It’s Time To Change Your Mind About Canadian Wine


Yesterday, a colleague at work, told me she hated Canadian wine.  Before I could open my mouth, she said ‘you’re going to disagree with me’.  Yes, I am.  To say you don’t like Canadian wine is saying you don’t like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Riesling, Chardonnay and many more.  There is more to Canadian wine than Ice Wine.  There are some beautiful Canadian wines being made and today I’m going to ask you to get over your stigma about Canadian wine and try one.  I have a few recommendations.

Howard Soon 039 & Darlene Howard Soon 040

Let me introduce you to one of the nicest winemakers you will ever meet.  Howard Soon has been chief winemaker at the gorgeous Sandhill winery in the Okanagan of BC since 1997.  He’s not only a nice guy…. he makes fabulous wine.   I had the opportunity to meet him recently and sample some of the fantastic wines from Sandhill.   I also liked how he told us of the relationship with the growers, and how important it is.

Sandhill Pinot Gris  Sandhill

Two of the wines I tried that day was the Sandhill Pinot Gris.  This beautiful crisp and fresh Pinot Gris will be a summer favorite for me.  I loved the flavors of melon, pineapple and peach blossom.  Perfect acidity and well-balanced, this wine would pair so well with seafood, pork and chicken just to name a few.  One of the reds from Sandhill I tried that day was the Syrah.  I love a good Syrah, and this had gorgeous aromas of cedar, spice, and vanilla. Velvety tannins and a smooth finish would make this wine welcome at any BBQ you plan to have this summer.


Another beauty I have had recently, studying Canadian wine in my Sommelier training is the Bachelder Chardonnay.  Thomas Bachelder is another icon in the wine industry and does a beautiful job on this full-bodied rich Chardonnay.  Apples, pears and mineral notes make for a complex and tasty Chardonnay.  Any chicken dish you serve will stand up on the plate and ask for this wine.

Inniskillin  Clos Pinot

Pinot Noir, as many of you know, is one of my favorites.  This is a cool climate grape, and if there’s one thing Canada has a lot of, is cool climate.  We have them ranging in price from $16.98, like this Inniskillin Pinot Noir from the Niagara region to the $83 price tag of the Clos Jordanne Le Grand Clos Pinot Noir.   The Inniskillin Pinot Noir boasts of strawberry and plum flavors with a floral note, and when I lived in Newfoundland this bottle was a common sight in my wine rack.  The Clos Jordanne on the right, also from Ontario, I think is one of the best Pinot Noir wines I have ever tasted and in my opinion, rank up there with some of the best Burgundian Pinot Noirs I have had the chance to taste.  It’s elegant and flavorful with beautiful flavors of mashed strawberries, raspberry and roasted oak.

merlot2009_small    Mission Hill merlot reserve label

Canada is putting out some first class Merlot, and here are two of my favorites.  Both are from the Okanagan region of British Columbia.  The Burrowing Owl Winery is spectacular and I order wine from this winery on a regular basis.  The Merlot is gorgeous with plums, blueberries, sage, and other wonderful spices.  The Mission Hill Merlot is full-bodied, rich and supple with beautiful flavors of plums, spices and a hint of mocha.


When you think of Canadian wine, and the first images that pop up are Baby Duck or fruit wine, then head to your favorite wine store and pick up a first class Canadian beauty.  I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

Till next week, Cheers.






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