2022 Ontario Wine Awards

Photo credit: ontariowineawards.ca

After a 3-year hiatus thanks to COVID, this spring saw the return of the Ontario Wine Awards. There were participants from over 80 wineries and more than 500 of the best VQA wines that Ontario has to offer.

A special award was introduced this year to honour the memory of Tawse Winery winemaker, Paul Pender, who was tragically killed earlier this year. The inaugural Paul Pender Memorial ‘Rising Star’ Award was presented to Alec Baines, winemaker at Hidden Bench Winery.  Alec was selected by a committee of his peers for having demonstrated the qualities that made Paul Pender a winemaker’s winemaker – talent, selfless generosity, mentorship and innovation.

The Winemaker of the Year Award was posthumously presented to Paul Pender.  Tawse was where Paul honed his skills and talents as a winemaker. 

The results of this year’s competition were as follows:

White Wine of The Year

Domaine Queylus La Grande Réserve Chardonnay 2020

Deep golden colour; intense apple and pear bouquet with oak spice and a thread of minerality; medium to full-bodied, with the richly extracted yellow apple and pear flavours carried on lively lemony acidity to a long, lingering finish.

Red Wine of The Year

Peninsula Ridge Reserve Syrah 2016

Deep purple-ruby in colour; cedary, toasty, meaty nose of blackberries and vanilla oak; medium to full-bodied, dry, spicy, well-structured and harmonious black fruit flavours. Reminiscent of Syrah from the northern Rhône.

Sparkling Wine (traditional method) Award

Gold

  • Malivoire Bisous Rosé N/V
  • Pelee Island Empress II 2019

Silver

  • Huff Estate Cuvee Janine 2018

Bronze

  • Huff Estate Cuvee Peter F. Huff 2018
  • Queenston Mile Vineyard Blanc de Noir 2017

Riesling Dry Award

Gold

  • Wending Home Estate Vineyards Riesling 2020

Silver

  • Niagara Teaching Winery Balance Dry Riesling 2020

Bronze

  • Strewn Winery Terroir Riesling 2019

Semi-Dry Riesling Award

Gold:

  • Vineland Estates St. Urban Elevation Riesling 2021
  • Thirty Bench Winemakers Small Lot Riesling Wild Cask 2019
  • Tawse Quarry Road Riesling 2019

Silver:

  • Redstone Limestone Riesling 2020

Pinot Gris Award

Gold

  • Dim Wine Co. Forged Pinot Gris 2017
  • Big Head Wines Pinot Gris Select 2017

Silver

  • Lakeview East Dell Pinot Grigio 2020

Bronze

  • Konzelmann Estate Pinot Grigio 2019

Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon Award

Gold

  • Creekside Estate Backyard Block Sauvignon Blanc 2021
  • Burnt Ship Bay Estate Winery Sauvignon Blanc 2021

Silver

  • Palatine Hills Estate Wild & Free White Meritage 2020
  • Ravine Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2020
  • Peller Estate Signature Series Sauvignon Blanc 2019

Bronze

  • Trius Showcase Wild Ferment Sauvignon Blanc 2019
  • Vineland Estates Sauvignon Blanc 2021

Unoaked Chardonnay Award

Gold

  • Peninsula Ridge Inox Chardonnay 2020

Silver

  • Kacaba Unoaked Chardonnay 2020

Bronze

  • Ravine Vineyard Unoaked Chardonnay 2021

Oaked Chardonnay (Under $20) Award

Gold

  • Konzelmann Estate Barrel-Aged Chardonnay 2020

Silver

  • North 42 Degrees Chardonnay 2020

Bronze

  • Trius ‘Distinction’ Barrel-Fermented Chardonnay 2020

Oaked Chardonnay (Over $20) Award

Gold

  • Domaine Queylus La Grande Réserve Chardonnay 2020

Silver

  • Bachelder Wismer-Foxcoft Chardonnay 2019
  • Magnotta Limited Edition Chardonnay 2020

Bronze

  • Henry of Pelham Estate Chardonnay 2020

Gewurztraminer Award

Gold

  • None awarded

Silver

  • Jackson-Triggs Grand Reserve Gewurztraminer 2020

Bronze

  • Stoney Ridge Estate Gewurztraminer 2019

Dry White Varietals Awards

Gold

  • None awarded

Silver

  • Redstone White Meritage 2020
  • Niagara College Dean’s List Viognier 2020

Bronze

  • Reif Estate Semillon 2020

Roses/Blanc De Noir Award

Gold

  • Malivoire Wine Moira Rosé 2021

Silver

  • 13th Street Winery Gamay Vin Gris 2021

Bronze

  • Henry of Pelham Speck Three of Hearts Rosé 2020
  • Inniskillin Wines Reserve Cabernet Franc Rosé 2020

Gamay Award

Gold

  • Bachelder 52% Whole Cluster Wismer-Foxcroft Gamay 2020

Silver

  • 13th Street Gamay 2020
  • Byland Estate Gamay Noir Owner Signature 2020

Bronze

  • Niagara College Balance Gamay Noir 2018

Pinot Noir Award

Gold

  • Domaine Queylus Pinot Noir Tradition 2019
  • Closson Chase Pinot Noir 2019

Silver

  • Closson Chase South Clos Pinot Noir 2019
  • Le Clos Jordanne Jordan Village Pinot Noir 2019

Bronze

  • Locust Lane Estate Winery Pinot Noir 2019

Cabernet Franc Award

Gold

  • Tawse Winery David’s Block Cabernet Franc 2019
  • Domaine Queylus Cabernet Franc Réserve 2020

Silver

  • Inniskillin Wines Reserve Cabernet Franc 2018

Bronze 

  • Ravine Vineyard Estate Lonna’s Block Cabernet Franc 2019

Cabernet Franc Award

Gold

  • Tawse Winery David’s Block Cabernet Franc 2019
  • Domaine Queylus Cabernet Franc Réserve 2020

Silver

  • Inniskillin Wines Reserve Cabernet Franc 2018

Bronze

  • Ravine Vineyard Estate Lonna’s Block Cabernet Franc 2019

Merlot Award

Gold

  • None awarded

Silver

  • Konzelmann Merlot Barrel-Aged Reserve Series 2020
  • GreenLane Estate Christine’s Block Merlot 2017

Bronze

  • Jackson-Triggs Grand Reserve Merlot 2019

Cabernet Sauvignon Award

Gold

  • Strewn Winery Cabernet Sauvignon 2017

Silver

  • Waupoos Estates Winery 2019

Bronze

  • Peninsula Ridge Estate BV Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2016
  • Trius Showcase East Block Cabernet Sauvignon 2019

Meritage And Cabernet Blends Award

Gold

  • Southbrook Poetica Red 2019

The Foreign Affair Temptress 2018

Silver

  • Magnotta Legacy Limited edition 2018
  • The Foreign Affair Dream 2018

Syrah/Shiraz Award

Gold

  • Big Head Raw Syrah 2020
  • Kacaba Proprietor’s Block Syrah Escarpment 2019
  • Peninsula Ridge Reserve Syrah 2016

Silver

  • Rockway Syrah 2018

Hybrid Red Award

Gold

  • Henry of Pelham Speck Family Reserve Baco Noir 2020

Silver

  • Wayne Gretzky Estates No. 99 Signature Series Baco Noir 2020

Bronze

  • Riverview Cellars Baco Noir 2020

Late Harvest Whites & Reds

Gold

  • Thirty Bench Special Select Late Harvest Vidal 2019

Silver

  • Trius Showcase Late Harvest Vidal 2019
  • Konzelmann Select Late Harvest Cabernet Sauvignon 2019

Bronze

  • Strewn Ice-Breaker Select Late Harvest Vidal 2014

Appassimento Red Award

Gold

  • None awarded

Silver

  • Dim Wine Co. Field Select Red 2016
  • Rennie Estate Winery ‘G’ Assemblage 2016

Bronze

  • The Foreign Affair Apologetic 2018

Orange Wine Award

Gold

  • None awarded

Silver

  • Maenad Wine Co. Skin-Fermented Chardonnay 2020
  • Southbrook Skin-Fermented White (Vidal) 2020

Bronze

  • Big Head Amber 2021

Other Red Wines Award

Gold

  • Lakeview Cellars Grand Reserve Red 2017

Silver

  • Lakeview Cellars Malbec 2017
  • Green Lane Estate Malbec 2018

Bronze

  • Creekside Red Tractor Cabernet Shiraz 2019

Vidal Icewine Award

Gold

  • Kittling Ridge Vidal Icewine 2019
  • Riverview Cellars Vidal Icewine 2019

Silver

  • Inniskillin Oak-Aged Vidal Icewine 2019
  • Magnotta Vidal Icewine Limited 2019
  • Sue-Ann Staff Estate Winery Vidal Icewine 2018

Bronze

  • Lakeview Wine Co. Lakeview Cellars Vidal Icewine 2019

Vinifera Icewine Award

Gold

  • Redstone Cabernet Sauvignon Icewine 2019

Silver

  • Jackson-Triggs Cabernet Franc Icewine 2019
  • Wayne Gretzky Riesling Icewine 2019

Bronze

  • Inniskillin Cabernet Franc Icewine 2019

Label Design Award

  • Megalomaniac To Be Franc Cabernet Franc

Sláinte mhaith

Wine Prices On the Rise

The price of wine has remained fairly stable during recent months and has not been impacted in the same way as the price of gas and food.  However, this is soon about to change.

