WineAlign Announces Results of the 2013 National Wine Awards of Canada

WineAlign Announces National Wine Awards of Canada 2013 Results
Thursday, September 5

The complete results of the National Wine Awards of Canada are now posted on WineAlign at: NWAC 2013 Results. The results include all the Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze medal winners in several style and grape variety categories, plus a “performance report” on the Top 20 wineries in the country.  Mission Hill Family Estate Winery has been named Winery of the Year based on a convincing haul of two platinum, three gold, three silver and four bronze medals.

The National Wine Awards of Canada, owned by WineAlign – Canada’s largest on-line wine review website – were judged in June in Niagara. Sixteen independent wine critics gathered at the Hilton Garden Inn in Niagara-on-the-Lake for five days to taste through 1,081 wines grown and produced by over 150 wineries across Canada, and released for sale in the calendar year 2013. The wines were tasted blind, with the top scoring 22% of the entries going on to a final round for a second evaluation.

“Canadian wineries enter many competitions around the world each year but none compare to WineAlign’s Nationals in terms of the level of competition and none can boast the competency of our panel of judges.” said chief judge and competition architect Anthony Gismondi. “As a result the Canadian Winery of the Year designation is as big as it gets in Canadian wine and we are both proud and delighted to say the performance of Mission Hill Family Estate led all others in the country in 2013”.

The top scoring gold medalists were awarded a Platinum medal – the first time such a level has been introduced in the judging of Canadian wine. “I have been judging nationally since 2001” said co-head judge David Lawrason, “and I’ve never seen such a high level of quality and so many gold medals. It was time to raise the bar and reward the real stand-outs with Platinum. They are the top 1%”.

Mission Hill Family Estate Winery

Mission Hill Family Estate Winery
Winery of the Year

Mission Hill’s victory as Winery of the Year was particularly sweet for winemaker John Simes and his colleagues, who took the honour twice in the former Canadian Wine Awards, but had been edged out the last three years by Tawse Winery of Niagara. Tawse finished a close second this year, with B.C.’s Road 13 finishing third.

“The Winery of the Year is an award that the entire Mission Hill team – from the vineyards to the bottling line – shares and is taking pride in” said John Simes. “Whether it was a tractor driver in Osoyoos who worked night shift during the grape harvesting; a picker who braved the extreme cold to harvest the Icewine grapes;  a cellar worker who carefully stirred the Chardonnay juice during barrel fermentation; a bottling line worker who ensured the wine was pumped to the filler at exactly the correct conditions for bottling – all of them know that they helped contribute to the quality of the wines in the bottle that the judges have now rewarded with this exciting and absolutely fantastic result for Mission Hill”.

Anthony Gismondi was not surprised by Mission Hill’s performance, that comes after a twenty year program to create prime vineyards throughout the Okanagan.  “John Simes is now getting some very good (grape) material and his collaboration with renowned French winemaking consultant, Michel Rolland, has begun to pay texture and complexity dividends across the entire lineup” said Mr. Gismondi. Mission Hill’s 2009 Compendium, a red blend, was a Platinum winner, as was the 2011 Riesling Reserve.

The Nationals provide a fascinating snapshot of the wine state of the nation. There were entries from five provinces – B.C., Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. According to David Lawrason, the strongest categories in terms of number of entries and medals awarded were sparkling wine; riesling and chardonnay among whites; and among reds pinot noir, syrah, merlot and red blends involving the so-called Bordeaux varieties. Smaller categories that turned heads included gamay and chenin blanc.

Lawrason also observed that the division of medals between Ontario and British Columbia was more even than any judging in the past dozen years. “It is well established that both Ontario and B.C. do a fine job with sparkling, riesling, chardonnay and pinot noir” said Lawrason, “but I was surprised to see Ontario’s strong showing with bigger reds like merlot, cabernet franc, blends and even syrah. Many of the entries were from the hotter 2010 vintage, and they were well made. On the other hand 2010 was a cooler vintage in B.C.”

British Columbia still did very well with the big reds, and was dominant in the syrah category as well as in a category of other single varietal reds that included grapes like petit verdot, touriga nacional and zinfandel. It also out-performed Ontario with aromatic white varieties like pinot gris, pinot blanc, viognier and gewürztraminer.

Nova Scotia sparkling and white wines, and classic Quebec Iced Apple, registered in the medals as well.

The sixteen judges for the National Wine Awards hailed from six provinces, with several from B.C., Ontario and Quebec being critics for WineAlign. Others were all experienced wine judges who write about wine professionally. Each has contributed comments on WineAlign about their favourite wines and the state of wine in Canada, providing a detailed survey of what Canadian wine has achieved to date and where it is going.

WineAlign was established by CEO Bryan McCaw in 2008 as wine review resource for consumers in Ontario. It expanded to British Columbia earlier this year and will launch in Quebec in the weeks ahead, with a French version of the website called Chacun Son Vin. There are now over 15,000 wines reviewed on WineAlign, many with multiple opinions from among the dozen professional critics, as well as from consumers. The majority of wines are linked directly to the inventories of provincial liquor boards so that consumers can locate wines at their local wine store.

In September WineAlign is holding its inaugural World Wine Awards of Canada – The Worlds – to judge imported and Canadian wines being sold for under $50 anywhere in the country.

National Wine Awards of Canada