Celebrating Canadian Wine on Canada’s 150th Birthday

Celebration of Canada’s 150 Birthday is also a celebration of Canada’s world class wines. With several wine producing regions from coast to coast, Canada produces wines in many styles. Best known for production of premium icewine, Canada also produces world-class sparkling, white, rose, red, dessert and fortified wines.

Our vine-growing regions stretch from the Atlantic to the Pacific Oceans and are mainly based in Southern British Columbia (Okanagan Valley), Southern Ontario (Niagara, Lake Erie and Prince Edward County), Quebec ( Eastern Townships, Dunham and Montérégie), and Nova Scotia (Annapolis Valley). The two largest regions being the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia and the Niagara Peninsula of Ontario.

Although Canadian winemaking goes back to the 1600s, our modern wine history is only about 40 years old. Our winemakers proudly embrace Canadian regional diversity and work hard to express the best qualities of their region in each wine they produce. That sense of place, passion and great attention to detail is the reason why Canada’s wines are emerging as the best cool-climate wines in the world.

Growing vines in Canada’s climate is not an easy task even though our vineyards are primarily located between 41° and 50° North, similar to many European growing areas. Interestingly, Ontario vineyards share the same degree of latitude as Chianty vineyards in Tuscany, but our climate is much, much cooler. The only reason why vinifera vines can survive our harsh Canadian winters is due to the large bodies of water (Lakes Ontario, Erie and Okanagan in BC) moderating the climate by increasing the temperature by a few degrees.

Frozen grapes

To protect buds on the vine, the innovative Ontario’s Prince Edward County winegrowers developed a technique unique to the island of burying them under the soil to keep them warm during the freezing winter months and uncovering them again in the spring. At that point everyone keeps their fingers crossed that there is no late spring frost like this past May, when many wineries lost significant amount of crop due to the late frost damage.

There are a few quintessentially Canadian things and the luscious luxury of Icewine is certainly one of them.

Canada’s affair with the frozen grape started in the 1970s as the German immigrants continued their Eiswein making tradition in our nearly perfect climate conditions in both Niagara Peninsula and the Okanagan Valley.

Our warm Canadian summers with plenty of sunshine fully ripen the berries and cold enough winters freeze them consistently every year.

To celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday, here is the collection of some of my personal favourites coast to coast!!


Inniskillin Vidal Icewine 2014

This delicious and intensely aromatic Vidal Icewine comes from Inniskillin’s Niagara-on-the-Lake Winery. Vinified from premium thick-skinned Vidal grapes suitable for late season picking. Bursting with tropical aromas and flavours of ripe mangoes, white peaches, candid lemons and creamy honey while maintaining crisp acidity. Great dessert on its own, or paired with blue cheeses and fruit tarts and pies. VINTAGES#: 551085, $ 49.95

Cave Spring Riesling Icewine 2014

Vinified with specially selected, hand-harvested and pressed 100% Riesling grapes from Niagara’s Lincoln Lakeshore at temperatures below -10ºC. Deep golden in colour with aromas and flavours of stewed orchard fruits, raisins and lemon drops with perfectly balanced acidity. Closes in a long, silky, tangerine-tinged finish. Perfectly matches with aged Stilton and foîe gras. VINTAGES#: 447441, $ 49.95

Henry of Pelham Cabernet Icewine 2013

Vinified from 100% Cabernet Franc grapes harvested at Henry of Pelham’s Short Hills Bench vineyards, comes this intense and lushes Icewine. Abundant aromas and flavours of sweet ripe strawberries and raspberries with a touch of spice. Well balanced acidity and a long, smooth. It stands on its own perfectly as an after-supper-sipper or paired with with dark chocolate desserts. VINTAGES#: 67240, $ 39.95

Henry of Pelham Cuvee Catharine 2008 Estate Blanc de Blanc ‘CARTE BLANCHE’

Rich and complex Niagara vintage sparkler, vinified with hand-picked 100% estate grown Chardonnay from the Short Hills Bench vineyard, crafted with great finesse and elegance. Abundant aromas and flavours of lemon drops and buttery apple pie, subtle floral notes and pronounced minerality. Fine, persistent bubbles, and a lingering creamy finish. Great served with smoked salmon crostini, sprinkled with capers and finished with a splash of lemon juice.

13th Street Cuvée Sparkling Brut Rosé, VQA, Niagara

This non-vintage “pretty in pink” sparkler is vinified with a blend of 46% Pinot Noir, 44% Chardonnay and 10% Gamay in a traditional method. Bursting with aromas and flavours of ripe raspberries and peaches with a touch of minerality. Bone-dry with crisp acidity and persistent, smooth mousse. Closes in a clean, polished, lingering finish. Fantastic aperitif. For a perfect food pairing serve it with grilled octopus. Tasted March 2017.

Peller Estates Family Series 2015 Riesling VQA

 A fantastic patio sipper from Peller’s Niagara vineyards. Dry and medium bodied, fruit forward with bright acidity. Aromas and flavours of ripe peaches, green apples, lemon drops and lime with a touch of minerality. Clean and crisp finish. Serve well chilled. Perfectly matched with grilled fish and seafood with a splash of lemon juice. Tasted August 2016/91.

Featherstone Four Feathers 2015, VQA, Niagara Peninsula

This is a delightful blend of aromatic whites with Riesling as a main star and Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer and Sauvignon Blanc in supporting roles. Each lends their own to the mix; beautiful floral nose courtesy of Gewürztraminer and Riesling, back bone provided by Chard and crispness and freshness by Sauvignon Blanc. Bursting with aromas and flavours of ripe stone fruit, lemon drops, green apples and warm tropical notes. Fantastic as an aperitif and a perfect patio sipper. Tasted June 2016/91. VINTAGES # 341586, $ 14.95.

