Canadian whine (Day 55)…

rieslingAt some point in my drinking life — between swigging my last bottle of Zinfandel at university and sipping my first Pinot Noir at some overpriced resto-lounge — my parents gave me some invaluable advice: always abide by the ABC rule of wine: Anything But Chardonnay. Sure enough, the one time I broke the rule and tried a glass, it was so revolting I actually thought it was corked; but no, apparently, it’s supposed to taste like you’re licking mouldy wood chips.

I’ve always thought, however, that the letter “C” in the ABC rule could also stand for Canadian, because our vineyards are pretty much useless, other than maybe for ice wine, which frankly I don’t get — I mean, we already have stuff to pour on our pancakes.

As of late, however, I’ve been tentatively sipping a few here and there with some positive results; enough so that I’m officially ready to restrict my wine intake to what’s grown, produced and cellared here in Ontario.

My personal favourites so far include: For white wine, Cave Spring‘s dry Riesling; for red, 20 Bees Baco Noir or Cab-Merlot; for rosé, the Grange in Prince Edward County is where it’s at, although it requires a special order or a road trip to get; and for sparkling, well, I might be in trouble.

See, my dad splurged on Veuve for our annual Christmas lunch back in December and, ever since, I’ve found the taste of cheaper sparkling wines too artificial (Ed. note: clearly this is all in my head, which is clouded with oenophile pretension; I blame the French), so chances are I’ll abandon the bubbly entirely until my challenge is over, then I can blow all my savings on real champagne.

None of the above wines are certified organic, but most of the ones that are come in Tetra Paks, and although they can apparently be recycled, I’ve read that this isn’t always the case — plus, I’ll take the sound of a cork popping any day over the sound of a cap seal being twisted off an over-sized juice box.

The few organic wines that do come in bottles are usually from Australia or New Zealand, and buying these will weigh me down with too much carbon guilt. Besides, I’ve been to the Niagara region, and I know the vineyards there aren’t being run with some Mondavi-esque, Big Wine mentality — if anything, they’re being run by people with way too many lawn ornaments — so with that in mind, I say, organic shmorganic. Bring on the local!

P.S. Friends, neighbours and coworkers: This does not mean I want any of that homemade wine you have sitting in your basement. I’m not that desperate. Yet.

4 Responses to Canadian whine (Day 55)…

  1. Matt says:

    Though the French would gasp at the notion, there are many Californian sparkling whites that match-up or beat 90% of the Champagne being sold in Canada. I know it’s still far, but giving up the bubbly altogether seems like a disproportionate sacrifice if you ask me.

    If you’re stuck to staying local then wines from upstate New York can be very good, too. SUVs with “support our troops” stickers trump lawn ornaments down there, but seriously- they make some decent stuff, even for this faux-Parisian.


  2. Sarah Pretty says:

    Vanessa, this is an area I have always felt guilty about. I hate Canadian wine. I am a snob I need Cote de Rhone. I welcome any Canadian suggestions that you can make. Good for you girl.

  3. Lisa says:

    Frog Pond is a local organic wine from the Niagara Region. And the guy with a German name who reveiws wine on CBC radio says it is good. I had some a while ago. I liked it. I’m no officianado

  4. Doug says:

    Vanessa, if you are looking for an environmentally responsible local wine try Stratus Vineyards in Niagara on the Lake. – I’m not certain if they are organic, but they do employ sustainable practices. This does come at a price, but fortunately it is absolutely worth it. I used to hate Chardonnay until I tasted the Stratus 2000. It was literally like drinking buttery sweet gold.

    If you want really good Ontario wine you have to go to the winery to get it. The LCBO has some extraordinarily byzantine regulations in place that make it really difficult for a small winery to sell anything in this province. So my advice is plan a B&B weekend in either Niagara or Prince Edward County and go visit a few wineries. All of them have tasting rooms open most of the year and you’ll discover many tasty wines you never knew existed.

    I am actually very partial to Prince Edward County wines specifically, Norman Hardie, Sandbanks and Long Dog. All three of these wine makers are artists and have produced spectacular wines as of late. The other area of Ontario making great wine is the Beamsville area – Tawse, Lakeview Cellars and Malivoire just to name a few. Try them all, you won’t be sorry.

    Cheers, Vanessa!

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