Photo credit: mlive.com

As you have seen at the gas pump, the Russian invasion of the Ukraine has caused a surge in gas and oil prices.  These increases have impacted the cost of wine industry supplies.  Increases of 20% to 45% have occurred on the cost of bottles and boxes over last year.  The war has created a great deal of volatility and unpredictability to the glass bottle industry.

Oil prices have surged 70% in the past year and with transport costs rising, barrels, bottles, cases and wine labels are all more expensive.  But so far the consumer has not felt the impact.

Very high Inflation is severely impacting the price of supplies such as glass, corks, labels and cardboard. Labour and energy costs have skyrocketed.

With grapes being harvested only once a year and wine reaching the market through a rather complex multi-faceted distribution network, price pressures have not yet reached store shelves. However, when they do, the effects of inflation, which is currently around 6%, supply chain issues (see Dry Times Ahead from January 22), a small 2021 global grape harvest and a surge in demand will mean consumers should prepare for a significant increase in wine prices.

Historically, wine isn’t as volatile as other consumer goods, so has been less subject to price fluctuations. From 2004 to 2021 inflation increased at a rate of 2.11%, while wine prices only rose by 0.73% during the same period. 

Wine producers have been doing their best to deter price increases especially given the impacts from the COVID pandemic which they are now struggling to recover from.  Unfortunately, costs are continuing to increase and many distributors have already absorbed the higher transportation costs. Operating expenses have reached the point where they can no longer be absorbed by producers.

The greatest impact will be seen on imported wines.  The cost of shipping containers and freight has increased by more than 100%.  Adding to the problem is the impact of the small harvests in France’s Burgundy, Loire and Provence wine regions.  The only saving grace will be the competition within the wine industry which will keep the increases moderate.

The high consumer demand for wine is also having an impact on price.  In particular, wines from Bordeaux, Burgundy, Tuscany, Rioja and Napa will be most affected. Wines from these regions may increase by 20% to 25% within a year.

Domestic wines will be impacted as well though probably not to the same extent as imported wines.  It is expected that these wines will see a minimum of a 10% increase in price.

Will this inflation last?  Some financial experts don’t think so while others are convinced it will.  In either case the most optimistic timeline is that the current conditions will remain throughout 2022 and 2023.

In any event it is believed that competition will keep runaway pricing in check. Wine is different from most other consumer goods in that there are options available at every price point and there are a lot of wine choices available.  This will help keep wine prices as low as possible.

Sláinte mhaith

Dinner for the April Long-Weekend

Photo credit: lcbo.com

With COVID restrictions lifting, friend and family gatherings are once again permissible.  In the event you are planning to host a spring celebration, here are some of the standard menus that have been paired with complimentary wines.

Roast Beef

The reds from Bordeaux France are a good match for the robust flavour of roast beef.  Bordeaux consists of a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and often lesser amounts of Petit Verdot, Malbec and sometimes Carmenère.  Chianti or Cabernet Sauvignon will also pair well.  Younger wines will have more tannins and fuller flavour so they will be better suited for to stronger cuts of beef.

Baked Ham

Pinot Noir is typically paired with glazed baked ham as its supple flavour will not overpower the ham while its fruitiness will offset the saltiness of the meat.  Smoked ham will pair well with a Grenache, French Syrah, or even a California Zinfandel.

Roast Lamb

The stronger flavour of lamb will overwhelm the gentler wines so it is better suited to bolder reds such as a Spanish Tempranillo, South American Malbec or Australian Shiraz.

Salmon

The oily richness of salmon needs to be complimented by a wine containing sufficient acidity. One of the most classic pairings for salmon is Pinot Noir or a French red Burgundy wine.  However, Grenache, French Beaujolais, Chardonnay, French White Burgundy, Torrontés, Sauvignon Blanc or Dry Rosé will work equally as well. 

