WineHandpicked by IWSC

Award-winning Canadian sweet wine

Canadian sweet wine typically means icewine. Learn about the frosty style and discover the best bottles to try, all IWSC medal winners

Words by IWSC Judges

icewine on the vine in snow in Canada
Handpicked by IWSC

When you’re considering Canadian sweet wine, you’re really considering icewine. This fabulously concentrated drink can only be made in bone-chilling temperatures when the mercury drops to a minimum of -8˚C. The grapes are harvested and pressed with the grapes still frozen, intensifying the flavour and creating a luscious but balanced end product.

A variety of grapes are used to make Canadian icewine, but the most popular are Cabernets Franc and Sauvignon for red icewine, and Riesling and the widely grown Vidal grape for white. Like the best sweet wines, icewine is the perfect match for desserts, but also pairs exceptionally well with blue cheese and also salty foods such as olives and anchovies.

icewine grapes freezing on the vine to make canadian sweet wine

This year’s IWSC saw an exceptionally strong line-up of Canadian sweet wines. Top of the list was Andrew Peller Signature Series Riesling Icewine 2019 from Peller Estates Winery, which scored an impressive 97/100pts and scooped a Gold medal. The judges loved its inviting nose of apricot, quince and mango, along with its zesty, honeyed palate and long, elegant finish.

Another high scorer was Inniskillin Niagara Cabernet Franc Icewine 2019 (96/100pts). Inniskillin, located near Niagara Falls, was the first winery in Canada to launch following Prohibition, and was among the first to make icewine. This particular bottle wowed the judges with aromas of strawberry, cherry and toffee, with mouth-watering acidity balancing the rich palate of barley sugar and plum.

Finally, No.99 Vidal Icewine 2019 from Wayne Gretzky Estates – the winery founded by the legendary ice hockey player – took a Gold (96/100pts) thanks to its opulent notes of stem ginger, rose petals and sugar crystals, with burnt butter and sticky honey on the palate.

Each bottle of Canadian sweet wine entered into this year’s IWSC was tasted blind by a first-class panel of experts. In charge of proceedings were Masters of Wine Dirceu Vianna Junior and John Hoskins, ably assisted by JetVine director Kelly Stevenson, writer and presenter Helena Nicklin and Master Sommeliers Matthieu Longuere and Stefan Neumann.

If you’re a sweet-wine fan and want something different to a Sauternes or Tokaji, Canadian sweet wines are where to head. Here are some of the best from this year’s IWSC.

16 award-winning Canadian sweet wines from the IWSC

  1. Peller Estates Winery, Andrew Peller Signature Series Riesling Icewine 2019; Ontario, Niagara Peninsula. 97/100
  2. Inniskillin Niagara, Cabernet Franc Icewine 2019; Ontario, Niagara Peninsula. 96/100
  3. Wayne Gretzky Estates, No.99 Vidal Icewine 2019; Ontario, Niagara Peninsula. 96/100
  4. Inniskillin Niagara, Riesling Icewine 2019; Ontario, Niagara Peninsula. 96/100
  5. Inniskillin Niagara, Cabernet Sauvignon Icewine 2019; Ontario, Niagara Peninsula. 95/100
  6. Diamond Estates Wines and Spirits, Lakeview Cellars Vidal Icewine 2019; Ontario, Niagara Peninsula. 95/100
  7. Trius Winery, Showcase Riesling Icewine 2018; Ontario, Niagara Peninsula. 95/100
  8. Inniskillin Niagara, Vidal Icewine 2018; Ontario, Niagara Peninsula. 92/100
  9. Peller Estates Winery, Andrew Peller Signature Series Cabernet Franc Icewine 2018; Ontario, Niagara Peninsula. 91/100
  10. Alvento Winery, Cabernet Franc Icewine 2019; Ontario, Niagara Peninsula. 91/100
  11. Inniskillin Niagara, Gold Vidal Icewine 2018; Ontario, Niagara Peninsula. 91/100
  12. Jackson-Triggs Niagara Estate, Reserve Vidal Icewine 2019; Ontario, Niagara Peninsula. 91/100
  13. Strewn Winery, Cabernet Sauvignon Icewine 2016; Ontario, Niagara-on-the-Lake. 90/100
  14. Wayne Gretzky Estates, No.99 Cabernet Franc Icewine 2019; Ontario, Niagara Peninsula. 90/100
  15. Reif Estate Winery, Grand Reserve Vidal Icewine 2019; Ontario, Niagara River. 90/100
  16. Diamond Estates Wines and Spirits, Wasa Ridge Vidal Icewine 2019; Ontario, Niagara Peninsula. 90/100
vines in snow in canada's nigara wine region

HOW DO WE JUDGE THESE WINES?

We run a tightly structured, rigorous wine tasting process. That means that each wine sample is pre-poured into numbered glasses and assessed blindly by the judges. Most importantly, our IWSC wine judges are experts in their field, who work across all sectors of the wine industry. For evidence, see our full list of judges.

HOW DO WE SCORE THESE WINES?

Only the best wines sampled receive a Gold or Silver award. For example, to win Gold, wines have to score between 95 and 100 points. Meanwhile, Silver wines range from 90 to 94 points. Click here to read more on our scoring system.

MORE FROM CLUB OENOLOGIQUE

Club O is an exclusive community and the go-to platform for wine and spirit lovers. Our flagship Club Oenologique magazine offers even more insights for enthusiasts and collectors. Based in London, our editorial team tells informative, inspirational stories from the world of wine and spirits, gastronomy and travel, as well as covering recommendations and the latest trends in drink. You can take a look at our Explained series, for instance, where we’re tackling grape varieties, regions and styles of wine and spirits. Alternatively, visit our Ask the Sommelier section, where experts answer your wine-related questions.