Red Blends & White Blends – 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 month. 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 Red Blends & White Blends:

Red Blends

Category Overview by Judge Janet Dorozynski

The red blends category is very broad in terms of what red varieties can be used and we see a variety of different blends and styles among this year’s wines. There are a significant number of medal winning wines, with an impressive three Platinum and many gold medal medals.

The Road 13 GSM is a classic Rhône blend of grenache, syrah and mourvèdre, while the See Ya Later Ranch Ping is a traditional red Bordeaux assemblage, or Meritage as a number of Canadian and American wineries call the blend, which is also very well priced. The Black Hills Ipso Facto rounds out the trio with a blend often seen in Australian that combines syrah and cabernet sauvignon, often to great effect. The balance of the winning wines fall into any the above blend configurations, which should not be surprising since the most planted red grape varieties within Canada are cabernet franc, merlot and cabernet sauvignon. Many of the medal winners are from British Columbia, though there are a number of impressive Ontario red blends among the winners, as well as some very good wines from Quebec and Nova Scotia, that are largely made from the French and Minnesota hybrid grape varieties that grow well in these provinces.


White Blends
Category Overview by Judge 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.

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.



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