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…)

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Canadians Love Wine More

While beer remains the alcoholic drink of choice of Canadians, wine has been gaining consistently over the last ten years, according to the latest figures from Statistic Canada. Between 1997 and 2007, the market share for beer has gone down from 52% to 47%, while wine increased its share from 21% to 28% (spirits went down slightly, from 27% to 25%, over the same period).

The trend seems to be accelerating, too. Between 2006 and 2007, the value of wine sold in Canada increased by 9.5%, while volumes vent up 7.1%. So Canadians are drinking more wine (61% red), and apparently spending a little more per bottle to get some good stuff.

In terms of per capita consumption, (more…)

Another Kind of French Paradox

I’ve been pondering on two separate, yet related bits of news about the world of French wine.

1. The French Government wants to make French wine simpler.

Trying to compete on international markets with New World chardonnays and cabernet sauvignons, France is creating a simpler category of plonk made without any geographical obligation. Called “Vignobles de France”, the category will allow varietals to be placed front and center on the labels, and allow winemaking practices like oak chips and added tannins. Also, it will be possible to make them with a varietal that is planted outside of its traditional region (you want to make a gewurztraminer in Pauillac? It’ll be a Vignobles de France). And you’ll even be allowed to mix wine from different regions.

Clearly, this is a wine industry decision, not unlike (more…)

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…)

Wine on the air: time for the barbecue

Last week, I got an invitation from Sharman Yarnell, host of Showtime, a Saturday morning show on Montreal station CJAD, to talk about summer wines and, more specifically good wines for the barbecue. Sharman was charming and fun to work with, and I certainly hope to do it again some time. I have to say it’s always nice, when you’re blogging, to reach towards other media. And I’ve always loved doing radio.

I put together a list of accessible wines that could come in handy for the grilling season (more…)

Grab a glass, a computer and… vote

Got a favorite wine blog? There’s so many of those (enough to have caused the emergence of a loose wine-blogging community), that you favorite might be a gem known only to a few hundred readers worldwide.

Then again, maybe your favorite is one of the major pages on the scene. And maybe it’s a finalist in the 2008 American Wine Blog Awards, created by Tom Wark, a wine-sector public relations specialist who also runs the Fermentation Daily Wine Blog. I’m not 100 percent sure how the finalists were selected (the blog entry says that the identity of the judges who made the selection will be revealed after the vote), but what is clear is that it’s your chance to vote, which you can do from the Fermentation blog.

The polls, so to speak, are open until March 28, at Midnight (not clear if that is Eastern or Pacific Time, so do it early).

I think the awards are a great idea, and a reflection of the growth and increased respectability of wine blogs in the wine world. If I may make a suggestion, though: why not call them the North American Wine Blog Awards, which would be inclusive of those of us who write about wine from the Great White North (which is not a euphemism, with the 17 feet of snow accumulated over this winter in my hometown of Quebec City). And if the trend in wine blogging keeps up, we’ll be voting in the World Wine Blog Awards in less time than it takes to say “malolactic fermentation”.

Published in: on March 23, 2008 at 5:35 pm  Comments (1)  
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An ice cider extravaganza

I just learned this afternoon that Rougemont, Quebec’s apple capital, is hosting the very first Mondial des cidres de glace (the World ice cider gathering, more or less) this very weekend. Interesting that it is called a “Mondial”, since ice cider production is essentially limited to Quebec itself. Mind you, this apple equivalent of ice wine is indeed a great gift of Quebec to the world. A really great invention, with all sorts of nuances that can be discovered and compared particularly well during the event.

Some 17 producers are taking part, and a whole bunch of cheesemakers as well. A match made in heaven, and showcased in part outside in the cold that allows Quebec to be the world capital of that winter-wrought beverage. Indeed, the producers will be showcasing their ciders on bars built out of ice – but don’t worry, you can go inside to warm up whenever you want.

Published in: on February 16, 2008 at 1:31 am  Leave a Comment  
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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.

Diving in

Welcome to The Wine Case, a blog about the wonders and oddities of the wine world. Everything from the high-scoring big bottles from Wine Spectator to the subtleties and sometimes voodoo-like qualities of biodynamic wines, as well as trade news and some tasting notes.

The Case is written from a Quebec/Canadian point of view – ’cause that’s where this blogger’s from. But as I’ve travelled around, bought and tasted wine in a lot of regions and tried to read up about just about every bit of the wine world, I hope it will have a wide-ranging perspective that will allow wine lovers from all over the world to join in.

So cheers, everyone, and until the next cork pops, untainted.

Published in: on July 10, 2007 at 9:53 pm  Comments (1)