Wed. Sep 28, 2016


For a festival celebrating its 20th anniversary, it’s apropos that a record number of wines were submitted for consideration in Cornucopia’s annual top wines awards. 
With 167 exceptional wines on the table, determining the winners of Cornucopia’s 20th Anniversary Top 20 Competition was not for the faint of heart (or palate). DJ Kearney, international wine educator, wine writer, festival presenter and head judge, led the diverse panel of experts from Whistler and Vancouver. Each judge is recognized as a leader in their field within the B.C. food and wine industry, and includes wine directors, wine instructors, food and wine writers, sommeliers and restaurateurs. The panel gathered for the day in a blind tasting session at Whistler’s Quattro Restaurant on September 19.

Top 20 Cornucopia Whistler
“To receive 167 high-caliber entries is an indication of the festival’s stature among B.C.’s wine and food festivals,” says DJ Kearney, Cornucopia Top 20 chief judge. “With the finalists reduced to 20 wines in honour of Cornucopia's 20th anniversary, it was even harder than usual to determine the best of the best. Don’t think I'm complaining, though -- I led a crack team of Whistler and Vancouver experts who fearlessly blind tasted and evaluated the record number of entries on-site in Whistler. I'm looking forward to seeing the crowds arrive for the festival and make their own discoveries among the blockbuster lineup of wines at this year's event.”
With characteristics such as colour, aroma, flavour and finish taken into evaluation; the scores were tallied and the top 20 wines were chosen.  Judges were put to the test.  Paul Street, VP of Food and Beverage for Whistler Blackcomb was one of the 14 on the panel. "It was an honour to judge the Cornucopia Top 20 under DJ Kearney, with such an experienced panel of judges from both Whistler and Vancouver. The wines were excellent, and I was pleased to see such a great mix of domestic and international wines represented. It’s too bad we couldn’t have awarded more of the wines, but this leaves more opportunity for discovery by Cornucopia attendees!”  
Eric Blouin, judge and Cornucopia Ambassador agreed, “It is so great to be able to host this competition here in Whistler with a full Whistler hospitality crew on the tasting panel. With a record 167 wines submitted, you can definitely see that there's some excitement in the industry for Cornucopia’s 20th Anniversary.”

Eric Griffith, of Whistler's Alta Bistro noted, "The tasting was set up professionally with DJ Kearney overseeing to allow for a blind tasting and it was a real test to taste so many wines systematically and assess their merits in a short time.  The panels were moderated very well and the tasting groups were able to focus in on the wines which were the best in the flights - there was a lot of agreement concerning the the best of each grouping and which wines were considered for the Top 20.  I felt that our group did a good job finding the best, no wines that weren't meant to be top were left behind.  The wines voted into the Top 20 are definitely worth finding and buying for enjoyment this Fall at Cornucopia!"
As in previous years, the judges recognized the Top 20 wines and awarded three wines as the Top Bubble, Top White and Top Red.

Without further ado, the Top 20 wines for 2016 are:
Top Bubble – Haywire The BUB 2014
Top White – Quails’ Gate Stewart Family Reserve Chardonnay 2014
Top Red – Kaiken Reserva Malbec 2013
Haywire Top Bubble at Cornucopia    Quails' Gate Top White at Cornucopia       Kaiken Malbec Top Red at Cornucopia
Best of the Rest, in alphabetical order:
Barossa Valley Estate Shiraz 2014
Black Hills Nota Bene 2014
C.C. Jentsch Cellars Cabernet Merlot 2014
C.C. Jentsch Cellars Syrah 2014
Ceretto Barolo DOCG 2011
Ceretto Langhe DOC Arneis Blangé
Chateau Ste. Michelle Columbia Valley Riesling 2014
Culmina Family Estate Winery Dilemma 2014
Foxtrot Vineyards Foxtrot Vineyard Pinot Noir 2013
Hardys William Hardy Shiraz 2014
Harper’s Trail Pioneer Block Dry Riesling 2014
Howard Park Miamup Cabernet Sauvignon 2012
Mascota Vineyards Unanime 2012
Pegau Plan VSIG
Tantalus Chardonnay 2014
Villa Maria Taylors Pass Vineyard Chardonnay 2013
Villa Maria Taylors Pass Vineyard Pinot Noir 2012
Cornucopia participants can congratulate the winners and sample these wines during the festival at Crush Grand Tasting, and Cornucopia Trade Tasting (exclusive to industry professionals).
An enormous thank you to Cornucopia’s expert judges:
DK Kearney, Head Judge
Andre St. Jacques
Daenna Van Mulligen
David Brownridge
Eric Blouin
Eric Griffith
Geoff Weddell
Joanne DiGeso
Kurtis Kolt
Luc Trottier
Michael Kompass
Olivia Halla
Paul Street
Samantha Rahn

Top 20 at Cornucopia
Judges Daenna Van Mulligen, Geoff Weddell and Michael Kompass Photo: Julie Zoney   

Cornucopia's Top 20
Flight of White at the Top 20.  Photo: Julie Zoney