Vintages Essentials Magazine from the LCBO is out. This classy magazine tells Ontario wine lovers the essential top 130 wines to have in your wine cellar. There is not a single Prince Edward County wine on the list.
There are a 25 from Niagara, three from BC and 102 from the rest of the world. The LCBO is a government owned monopoly in Ontario, it rakes off a lot of taxes from the sale of wine both through its stores and at the wineries themselves and yet it seem to think that only a couple of dozen Ontario wines, spread across the entire spectrum of wines and only from Niagara grapes, can be called “essential.” What is the criteria?
I find this so ironic. Two weeks ago, I interviewed Norman Hardie, a leading Prince Edward County winery owner and winemaker, who said “The amazing terroir and soils of Prince Edward County have allowed us to make world-class wines.”
This was substantiated by World Fine Wines Magazine, that named Norman Hardie’s 2011 County Chardonnay, the top North American Chardonnay. One of Norm’s wines is included in the Essentials list but it is for his Pinot Noir made from Niagara grapes in the Medium Bodied, Smooth and Fruity Red wine category.
Apparently Medium Bodied Smooth and Fruity Reds are Ontario’s forte. Seven wineries were mentioned in this category including Cabernet Franc from Featherstone, Cabernet Sauvignon from Southbrook, Gamay from Malivoire, and Pinot Noir from Hidden Bench, G. Marquis, Flat Rock, and Norman Hardie.
Under Full Bodied and Smooth Red only two Canadian wines qualified, both were red blends, Trius Red and The Foreign Affair’s Conspiracy respectively. The only Canadian Full Bodied and Firm Reds are from BC, Mission Hill Reserve Cab Sauv and Osoyoos Larose Le Grand Vin Bordeaux blend.
Malivoire Lady Bug rosé is the only essential Rosé made in Canada according to the LCBO.
Canada’s other forté is Icewine. which included Peller Estates, Henry of Pelham, Jackson Triggs, Inniskillan, Kittling Ridge, Lakeview and Magnotta. Surpsingly, Pilliteri an icewine pioneer which has received a bundle of bling from the prestigious Effervescence du Monde in France for its Sparkling Icewine is not included in the Essential list.
In white wines, there are three Aromatic and Flavourful Whites including Riesling from Cave Springs and Thirty Bench and a Riesling-Gewurz-Chard blend called Twisted from Flat Rock Cellars. Meglomaniac Off Dry Riesling was the only Off Dry and Fruity White wine to be recommended. As there were only two in this category, the selection committee for the Essentials obviously aren’t into Off Dry wines. There wasn’t a single Canadian white wine that made it in the Light and Crisp White category.Full bodied and Rich Whites had three Ontario offerings: Bacheldor, Malivoire and Tawse Chardonnay. and BC’s Mission Hill Reserve Chardonnay.
13th Street make the only Sparkling wine to qualify as Essential.
Congratulations to all the wineries selected but why were Prince Edward County wines excluded? Huff Estates and Hinterland make excellent sparkling wine with medals to prove it. Closson Chase, Rosehall Run, Norman Hardie and Exultet have Chardonnays that wine connoisseurs wax poetic about and I’ve tasted some lovely light crisp whites around the County. To avoid being too parochial, there are also some great Nova Scotian wines that are now sold through Vintages in Ontario such as Benjamin Bridge’s Brut Reserve, a dazzling sparkling wine, and Gaspereau Vineyards Muscat that is perhaps one of the best Aromatic and Flavoured whites in Canada. I also know for a fact that there are more than three great wines in British Columbia.
What County or BC or Nova Scotia wines would you have added to the Vintages Essential list?
The categories are
- REDS: Medium Bodied Fruity Red / Full bodied Smooth Red / Full Bodied and Firm Red
- WHITES: Light and Crisp White / Off Dry and Fruity White / Aromatic and Flavourful White / Full Bodied Rich White
- SPECIALTY: Rose / Sparkling / Icewine
In the comments section below, please, post some of the overlooked Canadian wines that you feel are “essential” in your wine cellar.