Gold. Silver. Bronze.

Ottawa Business Journal – Executive Dining Guide

November 2007

When you walk into a wine store, there are rows of wines awaiting your discovery.  But how do you to select the right one?  There are many factors to consider, and often the mention of winning a medal at a wine competition can influence your choice.  For this reason, wineries compete in wine competitions hoping to win a medal that they can promote in order to influence your purchase.

This past weekend, 117 such medals were presented at the 22nd annual Ottawa Wine and Food Show to the winners of the Cellars of the World Wine Competition.  This prestigious wine competition that attracts wineries from all corners of the world, was managed by The Savvy Grapes.  The weeks leading up to the competition day, required hours of receiving, categorizing and logging 425 bottles of wines.

On the day of the competition, swirling and sipping took place behind closed doors. A panel of 25 judges, consisting of wine writers, wine industry professionals, wine consultants and accredited Sommeliers were divided into groups based on their preference of wine styles.  Throughout the morning, each group judged 60 plus wines ‘blind’ without knowledge of the winery, country or vintage year.  The categories for this competition are based on style and grape variety then further broken down into three price points; $9-14.99, $15-19.99 and over $20.  All exhibitors at the Ottawa Wine and Food Show were invited to participate in the competition entering wines that they intend to serve at the show. As a minimum, there must be three wine entries per category.  This year, the largest category was Shiraz/Rhone varietals $9-$14.99 with over 30 entries.

The room is silent apart from the sounds of the judges swirling, sipping, spitting and writing.  Meanwhile, behind the scenes, students and graduates of the Sommelier programs of Ottawa’s Algonquin College and Gatineau’s La Cité Colléagiale orchestrate the pouring of each category.  The competition chair watches over the judges as they are prohibited to discuss their perceptions of the wines until all of the judges at the table have submitted their score sheets for tabulation.

“The results of wine competitions provide the wine-buying public with an incredible guide for their future wine purchases. The wineries, the wine agents and the general public anxiously await the results, and with good reason—it’s amongst the medal winners that everyone can find a wine to suit their taste and budget”, said Vic Harradine, co-author of the newly released book newly released book, The 500 Best-Value Wines in the LCBO and a veteran wine judge.

“Winning a medal at the Cellars of the World Wine Competition can help launch a wine as the restaurant trade and consumers are looking for award winning wines. This is particularly true with imported wines that are new to the Ontario market and for new Ontario wineries that are just starting’, explained Halina Player, owner and host of the Ottawa Wine and Food Show. Case in point, in 2006, a little known winery, Lammershoek Winery of South Africa, entered a selection of their wines into the competition and won two gold medals.  As a result, these wines can now be found on premium wine lists at some of Ottawa’s finest restaurants.  This year, Lammershoek entered their wines into the competition and won three medals including a gold.

Mark Cosgrove, Ottawa representative for the wine agency Churchill Cellars Ltd stated, “Participating in the Cellars of the World Wine Competition is important to Churchill Cellars and winning an award can have significant impact at the Ottawa Wine and Food Show. People visit our booth specifically to try the wines that have won medals.  We are proud to have received ten awards this year (2007).  We will definitely have a busy booth!”

Mountain Road Winery of Beamsville, Ontario (in the Niagara wine region) can attest to the impact of winning a medal and a busy booth.  At last years show, this wineries’ unassuming booth attracted people wanting to sample its award winning Mountain Road Red.  This blended red wine won gold and tied for the Best of Show Red Wine.  By the end of the show, winery owner Steve Kocsis reported that he was totally sold out of his inventory at the Niagara winery of this $16 wine.

The Savvy Grapes recommends these award winning wines of the Cellars of the World Wine Competition currently available at the LCBO:

Sauvignon Blanc/Semillion over $15

Gold Medal winner – Babich Sauvignon Blanc 2006, New Zealand

Chardonnay over $20

Gold Medal (tied) & Best of Show French White Wine

Jaffelin Pouilly Fuisse 2006, France

Off-Dry White Wine $9-$14.99

Silver Medal winner – Angels Gate Sussreserve Riesling VQA 2006, Canada

Other White Wine $9-14.99

Silver Medal winner – J&F Lurton Bodega Pinot Gris 2007, Argentina

Rosé Wines

Silver Medal winner – Torres DeCasta Rosé 2006, Spain

Pinot Noir $15 – $19.99

Gold Medal winner – Robert Mondavi Private Selection 2006, California, USA

Bordeaux Blends over $20

Silver Medal winner & Best of Show French Red Wine

E.A.R.L. Cyril Gillet Vieux Chateau Landon 2003, France

Other Red Wines – Old World $9-$14.99

Silver Medal winner – Cecchi Bonizio Sangiovese di Maremma 2005, Italy

Other Red Wines – New World over $20

Lammershoek Pinotage 2005, South Africa

For a complete list of the Cellars of the World Wine Competition award winning wines, visit http://www.playerexpo.com/WineShow/Visitors/Competition.htm

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