Five Canadian wines that celebrate our diversity: The Wine Find

Toast the country’s 150th birthday in true north style.

By: Carolyn Evans Hammond Published Tues Jun 27 2017 on Star Touch and Sat Jul 1 2017 in The Toronto Star, syndicated

In a world rife with fear, loathing and intolerance, it’s pretty nice to live in Canada don’t you think? Here, we don’t just tolerate difference but support, embrace and celebrate it. It’s a world view that pretty much defines what it means to be Canadian. 

For Canada’s 150th birthday, I’m proud to celebrate diversity by recommending five very different styles of Canadian wine — a robust red from British Columbia, thee gold-medal winning whites from Ontario and an iconic bottle from Nova Scotia. They’re all different and all beautiful.

2016 Nova 7 Benjamin Bridge Sparkling Wine, Nova Scotia (Vintages 256289 $24.95 in stores only) 

Shining the palest shade of salmon, this off-dry blend of Muscat and other indigenous varieties grown along the Bay of Fundy teems with arresting aromas of lychee, poached peach and sweet mango and explosive flavours of sour cherries and pineapple shot through with lemon-squirt acidity. Do as the Maritimers do and pour this characterful fizz with a plate of oysters — their fat, briny goodness offsetting the wine’s sweet, sour sassiness. And with just 6.5 per cent alcohol, you can quaff it in the sun with relative abandon.

Score: 91+

2016 Kacaba Unoaked Chardonnay, VQA Niagara Peninsula, ON (LCBO 326975 $15.95 in stores and online) 

Pronounced aromas of poached yellow plum and juicy apricot lead to intense stone fruit and citric flavours — think apricot and mandarin — scored with electric acidity and a trace of minerality. This sunshine-in-the-glass, bone-dry thriller offers great purity of fruit and a long, orange zest finish. Good value wine in a forward, flavour-drenched style. Pour it with chili and orange chicken for a real treat. 

Gold Medal Winner, 2017 Ontario Wine Awards

Score: 93+

2015 Tawse Quarry Road Vineyard Organic Riesling, VQA Vinemount Ridge, Niagara, ON (Vintages Essential 198853 $24.50 in stores and online) 

Although the nose is quite shy with barely there aromas of bitter lime and white flowers, the palate is vibrant and lively with a brisk rush of mouth-filling lime purée edged with tropical fruit and crushed stones. This is an intense, captivating, sweeter expression Ontario Riesling that finishes clean and dry thanks to its vibrant acidity. Serve it with grilled salmon with a good crank of black pepper.

Gold Medal Winner, 2017 Ontario Wine Awards

Score: 92

2016 Sandbanks Pinot Grigio, VQA Ontario (LCBO 372219 $15.95 in stores and online) 

This Ontario white starts with the delicate scent of fresh pear and sliced lemons before zipping across the palate with full-on flavours of McIntosh apple, chin-drip white peach and lemon pie-filling. There’s a bit of sweetness at the core but it’s balanced by racy, mouth-watering acidity and finishes dry. This fruity, medium-bodied expression of Pinot Grigio with an attractive ruby grapefruit finish makes a great cocktail alternative with a handful of roasted, salted almonds.

Gold Medal Winner, 2017 Ontario Wine Awards

Score: 90

2013 Osoyoos Larose Le Grand Vin, VQA Okanagan Valley, BC (Vintages 626325 $48.95)

From an exceptional vintage, this Bordeaux-style blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, seasoned with Malbec and Petit Verdot, is drinking beautifully now but will certainly improve with proper cellaring. Right now, it exudes aromas and flavours of cassis and black forest fruits (all small berries, ripe and delicious) layered with black licorice, toasted tobacco leaf, black pepper, bitter chocolate and charred plums. I had a bottle of this well-made, tightly wound classic with roasted bison recently and it just sung. 

Score: 93

Carolyn Evans Hammond is a Toronto-based wine writer. She is also a London-trained sommelier and two-time bestselling wine book author. Reach her at carolyn@carolynevanshammond.com