Award-Winning Ontario Wines to Try this Summer
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Award-Winning Ontario Wines to Try this Summer

Freshly picked from the Ontario Wine Awards this past week.

Sparkling Wine Flight - 29 Wines

Sparkling Wine Flight: 29 Wines

When I head into the LCBO, I sometimes get a bit overwhelmed: the selection is vast, and when I’m looking for a wine I haven’t tasted before, I have no real advantage over someone who is clueless about wines. Often, to navigate myself, I gravitate toward bottles with award stickers—anything award-winning, after all, has to be pretty tasty.

This week marked the 22nd Ontario Wine Awards, meaning you too will have an opportunity to grab a good-tasting wine without too much hassle this summer.

I was fortunate enough to be one of 30 judges who helped decide the winners of this competition. Other judges included wine professionals and writers who are well-respected in the local industry. The Ontario Wine Awards offer intense criteria under which the wines are judged—you will see in the list below some categories have no gold-medal winners, because no contender was deemed good enough to take the top prize.

Award winners are easy to find as they are generally labelled with a sticker.

Award winners are easy to find as they are usually labelled with a sticker.

This year, 467 wines from 71 wineries were up for judging.

One noteworthy category for the awards was the Chardonnay: Over $20 category. There are many wineries with cult followings in the province, but none are quite as niche as Exultet, located in Prince Edward County. This small production winery has won the gold medal in this category five times out of the past six years. In this category, they also took both the gold and bronze medals for different vintages of “The Blessed.” The 2013 vintage of this wine also took Best White Wine at the awards with an aggregate score of 93.25. You don’t often see a score this high at a wine competition, so this is an exceptional wine.

Gamay is a grape that is always close to my heart, so it was great to see Chateau des Charmes take two gold medals when both their regular gamay and gamay “droit” tied in the category. The droit is a special clone of gamay that was developed by the founder of the winery and has a bit of a cult following in its own respect. What’s even more remarkable is that the gold-medal-winning gamay is a regular list wine, priced at just $13.95. This is just evidence that you don’t have to spend a lot of money to get a choice bottle.

If you’re looking for an opportunity to taste some of these wines, you can get your hands on a few bottles at the LCBO. But if you’re not able to make it down to Niagara, the iYellow Wine Club will also be hosting an event at George Brown College on June 16th, where award-winning wineries will be on hand pouring some of the winning wines. ” target=”_blank”>Tickets are still available for what may be the best tasting room of wines you will find in Toronto this year.

A selection of Gold Medal winners for the 2015 Ontario Wine Awards

A selection of Gold Medal winners for the 2015 Ontario Wine Awards

Here is the complete list of the winners, along with their availability at the LCBO:

Best Label Design Award
Gold: Pelee Island LOLA – LCBO 450981 – $12.95
Silver: Rosewood Estates 2013 Lock, Stock & Barrel
Bronze: Southbrook Vineyards Seriously Cool 2013 Red – LCBO 453639 – $15.95

Sparkling Wine Award
Gold: Henry of Pelham Cuvée Catharine Rosé Brut – LCBO 217505 – $29.95
Silver: Thirty Bench Wine Makers Sparkling Riesling
Bronze: Megalomaniac Bubblehead

Dry Riesling Award
Gold: Thirty Bench Wine Makers 2014 Small Lot Riesling Wood Post Vineyard
Silver: Henry of Pelham 2013 Speck Family Reserve Riesling
Bronze: Vineland Estates 2014 Dry Riesling – LCBO 167551 – $14.95

Semi-Dry Riesling Award
Gold: Trius 2014 Showcase Riesling Ghost Creek Vineyard
Silver: Tawse 2013 Limestone Riesling – South Block
Bronze: Tawse 2013 Carly’s Block Riesling

Dry White Varietal Award
Gold: Kew Vineyards Estate 2014 Marsanne
Silver: Inniskillin Niagara Estate 2015 Reserve Viognier
Bronze: Sue-Ann Staff Estate 2015 Lavelle’s Vidal
Bronze: EastDell by Diamond Estates 2014 Viognier
Bronze: Flat Rock Cellars 2014 Twisted – Vintages 1578 – $16.95

Gewurztraminer Award
Gold: Konzelmann Estate 2013 Gewurztraminer Late Harvest – Vintages 392357 – $14.95
Silver: Riverview Cellars Estate 2015 Angelina’s Reserve Gewurztraminer
Bronze: Colchester Ridge Estate 2014 Gewurztraminer

Pinot Blanc\Pinot Gris Award
Gold: Konzelmann Estate 2014 Pinot Blanc
Silver: Vieni Estates 2013 Pinot Grigio
Bronze: Kacaba Vineyards 2015 Jennifer’s Pinot Gris Summer Series

Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon Award
Gold: Magnotta 2013 Sémillon Special Reserve
Silver: Peller Estates 2014 AP Signature Series Sauvignon Blanc
Bronze: Creekside Estate 2013 Reserve Sauvignon Blanc
Bronze: Redstone 2012 Sauvignon Blanc-Semillon

