Ontario’s only one week into social isolation and already the wine drinking memes are hilariously flowing.
But what isn’t so funny, is that local wineries, like many businesses right now, are feeling the financial pinch of a society on lock down. The provincial wine and grape business creates more than 14-thousand direct and indirect jobs. Each bottle of Ontario wine sold, generates an incredible $98.20 in economic impact.
Many Ontario wineries are doing their best to stem the loss, offering curb side pick up for bottle orders and in recent days started offering free delivery so wine lovers can support local without leaving home.
All told, 95 Ontario wineries are offering free delivery around the province. Most have the offer extended through the Easter weekend in April.
Now’s your chance to experiment and try some great Ontario wines without having to leave your couch. Curious to see what you should try? Here’s a list of a few great choices for all tastes and budgets.
Try: Fielding Unoaked Chardonnay, VQA Niagara Peninsula, $15.95
Why: Don’t freak out at the word “Chardonnay.” Chards are a bit like tofu: they will take on whatever flavour influencer is introduced to it. This one is aged in stainless steel, making for a crisp, lip smacking wine with notes of green apple, melon, lime and mineral. Perfect for sipping while watching the clouds roll by, or pairing with white fish.
Try: Charles Baker “Ivan” Riesling, VQA Niagara Escarpment, $27
Why: Charles Baker is easily one of Ontario’s top producers of premium Riesling. Brimming with zesty flavours of lime, slate, white peach, and crunchy green apples, this light bodied sipper buzzes with energy. Pair this with star gazing on a clear, crisp night, while munching on runny cheeses and country pates.
Try: Malivoire “Vivant” Rosé, VQA Beamsville Bench, $19.95
Why: This delicate pink wine rivals that of Provence, with notes of strawberry water, cherry blossom, and nectarine. Made from 100% Pinot Noir, it’s fresh and elegant and dangerously drinkable. Put on your dark shades and big hat and pretend you’re in the French Riviera. Bonus points if you sit near your aquarium.
Try: Icellars “Wiyana Wanda,” VQA Four Mile Creek, $75
Why: When Adnan Icel purchased 60 acres of land in the sunny sub-appellation of Four Mile Creek not far from Niagara-on-the-Lake, he did so with the intention of having a vineyard well suited for big, bold reds. “Wines you can chew,” he told me when I first visited the boutique winery. This flagship red is a Bordeaux blend, made predominately of Cabernet Sauvignon, with about 20% Merlot and a splash of Cab Franc.
Try: Rosehall Run “JCR” Pinot Noir, VQA Prince Edward County, $40
Why: Pinot Noir has long been a calling card of Ontario, and certainly a benchmark of Prince Edward County. This charming slice of wine country is surrounded by Lake Ontario, with gravel and limestone vineyards that all make a very happy home for Pinot. This award-winning example from Rosehall has all the Old World charm of smoke, spice and berry, with the soft tannin and juicy acidity to enjoy on solitary walks* through the back country or with anything from seared duck to filet mignon. (*just make sure to walk in a licensed area.)
Try: Huff Estates “Cuvée Peter F Huff” Blanc de Blancs, VQA Prince Edward County, $40
Why: Because Ontario traditional method bubbly can rival that of anywhere in the world. Period. The Traditional Method is the way Champagne is made, bottling still wine with a bit of yeast and sugar, then capping it to release carbon dioxide and get those oh-so-desirable bubbles. Champagne also uses Chardonnay and Pinot Noir for its fizz, the same grapes that flourish here.
Try: Strewn Sparkler, VQA Ontario, $24
Why: This bubbly is made of 100% Sauvignon Blanc in the Charmat Method – the same way Prosecco is made. Fruity, frothy and fun, this lively sparkling wine is fresh and delicious. A perfect pairing for warm weather on the balcony and celebrating the end of self isolation.