Chardonnay and Pinot Noir – Medal Winners from NWAC 2021

Announcing the Results from the 2021 National Wine Awards of Canada

The 20th National Wine Awards of Canada wrapped up in early October in Penticton, B.C., fittingly judging a record-setting number of wines from coast to coast. It’s been an amazing two-decade journey for the most respected and important Canadian wine competition. The week-long tasting is but a snapshot of Canadian wine, yet like old family photos, much has changed over two decades. The inaugural competition in 2001 drew 528 wines from 71 wineries, judged by eight men. In 2021, 26 judges — 14 men and 12 women — tasted 2,075 entries from more than 260 wineries. 

As in previous years, we have decided to break the announcement of the results into more manageable pieces. On October 29th we began announcing a few categories a day for over a two week period, concluding with the highly-anticipated Platinum winners on November 10th, the Best Performing Small Winery of the Year on November 11th, and finally the Winery of the Year along with the nation’s Top 25 Wineries on November 12th

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We’ve asked a few of our judges to summarize their impressions of each category. Today we present Chardonnay and Pinot Noir:

Platinum Pack 2021 NL


Category Overview by Judge Treve Ring

People oft ask me ‘what’s Canada’s top grape?’ to which I reply without hesitation, Chardonnay. You might think with a country the size of ours, the distance spanning from BC’s Pacific lashed Wine Islands to Nova Scotia’s bracing Atlantic, there’s no one grape that could possibly be suitable, yet alone excel. But you’d be wrong. Chardonnay, the most famous and transplanted white grape in the world, is particularly well suited to our latitude, climates, soils, and thankfully in recent years, our maturing winemaking.

At this year’s Nationals, the Chardonnay flights were my highlights to judge, and in my very first flight of the competition, I found some gold medal worthy Chardonnay. In the end there were four Platinums awarded, surprisingly all from BC. Not surprisingly they were all from the lauded 2019 vintage, a stellar year for white wines in BC. I’d be happy to drink, and hold, any of the top scoring Canadian Chardonnay this year, and recommend keen wine lovers to do the same.


Pinot Noir

Category Overview by Judge Jacky Blisson

Over the past thirty years, Pinot Noir has emerged as the red grape of choice for countless quality-focused Canadian vintners. It thrives in our cool climates and varied clay, limestone soils. Furthermore, Pinot Noir has a noble lineage and enjoys worldwide recognition. It is easy to see the appeal.

The historic divide of fruit-driven styles from the Okanagan vs. restrained, taut Ontario Pinot Noir is a thing of the past. Our tasting revealed elegant, pure fruited Pinots from Vancouver Island, to Kelowna, the Naramata Bench, Prince Edward County, Niagara’s bench lands, and beyond.

Yet it is still early days in our journey toward mastering this notoriously finicky grape. Too many top tier bottlings still display lavish oak, overwhelming the grape’s inherent delicacy. Conversely, numerous lean, austere Pinot Noirs redolent with volatile acidity also plague the category.

In short, promising Canadian Pinot Noirs are cropping up from coast to coast but watch out for wide stylistic diversity.


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