Results from the 2023 Nationals – Mead, Fruit and Fortified Wines

Announcing the Results from the 2023 National Wine Awards of Canada

The 22nd running of the National Wine Awards of Canada wrapped up on June 28 in Penticton. 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.

We’ve asked a few of our judges to summarize their impressions of each category. Today we are pleased to present the Mead, Fruit Wine and Fortified winners.

Mead, Fruit and Fortified Wines

Category Overview by Judge John Szabo, MS

Although the most representative of Canada from coast to coast, this appears to be a shrinking category. Products seem to still be struggling to find genuine traction in the on-trade and within professional wine circles, and even at the retail level — try a quick search on the major monopoly sites and you’ll see what I mean. I imagine that the vast majority of these products are sold only directly from the cellar door. 

It’s a shame, considering that the latest generation of Canadians to reach the age of majority seem largely unbound by tradition and Euro-centric wine appreciation, and are open to all manner of innovative beverages from hard seltzers to a multitude of ready-to-drink concoctions. This highly diverse category, often with whimsical labelling, and a don’t-take-yourself-too-seriously attitude, surely has something to offer. But then again, unlike the wine industry, there are few collective marketing efforts to spread the word, with each producer left to wave their own flag in solitude — tough to establish a category under such circumstances.

This year 46 products were submitted to the awards, with 18 medals doled out, including three gold. The successful products are invariably those that reflect the label’s promise; gold medal-winning Maan Farms 2022 raspberry fruit wine from the Fraser, Valley, B.C., for example, also a gold medalist at the 2022 NWACs, is a pure and concentrated essence of raspberry flavour, balanced and well made — what more can one ask for? 

Similarly, Stolen Harvest Meadery’s 2022 Orchard Plum from Alberta, also gold, is a lovely, floral, very plummy, fruit wine with terrific balance between sweetness and pleasantly tannic-bitter plum skin. And lastly, Ve Oh Lay’s Archer gold medal wine, made from honey, cherries, blackberries and plum from Summerland, Okanagan Valley, is a classic poolside sipper, well worth a look. If you’re open to unusual flavours outside of the range that wine provides, this category is for you.

NWAC 2023 Sponsors: