Canada has four wine producing regions: Ontario, known for the wines of Niagara and, more recently, Prince Edward County; Nova Scotia, making waves in sparkling wines; Quebec, carving out a niche in the growing of cold-weather grapes; and British Columbia, the famous Okanagan and Similkameen Valleys.
Alas, liquor laws being what they are in Ontario, we don’t have access to much of our own country’s products. There are efforts to change this but there are still Canadian wines that I have seen in the United States that I have never found here.
I was recently sent some BC wines that I am happy to report are available at the LCBO. If you follow me on Twitter, you might have noticed me tweeting about these wines with the hashtag OnDrinksBC.
Here are some notes on the red wines:
Mission Hill 2009 Quatrain (the 2008 is available at the LCBO for $44.95) – harkening back to high school English Lit, this wine is named after a poem of four lines: the quatrain. While the temptation to write a review in whyme, iambic pentameter or as a hiaku is strong, I will spare you my tortured attemppts at poetry. Hated it in high school, hate it now. The wine, on the other hand, was by far my favourite. It had all the attibutes of a winter red wine that I love: deep colour, enough tannins to feel the dryness in your mouth without puckering, and lots of cooked cherries with a hint of black pepper on the tongue. Although not a cheap wine, this would make a great Sunday dinner wine with roast beef and gravy, steak and eggs if you’re indulging in “breakfast for supper”, or with a bit of bitter dark chocolate.
Eau Vivre Pinot Noir 2008 ($24.95 LCBO) – this is Pinot Noir in the style I have come to think of as Prince Edward County; it is not very rich in cooked fruit, just a bit of sour cherries and a hint of vanilla (from the oak ageing) with a more acidic finish. It could be called a “light” red, in colour and flavours. I found that it was a nice match to some goat cheese and some proscuitto I had on hand. If you have a primarily white wine drinker in your group, they might like this red.
Osoyoos Larose Le Grand Vin ($45.95 LCBO) – this blend of five varietals was a real hit on Twitter the night of the tasting. And, while it did thrill me as much as the Quatrain did, I think it’s because I would have liked to age it. I think at least 5-8 years would have softened the tannins that I found too harsh. It certainly had lots of dark colour and very noticeable leather and woodsy notes. I think it would have been great in a few years as a fantastic wine with a great beef stew, steak and kidney pie, or other robust dish.
The on-line Tweetup was an effort by the BC wine industry to promote Canada to Canada, something I think the LCBO should be doing more regularly. Although there are precious few BC wines in most LCBO stores, next time you see some, pick up a bottle of BC red: a few good friends + a few good wines = a lot of good times.
And Wines of British Columbia is also sponsoring a contest to win a trip to BC, including private wine tastings and spending money. Just a few clicks and you could be on your way to try these wines at their home.
If you win, take me with you? I’ve been to the Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia wine countries; but never BC. I’d carry your luggage, promise!