Results from the 2023 Nationals – Cabernet Sauvignon

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 week. 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 Cabernet Sauvignon winners.

Cabernet Sauvignon

Category Overview by Judge Geoffrey Moss, MW

Last year, Ontario narrowly edged out B.C. when it came to gold medals for cabernet sauvignon. It was a tie this year, with five each. That marks a modest decline in gold medals overall, from 13 to 10, with no platinum awarded. That is not necessarily a surprise. Cabernet sauvignon is a challenging grape variety to grow in Canada, and there can be significant variability vintage to vintage. As a category, it had among the lowest medal rates, with only 59 percent of entries earning a medal. 

It is telling that all but one of the gold medal winners come from the 2020 vintage, which was excellent in both Niagara and British Columbia. The one exception is the 2019 Corcelettes Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, which shows that cabernet sauvignon can also thrive in cooler vintages on the right sites. And, no doubt, Corcelettes has one. The top cabernet sauvignon I tasted this year was their 2020 Cabernet Sauvignon, another gold medal winner. 

Even if the medal count is down, there is still a lot to be optimistic and excited about. Colio and Magnotta show that you do not need to break the bank to get excellent cabernet sauvignon in Ontario to drink now. If you have more patience, the top bottlings from Ravine and Thirty Bench are perfect cellar candidates, showing the depth of the vintage.

Those familiar with Okanagan cabernet sauvignon won’t be surprised to see Burrowing Owl and Nk’Mip among the gold medal winners. Both benefit from sun-soaked vineyards on the Black Sage Bench and Osoyoos East Bench, respectively, and have been consistent medal winners, picking up silver medals last year. Across the valley on the Golden Mile Bench, Hester Creek shows a more structured, mineral-driven expression of the grape variety that is characteristic of B.C.’s first official sub-GI.

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