Wine writer, Natalie MacLean, hosted The Great Canadian Wine Match recently asking for nominations and votes for the best Canadian wines to pair with Chicken, Beef, Pizza, Cheese, Seafood, and Dessert. The results are now in.
I heard about the contest soon after I got back from a wine tour in Nova Scotia and was delighted to see that many of the wineries I’d visited among those nominated. Sometimes I think no one west of New Brunswick has heard of Nova Scotia wines. However NS wine lovers came out of the wood work from across the country and kept most of them in the running.
I also write about Prince Edward County, Ontario wines as well so my loyalties were sorely divided. Surprisingly some of my favourite wines from both NS and PEC are in the top three and in my wine cellar.
Best wine to pair with chicken was Le Clos Jardanne Le Grand Clos Chardonnay in Niagara and second place was Gray Monk Ehrenfelser from BC. Prince Edward County’s Casa Dea Pinot Gris Reserve came third. I tried this Pinot Gris during Wassail last year and was so impressed I’ve bought it several times since. See my Wassail Blog
Luckett Vineyard’s Phone Box Red won first place for best wine with beef. The thing about Luckett is that you are buying so much more than the wine. You are buying that magnificent view of the Minas Basin, you are buying the personality of Pete Luckett as well the skills of winemaker Mike Mainguy and lastly you are buying a memory of a phone call from that signature vineyard phone box to anywhere in North America. That’s a lot of wonderful things in a glass.
Second place went to Black Prince Cabernet Franc of Prince Edward County. This is the first wine I ever bought in the County. It is aged in Canadian oak and made by County barrel makers Carriage House Cooperage (see column) and is fruit forward with a fistful of flavour. Third place went to Smoke and Gamble Cabernet Merlot of Port Dover, Niagara.
Norman Hardie‘s County Unfiltered Pinot Noir took first in the pizza pairing. Norm sells great gourmet pizzas at his winery. Somehow to me it seemed all wrong. Norm’s wines are far too good and too expensive to waste on pizza. For a while another front runner had been Blomidon Estates Baco Noir of Nova Scotia which has a great pizza wine. If they hadn’t sold out of it months ago maybe there would have been more votes. Note to winemaker, Simon Rafuse, double the quantity of Baco Noir next year.
Smoke and Gamble’s Cabernet Merlot of Niagara took second and Laughing Stock Vineyards Syrah from the Okanagan took third.
For Cheese pairing Quail’s Gate Winery Optima totally Botrytis Affected from the Okanagan came first. When you understand that botrytis is a mould that causes ‘noble rot’ on the grapes it seems like it would be a good pairing with blue cheeses. Second place went to Prince Edward County’s Marqueza Port from Harwood Estates which I can vouch for as absolutely delish especially served in dark chocolate cups (see blog). Third place went to 30 Bench Wine Makers Riesling from Niagara
Another Nova Scotia wine, Grand Pré l’Acadie Blanc,Vintner’s Reserve took first place in the pairing with seafood. Gaspereau Vineyards Muscat had been short listed for awhile as well. I’d had both with seafood when I was in Nova Scotia and they are perfect seafood wines. Keint-he Chardonnay from Prince Edward County came second. This was nice to see. The emphasis from this winery has been on Pinot Noir in the past, their small quantity of chardonnay has always been sold out when I’ve visited. Recline Ridge Shuswap Serenade of the Okanagan came third.
For dessert wines, Pipe a port like wine from Sumac Ridge Estate Winery in the Okanagan came first. Huff Estates of Prince Edward County took second with its Zero de Gris a late harvest Frontenac Gris that is everything you want in an icewine without being as overpowering in sweetness. Jost Vineyards of Nova Scotia took third with its Vidal Icewine.
Nova Scotia produces the best icewine in Canada in my opinion because of its acidic soil. In other parts of Canada icewine can taste like fermented honey, in Nova Scotia, it’s far more complex in flavour with layers of fruit like apricot, kiwi, pineapple and peach. My cousin, a sommelier from the UK, smuggled home several bottles of Jost Icewine wrapped in his socks after a trip to Canada a few years ago. See my column on NS icewine.
I haven’t commented on the Niagara and Okanagan wines as I haven’t tried them, I’m sure their awards were well deserved.
Thanks Natalie for this fun version of a People’s Choice Awards on Canadian wines.
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