Top Ten Aromatic Blends from NWAC 2013

Anthony Gismondi

Anthony Gismondi

The summer is the perfect time to think about drinking delicious aromatic wines, especially as we head out-of-doors. Our nearly constant cool temperatures from September to May have also taught us to be a little more experimental with aromatic wine when it comes to the dinner table.

If the hot weather doesn’t motivate you to drink a big tannic red, may we suggest some of the top aromatic blends tasted at the WineAlign 2013 National Wine Awards of Canada earlier this summer. Today we wanted to share the results of those aromatic flights ahead of the ultimate release of the nation’s ‘Best White Blends’ on September 4th.

Let’s see now, fresh and light with dreamy noses and easy-sipping flavours that remind you of fresh fruit and flowers and many sell for less than $20. As a category aromatic wines have taken off in Canada, especially in summer and when it comes to white, warm and tropical, well, they go together like riesling and gewürztraminer, or is that pinot gris, riesling and viognier, or sauvignon blanc, ehrenfelser and chardonnay musqué.

Not to put too fine a ‘twist’ on it, but many of our best aromatic blends come under screwcap, a bottle closure that is almost foolproof when it comes to sealing in the fruit and preventing any premature oxidation. In our mind screwcaps are tailor-made for aromatic wines and for the most part we are happy to say most Canadian producers feel the same.

There’s little doubt blended wine is growing in importance in the wine world although it is hardly new to the wine game, especially in Europe. Varietal wine has had such a long and successful run in North America we sometimes forget that most of its forerunners were appellation based wines made with a blend of grapes. In fact many were made with field blends so old nobody really knew what was in the wine. Varietal wine is hardly dead but its importance is undergoing a major inquisition as consumers explore both red and white styles.

Judging at the NWAC13

Judging at the NWAC13

At the WineAlign 2013 National Wine Awards of Canada, blended wines continued to increase their presence in the competition. Red wine blends are now the single largest category, while white blends continue to gain in popularity. Over the 13 years we have been judging Canadian Wine we came to the conclusion that separating the white blends into aromatic and non-aromatic, what we used to call the Bordeaux blends, didn’t make a lot of sense. In fact, the judges were happy to taste all the white blends together in the finals, in short, letting the best blend win. We still separate the aromatic blends from the traditional, non-aromatic blends in the preliminary rounds before we push the best forward.

One of the useful things about writing on wine for nearly 30 years is the perspective you gain. Case in point: aromatic blends. When I first began paying serious attention to Canadian wine in the early 1990s, flowery, often sweet white wines were de rigueur and mostly derided. Their descent couldn’t come quick enough for an army of new producers eager to make the best chardonnay or pinot gris in the land. After that, ultimately, they would set their sights on the holy grail wine, the reds, led by cabernet sauvignon, merlot, red blends and pinot noir.

The growing, the tweaking, the failures and the accomplishments have all taken place but quietly and thankfully persistently, a handful of producers have embraced our cool climate zones turning out a wide variety of delicious aromatic white blends.

What follows are the gold and silver results for the aromatic blends and a short list of the best value aromatic blends in the country.

As mentioned the complete ‘White Blends’ category will be released with the entire WineAlign 2013 National Wine Awards of Canada report on September 4th. Enjoy the rest of the summer.

The Gold Medal Winners:

NWAC13 Gold MedalKew Vineyard Estate 2012 Marsanne-Viognier
Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario $19

Moon Curser Vineyards 2012 Afraid of the Dark
Okanagan Valley, British Columbia $22

The Silver Medal Winners:

JoieFarm 2012 A Noble Blend
Okanagan Valley, British Columbia $24

Creekside Estate 2010 Laura’s White
Niagara Peninsula, Ontario $19

Intrigue 2012 Twelve
Okanagan Valley, British Columbia $15
‘Best Value Aromatic Blend’

NWAC13 Silver MedalJost Vineyards 2012 Habitant Blanc
Nova Scotia $11
‘Best Value Aromatic Blend’

Crush 2011 First White
Ontario $13
‘Best Value Aromatic Blend’

Laughing Stock Vineyards Blind Trust White 2012
Okanagan Valley, British Columbia $25

Ovino 2012 Pinot Tramino
Okanagan Valley, British Columbia $15.50
‘Best Value Aromatic Blend’

Fielding 2012 White Conception
Niagara Peninsula, Ontario $19

Arrowleaf 2012 First Crush White
Okanagan Valley, British Columbia $15
‘Best Value Aromatic Blend’

Kraze Legz The Lindy Hop 2012 White Blend
Okanagan Valley, British Columbia $19.85

Tinhorn Creek 2012 Oldfield Series 2Bench White
Okanagan Valley, British Columbia $23

Photo credits from NWAC: Jason Dziver Photography