Updated: Jun 24

Over the past year regional bodies have looked at way to bring consumers and

specialists to taste their wines and keep on delivery education. Delivery turned out

to be the solution, delivery of samples or bottles of wines.


Samples of wines are done in anaerobic condition, a sort of vacuum, where the

wines are funnels into sterile flasks of 100ml, the wines should last about a week.

Many other alternatives are been experiment with but the glass tubes or flasks are

the most commons Wine Logistic is an example of this services -

https://winelogistics.co.uk/virtual-tasting-packs


For California wine Institute UK was Essential California at home the solution, with

selection of over 200 wines which you could get a samples of at home, as well as a

two days of masterclasses on different themes, I enjoyed following 'Other Varieties'

Masterclass where Barbera, Albarino, Chenin Blanc, Fiano where discussed, other

region and interesting talk was given by Francis Ford Coppolla, on inclusion and

diversity in the wine industry.






Truly a monumental effort from wines of California UK, which also has taken the

occasion to launch Capstone California https://capstonecalifornia.com/ a certification

to become a California wine Expert.


Here is the list of my favourite ten wines of the lists of wines that I tasted.


Rigde

Gayserville – 2018

An alluring wine, it has deep aromas, with spices, Cherries, Whole spice, cherry

blossom and black tea. On the palate is mellow, with soft and verdant tannins and

deep. The wine is precise, robust and distinctive.


Donelan

Cuvee Christine – Syrah 2015

On the nose, it’s enticing, with spices, dark fruits, plum, chocolate, clove and

distinctive aromas of Black Pepper.

The Palate is refreshing, the tannins are soft and carry through in the aftertaste, it

invites to have another glass, the spices come back on the aftertaste.


Daou

Soul of a Lion 2017

Opulent and intriguing, aromas of Cherries, raspberries, clove, vanilla, plums,

chocolate. The palate is rich and with soft tannins, the oak influence is felt more, but

the fruits and primary aromas still manage to come fourth, tannins are kept at bay,

The finish is long and defined. Could have less of the oak primordial influence but

exquisite none the less


Bonny Doon Wines

Vin Gris de Cigar

One of the first Dry rose of California, is vibrant with peach, lime, strawberries,

ginger, refreshing acidity, clove vanilla, dry fresh and fragrant, fresh, inviting,

persistent with great body.


Varner Wine

Upper Picnic Block – Pinot Noir 2014

Ripe Red fruits hints on vanilla and grass its delicate and elegant. It presents itself as

elegant in the palate with superb freshness, tannins as well integrate and soften, the

finish is long and defined can improve with age


Silver Oak

Cabernet Sauvignon – 2016 Napa Valley

The wines come in with a jab, it’s rich and direct. The nose has complexity, with

plums and Morello Cherries but then the secondary aromas come through chocolate,

clove, vanilla, nutmeg.

The palate is refreshing, flavourful and the tannins show and in the aftertaste, with

the coffee, toffee cocoa aromas coming through.

Are concentrate and outreaching


Lieu dit

Chenin Blanc 2017

Inviting, red apple, pear, marzipan, honeysuckle, ginger, fresh and complex.

The body is fresh with great acidity, medium, orange and medium, refreshing finish,

almost like a grapefruit.


Gamay 2016

The nose is savoury, leather, bloody, red cherries compote, black pepper. It quickly

shows red fruits the palate is soft and round, with very good harmony. The finish is

precise and compose.


Four vines

The Biker Zinfandel - 2018

Concentrated and well defined, it springs to the nose with red berries, plums with

dark fruits and whole spice.

On the palate, is uplifted with fresh acidity the tannins are present at mid-palate and

gives the wine vibrancy. With fruits carrying through on the after taste.


Au Bon Climat

Nuits Blanches au Bouge Chardonnay – 2017 

Good colour intensity golden hue

Nutmeg, ginger, yoghurt and vibrant and fresh wine, with complexity, Yellow peach,

pear and bread

Medium body with Great intensity, complex with white peach aromas, acidity is

steely, butterscotch

The finish is fresh and persistent but not overly powerful


Great respect for Jim Clendenen the wonderful mind behind Au Bon Climate, I had

the occasion to meet Jim in 2020 at the live tasting of the California Wine Institute in

London.

Updated: Jul 7

Transcription of the podcast interview.

Mattia Scarpazza 06.01.2021


First of all, a bit of contest on the episode and Elizabeth Gabay MW.

Rose wines have gone through an amazing renaissance.

You can now find roses from any wine producing countries and regions. Rose span from the deeply coloured Mediterranean style to the distinctively pale wines of Provence. Rose comes in many shades, but the colour is not everything to the quality of rose wine. There is more to what meets the eyes, there are soils selection, altitude and aspects come to play to produce an outstanding style of Rose.


For Elizabeth Gabay Master of Wines, author of Rose Understanding the pink wine revolution, rose wines are the product of the energy and creativity of Winemakers who are experimenting and pushing the boundaries of what rose wines are.

We’ll discuss the shaping of the contemporary rose industry, what conscious rose producers are doing in the vineyards and some of the more avant-garde way to make rose wines as well as how Provence come to be the leading producer of rose


You can listen to the podcast on Apple podcast: ‎Looking Into Wine: The Rosé wine revolution a look into it with author Elizabeth Gabay MW on Apple Podcasts


Mattia: What was the idea behind the book?

Elizabeth: The original idea was because I live on the edge of Provence, I was to write a guide to Provence, the wines of Provence. With 90 % of their wine being rosé, it was sort of rosé within the Provence world, but also a bit of the history of Provence and the classic wine library said, well, actually, we would rather have a book on just rosé, not just on Provence. I was probably very much like a lot of other people at the time, Provence equalled rosé. Most of the market, wasn't aware of rosé from anywhere else. So for me, it was very much a journey of discovery, for me as the author, as much as for the audience.


So in the vineyards, what they've been looking at is how do you have grapes that mature to full ripeness but keep acidity. Some of the main usage are leaf cover, where you keep a greater canopy than you would for red wine, altitude's proving do some quite good roses with that acidity and the north-facing slope, you wouldn't use for your red wine.

It's a very broad topic and I think it's very difficult to portray every aspect and every shade of rosé. I think my biggest takeaway from the book was that colour doesn't indicate the quality, but indicates a style within the Rose world. Would you agree?

I think because, I am always very interested in the history of wine and so I looking into the history of rosé, seeing how until fairly recently, colour possibly was an indication of quality with the darker rosé being a leftover of red wine, residual sugar left in to balance the tannins. So historically there were a hundred years where darker rosé was the dregs, the leftover side of the wine.

I remember selling rosé in the nineteen-eighties from Provence, which was dark. It lasted two months. It wasn't brilliant. It had to be served very cold. So what we've seen is technological development, viticulture, winemaking, everything that allowed producers to understand how to make good rosé.

Symbolically paler was part of this new world view, now winemakers are applying that knowledge to be able to produce better quality dark rosés. So you need to know the history to understand where that idea comes from.


When you're talking about the technology there's a section in the book where you explain about the vineyards and the work we're doing, what sort of techniques that you see in them.

So you have to think a bit about how you define rosé before you can go any further on technology. And rosé is not just colour, it's not this pale, it's not this dull Rosé has the freshness and the acidity of white wine and the fruit of red wine.

So if you want the freshness for rosé, you have a couple of ways of doing it. You can harvest it early, that you want on your final rosé.

So in the vineyards, what they've been looking at is how do you have grapes that mature to full ripeness but keep acidity. Some of the main usage are leaf cover, where you keep a greater canopy than you would for red wine, altitude's proving do some quite good roses with that acidity and the north-facing slope, you wouldn't use for your red wine.

So in reality instead of being the leftover of red wine, it's becoming increasingly in the field, the mirror image. Is that right? The mirror image, the opposite of red wine.

Like in Tuscany, you say, why are you making rosé? And they say things like it's the vineyard where the red wine didn't ripen.


Is this is a conscious choice now then for a lot of winemakers and then rather than before, you say, was to the lesser vineyard, but now that's started selecting vineyards to produce roses.

So it's going on to the soil characteristics, you know if it's got slightly more cool soil.

But that's just one way. So there are producers who have dedicated vineyards, especially for rosé that are cooler. Then in Bordeaux, there are some producers saying, and this will apply for more marginal areas, depending on whether it's a hot or cold year, "we don't always use the same vineyards, we balance". Because for them, the red is the primary production. So, yes, the idea is that the vineyard is there's a focus on using it for rosé wine from the beginning of the growing season.


Régine Sumeire, head of Château la Tour de l’Evêque

Definitely you see these differences from like Bordeaux and different regions supplying different knowledge of what is their rosé and rosé is difficult to pinpoint because there's so many shade and so many stories from very pale to deep dark and so many techniques are used. And Provence is becoming like the hub of rosé. How did they turn the image from being quite, as you say, dark to extremely pale?

So, as I say, when I started selling Provence rosé in the 1980s, when it was this dark, often bled off the red wine, and there is the famous story of from Tour de l’Evêque talking to a Bordeaux producer who was telling her to make pressured white wine. Direct press whole grapes and she didn't want to risk destroying her white wine, so she said, you know what, I'll try it on Grenache and see if it works, ‘I've got nothing to lose’ and the resulting rosé was paler.

After the book was published, I was going through, I'd kept books and books of tasting notes, and I discovered a few other Vignerons at the same time were all trying to look into how can we make a better, fresher, paler rosé. So there was a movement at the end of the 1980s, early 90s to make a better quality rosé.

