Vineland Estates Cabernet Franc Tops Amarone in U.S. Wine Competition

Judgement at Fortunes Rocks

Each year, a select group of committed wine drinkers gathers on the eastern Maine coast to swirl, sniff, slurp and savour at the Judgement at Fortunes Rocks. 

Ready, Set, Drink

The table is set. The teams are picked. The rules are simple. Each of us brings a bottle from a different country or region. This year offerings came from Italy, France, Portugal, California, and of course Canada.

The blind-tasting has evolved over the years. We  started off with wildly different wines, to give us a fighting chance.  We had the year when we got cocky and  featured all Cabernet Sauvignon ranging in price from $10 – $50 to find out if price really does matter. It did, sort of. We all identified the least expensive wine, but our favourite was the $30 special – which all of us needed to “sample” again… just to be sure.

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is probably the one time of the week we all take seriously – well semi- seriously, during a beach week of fine wine, fine music and fine food.  The Judgement at Fortunes Rocks  is like taking the big exam after practicing a whole lot. There is even a trophy.

But this year, the Judgement at Fortunes Rocks 4.0 will be remembered as the year of Canada -Take that Mr. Trump.

 

 

 

Most of the teams nailed the Pinot Noir, a confidence builder because of its lighter colour.

Two teams identified wine #2  from Medoc. Bottle #3 – EVERY SINGLE TEAM – deemed it an obvious Amarone. This group should know – they have sampled many many bottles  together – and even toured and tasted at the Zenato winery north of Verona last year. 

And every single team got it wrong.

The best wine of the bunch was the Cabernet Franc from Vineland Estates. 

 

Vineland Estates Scores Big

Now wine snobs can sneer and call us a bunch of amateurs – we are. But the fact that all of us committed wine drinkers selected the Vineland Grand Reserve over Amarone under any circumstance is worth noting.

OK, this may not be quite on the level of the 1976 Judgement of Paris when a panel of the creme de la creme of French wine judges awarded two California wines – a  red and a white – top spots in a blind-tasting. The competition sent shock waves through the wine industry, opened the door to globalization,  and even inspired the film “Bottleshock”.   

VQA wines have come into their own.  It’s never been a better time to buy local. Our wines have lost the asterisk, that old descriptor of “that’s really good for a Canadian wine.”

Wine makers in the Niagara region are making outstanding wines worth savouring. Period.

And for the winner and the losers of the Judgement at Fortunes Rocks 4.0 …. we’ll just keep practicing.

Cheers!

Mystery Solved

So if you’ve ever heard the expression “go with your first instincts” pay attention and do exactly that, because when you over think it, you’ll get it wrong.  I was recently invited to take part in a really fun endeavour called The Label Project. Basically over a period of time I received 3 boxes that arrived by “No Name Sender”.

Each box contained a bottle of wine that was unidentified and through some provided clues and tastings I had to determine what the wines were and where they were from.  Then last Friday I had to hand in my tasting notes and today the results were revealed.

The first wine I received was a white and I really thought it was a cool climate chardonnay but wanting to be absolutely sure I totally over analyzed it to the point I got it wrong, and believe me I really hate getting things wrong.   I even had a friend (a talented Sommelier try it who also didn’t think it was a Chardonnay after several sips – goes to show the experts are sometimes as challenged as a novice when it comes to blind tastings) The other 2 bottles were reds and I figured I would just enjoy the wine and not try so hard and guess what?  I got them both right.

Jacob’s Creek Wines

Today I received a letter from the wine maker, Bernard Hickin of Jacob’s Creek thanking me for my participation (no thanks needed – I had a ton of fun). He revealed the 3 wines I had tasted from 3 renowned Australian regions, Barossa, Coonawarra and Adelaide Hills.  Along with the letter I also received the same three bottles of wine, this time with the actual label you’ll find on the bottle when you buy it at the LCBO. Now I guess I’m just going to have to open up that Chardonnay again, close my eyes and just enjoy. If you’d like to try them as well, here’s a list of the three bottles:

Jacob’s Creek Reserve Chardonnay 2011 (from Adelaide Hills, Australia) $14.95

Jacob’s Creek Reserve Shiraz 2009 (From the Barossa Valley, Australia)  $16.95

Jacob’s Creek Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 (Fromm Coonawarra, Australia) $16.95