Bottoms Up: 2011 Ontario Wine Awards

Once again this year, it was my great pleasure to judge the Ontario Wine Awards, as I’ve done for most of its existence. Celebrating 16 years of excellence in Ontario wines, it is the brainchild of well-known wine scribe Tony Aspler.

Originally coined the Air Ontario Wine Awards because Air Ontario was the main sponsor, it morphed into its present title when Air Ontario was grounded and Forefront Communications became a partner. Judges are well known, seasoned wine authorities with lots of experience in Ontario wines.

This year 452 samples from 63 wineries were entered into the competition. The awards gala banquet, took place on June 10 at the Queen’s Landing Hotel in Niagara-on-the-Lake in the heart of Ontario wine country. The Ontario Wine Awards recognized VQA varietal quality in 26 different categories.

Following are the Gold Medal winners.
Vintage Hotels Winemaker of the Year Award: Paul Pender, Tawse Winery.
Larry Paterson Innovation in the Vineyard Award: Deborah Paskus, Closson Chase Vineyards.
Vintage Hotels Red Wine of the Year Award: Flat Rock Cellars 2007.
The Rogue SyrahVintage Hotels White Wine of the Year Award: Château des Charmes 2008 ‘Old Vines’ Riesling Estate Bottled.
VINES Magazine Wine Journalism Award: Beppi Crosariol, The Globe and Mail.
lQ Water Sparkling Wine Award: Peller Estates NV Ice Cuvée Rosé.
NOW Magazine Dry Riesling Award: Château des Charmes 2008. ‘Old Vines’ Riesling Estate Bottled.
680News Semi-Dry Riesling Award: Mike Weir Estate 2008 Riesling.
Luxor Realty Inc. Dry White Varietal Award: Nyarai Cellars 2010 Viognier & Creekside Estate 2009 Viognier Reserve.
Gewurztraminer Award: No Gold Awarded, but Silver went to Konzelmann Estate 2008 Gewurztraminer.
Houselink Pinot Blanc/Pinot Gris Award: Calamus Estate 2009 Pinot Gris.
The Wine Establishment Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon Award: Jackson Triggs 2009 Gold Series Fumé Blanc.
680News Oaked Chardonnay Award (Under $20): Magnotta Winery 2007 Chardonnay Special Reserve.
NOW Magazine Oaked Chardonnay Award (Over $20): Exultet Estates 2009 Chardonnay.
Bullfrog Power Unoaked Chardonnay Award: Niagara College Teaching Winery 2009 Unoaked Chardonnay.
VINES Magazine Rosé/Blanc de Noir Award: Flat Rock Cellars 2009 The Rogue Pinot Noir.
Crush Wine Bar Gamay Award: Malivoire Wine Company 2010 M2 Small Lot.
GamayGrape Growers of Ontario Pinot Noir Award: Tawse 2008 Laidlaw Pinot Noir.
Red Hybrid Award: No Gold Awarded, but Silver went to Sandbanks Estate 2008 Foch Reserve.
Niagara Airbus Cabernet Sauvignon Award: Fielding Estate 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon.
680News Cabernet Franc Award: Kacaba Vineyards 2007 Cabernet Franc Reserve.
Merlot Award: No Gold Awarded, but Silver went to Kacaba Vineyards 2007 Merlot Reserve.
Dairy Farmers of Canada Syrah/Shiraz Award: Flat Rock Cellars 2007 The Rogue Syrah.
The Ontario Wine Society Meritage and Cabernet/Merlot Blends Award: Kacaba Vineyards 2007 Meritage Reserve.
VIA Rail Canada Late Harvest Award: Konzelmann Estate 2008 Special Select Late Harvest Vidal.
Grape Growers of Ontario Vidal Icewine Award: Inniskillin 2007 Pearl Vidal Icewine.
LCBO Vinifera Icewine Award: Magnotta Winery 2007 Cabernet Franc Icewine Limited Edition.
Allen’s Blended White Award:  Peninsula Ridge Estates 2009 Top Bench White.
Allen’s Blended Red Award: Wayne Gretzky Estates 2008 Estate Series Shiraz/Cabernet.
ASL Print FX Best Label Design Award: Kacaba Vineyards 2008 Single Vineyard Syrah.

Silver and Bronze Medal winners, as well as other detailed information on the competition, can be found at

On Oct. 19, Sip & Savour Ontario, in support of Houselink, will take place at Steam Whistle Brewing in Toronto from 7:30  to 10 p.m. This event recognizes the amazing flavours (wine and food) grown and produced here in Ontario.

Edward Finstein, a.k.a. The Wine Doctor, is a wine writer, educator, judge &  consultant

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