So throughout the 90s, the quality got better and better: temperature control, more delicate, fresher acidity. It was very much, I mean a very exciting, very innovative at the time in the rosé Research Centre, but then the key thing that happened was the early 2000s, leading up to 2007, there were grants from the EU to market wines just as this grant appeared, Provence had arrived at high-quality rosé. So it was the synergy of the money was available, the wine was available, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie were renting Miraval to go to the Cannes Film Festival. It was just everything was right at the right time in the right place.


Bom Bom in the Sun at Domaine des Hautes Collines

That led to the success that it is now. In your book, you mention new experimental ways and people are making rosé. There is a beautiful picture of rosé left outside on the flor. How does this work?

So Clos Cibonne https://www.clos-cibonne.com/gb/accueil.html, is the most famous example of this so that you go into the cellar and they weren't trying to be experimental, it is what interesting for me, is they were just making their rosé as they had always made it the same grape variety, in their cellar they have big old beer barrels, not wine barrels!

They bought beer barrels in cheap and the wine evaporates a little bit because it's on the coast and this layer of flor develops, interestingly, I read a review about this wine last week, evidently someone who's never tasted it before, said it tastes like sherry It doesn't, when I tasted this wine, there was no hint of oxidation. It doesn't taste like a wine that you would say is old, it's faded or anything, all you can taste is a greater concentration of fruit, somehow, the flor protects the wines from oxidation.

So that is Clos Cibonne and it makes fantastic wine that ages very well.

Then the picture you're referring to of the rosé in the glass bottles, this is a slightly experimental winemaker just north of Nice where the flor develops called Domaine des Hautes Collines http://vignoblestjeannet.fr/, if I gave it to you would say concentrated fruit character, no oxidation, I've tasted rosé under flor also from Slovakia. So what it does is, is just allow the fruit characters to come through without losing the acidity. You need acidity for the flor to develop.


Is it interesting when you speak about Slovakia, you see rosé cropping up from everywhere is becoming part of the portfolios in every wineries and most of the part of the world.

Well, that is partially not just the winemaker's choice, you can talk to producers who make fantastic red wine and their importer will say: "I love your red wine, can you put in two cases of rosé, three cases of rosé? We have a demand for rosé".

In several cases, producers, who have no idea how to make rosé. No idea kind of go: "OK, right, I'll add some rosé next year". And I've spoken to one producer, I said, well, how did you know how to make rosé? You have no tradition of rosé. He said, I went on to the website for a few Provence vineyards and I read what they do and I sort of copied it, you end up with this Provence style rosé in the middle of somewhere else. Do you think this is weird? So producers are beginning to learn the market wants rosé next to the red, but a lot of producers do not yet understand how to best use their local variety and local traditions to make their local style, this is something I found exciting with rosé, For me, it is the most energetic and innovative part of the wine market right now.


And there's just this great influence from, like, America to produce rosé and they are influencing buying the rose as well. And so what do you think that led to?

But when I talk to or taste wine for the American market and for the European market, for the rosé, there does seem to be a slight difference and I would like to investigate that a bit more. I think they tend to go for a slightly fruitier, a slight rounder character than we're used to in Provence, sometimes it's a different wine, sometimes not always.

So there is still national characteristics, but I think the American markets and what they want will have an influence, yes.


You can talk to producers who make fantastic red wine and their importer will say: "I love your red wine, can you put in two cases of rosé, three cases of rosé? We have a demand for rosé".

In the section of the book on the USA, you said there are four main styles of off-dry, blush, saignée, blend of an intentional rosé, darker Spanish, and increasingly this dry, Provence complex style. And do you think these are mirrored around the world?

To a certain extent. But because Provence hit the world in 2007 you suddenly started seeing a surge in rosé winemaking around the world, making rosé as they had always made it, Provence as now, 2020, there is an increasing number of Provence producers who are experimenting with what they're doing.

But rosé producers around the world have only just reached the Provence style we've got this sort of evolving range of styles, then you've got say Australia, they have a patchwork of grape varieties that make an enormous variation. So, yes, the growth in Provence style rosé is growing every year, but at the same time, we're getting growth in a totally different style. It's a ripple effect, it's not a clear linear effect, there is still national characteristics, but I think the American markets and what they want will have an influence, yes.


Because obviously there is not only the pale market. A large part of so-called traditional styles like those of Spanish Navarra or Chiaretto.

But that will also depend on if you want to export. So Chiaretto was slightly darker, but to export, they've had to become paler. Cerasuolo, for me Cerasuolo, the best Cerasuolo was quite dark. But to export, those wines are becoming paler, so you're ending up with a split in this is the rosé that will be drunk at home and this is the export market.


Do you think the exports will accept it is dark in style?

