The 20th National Wine Awards of Canada (NWAC) wrapped up in October in Penticton, B.C., fittingly judging a record-setting number of wines from coast to coast. It’s been an amazing two-decade journey for the most respected and important Canadian wine competition, which was founded by Canadian wine nuts David Lawrason and myself. The week-long tasting is but a snapshot of Canadian wine; yet, like old family photos, much has changed over two decades. The inaugural competition in 2001 drew 528 wines from 71 wineries, judged by eight men. In 2021, 26 judges — 14 men and 12 women — tasted 2,075 entries from more than 260 wineries. Canadian wine is indeed gathering acclaim internationally, but the Nationals is the most important peer competition local wineries can enter. Making it to the top 10 of any category (top 6 for Chardonnay in this case, due to space) is special. Getting on the annual list of the Top 25 Wineries in Canada is one of the most sought-after accolades in the business. What follows is the latest in Canadian wine (for a snapshot of the complete awards, visit winealign.com/awards). —ANTHONY GISMOND
The Malivoire Wine Company — nestled among prime, maturing, sustainably farmed vineyards on Niagara’s Beamsville Bench, is the Winery of the Year at the 20th National Wine Awards of Canada. Beloved by Ontario wine enthusiasts as a go-to for bright, elegant, and energetic wines that capture Niagara’s spirit, Malivoire was founded in 1996 by Martin Malivoire and Moira Saganski, with a focus on Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. With the 2005 promotion of innovative Shiraz Mottiar to head winemaker, Gamay was added to the roster, then rosé, then sparkling and “bigger” blends. The haul of 17 medals at NWAC spans the repertoire, with platinum medals for Le Coeur Gamay 2020, Bisous Rosé Sparkling 2020, and a new red blend of Cabernet Franc and Gamay — called Analog Demo Series 2020 — clinching the victory.
—DAVID LAWRASON, CO-CHIEF JUDGE
- MALIVOIRE WINE COMPANY Niagara Peninsula, ON
2. LA FRENZ ESTATE WINERY B.C
3. BLASTED CHURCH VINEYARDS Okanagan Valley, B.C.
4. TRIUS WINERY Niagara Peninsula, ON
5. PELLER ESTATES NIAGARA-ON-THE LAKE Niagara Peninsula, ON
6. ROAD 13 Okanagan Valley, B.C.
7. QUAILS’ GATE ESTATE WINERY Okanagan Valley, B.C.
8. MISSION HILL FAMILY ESTATE Okanagan Valley, B.C.
9. THIRTY BENCH WINE Niagara Peninsula, ON
10. NK’MIP CELLARS B.C.