British Columbia’s Top 10 Wineries at the 2021 Wine Align National Wine Awards of Canada (NWAC)

British Columbia had 148 wineries entered in this year’s National Wine Awards competition; the highest of any province.  With such a strong field of competitors, earning a position in the top 10 is truly an accomplishment.

The wines were all served to the judges without displaying the producer, origin or price.  The wines were identified and organized by grape variety or style. The top medalists were tasted in multiple rounds by many different judges.

The wineries identified in green periodically have their wines available for sale beyond British Columbia. The award winning wines identified in blue are available in Ontario through the LCBO.

1. La Frenz Estate Winery, Penticton, B.C.  (2nd overall)
In addition to being the top B.C. winery, La Frenz was declared the Best Performing Small Winery of the Year.  They previously received the title in 2017.  This year they earned 2 Platinum, 6 Gold and 5 Silver medals.  La Frenz wines are available online from their web site www.lafrenzwinery.com.

Platinum Award Winners

N/V Liqueur Muscat – Category: Fortified Wine -$22.00

2019 Reserve Ensemble – Category: White Blend – $29.00

Gold Award Winners

2019 Reserve Chardonnay – Category: Chardonnay – $32.00

2018 Cabernets Rockyfeller Vineyard – Category: Red Blend – $32.00

2020 Riesling Cl. 21B Freedom 75 Vineyard – Category: Riesling – $22.00

2020 Sauvignon Blanc Wits End Vineyard – Category: Sauvignon Blanc – $24.00

2020 Semillon Knorr Vineyard – Category: Semillon – $25.00

N/V Tawny Port – Category: Other Fortified – $22.00

Silver Award Winners

Syrah Rockyfeller Vineyard – Category: Syrah – $32.00

2019 Pinot Noir Desperation Hill Vineyard – Category: Pinot Noir – $30.00

2019 Reserve Pinot Noir – Category: Pinot Noir – $30.00

2019 Reserve Vivant – Category: White Blend – $29.00

2019 Vintage Port Style – Category: Other Fortified

2. Blasted Church Vineyards, Okanagan Falls, B.C.  (3rd overall)
Blasted Church received 2 Platinum, 6 Gold, 5 Silver and 11 Bronze medals. There wines are available from their website at www.blastedchurch.com.
Platinum Award Winners

2019 Big Bang Theory – Category: Red Blend – $24.00

2019 Cabernet Franc – Category: Cabernet Franc – $36.90

Gold Award Winners

2017 Nectar of the Gods – Category: Red Blend – $75.00

2017 Holy Moly Petit Verdot – Category: Petit Verdot – $50.00

2018 Cabernet Merlot – Category: Red Blend – $34.00

2018 Small Blessings Malbec – Category: Malbec – $40.00

2018 Small Blessings Cabernet Sauvignon – Category: Cabernet Sauvignon – $50.00

2020 Blaufrankisch Rosé – Category: Rosé – $26.00

Silver Award Winners

2017 Cross to Bear – Category: Cabernet Franc – $50.00

2017 Nothing Sacred – Category: Red Blend – $50.00

2017 Syrah – Category: Syrah – $32.00

2020 Viognier – Category: Viognier – $24.00

2016 OMG – Category: Sparkling Wine – $30.00

Bronze Award Winners

2017 Merlot – Category: Merlot – $22.95

2018 Holy Moly Petit Verdot – Category: Petit Verdot – $22.95

2018 Merlot, Skaha Bench – Category: Merlot – $34.00

2018 Nectar of the Gods – Category: Red Blend – $75.00

2018 Nothing Sacred Category: Red Blend – $50.00

2018 Syrah – Category: Syrah – $32.00

2020 Big Bang Theory – Category: Red Blend – $24.00

2019 Pinot Gris – Category: Pinot Gris – $24.00

2020 Hatfield’s Fuse – Category: White Blend – $20.00

2020 Pinot Gris – Category: Pinot Gris – $24.00

2020 Unorthodox Chardonnay – Category: Chardonnay – $22.00

3. Road 13 Vineyards, Oliver, B.C. (6th overall)

Road13 Vineyards earned 1 Platinum, 3 Gold and 3 Silver medals.  Their wines may be purchased from their website www.road13vineyards.com.

Platinum Award Winner

2019 GSM – Category: Red Blend – $36.99

Gold Award Winners

2019 Syrah Malbec – Category: Red Blend – $36.99

2020 Cabernet Merlot – Category: Red Blend – $23.99

2019 Jackpot Malbec – Category: Malbec – $64.99

Silver Award Winners

2017 Sparkling Chenin Blanc – Category: Sparkling Wine – $39.99

2012 Jackpot Sparkling Chenin Blanc – Category: Sparkling Wine – $86.99

2020 Rosé – Category: Rosé – $23.99

4. Quails’ Gate Estate Winery, West Kelowna, B.C. (7th overall)

Quails’ Gate Estate Winery received 1 Platinum, 3 Gold, 9 Silver and 4 Bronze medals.  Their wines are available from their website at www.quailsgate.com.