Depends on the sector, I think if we get restaurants back again, hopefully, we will get I think the darker style is very much the style that may be Sommeliers or small boutique wine merchants. They can hand-sell they can allow you to taste. They can promote it. My big fear is that the divide will be the paler ones will be the mass market and the darker the niche. And I hear people saying things like the paler is better and which if I ask them "why?" there's a lack of knowledge and that knowledge that needs to creep up and be at the same rate, but I hope both will survive.


Well hopefully with the interest of new rosé and your book will help, and other interest in rosé., And what do you think are the risk that could be because we have this sort of rosé could be like Champagne and could be becoming like a soft brand.

I mean, you can see it when you get the technical sheets for roses, I'm tasting them and they're identical. We have harvested early, we've kept the grapes cold, we ferment at a cold temperature with a rosé yeast, which quite often means strawberry fruit or grapefruit in tank we bottle after two or three months on the lees.

So the wine will be ready by February and it's on the market and the same method and technology is repeated over and over again. I think for me that is the danger that this becomes the generic brand, a cheaper wine a supermarket wine.


Rosé is not only cheap, there are also super premium style of rosé.

High-quality rosé, how would you define it?

So I'm often asked this question and I say, how do you define a premium red or white? And people say, well, it has complexity, it has the ageing ability and is the same for premium rosé. There should be no difference. So for me, the top premium roses will have greater weight and substance, greater extract, complexity, ageing ability and a rosé that will make me excited is a rosé where I don't mind if it's a bit quirky, I'm looking for a rosé that makes me think, that will go with food that will have all sorts of other complex things. There is some premium, not all premium rosé that is aged in oak, you have some that are in cement and then you get a lovely texture behind it. So that's for me, a premium rosé is a wine that makes me sit up and I think and is this is enjoyable and not ice cold, if I have to drink it iced cold I'm not interested!


I'm not going to comment on that! So when you are talking about ageing in rosé, there is a section in your book when you went and asked for some old samples.

How was the reaction?

I realised as I was tasting older vintages. We just didn't have a vocabulary for describing older rosé, you know, older reds we look at the colour becoming more garnet, more mahogany.

We're looking for more integrated tannins, softer tannins in red and for white wines dark yellow, you know, sort of mellow flavours. For rosé, as soon as people were saying it no longer has bright red primary fruit and is no longer bright pink, it was dismissed. So I felt we weren't developing positive tasting notes for an older rosé.

So I did a call out in Provence, and in Provence now, if you ask for older roses, anything younger than three years is young. We've got to that stage improvements, and so I had one producer who rang me up and he said, do you like to taste some old roses with you, can you come round for lunch?

So we turned up for lunch and he said, I've come through my entire cellar and we've discovered a rosé from, it's in the book, 1992 I think it was. It was slightly oxidised, but it was the bottle we all finished. It was amazing. It had a complexity that would go with food. So my feeling about an older rosé is that it does not taste like a young rosé. Thank goodness, because it's aged.


What sort of flavours do you think it develops? I never had the occasion to taste one old.

With Provence rosé I found with age it tends to take on slightly more red berry dried, orange peel type flavours, whereas I tasted a nineteen seventy-six Negroamaro from Salento two years ago and that had slightly more mineral, again that slightly bitter orange. But then the oldest was a fifty-nine cabernet d'Anjou which was dried apricots, dried peaches, creamy. So what I would love to do in my dreams.

Is to do older vintages of rosé, but from different places, because I'd quite like to see whether different grape varieties take on different flavours with age. So that is ambition. But there are not so many people who have older roses. I mean, Tondonia, the current vintage is 2009.


Is the Gran Reserva the one you mean?

Yes.


It's not something a lot of people realise, that rosé can age, and definitely rosé is not only for Summer time which is how it's been marketed.

It's a problem, I know last year there were a lot of wine merchants in America saying they haven't cleared all this stock and they were very sad because they said, you know, that just as the rosé is opening out and becoming a bit more complex, the market is saying, no, we don't want it, we want the new vintage. So there was a discussion on Twitter about old roses as well. Somebody said to me, but they don't age, how do you know? I said. Have you ever tasted an old rosé? they said, no.

So I realised that there was a lot more to be done by promoting roses with age.


There's a lot of stress in the book about new technology have brought the quality of the wine up. What do you think are the key technological changes?

I think because there's been a lot of research, so. Although temperature-controlled cooler fermentation and handling of grapes has resulted in fresher fruit and a greater awareness of the health of the grapes has now meant that a lot of natural wine producers are also making rosé at a warmer temperature. So it's not one particular thing. It's a combination of work in the field, plus work in the cellar.

So I talk about technology a lot because I think people are experimenting. You know, 20 years ago, orange wine was maybe more faulty, whereas now people who make skin-fermented white wine understand that there has to be hygiene in the cellar or there have to be healthier grapes. So it's very much a pooling together from lots of different sides.


I think it's better care and more consciousness when making this style of wines so that have changed the shape of rosé.

It was just an interesting point in that we all think of hygienic cellars making better wine. And I did challenge one student and I said, OK, have you never tasted a good wine from a slightly scruffy wine cellar? So, I'm not asking for hygienic surgeries, but just a better awareness.


Well, just the last couple of question, what would you say is the best way to understand rosé to someone who's just getting into the world of wine.

Don't be a wine snob, I think there are plenty of people who put up a barrier straight away and say ‘because it's pink I'm not expecting it to be very good’. I think it's like I when I first started wine tasting, I was experimenting all the time, I tried something different each week to see which wine I like and maybe to do the same with rosé. I would say if you're serious about rosé, don't look at the presentation.


Elizabeth Gabay MW

What do you think is going to be the future for rosé, what styles do you think are going to crop up?

I seriously think and I'm talking only about sort of an upmarket rosé, I'm not talking about the general big volume rosé.

I think producers are going to maybe be looking at how to get complexity in the wine without making a heavy wine as soon as it becomes heavy, we're going towards red wine.

So as I said earlier, I think altitude and north-facing slopes, especially with climate change, is going to become very important. I think the greater expression of different grape varieties until fairly recently, the idea was that you couldn't identify rosé, by its grape varieties. The idea was that it was a sort of generic style. And I think that's just going to be something much more important, that you taste a glass of rosé. And you said that's a Xinomavro from northern Greece. Just as you would a red wine, and I think that is a trend that we should be looking at for premium rosé.


And now I'm considering the rosé world is just so dynamic. Is it time to do a second book?

That would be something to look forward to.


These following are affiliate links, it costs you nothing to use them but I get a small percentage when you buy something, so thanks!












You can follow Elizabeth on Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, occasionally on Facebook, And her on website Elizabeth Gabay MW | Wine, Food and History: from the Rhone to Piedmont


You can listen to the podcast on Apple podcast:

‎Looking Into Wine: The Rosé wine revolution a look into it with author Elizabeth Gabay MW on Apple Podcasts

Also on Spotify, I Heart Music and every major listening


Updated: May 2

Transcription of the podcast interview

Mattia Scarpazza 01.05.2021



FIRST OF ALL A BIT OF CONTEST ON CANADIAN WINES AND ROD

Canada as a wine producing country has grown exponentially in the last 20 years since it embraced Vitis Vinifera and also thank to the investment of local producers that believed in the potential of their regions.


In this podcast episode, of the Looking into Wines I talked to Rod Phillips, author of the Wines of Canada.

You can list en to the episode here: Canadian wine explored with author Rod Phillips.


Rod is a wine historian and we could not start by talking about the key dates of the development of Canadian wines. We also explored some contradictory techniques used in Quebec to produce

Ice-wines. The potential of Nova Scotia Classic Method sparkling wines and on the market potential for Canadian wines.

1: View of a vineyard on the shore of Lake Ontario

NOW ON WITH THE INTERVIEW


I do not think I ever took as many notes on the dates of any other region in the world while reading a book, such a detailed accounting. So, I wanted you to ask a bit about these dates and see the key moments that happen in the Canadian wine industry. I think we could start from the 1850s, then there were the first documented wineries. Where was that and what was there the idea?

Well, wine was made probably back in the six hundred thousand and seventeen hundred in exceedingly small quantities made from local grape varieties from native grape varieties. Probably some of the missionaries made their own wine for religious purposes.

But we do not really know about it, there are a few records, but for sure it was not until about the 1850s that you could start talking about commercial wine production. Why it that is hard to say,

I would say that probably there was a growing middle class in Canada. The cities were starting to become larger, and wine was being imported from Spain and from France and other places, and quite clearly some entrepreneurs decided that it was possible to make wine in Canada.


And that was in Ontario and they started the first wineries.

Yes. In Ontario, that is right. I mean, some of the early wines were probably made in Quebec and Nova Scotia places like that. So, this is in Ontario that is this is the first records, and they made the wine mainly using native grapes, which probably was not particularly good.

In Quebec, they cut the grapes and they put them in nets on top of the vines so that they are still on the vines, but they are not on the vines in the same way. In the rest of Canada, they leave the grapes on the vine to freeze and they harvest the grapes when they are frozen.

We can then jump to like a hundred years, into the nineteen seventies, when there has been a shift from native hybrids into more of it is vinifera based Wine in Canada and then was sort of the beginning of the modern Canada Wines.

Yes. I think, you know, it went from native grapes into hybrids and then to vinifera. But, you know, vinifera began very slowly in the nineteen seventies. Gamay and some Chardonnay and some other varieties. But the real take-off was in the 1990s. So, you know, it is just sorts of a slow it is like an aeroplane ride just taxiing along the runway and in the 1970s and 80s and then began to take off sometime in the 1990s.


