This is intended to provide discussion on Canadian wines, from where they have been to where we might see them in the future.
Canadian wines have come along way in the past 10 to 20 years. Better knowledge in the wineries, as well as wine making skills have definately benefited us wine drinkers. As well, better grapes are being grown in Canada, and the winemakers are figuring out which varietals do well in our climate and soils.
The current situation in my eyes is prime for us who enjoy Canadian wines. Most wines are still available at very resonable prices, and the quality of some varietals are becoming top notch. Others still have a ways to go.
I believe that most Canadian wines are still marketed and sold in Canada, as the rest of the world still views our wines as second rate or even below average (other than icewines). I believe our current strength are in our white wines, with some red varietals showing great strength.
I believe our future in wine is a good one. Yes there will be alot of people who will disagree with this statement but I will respond with this... 30 to 40 years ago California, Oregon, Washington, Australia, Argentina, and South American (the list can go on) were not highly ranked in the wine world. These regions have all done well, despite many trials and tribulations.
Over the past year I have tried to expand my knowledge of wine mainly focusing on Bordeaux, Australia, Italy and Chile. My other goal was to try as many Canadian wines as possible. With many trips out to the Oakanagan, as well as the many Canadian wines easily accessible in our liquor stores, I have compiled a list of Canadian wines that I recommend people try.
Tinhorn Creek - Okanagan Winery
2000 Pinot Noir: One of the best Canadian wines I have tried this year. I have had 4 bottles on 4 different occasions and this wine always amazes me. Its very complex, with many nuances that never dissappoint. $14-$19CAN depending which province is selling the wine.
2001 Merlot: I had this tonight and again a solid wine. Drank over 3 hours and was still going strong. Good to see it develop struture and continue to evolve during the 3 hours.
Kettle Valley - Okanagan Winery
2000 Kettle Valley Hayman Pinot Noir: I had rated this 94pts and have posted previous notes on it. Very limited production 66 cases and it sure delivered as a top notch wine. Look for future bottles of this.
Mount Boucherie - Okanagan Winery
This winery wins hands down for best white wines that I tasted this year. I had the 2003 Pinot Gris on two different occasions and both times were spectacular. I have also had the 2002 Gewertz which also was a 90pt wine. What takes the cake as best Canadian white wine I tasted in the past year goes to...
2002 Riesling. This was a very fresh and lush wine, that had everything going for it. Lots and lots of fruit, including pear, peaches and grapefruit. Easily a 92-93pt wine. I wish I had more of this but the winery was on their last case when we visited and we only bought 2 bottles. I look forward to more of their wines in the future.
Other notable winery's:
Sumac Ridge: Their white meritage (%80sav blanc and %20semillion) was very good. As well their 1998 unfiltered merlot was a mid to high 80pt wine.
Grey Monk: produces some very good white wines, inculding a nice unoaked chardonnay and a crisp Gewertz.
Mission Hill: I enjoy their Reserve Chardonnay. Its full and complex wine that they have produced on a consistent basis.
Quails Gate: This could be the next Big Canadian Winery. They are doing all the right things and I think in the next few years will be on top of it.
Many more wines and wineries could be added to this list, but these are the ones that I can remember off the top of my head. I know there is alot of skepticism with regards to Canadian wines but that is a loss for those people who believe all Canadian wines are inferior. All these wines that I listed are available either in stores in Canada or can be found at the wineries for under $20 or even under $15CAN for most of the white wines. The Kettle Valley wine I listed was approx $30CAN if I remember correctly.
Canadian wine prices are still very reasonable as prices around the world increase. I only touched on Okanagan wines but I know that there are very good wines produced in the Niagra region. I am sure our friends in Ontario can enlighten us on those as the selection is limited in our province.
This has been a long post but I will finish it off with this thought. I will be the first to admit that I tasted some very poor Canadian wines over the past year... but... I also tasted some outstanding wines that ranked in the high 80s and even a few were 90+. Most of these wines are in the $12 to $18CAN price range. Canadian wines are making big strides, especially in the white wine varietals, and eventually will be recognized around the world. Just this past year Wine Spectator did a feature on Okanagan wineries as they know the future for Canadian wines is a bright one!