Rediscover Canadian Wine
The Canadian wine industry recently held a tasting in London to raise awareness of its impressive portfolio. Known to many as a producer of high-quality “icewines” – dessert wines produced from the juice of naturally frozen grapes hand-picked in winter – Canada also offers a range of dry and sparkling wines to rival many of the world’s famous regions. Given the country’s cultural history, it is not surprising that French influences are strong, all the more so as Canada’s primary wine growing areas share the same latitude as much of France. Cool climate grapes are often planted, such as Riesling, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir and Gamay, but Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah can also be successful. International recognition and plaudits from industry experts and key members of the wine trade have increased interest in these wines. For example, earlier this year, Jancis Robinson praised Church & State’s Coyote Bowl Syrah 2009 as “luscious” and tasting “stunningly recognisably of the northern Rhône's grape, but not overly marked by the American oak in which it was matured.” In the International Wine Challenge 2013, 6 Canadian icewines won Gold medals and there were a further 16 Silver, 25 Bronze medals and 25 Commended awards encompassing all wine styles. Below are tasting notes from three of my favourite wines in each category.Sparkling
- Benjamin Bridge Brut Reserve 2004
- Peller Estate Signature Series Ice Cuvée
- Cave Spring Cellars Blanc de Blancs
- Mike Weir Estate Riesling 2008
- The Grange of Prince Edward Vineyards GPE Estate Riesling 2010
- Meyer Family Vineyards Tribute Series Chardonnay 2010
- Stratus Vineyards Stratus Red 2007Made from a Bordeaux blend of predominately Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot plus a hint of Gamay, this is a complex wine with notes of black fruit, coffee, herbs and liquorice on the nose and palate.
- Inniskillin Wines Series Three Vineyards Cabernet Franc 2010
- 13th Street Winery’s Gamay Noir Sandstone Reserve Vineyard OLD Vines 2011
- Inniskillin Wines Riesling Icewine 2008
- Peller Estate Signature Series Riesling Icewine 2008
- Peller Estate Signature Series Cabernet Franc Icewine 2008
As always, comparing vintages is an instructive element to any tasting. 2004 was amongst the coolest seasons on record over the last 20 years, whereas 2010 was one of the hottest and driest, so it was a real pleasure to taste wines from these years and from vintages in between. Canadian wine will attract boutique wine lovers in the UK looking for something a little more unusual, although relatively high price points may deter some consumers.
The introduction to this review was reproduced for Speciality Food Magazine, July/August 2013 edition.