Oh, Canada: With Glowing Hearts We See Thee Rise
Other emerging regions are getting the publicity, but Niagara is delivering the goods.
Our neighbors to the north, about an hour and ½ from Toronto (as the crow flies around Lake Ontario) and just 45 minutes from Buffalo, NY are seriously delivering world-class wine.
Prior to a recent visit to the Niagara wine region in southern Ontario, my Niagara frame of reference was a clichéd familiarity with ice wine and an incessant mental replay of a quote from the 80s movie, “Breakfast Club.”
When have you ever gotten laid?
I’ve laid, lotsa times!
She lives in Canada, met her at
Niagara Falls. You wouldn’t know her.
My virginal perspective has changed now and my frame of reference for Niagara wines are those that are, “Of the Place” – pure, vital and expressive with ice wine a distant third in quality behind Pinot Noir and Riesling.
In fact, instead of being hampered by unpredictable cold weather and hanging their hat on ice wine, Niagara vintners use the climate to their advantage teasing out a palpable tension in the wines with a terroir-based honesty that is omnipresent. When you taste wild strawberries, tar and rose petals in Pinot Noir from a number of different vintners in the same appellation, you know you’re on to land-based virtue. If that’s not enough, just look and smell—the color of the wines are not extracted and plumped up; the aromatics are pure like a newborn nestled in your bosom.
Yet, what strikes me the most after having spent recent time in Michigan, the Finger Lakes, and now Niagara isn’t palate-based, it’s political.
“Terroirista’s” with their focus on Biodynamic and natural wines are way off base in trying to fight an ideological battle with the West Coast whilst cozying up with diffident Frenchmen. Instead, they should embrace the brio of what’s under their nose. Some of the most honest and interesting wines in the world aren’t coming from the spun and micro-ox’ed left coast, nor are they imported from the avant-gard garagiste’s in France – they’re coming from humble, hat-in-hand vintners in improbable places like Niagara and other cool climates.
Make no mistake, Niagara wine isn’t inexpensive, not with the Canadian government getting their fair share, but a number of wineries are worth seeking out, especially if you’re the type of wine enthusiast who appreciates cool climate wines and has a sense of discovery.
Fortunately, a web site creatively called, “Canadian Wine Shop” based in New York state can help you get a fix.
Some wineries to look for: