FOOD AND DRINK
Bottle Shop: 5 of the Best Ontario Wines to Take Home
These delicious and characteristic wines are made with Riesling, Baco Noir and other grapes that thrive in Ontario's unpredictable climate
It has never been a better time to experience the oenological pleasures of Ontario. Light, nuanced and ripping with acidity, the juice from here often has more in common with the Old World than much of the rest of the New, thanks to a relatively cool climate. Here are five bottles that represent what the province does best (prices are from Ontario, and links lead to LCBO product listing)
Tawse Sketches of Niagara Riesling 2015
Of all the old-school European grapes, Riesling has taken to life in Canada the best, especially along Niagara’s Beamsville Bench. This is the entry-level Riesling from Tawse, but it tastes anything but: The current vintage is flat-out spectacular. Expect aromas of apples and petrol, zesty lime flavours, and a lip-smacking finish. It’s off dry, but the sweet-sour tension practically makes the glass hum. Pour with smoked salmon, baked ham or Chinese take-out.
Cave Spring Estate Bottled Chardonnay Musqué 2014
Cave Spring is one of a handful of Niagara producers that makes this unique, aromatic clone of Chardonnay. Musqué means “Muscat-like”, and the fragrant nose of ripe pears, yellow apples and flowers lives up to the name. Dry and medium-bodied with some pithy grapefruit on the finish, it struts like a Chard wearing a rakish hat and expensive cologne. Try with miso cod, a mild chicken curry or aged gouda.
Château des Charmes St. David’s Vineyard Gamay Noir Droit 2015
Droit is a one-of-a-kind clone of Gamay Noir (the workhorse red of Beaujolais) discovered, propagated and cultivated by Paul Bosc at Château des Charmes in the 1980s. With older vines and experienced winemaking, it has evolved into one of the best Gamays in Canada. In the same class as Cru Beaujolais, it offers red berry aromas, zesty acidity and a peppery finish. Lightly chill, and serve with mushrooms on toast, baked trout or roast chicken.
Huff Reserve Pinot Noir 2014
Two hours east of Toronto, Prince Edward County is a relative newcomer to the world of grape-based libations – it became Designated Viticultural Area (DVA) in 2007. Its cool climate and limestone-rich soils have drawn comparisons to Burgundy, and bottles like this polished Pinot from Huff Estates prove why. It’s light, floral, elegant and a pure delight to drink. It’s not cheap, but neither is Burgundy. Pour with lentil salad, coq au vin, or rare beef tenderloin.
Henry of Pelham Baco Noir 2015
Baco Noir is an early ripening, winter-hearty grape hybrid that thrives in Ontario. An early proponent of this unique wine, Henry of Pelham in Niagara has made it an affordable, signature red. This bottle is textbook Baco: it’s medium bodied with liquorice on the nose, juicy blackberry flavours, and a hint of roasted beet on the finish. The acids may be a bit sharp for the average palate, but 30 minutes in the fridge will help. Open with meatloaf, pepperoni pizza or mushroom risotto.