One of the perks of my job is that I get to travel abroad quite a bit. This year has been particularly spectacular, as I have been able to travel to France, Greece, Spain and now Australia. The thing I love the most about it is travelling with people from all over the world - you get to learn different wine markets and explore new perspectives on wine!
There are many people that have the misconception that Canada is only full of snow, igloos and Icewine. So when I tell my travelling colleagues that in some provinces, Canadian wine is the biggest seller, they don't believe me. They'll say, "Isn’t it always cold there?" Followed by, "What do you grow there?" and "What is the speciality besides Icewine?"
When you look at regions around the world, they all have something they do best. Here in Canada, in relatively new wine regions, we are still investigating what succeeds. This means trial and error and a whole lot of grapes that are not always best suited for the area.
But things are changing and we are getting closer and closer to specializing on specific grapes and the quality is constantly improving. I was incredibly impressed by the overall quality of the wines at the last wine judging event I was at, and some grapes have been consistently shining!
Here are some of my favourites:
Riesling has been recognized as one of the stars in the Okanagan Valley for some years now, but those from the Similkameen are fairly new to BC’s history. I happen to love them! Dry, with no make-up and searing acidity, Little Farm produces a pure Riesling with chalky, citrus and lingering mineral notes. Age it for a few years, or drink now with your favourite seafood. I choose oysters! ($30.00/12.5% alcohol)
British Columbia Syrah shines year after year in wine competitions - and for good reason! The combination of white pepper, floral and meaty notes are irresistible. Full bodied and dense, this one is a dream with any kind of red meat. Cozy up for fall! ($38.00/14.2% alcohol)
The Chardonnays from Niagara are hard to resist, and quite frankly, I just can’t get enough of them. Tawse’s winemaker Paul Pender might be known as the king of Cab Franc, but I love his Chardonnays just as much. Rich and unctuous with lingering notes of mineral, butter and roasted hazelnut, this wine is a great match with Atlantic lobster or fresh Dungeness crab. ($45.95/13% alcohol)
One of the things Québec does best is cider. If you’re looking to finish your leftover pumpkin pie from Thanksgiving, this ice cider is a great match. It's also hard to beat the price! ($20.00/10% alcohol)
Michelle Bouffard is a wine educator and journalist who splits her time between Montréal & Vancouver. She is the president of the BC Chapter of the Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers. She Tweets @michellebwine and Instagrams @michellebouffard.