Results of the 2023 WineAlign National Wine Awards of Canada (The Nationals)

Cider and Ice Cider

Category Overview by Judge Sara d’Amato

(Jump straight to the medal winners.)

From dry to sweet, sparkling and still, spiced, flavoured, iced, experimental and fruit-infused (and one Perry), ciders presented themselves in all styles at this year’s National Wine Awards of Canada. In total, 34 ciders were entered into competition this year — with one gold in the sparkling sweet category for Annapolis Cider Company’s Earl Blue, which is also the 2023 Best Cider of the Year, which incorporates Earl Grey tea and blueberry juice into its off-dry sparkling blend.

We continue to welcome more cider into this largely wine-focused competition, recognizing that that craft hard cideries are a growing category across Canada, with strong roots in the eastern provinces such as Quebec, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, among others. We hope to see more entries. British Columbia and Ontario are also making a splash and having taken half the medals awarded this year. Although large, mass-produced cider brands still dominate the Canadian market, craft cideries are burgeoning and the demand is substantial. This is not just a gluten-free, beer-alternative trend — serious cider drinkers are relishing the choices and breadth of styles now available nationwide.


Whether it be high-acid apples and dessert varieties (Spartan, McIntosh, Empire, Paula Red, Gala Honeycrisp, Cortland, Empire, Vista Bella and Northern Spy) or heirloom varieties (Ribston, Golden Russet, Cox Orange Pippin, Ellis Bitter, Bulmer’s Norman, Dabinetts and Yarlington Mills), ciders have the potential to showcase varietal distinctiveness and a great degree of complexity — more so than most wine-only drinkers appreciate. As with wine, in the sparkling category, carbon-dioxide injected, Charmat- and traditional-method examples exist, with textural reference points that would be familiar to wine lovers.

All this to say that judging this category has opened our eyes and our palates to the diversity available in Canada.

Annapolis Cider Company Earl Blue, Nova Scotia – 2023 Best Cider of the Year

Annapolis Cider Company The Classic, Nova Scotia
Annapolis Cider Company Crisp & Dry, Nova Scotia
Cidrerie Michel Jodoin 2019 Boire La Vie en Rosé Brut, Quebec
Muskoka Lakes N/V Cliff Jump Cranberry Cider, Ontario
Tawse N/V Cider, Ontario
Woodward Cider N/V Send It, British Columbia

Clafeld N/V Russet Single Varietal Cider, Prince Edward County, Ontario
Shiny Apple Cider N/V Original, Ontario
Thornbury N/V Apple Cider, Ontario
Woodward Cider N/V Wolfberry, British Columbia