Platinum Award Winner

2019 Rosemary’s Block Chardonnay – Category: Chardonnay – $63.35

Gold Award Winners

2019 Richard’s Block Pinot Noir – Category: Pinot Noir – $64.99

2019 Stewart Family Reserve Chardonnay – Category: Chardonnay – $45.00

2018 The Boswell Syrah – Category: Syrah – $69.99

Silver Award Winners

2018 The Connemara – Category: Red Blend – $84.99

2019 Queue – Category: Red Blend – $49.95

2019 The Boswell Syrah – Category: Syrah – $69.99

2019 Chardonnay – Category: Chardonnay – $24.95

2020 Clone 220 Chenin Blanc – Category: Chenin Blanc – $39.99

2020 Clone 49 Riesling – Category: Riesling – $34.99

2020 Orchard Block Gewürztraminer – Category: Gewürztraminer – $26.99

2020 Lucy’s Block Rosé – Category: Rosé – $26.99

2019 Riesling Icewine – Category: Icewine – $44.99

Bronze Award Winners

2019 Dijon Clone Pinot Noir – Category” Pinot Noir – $45.00

2019 Old Vines Foch Reserve – Category: Other Red – $50.00

2019 Pinot Noir – Category: Pinot Noir – $34.95

2019 Dry Riesling – Category: Riesling – $19.95

5. Mission Hill Family Estate, West Kelowna, B.C. (8th overall)

Mission Hill earned 6 Gold and 8 Silver medals at this year’s event.  Their wines may be purchased from their website at www.missionhillwinery.com.

Gold Medal Winners

2017 Legacy Collection Quatrain – Category: Red Blend – $80.00

2017 Legacy Collection Compendium – Category: Red Blend – $80.00

2019 Legacy Collection Perpetua – Category: Chardonnay – $65.00

2019 Terroir Collection Vista’s Edge Cabernet Franc – Category: Cabernet Franc – $60.00

2019 Reserve Chardonnay – Category: Chardonnay – $21.95

2020 Reserve Pinot Gris – Category: Pinot Gris

Silver Medal Winners

2018 Legacy Collection Prospectus – Category: Pinot Noir – $80.00

2019 Reserve Meritage – Category: Red Blend – $29.95

2019 Reserve Pinot Noir – Category: Pinot Noir – $29.99

2019 Reserve Syrah – Category: Syrah – $26.99

2019 Terroir Collection Jagged Rock Syrah – Category: Syrah – $60.00

2019 Terroir Collection Reed Creek Organic Merlot – Category: Merlot – $60.00

2020 Terroir Collection Bluebird Passage Viognier – Category: Viognier – $35.00

2020 Terroir Collection Jagged Rock Sauvignon Blanc – Semillon – Category: White Blend – $35.00

6. Nk’Mip Cellars, Osoyoos, B.C. (10th overall)

Nk’Mip Cellars earned 5 Gold, 4 Silver and 8 Bronze medals at this year’s event.  Their wines may be purchased from their website www.nkmipcellars.com.

Gold Medal Winners

2018 Qwam Qwmt Cabernet Sauvignon – Category: Cabernet Sauvignon – $34.99

2019 Qwam Qwmt Chardonnay – Category: Chardonnay – $28.99

2019 Mer’r’iym Red Meritage – Category: Red Blend – $63.35

2018 Qwam Qwmt Syrah – Category: Syrah – $34.94

2020 Mer’r’iym White Meritage – Category: White Blend – $31.99

Silver Medal Winners

2019 Merlot – Category: Merlot – $21.99

2019 Qwam Qwmt Merlot – Category: Merlot – $25.00

2019 Qwam Qwmt Syrah – Category: Syrah – $34.95

2020 Qwam Qwmt Pinot Noir – Category: Pinot Noir – $34.99

Bronze Award Winners

2019 Qwam Qwmt Pinot Noir – Category: Pinot Noir – $40.35

2020 Qwam Qwmt Chardonnay – Category: Chardonnay – $28.99

2020 Qwam Qwmt Riesling – Category: Riesling – $28.99

2020 Winemakers Chardonnay – Category: Chardonnay – $18.99

2020 Winemakers Dreamcatcher – Category: White Blend – $21.99

2020 Winemakers Pinot Blanc – Category: Pinot Blanc – $17.99

2020 Winemakers Rosé – Category: Rosé – $22.99

2020 Qwam Qwmt Riesling Icewine – Category: Icewine – $74.99

7. Meyer Family Vineyards, Okanagan Falls, B.C. (11th overall)

Meyer Family Vineyards was awarded 1 Platinum, 2 Gold, 3 Silver and 1 Bronze medal.   Their wines are available online at www.mfvwines.com.

Platinum Award Winner

2019 Tribute Series Dr. Bonnie Henry Chardonnay – Category: Chardonnay – $35.00

Gold Medal Winners

2019 Chardonnay McLean Creek Road Vineyard – Category: Chardonnay – $35.00

2019 Micro Cuvee Chardonnay McLean Creek Vineyard – Category: Chardonnay – $65.00

Silver Medal Winners

2019 Micro Cuvee Pinot Noir McLean Creek Vineyard – Category: Pinot Noir – $65.00

2019 Stevens Block Chardonnay Old Main Road – Category: Chardonnay – $36.95

2019 Pinot Noir McLean Creek Rd Vineyard – Category: Pinot Noir – $36.37

Bronze Award Winner

2019 Old Block Pinot Noir McLean Creek Vineyard – Category: Pinot Noir – $50.00

8. Maverick Estate Winery, Oliver, B.C. (12th overall)

Maverick Estate received 1 Platinum, 2 Gold, 3 Silver and 2 Bronze medals.  Their wines may be purchases online at their website www.maverickwine.ca.

Platinum Award Winner

2019 Bush Vine Syrah – Category: Syrah – $34.58

Gold Medal Winners

2020 Amber Pinot Gris – Category: Orange Wine – $34.48

2019 Rubeus – Category: Red Blend: – $28.73

Silver Medal Winners

2020 Cross Road Chardonnay – Category: Chardonnay – $31.03

2020 Carbonic Syrah – Category: Syrah – $40.23

2020 Provenance Pinot Noir – Category: Pinot Noir – $32.18

Bronze Award Winners

2020 Sauvignon Blanc – Category: Sauvignon Blanc – $22.98

N/V Ella Brut Rosé – Category: Rosé – $35.00

9. Spearhead Winery, Kelowna, B.C. (13th overall)

Spearhead achieved 4 Gold, 5 Silver and 4 Bronze medals.  Their wines are available online at www.spearheadwinery.com.

Gold Medal Winners

2018 Coyote Vineyard Pinot Noir – Category: Pinot Noir – $41.50

2019 Riesling – Category: Riesling – $21.99

2019 Saddle Block Pinot Noir – Category: Pinot Noir – $40.35

2019 Coyote Vineyard Pinot Noir – Category: Pinot Noir – $41.50

Silver Medal Winners

2018 Saddle Block Pinot Noir – Category: Pinot Noir – $41.50

2019 Golden Retreat Vineyard Pinot Noir – Category: Pinot Noir – $40.35

2019 Chardonnay Clone 95 – Category: Chardonnay – $30.00

2019 Saddle Block Chardonnay – Category: Chardonnay – $35.00

2020 Golden Retreat Pinot Gris – Category: Pinot Gris – $23.10

Bronze Award Winners

2018 Cuvée Pinot Noir – Category: Pinot Noir – $40.00

2018 Golden Retreat Vineyard Pinot Noir – Category: Pinot Noir – $41.50

2019 Cuvée Pinot Noir – Category: Pinot Noir – $48.40

2020 Pinot Noir Rosé – Category: Rosé – $26.55

10. Painted Rock Estate Winery, Penticton, B.C. (14th overall)

Painted Rock received 4 Gold and 4 Silver medals this year.  Their wines are available from their website at www.paintedrock.ca.

Gold Medal Winners

2019 Cabernet Franc – Category: Cabernet Franc – $44.99

2019 Cabernet Sauvignon – Category: Cabernet Sauvignon – $44.99

2018 Merlot – Category: Merlot – $39.99

2019 Chardonnay – Category: Chardonnay – $42.99

Silver Medal Winners

2019 Malbec – Category: Malbec – $44.99

2019 Merlot – Category: Merlot – $39.99

2019 Red Icon – Category: Red Blend – $64.99

2020 Chardonnay – Category: Chardonnay – $42.99

Next week I will review the awards achieved by Ontario wineries, the other major player in this year’s competition.

Sláinte mhaith

National Wine Awards

This year was the twentieth anniversary of the WineAlign National Wine Awards of Canada (NWAC).  The country’s largest competition of Canadian wines is usually held in June each year but this year the event was moved to October due to COVID-19 and took place in Penticton, British Columbia.  The final results were not released until November 12th.

The judges’ panel consisted of 14 men and 12 women who tasted 2,075 wines from more than 260 wineries.

This year’s Winery of the Year is Niagara’s Malivoire Wine Company.  Malivoire earned 17 medals at this year’s Nationals, including 3 Platinum, 1 Gold, 8 Silver and 5 Bronze.

It is the first time in NWAC history that a single winery has won three Platinum Medals at the Nationals.  Equally incredible is that the medals were won in three different wine categories.

The NWAC top 10 wineries for 2021 are listed below, including their Platinum and Gold winning wines.  The lion’s share of this year’s awards went to British Columbia.

In order to be considered for inclusion on the list, the winery must enter a minimum of five wines. The five top-scoring entries (not including Icewine) from each winery are used to determine the order.

  • Malivoire Wine Company, whose awards included 3 Platinum, 1 Gold, 8 Silver and 5 Bronze.  The winning Platinum and Gold wines included:2020 Le Coeur Gamay (Platinum Award)
    • No Vintage (N/V) Bisous Rose (Platinum Award)
    • 2020 Analog Demo Series (Platinum Award)
    • 2020 Small Lot Chardonnay (Gold Award)
  • B.C.’s La Frenz Estate Winery was awarded Best Performing Small Winery of the Year. They earned 2 Platinum, 6 Gold and 5 Silver awards. The Platinum and Gold  award winning wines included:
    • N/V Liqueur Muscat (Platinum Award)
    • 2019 Reserve Ensemble (Platinum Award)
    • 2019 Reserve Chardonnay (Gold Award)
    • 2018 Cabernets Rockyfeller Vineyard (Gold Award)
    • 2020 Riesling Cl. 21B Freedom 75 Vineyard (Gold Award)
    • 2020 Sauvignon Blanc Wits End Vineyard (Gold Award)
    • 2020 Semillon Knorr Vineyard, Okanagan Valley (Gold Award)
    • N/V Tawny Port, Okanagan Valley (Gold Award)

  • B.C.’s Blasted Church Vineyards was awarded 2 Platinum, 6 Gold, 5 Silver and 11 Bronze medals.  The Platinum and Gold award winning wines included:
    • 2019 Big Bang Theory (Platinum Award)
    • 2019 Cabernet Franc (Platinum Award)
    • 2017 Holy Moly Petit Verdot (Gold Award)
    • 2017 Nectar of the Gods (Gold Award)
    • 2018 Cabernet Merlot (Gold Award)
    • 2018 Small Blessings Malbec (Gold Award)
    • 2018 Small Blessings Cabernet Sauvignon (Gold Award)
    • 2020 Blaufrankisch Rosé (Gold Award)

  • Ontario’s Trius Winery received 2 Platinum, 1 Gold, 7 Silver and 5 Bronze awards.  The Platinum and Gold award winning wines included:
    • 2019 Showcase Late Harvest Vidal (Platinum Award)
    • Brut Rose (Platinum Award)
    • 2019 Showcase Riesling Ghost Creek (Gold Award)

