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2007 All Canadian Wine Championships report

Over 850 wines from 140 Canadian wineries were judged in the 2007 All Canadian Wine Championships held in Ontario recently.

Canada (Country Appellation)

2007 All Canadian Wine Championships Documents National Trends

by Craig Pinhey
July 30, 2007

Results from the recent All Canadian Wine Championships (ACWC) highlighted several key trends in Canada's wine scene that, at the risk of over-analyzing in a navel gazing exercise, are worth exploring further.

The 2007 vintage of the competition, the oldest and longest running in the country at over 25 years, brought together over 850 wines from 140 wineries to be judged by industry experts, including sommeliers, wine judges, liquor board employees and restauranteurs.

Entries arrive from all the key wine regions of Canada, including Nova Scotia, PEI, Quebec, Ontario and BC. Fruit wines are a major component, too, with several separate categories.

As someone who has judged at the ACWC for most of the past decade, I feel somewhat qualified to comment on trends, specifically the overall improving quality and varietal trends of Canadian wine from all regions.

Let's examine some of these, based on the winners announced at Canadian Wine Trail. Note that all Trophy winners were Best of Category winners, and that Best of Category is essentially a Double Gold. Prices are approximate.

Quebec’s Wines Get More Attention

Most Canadians who have an inkling of our national wine industry still don't clue in that there's significant wine production in Quebec; the number of wineries is now over 40.

Top Quebec Winners

Trophy - Best Fruit Wine of the Year:

Domaine Pinnacle, 2005 Sparkling Ice Cider, $29.35

Best of Category, Red Hybrid Blends:

Vignoble Carone, 2005 Frontenac, $15.95

Best of Category, Late Harvest:

Vignoble Le Nordet, 2006 Solstice d'Hiver, $25.00

Gold Medal, Late Harvest:

Vignoble du Marathonien, 2005 Vendange Tardive, $28.00

Medal Winning Syrah/Shiraz:

Trophy: Best Red Wine of the Year:

Jackson Triggs Okanagan 2004 SunRock Shiraz, $33.99

Gold Medal:

La Frenz Estate Winery, BC, 2004 Shiraz, $28.00

Gold Medal:

Nk'Mip Cellars, BC, 2005 Qwam Qwmt Syrah, $29.99

Gold Medal:

Jackson-Triggs Okanagan, 2004 Proprietor's Reserve Shiraz, $19.99

Silver Medal:

Desert Hills Estate Winery, BC, 2004 Syrah Select, $31.90

Bronze Medal:

Sandhill Estate Vineyard, BC, 2004 Shiraz ,$28.00

Bronze Medal:

Mission Hill Family Estate, BC, Syrah Select, $39.99

Medal Winning Sauvignon Blanc:

Best of Category:

Gehringer Brothers Estate Winery, BC, 2006 Dry Rock Sauvignon Blanc, $15.99

Gold Medal:

Vineland Estate, ONT, 2005 Sauvignon Blanc Rosomle Vineyard,$24.00

Gold Medal:

Little Straw Vineyards, BC, 2006 Sauvignon Blanc, $15.90

Gold Medal:

Strewn Winery, ONT, 2006 Sauvignon Blanc Terroir, $19.95

Silver Medal:

Colio Estate Wines, ONT, 2006 Colio Estate Sauvignon Blanc, $10.25

Silver Medal:

Jackson-Triggs Okanagan, BC, Grand Reserve Sauvignon Blanc, $19.99

Silver Medal:

Reif Estate, ONT, 2006 Sauvignon Blanc, $14.95

Bronze Medal:

La Frenz Estate Winery, BC, 2006 Sauvignon Blanc, $19.00

Bronze Medal:

Lailey Vineyard, ONT, 2006 Sauvignon Blanc

Top Medal-Winning Blends:

White Vinifera Blends

Best Of Category:

Gehringer Brothers Estate, BC, 2006 Schonburger Gewurztraminer, $14.99 (Read our review)

Gold Medal:

Columbia Gardens Vineyard & Winery, BC, 2006 Garden Gold, $13.90

Gold Medal:

Recline Ridge Winery, BC, 2006 Siegerebe, $14.90

Gold Medal:

Flat Rock Cellars, ONT, 2006 Twisted, $13.90, $16.95

White Hybrid Blends

Best of Category:

Jost Vineyards, NS, 2005 L'Acadie Pinot Grigio $12.99

Gold Medal:

Arrowleaf Cellars, BC, 2005 White Feather

Red Blends

Best of Category, Meritage (under $20):

Hillebrand Estate Winery, ONT, 2005 Trius Red, $19.95

Best of Category, Meritage (over $20):

Niagara College Teaching Winery, ONT, 2005 Meritage, $28.95

Best of Category, Other Vinifera:

Jackson-Triggs Okanagan, 2004 Grand Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz, $26.99

Best of Category, Hybrid Blends:

Vignoble Carone, 2005 Frontenac, $15.95

Gold Medal, Hybrid Blends:

Gaspereau Vineyards, NS, N/V Vitis, $21.99

Medal Winning Vinifera from Nova Scotia:

Silver Medal, Riesling over $15:

Gaspereau Vineyards, 2006 Riesling $18.99 (Read our review)

Producers there are coping with harsh winters very nicely, thank-you, producing clean and crisp table wines from various crosses, including Seyval Blanc, and the so-called "Minnesota varieties," like Frontenac (Vignoble Carone won a "Best of Category" for their 2005 Frontenac). Quebec also fashions remarkable dessert wines, from grapes and apples. Domaine Pinnacle's Trophy for "Best Fruit Wine of the Year" for their 2005 Sparkling Ice Cider shows they can make great apple wine, and the truth is that this wine was nearly good enough to be best of show. Another Best of Category win was a 2005 "Late Harvest" from Vignoble Le Nordet, called Solstice d' Hiver.

What's big, blackish-purple, and drinks like a monster?

BC Syrah, that's what! The "Best Red Wine of the Year" was the 2004 SunRock Shiraz from Jackson Triggs Okanagan Estate. It's a power red with mineral, tar and blackberry notes, huge tannins, intense colour, and big flavours. It's still a good food wine though, with balance that makes you think of the Northern Rhone.

That a Syrah won the competition was surprising, but maybe not that surprising considering that there were 25 Syrah/Shiraz wines entered, many of which were excellent. Ontario grows Syrah too, and some of it is fine, but the southern Okanagan sure seems to be perfect terroir for this grape. Others have noticed: Jackson Trigg's Grand Reserve Okanagan Shiraz won Best Shiraz/Syrah at the huge International Wine & Spirits Competition in 2006, in London, England, beating out many more expensive wines. Convinced yet?

Welcome the Trendy White Varietal

There were 25 entries this year, mostly from Ontario, although the winner was from Gehringer Brothers Estate Winery in BC, and it wasn't that long ago when there was practically no Sauvignon Blanc grown in Canada. The quality is getting better all the time, but few of th

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