Canadian wines for all occasions

I was invited for a second time by CJAD host Sharman Yarnell to do a wine-related bit on her Saturday-morging show called Showtime. And since our little chat was to air soon after Canada Day (and Quebec City’s 400th anniversary, by the way), she thought it would be a good idea to take a look at the state of Canadian wines today – and also, at the state of Canadian wine availability in Quebec.

One great question she asked me was if Canadian wines can provide all the styles of wines you would want. I said yes, and after thinking about it, after taping the interview a few days ago, I’m even more convinced.

One of the wines I mentioned from the outset was Osoyoos Larose’s Le Grand Vin, a solid Bordeaux-style blend (merlot, cabernet sauvignon and petit verdot) produced in the Okanagan Valley, whose 2004 vintage sells for just above 40 dollars at SAQ. It’s a great example (more…)

Advertisements

A look at the 2008 Canadian Wine Annual (the good and the bad)

A few days ago, I grabbed a copy of Wine Access magazine’s Canadian Wine Annual for 2008 at my neighborhood news stand. It is a great reference about all that is wine (and fruit wine, and cider, etc.) in Canada, from Newfoundland to British Columbia, and everywhere in between. Some 393 wineries are listed, with coordinates and a short but often very precise and useful description. Really cool and useful stuff, by qualified contributors, including articles on green initiatives in Canadian vineyards and on wine tasting and wine-food matching.

You also get the full listing of results from the 2007 Canadian Wine Awards, a competition chaired by Anthony Gismondi with, I must say, admirable restraint. Gold medals (more…)

On the way up, New Zealand is stopping by

In recent years, New Zealand has certainly been a growing concern on the international wine scene. The sauvignon blancs, of course, and, increasingly, the pinot noirs have been making great headway on world markets. The growth of the industry in general has been simply phenomenal.

Over the last decade, the number of wineries in New Zealand has doubled, the number of hectares under vine has more than tripled (from 7,410 to 25,355 hectares), and the value of exports has been multiplied nearly by ten (from 75.9 million NZ$ to 698.3 million NZ$).

In Canada as elsewhere, the signature sauvignon blanc (more…)

A glimpse at the WineCreators

Little has filtered, as of yet, about what went on at the incredibly ambitious WineCreator meeting that was held in Ronda, in Jérez country, last weekend. Yet a lot of people are surely curious about knowing what the “greatest” minds in winemaking and wine journalism came to discuss during this ” tribute to creativity in a world where the signs of globalisation are becoming increasingly evident”.

Jancis Robinson, a key participant in the meeting, (more…)

Wine gatherings for the rest of us

Just in case, for whatever reason, you can’t make it to Ronda, Andalusia, for the WineCreator extravaganza (see my previous post), here are a couple of places you could head to, over the coming weeks, to discuss wine with professionals and discover what winemakers are up to around the world.

Reading Alder Yarrow’s Vinography blog, I found out that New York City will be host to its very first Wine Expo on March 7 and 8, at the Javitz Convention Center. It’s interesting to think that there wasn’t one, in a city where so many events about wine take place. There’s a number of interesting producers in the list of 170 exhibitors presented on the Wine Expo’s web site, from well-known operations such as Concha y Toro, Banfi, Catena Zapata, Ravenswood, Ridge or Mouton Cadet to smaller producers I had hardly heard about, like Klinker Brick Winery, producer of 110-year-old vine zinfandels, Anne Amie from Oregon’s Willamette Valley. There’s also a Canadian winery I’ve regularly enjoyed over the years, Pelee Island Winery.

Later that month, Montreal will be host to the biennial Salon des vins de Montréal, where some 230 producers will be present, including (more…)

A biodynamic encouter

If you live somewhere around Toronto or Montreal, you’ll be glad to know that February will offer you a chance to meet dozens of biodynamic producers from all over the world, as they come to town for a big tasting featuring 120 wines or more. The vignerons are from the Renaissance des Appellations association, headed by Nicolas Joly of La Coulée de Serrant, in the Loire Region, one of the foremost advocates of biodynamic winemaking. Zind-Humbrecht and Domaine Cazes, Ostertag, Chapoutier, Alvaro Palacios, Alvaro Espinoza, the Fetzers and the Benzingers are also among the many notable names in the association.

The Toronto meeting is taking place on February 9, in the Distillery District (South of Front Street and East of Parliament Street, if I have my bearings correctly). Details can be found here, and tickets can be bought through here.

The Montreal event is taking place on February 11, at the Institut de tourisme et d’hôtellerie du Québec, and is organized by Slow Food Québec. Details can be found here.

Live elsewhere? Later in the year, Renaissance des Appellations will hold similar tastings in Verona, Sao Paulo, Stockholm and Dublin. If I could, I’d probably go to all of them. And if anybody goes, I’d love to get your impressions.

Mas Collet 2004, Montsant, Celler Capçanes

Among the lesser-known wine-growing regions of Spain, Montsant seems like a potential treasure trove of solid, yet not too expensive wines, often coming from undervalued old vines. Its soil has similarities with next door Priorat (unproductive soils on slate, also common in Bierzo), and so does the varietal selection, but there is certainly nothing in common with the stratospheric prices of Priorat wines.

Which is what makes Mas Collet 2004, a well-integrated combination of (more…)

Pulling back just a touch – take two

The LA Times story about Adam Tolmach, from Ojai Vineyards, saying that he would reduce the alcohol content in his wines to move away from the world of Parkerized wines, which I had mentioned in my previous post, has been gathering a fair bit of steam. The original story was picked up by many on the blogosphere and in the media, including Decanter and The Telegraph in the United Kingdom, often with a sort of glee from people who obviously think that the higher-alcohol trend is just plain wrong.

Yet the shocker comes from Eric Asimov, of the New York Times, who found the characterization of Ojai vineyards’ wines as “over the top” rather strange, since he (and others, like Allen Meadows of Burghound, who is a harsh critic of high-alcohol wines) tends to find Tolmach’s wines rather balanced and elegant. Asimov called Tolmach, who told him he was misquoted, and that his reference to his own, over the top wines pointed to a particular series of pinots he produced from 1992 to 2001.

Still, even though he disagrees with the particulars of the article (more…)

A North American Harvest

Wines & Vines magazine is a very thorough and interesting professional source of information about the wine world, especially about the North American wine industry. That is quite clear when you look at the details of their 2007 harvest report on just about every single wine producing region in the US and Canada. From the November 2006 frosts in British Columbia and Spring 2007 frosts in much of the Central US, to the higher than average mealybug infestations in Sonoma County, or to the growth in the number of wineries in the Clarksburg AVA, it’s all in there.

One thing to note is how many regions were affected by drought, which reduced yields (but generally provided high quality, healthy grapes). Irrigation was often limited because of reduced availability of water – which may not all be bad news, quality-wise. Dry farming estates may simply be more realistic than other producers, in the long run.

A vineyard in winter

I’ve been exchanging e-mails with Tom Lubbe at Matassa, this fall, and it has only reminded me of how much work there is to do in a vineyard after harvest is done, and after the wines have been laid to rest in the barrels, to mature over winter through secondary fermentation and all.

In late October, it is time to spray the vineyards with preparation 500, the most important biodynamic treatment, seen as essential in (more…)