Canada is a big country with a myriad of climates and topographies. It’s often a surprise to people from elsewhere that we make any wine at all, mostly due to our northern proximity. Usually if they’ve heard of Canadian wine, it’s icewine they’re aware of - but that’s more of a niche product that we don’t exactly drink on a day-to-day basis.
With the vastness of the country, we run everywhere from cool-climate Niagara Rieslings to big, brooding Syrahs from the deserts of Osoyoos, so it’s really tough to say if there is a definitive quality style that almost all of our wine regions can lay testament to.
But maybe there is.
There’s one style that we seem to excel at from coast to coast, and that’s sparkling wine. In fact, it’s our northern proximity in this hemisphere that provides what’s necessary for good bubble. The short growing season we experience is fantastic for preserving natural acidity, and that’s a common thread through most of our renowned sparklers. Some may think that sparkling wine is simply another niche category that’s not relevant on a day-to day basis, but there’s no reason to think of them that way. First off, they’re generally quite affordable; most of the coming examples in this post hover around the twenty-five dollar mark. Second, and maybe even more importantly, they make such great food wines, especially during this festive season. Putting out an artisan cheese board? Pour some bubble. Bacon-wrapped scallops? Pour some bubble. Hey, even parmesan popcorn or potato chips, you get the idea.
Even at the dinner table, sparklings can work well with things like salads, creamy pastas, poultry, seafood and more. There are so many worthy options across the provinces. British Columbia’s Summerhill Cipes Brut has been a local benchmark for decades now, a balance of Chardonnay and Riesling with orchards of citrus fruit. Tawse in Ontario has a mighty fun ‘Spark’ Riesling made from the grape that’s been key to putting them on the map, while 13th Street’s Cuvée Rosé is a pretty in pink blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Finally, Nova Scotian terroir is in full effect at L’Acadie Vineyards, with their 2011 Vintage Cuvée, an East Coast blend of Seyval Blanc and L’Acadie Blanc that’s nabbed ‘em a good handful of awards.
Don’t hesitate to pop a few corks this season, it’d be mighty Canadian of you!
Kurtis Kolt is a Vancouver-based wine consultant, writer, competition judge and enthusiast. He’s not half as fancy/boring as that sounds. He Tweets and Instagrams @KurtisKolt.