“My inbox is full of compliments about the amazing evening of Canadian wines; the participants loved the event”: so comments the organizer of a Canadian Wine Tasting event in London in October.
For those who know Canadian wines, this response is not surprising but nevertheless it’s good to hear.
A couple of months ago, I was asked to advise on wines for a Canadian wine tasting at a private function in London. I am happy to support Canadian wine export efforts in even a minor way and so I was delighted to help and have the opportunity to lead this wine tasting event.
First of all, I established my criteria for recommending wines for the tasting:
1, The wines had to represent Canada as a whole, not just British Columbia or Ontario but coast to coast, which meant including Atlantic Canada.
2. The wines had to be available in the UK. No point in presenting wines that couldn’t be accessed locally.
3. To the extent possible, I wanted to be familiar with the individual wines and wineries.
Meeting these criteria was interesting in itself. Figuring out which wineries were represented in the UK and by whom took some digging. Given the peculiarities of interprovincial trade within Canada, identifying suitable wine choices from Atlantic Canada and Ontario involved some risk taking as I didn’t taste my wine recommendations from these two areas in advance. I relied upon my network to suggest appropriate Nova Scotia and Ontario wines. I kept hearing about Benjamin Bridge sparkling wines from Nova Scotia and I knew that Peller Estates in the Niagara Peninsular consistently win awards for their Riesling Ice wine.
Here are the five Canadian wines I recommended and which we tasted together with the name of the UK organization where they can be purchased
We tasted them in the following order:
Benjamin Bridge Brut Sparkling Wine 2011. Gaspereau Valley, Nova Scotia, Handcrafted from 100% Chardonnay. With maritime freshness and soft bubbles, this ‘methode classique’ sparkling wine set the tone for excellence. Regarded by many as the best Sparkling wine in Canada. benjaminbridge.com. Available from Friarwood com.
Meyer Family Vineyard Chardonnay 2013 Apples, plums, pears, and other flavours roll into yellow fruit, smoky spices and mineral elements. Recognized as #2 small winery in Canada in 2017. We enjoy both the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir made by this Okanagan Falls winery and are members of their wine club. I have got to know JAK Meyer, proprietor over the past few years. mfvwines.com Available from Davy.co.uk and also from Marks and Spenser.
Clos du Soleil Signature 2012. Certified organic winery produces their flagship red wine from their vineyards in the Similkameen Valley and in Osoyoos, Okanagan Valley. Old world elegance and new world edge is how they describe their style. Hand harvested, gently fermented and aged for 18 months in French oak barrels. We visited Clos du Soleil a few years ago and met the founder, Spenser Massie. We admire their wine making values and the grandeur of the location. clos du Soleil.ca. Available from Cellier.co.uk
Burrowing Owl Estate Winery Meritage 2012. This is their Bordeaux style red wine with layers of complexity. Red and black fruit, sweet spices and chocolate. We have been visiting Burrowing Owl Winery for many years and also enjoy the hospitality at their on site guest house. We enjoy the wines, the ambience of the place, and support their efforts for the preservation of the burrowing owl species and conservation of the habitat of this endangered underground nesting bird. Located in Oliver, Okanagan Valley. burrowingowlwine.ca. Available from Drayman.co.uk. On a weekend in Shropshire, West Midlands we also discovered Burrowing Owl wine in the historic town of Shrewsbury at Tanners Wine Merchants. tanners-wines.co.uk
Peller Estates Winery, Ice Wine Riesling 2013. Picked at the coldest moment on a winter’s night, each frozen grape creates just one drop of Ice Wine. Smooth, luxurious, honeyed, captivating. Our hosts provided a generous selection of crackers and cheeses, including blue cheese which enabled me to demonstrate the magical pairing of Ice Wine and blue cheese, and made the point better than any description. Located at Niagara-on-the-Lake. peller.com. Available from Majestic.co.uk.
There are many excellent Canadian wine choices and these wines that I have selected may tempt the wine enthusiast to further exploration. I also suggest checking out the listed websites for further insights into dynamic Canadian approaches to wine tourism.
It has been a pleasure and privilege to introduce these excellent Canadian wines to a group of wine enthusiasts in London. The wines speak for themselves and we had fun tasting and chatting about them. One of the participants was from Nova Scotia and described the beauty of the Gaspereau Valley where Benjamin Bridge is situated.
This is the 60th posting on my blog. It feels like a milestone to me and somehow appropriate to be writing about Canadian wines because Canada is where I live.
Not bad, eh!
To Davy Wine Merchants for their assistance in the final sourcing of the wines.
To the Canadian Trade Commission for supplying information about Canadian wine regions for wine tasting participants..