The Judgement of Kingston returned to the Residence Inn in Kingston for another round of tasting great wines. Fashioned after the historic Judgement of Paris in the 1970s, the Kingston tradition has become a must attend event for wine lovers. This year the competition was between the pinot noirs of Prince Edward County and New Zealand. A sold-out room of wine enthusiasts packed the conference room to see who would come out on top.
Last year, Prince Edward County triumphed with Rosehall Run claiming the gold medal position in the battle over the best chardonnay with British Columbia. New Zealand has a similar climate to what Prince Edward County faces, so a competition over pinot noir was inevitable.
Starting promptly with a welcome from town crier Chris Whyman, guests were treated to a jubilant start to the blind tastings. Each guest had placemats set out with spots for six glasses. Wines were poured in intervals of 10 to 15 minutes, and all guests were encouraged to save some wine in each glass, so that a comparison could be made between the wines as to which was best according to one’s own palette.
Servers promptly came out with bags labelled with the number of whatever wines you were receiving. Not a hint was given of where the wine was from, just the number. While the audience sat at their tables and conversed about whether the wine was acidic, if it was too dry, or perhaps it was an old or new wine based on the colour in the glass, a panel of wine experts sat at the head table judging each wine and making similar comments about the quality and value of the wine they were enjoying.
After a couple of hours, we listened as the judges returned with their verdicts for the top three. The bronze medalist according to the judges was a 2017 Thornbury Pinot Noir from the Central Otago area of New Zealand. It was a delightful wine, and certainly hit all the right notes for taste and quality.
The silver medalist was the 2017 Villa Maria Reserve Pinot Noir from the Marlborough region in New Zealand. This wine had hints of raspberry and an oak spice that brought out earthly flavors.
The gold medalist was from Stanners Vineyard in Prince Edward County. Another 2017 pinot noir, this wine has great notes of cherry and cranberry flavors with the signature mixture of the terroir that helps make Prince Edward County wines unique shining through.
After the judges explained their reasons for their choices, the audience had a say and submitted their choice for the top three wines. The audience bronze medalist was the 2016 Greystone Omihi Pinot Noir from North Cantebury, New Zealand. The audience silver medalist was the Stanners 2017. While the audience gold medal choice was the Thornbury Pinot Noir, the judges third choice.
While the order of best wines differed between the audience and the panel of judges, the chance to experience some great wines and discuss what makes a wine so enjoyable is a night not to be missed. Congratulations to Stanners Vineyard. Their small family run vineyard is an excellent destination to visit when in Prince Edward County.
Next year the Judgement of Kingston will shift from red to white wine, as it looks to pit the best chardonnay of Prince Edward County against the best chardonnay of the Niagara region. If you enjoy wine, then the Judgement of Kingston is an event for you.
Bill Gowsell was born and raised in Kingston. With an interest in history, food, wine, and all things Disney, Bill has been writing for the last eight years on a variety of topics. During the summers he can be found at the family cottage north of Kingston, or at the bottom of Lake Ontario… scuba diving.