Oaked Chardonnay Award ~ Under $20
Gold: 16 Mile Cellar 2012 Rebel Chardonnay
Silver: Niagara College Teaching Winery 2014 Marmitons Chardonnay Gastronomy
Silver: Flat Rock Cellars 2014 Chardonnay – Vintages 286278 – $18.95
Silver: Tawse 2013 Sketches of Niagara Chardonnay – Vintages 89037 – $18.95

Bronze: No Bronze Awarded

Oaked Chardonnay Award ~ Over $20
Gold: Exultet Estates 2013 Chardonnay “the Blessed”
Silver: Vieni Estates 2012 Chardonnay Private Reserve
Bronze: Exultet Estates 2014 Chardonnay “the Blessed”
Bronze: Southbrook Vineyards 2013 Estate Grown Small Lot Wild Ferment Chardonnay

Unoaked Chardonnay Award
Gold: Diamond Estates 2014 McMichael Group of Seven Chardonnay
Silver: Sandbanks 2013 Shoreline White – LCBO 177477 – $14.95
Bronze: Marynissen Estate 2014 Unoaked Chardonnay

Rosé/Blanc de Noir Award
Gold: Rosewood Estates 2015 Gamay Rosé
Gold: Château des Charmes 2015 Rosé Cuvée d’Andrée
Silver: No Silver Awarded
Bronze: Trius 2015 Rosé – LCBO 341743 – $15.95

Gamay Award
Gold: Château des Charmes 2014 Gamay Noir, Estate Bottled – LCBO 57349 – $13.95
Gold: Château des Charmes 2014 Gamay Noir ‘Droit’, St. David’s Bench Vineyard
Silver: No Silver Awarded
Bronze: Tawse 2015 Unfiltered Redfoot Vineyard Gamay Noir

Pinot Noir Award
Gold: Tawse 2013 Tintern Pinot Noir
Silver: Pelee Island 2013 Pinot Noir – LCBO 135939 – $13.95
Bronze: Keint-he 2014 Little Creek Pinot Noir

Red Hybrid Award
Gold: No Gold Awarded
Silver: Gallucci 2014 Baco Noir
Bronze: Sandbanks 2014 Mouton Noir Foch – Baco Noir – LCBO 164087 – $19.95

Cabernet Sauvignon Award
Gold: Southbrook Vineyards 2013 Estate Grown Small Lot Cabernet Sauvignon
Silver: GreenLane Estate 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon
Bronze: Kacaba Vineyards 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon
Bronze: Trius 2013 Showcase East Block Cabernet Sauvignon Clark Farm Vineyard

Cabernet Franc Award
Gold: Kacaba Vineyards 2014 Cabernet Franc
Silver: Kacaba Vineyards 2012 Reserve Cabernet Franc
Bronze: Thirty Bench Wine Makers 2013 Small Lot Cabernet Franc

Merlot Award
Gold: Palatine Hills Estate 2012 Neufeld Vineyard Merlot
Gold: Trius 2012 Showcase RHS Merlot Clark Farm Vineyard
Silver: No Silver Awarded
Bronze: Pillitteri Estates 2012 Winemakers Selection Exclamation Merlot
Bronze: Two Sisters Vineyards 2012 Merlot

Syrah/Shiraz Award
Gold: Creekside Estate 2012 Broken Press Syrah Reserve
Silver: Redstone 2012 Syrah Red Stone Vineyard
Bronze: Kacaba Vineyards 2013 Terraced Vineyard Syrah

Cabernet/Merlot Blends Award
Gold: Jackson-Triggs Niagara Estate 2012 Grand Reserve Red Meritage
Gold: Konzelmann Estate 2012 Cabernet Merlot Family Reserve
Silver: No Silver Awarded
Bronze: Creekside Estate 2013 Cabernet Merlot
Bronze: Trius 2012 Grand Red

Late Harvest Award
Gold: Konzelmann Estate 2013 Special Select Late Harvest Vidal
Silver: Pillitteri Estates 2014 Select Late Harvest Riesling
Bronze: Trius 2014 Showcase Late Harvest Vidal

Vidal Icewine Award
Gold: Nomad at Hinterbrook Estate 2014 Vidal Icewine
Gold: Inniskillin Niagara Estate 2013 Oak Aged Gold Vidal Icewine
Silver: No Silver Awarded
Bronze: Inniskillin Niagara Estate 2014 Sparkling Vidal Icewine

Icewine Award
Gold: Jackson-Triggs Niagara Estate 2014 Reserve Gewurtzraminer Icewine
Silver: Tawse 2013 Riesling Icewine
Bronze: Peller Estates 2013 AP Signature Series Riesling Icewine

Red Award
Gold: No Gold Awarded
Silver: Magnotta 2013 Meritage Gran Riserva
Bronze: Kew Vineyards Estate 2012 Heritage
Bronze: Pillitteri Estates 2013 Super Niagara
Bronze: Kew Vineyards Estate 2012 Soldier’s Grant

Red Award
Gold: No Gold Awarded
Silver: Wayne Gretzky Estates 2013 Estate Series Shiraz Cabernet
Bronze: Trail Estate 2013 Cabernet2