Results from the 2023 Nationals – Sauvignon Blanc

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 Sauvignon Blanc winners.

The nine lives of Sauvignon Blanc

Category Overview by Judge Michael Godel

Does it not feel like sauvignon blanc is the grape that will just not go away? Some people simply despise it, will not drink it, slam it every chance they get. Why? Sure it can be a bit lean, sometimes also green, but why the hate? What did it ever do to offend anyone? More often than not sauvignon blanc is lovely, emminently drinkable and satisfying. This year’s National Wine Awards of Canada results tell such a story.

Lean sauvignon is a thing – and it does occur in examples from the Loire Valley, New Zealand, Chile and South Africa. That it also happens in Canada is not always a factor of wrong place or bad winemaking. So long as redeeming qualities are involved then these can be wines of great interest, but also value. Redeeming attributes include saltiness, piquancy, stoniness, herbaceous subtlety and other complexities to speak of a sense of place. A great number of sauvignon blanc I tasted at this year’s NWACs exhibited positive properties.

Of the 42 medals, 25 are for Ontario and 17 for British Columbia. Seven are Golds and the rest a near split between Silver and Bronze. While 60 percent medallist honours for entries in a category is not a top performance, it is right there at the (63 percent) mean and so more than respectable. This tells us producers remain keen on the grape and continue to raise its quality. Canadian sauvignon blanc will never challenge Sancerre or Bordeaux for global supremacy but provided extreme climate events do not kill off the vines, the future will include more of these wines. Other than merlot it is hard to think of a grape variety that faces the cumulative effects of climate issues, grape-growing obstacles, fermentative adversity and, most of all, unwarranted hate. These are just a few of the reasons sauvignon blanc is like the cat of Canadian grapes, still around and thriving with thanks to its nine lives.

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