Results of the 2017 WineAlign National Wine Awards of Canada (The Nationals)


Intro by Treve Ring

#GoGamayGo. This humble hashtag, coined years ago by our own Dr. Janet Dorozynski, has united gamay fans globally, and become a rallying collective for a misunderstood red grape. From Beaujolais to BC, Niagara to New Zealand, Stellenbosch to Saumur (and beyond), gamay has finally grown beyond the marketing gimmickry of Beaujolais Nouveau.

The characterful, humble grape is the darling light red of many sommeliers and vintners thanks to its fresh acidity, fragrant fruitiness, fine tannins and lissom structure. Its full name, Gamay Noir à jus Blanc, reflects that its skin is black, its juice is white, but the wine produced is a light bodied red.

Good old gamay is used to being misunderstood however. The grape first appeared in Burgundy in the mid 14th century, bringing welcome relief to local growers after the bleakness of the Black Death. The friendly grape ripened earlier, yielded higher and was easier to cultivate than finicky pinot noir. Unfortunately, it wasn’t seen as refined as pinot, so in an act to raise the prestige of his region, Duke Philip the Bold banned the grape (Bold move, Duke). No drama gamay took hold further south in Beaujolais, as well as to the north, in the Loire Valley, where it continues to thrive in its characterful way today.

As it does in Canada. We’ve long been championing gamay here, especially when site is allowed to shine. From effortlessly smashable, chillable reds to structural, ageworthy, Cru-carved wines, gamay suits a range of tastes and terroirs. Blessed with warmth, Okanagan and Similkameen Valleys turn out wines ranging from bright and light, to fully wooded and ripe (more of the former, please), while Niagara and Prince Edward County gamay often house an herbal, often alluring (though not always) green pulse. This year’s top wines were ones that rightfully allowed the grape its chance to #GoGamayGo.

Gold Medal

13th Street 2016 Gamay, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
Malivoire 2016 Gamay, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
Malivoire 2016 Malivoire Small Lot Gamay, Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
Orofino 2016 Gamay, Similkameen Valley, British Columbia
Tawse 2016 Unfiltered Gamay Noir, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario

Silver Medal

Deep Roots 2016 Gamay, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia
The Good Earth 2015 Gamay, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
The Hatch 2015 Hobo Series Gamay Sunrise Vineyard, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia

Bronze Medal

13th Street 2014 Sandstone Vineyard Gamay Noir, Four Mile Creek, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
Chaberton 2016 Reserve Gamay Noir, Fraser Valley, British Columbia
Château des Charmes 2015 Gamay Noir ‘Droit’ St. David’s Bench Vineyard, St. David’s Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
Desert Hills 2016 Gamay, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia
Fielding 2016 Gamay, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
Leaning Post 2014 Gamay, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
Malivoire 2015 Courtney Gamay, Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario