3 must-try wine trends (with the help of Cougar Town gifs)

14 Hands Vineyards 2012 Hot to Trot White Blend and Louis Bernard 2012 Côtes du Rhône Rouge Rhône...

14 Hands Vineyards 2012 Hot to Trot White Blend and Louis Bernard 2012 Côtes du Rhône Rouge Rhône Valley (Supplied)

Christopher Waters, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 3:41 PM ET

More than 1,300 wines from 16 countries were entered into the InterVin International Wine Awards competition, which took place last week in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont. Samples were assessed over the course of three days by panels of Canadian experts who were marking wines in various categories on issues of quality and character.

As one of the organizers of the event, I came out of the week with an eye on top producers working here in Canada and around the world as well as an idea of where some of the global trends in winemaking are heading.

The results, including our Winery of the Year finalists, will be revealed in the fall, but some comments about where the world of wine is headed can be made now without risk of spoiling the big reveal.

Cabernet is king: After six years at the helm of InterVin, I am still amazed by the amount of excitement generated by the Cabernet or Cabernet-based blends. The premium priced flights of Cabernet Sauvignon typically make it rain gold medals, while similarly ambitious Pinot Noirs or Merlots split panels into different points of view. It seems that the popular red grape factored into more than 1/3 of the top scoring wines in this year’s competition.

Fantasy brands flourish: The days before the start of judging is spent organizing nearly 1,350 wines into flights. InterVin’s sort saw a large leap in contemporary brands with playful labels or names that make a statement about the person who buys the wine or when they consume it. Popular brands such as Girls Night Out or Sledgehammer have more competition as more companies look to win over impressionable consumers. The competition’s blind tasting format means our judges concentrate on the contents of the bottle, not the message of the marketing.

Old school values: With entries from every major wine-producing region in the world, InterVin is always a timely reminder about which regions faithfully deliver well-made wines from traditional regional varieties. Spain, Portugal and Greece rank high on the quality for value scale as do pockets of France and Italy. Made from tongue-twisting grape varieties or in obscure regions, these wines are the complete opposite of the consumer-centric brands mentioned above. However their bargain prices make buying a couple of bottles to share with friends a breeze. Our Best Value selections are likely to be peppered a number of these honest-to-goodness, exciting wine finds.

Wines of the Week:

***1/2 14 Hands Vineyards 2012 Hot to Trot White Blend, Washington State, United States BC $16.99 (309922) | AB $ 16 (751249) | MB $15.25 (011501) | ON $15.35 (280859)

This blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Semillon offers a burst of fruit flavours balanced by bright acidity and a refreshing finish. It’s a great option for enjoying by the glass or with seared scallops or simply grilled white fish.

***1/2 Louis Bernard 2012 Côtes du Rhône Rouge Rhône Valley, France BC $15.99 (581645) | AB $14 (391458) | MB $13.99 (581645) | ON $13.95 (581645)

There’s a lot to like about this gutsy, dry red that’s made from mostly Grenache with some Syrah for good measure. Its mix of juicy fruit, spice and savoury notes make a great value match for whatever meat is going on the barbecue this weekend.


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