 Tawse Winery Spark Limestone Ridge Estate Vineyard Riesling 2014

From Limestone Ridge, Tawse’s newest estate vineyard comes this pretty aromatic sparkler. Crafted with hand-harvested Riesling grapes in the Méthode Traditionnelle, it displays great complexity imparted by bottle-fermentation. Bright with crisp acidity, it’s bursting with aromas and flavours of green apples, lime and lemon drops with a touch of minerality. Soft and persistent mousse with clean and lasting lemon-hued finish. Perfect on its own. Beautifully pairs with crab cakes and grilled seafood. Tasted June 2016/91 points. LCBO# 370361, $19.95.

 Huff Estates 2012 South Bay Chardonnay

An elegant Chard from the warmer South Bay vineyards of Ontario’s Prince Edward County, the winner of 2015 National Wine Awards of Canada. Big and bold with excellent fruit concentration, depth and complexity. Aromas and flavours of lemon drops, apples and nectarines with a whiff of that unmistakable County minerality. Rich, luxurious mouthfeel, closes in a long, lingering, vanilla-almond-tinged finish. Drink now through 2020. A given as a pairing with sinfully creamy triple-cream brie. Lip-smacking delicious!! LCBO# 88955, $ 29.95.

Malivoire Ladybug Rosé

Delightful Ontario rosé blend, vinified with 50% cab franc, 25% gamay 20% pinot noir and a touch of cab sauvignon grown on the rugged Niagara Escarpment and vinified with minimal environmental impact. Bursting with sweet forest strawberries, red cherries and raspberries. Dry, fresh and fruity it makes a great companion to an appetizer tray filled with smoked meats and cheeses, with seafood or on its own as a perfect patio sipper. VINTAGES#: 559088, $ 15.95. Tasted May 2016/91 points. Tania Thomas – www.runawaygrape.com

Pinot Noir “JCR” Rosehall Vineyard 2012

Vinified with 100% county grown Pinot Noir that beautifully showcase that unique sense of place and character of the County wines. Medium-bodied, dry and fruit forward, it’s bursting with aromas and flavours of red fruit; sour cherries and cranberries with a touch of earthiness. It closes in a long, lingering, smoke-tinged finish. Try it this year with the Thanksgiving turkey and a home-made tangy cranberry sauce.

Trius Red 2013, VQA, Niagara Peninsula 

This iconic Niagara red blend comes in a cool commemorative bottle in a celebration of its 25th vintage. Vinified with 55% Cabernet Franc, 25% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon grapes following 12 months of oak barrel aging. Full in body with grippy tannins. Lovely depth of aromas and flavours with layers of ripe dark fruit, mocha and smoke, leading to a long, lingering cedar-toned finish. A given as a pairing with summer BBQ, from grilled steaks to juicy lamb and pork chops. Drink now through 2024. Tasted June 2016/91.

Volcanic Hills Gamay Noir 2010

Vinified from 100% estate grown Gamay Noir grape with it’s noble pale flesh is paler and bluer than most other reds. This lively, light red comes from the slopes of the Okanagan Valley and delivers vivacious aromas of freshly picked cherries and strawberries on the palate, with a slight vanilla nose and a hint of black pepper. A touch of oak nicely rounds up its spicy notes. Would make a great companion to the roasted turkey on your Thanksgiving table!

Quails Gate Stewarts Family Reserve Pinot Noir 2011

Stewarts Family pinot passion is undeniable. The winery grows eight clones of pinot noir in its estate vineyards and is Canada’s largest producer of premium Pinot Noir. Rich and complex, it reminds of a classic red Burgundy. Elegant and fruit forward with intense ripe red fruit on the palate and a touch of spice & truffle, it is my absolute favourite. Pair it with a wild mushroom risotto for a extra special treat.

Peller Estates Family Series 2010 Pinot Blanc, Okanagan, BC

This smooth, fruit forward, med bodied BC Pinot Blanc delivers a subtle nose of apple peel, pear and pineapple. The palate is dry with a touch of lemon drops and bright acidity followed by a long, lingering finish. Great paired with shellfish or spring salads.

Mission Hill Family Estate 2011 Reserve Pinot Noir, Okanagan, BC

Well balanced, elegant and velvety, this rich Okanagan Pinot Noir delivers black cherry and a subtle whiff of forest floor on the nose, followed by a racy palate with soft tannins and a wild berry flavours. It is nicely balanced with a touch of oak and a long finish. Works well with a range of foods; a pulled-pork sandwich, roasted chicken or a grilled sockeye salmon.

Tinhorn Creek Gewurztraminer

Fresh and dry with crisp acidity, rose petal nose and flavours of stone fruit, citrus and green apple. Lovely served as a patio sipper or paired with the Alpine style cheese, such as BC’s Alpine Gold to match its floral notes. Delightful!

See Ya Later Ranch Riesling 2010

Quite expressive with pear, citrus zest and apricot nose. Crisp acidity and fresh palate with a touch of sweetness and a clean, fruity finish. Match this beautifully aromatic and flavorful Riesling with a classic such as pork chops or try something different and pair it with grilled prawns with garlic for a real treat.

Mission Hill Family Estate Five Vineyards Pinot Noir

The Okanagan Valley in British Columbia’s region of Canada is one of the most northerly wine growing regions in the world, not always blessed with stellar summers. The exceptionally warm season of 2012 with its hot and dry summer allowed for much longer ripening season and produced much riper, fruit expressive wines. This is an elegant and complex; medium bodied Pinot Noir with the ripe strawberry nose and the palate bursting with plum and earthy notes, nicely balanced with lively acidity and smooth tannins. Delicious with BC’s grilled sockeye salmon and delicate morel mushrooms.


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