  • Peller Estates Niagara-on-the-Lake were awarded 2 Platinum, 1 Gold, 2 Silver and 3 Bronze medals.  The Platinum and Gold winners are:
    • 2019 Private Reserve Cabernet Franc (Platinum Award)
    • 2019 Signature Series Riesling (Platinum Award)
    • 2018 Andrew Peller Cabernet Franc Icewine (Gold Award)

  • B.C.’s Road 13 earned 1 Platinum, 3 Gold and 3 Silver medals.  The Platinum and Gold award winners are:
    • 2019 GSM (Platinum Award)
    • 2019 Syrah Malbec (Gold Award)
    • 2020 Cabernet Merlot (Gold Award)
    • 2019 Jackpot Malbec (Gold Award)

  • B.C.’s Quails’ Gate Estate Winery received 1 Platinum, 3 Gold, 8 Silver and 4 Bronze medals.  Their Platinum and Gold wines are:
    • 2019 Rosemary’s Block Chardonnay (Platinum Award)
    • 2019 Richard’s Block Pinot Noir (Gold Award)
    • 2019 Stewart Family Reserve Chardonnay (Gold Award)
    • 2018 The Boswell Syrah (Gold Award)

  • B.C.’s Mission Hill Family Estate earned 6 Gold and 8 Silver medals.  The Gold winners are:
    • 2017 Legacy Collection Quatrain (Gold Award)
    • 2019 Legacy Collection Perpetua (Gold Award)
    • 2019 Terroir Collection Vista’s Edge Cabernet Franc (Gold Award)
    • 2017 Legacy Collection Compendium (Gold Award)
    • 2020 Reserve Pinot Gris (Gold Award)
    • 2019 Reserve Chardonnay (Gold Award)

  • Ontario’s Thirty Bench Wine Makers who were awarded 5 Gold, 6 Silver and 3 Bronze medals.  The Gold medal winners are:
    • 2019 Small Lot Gewurztraminer (Gold Award)
    • 2019 Small Lot Riesling Steel Post Vineyard (Gold Award)
    • 2018 Small Lot Riesling Wild Cask (Gold Award)
    • 2018 Small Lot Riesling Wood Post Vineyard (Gold Award)
    • 2017 Small Lot Cabernet Franc (Gold Award)

  • B.C.’s Nk’Mip Cellars won 1 Platinum, 2 Gold, 3 Silver and 1 Bronze medal.  The Platinum and Gold winners are:
    • 2018 Qwam Qwmt Cabernet Sauvignon (Platinum Award)
    • 2019 Qwam Qwmt Chardonnay (Gold Award)
    • 2019 Mer’r’iym Red Meritage (Gold Award)

During the upcoming weeks I will review the top 10 B.C. winners and top 10 Ontario winners in more detail.

Sláinte mhaith

Wine with Comfort Food

With the warmer weather becoming a distant memory and the dark cold days of winter coming, thoughts turn to hunkering down in front of the fire and indulging in comfort foods. When pairing your wine to your meal there are 5 factors about the wine to consider: tannins, the body or ‘weight’, acidity, intensity and sweetness.

Tannins

Tannins are the components in red wine that make your mouth feel dry and give a wine its texture.  When served with food tannins will soften proteins and provide a good balance to fatty foods.  Therefore such wines go well with rich meats and cheeses.

Body

Body is the perception of weight in a wine.  A light body wine will feel lighter in your mouth than a wine that is full-bodied. When pairing with foods, it is best to pair full-bodied wine with heavier foods.

Acidity

Acidity in wine generally ranges from being soft and light, like a pear, to crisp and bright like a lemon.  Acidity will cut through rich and fatty foods.  Wines with crisp acidity pair well with rich meats and cheeses, creamy sauces and oily foods.

Intensity

Intensity is the speed in which the wine’s aromas and flavours react to your sense of smell and taste.  Wines with more intense flavour and aroma (bouquet) will be best with subtly flavoured foods like creamy pasta, risotto or mild cheeses.

Sweetness

Sweetness relates to the taste of the wine rather than the actual amount of sugar content.  When pairing a wine with food the wine should taste as sweet as, or sweeter than the food.  Sweet wines also pair well with spicy foods.

Based on this information it can be a simple process to pair wine with your favourite comfort foods.  For example here are some suggested wines to pair with my own comfort foods:

  • Homemade Mac & Cheese
    Light unoaked Chardonnay goes well but if you like to add lobster or crab then a white Burgundy or Chenin Blanc may be more to your liking
  • Spaghetti and meatballs
    A red wine such as Sangiovese, Chianti, Barbera, a fruity acidic Merlot or a Zinfandel
  • Homemade Pizza
    Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, or Merlot
  • Grilled Cheese
    Pinot Gris (Pinot Grigio), Gewürztraminer or Riesling
  • Meat Lasagna
    Primitivo, Sangiovese, Barbera or Valpolicella
  • Chicken Noodle soup
    Pinot Blanc, unoaked Chardonnay or light-bodied, low-tannin reds such as Beaujolais, Gamay, Baco Noir or Pinot Noir
  • Beef stew
    Red Bordeaux, Malbec, Cabernet Franc or Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Chicken and dumplings
    Oaked Chardonnay
  • Chili
    Malbec or Zinfandel
  • Shepherd’s pie
    Syrah (Shiraz) or Zinfandel
  • Chicken pot pie
    Chardonnay or Merlot

Comfort food and a nice glass of wine; what better way to brace yourself for the cold weather ahead!

