It really is a great day for all Canadian wine,” says Jeff Martin, La Frenz winery owner, after recently achieving “Small Winery of the Year” at the Riverside International Wine competition 2014, for an unprecedented second year in a row . Established 30 years ago, the California competition accepts entries from across the world and an international panel of 44 highly respected sommeliers, winemakers and wine writers evaluated over 1,900 wines through its four days of blind judging.
As I overlook the immaculate vineyards of La Frenz, an old saying comes to mind, “Once is luck, twice is skill.” The Riverside judges concur, “it is clear that another new force must be reckoned with in terms of wine quality: Canada.”
The whole team at La Frenz were thrilled to win the trophy at Riverside for the first time in 2013 and then to finish 2013 winning a slew of awards including the most Double Platinum awards (3 of the 15 awarded) at the Pacific Northwest Platinum judging in December. This competition invites wineries from across Oregon, Washington, Idaho and BC to submit only their Gold Medal winning wines for re-judging. It was a proud moment indeed for Jeff and wife Niva to accept these awards at a gala black tie dinner at the Yakima Country Club in April.
Jeff is particularly proud of the awards in the U.S. as they serve to emphasise just how far BC wines have come in the past decade. “The time is ripe to enter the American market,” he says, “that’s exactly why we have targeted these big international competitions.” Jeff and Niva have a long history in the Australian wine industry and remember all the effort required to get Australian wines recognized and taken seriously on the international table. For Jeff, the awards are simply an affirmation of the detailed approach and experience they have accumulated over the past 40 years. In selecting their four vineyard sites, La Frenz was highly strategic selecting only Class 1 land, then planting only varieties and clones that were intimately suited to the terroir of the site. “It may sound like an old cliché, however, we start from the ground up and we use both organic and biodynamic techniques but above all promote biodiversity across the entire vineyards,” he says. Jeff credits the skill of his vineyard team for implementing a holistic, sustainable vineyard management approach. He has high praise for the expertise of his long time vineyard crew of Raul Garcia, along with Roberto Ramirez and Faustino Pocheteco. “These guys have farming in their veins and have so much pride in what they do. They are a big part of the consistency we have achieved at La Frenz over the past 15 years.”
~ Roslyne Buchanan
**NW WINE SUMMIT RESULTS: La Frenz Winery was named the competition’s top winery of distinction for capturing eight gold medals across a full spectrum of styles. Wines earning Gold Medals for La Frenz owners Jeff and Niva Martin were the non-vintage “Tawny” (fortified port-style wine from Pinot Noir & Merlot), 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon, 2012 Chardonnay, 2012 Pinot Noir, 2012 “Vintage Port” (fortified port-style wine from Shiraz/Syrah), 2013 Sauvignon Blanc, 2013 “Alexandria” (white proprietary blend from Schönberger & Siegerrebe) and the 2013 Viognier. Their 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon was selected the Best Cabernet Sauvignon of the competition and the 2013 Alexandria was named “Best of British Columbia”