Results from the 2023 Nationals – Rosé Wines

Announcing the Results from the 2023 National Wine Awards of Canada

The 22nd running of the National Wine Awards of Canada wrapped up on June 28 in Penticton. Category results will be rolling out throughout the rest of July, with the final Platinum, Best Performing Small Winery, and Winery of the Year announcements coming at the end of this month. We hope you will stay tuned to follow the results and become engaged in anticipating the final results.

We’ve asked a few of our judges to summarize their impressions of each category. Today we are pleased to present the Rosé Wines winners.

Rosé Wines

Category Overview by Judge Sara d’Amato

And now for the results of the category you’ve been impatiently waiting for all summer long: rosés. From shades of oeil de perdrix, pomelo, blood orange, and salmon to fuchsia, we remained very open minded when judging wines across the colour spectrum and were encouraging of styles other than just the palest of pink. This is a challenging category to evaluate because like our red blends, there are no distinctive, regional styles and blends of rosé in Canada. The best rosés are intentional, but many are still an afterthought, blended from leftovers which can occasionally yield some compelling results.

Earlier this year in Montpellier, I judged an international rosé competition that included wines from Mexico to South Africa, and from Languedoc to Anjou. It brought into perspective the vast category of rosé. With a panel of international judges, the competition in question required us to evaluate global rosés over four days. We were given no indication, on any flight, where the wines were from, how much they cost or their grape composition. At the very least, this was an exercise in blind tasting. It forced us to focus on tried-and-true quality markers (balance, intensity, length). To a smaller extent, with fewer rosés, the National Wine Awards of Canada, employed a similar method of rosé judging — all wines of the pink variety were evaluated together without any subgroupings. This “en masse” style of judging is common for rosé wine. For a long time in Canada, we’ve been able to excuse this ensemble judging because there are not enough rosés made or submitted into the competition. Tides are changing though as rosé submissions (149) this year were very close to those of pinot noir (154) and sparkling wine of all types (167). Those rosé submissions will have to climb a little further to warrant subcategories, but I can imagine what those may be. We could see subdivisions by grape (pinot noir, syrah, grenache, etc.), by technique (direct press, co-maceration, short maceration), by varietal configuration (red-only, gris, white and red blend), or perhaps by sweetness level.

I would like to think that we gave rosé the respect it deserves at this year’s National Wine Awards. Not only was there a great tolerance for a multitude of styles, colours, and sweetness levels among the judges but discussion helped us from overlooking those that may have been left behind. Now it is up to you, the consumer, to take this category as seriously as you would like. Even though we often label rosé as a “technical wine” because of finicky pressing and maceration times, anaerobic winemaking practices, and careful use of lees, it is a wine capable of showing its terroir. The best rosés can express vintage variation, climate-influenced grape-growing choices, as well as the creativity of a winemaker.

What is the marker of a great rosé, or better yet, what should we experience from rosé? Should it be refreshing and escapist, gastronomic and complex, light, easy, and poolside-ready, or should it be an exotic, nuanced discovery? What excites me about rosé in Canada is that it is nonconformist. So, here’s a toast to all the free-thinking, schismatic, and maverick winemakers who dare to produce a rosé that might offend some, please others, refresh us all, and make some of us ponder bigger questions.

NWAC 2023 Sponsors: