Cider, Mead, Fruit Wine, Fortified, Icewine & Late Harvest – Medal Winners from NWAC 2022

Announcing the Results from the 2022 National Wine Awards of Canada

The 21st running of the National Wine Awards of Canada wrapped up on June 23 in Niagara. Category results will be rolling out throughout the rest of July, with the final Platinum, Best Performing Small Winery, and Winery of the Year announcements coming at the end of this week. We hope you will stay tuned to follow the results and become engaged in anticipating the final results.


Platinum Pack Case 2022 with Light


We’ve asked a few of our judges to summarize their impressions of each category. Today we present Cider, Mead, Fruit Wine, Fortified, Icewine & Late Harvest:


Category Overview by Judge Craig Pinhey

Cider is truly a cross Canada concoction, as apples can grow in every province. This year, as in most, we have medal winners from coast to coast, with Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Cider Company winning the Best Cider of The Year with their “The Classic,” and other medal winning ciders from Ontario and BC.

Good cider has pure apple character, as well as good balance and freshness. They can be blends of various apples, but many are based on heritage varieties like Golden Russet and Northern Spy. That said, good cider can be based on great eating apples too, like a McIntosh. Cider, dry or off-dry, or even very sweet such as an ice cider, is a good beverage for a variety of situations, either on its own as a refreshing beverage, or paired with foods, such as old cheddar, bangers and mash, or apple pie.


Mead, Fruit & Fortified Wines
Category Overview by Judge Janet Dorozynski, Ph. D, DipWSET

This category is always an interesting one to judge as you get to taste a range of styles of wines made from base ingredients such as grapes, tree fruit, berries, honey, maple syrup and even dandelion flowers. It is also the category that we see the most representation from all parts of Canada and, judging from this year’s results, there continues to be abundant innovation and imagination in what is produced.

Among the three gold medals, the La Frenz Liqueur Muscat from British Columbia’s Naramata Bench returns as a perennial winner, which draws its inspiration from the stickies of Rutherglen in Australia. Also from British Columbia, the delightfully intense and concentrated raspberry wine from Maan Farms in the Fraser Valley, the heart of the province’s fruit basket. On the opposite side of Canada, comes the medium-sweet sparkling mead from Planter’s Ridge in Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley, which will make a lovely finish to a meal.

Among the silver medals, there is a strong showing of fruit and mead along with fortified wines made from grapes, largely from the Prairies and British Columbia, including a second time medal for the off beat and intriguing Dandelion Flower wine from Alberta’s Spirit Hills.


Icewine & Late Harvest

Category Overview by Judge Sara d’Amato

I once heard a story about a harpist who was playing one cold, dry winter’s day. Listening to the sound of her music, she missed the sound of a crack. The wood split and instrument exploded, launching a piece of her harp straight through her closed window. The string pressure on the harp was over 540 kg yet the harpist surprisingly survived this ordeal without a scratch. While a tragedy for the harp, it got me thinking about balance and tension, in particular the balance exhibited by a great wine.

There is perhaps no greater winemaking challenge than to achieve this balance in Icewine, Canada’s greatest wine export. Like the serene sound emanating from a high-strung harp, a high-quality Icewine requires a tautness from acidity to balance its considerable degree of residual sugar. A lack of acidity makes for an uninteresting, cloying experience, syrup for your sundae. It is precisely that tension and freshness that we seek when judging Icewine. How much sugar is there exactly in Canadian Icewine? While the minimum requirements for VQA Icewine in Ontario and B.C. vary slightly, they are both quite high with 125 g/L and 100 g/L minimums required respectively but most range somewhere between 180-230 g/L (that last number is twice as sweet as most sodas on the market). Yet it’s not a mere measure of acidity vs. sweetness we look for, if so, we could do this by numbers without the need to taste. While the impression of viscosity is largely due to sweetness in Icewine, other contributing factors include alcohol and glycerol. In addition, we look for concentration, aromatic potency, varietal character, and debate over tolerable levels of volatile acidity that tend to be higher in sweet wines. Like the consideration of volatile acidity, a harpist may consider the amount and types of cracks that are acceptable in their instrument and if they might in fact contribute to a greater dimension of sound.

That same balance and considerations are respected in judging the other style of wine combined with these results, Late Harvest. What’s the difference you might ask between Icewine and Late Harvest? Within this competition, late harvest wine must be greater than 19 g/L of residual sugar to compete in the category. Unlike Icewine, Late Harvest does not have to be naturally frozen on the vine, harvested and pressed in a continuous process while the air temperature remains at or below -8°C. It is a wine that has gained sugar and concentration naturally on the vine with longer hang time than a typical table wine. While Ontario dominated the Icewine category, B.C. showed strength with the presence of several impressive rieslings in the Late Harvest category that showed harmony, balance and verve.



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