Results of the 2018 WineAlign National Wine Awards of Canada (The Nationals)

Platinum Medal Winners 

Overview by Co-Head Judge David Lawrason

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.

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Platinum Winners

Nk'mip Cellars Qwam Qwmt Chardonnay 2016

Nk’Mip Cellars 2016 Qwam Qwmt Chardonnay

Meyer Micro Cuvée Chardonnay Old Main Road Vineyard 2016

Meyer Family Vineyards 2016 Micro Cuvee Chardonnay Old Main Rd

CedarCreek Platinum Block 5 Chardonnay 2016

CedarCreek Platinum Block 5 Chardonnay 2016

Tawse Quarry Road Vineyard Chardonnay 2013

Tawse 2013 Chardonnay Quarry Road Vineyard 

Hidden Bench Felseck Vineyard Chardonnay 2015

Hidden Bench 2015 Chardonnay Felseck Vineyard

Leaning Post Wines Chardonnay Wismer Foxcroft Vineyard 2015

Leaning Post Wines 2015 Chardonnay Wismer – Foxcroft Vineyard 

Bench 1775 Semillon 2016

Bench 1775 Semillon 2016 

Stag's Hollow Albarino Shuttleworth Creek Vineyard 2017

Stag’s Hollow Winery 2017 Albarino Shuttleworth Creek 

Road 13 Vineyards Roussanne 2016

Road 13 Vineyards 2016 Roussanne 

Thirty Bench Winemaker's Blend Riesling 2016

Thirty Bench 2016 Winemaker’s Blend Riesling

Le Vieux Pin Syrah Cuvée Violette 2016

Le Vieux Pin 2016 Syrah Cuvée Violette

Thornhaven Syrah 2015

Thornhaven Estates 2015 Syrah

Deep Roots Syrah 2016

Deep Roots 2016 Syrah

Daydreamer Amelia 2016

Daydreamer 2016 Amelia

Redstone Winery Redstone Vineyard Syrah 2014

Redstone 2014 Redstone Vineyard Syrah 

Two Sisters Cabernet Franc 2014

Two Sisters 2014 Cabernet Franc

Magnotta Cabernet Franc Icewine Niagara Peninsula Limited Edition 2016

Magnotta 2016 Cabernet Franc Icewine Limited Edition

Lang Vineyards Riesling Icewine 2012

Lang Vineyards 2012 Riesling Icewine 

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