It’s birthday time again. Americans are buying up thousands of pounds of fireworks in an attempt to outdo the neighbor’s display down the street. (Those of us who prefer a quieter celebration will be residing under the bed for several hours.) The French are laying in bottles of champagne with which to spend the day toasting the Republic. (Much more to our liking.) But there’s another birthday that deserves mention. Canada, our politely fearless neighbors to the north, our also hosting a celebration.
In fact, Canadians our celebrating 150 years of being, well, Canadians. In typical Canadian style, they haven’t swaggered around on the stage boasting of their longevity. Just a few polite comments here and there, a subtle reminder amid the global noise, some superb pageantry, and there you have it. Our oft-overlooked and sometimes mocked neighbors have quietly turned another year older.
In honor of this momentous occasion, we’ve decided to take a look at two of our favorite wineries in those maple-leaf clad lands.
First up is Cave Spring Cellars. This is the oldest of the Ontario winemakers, with a beautiful home in the Niagara peninsula. Just a quick hop over the border from New York, this popular producer receives plenty of cross-border traffic. Long-time fans make regular trips to the Cave Spring Store just to stock up on their favorites.
As you might expect, it’s the cold-weather grapes that earn the most love in this region. The Riesling is always amazing, with a beautiful balance between the bright tang of the fruit and the mineral of the soil. This is a white wine that has depth to its flavors, and savoring is highly recommended.
Cave Spring also has Chardonnay, gweurtraminer, and Pinot noir, all of which are lovely on the tongue. Our favorite, though, is the ice wine. The most recent is a 2014 ice wine made with the Riesling grapes. Sweet flowers and delicate fruits that are so smooth as they slowly slip down your throat. It’s just too easy to drink the entire bottle…or two.
Oh, to be in Canada this weekend with a good bottle of ice-wine and a spectacular view of the Niagara Falls!
Another favorite Canadian winery is the Burrowing Owl. Located on the other side of the country in the sandy steppes of British Columbia, this relative newcomer has some excellent wines to offer both the long-time oenophile and newcomer alike. The region is similar to the Northwestern U.S. (think Washington and Oregon) and so you’ll find many of the same type of grapes.
The winery started with four grapes – Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Each of these varietals has been successful in the area, especially the Chardonnays and the Cabs. The Chardonnays meld peach and melon without an overbearing sweetness and the Cabernet Sauvignon is deep, dark and full of black fruits carefully balanced against the more earthy tones of oak and tannin.
But our favorite is one of the newer grapes to the line-up – the Cabernet Franc. Full of big juicy red fruits, like plum and cherry, with the lucious taste of dark chocolate, all topped off with a bit of citrus zest. These are grapes that sing and dance across your taste buds and leave you craving your next sip. But don’t go too fast or you’ll miss the hidden depths of this beauty.
So take a moment during this long holiday weekend to lift a glass of fine Canadian wine and offer a happy birthday toast to our great, great friends in the North.