Canada isn’t as densely planted in vines as Italy, France, and Spain, but vineyards can be found from coast to coast. To the west are wineries on Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands, and on the eastern seaboard are a few in Newfoundland and New Brunswick, with many more in Nova Scotia. In between are the well-known wine regions of mainland British Columbia and Ontario, and a growing industry in Quebec.
Trade restrictions and the economic realities of distance mean that no matter where in Canada you live, it’s difficult to find a good selection of Canadian wines. But that’s not so different from many wine-producing countries, as you would find if you tried to buy a bottle of Burgundy (but why would you?) while visiting Bordeaux.
A few B.C. wines make it to Ontario and vice versa, Albertans and Manitobans have a small selection of each, while Quebec wine stores carry some wines from B.C. and Ontario, as well as some Quebec wines. Although there’s rivalry, especially between British Columbia and Ontario, we should embrace all Canada’s wine regions; they grow the grape varieties that fit their soils and climates and they produce distinct styles of wine. Comparing them is like comparing Chianti to Piedmont.
With that in mind, here are a few suggestions for drinking Canadian on Canada Day. There’s a style here for everyone.
Benjamin Bridge Brut Sparkling (Gaspereau Valley, Nova Scotia) is one of Canada’s finest fizzes. Made by the traditional method, it’s flavourful, crisp, and stylish.
Domaine Pinnacle Ice Cider (Eastern Townships, Quebec) is made in a way similar to ice wine. It has the richness but not the sweetness of ice wine, and good acidic bite to make it that much more drinkable.
Cave Spring Estate Riesling (Beamsville Bench, Ontario) is a classic expression of Niagara riesling, a regional signature grape. It’s clean, refreshing, and elegant.
Norman Hardie County Pinot Noir (Prince Edward County, Ontario) is a fine pinot that shows very good structure and balance, and is marked by pure finesse.
Tantalus Rosé (Okanagan Valley, British Columbia), a blend of pinot noir and pinot meunier, is dry, crisply refreshing, flavourful, and quite elegant.
Mission Hill (Okanagan Valley, British Columbia) has become an iconic Canadian red blend of the varieties grown in Bordeaux. It’s serious, structured, and sensational.
Originally published July 1, 2015.
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