Local focus

Manitoba could take a page from P.E.I.'s book when it comes to promoting provincial product


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While shopping for imported wine in Prince Edward Island proved to be a bit of a rocky affair, I was impressed by the emphasis in Liquor Stores given to locally made products. Liquor Stores have P.E.I. beer, wine and spirits displayed together under the slogan "Good earth, great spirit." How could I not oblige?

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 27/08/2011 (4059 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

While shopping for imported wine in Prince Edward Island proved to be a bit of a rocky affair, I was impressed by the emphasis in Liquor Stores given to locally made products. Liquor Stores have P.E.I. beer, wine and spirits displayed together under the slogan “Good earth, great spirit.” How could I not oblige?

Located in St. Catherines (some 20-ish kilometres southwest of Charlottetown) Matos Winery is the new kid on the block/on the island. Established in 2007 by Jaime and Heather Matos — from Portugal by way of the Niagara Peninsula — its first wines were bottled only two months ago. While the couple weren’t able to get their products into P.E.I. Liquor Stores this vintage (much of their 10 acres of planted grapes were lost to birds, a problem that will be rectified this vintage), all signs point to their products being available province-wide next year.

Courtesy, Tourism Prince Edward cnd-0615-pei2. This Orwell Bay farm is typical of the lovely, tranquil vistas seen throughout Prince Edward Island. With story by Yvonne Jeffery for CanWest travel package. (Photo handout)

Matos currently sells three wines by the bottle: a Chardonnay, a Gamay Noir, and a rosé made from the two grapes. The white and red wines are also available in four-litre bag-in-the-box format, which is handy if you don’t get to this somewhat isolated East Coast winery on a regular basis. Matos also has a plan to construct a distillery on-site and concoct some Portuguese-inspired spirits.

Rossignol Estate Winery produces a wide range of grape- and fruit-based wines in a variety of styles. Proprietor John Rossignol left Ontario over 20 years ago and settled in Little Sands, building what would eventually become his winery near the southernmost part of the island. The vineyards run down the south-facing slope to the Northumberland Strait, which separates Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.

The winery regularly produces around a half-dozen grape-based wines, ranging from light, crisp whites to full-bodied, rich reds. Their fruit wines are typically on the sweeter side, and are made using a variety of fruits: blueberry, strawberry, raspberry, and so forth. Rossignol also makes a maple wine, as well as the Wild Rose Liqueur, a sweet rosehip-based drink.

The Gahan House Brewery opened in Charlottetown in 2001, and has been brewing up a storm ever since. While a wide range of beers is available on tap — both at the pub and at a couple dozen other spots on the island — it was only in 2008 that the pub began bottling two of their beers. Both the Island Red Amber Ale and the Sir John A’s Honey Wheat Ale are available to purchase at P.E.I. Liquor Stores.

In addition to the 500ml bottles and large-format kegs, Gahan House also offers the “Gahan Growler.” It’s a cool-looking 64-ounce format jug of any of their ales available for takeaway from the pub.

It would be nice to see products made in Manitoba promoted to the same extent. With some luck, we might see something along this line in the future. The proposed amendments to the Liquor Control Act include the addition of 10 boutique-type stores that will focus on Canadian-made beer, wine and spirits. Hopefully the bevvies made in our own backyard will be lauded as loudly here as they are in Prince Edward Island.

I’m back in town next week and will have lots to talk about, including judging at the 2011 Canadian Wine Awards in Halifax (which just wrapped up Thursday).

uncorked@mts.net twitter.com/thegrapenut

MATOS WINERY NV ROSÉ (Prince Edward Island — $13.95, taxes included, winery only)

This dry rosé (mainly Gamay Noir with a splash of Chardonnay) offers pretty cherry and raspberry notes on the nose, with a crisp rhubarb component in there as well. It’s crisp and dry, with raspberry and rhubarb notes and a surprising hint of white pepper on the finish. My favourite of their three wines.

ROSSIGNOL ESTATE WINERY 2008 WILD BLUEBERRY (Prince Edward Island — $16.69, taxes included, P.E.I. Liquor Stores and the winery)

I tried three grape-based wines and this fruit wine at Rossignol, and this one seduced me in a way the others didn’t. While the obvious blueberry aromas were there in spades, I also found faint plum, vanilla and perfume notes on the nose. There’s just a splash of sweetness, with gorgeous ripe blueberry flavours accentuated by vanilla and cherry notes.

GAHAN BREWING COMPANY ISLAND RED AMBER ALE (Prince Edward Island — $3.50/500ml, P.E.I. Liquor Stores, Gahan House Pub & Brewery)

Deep, rusty brick in colour, some great toffee, caramel, toasted almond, floral and Tootsie Roll aromas got me pretty darn excited for this ale. It’s a medium-bodied, nutty ale, with the almond and toffee notes offset by a slightly bitter/herbal note that provides focus on the palate.

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