Whether you are planning on hosting a party at your house during the Holidays, or attending dinner at a family member’s; serving or bringing wine is always a good idea. Don’t you just love how, as soon as someone opens a bottle of wine, it suddenly becomes the centre of attention and all conversations suddenly shift to its origin, and after toasting and tasting, everyone passionately weighs in on the wine’s aroma, its body, its dryness or smoothness, its flavor intensity and its finish?
I’ve realized that when picking wine at the liquor store, people almost automatically head to the French or Italian departments, as both countries are worldly famous for producing great wine.
Over the course of our countless road trips across Canada though, I couldn’t help but notice how often vineyard signs were announced on the roads; and what started as passing thoughts at the sight of each sign, quickly became a strong interest in the topic.
As a French woman who settled in North America a couple years ago, I realized that I knew little to nothing about Canadian wine, and secretly vowed to broaden my knowledge by trying and highlighting on Ze Square Canadian wines; and the upcoming festivities is the ideal time to do so. It didn’t take long for me to find that Canada has absolutely nothing to envy to Europe, when it comes to mastering the art of wine-making, as the country is home to excellent vineyards that make delicious and premium quality wine.
For the Holiday season, we would like to present to you a list of fantastic Canadian wines to discover with friends and family during the upcoming celebrations. But before, I’d like to share with you a couple interesting facts about Canadian wine, that you’ll be able to bring up at dinner (along with your bottle) to impress your guests or hosts. 😉
- Canadian wine is mainly produced in the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia; in the Niagara Peninsula of Ontario, and in smaller scales, in Southern Quebec and Nova Scotia.
- Some bottles of Canadian wine are labelled “Cellared in Canada”, which means that the wine is either made from 70% to 100% of imported pre-fermented grapes.
- Other bottles are labelled VQA, which stands for Vintners Quality Alliance. The VQA is a regulatory system that guarantees the wine was 100% made from grapes grown in Canada. There are other appellations that prove the wines are 100% Canadian such as “Vins Du Québec”, “Wines Of Nova Scotia”, or “Wines of Distinction”.
- Icewine is the most internationally popular and the most exported of Canadian wines, with China and Japan being the largest importers.
- Canada has less than 50% shares of the Canadian wine market. (Which absolutely needs to change.)
Without further due, here is our list of suggestions:
- 2014 Closson Chase Vineyard Chardonnay VQA Prince Edward County
Tasting notes: “The nose opens with salted caramel, lemon custard, flint and brioche. The mouth is full with cream and nectarine zest, mineral, buttered toast and a long round finish.”
Pairing suggestion: Lobster Mac & Cheese
- 2011 La Halte Des Pèlerin Le Graal Red Icewine
Described as the nectar of the gods, this fruity and extra smooth red ice wine will blow you away.
Pairing suggestion: Dessert
Origins: Sherbrooke, QC.
- 2015 Foxtrot Vineyard Pinot Noir
Tasting notes: “The 2015 Pinot Noir shows great balance with intense aromas of bright and dark red fruits along with spice and earthy notes. The intensity of the fruit and earthiness continues on the palate and is wonderfully framed by the vibrant acidity, savory notes, and bold silky smooth tannins producing a long lingering finish. Our 2015 Foxtrot Vineyard Pinot Noir can easily be aged for up to 10+ years but can also be consumed in the near term with decanting.”
Pairing suggestion: Salmon or other fatty fish.
Origins: Okanagan Valley, BC.
4. 2014 Foxtrot The Waltz Pinot Noir
Tasting notes: “The Waltz shows bright red fruit characteristics complemented by spicy notes and a slight earthiness. It’s bright acidity framed by silky tannins combine with bright red fruit notes and a lengthy savoury finish to make this a wine that can be enjoyed now or laid down for 5+ years.”
Pairing suggestion: Roasted chicken
Origins: Okanagan Valley
5. 2016 C.C. Jentsch Cellars Small Lot Series Barrel Fermented Chardonnay
Tasting notes: “Smooth and rich, this Chardonnay was fermented and aged for six months in premium French oak barrels, showcasing aromas of tasty croissant, vanilla, pears, quince and lovely spices such as clove and nutmeg. The palate is bursting with flavors of stone fruits and great minerality while showing the smooth richness of oak.”
Pairing suggestion: Lobster, crab cakes, bay scallop chowder, or pizza with white sauce.
Origins: Oliver, BC.
6. 2015 C.C. Jentsch Cellars Small Lots Malbec
Tasting note: ” Rich and bursting with flavours of blueberry and elderflower, this luscious four barrel lot of Malbec aged for sixteen months is concentrated and yet delicate. Dark fruit such as black currant and plum, hints of dried herbs and licorice combine with a smooth palate that together with powerful underlying tannins leads to a finish that seems to last for an eternity.”
Pairing suggestion: “Sausage pizza, beef burgers, steak and roast beef. Lamb curries and stews, braised pork shoulder, duck, chicken thighs and roasted vegetables all combine nicely with Malbec. Dark chocolate truffles are a spot on accompaniment to finish a meal with Malbec.”
Origins: Oliver, BC.
7. 2017 Adamo Pét-Nat Legacy Series
Tasting notes: “Toasty lees notes, biscuit and lemon. Fresh honey dew melon and a medley of citrus fruits and tree fruits follow. This youthful wine has a palate that matches its aromatics; a medley of fresh tree fruits, citrus and tropical hints from start to finish. Apple, pear, grapefruit, honeydew melon and guava. The mid-palate is round and delivers layers of leesy texture, honey and citrus pith. A fun and young Pinot Blanc with bolstering balance and a smooth, medium-long finish of crisp acidity that lingers and refreshes.”
Interesting story: The Legacy series embodies the beautiful story of how Mario Adamo, Founder of Adamo Estate Winery, passed on his knowledge to his son John-Paul, who is now at the helm of the company, and who is passing along his knowledge to his own son.
Origins: Niagara Lakeshore, Ontario