We tasted two very interesting wines on Sunday. The first wine because of the country of origin – Canada; the second wine because of the grape variety – Grenache. Firstly, the Canadian wine.
The received wisdom is that the modern Canadian wine industry was ‘born’ in 1988 when a free trade agreement was signed with the US and competition sharpened the wine makers’ focus. The Canadian equivalent of AC, the Vintners Quality Standard (VQA) was created in Ontario in the same year. Two regions dominate the production – in the east, around Lake Ontario, and, to the west, in British Columbia. The grape varieties used are the international reds and whites.
The 2013 Norman Hardie County Chardonnay has the VQA of Prince Edward County, an area on the north shore of Lake Ontario, east of Toronto. The potentially hostile climate is tempered by the water, there is a layer of limestone soil and the Chardonnay appreciates a cooler climate to maintain the acidity levels. Even so, protection from deep snow in the harsh winters is important (surprisingly, this is on the same latitude as Tuscany!)
Beautifully clear and bright, the lemon yellow hues looked attractive and the wine didn’t disappoint on the nose – a little lemony, smokey and oaky. All very balanced. The palate was a step up – very long with some weight (and only an amazing 12.2% ABV), whilst maintaining its focussed lemony qualities. This is an excellent wine, a new release from the Wine Society.
Coincidentally, we also tried its stablemate, the ’13 Niagara Peninsula Unfiltered Chardonnay at the WS tasting on Monday night but found it much richer with lower acidity levels. It was still well-made but without the same balance.
First time for me with Canadian wine – save the odd glass of the ubiquitous Ice Wine – and a very favourable start.
[Richard: I had some credit at the WS so blew it as a contribution to this which was part of a Hardie chardonnay case (the other selection was the wine Geoff mentions above). At £23 not especially cheap for a wine from such a marginal and unheralded region but the quality is there.]