Will Canadian Wines Benefit From a Tariff War; Part 2

Red, White, Pink and Bubbly

Can These Canadian Wines Benefit from a Tariff War Against the USA?

Tariff War Part 2

Robert K. Stephen (CSW)

If there is any Canadian wine known outside of Canada it is Icewine. It would seem it originated in Germany but we can keep that quiet.

Peller Estates has used Icewine as a dosage in its sparkling Rosé. Dosage is usually a dose of cane sugar added to Champagne before it is corked for ageing and distribution. In this case the dosage is Icewine. Very clever!

The Peller Estates Ice Cuvée Rosé is made in the classic Champagne method but as it is not produced in the Champagne region of France it can’t be called Champagne, at least by honourable winemakers.

It is very light pink in colour with plenty of bubbles but not quite like the real thing. Nice nifty aromas of mango, peach, apricot and French toast with fresh Ontario strawberries sprinkled atop. The strawberry aromas intensify as the wine warms

On the palate a blast of crisp acidity. Discrete notes of strawberry and caramel. Its sharp and biting acidity could confuse any professional taster that this is the “real Champagne” but considering it is made in a Champagne climate in the same way Champagne is made that confusion is understandable.

Like Brut Champagne I’d restrict this to a pre-dinner drink to clear the plate for the feast to come. This is a classic utilitarian role that many Champagnes fulfill. Can I detect any Icewine influence? Not really.

For political and economic savants was NAFTA was a sell out by the USA driven by greedy off-shoring corporate American executives that wouldn’t lose any sleep about the loss of American jobs to Mexico as long as it increased profitability. A bigger question remains if Trump is acting too late in the game. If America has shot itself in the foot with NAFTA remember it was supported by corporate and political elites of United States at the time. Why?

(Peller Estates Ice Cuvée, VQA Niagara Peninsula, Peller Estates, Niagara-on-the Lake, Ontario, $ 37.75, 750 mL, 12%, LCBO # 113035, Square Media Group Rating 92/100).

El Presidente has recently tweeted how great tariffs are? Is this why he has extended 16 billion dollars of aid to American farmers to deal with the impact of tariffs causing the US government deficit to continue spiralling out of control.

The Inniskillin Meritage Cellar Select 2015 is a bit of an Ontario attempt to mimic a French red Bordeaux.  It has a black cherry colour.

On the nose black cherry, blackberry and cassis. On the palate solid tannins full of chunky black fruit. Like many younger Bordeaux reds it is holding its fruit very close to its chest. I would say this should remain unopened until 2020 at which time I think it should open up.

Certainly, drinkable now with rare lamb and beef. But like a good Bordeaux it needs time to soften and for its fruit to relax and strut its stuff.

The label says it is a blend of Cabernet and Merlot. Cabernet Sauvignon or Cabernet Franc? Please give us some more details as to prcentages please.

(Inniskillin Niagara Estate Meritage, VQA Niagara Peninsula Select 2015, Inniskillin Estate Wines, Niagara- on-the-Lake, Ontario. 13.5%, 750 mL, $18.75, Available at Wine Rack Stores, Square Media Group Rating 89/100).

Inniskillin has an interesting idea blending Ontario and British Columbia grapes in its East West Merlot Cabernet as part of its Discovery Series. Cabernet Franc or Cabernet Sauvignon? The label does not say nor does it give a clue as to percentage of grapes blended of where they are from. It rather cheapens the wine?

Black cherry in colour. Aromas of blackberry and Port Wine syrup. But I think it is the black cherry that dominates the nose.

Surprisingly heavy in tannins because of the British Columbia portion of the blend. A good measure of blackberry and cherry liqueur on the palate. You don’t get that dusting of tannins in that many Ontario reds. A chalky finish that eclipses the fruit. Some coffee notes suggest overripe fruit.

Basically, begs for rare grilled beef. Due to its tannic nature not a particularly good sipping wine. You might wait opening for a couple of years. It might benefit from an hour of decanting so as to soften the tannins. Personally I’d say consume now.

This wine is not going to win any tariff war! Strange it is not on the Inniskillin website?

