Just in: The top 10 Canadian wines
Renowned authority Jancis Robinson tasted 60 of the country's best. Here are her picks.
JULIA MCKINNELL | Jan 22, 2007
From Bordeaux to Napa, it doesn't get any better in the wine world than to receive the stamp of approval of British wine authority Jancis Robinson. The Washington Post called Robinson's Oxford Companion to Wine "the greatest wine book ever published." Robinson's first encounter with Canadian wines, "assorted whites" from Ontario, was at a tasting in London in 1976: "It must be said, [they were] not very inspiring." Recently, however, Robinson took part in a tasting of 60 of Canada's most outstanding wines from B.C., Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia. Toronto sommelier Zoltan Szabo selected the 60 wines with help in procuring them from Janet Dorozynski, wine promotion coordinator for International Trade Canada. Robinson was so impressed she is devoting her entire Jan. 13 column in Britain's Financial Times to the subject of Canadian wine. In a sneak preview, she agreed to share her top 10 with Maclean's. Detailed tasting notes of these and other wines are available as of Jan. 11 at www.jancisrobinson.com.
10. Vin de Glace Vidal, 2004, an ice wine from Vignoble de l'Orpailleur in Dunham, Que. Robinson tasted the sold-out 2004 vintage of Vin de Glace made from 100 per cent Vidal grapes, characterized by candied fruit flavours of apricot, mango and honey. The wine is priced at $28 a bottle. The 2005 is available.
9. Riesling Icewine, 2004, from Henry of Pelham Family Estate Winery in St. Catharines, Ont. "Stunning," said Szabo. "Rich and viscous and luscious." The 2004 is widely available, priced at $54.95 a bottle.
8. Le Grand Vin, 2004, a red Bordeaux blend from French winemaker Pascal Madevon of Osoyoos Larose, a 25-hectare vineyard near Lake Osoyoos, B.C. "The winemaker is very land-focused," said Szabo. "When you've got good fruit, you make good wine." The blend is primarily Merlot. The 2004 is still available, priced at $40 a bottle.
7. Canadian Oak Cabernet Franc, 2002, from Lailey Vineyard, a nine-hectare "home farm" near Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont. Assistant winemaker Colin Ferguson recalls that 2002 was a "nice, long, hot summer," adding that "our Cab Franc sings to a different note," with distinctive tones of green pepper and tobacco. Lailey is the first vineyard in Canada to age wine in Canadian oak barrels. The 2002 is sold out, but the 2003 is available, sold by the vineyard. The 2004 will be available in the spring, priced at $34.95 a bottle.
6. Riesling, 2005, Tantalus Vineyards near Kelowna, B.C. The 2005, priced at $19.90 a bottle, is almost sold out at the cellar but available in select B.C. restaurants and at Jamie Kennedy Wine Bar in Toronto. The more exclusive Old Vines Riesling, 2005, is being released this month, priced at $24.90 a bottle.
5. Le Clos Jordanne Vineyard Pinot Noir, 2004, from Le Clos Jordanne, Jordan, Ont. The grapes are picked from a single vineyard. The 2004 is available in March 2007, priced at $35 a bottle.
4. Oculus, 2004, a red Bordeaux blend from the Mission Hill Family Estate in the Okanagan Valley, B.C. "A lovely wine with aging potential," said Szabo. The wine, not yet priced, will be released in September.
3. Mystic River Vineyards Gewürztraminer, 2005, from Wild Goose Vineyards, a family-run winery near Okanagan Falls, B.C. "Nice long body, refreshing acidity and lingering finish," said Szabo. The 2005 is sold out, but the 2006 can be bought for $24.94 a bottle in April.
2. White Meritage, 2003, from Sumac Ridge Estate Winery, Summerland, B.C. The 2003 is a Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon blend from the year of the Okanagan fires. Sumac Ridge was under the impression it had sold out of 2003 but found a surprise stockpile, still available and priced at $21.99 a bottle.
1. Syrah, 2002, from Daniel Lenko Estate Winery, Beamsville, Ont. Robinson raves about this wine's "wonderful purity of flavour, ripeness and density of fruit without any excess of alcohol. It also seemed to be a very pure expression of Syrah character and had a lovely texture without resorting to sweetness, high alcohol or excessive oak influence." The 2002 is sold out. The 2004 is available in February 2007 from the vineyard, priced at $49.95 a bottle. Daniel Lenko and Manitoba-born Ilya Senchuk are the winemakers. "I'd love to show it blind to some northern Rhone producers. I'd say it would stand up well to comparison with a top Crozes Hermitage," said Robinson.
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