Once a month or so, I have the opportunity to go on CBC Radio across Canada and talk about wine on the morning weekend shows.
This past week, I talked about wines for the holidays in BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ottawa, Montreal and Newfoundland.
It’s a ton of fun, but I realize the shows go quite quickly, and listeners may not have a chance to write down the names of every wine I spoke about, so I figured I’d follow up with a quick writeup of a few of the Canadian wines we discussed.
First of all, if you’re pairing wine with turkey, almost any wine will work. If you like it, then just enjoy it and don’t worry about what the wine snobs say. I have family that only wants to drink Shiraz with their turkey. Others swear by semi-dry Rieslings. Me, I love a Gamey. (France’s famous Beaujolais wines are made with the Gamay grape.)
One of my favourite wines is the Blue Mountain Vineyard Gamay. Blue Mountain is a family-owned winery in the Okanagan Valley; the family’s Gamay costs 25 bucks or less in BC and Alberta, and it’s a real charmer. It has also made all three editions of my book. That’s how much I love it. Current vintage: 2012, but I wouldn’t give away the 2011. Or the 2010. Or the 2009.
I’m also crazy about the wines from JoieFarm in the Okanagan in British Columbia, Canada. The reds include a Reserve Pinot Noir — it’s has lots of classic, earthy, cherry notes. And the PTG is a 50-50 blend of both Gamay and Pinot Noir.
I recently tried a Chardonnay from Painted Rock in the Okanagan, also in the BC and Alberta markets. It spends a little time in oak, and it has some very pleasant tropical fruit notes. A bottle will set you back about $30.
And there’s a lot of buzz around the Pinot-Gris-Viognier blend from Tyler Harlton. Harlton grew up in Saskatchewan, but he moved to Montreal and became a sommelier. Now he’s making wines in Summerland. This beautiful white blend goes with almost everything – turkey, salmon, salad, you name it. It’s about $35 a bottle. (Stay tuned for more on Tyler Harlton. He’s in Calgary this week and I’m hoping to catch up with him for a visit and tasting.)
Another very versatile wine that’s listed in Alberta, Saskatchewan and the Yukon is the Gray Monk Latitude 50 White. It goes with everything, and tastes delicious. It’s about $20 or so.
Head across the country to Ontario, and I figure anything by Thomas Bachelder is a good bet with turkey this Christmas. He’s Canadian, working in Niagara, but he’s also making fantastic chardonnay in Oregon and Burgundy, too. He describes himself as a wine gypsy, because he never imagined he’d be making wine in so many regions.
Then there are the bubbles! Drink local with a bottle of Backyard Vineyard‘s sparkling Blanc de Noirs brut. Made in the traditional method (the way that Champagne is made) it has notes of citrus, apple and spice. It’s well-balanced and very food-friendly.
Or find the fabulous Fizziotherapy from Therapy Vineyards, also in the Okanagan. I know I’m not the only one who could use a little Therapy — or a lot — during the holiday season. There’s a Blanc and a rosé, so you can serve one with brunch (the rosé, maybe) and one with dinner.
We didn’t have time to talk about dessert wines. But if I had, well, I know I’d talk about Canada’s legendary icewines, late harvest and sweet wines. Tucked in a corner of our cellar are a couple bottles of Optima from Quails’ Gate. With notes of orange peel and honey, this late-harvest wine is made in the style of France’s famous Sauternes. It’s the perfect ending to a wonderful holiday meal.