Turkey

Turkey has been traditionally served with white wine, however there are some reds that will compliment your dinner equally well.  If you choose a white, a dry Riesling will work well.  The alternative is to select a Pinot Noir or a French Burgundy.  All of these wines have enough acidity while not overpowering the turkey.

Final Thoughts

No matter what you are serving on the holiday weekend, most importantly take this opportunity to enjoy the company of friends and family as we don’t know what new COVID variant and restrictions lurk around the corner.

Sláinte mhaith

Triumph to Tragedy

My wife and I recently hosted a family dinner and for the occasion I asked my wife to purchase a Riesling to go along with it.  One of the challenges of living in a rural community is that the local liquor store doesn’t have a lot of choices when in search of a particular varietal. She returned home with Tawse 2017 Sketches of Niagara Riesling. 

When we opened and served the wine with the dinner my wife and I identified the bouquet right away, diesel fuel.  My wife was immediately turned off by it while I became positively excited.  This was the first Ontario Riesling that I have had that authentically portrays its Old-World style German cousin.

The wine was vibrant with subtle floral, nutty, fig, smoke and pear notes, a soft sweetness and long finish.   It is a great value at only $18.95.  Even though my wife was not a fan of the nose of a traditional German style Riesling, she did enjoy the overall flavour of the wine.

When I clicked on Tawse website to see if I could learn more about their German style Riesling, I saw that their wine maker, Paul Pender, had been tragically killed several days prior.  I never had the opportunity of meeting him but after tasting the Riesling, as well as other wonderful creations from Tawse, I certainly wish I had.  His untimely passing is a tragic loss to the entire wine community.

If you are a fan of Riesling, I suggest picking up a bottle or two of the Sketches of Niagara as a tribute to its creator.

Sláinte mhaith

Wine Shipping Delays

Photo credit: dw.com

I have found myself frustrated many times over the past number of months when the wines I am hoping to purchase from the liquor store are not available. The reason I have been told is a result of the pandemic.  COVID-19 has affected shipping companies and dock workers hard, resulting in huge backlogs and skyrocketing shipping costs.

The global wine supply chain generally starts with the grape grower -> producer -> packer -> exporter -> shipper -> importer -> trucker -> wholesale distributor -> retailer/restaurant/bar.  The time to complete this process has increased from 30 days to 3 months or more.

Wine importers are having trouble bringing wine not just from Europe but also from Chile, Argentina and South Africa. Wineries are also experiencing a shortage of bottles, many of which are imported from China.

Many distributors historically operated on a just-in-time basis whereby goods were received as close as possible to when they are actually needed, to keep costs low. However, today just-in-time processing is not working because of all the delays.

Shipping costs have increased by over 50% during the past year.  Along with a lack of shipping containers available to ship the wine, the containers get delayed at the dock resulting in additional charges, and there is a lack of truck drivers available to deliver the wine to its final destination.  In preparation for the upcoming holidays wine merchants have planned their shipments at least 3 months in advance. However, there is no guarantee that the wines will reach their intended destination in time for the holidays.

It is expected that volume-driven wines will most likely bear the brunt of the skyrocketing costs. Chilean and Argentinian wines will most likely suffer the most from the soaring freight costs. It is felt that these less expensive wines will lose their competitive advantage with the extensive increase in freight cost.

However, there is optimism that the situation will eventually improve, though probably not until mid-2022, as countries come out of lockdown and more truckers are hired. It is now feared that inflationary pressures will take quite a while longer to come back into proper alignment.

It’s hard to imagine an upside for anyone for the foreseeable future, from producers to importers to distributors to retail and hospitality outlets to customers. The impact will soon become apparent on wine store shelves and restaurant tables as we end-consumers will eventually bear the added costs. Isn’t that always the way?

Sláinte mhaith

2021 & the B.C. Wine Industry

2021 presented lots of challenges for British Columbia’s vintners.  The spring was one of the driest on record with very little rain from late May to the end of June. Temperatures in June climbed up to 47 degrees Celsius.  The combination of these things resulted in the grapes maturing faster and earlier than normal.  The grape yields were low but the quality was good, producing small, very ripe fruit bursting with flavour.  It is hoped that this high concentration of flavour will translate into an excellent, though a low yield vintage.

Photo credit: TourismKelowna.com

The wild fires also wreaked havoc on the harvest in some areas, particularly the Thompson and Okanagan Valleys.  Fortunately, the worst of the smoke exposure occurred before the grapes began to ripen so the impact is believed to be minimal.

