Results of the 2021 WineAlign National Wine Awards of Canada (The Nationals)

Cider and Ice Cider

Category Overview by Judge Janet Dorozynski, DipWSET

While the majority of what we taste and judge at the National Wine Awards of Canada is wine, we are also treated to flights of fruit wine and mead, along with cider and iced cider. The number of cider entries has been growing every year and at this year’s competition, there were 74 entries from British Columbia, Nova Scotia, Ontario and Quebec.

(Jump straight to the medal winners.)

Cider has a long history dating back to the Roman Empire, ancient Greece and the Middle East. There is evidence that the Celts were making cider from wild crab apples in modern day Britain as long ago as 3000 BCE. To this day, UK is the world’s largest cider producer and consumer.

Cider or Sidra also has a long tradition in the north of Spain, as well as in Brittany and Normandy in France where it can be made as still, naturally sparkling, carbonated, bottle-fermented, traditional method sparkling, from dry to medium to sweet, from eating apples or traditional and sometimes ancient cultivars of cider apples.

Cider is Canada’s earliest alcoholic beverage, with production records dating back to the 1600s around Montreal. Production was never massive though the industry was largely obliterated during the 19th and 20th centuries due to temperance movements and varying degrees of alcohol prohibition by municipal, provincial and the federal governments.

Most of the cider or perry (from pears) made in Canada today comes from large-scale production from companies like Molson’s or Arterra (Growers Cider). However, since the 1980s starting in Quebec, we have witnessed a revival and renaissance of artisanal or small batch cider production, with many craft cideries opening up in British Columbia, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, Ontario and Quebec.

Craft cider, usually fermented from the juice of freshly pressed apples after the annual harvest, tends to be distinct and taste different from larger scale production made from concentrate year round with only a small amount of freshly pressed juice. The range of cider styles in Canada runs the gamut from sweet to tart or dry in flavour, and can be sparkling, spritzy, hopped and barrel-aged. There is also iced cider or cidre de glace, first made in Quebec in 1989 by Christian Barthomeuf who founded Clos Saragnat in 2002. Ice cider, similar to Icewine, is made from apples that can freeze on the tree and harvested in the fall or winter. The resulting elixir is a balanced sweet wine with the concentrated sugars and bright acidity of apples.

There is also a growing number of Canadian ciders that are aromatized or flavoured with the addition of berries and other fruits and flowers which appear to be catering to that popular and fast growing ready to drink or seltzer category which can range from dry to off-dry to medium sweet.

The 2021 medal winners come from across the country with several well-known and long time producers along with a few new names. There are handful of golds and silvers among the bronzes with The Cider of the Year (the top scoring cider, not including ice cider) from the Loch Mor Cider Company in Prince Edward Country in Ontario, for their Untamed, a dry and flavourful cider made from traditional cider apples. The top scoring platinum wine in the ice cider category goes to long time Quebec producer Ciderie Michel Jodoin of Rougemont, Quebec for Une Petite Finale Glacée, a beautifully balanced and aromatic sweet wine that cries out for a plate of regional Quebec cheeses.

And the winners are…

Loch Mor Cider Untamed, Prince Edward County, Ontario

Cidrerie Michel Jodoin Une Petite Finale Glacée / Ice Cider, Quebec

Annapolis Cider Crisp & Dry, Nova Scotia
Clafeld Cider Single Varietal Spy Cider, Ontario
Friga 2019 Cidre de Glace / Ice Cider, Quebec

La Petite Abeille Sparkling Apple & Pear Cider, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia
La Petite Abeille Sparkling Rose Cider, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia
Thornbury Craft Raspberry Apple Cider, Ontario

Annapolis Cider 2021 Earl Blue, Nova Scotia
Annapolis Cider Heirloom, Nova Scotia
Chain Yard Ginxberry Vault Series, Nova Scotia
Chain Yard Hopped Up, Nova Scotia
Chain Yard Pippin’s Glory Vault Series, Nova Scotia
Chain Yard Slowly but Sur Lie, Nova Scotia
Clafeld Cider Honeycrisp Single Varietal Cider, Ontario
La Petite Abeille Sparkling Pear Cider, Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia
Loch Mór Cider 2020 Savvy Pomme Sparkling, Prince Edward County, Ontario
Loch Mór Cider Harrison Danforth Rd Series, Prince Edward County, Ontario
Loch Mór Cider Lagan’s IPC, Prince Edward County, Ontario
Lonetree Apple Ginger Cider, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia
Lonetree Authentic Dry Cider, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia
Lowrey Bros. Pear Cider, St. David’s Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
The View Wards Hard Apple Cider, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia
Thornbury Craft Peach Apple Cider, Ontario
Thornbury Craft Spiced Apple Cider, Ontario
Thornbury Rosé Apple Cider, Ontario
Upside Cider Bourbon Barrel Aged Peach, BritishColumbia
Upside Cider Plum Rose, British Columbia
Upside Cider Wine Barrel Aged Perry Oaky, British Columbia

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