There was a bit of experimenting to see where they could plant Vitis Vinifera because it is a bit more delicate than hybrids or the Lambrusca for example, and it was in 1983 when there was the iconic first Canadian Ice- wine to be produced. Canada has a bit of a different approach to stricter regulation to Ice-wine than other countries in the world.

It is quite strict regulation, and it is now codified in wine law that the grapes have to stay on the vine until the temperature goes down to minus eight, and then they can begin to pick. But there are some variations even in Canada. But in Quebec, they cut the grapes and they put them in nets on top of the vines so that they are still on the vines, but they are not on the vines in the same way. In the rest of Canada, they leave the grapes on the vine to freeze and they harvest the grapes when they are frozen. It is a very debated subject, as you can imagine.


And there is experimentation with different varieties used for production of Canadian Ice-wine?

Yeah, obviously the varieties I mean, the grapes have to have to stay on the vine for a long period, sometimes the harvest is not until January or even later.

They are going to stay on the vine, they have got to be healthy as they have got to survive winds, cold, birds and humidity. The most common varieties that are used are Vidal at least on Ontario Vidal and then Cabernet Franc and Riesling, but people have made Ice-wine from just

about every great variety you can imagine.

2: Frozen bunchs of grapes in the midst of winter

There is also some sparkling Ice-wines produce, we are going to speak about sparkling wines later, because are some remarkably interesting sparkling wine produced in Canada.

Continuing on the dates, the key date for the modern history of Canada was 1988. There were two factors that came in, one was the free trade between Canada and the USA and the stablishment of the Vintners Quality Alliance (VQA).

Yes, the well, the free trade agreement with the United States, and it really opened up trade between the two the two countries, and there were fears that Canada would be swamped by cheap wines from California. So, there was a decision to try to improve the Canadian wine industry, the government made grants to help the wineries to pull up the mediocre vines and to replant with Vitis Vinifera to raise the quality. So that was that was very important, and then at the beginning of a wine law, really, with the Vintners Quality Alliance, which is just in Ontario, there is another one in British Columbia, but it's called the British Columbia Vintners Alliance, only these two provinces have the VQA and it's like an appellation law and it's meant to regulate the percentage of the varieties in the wine, the appellation, and it also has is a tasting panel to establish quality.


That obviously helped in bringing up the quality and uniformity of the wines. There is a bit of discrepancy, between the different counties, and the law is not really a law, right?

Well, like all appellation laws, there always a little bit of flexibility, and not everything that's labelled AOC is necessarily very good wine. But there is a real advantage commercially to having your wine certified as a VQA wine, because in people's minds, it is a guarantee of quality, and a lot of restaurants like to have the VQA. But I think it has been a bit of a shift away from that now because a lot of wineries in British Columbia just do not bother to have their wines certified secure, and now this is a sort of a cachet that some natural wines and some slightly different styles are not being certified VQA. I think probably there is a bit of movement away.

3: Symbol of VQA which can be found on some bottle’s necks.

When you talk about a natural, is there a lot of movement?

There are some natural wines made. There is certainly a lot of orange wines and so on made. But no, it is not it is not a question of the climate so much. It is just a question of the market, you know, whether there is a lot of market for these kinds of wines. I think there is, it is a small market perhaps, but there are several restaurants in Vancouver and Toronto and Montreal and so on that have wine lists that are predominantly what you would call natural wines of one kind or another.


In the book, you mentioned that Canada is the second-largest country in the world, but it produces one percent of wine in the world, that puts things in perspective!

It is a small production. I think I say it is the same as Slovakia and or Macedonia, which we do not think of it as a noticeably big wine producers know we produce a very small.

amount of wine and most of it I mean, most of it is sold on the Canadian market, there are some exports, of course, but they are quite small.


Because the climate is so marginal, you need to have mitigating influences nearby, like a lot of the region near the lakes or other bodies of water.

Water is especially important. In Ontario, the main wine regions are on either on the shores of Lake Ontario or Lake Erie, which are two of the other Great Lakes.

In the east, Nova Scotia, it is the Atlantic. Then in British Columbia, it is either the Pacific area or inland, it is Lake Okanagan and smaller lakes to the south of Lake Okanagan, which are critical for the grape growing.


Okanagan is the main region in British Columbia, it produces very different styles of wine from its counterpart Ontario. How?

Well, the climates are very different. I mean, Ontario is really a cool climate region, it is a combination of Continental and a sort of a bit of maritime. But it is a really cool climate, even though it can be very hot, I mean, as I am talking to you, it is 31 degrees at the moment. During the growing season, for the most part, it is cool with lots of sunshine.

In British Columbia, you know, there is a big range of climatic conditions from the islands, which are quite cool and wet, to the valley of Lake Okanagan, which is sort of cool and wet in the north, but when you get to the south, it is very dry and very warm, and that part of the Okanogan Valley actually has a desert, once you get to the American border, it is actually a desert. So that area produces a lot of very big red wines, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Bordeaux blends and other red blends.

