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.

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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

The All Canadian Wine Championships

With COVID seeming to be lessening its grip, life as we used to know it is once again beginning to slowly return. Part of that are the various wine competitions.  The 40th edition of the All Canadian Wine Championships was held from July 6th to 8th.  In total, 208 wineries submitted 1,327 wines to assess.

Assessments and awards were based as follows:

Trophies : “All Canadian Best Wines of the Year”

All wines are judged using the 100-point system. Trophies are awarded for each of the following categories:

  • Best Red table wine
  • Best White table wine
  • Best Dessert wine
  • Best Sparkling wine
  • Best Fruit wine

The award for Best Red Wine of the Year went to BC’s Dark Horse Vineyard for their 2016 Red Meritage ($60.00).

The Best White Wine of the Year was the 2020 Gewürztraminer ($20.69) from BC’s Wild Goose Vineyards and Winery.          

The Best Dessert Wine of the Year went to Ontario’s Peller Estates Winery for their 2019 Andrew Peller Signature Series Riesling Icewine ($89.85).

BC’s Forbidden Fruit Winery won the Best Fruit Wine of the Year award for their 2020 Flaunt Organic Sparkling Plum ($22.00).

Finally the Best Sparkling Wine of the Year award went to BC’s Gray Monk Estate Winery for their 2018 Odyssey Rose Brut ($29.90).

Double Gold medals / Best of Category were awarded to the single highest rated wine (using an average of the aggregate judges’ scores) from each of the categories. These wines were all submitted for the Trophy round.

Medals of Merit: Gold, Silver, Bronze were awarded in the following manner:

  • Gold awards were awarded to those wines scoring in the top 10 percentile.
  • Silver awards of merit were issued to those wines scoring in the second 10 percentile.
  • Bronze awards of merit were given to those wines scoring in the third 10 percentile.

The overall results by province were as follows:

  • BC          4 Trophies / 29 Double Gold / 81 Gold / 75 Silver / 88 Bronze (759 entries)
  • ON         2 Trophies / 22 Double Gold / 38 Gold / 50 Silver / 40 Bronze  (465 entries)
  • QC          1 Double Gold / 7 Gold / 6 Silver / 4 Bronze (57 entries)
  • NS          3 Gold / 2 Bronze  ( 14 entries)
  • NB          1 Double Gold / 1 Gold / 5 Bronze (23 entries)
  • PEI         1 Double Gold / 3 Silver /  1 Bronze   (10 entries)
  • AB          3 Double Gold / 2 Gold / 1 Silver (11 entries)
  • MB          1 Double Gold (4 entries)
  • SK           1 Double Gold / 1 Gold / 3 Silver / 3 Bronze (18 entries)
  • Yukon     0 (4 entries)

All of the results are available at https://allcanadianwinechampionships.com/acwc-2021-results/

With the All Canadian Wine Awards completed, I look forward to the National Wine Awards that were deferred until the fall.

Sláinte mhaith

Virtual Wine Events

The times are changing in part due to changes in technology and in part due to COVID-19.   A lot of gatherings and meetings will work well using Zoom, Google Meets or another online meeting facility.  The wine industry has been forced to find alternatives to hosting in-person events and wine tastings and even award ceremonies have to now follow this practice.

In order to participate in a wine tasting each attendee should be prepared to do some work ahead of the virtual gathering.  Attendees will need to obtain the list of wines to be sampled and then purchase a bottle of each of the wines.  Obtaining these wines may prove to be a challenge given that they may not be readily available from the local wine store.  Some may need to be obtained directly from the winery and if the winery is not located in the same vicinity as you, you will have to order the wines a couple of weeks ahead of the event.

In attending a tasting without having access to the wines to sample, you have to solely rely on the host’s verbal description. I think the value of the information would be lost without the opportunity to sample the wine yourself. I think it would be about as enticing as watching paint dry.

But if you have the wines being tasted, given that tastings involve only a small sampling of each wine, you will be left with a significant portion of each of the wines that you will then need to try and preserve until they can be consumed.

The same challenges are faced by anyone attending a wine award ceremony who wants to taste any of the wines eligible for or that received a reward.

Making the most of the current environment, there are now companies and wineries that will sell you a wine tasting kit.  These kits consist of a bottle of each wine to be tasted, reviewer’s notes on each wine, and a link to a video of the expert conducting the actual wine tasting.  This gives you the opportunity to invite your friends over (assuming there isn’t a lockdown) for a private wine tasting event hosted by a wine expert.   In some cases you can arrange for a “live” tasting using a remote meeting site like Zoom.

Without a doubt some events and activities are best attended in person rather than virtually. However given these strange times that we live in, virtual events are probably better than no events.

Sláinte mhaith

Oh What a Year!

This is traditionally the time when people reflect back over the year that was and reminisce over the happy and sad times of the past twelve months.  Unfortunately this year there wasn’t a lot of opportunity for happy times.  The main and some would say, only event of 2020 was COVID-19. It has disrupted life as we knew it.

With the production of this last year’s wine supply still in progress, the situation heavily impacts the existing product stocks of the winemakers looking to sell the wine reserves of 2018. However, due to the measures applied in the spring by most countries, the biggest wine producing countries – Italy, France, Spain and the US – have seen sales decline steadily.

Mid-spring to early autumn is when wineries here in Canada do most of their business. However, with wine tours, tastings and exploration being limited or completely on hold for the foreseeable future, the number of visitors to wineries was drastically reduced along with associated wine sales. The sale of other merchandise, such as food and clothing, was also negatively impacted.  Some wineries closed entirely because of the virus.

The Demand for Champagne

Sales of champagne, one of France’s most iconic products, have tumbled over the past year with industry representatives estimating that some 100 million bottles will be left unsold.   Lower demand due to the pandemic has led to an exceptionally low harvest quota in France’s Champagne region, with pickers in the vineyards harvesting one-fifth less than last year.

With many cafes, hotels and restaurants being closed at various times, and weddings and music festivals being called off, people consumed less champagne.  However, lower demand will not necessarily lead to lower prices.

Australian Wild Fires

Wild fires wreaked havoc from late 2019 until the early part of this year in Australia.  The Adelaide Hills wine region was the hardest hit, destroying 30% of its production.  The Cudlee Creek fire affected more than 60 growers and producers in the region.

The financial blow to the Adelaide Hills wine industry was significant. The region lost $20 million worth of wine, which translates to 794,000 cases.

The Wild Fires on the U.S.  West Coast

Wineries were already facing great financial strains due to the reduction in restaurant traffic and smaller crowds visiting vineyards for tastings.  Many tasting rooms were closed due to fire and smoke risks, while many grapes have been damaged or totally ruined.

Oregon, Washington and California together produce about 90% of all U.S. wine. The true impact on the $70 billion industry will not be known for months as crop damage can vary greatly from region to region.  Smoke blanketed much of the U.S. West as fires charred in excess of 2 million hectares.

Canadian Wine Awards

The judging of the 20th Anniversary Edition of the National Wine Awards of Canada has been postponed indefinitely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The sessions were to be held the week of June 24 to 28 in Penticton, British Columbia. The hope is that the competition can resume in 2021.

The 2020 COVID-19 version of the Ontario Wine awards finally took place on August 28th.  A small group gathered at Kew Vineyard, in Beamsville, Ontario as the awards were presented in front of a small, socially-distanced gathering.  Unlike previous years there were no judges and no formal tastings for the four main awards.  Instead the Awards Committee reached out to judges who had participated in the last three years of the competition and asked them to nominate their top three white, red and sparkling wines they had tasted during the year. Based on those responses the top scoring wines were tabulated.

Onward and Upward

Now that the COVID-19 vaccine is starting to be administered hopefully everyone who wants it will be able to have it within next few months.  Then we can begin the journey toward a world that is better than what we are experiencing today.  In the meantime stay safe and though it may be much quieter than usual, have the happiest New Year that these times will permit.

Sláinte mhaith

Toasting

I have been asked on more than one occasion the meaning of the phrase Sláinte mhaith which appears at the end of each of my posts.  These are the words of an Irish toast which are pronounced ‘slawncha va’.  It means ‘good health’.  It is often shortened to just Sláinte.  If you have ever experienced a true Irish pub, in all likelihood you will have witnessed the raising of a glass and Sláinte given as a toast.

A toast is a ritual in which a drink is taken as an expression of honour or goodwill.  As legend has it the custom of touching glasses came from concerns about poisoning.  By one account, clinking glasses together would cause each drink to spill over into the other glasses.  Another theory is that the word toast became associated with the 17th century custom of flavouring drinks with spiced toast.

The International Handbook on Alcohol and Culture says toasting “is probably a secular vestige of ancient sacrificial libations in which a sacred liquid was offered to the gods: blood or wine in exchange for a wish, a prayer summarized in the words ‘long life!’ or ‘to your health!'”

Toasting has deep roots in Western culture, with some anthropologists suggesting that it goes back to ancient religious rites. While a toast is generally positive — good health and good luck are common — the act carries certain negative superstitions in at least three European countries. Making eye contact while toasting is considered polite in many countries and the penalties for failing to do so can be severe. French and German superstition suggests that you’ll suffer through seven years of ‘bad sex’ if you don’t maintain eye contact during a toast. Many Spanish believe that the same curse will befall those who toast with glasses of water.  Toasting with an empty glass may be viewed by some as acceptable behavior for the non-drinker though pretending to drink from an empty glass seems ridiculous.  I am not sure how the people who think toasting with water is not acceptable feel about toasting with an empty glass.  However, in many countries toasting with an empty glass is preferable to refusing a toast altogether.

Irrelevant of which theory is true, toasting traditionally involves alcoholic beverages. Sparkling wine, often Champagne, is considered festive and is widely associated with New Year’s Eve and other celebrations. Many people nowadays substitute sparkling fruit juice (often packaged in champagne-style bottles).

The words used during a toast vary from country to country, though the meaning is very similar.  The Scots of the western half of Scotland, in Scottish Gaelic, say ‘dheagh shlàinte, (pronounced like ‘do slawncha’).  This is often responded  with ‘slàinte agad-sa”, which literally means “health at yourself”.  Scots, like the English, and now Canadians and Americans, often now use the word ‘cheers’.

In Hebrew, it is’ L’chayim’; in French it is ‘À votre santé’; the Germans often say ‘Prost’ (rhymes with toast); in Spanish it is ‘Salud’; in Portuguese it is ‘Saude’; and the Italians say ‘Salute’.

So if a toast is offered up this year at a holiday gathering (no matter how small that gathering may be) now you have some insight as to how the tradition may have began.

Sláinte mhaith