Announcing the Results of the 2016 National Wine Awards
Platinum & Gold Medals Shine the Light on Canada’s Strengths
There was a dazzling array of top quality Canadian wines at this year’s 16th WineAlign National Wine Awards of Canada with over 1,500 entries from 230 wineries in six provinces. There were 16 coveted Platinum medals spread over 14 wineries, and seven different wine categories.
East Kelowna’s Spierhead Winery took two Platinums for a pair of outstanding pinot noirs, while Road 13 Winery from Oliver took two Platinums for syrah-based wines. Chardonnay was the most awarded Platinum category with five shiny medals (four from Ontario), while syrah and syrah-based came a close second with four (all from British Columbia). Platinum medals also went to a riesling, a riesling icewine, a semillon, a red blend and a crème de cassis wine. Platinum medals represent the top 1% of wines entered, achieving an average score of 91 points or better.
Close behind among the 103 Gold Medals (reaching an average score of 90 points or higher) the range of wines widened to include most categories, but it is clear that chardonnay, pinot noir, syrah, riesling and sparkling wines are emerging as Canada’s most consistently awarded wine styles.
The excitement generated among the judges in the tasting room by these types of wine ran high this year. We were all noticing a real bump in quality. The wines were all served blind (producer, origin, and price were not revealed) but identified and organized into flights by grape variety or style. The top medalists were tasted in multiple rounds by several different judges.
The full results by medal, and by category, are published on WineAlign, Canada’s largest wine review and editorial website.
The location for the Nationals alternates between east and west each year. This year the judging was held in June at the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre in the heart of the Okanagan Valley. It attracted over 1,500 entries from 230 wineries in six provinces. British Columbia had the highest representation with 143 wineries entered, Ontario came second with 65, followed by Quebec 13, Nova Scotia 6, New Brunswick 4, and Prince Edward Island 1. This generally reflects the distribution of wineries in Canada.
There were 66 new wineries entered this year, 36 from BC, where the growth of new wineries is most rapid, and 16 from Ontario.
The highly anticipated awards for Winery of the Year, Best Performing Small Winery of the Year, and the list of the nation’s Top 25 Wineries will be announced July 28.
The wines were judged over five days by 21 judges from seven provinces. The judges are all well-established wine writers and educators with broad international wine experience. There were also two international guest judges – Dr. Jamie Goode from the United Kingdom, and Elaine Chukan Brown from California.
The Awards were designed and managed by Chief Judge Anthony Gismondi of Vancouver, and operated by staff of WineAlign with the assistance of dozens of volunteers who poured approximately 8,000 glasses of wine, all to exact temperature.
The announcement of the NWAC results comes at a historic time for Canadian wine, with British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec signing an agreement on July 23 to allow their citizens to directly import any wines from the other provinces. BC has been allowing this since 2012. Ontario has – just today – introduced this capability as part of an e-commerce website being launched by the LCBO. Quebec will soon announce how it plans to handle direct sales of Canadian wine, and other provinces are being invited to join the movement.
In any event, it means that more Canadians will have better and more rapid access to the medal-winning wines of the National Wine Awards of Canada.
We would like to acknowledge the following sponsors: Post Hotel and Spa Lake Louise for the glassware used throughout the judging, and Container World for shipping and logistics. A special thank you to Jason Dziver for the above images, as well as for each and every Awards bottle image appearing our site. You can see more of his work at Jason Dziver Photography.