TOP PICKS FROM CANADIAN WINES

 Photo: Sumi Sarma

Photo: Sumi Sarma

CANADA CALLING

 

With global warming engulfing us completely, vintners have had to look at alternative destinations by moving up the latitude in an attempt to discover untried and unaccustomed terroirs where grapes can express themselves in a unique style. Canada is one such cool-climate destination that is coming out to be thriving and successful for many grape varieties that are now struggling to survive in the previously marked temperate zones of the earth. Though winter temperatures are still harsh with plunging temperatures to -40C, location of microclimate sites that help retain and prolong the warm temperatures has been key to striking the best balance for grape cultivation in this zone. 

The combined works of British Columbia Wine Institute, The Wine Marketing Association of Ontario for Wine Country Ontario and Wine Association of Nova Scotia recently culminated into a beautiful line up of Canadian Wineries in London. Showcasing 37 producers from Canada, the styles of wines ranged from the traditional ice wines that Canada has always been represented to outstanding modern innovative expressions of sparkling and still wines. Although many of the wines are still under-represented in the UK market, the long-term vision of these wineries run by passionate, well-travelled wine producers originally from Europe and Asia and now second or third generation Canadian citizens, display a fusion of old and new world styles keeping the sense of place as a key factor to their creative theme, combining it with restrained vinification and artistic blending styles, that has given a unique identity to Canadian wines all together!

Here are Sumilier’s top picks of Canadian Wines: 

Le Vieux Pin (Oliver, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada)

Highly experienced Severine Pinte (She is one of our featured Sumilier Stars, to read more click here) is the winemaker here. Originally French, she now considers Canada to be her home. She uses her experience of working across France in producing some of the most stylish and stand out varietals. Especially through her diverse varietal styles of Shiraz, her intention is to capture every character and mood of Syrah. 

 Photo: Sumi Sarma

Photo: Sumi Sarma

 Photo: Sumi Sarma

Photo: Sumi Sarma

If you are looking at an aromatically fulfilling Syrah with purity of fruit with complex black pepper and leathery qualities, the Equinoxe Syrah is your right choice. Representing truly what the name suggests, this Syrah is impressively balanced in terms of fruit intensity, oak notes and tertiary characters bringing out all flavours equally well. Very soft and luscious expression with consistency and a long finish. 

The Syrah Cuvée Violette is an elegant leaner expression but with enhanced aromatics and terroir expressive style. With 3% Viognier, she aims to present an austere style of wine similar to the French Rhone Valley, one that is structured and elegant with fruit and floral bouquet and most of all, a precision of expression. 

The Syrah Cuvée Classique is her third iteration of Syrah that uses 20% new oak, backed by ripe fruit flavours and density. Impressive integration of fruit and oak that is expressed through a full-bodied, rich and dense style, this is a heavy hitter and bold wine aimed at pleasing and pairing with meats and barbeques.

 

Burrowing Owl Estate Winery (Oliver, VQA Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada)

 Photo: Sumi Sarma

Photo: Sumi Sarma

 Photo: Sumi Sarma

Photo: Sumi Sarma

One of the iconic wineries in Canada, Burrowing Oil was started by a Vancouver developer Jim Wyse in the 1990s in an area where these owls have been endangered species, hence the name. Now his sons have taken over the winemaking and running of the winery taking it to an international level. 

Athene 2015 is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah and displays both varietals very distinctly. Soft red and black cherries with black pepper and elegantly blended oak with notable Cabernet Sauvignon vegetal notes of capsicum and a long cedar finish. 

Equally meticulously blended is the Bordeaux inspired Meritage 2014 which is a classic old world style with expressive brambly and cassis notes followed on by roasted sage, cinnamon pepper aromas and a meaty finish. A textured wine which is a sure shot for food pairing. Blended constituents include:

Merlot 32%

Cabernet Franc 23%

Cabernet Sauvignon 23%

Malbec 11%

Petit Verdot 11%

 

Cave Spring Cellars, (Beamsville Bench, VQA Ontario, Canada)

 Photo: Sumi Sarma

Photo: Sumi Sarma

 Photo: Sumi Sarma

Photo: Sumi Sarma

Operating since 1986, Pennachetti family have not only organically grown the Cave Spring Cellars but also, in the last 35 years through their unrelenting work, have been instrumental in elevating the level of Jordan Village into a pretty tourism destination from its erstwhile heavy industry boxed image of the 1970s, thus becoming one of the leading pioneers in the Niagara wine revolution

Their signature creation is the Riesling varietal and what is striking is that they have a Riesling for every price point be it budget all the way to a super- premium level. Each possessing true Riesling traits of high racy acidity coupled with an easy going fruit driven style. 

The Riesling Estate 2016 is mid-priced at roughly £15 plus with grapes from vines aged 25 years on an average. What stands out is the fresh vibrant zingy aromas that makes it so versatile to pair with any cuisine. 

The Riesling CSV 2016 is the next level up at roughly £20 with grapes from the top selection of vines aged 45 years, showing tremendous concentration and complex ageing notes of toast and honey which can be savoured by both wine lovers and connoisseurs.

Leaning Post (Lincoln Lakeshore, VQA Ontario, Canada)

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Originally from Ukraine and now second-generation Canadians, the Senchuks narrowed in on Lincoln Lakeshore appellation in Niagara in 2009 with their purpose built winery that they attribute to the leaning support of their beloved family and friends, after whom the name Leaning Post originated. The moderating effect of the lake is very evident in the cool climate varietals expressed through their Chardonnays and pale coloured Pinot Noirs that they take great pride in crafting. Blending in experience from New Zealand and Canada, Ilya can be described as an intellectually curious winemaker who pays high importance to experimentation in determining the desired outcome for his wines. 

Ilya’s experience as a scientific winemaker and his blending expertise is evident by his decision to release two styles of Chardonnay in 2015. There is the Chardonnay – Dijon Clone 96, 2015 that has been released on its own to demonstrate the lean and delicate nature of the grape varietal. And then he also has his classic Chardonnay- Senchuk Vineyard 2015, which is an elegant blend of two clones (548 and 96) showing lifted acidity, impressive mid-palate Burgundian weight, complex notes of hazelnuts on a toasty spicy edge finishing off long and crisp. 

 

These are some of the top wines that deserve true recognition. Through their strong passion and conviction, backed by intense and ongoing research and experimentation, Canadian wine producers are now firmly rising up the echelons of the wine trade, producing wines that not only compete with the rest of the world but are also carving a niche for themselves.