The judgement of BC
Pinot Noir and Riesling from
British Columbia, Canada, tasted blind against global benchmarks


Last year, to celebrate the visit of Stephen Spurrier to the Okanagan Valley, the BC Wine Institute hosted an event curated by local wine expert DJ Kearney, titled The Judgement of BC. It pitted Syrah and Chardonnay from British Columbia against global benchmarks.


In June 2016 this exercise was repeated, with different varieties: Riesling and Pinot Noir. As I was in town for the National Wine Awards of Canada, I got to taste too, along with fellow overseas judge Elaine Brown. As well as the two of us, there were 29 Canadian wine professionals tasting. We were tasting completely blind: all we knew was that half the wines were from BC, and half were international.


DJ Kearney (above) had picked an impressive line-up, and when the identity of the wines was revealed, I think we were all quite surprised.

The significance here isn’t who ‘won’; rather, it is that the BC wines really seemed to belong in this peer group.

Judging blind doesn’t reveal the full truth of a wine, of course. There are some wines here that I’d have liked more if I’d known their identity. Then, some of the clues given in the blind tasting would have made more sense. Of course, tasting blind keeps you honest. But it’s easy to misread certain wines.

Here, I’ve given the results as decided by the group vote. But I have also given my own scores and rankings. I think there was more agreement with Riesling. For Pinot Noir, style issues are hard to separate from quality judgements, and there was more variation.

Anyway, this was a really interesting exercise and it was great to be able to take part in it. Prices given here are local market retail in CA$.


1. Max Ferd. Richter Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Kabinett 2013 | Mosel Valley, Germany | 9% | $42.99
My position: 1. Some botrytis. Rich apricot, melon and spice notes. Complex and broad with lovely acidity. 93/100

2. CedarCreek Platinum Block 3 Riesling 2014 BC VQA | Okanagan Valley, BC | 12.2% | $22.99
My position: 2. Pure and direct with lovely focused citrus fruit. Nicely balanced: pure, crisp, linear and integrated. 92/100

3. Wild Goose Stoney Slope Riesling 2013 BC VQA | Okanagan Falls, BC | 13.3% | $20
My position: 3. Very fruity and lively and pure with nice acidity. Generous melon edge to the citrus fruit. Such balance. 92/100

4. Chateau Ste. Michelle & Dr. Loosen Eroica Riesling 2013 | Columbia Valley AVA, Washington State | 12% | $29.49
My position: 11. Rounded, sweet, waxy and honeyed with rich melon and pear fruit, as well as some apples and grapes. 88/100

5. Leeuwin Art Series Riesling 2012 | Margaret River, Australia | 12% | $42.49
My position: 8. Developed nose showing a limey, spicy character. Crisp and focused with good acidity. A bit pithy. 89/100

6. Synchromesh Storm Haven Vineyard Riesling 2015 | Okanagan Falls, BC | 8.9% | $35
My position: 4. Off-dry and smooth with high acidity. Complex honeyed, grapey edge to the sweet, lively fruit. Lovely tension here. 91/100

7. Culmina Decora Riesling 2015 BC VQA | Okanagan Valley, BC | 13.5% | $26.99
My position: 7. Astonishing acidity. Very lively and intense with super-fresh, precise lemony fruit. Very pure. 90/100

8. Pewsey Vale Eden Valley Riesling 2014 | South Australia | 12% | $19.99
My position: 6. Direct and pithy with lovely citrus fruit and a bit of honey. Textured and dry with some generosity. 90/100

9. Robert Weil Kiedricher Riesling Trocken 2012 | Rheingau, Germany | 11.5% | $47.99
My position: 5. Complex and lemony with high acidity and lovely fruitiness. Vivid, intense, pithy and direct. 90/100

10. Tantalus Old Vines Riesling 2013 BC VQA | Okanagan Valley, BC | 13.1% | $30.35
My position: 12. Sweet honeyed nose with rounded tangerine and lemon fruit. Fresh, but has a waxy, pithy, slightly oily edge to it. 87/100