Sláinte mhaith

Scotch Whisky’s Popularity

Scotch whisky prices have been slowly rising over time and in recent years distillers have also introduced new blends and names and labels that do not include a whisky’s age.  According to one distiller I spoke to while in Scotland several years ago, this is the result of increased popularity and demand.  This resulted from a number of consumers no longer being able to afford their 10, 12, and 18 year single malts.

Photo credit: TheTrendSpotter.net

The minimum legal aging requirement for Scotch whisky is 3 years.  However I am not aware of any brand that advertises any 3-year-old scotch whiskies for sale. There are however, many no age statement (NAS) whiskies and many of these will almost certainly contain some 3-year-old whisky mixed in with older blends; but normally 10-12 years old is the minimum age for most consumers to consider purchasing.

Scotch whisky is expensive due to other factors besides demand; many of which don’t affect other alcoholic drinks in the same manner. Long term storage contributes a large percentage of the cost; not only due to the time required to mature but also due to the losses that occur from evaporation. Bottling, packing, distribution and a large percentage of excise tax have a high impact on price as well.

Evaporation, often referred to as the Angels’ Share, is the portion lost from barrels during the maturation process. On average roughly 2% of the whisky is lost per year.  However, newly made spirit evaporates at a much higher rate, closer to 3.5-4% over the first few years with a slow reduction down to about 2% in the later years. 

Whisky Age                      Litres before Maturation           Litres after Maturation

10 Year Old                                    200 Litres                                           160 Litres

12 Year Old                                    200 Litres                                           152 Litres

25 Tear Old                                   200 Litres                                           100 Litres

Is Scotch whisky worth the price?  In my humble opinion many are.  I find that I can easily sip on an enjoyable aged single malt and relax or dive deep into my own thoughts, depending on my frame of mind.

Sláinte mhaith

British Columbia Lieutenant Governor’s Wine Awards

Over 800 of B.C.’s finest wines from more than 120 B.C. wineries were judged by a panel of 15 judges at the 2021 B.C. Lieutenant Governor Wine Awards.  The results were released earlier this month.

The top honour went to the Tantalus Vineyards’ 2018 Old Vines Riesling. The wine was produced from Riesling grape vines first planted in 1978. The vineyards and winery are situated on the eastern shores of Lake Okanagan overlooking the lake and the City of Kelowna.

Below I have listed the Platinum and gold winners from this year’s completion.  The complete list of winners can be found at http://www.thewinefestivals.com/awards/results/8/1/

Platinum Award Winners

  • Inniskillin Okanagan Estate Winery, 2018 Estate Riesling Icewine
  • Burrowing Owl Estate Winery, 2019 Syrah
  • Mt. Boucherie Estate Winery, 2018 Reserve Syrah
  • Mt. Boucherie Estate Winery, 2020 Original Vines Sémillon
  • Silkscarf winery, 2017 Syrah-Viognier
  • Three Sisters Winery, 2019 Rebecca
  • Tantalus Vineyards, 2018 Chardonnay
  • Enrico Winery, 2020 Shining Armour Pinot Gris
  • Maan Farms Estate Winery, 2020 Raspberry Table Wine
  • Arrowleaf, 2019 Riesling
  • Silhouette Estate Winery, Boyd Classic Cuvée
  • SpearHead Winery, 2019 Pinot Noir Saddle Block
  • SpearHead Winery, 2019 Pinot Noir Golden Retreat
  • SpearHead Winery, 2019 Pinot Noir Cuvée
  • Chain Reaction Winery, 2019 Tailwind Pinot Gris
  • Liquidity Wines, 2020 Rosé
  • Kismet Estate Winery, 2018 Cabernet Franc Reserve
  • Mission Hill Family Estate,  2019 Perpetua
  • Mission Hill Family Estate, 2019 Terroir Collection Vista’s Edge Cabernet Franc
  • CedarCreek Estate Winery, 2020 Platinum Home Block Rosé

Gold Award Winners

  • Moon Curser Vineyards, 2020 Arneis
  • Moon Curser Vineyards, 2017 Tannat
  • Moon Curser Vineyards, 2019 Touriga Nacional
  • Lakeside Cellars, 2017 Provenir
  • Lakeside Cellars, 2020 Portage White
  • 50th Parallel Estate Winery, 2020 Pinot Noir Rosé
  • 50th Parallel Estate Winery, 2019 Pinot Noir
  • 50th Parallel Estate Winery, 2019 Unparalleled Pinot Noir
  • 50th Parallel Estate Winery, 2018 Blanc De Noir
  • La Frenz Estate Winery, 2019 Reserve Pinot Noir
  • Jackson-Triggs Okanagan Estate Winery, 2018 Reserve Riesling Icewine
  • Jackson-Triggs Okanagan Estate Winery, 2018 Grand Reserve Merlot
  • Wild Goose Vineyards, 2019 Pinot Noir Sumac Slope
  • Wild Goose Vineyards, 2020 Pinot Gris
  • Inniskillin Okanagan Estate Winery, 2019 Discovery Series Chenin Blanc
  • Black Sage Vineyards, 2018 Cabernet Franc
  • St Hubertus & Oak Bay Estate Winery, 2019 St Hubertus Vineyard Riesling
  • Stag’s Hollow Winery, 2018 Renaissance Merlot
  • Stag’s Hollow Winery, 2018 Syrah
  • Tightrope Winery, 2019 Riesling
  • Tightrope Winery, 2020 Pinot Gris
  • Tightrope Winery, 2019 Chardonnay
  • Wayne Gretzky Estates Okanagan, 2020 Rosé
  • Four Shadows Winery, 2019 Merlot Reserve
  • Four Shadows Winery, 2020 Riesling Dry
  • Four Shadows Winery, 2020 Riesling Classic
  • Nk’Mip Cellars, 2019 Qwam Qwmt Syrah
  • Nk’Mip Cellars, 2020 Winemaker’s Pinot Blanc
  • Bordertown Vineyard & Estate Winery, 2017 Living Desert Red
  • Rust Wine Co., 2018 GMB Syrah
  • Blasted Church Vineyards, 2019 Cabernet Franc
  • Blasted Church Vineyards, 2016 OMG
  • Township 7 Vineyards & Winery, 2015 Seven Stars Sirius
  • Township 7 Vineyards & Winery, 2018 NBO
  • Three Sisters Winery, 2019 Tempranillo
  • Bonamici Cellars, 2019 Reserve Merlot
  • Moraine Estate Winery, 2019 Syrah
  • Black Hills, 2020 Alibi
  • Gray Monk, 2018 Odyssey Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Upper Bench Estate Winery, 2019 Chardonnay
  • Upper Bench Estate Winery, 2019 Estate Chardonnay
  • Baillie-Grohman Estate Winery, 2019 Pinot Noir Terraces
  • Fort Berens Estate Winery, 2019 Cabernet Franc
  • Deep Roots, 2019 Parentage Red
  • Blue Grouse Estate Winery, 2019 Estate Pinot Noir
  • Blue Grouse Estate Winery, 2020 Estate Pinot Gris
  • Enrico Winery, 2020 Rosé Red Dragon
  • Hester Creek Estate Winery, 2020 Sémillon
  • Monte Creek Winery, 2020 Living Land Sparkling Rosé
  • Clos du Soleil Winery, 2020 Winemaker’s Series Pinot Blanc
  • Arrowleaf, 2020 Summerstorm
  • Silhouette Estate Winery, 2018 Boyd Blanc De Blanc
  • SpearHead Winery, 2019 Riesling
  • Chaberton Estate Winery, 2018 Reserve Cabernet Franc
  • Frind Estate Winery, 2019 Riesling
  • Lake Breeze Vineyards, 2019 Pinot Blanc
  • Lake Breeze Vineyards, 2019 Cellar Series Alize (Roussanne)
  • Lake Breeze Vineyards, 2017 Cellar Series Mistral (Syrah)
  • Liquidity Wines, Brut Reserve
  • Liquidity Wines, 2019 Reserve Pinot Noir
  • Peak Cellars, 2020 Skin Kissed Pinot Gris
  • Time Family of Wines, 2018 TIME Syrah
  • Kismet Estate Winery, 2017 Malbec Reserve
  • Meadow Vista Honey Wines, 2021 Bliss Sparkling Blueberry Haskap Mead
  • Ex Nihilo Vineyards, 2019 Merlot
  • Mission Hill Family Estate, 2020 Terroir Collection Border Vista Rosé
  • Mission Hill Family Estate, 2019 Terroir Collection Jagged Rock Vineyard Syrah
  • Mission Hill Family Estate, 2020 Reserve Rosé
  • Mission Hill Family Estate, 2018 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Mission Hill Family Estate, 2020 Reserve Riesling
  • Plot Wines, 2018 Neighbour
  • Plot Wines, 2019 Merlot
  • CedarCreek Estate Winery, 2019 Estate Syrah
  • CedarCreek Estate Winery, 2019 Estate Chardonnay
  • CedarCreek Estate Winery, 2020 Estate Riesling
  • CedarCreek Estate Winery, 2019 Platinum Block 3 Riesling
  • CedarCreek Estate Winery, 2019 Platinum Cabernet Franc
  • Church & State Wines, 2019 Marsanne
  • Church & State Wines, 2019 Trebella

Unfortunately from what I can tell, none of this year’s winners are presently available outside of British Columbia.  I have indicated in green those wineries that do have products that are occasionally found east of the Rockies. Even though the winners may never travel beyond B.C., other wines from these vineyards would be well worth trying.

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LEED Certification in the Wine Industry

Many Canadian vintners and wineries are working to reduce both our carbon footprint and reduce negative environmental impact.  They are finding ways to reduce energy consumption, lessen dependency on pesticides, herbicides and chemical fertilizers, as well as lessen the need for water.

Stratus Vineyards and Tantalus Vineyards

In the past I have discussed the impacts of climate change on the wine industry but today I will talk about the actual buildings and their design.  Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design or LEED, is the most widely-used green building rating system in the world, available for virtually all building, community, and home-project types.  In Canada LEED is a proven path to addressing climate change, and to creating buildings that are more resource-efficient, healthy and resilient.

LEED certification provides independent, third-party verification that a building was designed and built using strategies aimed at achieving high performance in key areas of human and environmental health. This includes location and transportation, sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality.

There are two wineries in particular that have been leaders in adapting change.

Stratus Vineyards, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario

Stratus was the first winery in Canada to earn LEED certification.  In order to qualify for LEED certification, the winery had to meet numerous criteria that reduced the negative impact on the environment both during construction and on a permanent, operational basis.

The facility was designed in a way to minimize the amount of equipment needed and where possible it is designed in a way where it can be reconfigured in response to the need. Even the table where the grapes are sorted can be set up in at least 17 different ways.

The winery was built using recycled materials where possible. The building also includes a super-insulated roof and geothermal heating and cooling.  There is a resource and energy efficient electrical and plumbing system as well as a toxin-free waste management program.

They also chose native plants and flowers for the landscaping because they can thrive without the use of chemical fertilizers or pesticides. Even the pavement for the parking lot was made of stone that reduces light-reflected heat.

Tantalus Vineyards, Kelowna

Tantalus takes great care in everything they do, from farming to winemaking. Riesling is the real focus but their Pinot Noir shines as well. 

