Oh Canada! Wines

by Mary Bailey

What to drink this summer?

Look no further than these new Canadian releases.

Tinhorn Creek Cabernet Franc

Tinhorn Creek Cabernet Franc

Tinhorn Creek 2012 Cabernet Franc
(Okanagan Valley VQA, British Columbia) $25

Sandra Oldfield at Tinhorn Creek is a long-time champion of Cabernet Franc in the valley; let’s just say that Tinhorn was making Cab Franc long before it was cool to do so. Their commitment pays off in both the Oldfield Series and its little brother, the 2012—full-bodied, possessing aromas and flavours of red currant and herbs along with a good whack of silky tannins and balanced acidity, just the thing for steak on the grill.

Norman Hardie County Pinot Noir

Norman Hardie County Pinot Noir

Norman Hardie 2013 County Pinot Noir
(Prince Edward County VQA, Ontario) $39

Norman Hardie spent several years making wine in Burgundy, Oregon and South Africa before coming to Prince Edward County, a spit of land east of Toronto near Belleville better known for apples and beaches than wine growing. (Sound familar?) Hardie found impeccable seams of limestone where he now makes astonishing wines—vivid expressions of terroir and winemaking with a light touch. If you love Pinot yet haven’t experienced Norm Hardie, it’ll rock your world. The 2013: gorgeously balanced sappy red fruit with juicy acidity vibrating with a glorious tension. Drink now with druck breast, or cellar.

Le Vieux Pin Equinox Syrah

Le Vieux Pin Equinox Syrah

Le Vieux Pin 2011 Equinox Syrah
(Okanagan Valley VQA, British Columbia) $90

Top of the line Equinox wines from Severine Pinte in the south Okanagan include this dusky Syrah, a powerful and elegant beauty with layers of vibrant peppery blackberry flavours. For something more in line for everyday drinking try the Petit Rouge, mostly Merlot or the Petit Blanc, an aromatic white blend, $20ish.

Summerhill Merlot

Summerhill Merlot

Summerhill 2012 Merlot
(Okanagan Valley VQA, British Columbia) $23

Wine maker Eric von Krosigk founded Summerhill Estate Winery with the Cipes family, left to do other things, then came back in 2006 to help the winery gain certified organic status. This Merlot, made from transitional grapes not yet certified organic, is a treat. It charms with its simplicity, nice clean fruit not junked up with tons of wood or technique. The price makes a glass completely guilt free.

Culmina R&D Red Blend

Culmina R&D Red Blend

Culmina 2013 R&D Red Blend
(Okanagan Valley VQA, British Columbia) $32

Drink this delicious Merlot-dominated blend this summer while you are waiting for your Culmina Hypothesis to take on some deserved cellar time. With loads of ripe cherry, blackcurrant and mocha notes in the aromas and flavours, R&D is approachable, yet serious enough to have with dinner. The R&D refers both to the vineyard philosophy at Culmina and the image on the label—twins Ronald and Donald Triggs, age 11, on the farm in Manitoba.

50th Parallel Pinot Noir

50th Parallel Pinot Noir

50th Parallel 2013 Pinot Noir
(Okanagan Valley VQA, British Columbia) $40

Grant Stanley is an accomplished winemaker and pinophile, and it’s been exciting to watch his new young winery north of Kelowna develop. The 2013 delivers the contradiction we love from Pinot Noir—lightness yet depth, taut structure yet rich flavour. Expect some lively berry fruit along with some spicy clean-dirt notes and a crisp texture. Love this with pork roast lavished with fresh thyme and rosemary.

Cedar Creek Desert Ridge Mertage

Cedar Creek Desert Ridge Mertage

Cedar Creek Platinum 2012 Desert Ridge Meritage
(Okanagan Valley VQA, British Columbia) $40

“The vineyard is about 20 years old, “says winemaker Darryl Brooker. “Most of the south Okanagan is sand—you get really fruity wines from the sand. This is a narrow strip of old river rock, hand-sized round stones. It’s really distinct. The roots go very deep on that rock.“This is the first vintage entirely from Desert Ridge, we had used the grapes in other wines up until now, but Platinum is what I really wanted to do. The blend will depend on the vintage, 2012 was a cooler year—it’s mostly Merlot. The 2014 I expect will have more Cab Sauv.”