11. Orofino Hendsbee Vineyard Riesling 2013 BC VQA | Similkameen Valley, BC | 12% | $22
My position: 9. Lively and focusedwith fresh citrus fruit to the fore. Lemons and tangerines, with high acidity and an open fruity personality. 89/100

12. Trimbach Riesling 2012 | Alsace, France | 12.5% | $35.99
My position: 10. Very taut and lemony with some pithy notes. Herbs and citrus fruit, with a bit of nuttiness and some apple. Strong. 88/100



1.    Bouchard Père Premier Cru Beaune Clos de la Mousse Monopole 2012 | Burgundy, France | 13% | $66.99
My position: 6. Fresh and supple with a savoury edge to the cherry and plum fruit. Some tannic grip. Old world style with cherries, cedar and plums. Probably Burgundy. 89/100

2.    Bachelder Oregon Pinot Noir 2012 | Willamette Valley AVA Oregon, USA | 14% | $49.99
My position: 9. Supple, ripe, generous and rich with sweet black cherries and plums. A broad, ripe style with generous plum and cherry fruit. Ripe and easy. 87/100

3.    Felton Road Bannockburn Pinot Noir 2014 | Central Otago, New Zealand | 14% | $67.99
My position: 1. Supple and fresh with lush black cherry and blackberry fruit. Ripe and appealing with nice smooth tannins. Bright and quite floral with some grip. So pretty. 93/100

4.   Haywire Canyonview Pinot Noir 2014 BC VQA | Summerland, Okanagan Valley, BC | 13% | $39.90
My position: 3. Supple, fresh and pure with nice bright fruit. A lighter style of Pinot with fresh red cherry and plum fruit. 92/100

5.    Meyer Family Reimer Vineyard Pinot Noir 2012 BC VQA | Okanagan Valley, BC | 13.5% | $40
My position: 5. Sweet and broad with nice juicy fruit. Quite dense, showing spice and herbs, and a savoury dimension, too. 90/100

6.    Quails' Gate Richard's Block Pinot Noir 2013 BC VQA | Okanagan Valley, BC | 14% | $55.17
My position: 8. Rounded, ripe and textured, with smooth, rich black cherry and plum fruit, as well as some blackberry. Appealing. 88/100

7.    Blue Mountain Vineyard Reserve Pinot Noir 2013 BC VQA | Okanagan Falls, BC | 12.5% | $39.90
My position: 7. Lively and bright with fresh, slightly tarry spice and olive-laced black cherry and plum fruit. 89/100

8.    Thibault Liger-Belair Bourgogne Les Grands Chaillots 2012 | Burgundy, France | 13% | $65.99
My position: 10. Supple and perhaps a bit minty with fresh raspberry and cherry fruit. There’s some grip here: juicy and focused, and quite tannic. Some greenness. 87/100

8.  JoieFarm Reserve En Famille Pinot Noir 2012 BC VQA | Naramata, Okanagan Valley, BC | 13.6% | $29.90
My position: 4. Fresh and vivid with bright raspberry and cherry fruit. Quite primary with lovely fruit focus. Pure and direct. 91/100

10. BK Wines Skin n'Bones Pinot Noir 2013 | Lenswood, Adelaide Hills, South Australia | 12.5% | $39.99
My position: 11. Hint of mint on the nose with olives, herbs, cherries and rhubarb. Savoury with some pepperiness. Quite grippy. 87/100

11. Moraine Pinot Noir 2013 BC VQA | Naramata, Okanagan Valley, BC | 13.1% | $28.90
My position: 2. Vital and lively with lovely black cherry fruit and some meat and olive notes. Lovely depth of fruit here with a warm, grainy texture. A generous, ripe style with real appeal. 92/100

12. Meomi Pinot Noir 2014 | California, USA | 13.7% | $25.99
My position. 12. Very ripe and sweet with some spicy oak underneath the sweet, ripe, slightly jammy fruit. A ripe Californian style. 86/100

See also:

Visiting Canada's BC wine regions (series)
Visiting Ontario's wine regions (series)

Wines tasted 06/16  
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