Results of the 2022 WineAlign National Wine Awards of Canada (The Nationals)

White Blends including Tidal Bay

Category Overview by Michael Godel

As I pen this special feature about White Blends (including Tidal Bay) for the 2022 WineAlign National Wine Awards of Canada, the irony of writing and filing from Wolfville, Nova Scotia is not lost on the exercise. Tidal Bay is arguably the most creative, well-conceived, essential and successful appellative white blend category in Canada. Emulating the concept is something no other province or wine region has truly tried. Sure, it is apparent that obstacles like parochial politics, federal and provincial tax structures and a hierarchy of wine establishments stand in the emulative way but for other Canadian wine regions the time has surely come to make it so. Look at the NWAC medal results for this year’s white blends to know there is little doubt the category is already great and could be so much more.

(Jump straight to the medal winners.)

White blends can mean many things. Let’s first look at the aforementioned Tidal Bay, an appellative wine created by the Wineries of Nova Scotia a dozen years ago that can be made from three categories of permitted grapes. The first are neutral or “less aromatic,” as in l’acadie blanc, vidal, seyval and geisenheim 318.  If it’s made as a varietal wine that grape must come from this first category. Tidal Bay blends must contain a majority from the first list plus the second category of permissible grapes considered “aromatic.” These cannot make up more than 49 per cent of the wine and they are riesling, chardonnay, pinot blanc, pinot gris, chasselas, auxerrois, ortega, siegerebbe, geisenheim 319, 322, 6495-3, minnesota muscat, frontenac gris, frontenac blanc, cayuga, petit milo, siegfried and kentville white varieties. Finally, the third and truly optional category are “very” aromatic and cannot make up more than 15 per cent of the blend; they are gewürztraminer, perle of csaba, traminette, valvin, new york muscat and vinifera muscat varieties.

Got it? Imagine doing something like this in Ontario or B.C. What would the mix, make-up or blend need to be? Non-vinifera and hybrid grape varieties would have a severely lessened importance but in Ontario, as an example, why not try something akin to 75 per cent minimum “lesser” aromatic white grapes and no more than 15 per cent of either aromatic or non-vinifera varieties allowed in the mix. Give or take some percentage points in each of the three categories, more or less. Why not tie the appellative room together and encourage wineries to produce a blend under one common name? Imagine the marketing potential. But I digress, and now it is time to get to the results. There were 55 medals awarded in this broad category, surely a record for the competition, including 14 Gold, 13 Silver and 28 Bronze. Some of the top wines are also the most expensive, an indication that growing grapes for the sole and express purpose of crafting a white blend will create some fantastic wines.

There were eight Tidal Bay medals awarded and that alone will tell you that the idea is a strong one, especially when all of them are available in 250 mL cans on shelves of the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission. How smart is that! In some cases, the best white blends are Meritage or Bordeaux joints between sémillon and sauvignon blanc, a classic Ontario and B.C. combination that does so well and in so many cases. Still there are many other miscellaneous, variegated, misfit, diversified and motley crews that work so well where the whole is a true sum of the constituent parts. These are wine to be celebrated and encouraged, for their audacity, creativity and just dumb luck. White appellative blends are the future, especially as Canadian growers and producers head deeper and deeper into a future filled with extreme and unpredictable climate change. Being able to mix and match, purpose grow and create blends that make post-modern sense is what everyone, producers and consumers alike, need in white wines across this vast country.

And the winners are…

Black Hills Estate Winery 2021 Alibi, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia
Blomidon 2021 Tidal Bay White, Nova Scotia
Gaspereau 2021 Tidal Bay, Nova Scotia
Jackson-Triggs Niagara 2020 Grand Reserve White Meritage, Niagara Escarpment, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
Jackson-Triggs Okanagan 2020 Grand Reserve White Meritage, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia
Jost Vineyards 2021 Tidal Bay, Nova Scotia
Kismet 2020 Viognier Roussanne Marsanne Reserve, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia
La Frenz 2020 Reserve Vivant, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia
Nk’Mip Cellars 2020 Merriym White Meritage, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia
Palatine Hills 2020 Wild & Free White Meritage, Ontario
Terravista 2021 Fandango, British Columbia
Tightrope 2021 Tip-Toe, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia
Two Sisters 2019 Stone Eagle Eagle Eye, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
Vignoble de l’Orpailleur 2020 Cuvée Natashquan, Quebec

Arrowleaf 2020 Field Collection White, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia
Clos du Soleil 2021 Fume Blanc, Similkameen Valley, British Columbia
Hidden Bench 2020 Nuit Blanche Rosomel Vineyard, Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
La Frenz 2020 Reserve Ensemble, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia
Luckett Vineyards 2021 Tidal Bay, Nova Scotia
Mercator 2021 Tidal Bay, Nova Scotia
Mission Hill 2021 Terroir Collection Jagged Rock Sauvignon Blanc Semillon, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia
Rivière du Chêne2021 La Cantina Vallée d’Oka Blanc, Quebec
Road 13 Honest John’s White 2021, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia
Stratus 2019 White, Niagara Lakeshore, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
Three Sisters 2021 Bench White, Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia
Vanessa 2021 V-Series, Similkameen Valley, British Columbia
Wesbert 2021 Bettie’s Meritage White, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia

Avondale Sky 2021 Tidal Bay, Nova Scotia
Creekside 2020 Iconoclast Sauvignon Semillon, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
Da Silva 2021 Vinho Branco, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia
Huff Estates 2021 The Weekender, Ontario
Kismet 2021 Saféd, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia
Lake Breeze 2020 The Spice Jar, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia
Lakeside Cellars 2021 Portage White, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia
Le Mas des Patriotes 2021 Le Chaume, Quebec
Lightfoot & Wolfville 2021 Tidal Bay, Nova Scotia
Little Straw 2020 Signature Blend Tapestry, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia
Magnotta 2021 Pinot Grigio/Chardonnay Venture Series, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
Modest Wines 2020 La Graves Robber, British Columbia
Modest Wines 2021 La Graves Robber, British Columbia
Moon Curser 2021 Roussanne Marsanne, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia
Moraine 2021 Cliffhanger White, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia
Nk’Mip Cellars 2021 Dreamcatcher, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia
Planters Ridge 2021 Tidal Bay, Nova Scotia
Red Rooster 2020 Pinot 3, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia
Rivière du Chêne 2020 Phénix Blanc, Quebec
Rivière du Chêne 2021 William Blanc, Quebec
Sandbanks N/V Shoreline Chardonnay Pinot Grigio, Ontario
Terravista 2020 Figaro, British Columbia
Tightrope 2021 Sauvignon Blanc – Sémillon Thomas Vineyard, Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia
Vieni 2021 Bruce Trail White, Vinemount Ridge, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
Vignoble 1292 2021 St-Pepin Swenson, Quebec
Vignoble Le Chat Botté 2021 Le Chat Botté Blanc, Quebec
Wild Goose 2021 Autumn Gold, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia