The Judgement of Kingston: Celebrating the County’s World-Class Wines

By Sara Smith

Last year, a competitive event saw internationally-renowned champions go head-to-head against Canadian up-and-comers in a bid for supremacy. But the first-ever Judgement of Kingston was no sporting match; it was a celebration of our region’s achievements in the world of wine.
The event is based on the famous “Judgment of Paris” blind tasting that took place in 1976, which compared acclaimed French wines against the products of up-and-coming California wineries. The Paris tasting became the subject of the 2008 comedy/drama film Bottle Shock, which in turn inspired some Kingston residents to recreate their own version of the event.
“We noticed that the Prince Edward County wines have been improving — it’s an up-and-coming region,” says Ugurhan Berkok, organizer of the Royal Winers Club of Kingston, and Judgement of Kingston committee member. “Somebody mentioned the movie Bottle Shock, and we said ‘Why don’t we do this?’”

The Judgement of Kingston: Celebrating the County’s World-Class Wines
Get ready to swirl and savour at the upcoming Judgement of Kingston. Photographer: Jill111 via Pixabay

The intent of the Judgement of Kingston, the second of which takes place next month on Saturday, November 4, 2017, is to showcase the improving quality of the County’s wineries by placing them in a blind taste test against award-winning bottles from established regions. “At last year’s event, we compared the County chardonnays against the same California wines that, 41 years ago, beat their French counterparts in the Judgment of Paris with French judges,” says Berkok. “It was a huge success, because of the seven wines tasted, the County chardonnays placed rather well: first, second, and tied for fourth out of seven.”
This year, a new varietal will enter the ring: PEC pinot noirs versus Burgundy wines. “At the beginning, a sommelier will explain to attendees what to expect from a Pinot Noir,” says Berkok. “The event takes about 3 hours, during which you taste one wine, take your notes, and move to the next one, and so on. In between, the judges walk around the room, so you can ask them questions.”
Berkok notes that while the Judgement of Kingston is definitely an event for wine lovers, you don’t need to be an experienced connoisseur to attend. In fact, it’s a great opportunity to learn more about your favourite libation. “If you’ve never thought of wine as something that has different characteristics, you can talk to the judges and ask them questions,” he says. “A beginner, who just drinks wine socially, can learn about a wine’s variations, history, and geography.”
Just like the Judgment of Paris before it, the Judgment of Kingston aims to highlight the flourishing wine industry found in this region, and to acknowledge the achievements of some of our best local wineries. As pinot noir is known as the main grape of the County, this year’s event promises to be a can’t-miss celebration of the culture and capabilities of the Kingston region. Locals and visitors alike will enjoy savouring the flavours that are unique to Prince Edward County.
Tickets to this year’s Judgement of Kingston are $85 per person. Based on the sell-out attendance at the 2016 tasting, Berkok doesn’t expect them to last long. “This year, we are already very close to selling out,” he says. You can get yours today at www.judgementofkingston.ca