30 years ago there was not much to choose from in terms of quality Canadian Wine (or cheese for that matter), so we decided to celebrate how far we have come with a tasting of the best Canada has to offer from coast to coast. While the Canadian wine industry is still in its infancy compared to old world producers, that just means we are able to experiment far more in order to find out what works in our various different climates and soil types, which is very exciting! Who knows, one day the Okanagan may be famous for it’s Tempranillo or Gruner Veltliner.
As usual Peasant Cheese supplied all the wonderful cheeses, this time all of them Canadian. Here is what we tasted.
Bella Westbank Gamay
We started off with the Bella Westbank Gamay Noir Ancestral Sparkling wine. Bella is a winery located on the Naramata bench (though the vineyard for this wine is located in Westbank) which produces all traditional method, all organic sparking from exclusively Chardonnay and Gamay Noir grapes. This Rose is all natural and unfiltered Gamay Noir. The notes of rhubarb and tart cranberry worked perfectly with the Brie Paysan. $59.99
Bench 1775 Sauvignon Blanc
Bench 1775’s winery is located on the Naramata Bench just northeast of Penticton BC. They have 3 different vineyard sites, but the Sauvignon Blanc comes from the Naramata properties which have loamy silt soil. The blend is 100% Sauvignon Blanc aged in stainless steel. The style is veering towards New Zealand with notes of Gooseberry, fresh-cut grass, and citrus, which paired nicely with the Lindsey. $27.99
Synchromesh is a family owned and operated winery out of Okanagan falls which almost exclusively produces Riesling. The name “Synchromesh” ties in with the family’s past-time, which is amateur racing. This Riesling is a blend grapes harvested from their Okanagan Falls and Naramata vineyards. While this Riesling is somewhat sweet in term of grams/L of sugar (37), the insanely high acid and low pH balance it out perfectly. The notes of mandarin, poached pear, lemon and apple “meshed” beautifully with the Gavotte. $29.99
Norman Hardie Cab Franc
Norman Hardie trained as a sommelier in Dijon France, but after 7 years there decided to turn is efforts to making the wine himself. He travelled the world working in some of the best wineries for 6 years, before finding the soil he was looking for in Niagara. The cool climate and the calcareous clay-limestone soils were perfect for the old-world style he sought to produce. He uses a minimal intervention strategy with natural fermentation and utilizes all French oak for ageing his wine before bottling. The notes of dark berry’s worked well with the Migneron de Charlevoix. $46.99
Stag’s Hollow Tempranillo
A great forward thinking winery started in 1992 owned by ex-Calgarians Larry and Linda. They have geothermal power for heating and cooling their winery and tanks, a wind turbine circulating air into a frost pocket in their vineyard, and an amazing barrel program. They have started planting all kinds of interesting Spanish varietals, such as this Tempranillo (with 9% Malbec) aged in both French and American oak for 20 months. The notes of cherry, smoke, and pomegranate were perfect with Le 1608 cheese. $36.99
Burrowing Owl Malbec
Burrowing Owl is another forward-thinking winery established in 1998. Powered by solar energy, geothermal heating, underground cellaring, heat exchangers, etc., they even have bluebird and bat boxes to control insects. This Malbec spent 18 months in 90% French oak, 10% American with 53% new oak (which is a lot of new oak!) and 37% neutral. The notes of vanilla, blackberry, and cigar box paired well with the Avonlea Cheddar. $50.99
Two Sisters Estate Red
Owned by the Morotto Sisters, this Niagara winery is one of the few Ontario producers making top-notch full-bodied reds. They manage this through low yields, great sun exposure, and by letting the fruit hang well into autumn. This powerful Cab-Merlot blend is one of the most full-bodied reds I have seen out of Niagara, and it’s notes of spice, chocolate, and tobacco matched beautifully with Le Blachburn. $43.99
Cave Springs Riesling Ice Wine
Built by the Pennachetti Family in 1978, this winery started first and foremost with Riesling. This ice wine was harvested at -7 degrees Celsius and packs a massive punch. The intense notes of frosted flakes in milk, lime and apple totally stood up to the Bleu Benedictin. $73.99
The favourite wine of the evening was the Stag’s Hollow Tempranillo interestingly enough (the most unusual wine of the bunch), and the second favourite was the Norman Hardie Cabernet Franc.
We were able to discover throughout the evening that yes, indeed Canadian wine and cheese has come a very long way, and now can truly be called world class. While we are still in the experimental stage, that is just making things all the more interesting. I hope to see you at our next Canadian tasting!