Results of the 2019 WineAlign National Wine Awards of Canada (The Nationals)


Category Overview by Judge John Szabo, MS

As I reported after the 2018 NWACs last year, the cider category is strong in Canada and continues to grow. A few more players have been added since I last checked, with some 153 cider producers now registered across the country. Québec leads the way with 54, followed by Ontario with 48, and BC with 35 (source:

The number of entries in the 2019 awards were slightly down from last year, however, to 55 from 64 in 2018, but on the flipside, quality was up. I suppose the message got out that there’s not much point in submitting the sweet commercial stuff made from concentrate.

(Jump straight to the medal winners.)

Fully half of all entries were awarded medals – 27 in all – one of the highest success rates of all categories. And what’s more, five provinces shared in the spoils, with Nova Scotia and New Brunswick joining the big three on the podium and making it a genuinely pan-Canadian success story. As before, drier styles earned the most praise from judges, as did ciders made from freshly pressed fruit, undiluted with water, and unsweetened with processed sugar.

Two gold medals were awarded, with the final scores too close to split. Thus, two cideries from BC shared, for the first time, the title of Best Cider of the Year.

BC Tree Fruits Broken Ladder Apples & Hops, Okanagan Valley (6% alcohol), scored highly for its purity of apple flavours mingled with the unexpected flavour of hops, more often found in beer than cider. “So familiar,” I wrote, tasting it blind in the final round. “Lots of dry hops here I’d guess, showing the classic grapefruit overtones cherished by west coast IPA lovers”. Nova Scotian Judge Heather Rankin noted: “Riding the line between cider and beer, this cider combines herbal savouriness with high-toned fruitiness”, while Michael Godel advocates, in uncharacteristically short fashion, to simply “Drink the crap outta this”. It’s not a classic cider by any stretch, but bridges the gap nicely between the cider and beer categories.

The other top cider was in a more familiar style, and from a more familiar name. Twisted Hills Tangled Rosé is another successful, apple-dominated ferment with a dash of ‘other’ fruit, in this case, 10% plum, all organically grown in the organic agricultural capital of Canada, the Similkameen Valley. Despite the semi-sweet designation on the label, it finishes sharp and crisp thanks to deliciously tart acids. Last year Twisted Hills took home Best Cider of the Year for a version infused with cherries, so the repeat result this year cements the company’s position in Canada’s very top tier (plus they also took home a silver and a bronze).

And the winners are…

BC Tree Fruits Broken Ladder Apples & Hops, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia
Twisted Hills Tangled Rosé, Similkameen Valley, British Columbia

Bilodeau Nectar de Glace, Quebec
Chain Yard 2018 Rhubee Cyser, Nova Scotia
Maritime Express Cider The Dayliner (Semi-Sweet), Nova Scotia
Southbrook 2017 Organic Wild Ferment Cider Avalon Orchards, Innisfil, Ontario
Twisted Hills 2018 Pippin’s Fate , Similkameen Valley, British Columbia

Apple Falls Heritage, Prince Edward County, Ontario
Belliveau Orchard Évangeline Cider, New Brunswick
Bilodeau Cidre de Glace Cuvée Spéciale, Quebec
Chain Yard 2018 Cidery Rose, Nova Scotia
Chain Yard Foundation, Nova Scotia
Chain Yard Hopped Up, Nova Scotia
Chain Yard Urban Cidery Intrepid, Nova Scotia
Clafeld Smashed Apple Cider, Ontario
Kings Mill Cider Ice
Kings Mill Cider Arrested Development
Lonetree Reserve Series Cider with Pinot Noir, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia
Maritime Express Cider Russet Cider (Oaked), Nova Scotia
Maritime Express Cider Train Hopper (Hopped Cider), Nova Scotia
Muskoka Lakes Cliff Jump Cranberry Cider, Ontario
N North Cider Brüt, Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
Tawse Cider, Ontario
The Maverick Cider Co. 2018 Original, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia
Thornbury Rosé Apple Cider, Ontario
Thornbury Wild Blueberry Elderflower Apple Cider, Ontario
Twisted Hills Glo Haven, Similkameen Valley, British Columbia