Canadian wine at the Vancouver winefest: star whites from Ontario


Canadian wine at the Vancouver winefest: star whites from Ontario


I’m currently in Vancouver at the Vancouver International Wine Festival. Apparently, this is North America’s longest running and largest wine festival. So far it has been really interesting. Each year there is a theme country, and because it is Canada’s 150th anniversary, Canada is the theme. So I’ll be writing up my Canadian wine experiences, beginning with this session on Ontario’s white wines, which was led by Christopher Waters, and I was sitting on the panel.

The modern era of Ontario wine began in 1974 when Inniskillin got the first winery licence to be awarded since 1916 (for more on the history of Ontario wine, there’s a nice timeline (here). Now there are 165 wineries in the province, with 17000 acres of vines (9000 hectares), of which the majority are in the Niagara region.

The two varieties featured here are Riesling (18% of production), and Chardonnay (14% of production). Both do very well here, and these wines impressed.

Château des Charmes Old Vines Riesling 2014 Niagara on The Lake, Canada
There’s some richness here with honey, ripe apple and pears, alongside some stony mineral citrus fruit. There’s a long, lemony finish to the pretty fruit. Fruity and generous, showing a touch of sweetness but also finishing quite dry. 91/100

Thirty Bench Small Lot Steel Post Riesling 2014 Beamsville Bench, Niagara, Canada
Very intense and limey with real density and high acidity. Quite powerful with a grapefruit pith bitterness and just a hint of petrol character. Dry with high acidity, this is a really distinctive Riesling. 90/100

Charles Baker Riesling 2013 Niagara Peninsula, Niagara, Canada
From the Picone vineyard. Very fruity and supple with open lemony fruit and a hint of marmalade tang. Citrussy and fine with nice depth to the fruit. Some honeyed richness and just a hint of nuttiness. Lovely balance here. 91/100

Tawse Winery Quarry Road Riesling 2015 Vinemount Ridge, Niagara, Canada
Intense and powerful with lovely texture to the lively citrus fruits and a subtle stony, nutty edge. Lovely acidity here keeps things together with a lovely lemon and grapefruit character. Nice intensity. 92/100

Flat Rock Cellars Nadjas Vineyard Riesling 2015 Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara, Canada
Lovely generous fruit here. There’s a bit of sweetness here with nice balance and lovely limey purity. There’s a delicious lemony zing hemming in the generous, sweet fruit. A lovely wine. 93/100

Norman Hardie Winery County Chardonnay 2013 Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada
There’s a bit of bread and toast on the nose, but the core to this wine is lovely citrus fruit with really fine acidity. The acidity is just so beautifully integrated into the lemon and grapefruit characters. So fine. 94/100

Rosehall Run JCR Chardonnay 2014 Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada
Herbs, ripe apples and lemons here with a lovely acid core. Tangy with some subtle herby characters as well as a bit of pithy character. Lovely weight and focus to this wine, which finishes with nuts and lemons. 92/100

Trius Winery Showcase Wild Ferment Chardonnay 2014 Lincoln Lakeshore, Niagara, Canada
Stony and lemony with nice precision. There’s a lovely citrus and white peach character here. Delicate and fine with nice weight and balance. 92/100

Flat Rock Cellars Rusty Shed Chardonnay 2013 Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara, Canada
A rich style with lovely toast and spice notes as well as rich pear and peach fruit. There’s an appealing spicy citrus character that adds a foil to the rich, sweet, broad fruit. Very stylish. 93/100

Domaine Queylus Tradition Chardonnay 2013 Niagara Peninsula, Niagara, Canada
Very fine and linear with lemon and pear fruit. Taut and compact with lovely lemony focus and great concentration. Real finesse here with lovely fruit character. 92/100

Hidden Bench Estate Winery Estate Chardonnay 2014 Beamsville Bench, Niagara, Canada
Fresh and precise with nice lemony fruit. Some pears, nuts and anise, with very well integrated oak. Stylish and lemony with lovely purity. There’s a lovely focus to this wine. 93/100

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