It is Saturday, July 1st, Canada Day. This year, all year, Canada is celebrating its 150th birthday, and I have been lucky enough to travel every inch of this country from St. John’s Newfoundland to Victoria British Columbia. It’s a beautiful country with spectacular scenery and the nicest people. It’s also making a name for itself in the wine industry. Canada is putting out fantastic wines from the Anapolis Valley in Nova Scotia to the Okanagan region in British Columbia. I am going to talk about some of the great Canadian wines, so let’s start in the East and head West.
Benjamin Bridge is located in the Gaspereau Valley in the Anapolis Valley region of Nova Scotia, however, this small winery is making headlines around the world. Its traditional method Sparkling wine is taking the wine world by storm. John Szabo, Canada’s 1st Master Sommelier said “very likely the finest sparkling wine to have yet been issued from Canadian soil”
Another east cost winery making a lot of waves these days is Lightfoot and Wolfville, making certified organic wines in small lots. Two of my favorites from this winery is the Rose wine and the Riesling. Recently at the Atlantic Canadian Wine Awards, Lightfoot & Wolfville won top prize for the Winery of the Year, and took home 8 other awards.
As we head west, I have to take a moment to tell you about the Prince Edward County wine region and one of the best known wineries there belongs to Norman Hardie. I had the privilege of meeting the man himself when I was there last Labor Day weekend, and took home a couple of bottles of his wine, including the Riesling and this spectacular Pinot Noir. This Burgundian style Pinot Noir is the picture of elegance and finesse, and if you ever get the chance to try it, don’t pass on the opportunity.
I can’t leave Ontario without visiting the Niagara region, which has the province’s largest planted viticultural area. This area is putting out some spectacular wines and it is on my bucket list to visit the area. I have a niece who lives in the area, and when my sister went ti visit one year, she bought me back this wonderful Pinot Noir from Hidden Bench. All of this wine is 100% grown, produced, and bottled on site at the Beamsville winery. This Pinot Noir is beautifully structured and earthy and when I get back to the area, hope to enjoy it again.
Heading west to British Columbia, the Okanagan is putting out so many great wines. This is the wine I had again last night, 5 Vineyards from Mission Hill, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot with some Petite Verdot and Cabernet Franc. This Bordeaux-style of wine showcases grapes grown in 5 estate vineyards owned by Mission Hill, and each area brings something a little different to the grape. (Which is what terroir is all about). Red cherry flavors with hints of sage and good distinct tannins. Last night I enjoyed this with a pasta that had a cream sauce, however, you could enjoy it with any kind of meat as well.
And now for one of my all time favorite Canadian wines…
Meritage is a Bordeaux style of wine, and the name originated in California, because it is illegal to call a wine ‘Bordeaux’, unless it comes from the Bordeaux region of France. It consists of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon with Cabernet Franc, Petite Verdot and this one has a little Malbec added in. (although coomon at one time, now it’s a little unusual). This style of wine is also called Claret in Britian, and you will also sometimes see a Claret coming out of an American winery. For example, Francis Ford Coppola makes a Claret, and its delicious. It’s a big bold wine, this one is 14% alcohol, good tannins and great structure. This is a great steak wine, especially if you love those big Cabernet Sauvignon wines. Burrowing Owl is located in Oliver B.C., and I have had many of their wines. We can get them here in Nova Scotia now, but before then I would get them shipped in. It is a fantastic winery and my dream is to visit the winery one day.
Enjoy the long weekend everyone. As I look out my window I see it’s pouring rain and I feel bad for the Canada day celebrations here in Halifax. Hope it’s sunny where you are.
Till next week, Cheers