Canadian wines Robert K. Stephen Tariff War(Inniskillin East West Merlot Cabernet Discovery Series, Inniskillin Estate Wines, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Inniskillin Estate Wines, Oliver, British Columbia,14% $ 12.95, 750 mL, LCBO #276758 Square Media Group Rating 85/100). This wine is also available at Wine Rack Stores.

This is a bit of a strange one. It is a Vieni “zi mari” which is a red sparkler with Baco Noir, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. Dark ruby coloured but when first poured more of a purple foam. On the nose smoky black cherry indicative of the Baco Noir. There is also some black cherry, figs and dark chocolate. One could easily assume there was some oak used here but I attribute that to the always surprising Baco Noir. The label clearly says stainless steel tanks all the way.

On the palate a very gentle fizz. Delicate notes of sweet red cherry and in and out beams of chocolate giving the wine a bit of sweetness. In the end though a dry finish with very tight fruit. This would pair well with vegetarian lasagna or grilled octopus.

A real gutsy blend here. Baco Noir, like a tariff war can very quickly explode in your face and few know how to excel with it. Vieni has managed here to tame the Baco Noir beast. A perfect wine after leaf raking and bagging with the sun setting and the coolness just starting to set in. Can Mexico and Canada tame the Orange Toad like Vieni can tame Baco Noir?

(Vieni zi mari, Sparkling Wine, VQA Ontario, Vieni Estates Inc., Beamsville, Ontario $16.95,12%, 750 mL, LCBO # 550616, Square Media Group Rating 87/100).

I must admit I never liked the name “Wildass” for a wine but given the calamity and destruction a tariff war will cause perhaps it is now going to live up to its name.

The Wildass 2014 Red is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Viognier the latter being a white grape. I have long been advocating adding a bit of Petit Verdot to Ontario wines to pep their general lack of richness. The Viognier is also innovative for Ontario reds.

Black cherry in colour.

On the nose bursting with red cherry, spice, cocoa and enthusiasm.

On the palate it has some rustic depth. Petit Verdot can be a spicy little brute and I can taste its influence on this red. Some tannins lift their heads and tell you they are there. All said and done a rustic and gruff red one might expect from Southwest France least of all Ontario. Lots of cherry, red plum and older raspberries. Medium length finish.

For red wine lovers a good quaffer but pair it with a lamb or beef burger on a fresh egg bun and the hell with a rotting economy. At least we’ll be keeping the vineyard workers their jobs.

This will keep until 2021 and improve too!

A real charmer kind of like what Trudeau used to be like.

(Wildass 2014 Red, VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, Stratus Vineyards, NOTL, Ontario, $19.95, 13.4%, 750 mL, LCBO # 086363, Square Media Group Rating 91/100).

We conclude with a Rockway Vineyards 2015 Chardonnay Riesling. Light gold in colour and on the nose lime, lemon, apple, pineapple and guava.

On the palate it is as if Riesling and Chardonnay are struggling to assert themselves, but none emerges as a victor. There is the dryness and tang of an Ontario Riesling with its unfortunate trademark of grapefruit. But also the laid-back seam of an oaked Chardonnay.

It is awfully difficult to blend with an Ontario Riesling. I’d rather wished the Chardonnay had won the “Battle of the Blend”. Perhaps the wine reminds one of a successful tariff negotiation where both sides share the pain.

Drink now. Would pair well with seafood particularly ocean white fleshed fish grilled whole and drizzled with an olive oil/lemon/oregano sauce and fresh white bread on the side.

(Rockway Vineyards 2015 Chardonnay Riesling, VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Rockway Vineyards, St. Catharines, Ontario, $14.25, 750 mL, LCBO # 545905 Square Media Group Rating 84/100).

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About the Author

Robert Stephen (CSW)
Robert K Stephen writes about food and drink, travel, and lifestyle issues. He is one of the few non-national writers to be certified as a wine specialist by the Society of Wine Educators, in Washington, DC. Robert was the first associate member of the Wine Writers’ Circle of Canada. He also holds a Mindfulness Certification from the University of Leiden. Be it Spanish cured meat, dried fruit, BBQ, or recycled bamboo place mats, Robert endeavours to escape the mundane, which is why he loves The Square. His motto is, "Have Story, Will Write." Email Robert Stephen