Maple Leaf Madness: Canadian Wines Continue Their Ascent

 


The Great White North is home to great ice wines, true. But that observation is lagging behind the times as Canada's wine industry is flexing is sipper sinew and producing wines of many varietals which are catching the attention of international critics. 
 
This past Friday, the Montreal Gazette featured a story by contributor Bill Zacharkiw, a wine specialist who lauded the “great strides” the country's wine industry has taken over the past few  years. 
 
His story began with his experiences at the recent National Wine Awards of Canada (NWAC), where he and his fellow judges rated more than 1,400 Canadian wines. 
 
“I am happy to report that the level of quality of not only the top wines, but more important, the mid-priced wines has never been better,” he said. 
 
Zacharkiw commenced with an overview of Canada's varietals, starting with the country's duality of Gamay and Pinot Noir. 
 
Many of Canada's “best planting spots” have been inundated with Pinot grapes because, in simple terms, that's what the people around the world. The delicate red has captured the conscience of imbibers around the world ever since Paul Giamatti praised its fickle personality in Alexander Payne's classic film, Sideways. 
 
Yet Gamay Noir is poised to become an influential wine in Canada if growers are willing to pass on Pinot and embrace the grape that made Beaujolais famous. Three Gamays won platinum at the NWAC and all of them sell for under $20. 
His next foray? Canada's Rieslings, which he said “have never been better.”
 
Canada's Rieslings are crafted with a nod toward the German winemakers: enough sugar to balance out the wine's acidity, as well as low alcohol levels. Zacharkiw  acknowledged that the country's Rieslings can't compete with the world's best Rieslings, but he did say Canada's spin on the sweet white may offer the world's best mid-priced quaffers. 
 
Rounding out the reporter's list were Syrah and Chardonnay. The hearty red wine is experiencing growing pains, but if the right soil can be found, British Columbia's Okanagan Valley could be home to some formidable reds. 
 
Chardonnay, on the other hand, is faring a bit better. Two Prince Edward County Chards won platinum at the NWAC for their “tightness” and quality. Big-bodied whites from Niagara didn't garner any hardware at the competition, but their more amiable personality could lead to good things for the southern region. 
 
Photo Credit: Pixabay

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