These wines are made so deliciously well, to highlight a few for your Canada Day celebration not only seemed a tad uninspired, but too easy – like shooting fish in a perfectly toasted oak barrel.
Instead for this year’s Canada Day post, we thought we’d outline some of the other locally-made wines we really love. Most of these bottles are only available at the winery … A long weekend trip to wine country? Not a bad idea.
Critics of Ontario reds – and mercifully they’re becoming fewer and fewer – often complain our red wines can taste thin. It’s true that in our cooler climate we don’t get the same intense heat as California or Australia – countries that often produce popular, crowd pleasing, ripe, fruit forward, jammy wines. However, with the right techniques, Ontario winemakers can artfully balance the bright acidity and freshness our cool climate offers with the warm grape growing days we do get during the summer for powerful, yet poised, red blends.
Thirty Bench Small Lot “Benchmark” Red, VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, 2012 $60 thirtybench.com
Fielding Estate Winery “Chosen FEW,” VQA Niagara Peninsula, 2012 $59.95 fieldingwines.com
The alter ego to ubiquitous Pinot Grigio, Ontario makes some spectacular Pinot Gris filled with mineral freshness and pleasing stone fruit notes. Vibrant acidity gives these whites an easy flexibility to pair with a wide range of foods, or simply sip on its own. Gris also tend to have a bit more character than Grigio, which gives some much needed interest to the otherwise Plain-Jane profile of Grigio.
Malivoire Pinot Gris, VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, 2015 $21.95 malivoire.com
Inniskillin Reserve Series Pinot Gris, VQA Niagara Peninsula, 2014 $19.95 inniskillin.com
On more than one occasion, we’ve tried Ontario traditional method sparklers, and have been amazed by their very Champagne-esque style. If you think about it, it’s not all that surprising: the main grapes of Champagne are Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, which are also leading grapes on this side of the pond. Both Champagne and Ontario have cooler climates. And finally, when making bubblies in the Methode Champenoise, or traditional method, which is so often noted on the label of local sparkling, the very same way in which Champagne is made, the similarities continue to escalate. That is, until you get to the price. You can expect to pay somewhere in the ballpark of $30 for some very fine fizz that’s grown and produced here, whilst Champagne will run run you about $65 for the basic stuff and continue into the stratosphere.
Huff Estates “Peter F. Huff” Cuvée, VQA Prince Edward County, 2010 $40 huffestates.com
Jackson-Triggs “Entourage” Grande Reserve Brut, VQA Niagara Peninsula, 2012 jacksontriggswinery.com
Now let’s be clear: we’re not talking about ripe and luscious Barossa-styled Shiraz, here, we’re talking about lean, peppery, smokey Syrah reminiscent of northern Rhone. Ruby red, with flavours of tart red fruits, spice and that vague under brush/earthy note, these food friendly wines are dynamite with grilled lamb, peppercorn steak or charcuterie plates.
Kacaba Reserve Syrah, VQA Niagara Escarpment, 2012 $44.95 kacaba.com
Redstone Syrah, VQA Lincoln Lakeshore, Niagara Peninsula, 2012 $40.15 redstonewines.ca
If you follow us on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook, you know we loves us a rosé. Anytime of year. The best rosés are dry, fresh and crisp with wonderful flavours of red berries, mineral and even citrus notes. Inviting and vibrant these pretty pink sippers are brilliant when paired with seafood, grilled chicken or soft cheese plates, but their perfectly enjoyable on their own, as well.
Westcott Vineyards “Delphine,” VQA Vinemount Ridge, Niagara Peninsula, 2014 $15 westcottvineyards.com
Hidden Bench “Locust Lane” Rosé, VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, 2015 $20 hiddenbench.com