Final Blend: World Wine Awards of Canada

The Final BlendSept 4, 2015

by Anthony Gismondi

Anthony Gismondi

Anthony Gismondi

The WineAlign crew was back in Toronto last week for the 2015 WineAlign World Wine Awards of Canada (#WWAC15). The international lineup is much anticipated by our judges and you can feel the excitement as they arrive at the hotel the evening before the competition starts.

It’s one of the few times in a year we can actually discuss wine using all the information at our disposal with people who really want to hear about minerality, pH levels, residual sugar and soil structure, not to mention winemaking techniques, ageing vessels and, well, the minutia goes on and on. They really are folks who never tire of tasting or talking about wine.

In 2015 the WineAlign World Wine Awards is going back to its roots focusing on value. We know our readers love a bargain and we think we know what excellent wine is, so when the two collide it can be ‘money in the bank’ for our readers.

Not surprisingly we found value at several price points, but for the majority of wine drinkers, money is always an issue and in the mass lexicon ‘value’ wine means affordable. That often translates into wine under $10, highly desirable if almost impossible to find. Think about it, how much of that $10 you spend on your favourite wine represents anything to do with the cost of the juice in the bottle? Could it be a dollar? Possibly, but chances are it is less than that which gives you an idea of how difficult it is to uncover the next best buy.

The $10 to $25 range is the best zone to uncover great values but that doesn’t mean a $35 to $50 bottle of wine can’t deliver great value. The trick is to find wine that over-delivers in flavour and mouthfeel for its price. We all hone in on the magic factor: balance. That’s what being wine savvy is all about.

As the Canadian dollar plummets, the outlook for fall and winter wine prices isn’t favourable. You can expect increases worldwide that may look reasonable at the winery but once you double down on that with an ad valorem markup, the staple cash cow of Canadian monopolies, you get a hefty increase on your favourite tipple.

As you read this we are busy tallying up a week’s worth of tasting in Toronto at the Don Valley Parkway Hotel, ironically the birthplace of the Intervin International Wine Competition in 1986. It was like old home week for our own David Lawrason who worked as a judge that first year. If you are counting, Lawrason boasts three decades of experience in show judging.

I can’t share any of the results from 2015 just yet, but a full report will appear on WineAlign in late September, just in time for the very busy fall season. What I can tell you is the second round judging, the wines that made it through the first cut, are exciting to our judges who already sense there will be some outstanding values. Let’s face it – there is never enough value wine to go around.

Don’t forget, some of the wines we tasted at The Worlds are just arriving to the market and could be around in stores for the next year. In the meantime, I’ll leave you with a few favourite picks from last year’s competition currently sitting on store shelves that you could be buying and drinking right now.

Nadia Fournier - Le guide du vin Phaneuf 2016Last year, we loved the Cusumano Syrah 2013 from Sicily and at $11.99 in Ontario it’s an amazing bargain. Judge Nadia Fournier, author of the soon to be released 35th Le guide du vin – Phaneuf called it an “adorable wine [that] seduces instantly with its jammy scent that is right in your face.” Nadia interrupted her final push to complete her annual wine bible for Quebec consumers to join us in Toronto but she is already back in Montreal putting the final touches on this year’s manuscript for its November release.

The Argentina Category Champion and Best of Country was the Kaiken Ultra Malbec 2012.  This delicious high altitude red can be had for approximately $20, and now, with an extra year’s bottle age. You could lay this down for another two to three years or drink it now. Victoria–based judge Treve Ring said “dense blackberry jam, scented lilacs, sweet raisins and dried figs.” Toronto-based judge Michael Godel call it “a domesticated feline Malbec.” I say buy it.

Quebec-based and barefoot taster Bill Zacharkiw wrote about the very peppery Ogier Cotes Du Ventoux Red 2013 calling it “an intriguing wine”. He loved the acidity and delicate tannins. “Simple and not the most lengthy, but one of those wines you chill down and backpack.”

Cusumano Syrah 2013Kaiken Ultra Malbec 2012Ogier Cotes Du Ventoux Red 2013

But enough of that, you can find all the results to the 2014 WWAC here until the latest results from the 2015 World Wine Awards of Canada are out at the end of this month.

Editors Note: You can find complete critic reviews by clicking on any of the highlighted wine names, bottle images or links. Paid subscribers to WineAlign see all critics reviews immediately. Non-paid members wait 60 days to see new reviews. Premium membership has its privileges; like first access to great wines!


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