Wine critics and wine consumers don’t always see eye to eye on what constitutes a good wine, but judging by some recent awards and commentaries, Prince Edward County wines seem to have something for everyone.
The People’s Choice Awards
These awards were voted on at the Taste the County Celebration on September 24, and the results remind everyone that it’s not necessarily the championship wines that pay the bills.. People generally drink and buy more down to earth, affordable wines. In the white wine category, Huff Estates 2010 Medium Dry Riesling took first place. If you ask the staff at Huff what is their best seller – it’s this wine. The 2008 and 2009 have won awards at the All Canadian Wine Championships and the Canadian Wine awards so this one may yet see medals from professional wine judges but with or without the medals, customers have found this a satisfying white year after year. Sandbanks 2010 Dunes and Shoreline whites tied for second place. Winemaker/owner Catherine Langlois is hard to beat in terms of flavour and affordability and Sandbanks are probably the most widely known wines produced in the County. Karlo Estates’ 2010 Riesling took third place. Karlo Estates is still a relative newcomer and so getting a third place speaks well for the future.Surprisingly none of the celebrated Chardonnays from the region were chosen.
Although the County winemakers are striving to make the perfect Pinot Noir, it’s significant that the People’s Choice selected Baco Noir for the first two spots in the favourite red wine catagory. Sandbanks Baco Noir took first and Waupoos Estates Baco Noir took second. I think it’s because Baco Noir is great with pizza, steak and fries and Jamie Kennedy’s braised oxtail poutine which won first place in the favourite savory dish category. You don’t have to have a sophisticated palate to thoroughly enjoy it. Third Place was shared by Closson Chase for its 2009 Pinot Noir, Karlo Estates for its 2010 Fifth Element and the Grange of Prince Edward County for its 2008 Cabernet Franc.
John Szabo’s rating of County Pinot Noir
If County Pinot Noir did not get top billing at the People’s Choice award, it did get recognized by master sommelier and wine columnist John Szabo’ in his National Post column The Appetizer on the best new Ontario Pinot Noirs. Norm Hardie’s Limited County Pinot Noir Unfiltered 2009 scored the highest at 92 and he rates it as the best so far from Norman Hardie “The texture is pure silk and elegance, with lovely fresh and delicate tart red fruit, vibrant and pure, with energetic acidity, very fine-grained tannins, and a wonderfully refreshing.” Closson Chase’s CCV Pinot Noir scored a 91 and was described as “light,herbal and mineral” with delicate fruit flavours. Closson Chase’s more robust Churchside Point Pinot Noir was described as having darker fruit flavours with a coffee chocolate finish and rated a 89. Rosehall Run’s 2009 was described as having “ a really lovely and pure red fruit/berry character, red currant, red cherry, with a fine measure of florality. This was aged 50% in new barrels, and wood spice is certainly a feature…” It rated 89. Casa Dea Estates’ Pinot Noir 2009 was described as light, tight, juicy and mineral – a fine example of County Pinot. It scored 88.
Other Recognition for County Pinot Noir
Although not on John Szabo’s list, Stanner’s Vineyards 2009 Estate Pinot Noir won a Bronze at the Intervin International Wine Awards Competition. And in County GrapeVine, celebrated wine judge and critic David Lawrason scored Exultet’s 2009 Pinot Noir as a 91. for its “lifted violet, blackberry and vaguely herbal aromatics.” Meanwhile Harwood Estates took home a bronze award for its Pinot Noir at the very prestigeous Canadian Wine awards.
While I’m proud to say I have a bottle of Norm Hardie’s 2009 County Pinot Noir in my wine cellar – I also have two bottles Sandbanks and Waupoos Baco Noir. I’m not sure what occasion will be good enough for Norm’s wonderful Pinot Noir but the Baco Noir will be gone on the next pizza night.