Platinum Medal Winners from the 2018 National Wine Awards of Canada

Celebrate the Top One Percent

The Platinum Medal winners are the cream of the crop in the view of our judges. We set an arbitrary but tough limit – the top 1% based on the highest final score over two rigorous judging reviews. So with over 1,850 entries this year we have 18 Platinums. This is regardless of category, style or varietal. With this approach we hope to shine the light on what Canada, and our best winemakers, are doing exceptionally well.

Chardonnay leads with six Platinums, which lines up with accepted wisdom that coast to coast chardonnay is Canada’s white grape. From BC three very experienced wineries pulled off Platinum – Nk’Mip, Meyer Family and CedarCreek. And in Ontario there are iconic entries from single, higher altitude limestone sites on Niagara’s benchlands via Tawse, Hidden Bench and newer terroir-focused Leaning Post.

There are also three intriguing white ”one-offs” from B.C., like the Semillon from Val Tait’s Bench 1775 (this grape has shone before from Naramata.) Then, there is the stunning Albarino from Stag’s Hollow, and the terrific Road 13 Roussanne. These are all Mediterranean/Spanish grapes, and three reasons the Okanagan might want to think outside the traditional white varietal box.

Only one riesling hit Platinum out of a huge field on contenders. There were many golds and silvers but Niagara’s Thirty Bench triumphed, a leader in the region. It is so interesting that this is its most available, simplest and well-balanced offering. This has happened before in these awards with other producers of simple rieslings.

Could syrah be Canada’s best red grape? It dominated the Platinum reds, with a clutch of five great syrah’s, four from the southern Okanagan and one from Ontario. Please review John Szabo’s syrah category intro to get the big picture. But I must direct you to Le Vieux Pin’s Cuvée Violette from Rhone specialist Severine Pinte, which was one of the most heralded reds of the competition. The aromatic supple Thornhaven, the rich, accessible Deep Roots, the sophisticated Daydreamer Amelia (with 10% viognier), and the firecracker Redstone from Niagara show the range Canada can produce.

Interestingly and controversially perhaps, only one red based on the red Bordeaux varieties (out of hundreds entered) hit Platinum – Two Sister’s 2014 Cabernet Franc. Congratulations to Niagara-born, former Okanagan (Pentâge) winemaker Adam Pearce. The tiny Niagara River sub-appellation has a champion.

And lest we forget Canada’s historic icewines – two grasped the platinum ring. It is easy to marginalize Icewine as a super sweet style that few actually drink, but that does not mean it is not good quality. I have always liked Magnotta’s Cabernet Franc Icewine and it has won many medals. And Lang on BC’s Naramata Bench has always produced inspiring Germanic inflected examples.

We have done our best to highlight Canada’s best. We know there will be debate, but if nothing else we invite discussion, and hope you have some opportunity to try them for yourself. And if the system makes that difficult for you wherever you live in Canada, please don’t blame us. We all need to work together to get it changed.

If you have missed our far more detailed commentary on the various categories – with a few being rolled out each day over the past several days – see the complete list of winners here.

National Wine Awards of Canada National Wine Awards of Canada Judges