The recent flooding in B.C. has affected all residents either directly or indirectly.  With major transportation routes being blocked or damaged, supply chains and mobility have been severely restricted.  At this point it is still too early to know what additional burden will be felt by B.C.’s wine industry as a whole because of the flooding.

This year was without a doubt a season with its challenges because of the smoke, heat and floods.  However, early indications suggest that the 2021 vintage of British Columbia wines will be very flavourful.  Unfortunately for consumers the prices will most likely be higher due to the smaller than normal yields produced.  These are some things to keep in mind when the 2021 B. C. vintages begin hitting the store shelves in a year or two.

Sláinte mhaith

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

Ontario had 79 wineries enter this year’s National Wine Awards competition, second only to B.C.  With such a strong field of competitors, earning a position in the top 10 is truly an accomplishment.

The wines were presented 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.

All ten wineries were from the Niagara region.  There were no winners from Prince Edward County, the North Shore of Lake Erie, Norfolk County, Georgian Bay, Huron Shores or the Toronto Wine Region.

The wineries identified in green periodically have their wines available for sale in local liquor stores. The award winning wines identified in blue are available in Ontario through the LCBO.

1. Malivoire Wine Company, Beamsville, ON (1st overall)

Malivoire Wine Company is the National Wine Awards Winery of the Year as a result of their earning 3 Platinum, 1 Gold, 8 Silver and 5 Bronze medals.  This was the first year that a winery has received 3 Platinum medals.  Malivoire’s wines may be purchased from their website at www.malivoire.com.

Platinum Medal Winners

2020 Le Coeur Gamay – Category: Gamay – $27.95

N/V Bisous Rose – Category: Sparkling Pink – $29.95

2020 Analog Demo Series – Category: Red Blend – $27.95

Gold Medal Winner

2020 Small Lot Chardonnay – Category: Chardonnay – $19.95

Silver Medal Winners

2019 Mottiar Pinot Noir – Category: Pinot Noir – $39.95

2019 Small Lot Pinot Noir – Category: Pinot Noir – $29.95

2020 Genova Gamay – Category: Gamay – $27.95

2020 Small Lot Gamay – Category: Gamay – $21.95

2019 Mottiar Chardonnay – Category: Chardonnay – $34.95

2020 Moira Chardonnay – Category: Chardonnay – $49.95

N/V Bisous Brut – Category: Sparkling Wine – $34.95

2020 Moira Rosé – Category: Rosé – $24.95

Bronze Medal Winners

2018 Stouck Farmstead Red – Category: Red Blend – $29.95

2020 Wismer-Foxcroft Gamay – Category: Gamay – $27.95

N/V Che Bello, Ontario – Category: Sparkling Wine – 17.95

2020 Ladybug Rosé – Category: Rosé – $16.95

2020 Vivant Rosé – Category: Rosé – $19.95

2. Trius Winery, Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON (4th overall)

Trius Winery was awarded 2 Platinum, 1 Gold, 7 Silver and 5 Bronze medals at this year’s event.  Their wines may be purchased from their website at www.triuswines.com.

Platinum Medal Winners

2019 Showcase Late Harvest Vidal – Category: Late Harvest – $29.95

Brut Rose – Category: Sparkling Pink – $29.95

Gold Medal Winner

2019 Showcase Riesling Ghost Creek – Category: Riesling – $29.75

Silver Medal Winners

2020 Distinction Sauvignon Blanc – Category: Sauvignon Blanc – $19.75

2019 Red The Icon – Category: Red Blend – $24.95

2019 Reserve Syrah – Category: Syrah – $25.75

2019 Showcase Cabernet Franc Red Shale – Cabernet Franc – $54.80

2020 Distinction Sauvignon Blanc – Category: Sauvignon Blanc – $19.75

N/V Brut – Category: Sparkling White – $29.95

N/V Showcase Brut Nature – Category: Sparkling White – $55.00

Bronze Medal Winners

2019 Showcase Pinot Noir Clark Farm – Category: Pinot Noir – $36.75

2020 Distinction Cabernet Sauvignon – Category: Cabernet Sauvignon – $19.75

2019 Distinction Divine White – Category: White Blend – $22.75

2019 Reserve Viognier – Category: Viognier – $23.75

2020 Rosé – Category: Rosé – $18.05

3. Peller Estates, Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON (5th overall)

Peller Estates received 2 Platinum, 2 Gold, 5 Silver and 3 Bronze medals at this year’s awards.  Their wines are available at retailers across Canada, as well as from their website at www.peller.com.

