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

Cider – Dry, Sparkling and Sweet

Intro by Sara d’Amato

This year saw an explosion of entries into the Cider category. Last year we were delighted to have 18 cider entries – we were over the moon with 56 entries this year. They came from Nova Scotia to the Similkameen and just about everywhere in between. Ontario showed its strength taking 8 out of the 16 medaled ciders this year. Although the cideries are located throughout southern Ontario, the heartland for apples destined for cider is located around the Blue Mountains and Georgian Hills area as demonstrated by those recognized below. Slightly further east in the Innisfil region, on the shores of Lake Simcoe, as well as further west outside of London near the Lambton shores of Lake Huron, were also sources of many winning apples. In Quebec, one can follow the cider routes of the Monterégie, or visit a plethora of others in the Eastern Townships, Chaudiére-Appalaches, in the Laurentides and the list goes on.

The styles of ciders across the country still vary greatly and seem to be more influenced by cultural terroir than physical. Quebec is a hotbed for iced, fortified and Basque style ciders. Dry and off-dry, rosé versions – with skin contact – in Quebec are well worth the discovery. Nova Scotia is producing a range of styles from sweet, to grape infused to dry UK style versions using both traditional and non-traditional apples. The Similkameen Valley of BC has long been known for its wealth of small, family-owned orchards, and it is no surprise that an example found its way in to a winning category. The Okanagan Valley produces close to 20% of Canada’s apples and strong showings were expected and received. While Ontario’s burgeoning craft cider industry continues to struggle with issues of categorization and taxation in the province, some traditional wineries are trying their hand at cider production to a successful end. Ontario’s bounty of non-traditional cider apples has led to unique products such as grape wine infused examples to class dry, UK styles.

We have a great deal to look forward to nationally in terms of this relatively young craft industry. Although certain regions, such as Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley, have been growing apples for export for centuries, there is a great deal of energy and enthusiasm focused on local cider production as of late. The market appears to be equally responsive with the majority of provinces across the country reporting surges in sales of craft cider in local monopolies.

Gold Medal
Domaine Neige 2013 Neige Réserve, Quebec
Thornbury Craft Apple Cider, Ontario

Silver Medal

BC Tree Fruits Cider Broken Ladder Apples, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia
Bulwark Cider Original, Nova Scotia
Georgian Hills 2015 Ida Red Frozen to the Core, Ontario
Southbrook 2016 Organic Wild Ferment Cider Avalon Orchards, Ontario

Bronze Medal
Annapolis Cider Company Muscat Infusion, Nova Scotia
Ardiel Cider House Premium Dry Cider, Ontario
BC Tree Fruits Cider Broken Ladder Pears & Peaches, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia
Chain Yard Urban Cidery Hopped Up, Nova Scotia
Clafeld N/V Rose Hip, Ontario
Domaine Neige Bulle de Neige Rosé , Quebec
Forbidden Fruit Dead End Sinner Hard Apple Cider, Similkameen Valley, British Columbia
Georgian Hills N/V Sparkling Perry, Ontario
No Boats on Sunday Premium Craft Cider, Ontario
The 401 Cider Brewery N/V Orchard Blend, Ontario