Being a successful winery and needing to increase production, Tantalus found themselves in a situation where they needed to replace their original building. The new facility earned them the distinction of being British Columbia’s first LEED-certified winery. 

The building is environmentally friendly and energy efficient. There are natural sky lights, an unpaved driveway and parking area to avoid heat reflection and a highly efficient dual-exchange heating and cooling system.  The wine shop features custom handcrafted wooden cabinetry sourced from native Alder and the landscaping surrounding the winery has been planted with bee-friendly flowers and shrubs.

The wastewater treatment system processes the winery’s effluent and domestic sewage. It is the first of its kind for a British Columbia winery and allowed them to be completely non-reliant on municipal or private waste disposal providers.

Final Thoughts

LEED certifications is just one way of helping preserve and protect our environment. Both of these wineries, along with many others, are also following sustainability practices and some are even aiming to convert to dry-farming.  One thing for certain is that the wine industry is helping to lead the way to improve our environmental health.

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Ripasso Style Wines

Ripasso is an ancient wine making technique used for centuries in Italy’s Valpolicella wineries. Ripasso, also known as double fermentation, is a method used to give more structure, body and flavours to the basic Valpolicella wine.  Ripasso is an Italian word meaning “review“, “re-pass” or “go over again“.

Photo credit: VinePair.com

Once harvested in autumn, selected grapes to be used in both Amarone and Recioto wines remain in lofts above wineries to dry for about four months. All the rest of the harvested grapes are squeezed and fermented to make the basic Valpolicella Classico wine.

At the end of January or beginning of February the semi-dried grapes for Amarone and Recioto are squeezed and fermented together with grape skins. Once the fermentation is complete the grape skins are removed and wine is then stored for ageing.

The Valpolicella wine that was fermented back in the fall is then put over these Recioto and Amarone skins which, being still full of un-fermented sugars, starts a second fermentation. These skins still contain aromatic compounds and tannins that are transferred to the Valpolicella wine.

Valpolicella Ripasso shares the freshness and lightness of basic Valpolicella wine but has more of the structures and flavours of the more expensive Amarone.  This is kind of a happy medium between the other two. There is cherry fruitiness of a classic Valpolicella but it will have more tannins and flavours from the dried grape skins; providing flavour of darker fruits, spice and leather and will have a longer finish.

Valpolicella Ripasso wine will be identified in one of several ways.  On the label beside the words ‘Valpolicella Classico DOC’, will appear an additional description such as Ripasso, Double Fermentation or Second Fermentation.

You can count on the wine being a medium bodied wine, fruity and having tertiary flavours and aromas.  Some will have flavours similar to a basic Valpolicella wine, while others will be closer to an Amarone wine.  Each vintner has their own style of making it as they use varying percentages of fresh to dried grapes.  It is worth while trying several different ones to find your own preference.

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Wine Storage Options

I have read articles that have suggested that there are two types of “wine people” – those who collect it and those who buy it to drink. 

In my mind a collector is someone who purchases elite wines as an investment.  In other words, this is someone who buys wine with the intention of later reselling it for a profit.  The cellaring requirements for these collectors could range from a few weeks to many years, depending on the situation.  Generally speaking, these individuals will need space to store a significant number of bottles at any one time.

Wine drinkers, on the other hand, I see as being those who purchase wine for the pure enjoyment gained from consuming it.   Some of whom follow the ‘just in time’ manufacturing process whereby a bottle of wine is purchased on or about the date it will be consumed.  Others like to keep some wine on hand ahead of when it will be consumed, to be prepared for occasions that come up unannounced.  Cellaring requirements in this situation range from not being required at all to where a wine fridge with space for ten to twenty bottles will provide sufficient storage.

However, I would like to suggest that there is a third category of wine people that I would categorize as a longer term wine consumer.   Like the collector, long term storage capability is essential as these individuals purchase both wines that are drinkable in the present, like the wine drinkers described above, but they also purchase wines that need to mature and won’t be at their optimum for several years in the future.  Unlike the collector, the pedigree of the wines purchased are less likely to be on the list of famous wine producers, and more likely to be less expensive but good quality wines.  

Whether you are looking to retain a few bottles or a large number of cases, the storage requirements are the same; you need to have a sealed fridge with high humidity, consistent temperature, no UV rays, and minimal vibration.

Storage Unit

The temperature of the storage unit should be in the neighbourhood of 13o C or 55o F.  If you elect to construct a wine room or cellar, the room needs to be insulated with a minimum of R13 insulation.  The door must be well insulated and sealed to prevent the cold air from escaping. A simple exterior door will suffice but the sky is the limit when considering more elaborate options.

Cooling options range in size and cost depending on the room size and cooling option chosen.

The cellar should be designed in a way to allow for storage, display and tasting.  It has been suggested that when determining your storage requirements you should consider the number of bottles you think you would like to retain and then double it.  Otherwise you may find you quickly run out of storage and be forced (sounds harsh when considering wine) to drink your wine sooner than you intended.

Not all wine bottles are the same size so that must be considered when looking at racking solutions.  Typically Burgundy bottles are fatter than Bordeaux bottles; new world wine bottles (e.g. Australia, South America) may be longer than those of the old world ( e.g. France, Italy, Germany).

Depending on your personal preferences and budget, racking options can be either wood, metal or wire cable and be either custom made or created from modular kits of varying sizes and styles.  If a wood solution is selected, cedar or redwood is the best option given that the humidity level in the cellar will be relatively high.

Personally, on two occasions I have used modular racks that I purchased from Rosehill Wine Cellars.  I was able to incorporate the racks into the design so that they appear to have been customized for the space.

Return on Investment

A wine fridge will cost upwards from about $200 to in excess of $2,000. A cellar will cost from about $7,000, depending on design and materials chosen.

Some real estate experts say that home buyers looking at homes valued at $850,000 or more expect that the home will have at least a wine fridge.  However, a wine cellar may or may not add value, depending on the preferences of each particular buyer.

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Dry-Farming Vineyards

Dry-farming or dryland farming occurs when the vines are not irrigated. Natural rainfall alone provides the necessary moisture to promote the growth of the vine and ripen the grapes.

Photo credit: WineMag.com

This practice is particularly common in Europe. It is how vineyards have always been cultivated in Burgundy, Bordeaux and other European wine growing locations. The only allowances for irrigation in areas of France, Italy, Germany and Spain would be when starting young vines or when there are extreme drought conditions and the health of the vines is threatened.

Advocates, such as California’s Frog’s Leap and Moss Wood in Western Australia, maintain dry-farming yields higher-quality grapes with more fruit and aromatic intensity. Dry-farmed grapes are typically smaller in size compared to ones that have been irrigated, which means more concentration and character in the resulting wine.

Members of Oregon’s Deep Roots Coalition, which include top producers such as Evening Land, Eyrie Vineyards and Trisaetum, believe irrigation prevents wineries from capturing the true essence of their vineyards.

One of the major benefits of irrigation is the ability for grape growers to increase yields. Many of the value-priced wines from Australia, Argentina, Chile, California and South Africa couldn’t exist without a high volume of fruit.

Technological advances and research means it’s not as simple an equation as decreasing quality to increase quantity. A considerable amount of highly collected, top-scoring wines come from irrigated vineyards.

Some wine regions couldn’t exist without irrigation. Grape vines need water. Vineyards surrounded by trees or containing other crops need to compete for water.  Some grape varieties are more dependent on water than others. The water holding capacity of the soils is also a significant consideration for whether the yearly average rainfall is enough to sustain the vineyards.

Dry-farming practices have become more common as climate change and the need for water conservation force the hands of wine growers to become more sustainable, especially in arid areas prone to drought conditions. Some producers now use their irrigation systems only in extreme circumstances. Irrigated vines have shallow roots as they have never needed to develop root systems in search of moisture below the top layers of soil, making it a risky venture.

Montes Winery in Chile’s Colchagua Valley began to embrace dry farming in 2009. By 2012, Montes curtailed irrigation across 300 hectares, including vineyards responsible for its flagship M, Folly and Purple Angel labels. However, the irrigation lines have been left in place in case they are needed.

Owner Aurelio Montes has said that the vines produce half of the crop compared to the expected yields when they were regularly irrigated. Irrigation continues for the vineyards that provide the fruit for Montes’ more affordable wines.

Further south, in Maule, Chile’s oldest wine-growing region, a large number of family owned vineyards never introduced irrigation and have unwittingly found themselves ahead of the trend. The local Vigno movement, an association of producers looking to market the robust red wines made from old Carignan vines, displays “dry-farmed” on all of its labels.

The meaning of ‘dry-farming doesn’t necessarily have the same meaning to all producers, so “dry-farmed” on a label can lead to confusion. It is certainly a factor to consider as you look at the range of wines available, but it should not be interpreted as an indication of the wines quality.

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Myths About Irish Whiskey

As I had mentioned in the past I would occasionally change things up and talk about my other spirited passion. This is one of those weeks.

Irish whiskey has been becoming more popular in recent years. During the last decade the category has boomed. According to Forbes, U.S. sales of Irish whiskey increased by 9% in 2019, and rose over 13% in the five years prior to that. The number of distilleries in The Republic of Ireland has increased from only four in 2010 to more than 30 by 2020.

Scotch Is Better

There is no objective answer to this statement but there are a few subjective considerations if you decide to take a side. Scotch has had an advantage in that the selection of single malts and blends available in North America far out-weigh the number of Irish whiskeys.  This is largely due to there being 130 distilleries in Scotland compared to just over thirty in Ireland. However, that trend is now changing because of a range of interesting Irish whiskeys becoming available to the North American market.

Another argument for scotch supremacy is that it’s generally distilled twice, while Irish whiskey is usually distilled three times. Because of this some people think the whiskey tastes too light. For this same reason others consider Irish whiskey to be more approachable and versatile.  Having said this, not all Irish whiskey is triple distilled as some distilleries opt for only a double distillation.

It’s Only Good for Shots

It is true that Irish whiskey is ordered as shots but it also works in a number of cocktails such as Irish Coffee, Whiskey & Ginger or a Zesty Irishman. Many of the whiskeys are also very palatable being sipped neat, with a splash of water, or on the rocks.

All Irish Whiskeys Taste the Same

This is anything but true but since Jameson’s domination of the North American market for so long this became the perception. Now there is a large range of Irish whiskeys that feature very different flavour profiles. The classic Irish pot still style of whiskey is readily available, including such brands as Green Spot and Redbreast. There are also Irish single malts like Writers’ Tears, Knappogue Castle and Tyrconnell, which both offer whiskeys that have been finished in sherry or other wine casks. There is even the peated Connemara.

Final Thoughts

There will always be those who favour Scotch Whisky over Irish Whiskey and vice versa. To me it is more important to appreciate the unique qualities of both whether or not you have a personal preference of one over the other. For me, depending on the occasion and my mood I have several single malt scotch favourites, as well as several single malt and single pot Irish whiskeys that I am partial to.

My scotch go-to’s include Islay’s Lagavulin and Bowmore, and Speyside’s Glenlivet.  From the emerald isle I find Sexton to be smooth and calming and Green Spot more complex and robust.

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