Platinum Medal Winners

2019 Private Reserve Cabernet Franc – Category: Cabernet Franc – $23.75

2019 Signature Series Riesling – Category: Riesling – $29.95

Gold Medal Winners

2018 Andrew Peller Cabernet Franc Icewine – Category: Icewine – $108.90

2019 Signature Series Sauvignon Blanc – Category: Sauvignon Blanc – $24.75

Silver Medal Winners

2018 Signature Series Vidal Blanc Icewine – Category: Icewine – $74.85

2019 Private Reserve Gamay Noir – Category: Gamay – $21.75

2019 Signature Series Cabernet Franc – Category: Cabernet Franc – $54.80

2018 Signature Series Vidal Blanc Icewine – Category: Icewine – $74.85

2019 Andrew Peller Riesling Icewine – Category: Icewine – $24.99

Bronze Medal Winners

2020 Private Reserve Sauvignon Blanc – Category: Sauvignon Blanc – $20.75

N/V Ice Cuvée Rose Signature Series – Category: Sparkling Pink – $36.75

2020 Private Reserve Rosé – Category: Rosé – $22.75

4. Thirty Bench Wine Makers, Beamsville, ON (9th overall)

Thirty Bench earned 5 Gold, 6 Silver and 3 Bronze medals.  Their wines are available online at www.thirtybench.com.

Gold Medal Winners

2019 Small Lot Gewürztraminer – Category: Gewürztraminer – $29.75

2019 Small Lot Riesling Steel Post Vineyard – Category: Riesling – $29.75

2018 Small Lot Riesling Wild Cask – Category: Riesling – $29.75

2018 Small Lot Riesling Wood Post Vineyard – Category: Riesling – $29.75

2017 Small Lot Cabernet Franc – Category: Cabernet Franc – $75.20

Silver Medal Winners

2017 Small Lot Cabernet Sauvignon – Category: Cabernet Sauvignon – $50.00

2018 Small Lot Riesling Triangle Vineyard – Category: Riesling – $29.75

2019 Small Lot Pinot Noir – Category: Pinot Noir – $36.75

2019 Small Lot Riesling Wild Cask – Category: Riesling – $29.75

2019 Small Lot Riesling Wood Post Vineyard – Category: Riesling – $29.75

2019 Winemaker’s Blend Riesling – Category: Riesling – $22.95

Bronze Medal Winners

2019 Winemaker’s Blend Red – Category: Red Blend – $24.95

2019 Small Lot Riesling Triangle Vineyard – Category: Riesling – $29.75

2018 Effervescent Riesling – Category: Sparkling White – $38.95

5. 13th Street Winery, St. Catharines, ON (15th overall)

13th Street was awarded 1 Platinum, 1 Gold, 5 Silver and 14 Bronze medals.  Their wines are available at retailers in Ontario, as well as from their website at www.13thstreetwinery.com.

Platinum Medal Winner

2015 Premier Cuvee – Category: Sparkling White – $39.95

Gold Medal Winner

2020 Cabernet Franc June’s Vineyard – Category: Cabernet Franc – $24.95

Silver Medal Winners

2013 Grande Cuvee Blanc de Noir – Category: Sparkling White – $59.95

2019 Gamay – Category: Gamay – $19.95

2019 Blanc de Blanc – Category: Sparkling White – $29.95

2020 Riesling June’s Vineyard – Category: Riesling – $19.95

2020 Gamay Whitty Vineyard – Category: Gamay – $24.95

Bronze Medal Winners

2018 Essence Cabernet Franc – Category: Cabernet Franc – $49.95

2019 Cabernet Merlot – Category: Red Blend – $19.95

2019 Expression Cabernet Merlot – Category: Red Blend – $17.95

2019 Gamay Sandstone – Category: Gamay – $34.95

2020 Gamay – Category: Gamay – $17.95

N/V Burger Blend Gamay Pinot Noir- Category: Red Blend – $14.95

2019 Chardonnay L. Viscek Vineyard – Category: Chardonnay – $34.95

2019 Reserve Pinot Gris Home Farm – Category: Pinot Gris – $29.95

2020 Chardonnay, Creek Shores – Category: Chardonnay – $24.95

2020 Maximum Intervention Riesling – Category: Orange Wine – $24.95

2020 Pinot Gris Market Vineyard – Category: Pinot Gris – $19.95

N/V Burger Blend Riesling Pinot Grigio – Category: White Blend – $14.95

2019 Gamay Blanc de Noir – Category: Sparkling White – $34.95

N/V Cuvée Rose – Category: Sparkling Pink – $29.95

6. Ravine Vineyard Estate Winery, St. Davids, ON (21st overall)

Ravine Vineyard earned 3 Gold, 4 Silver and 6 Bronze medals at this year’s event.  Their wines are available online at www.ravinevineyard.com.

Gold Medal Winners

2020 Botrytis Affected Riesling – Category: Late Harvest – $38.00

2019 Lonna’s Block Cabernet Franc – Category: Cabernet Franc – $55.00

2018 Reserve Red Category: Red Blend – $65.00

Silver Medal Winners

2018 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon – Category: Cabernet Sauvignon – $65.00

2019 Nancy’s Block Cabernet Franc – Category: Cabernet Franc – $55.00

2020 Patricia’s Block Riesling – Category: Riesling – $35.00

2019 Cabernet Franc Icewine – Category: Icewine – $45.00

Bronze Medal Winners

2018 Reserve Merlot – Category: Merlot – $65.00

2019 Meritage – Category: Red Blend – $32.00

2019 Small Batch Riesling – Category: Riesling – $28.00

2019 Chardonnay – Category: Chardonnay – $35.00

2020 Gewürztraminer – Category: Gewürztraminer – $25.00

2020 Rosé – Category: Rosé – $25.00

7. Fielding Estate Winery, Beamsville, ON (22nd overall)

Fielding achieved 3 Gold, 5 Silver and 12 Bronze medals this year.  Their wines are available at retailers across Ontario, as well as from their website at www.fieldingwines.com.

Gold Medal Winners

2018 Estate Bottled Cabernet Franc – Category: Cabernet Franc – $39.95

2019 Cabernet-Syrah – Category: Red Blend – $29.95

N/V Sparkling Brut – Category: Sparkling White – $37.15

Silver Medal Winners

2019 Estate Bottled Riesling – Category: Riesling – $16.25

Fielding 2020 Chardonnay Unoaked – Category: Chardonnay – $15.95

2020 Estate Bottled Chardonnay – Category: Chardonnay – $18.15

2020 Estate Bottled Gamay – Category: Gamay – $25.95

2020 Rosé – Category: Rosé – $15.95

Bronze Medal Winners

2017 Syrah Lowrey Vineyard – Category: Syrah – $34.95

2019 Cabernet Franc – Category: Cabernet Franc – $24.95

2019 Pinot Noir – Category: Pinot Noir – $39.95

2019 Red Conception – Category: Red Blend – $14.75

2020 Gamay Category: Gamay – $19.95

2018 Riesling – Category: Riesling – $16.95

2018 Rock Pile Chardonnay – Category: Chardonnay – $36.95

2019 White Conception – Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon – Category: White Blend – $25.95

2020 Estate Bottled Pinot Gris – Category: Pinot Gris – $21.95

2020 Pinot Grigio – Category: Pinot Grigio – $16.95

2020 Sauvignon Blanc – Category: Sauvignon Blanc – $19.95

N/V Sparkling Rosé – Category: Sparkling Pink – $29.95

8. Creekside Estate Winery, Jordan Station, ON

Creekside was awarded 2 Gold, 5 Silver and 3 Bronze medals.  Their wines are available from their website www.creeksidewine.com.

Gold Medal Winners

2017 Iconoclast Syrah – Category: Syrah -$25.00

2020 Sauvignon Blanc – Category: Sauvignon Blanc – $15.95

Silver Medal Winners

2017 Broken Press Syrah Reserve Queenston Road Vineyard – Category: Syrah – $55.00

2018 Iconoclast Semillon Sauvignon – Category: White Blend – $23.00

2018 Laura’s Red – Category: Red Blend – $25.00

2019 Syrah – Category: Syrah – $15.95

2020 Backyard Block Sauvignon Blanc – Category: Sauvignon Blanc – $22.00

Bronze Medal Winners

2017 Laura’s Red – Category: Red Blend – $25.00

2019 Cabernet Merlot – Category: Red Blend – $15.95

2020 Red Tractor Pinot Gris – Category: Pinot Gris – $19.95

9. Tawse Winery, Vineland, ON

Tawse received 2 Gold, 12 Silver and 7 Bronze medals at this year’s awards.  Their wines are available from their website www.tawsewinery.ca and from retailers across Ontario.