Meritage denotes a wine made from the classic Bordeaux varieties. The 2012 is 54 per cent Merlot, 37 per cent Cabernet Sauvignon, with Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot completing the blend. The wine has incredible structure and depth, reined- in, a bit restrained at this time. Drink with your best grilled beef.

“This vineyard creates rich big reds that are amazing at five years old, but could cellar for 10 years, easy,” says Darryl. “The stone doesn’t lend itself to opulence; the 2012 will reward the patient.”

Little Farm Riesling

Little Farm Riesling

Little Farm 2013 Riesling
(Similkameem Valley, British Columbia) $43

Climbing over the Richter Pass from the Okanagan to the Similkameem is a little like entering another world. How different the valleys are, the Okanagan wide and pastoral, the Similkameem tight and brooding—the wind howls down the valley and the sun sets early behind the forbidding Cascades. Often with wine, it’s these improbable spots that deliver the most amazing quality.Rhys Pender and Alishan Driediger started planting their Mulberry Tree vineyard near Cawston in 2009, joining Similkameem wine pioneers Orofino and the Herders. The land was less expensive than Okanagan parcels and the soil possessed an unusually high proportion of calcium carbonate (broken-down limestone). Grapes love that. I visited Little Farm after their first vintage, tasting the Riesling from barrel; I think the total output was 300 bottles. The current release builds on the promise of that first effort, revealing a delicious wine—bone-dry, textured, multi-layered, tasting of rock and citrus and honey, catnip for lovers of fine Riesling. Have with lovely cheeses or grilled halibut.

Norman Hardie County Chardonnay

Norman Hardie County Chardonnay

Norman Hardie 2013 County Chardonnay
(Prince Edward County VQA, Ontario) $38

Norman Hardie is equally adept at making chardonnay. His bottlings will turn heads, especially for those who had given up on the grape, having tasted too many wines masquerading as butterscotch sundaes. Hardie’s 2013 reverberates with juicy minerality, delicate (but not a lightweight) with lots of nuance in the citrusy, slightly saline, briochy flavours. Unfined and unfiltered, drink now with glorious seafood, or put away for a few years.

Tinhorn Creek Gewurztraminer

Tinhorn Creek Gewurztraminer

Tinhorn Creek Gewurztraminer
(Okanagan Valley VQA, British Columbia) $20

This is the ultimate fridge door wine, the wine you need to have on hand all the time, for unexpected guests, to have a glass while cooking, or just because. The style is dryish, with inviting muskiness and hints of lychee and ginger. Always refreshing, never cloying, as suitable with grilled chicken as it is with a sesame kale salad.

Gray Monk Pinot Auxerrois

Gray Monk Pinot Auxerrois

Gray Monk 2013 Pinot Auxerrois
(Okanagan Valley, VQA British Columbia) $20

Gray Monk brought Pinot Auxerrois vines to BC from the Alsace in the 1970s, creating in the process a demand for what is now thought of as one of the Okanagan’s signature cool climate grapes. Love the lime, yellow peach and tangy rhubarb flavours in this lively wine. Pour as an aperitif or have with a goat cheese salad.

Henry of Pelham Riesling

Henry of Pelham Riesling

Henry of Pelham 2013 Riesling
(Niagara Peninsula VQA, Ontario) $20

Enjoy this lovely bottling of Niagara Riesling, fruity and floral, (think tangerine citrus and roses) with some sweetness balanced by refreshing acidity, mouth-watering in the best possible way.Henry of Pelham was one of the first Ontario wineries to pull out their Concord and Niagara grapes taking a chance on Riesling and
Chardonnay. The three brothers, Matthew, Daniel and Paul continue to make characterful wines on the Short Hills Bench. Drink with Thai pork dishes.

Benjamin Bridge Nova 7

Benjamin Bridge Nova 7

Benjamin Bridge 2014 Nova 7
(Nova Scotia VQA) $26

Winemaker Jean-Benoit Deslauriers creates fine wines in the Gaspereau Valley near the Bay of Fundy, which we Albertans are finally getting to experience. The Nova 7 will become your quintessential summer brunch wine. This softly sparkling, mostly Muscat blend is a pale coral colour, with aromas of orange blossoms and roses and bright flavours of star fruit and warm citrus, slightly sweet yet balanced and refreshing.

Find these wines at Aligra Wines & Spirits, Bin 104, Color de Vino, Crestwood Wines, Hick’s Fine Wines, Unwined Wines and Spirits and other fine wine shops. Not all wines at every store. All prices are approximate.