by Craig Pinhey
(unedited version of my column published May 17 in the New Brunswick Telegraph Journal)
Yesterday and today, at Canada House in Trafalgar Square, London, England, some of the world’s most influential wine critics and Sommeliers are experiencing some of Canada’s best wines, from BC, Ontario and Nova Scotia, in an event entitled “REDISCOVER Canadian Wines.” The media and trade tasting event is a result of a partnership between Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada and the Canadian High Commission in London, England.
This is exciting news for Canadian wine. You might argue that we as an industry should first open borders between our own provinces for wine, beer and spirits sales before we worry too much about exporting our best wines to Europe, the USA, or elsewhere, but there is a bigger picture to consider.
The acceptance of our wines – our best wines, yes, but also our everyday wines – is important to our producers. It gives confidence, and encourages investment in further grape planting. Canada is a premium wine producer, and there seem to be more expensive wines on the market every year, yet we Canadians are not making more money, so it may be that export of these will become very important. Canadians can only afford so many over $20 wines. Also, it is good to put out feelers now and create excitement. 2010’s similar Seriously Cool Chardonnay event received great response from the international media in London, and this week’s event should do the same.
Someday, and it is possibly not that far off, Canadian consumers will truly take to our own wines to the extent that people do in other wine countries for their wines, and when this happens we will certainly drink every drop that we can produce, but at the moment export is attractive. This certainly applies to wines like Benjamin Bridge Brut, from Nova Scotia, super premium bubbly that is already competing with top Champagne in terms of taste, but they will need to do this in world markets too, as their production gradually ramps up. It seems counterintuitive, but it may make more sense to sell it to Europeans and Asians instead of provinces west.
The wines for this week’s tasting were selected by a small group of wine journalists several weeks ago. I had the pleasure of representing Atlantic Canada. The Cool Climate Oenology & Viticulture Institute (CCOVI) at Brock University in Ontario hosted the tasting. We blind tasted over 250 submitted wines, narrowing them down to 89 wines. In addition we nominated sparkling wines for submission, so there will be 20 bubblies at the London event, including from three Nova Scotia producers: Benjamin Bridge, Blomidon Estates, and L’Acadie Vineyards. I’m sure they agree that it is a true honour representing our country.
Grape varieties to be showcased as table wines include Pinot Noir, Bordeaux blends or varietals (Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot), Syrah, Gamay Noir, Chardonnay and Riesling.
Although few of these top wines ever make it to the ANBL, we do have wines from several of the producers who are represented in London. For this week I have selected two Wines of the Week, one somewhat premium and another that is under $20.
Wines of the Week
2011 Malivoire Gamay Noir, Ontario $24.99
Malivoire is represented at the London tasting with a Gamay and a single vineyard Chardonnay. We recently received a very small lot of 4 cases at the ABL, and they are all at the Dieppe store. The Gamay is completely unlike the Beaujolais wines people are used to in New Brunswick. It does have the berry fruit, and it is fairly light in body and colour, but it very dry and has good structure from acidity. It is great with charcuterie and cheese.
Pelee Island Reserve Pinot Noir, Ontario, $17.29
Pelee Island has several of their premium wines at the Canada House event. Here at the ANBL we have a fair number of their value offerings, but my favourite is their Reserve Pinot Noir. This is heavier than the average Ontario Pinot Noir, with more oak presence, but it still has the expected cherry notes from Pinot, and decent acidity. Drink with roast chicken or grilled lamb.
Other news and events:
2013 Canadian Brewing Awards
The 2013 Canadian Brewing Awards gala last week announced several medals for our New Brunswick breweries, including four for Moosehead, three for Pump House and 1 for Acadie Broue. Congratulations, all! They also announced the terrific news that next year’s Gala Awards Dinner will be held in Fredericton. Find out more at www.CanadianBrewingAwards.com.
May 24 – June 1: FestiVin De Cariquet
This annual festival is filled with exciting food and wine pairing and wine tasting events. You can find all the relevant information at www.FestiVin.ca. Follow along as I report from FestiVin on my Twitter feed @frogspadca and post photos at www.facebook.com/Craig.Pinhey.FrogsPad. The special guest this year is the Top Sommelier of the Americas and 2nd best in the world for 2013, Canada’s own Veronique Rivest!
June 1: Spain and Portugal Wine Dinner
Join me at The Shadow Lawn Inn in Rothesay for this special wine and food pairing. The details are up here: www.shadowlawninn.com/premium-iberian-wine-pairing-menu.html
Craig Pinhey is a Sommelier and writer. “Like” his Facebook site at www.facebook.com/Craig.Pinhey.FrogsPad or follow him on Twitter as @frogspadca