Gold Medal Winners

2019 Riesling Limestone Ridge-North – Category: Riesling – $21.95

2018 Meritage – Category: Red Blend – $67.95

Silver Medal Winners

2016 Merlot Laundry Vineyard – Category: Merlot – $49.95

2019 Growers Blend Pinot Noir – Category: Pinot Noir -$25.95

2019 Pinot Noir Quarry Road Vineyard – Category: Pinot Noir -$35.95

2018 Riesling Carly’s Block Category: Riesling – $31.95

2018 Riesling Limestone Ridge-North – Category: Riesling – $21.95

2019 Pinot Gris Lawrie Vineyard – Category: Pinot Gris – $27.15

2019 Riesling Quarry Road Vineyard – Category: Riesling – $24.95

2020 Skin Fermented Pinot Gris – Category: Orange Wine – $26.95

2019 Spark Rose Quarry Road Vineyard – Category: Sparkling Pink – $29.95

2014 Spark Chardonnay David’s Block – Category: Sparkling White – $39.95

2019 Spark Limestone Ridge Riesling – Category: Sparkling White – $20.95

2019 Cabernet Sauvignon Icewine – Category: Icewine – $35.95

Bronze Medal Winners

2016 Meritage – Category: Red Blend – $67.95

2018 Cabernet Franc David’s Block – Category: Cabernet Franc – $49.95

2019 Gamay Noir Cherry Avenue – Category: Gamay – $28.95

2019 Pinot Noir Tintern Road – Category: Pinot Noir – $44.95

2018 Riesling – Category: Riesling – $15.88

2019 Riesling Carly’s Block – Category: Riesling – $32.15

2020 Sketches Rosé – Category: Rosé – $17.95

10. Redstone Winery, Beamsville, ON

Redstone received 2 Gold, 3 Silver and 2 Bronze medals.  Their wines are available from their website at www.redstonewines.ca.

Gold Medal Winners

2019 Brickyard Riesling – Category: Riesling – $13.95

2017 Meritage Redstone Vineyard – Category: Red Blend – $67.95

Silver Medal Winners

2018 Syrah Redstone Vineyard – Category: Syrah – $40.15

2019 The Club Riesling Limestone Vineyard – Category: Riesling – $23.95

2019 Cabernet Sauvignon Icewine – Category: Icewine – $36.05

Bronze Medal Winners

2017 The Club Syrah Redfoot Vineyard – Category: Syrah – $39.95

2018 Merlot Redstone Vineyard – Category: Merlot – $39.95

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

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.

Sláinte mhaith

The European Floods

July 13th saw the beginning of torrential rains that resulted in devastating flooding in parts of Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands. The rivers were unable to withstand the volume of rain which resulted in rivers overrunning their banks, flooding some towns and villages. Some wine regions in northwestern Germany suffered extensive damage, with the full impact still to be determined. Even vintners in regions less impacted by the flooding have to contend with water in their cellars and mildew on grapevines.

Photo credit: TheTimes.co.uk

According to meteorologists, some parts of Germany received the equivalent of two months of rain in a 24 hour timeframe. Parts of the Rhine and its tributaries in Germany and the Meuse River in Belgium and Holland quickly overflowed their banks. The Ahr Valley, a Rhine tributary, was particularly ravaged. The steep slopes on both sides of the river contain Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir) vines, which are some of Germany’s best.  The Germany’s Mosel region also experienced flooding that was compared to a tsunami. It came quickly and totally surprised everyone.

To date there have been upwards of 300 deaths attributed to the flooding with many more people still missing.  Wineries in the region have all but been destroyed. All that remains in many cases are the bare walls of the structures.  Furniture, cars, tanks, presses, tractors and other equipment are all lost.

With the equipment gone, the vintners will need a great deal of manual labour to maintain the vines for the balance of this season and then to harvest the grape crop. Then once it is harvested they will need to determine how they will press the grapes and ferment the juice.

Teams from the unaffected areas are organizing to help the grape growers in the devastated areas. The Verband Deutscher Prädikatsund Qualitätsweingüter (VDP), Germany’s association of top-quality wine, is organizing charity events. A wine festival is taking place this weekend where all of the proceeds will go to relief efforts. 

It is worth making a mental note that when the 2021 vintage of German wines reach the shelves in a couple of years, the quantity will be less and the price will be relatively higher than in previous years. This will be due to the reduced supply and increased costs in getting these wines to market. There may also be some spoilage do to mold.

My thoughts are with everyone affected by this devastating situation.

Sláinte mhaith