When you look at Canada as a whole, it has the conditions to grow a wide range of wines from cooler varieties, Rieslings, lovely Chardonnays, Gamay, and Pinot Noir, for example. There is light but very quite acidic whites on the East Coast and the Atlantic, where it is cooler. Then when you get to the southern part of the Okanogan Valley, you have got these very big, robust red wines. It is a very good country, in that respect, it has got a nice wide range of things. Canada is a big country from east to west, it is six thousand kilometres, and it is not easy to move wines those great distances Canadian wines are not readily found yet around the world. as I said, a lot of the consumption is done internally and I think, as you say, most of the exportation is done for Ice-wine, which is the main market.

If you have a temperature gauge on your car, you can actually drive from one end of the Niagara Peninsula wine region to the other, and you just see like a four-degree difference from one end to the other, depending on the day.

Do you see still wines are catching up on the production levels?

Well, I mean, the main export is still Ice-wine, which sells very well in Asia and China especially but also in the United States and elsewhere. It is a very big product for duty-free stores because it is you know; it is a luxury product that is quite expensive. In Ontario where I am a half bottle of Ice-wine, will cost 60 to 80 dollars, which is two or three times the price of a good bottle of table wine. So, that is still a very important export, the exports of still wines and sparkling wines are very small. I mean their exports to the U.K., some to China, other parts of Europe, the United States. But it is very much an activity of individual wineries who are building export markets. I mean, there is a group of wineries in British Columbia that is promoting exports of their wines, but it is quite small.


Then quantity-wise, would you say there is more production of still wine in Canada in recent years?

Oh, yeah. I mean, there is a good production and certainly room for more exports, these wines are going to be quite expensive. Volume is very small; production costs are relatively high because salaries are high just the costs of making wine can be fairly high. So, I just do not expect to see, you know, vast volumes of Canadian wines anywhere outside Canada.


I can imagine also that vineyards cannot be as vast as other countries,

No, no. Most wineries are very small. I mean, there are 600 wineries in Canada, and when you look at the area of land, it is not very big either. So, you have got wineries with, you know, just a few hectares of vines.

3: Rod Phillips author of ‘The wines of Canada’

When we were talking about Ontario, I remember seeing in the book a beautiful diagram of the Niagara Peninsula, on the airflow and the lake influence. How can they diversify so much from like a still red wine or some Cabernet Franc produced to an Ice-wine in such a small region?

Yeah, there is some variation in the region. Some areas are just warmer. And you can see if you have a temperature gauge on your car, you can actually drive from one end of the Niagara Peninsula wine region to the other, and you just see like a four-degree difference from one end to the other, depending on the day.

But I mean, the Ice-wine is it depends on getting down to sub-zero temperatures in November, December, January, but the for the rest, you know, the temperatures are pretty good for white wines, especially.

Riesling and Chardonnay would be I would be the core whites and then for the red, you know, you are looking at cooler varieties that need perhaps a shorter growing season. So, we would be looking at Pinot Noir and Gamay and Cabernet Franc, and that's why Cabernet Franc is successful because it just ripens that much earlier than Cabernet Sauvignon.

I mean, they have been growing Cabernet Sauvignon and in Niagara for decades. But, you know, it does not ripen every year, and it might ripen one year in three or four. Cabernet Franc is so successful simply because it ripens well just about every year.


I imagine, there is a lot of vintage variation year to year.

I mean, I think I say in the book that the concept of an average year does not make any sense, in Ontario, because it can be very hot or it could be very cold, you get frosts that kill, 50% of the vines in some regions. And then, you will have heavy rainfall, have a very wet summer, then you have a very dry summer.

And so, it is very, very volatile. Vintage variation is really, important. When you are buying Ontario wine, you want to know the vintages.

Oh, yeah. I mean, there is a good production and certainly room for more exports, these wines are going to be quite expensive. Volume is very small; production costs are relatively high because salaries are high just the costs of making wine can be fairly high. I just do not expect to see, you know, vast volumes of Canadian wines anywhere outside Canada.


I can imagine also that vineyards cannot be as vast as other countries.

No, no. Most wineries are very small. I mean, there are 600 wineries in Canada, and when you look at the area of land, it is not very big either. You have got wineries with, you know, just a few hectares of vines.


A good percentage of wines from Canada are sparkling wines and of very good quality.

Very good. Excellent sparkling wine. I think t's one of the strengths of the Canadian wine industry.

That is true of British Columbia and Ontario, but especially Nova Scotia.

Nova Scotia is not known as a wine-producing province, you know consumers would have heard of Niagara Peninsula and the Okanagan Valley, for example, but no-one has really heard very much of Nova Scotia wines.

In Nova Scotia there are not many wineries only 20 odds of them, but more than half of them is making sparkling wine, it is a very a cool area, and so, you know, they can pick grapes that are a little just ripe with very high acidity and they can make really fantastic sparkling wines.


