Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

The Canadian conundrum

Opening markets could benefit producers, drinkers

  • Print

"We can probably just skip Canada."

Standing near the entrance to the Winnipeg Wine Festival public tastings, I overheard this gem from one of the thousands of people pouring through the Winnipeg Convention Centre doors last Friday night. As a Canadian wine booster -- heck, I taste hundreds of 'em a year -- it's discouraging to hear the wine-drinking public dismiss our country's product so outrightly.

As co-theme regions at this year's festival, British Columbia and Ontario wines were poured side by side, in many cases by a winery representative or the actual winemaker. This in and of itself is remarkable -- the two regions rarely work together, each has its own Vintner's Quality Alliance (VQA) regulatory board and marketing organization, and so forth.

One visiting producer emailed me after the fest with some remarkable insight about what the Winnipeg Wine Festival (and the Manitoba market) meant to him. "True to its central position in the country, you have brought Canada's wine producers together," he began. "We mingled and poured wine as one; it was great.

"We have remarkably different industries, different growing conditions, and different provincial market systems.... When federal governments review education grants, etc., they want us to work as one industry. From my limited experience this has been difficult to do because of we have so many differences.

"Yet here we were, displayed and essentially working and marketing as one industry. At after-events, the industry chatter turned to shared problems that, in some cases, we didn't realize we shared. We were able to share notes and compare issues in ways that we (the small producers) don't normally do with each other."

In a way, such a co-hosting could only happen in Winnipeg -- our geographic location between the two provinces means we're neutral ground, and we receive nearly equal (albeit relatively small) amounts of B.C. and Ontario VQA wines. While sales of VQA wines are split almost exactly 50-50 between the two regions, these Canadian wines make up only two per cent of Manitoba Liquor Mart wine sales. By contrast, the cheaper "bottled/blended in Canada" wines -- those made from domestic and imported juices by the country's bigger wineries -- retain a much larger (35 per cent) share of the wine market.

The good news is that Canadian VQA wine is one of the fastest-growing categories at Liquor Marts. Hopefully most of those who passed through the convention centre's doors last weekend learned a thing or two about Canadian wine, and how many world-class whites and reds are made here.

Maybe one day the Canadian wine industry will have a strong, unified means by which Ontario and British Columbia producers can work together to foster the industry, both within our borders and beyond. Would the passing of a private member's bill introduced by Conservative MP Dan Albas to allow for interprovincial shipping of Canadian wine help Canadian producers in general? Possibly; certainly the smaller guys that are fighting for spots on Manitoba shelves. Interprovincial shipping could provide the opportunity for Canadian wine drinkers to taste Canadian wines that might never otherwise make it to their province.

Which just might lead fewer wine lovers in our country to "skip Canada."

 

NOTE: these were wines tried at Winnipeg Wine Festival events. As such, vintages may vary from what you find on the shelf and availability may be sporadic.

 

NIAGARA COLLEGE TEACHING WINERY "DEAN'S LIST" 2009 CHARDONNAY

(St. David's Bench, Ont. -- $28.38, Liquor Marts and beyond)

There's certainly some complexity to the nose of this Ontario reserve Chardonnay: vanilla, spice, peach, ripe apple and caramel aromas deliver ripeness with a dollop of oak. It's full-bodied, rich and soft Chardonnay, with the ripe tropical fruit and red apple notes fleshed out by 11 months' time in oak. Most Niagara Chardonnay I've tasted is lean and racy, which I like, but this fleshier version works for me too. 88/100


BURROWING OWL 2009

CHARDONNAY

(Okanagan Valley, B.C. -- $33.21, Liquor Marts and beyond)

The balance of bright fruit (red apple, peach, lemon) and oak (vanilla, caramel) on the nose is spot-on here. While it's a full-bodied Chardonnay with great depth (thanks in part to nine months in oak), the intensity of fruit stands up here, with peach and pear notes and that lemon component that delivers light acidity. The balance here is notable, and the wine delicious. 90/100

 

HENRY OF PELHAM 2010

BACO NOIR

(Ontario -- $14.95, Liquor Marts and beyond)

I've probably tried every vintage of this Ontario red for the past decade, and this might be the best. Baco Noir can be overly foxy, barnyard-ish and downright unpleasant -- all traits this wine avoids. Instead, raspberry, raisin, plum, black pepper and grapey aromas and flavours come through in harmony on this wine. Many people avoid Baco Noir like the plague -- this vintage of the Henry of Pelham may change their minds. 88

uncorked@mts.net twitter.com/bensigurdson

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 12, 2012 E4

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Étienne Gaboury: Manitoba "shining light" of architecture

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • STDUP ‚Äì Beautiful West End  begins it's summer of bloom with boulevard s, front yards  and even back lane gardens ,  coming alive with flowers , daisies and poppies  dress up a backyard lane on Camden St near Wolseley Ave  KEN GIGLIOTTI  / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS  /  June 26 2012
  • Marc Gallant/Winnipeg Free Press. Local/Standup- BABY BISON. Fort Whyte Centre's newest mother gently nudges her 50 pound, female bull calf awake. Calf born yesterday. 25 now in herd. Four more calfs are expected over the next four weeks. It is the bison's second calf. June 7, 2002.

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Do you think Judy Wasylycia-Leis will greatly benefit from the endorsement by Winnipeg's firefighters?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google