Nothing has value unless you give it some
Anthony Gismondi’s Final Blend
There’s a lot of great wine tasted at WineAlign every year and you can read about it on the site daily. In fact, we write about nearly every bottle we taste that is for sale in Canada. It’s our job, and pleasure, to search for wines you can buy and enjoy. And even more importantly, we want to answer the two biggest shopping questions you have: How much is it, and where can I buy it?
In order to best answer What, Where, How Much, When and Why, once a year we make a gargantuan effort to gather as a team in Toronto and spend a week locked away in an airport hotel tasting as many wines as we can amass for the WineAlign World Wine Awards of Canada [2014 Results].
The word ‘world’ is important because anyone in the world can enter their wines, as long as they are sold somewhere on Canadian soil. We give Canadian wine its due at The Nationals, but we know it is just as important to taste globally to complete the perspective. I know that comes as a surprise to some Canadians who think we should only be drinking local wines but truthfully, that isn’t how the wine ‘world’ works. How do we know where Canadian wines stack up against the world if we only taste Canadian wines? Same with consumers. The goal is to make wonderful wine that expresses its terroir or uniqueness and share it with everyone. That is, the world.
The 2014 World Wine Awards of Canada is a tool we use at WineAlign to assess a large segment of wines Canadians buy and drink daily, and we do it as a team. In addition, it gives our judges a valuable chance to calibrate our palates and taste wines that aren’t available for sale in all provinces. It keeps us in check without constraining our opinions – ones shaped by years and travel and study and tasting. It’s a neat exercise on many levels, not the least of which is tasting blind for a week and keeping our palates and minds sharp. We also love the challenge of searching for great value wines and as we head into a busy fall season we can’t wait to arm you with the results.
If you are like most Canadian wine drinkers, you delight in discovering wine bargains. And why not? In a country where everything from hospitals, to roads, schools and social welfare are dependent on liquor revenues, there is no escaping high wine prices. We pay far too much for wine, so much so that the price on the bottle seldom corresponds to the quality of the wine inside. The price also reflects marketing, trends and tax. But let’s get back to the bargains.
The WWAC works because it is conceived to uncover the best value wines selling wines in Canada under $50 in a manner no other competition does. The tastings are computerized from start to finish allowing wineries, agents or retailers to enter, pay, and eventually track their results online. The same software allows us to build panels and flights of wine and then assign those wines to various panels all in an unbiased fashion, before they are served to our highly experienced tasters, blind.
The same technology spits out scoring sheets for each individual judge and tracks their scores from start to finish. When our judges leave at the end of the competition they take all their tasting notes, scores and the answer key with them in a highly prized binder. This binder, full of hundreds of detailed notes, tasted blind, is a bible that judges can refer to in articles, purchasing and consulting for the year to come. Since individual scores are only a part of the final picture, judges do not know the competition’s final results until they are released to the public. It all may sound logical but I can attest to a lot of competitions around the world where that information is never returned to the judges.
More than technology, we are particularly proud of our winners because they have to win twice to win big. In the first round they need to outscore the majority of the entries just to get to the finals. Then in the second round they must beat out the best of the best to win and should there be a tie, they may have to face-off again against the very best. It is thorough and challenging, whether the public or producers know about it or not. We know, and we care.
I also know this: If I was a running a private retail store (sorry Ontario) I would stack the winners to the ceiling. If I were running a winery I would brag for an entire year to anyone who would listen secure in my mind that what I was producing a wine that is among the best in its class.
Yet we do not do any of this for wineries, agents or writers. We run the competition for you, the consumer. As mentioned earlier, we think you need a break from ridiculously high wine prices and our coveted Category Champions and Judges Choice winners are our way of saying thanks for coming back to the site as often you do. As we approach the two million unique visitors in 2014, it is clear you come back often, and we work hard to bring you value.
We pledge to continue the competition because we love sharing our highly vetted list with you and we would love your feedback.
Now for the results and few disclaimers…
We have spent an inordinate amount of time tracking down the prices of these wines because the results are predicated on the lowest available price for the wine sold somewhere in Canada. Please remember that the lowest price may not be the price in your province or territory.
The Category Champion bested all the wines in its category while our Judges’ Choice awards went to a short list of the remaining top scoring wines in the category. Best of Country selections represent the top wine across all categories and grape types in which that country’s wines were entered. The Top Value Wines takes into account the wine’s average score as well as its price, thereby ranking the wine by a price/value quotient.
It’s hard to explain the energy that goes into these awards but suffice to say the hours are off the charts and it’s all for the pleasure of our readers.
Thanks for supporting WineAlign and wine culture in Canada. Now it is time to shop and taste – and by the way – congratulations to all the winners.
Use these links to access the complete results of the 2014 World Wine Awards of Canada:
Photos by Jason Dziver