Nova Scotia is on the eastern side of Canada on the Atlantic Ocean. What grapes are they using to produce sparkling?

Some of them are using hybrid grapes, with many now moving to conventional varieties Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and so on.


Now some sparkling wines are produced with Ice-wine as liquor de tirage.

In Ontario, there a couple of wineries that are giving a dosage of Ice-wine to their best sparkling wines, so it gives a little bit of sweetness to it, clearly there is a market for that, there are consumers who like a little sweetness in the wine, but I mean, it is not common.


Almost one out of five wineries in Canada are was founded after the 2000s. so only about 20 years now, they have new interests and doing experimentation in new regions. What are you seeing that is new to contemporary Canada?

Well, climate change is making a bit of an impact as it is everywhere, so it is possible to go a little further north then wineries used to go, most of the wineries in Canada are between about 42 to and 50 degrees. In the north of Okanogan Valley there are now about three or four wine regions up there, just recognise in the last year or two and now north of the city of Toronto in the Georgian Bay Area, there are some wineries, being developed there as well.

Quebec, we have not talked much about Quebec, but Quebec is a very big province, and it has a lot of wineries, is more than 100 wineries. But it makes it a very small amount of wine. And, you know, we are seeing the emergence of a number of quite good wineries there, mainly Chardonnay and Pinot Noir again.

But again, with climate change, the projections are that within 20 years, 30 years, they will be able to grow Chardonnay and Pinot Noir regularly. They will probably have to bury the vines in the winter the same as they as they do now. it could be a pretty, pretty important region.


They have to bury vines in the winter because they have got like minus 30, minus 40 degrees, it has to be a laborious job, yes?

They have to do that in Ontario as well, in the Prince Edwards County region, which is the most northerly most on the Lake Ontario.

It is done by either burying the vines with soil or now they are using geotextiles, thermal blankets, basically to cover the vines.

Snow also is very good insulation against cold, it does not seem to make any sense, but snow is very good insulation against cold. It is labour-intensive, it is expensive, So, you know, it is you have got to that has to be built into the price of the finale wine.


I do not expect the Canadian wines, to come out in the market for an entry-level price considering the labour and the fact that many wines are from small planting.

That is a problem even in internal marker, as it is extremely hard to find a Canadian wine under about our terms, about 13 dollars or fourteen dollars. If you are looking at premium, high-quality wines, you will easily pay 30 to 40 dollars for a bottle of wine. it is a bit of a hard sell to get people to buy Canadian wines.


Now some more delicate matters

What is the biggest problem for producing wines in Canada?

Well, I do not think there are any real problems with production. I mean, there are some disease issues and so on.

If you talk to producers, of course, they will tell you that there are thousands of reasons. They say they think they pay too much tax, too many regulations, and so on.

But you know I think wineries that produce good wines will do quite well, one of the potential problems that people deal with is the fact that it is difficult to move wine from one part of the country to another. For example, if you live in Ontario, I cannot order wine from a winery in British Columbia. It is illegal for them to ship wine to me, for the monopole that we have in Canada.

Also, we need a national wine law, there are wine laws in Ontario, British Columbia, Quebec, and Nova Scotia, but there is no national wine law and I think it would help to have a Canadian wine law, there have been attempts to do it and they failed.


An unified front in the world, it would help with recognition, events promotions, and other marketing as well as other securities. Just a couple more questions, Ontario they have created different sub regions, which was new for me.

There are a lot of sub-appellations in Ontario, especially at Niagara Peninsula, they decided to do that simply because wineries were starting to label their wines with names that looked like sub appellations. So those other places could be a bit confusing, I think a lot of consumers may not necessarily know where the wine is from.

But now British Columbia is also creating a lot of sub appellations as well, and they may run into the same kinds of problems.

If you have got a good brand like California, it pays to put that on the label and so Niagara Peninsula is something that is known as Okanogan Valley is known and a lot of producers simply decide to use it as appellations.


Any final word on Canadian wines?

I think, the wind is in the sails of the Canadian wine industry. I think it has it has immense potential to become quite well known, but the main limiting thing is that is a very small industry, and there is no way that that they can actually make a big splash, in the international wine world with big volume wines, so it is always going to be a sort of a niche and niche product on international markets. And, you know, there is no way that, you know, Canada is going to compete with France or California or anything like that.


My thoughts

What interested me to the wines of Canada is the diverse styles that a relatively small country in terms of vineyard can producer form the lake shore to semi-desertic regions of Okanagan.

Canada produces wines from a range grape variety from Merlot, to Cabernet Franc, Riesling, and Chardonnay, from bone dry, through sparkling and Ice wines, you can find those style from a tiny region such as Lake Ontario. For me It encompass the spirit of the new world wines, where a bunch of wineries in an unknown part of the country can turn the area in a fully fledge recognised wine region.


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