Sunday, 9 December 2012

News from the Village

Icewine is now the USP for Canada. Available in most Duty Frees, quite a lot of supermarkets, it is less ubiquitous on wine merchants' lists. It makes a tempting gift idea - satisfyingly both the donor's and recipient's perception of cost and uncontroversial in taste. Our experience is limited but it seems not a bad beverage, quite different from classier German Eiswein. Its lack of acidity makes it more an actual dessert than a dessert wine.

Not for the first time we asked what happened to the other wines of Canada. At one point they could be found quite easily in several UK supermarkets but then they practically disappeared. Visits to Canada itself were frustrating with wines of British Columbia and God forbid Quebec difficult to impossible to be found in Ontario.

Nevertheless, an afternoon at one of the larger state controlled wine shops in Toronto revealed a more diverse and interesting scene than might have been expected.

Beyond the shelves of Icewine White

(mostly Vidal [even sparkling] but also Riesling) and Red (Cabernet Franc and others), we found no less than 6 versions of Baco Noir,

 another in a blend with Foch and Zweigelt,

 a Savignin,

a Pinot Blanc

and an Aligote, (very rare for the New World)

all in purezza as well as the more frequent but not predictable Riesling

and Cabernet Franc for which we think Ontario is particularly well suited.

There was even Canadian 'Sherry' and 'Port'.

It would be interesting to taste some of the more recherche hybrids developed in Nova Scotia and Quebec such as L'Acadie and Vandal-Cliche but it seems we need to go to those provinces for that. British Columbia may be just as diverse with 60 varieties grown but but we'll probably never be able to taste anything besides the usual suspects without taking a long haul flight.

Canada as you may know is an indigenous word for 'Village'. In 1535, a misunderstanding occurred when the Huron/Iroqouis speaking guide to the French explorer Jacques Cartier pointed out the village on the site of the future city of Quebec and said 'Kanata'. Cartier took this to be the name of the entire land north of the St. Lawrence river. News to us. Just something else we had to go to Canada to find.

No comments: