seafood, it should work well with roast turkey. It is being released this Saturday at the winery (or via internet sales) at $26.95.

As for the much deeper yellow coloured Peninsula Ridge 2006 Reserve Viognier, this is a landmark effort with wonderful extract and loaded with toasty, warm brioche and spicy, ripe melon and candied grapefruit peel flaviours. Norm Beal says that a small release will take place at the end of January at $49.95 a bottle.

To help you buy the best, readers can download my 176 Vintages release tasting notes for the entire year (click here to see the fully linked pdf). They are listed from the most recent release and linked to the LCBO website meaning that it it is a breeze to check availability. As for the four-page Ontario summary of 2007 Wine Awards Canada (339 listings) - click here to see the awards sorted by type of wine. To see the awards sorted by winery click here

2001 - 2007 Tasting Note Database
Our tasting note database from December 31, 2000 to November 2007, covers every Vintages release product for the past 83 months. There are more than 15,000 notes in the database data. Just enter the name of the product, supplier name or CSPC number. Or you can search by type of wine, country of origin, even wine agent! Nothing could be easier. Also you can get information on the agent by clicking on the agent’s name, as well as current LCBO store inventory by clicking on "Check LCBO Availability", which will automatically tell you the number of bottles at LCBO as of last night.

To use our Tasting Notes Database: click here

** For All Visitors **
Vintages Releases
To see the complete list of upcoming products from the
January 5 release, including In-Store Discovery items,
click here (sorted by date of release).
You can also see it sorted by agent click here

To see the complete list of upcoming products from the
January 19 release, including In-Store Discovery items,
click here (sorted by date of release).
You can also see it sorted by agent click here

Copyright Food & Beverage Testing Institute of Canada 2007
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