Monday, October 09, 2006

Is Canada More Than Just Ice Wine?

I was out to dinner fairly recently with a Brit friend who has been living in Canada and getting ready to move back to the U.S. As the conversation moved to wine he mentioned that he was very impressed with Canadian wine to which I replied, “ice wine, right, good stuff.” He rolled his eyes at me and explained that he meant dry wines wines from British Columbia in fact. Then it was me who was rolling my eyes. Who had ever heard of a good dry wine from our neighbor up north?

It is very difficult, if not impossible, to find Canadian wines for sale here in the U.S. aside from the occasional ice wine. Having never tried a dry Canadian wine, I did some research and found that most of the dry wines are consumed by Canadians themselves. There has not been a big marketing push here, although there is a small U.S. market in the Border States. According to various reports, Canada’s wine industry is on the rise and a lot of experimentation is taking place to see what will grow best and which grapes will eventually dominate.

Perhaps the problem is one of perception versus reality. When most of us think of Canada we think of ice hockey, the Mackenzie brothers, frigid weather and long winters. Ice wine seems a natural fit but varietals that we know to grow in sunny locations such as Napa Valley seem far from realistic. In truth, both Ontario and British Columbia are protected by water masses that help to moderate the cold winters. The Okanagan Valley in British Columbia has a distinctly mild microclimate particularly well suited to growing grapes. Apparently Bordeaux varietals are thriving in Okanagan Valley, particularly the “right bank” varietals Merlot and Cabernet Franc.

I am in no way predicting that this is going to be the “next big thing” but my interest is peaked. This is exactly the reason I find wine so fascinating there is always something new and exciting around the corner. So, do me a favor. If you see a dry Canadian wine on your retail shelf, pick it up and give it a try. I’ll do the same. Who knows, we might like it, aye?!

No comments:

Post a Comment