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waters on wine

For anyone looking to enjoy or share locally made wines during the holidays, now’s the time to shop online to ensure the best selection and enough time to receive the bottles. Moderate November temperatures are better for shipments than winter months to avoid wines freezing in transit.

During the pandemic, wineries across the country finally embraced the digital age and became well versed in selling products online and shipping to consumers where permitted by provincial laws. (Despite existing interprovincial trade barriers, some wineries flout the rules and ship to interested parties in the face of fines and penalties.) It can be prohibitively expensive to order single bottles or two-bottle gift packs, however, many wineries cover the cost of shipping on minimum orders, which could mean a purchase of three or more bottles or a set dollar amount.

Consumers living in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Nova Scotia are free to order from beer, wine and spirit producers in other provinces. Unfortunately, wine lovers in other provinces don’t have the same unfettered access. (Winemakers across the country continue to lobby for the right to ship wine to customers anywhere in Canada, but the dual federal-provincial jurisdiction governing alcohol sales complicates proposals for a common market.)

This week’s recommendations cover 12 Canadian wines that are suggested for gift giving or enjoying during the coming festivities. Owing to limited production, many are only available direct from the winery.

Bachelder Hanck Pinot Noir 2019 (Canada)

SCORE: 95 PRICE: $47.95

Winemaker Thomas Bachelder recently introduced his first single vineyard pinot noir produced from the Hanck vineyard in Vineland. It’s one of the most exciting wines he made in the 2019 vintage, with is expressive and enjoyable character. A pretty pinot noir, but with substance to mature gracefully. Drink now to 2030. Available direct through bachelderniagara.com.

Blomidon Estate Winery Chardonnay 2018 (Canada)

SCORE: 91 PRICE: $40

This is a lighter and brighter style of chardonnay befitting the cool climate conditions in Nova Scotia vineyards. The wine’s refreshing acidity is rounded out by nutty and oxidative notes from barrel fermentation and aging, which contribute to the core of peach and melon fruit flavours. Drink now to 2026. Available in Nova Scotia at the above price or direct through blomidonwine.ca.

Cave Spring Estate Chardonnay 2018 (Canada)

SCORE: 90 PRICE: $19.95

A rich and complex chardonnay that was produced with grapes grown at Cave Spring’s estate vineyard in Beamsville, Ont. Dry and nicely balanced by bright acidity, this stylish barrel fermented white is developing nicely. It’s ready to drink and will continue to mature gracefully over the next three to five years. Available in Ontario at the above price or direct through cavespring.ca.

CedarCreek Estate Winery Estate Collection Organic Riesling 2020 (Canada)

SCORE: 91 PRICE: $20.99

CedarCreek has a long tradition of producing beautiful riesling, with pure fruit flavours and a kiss of honeyed sweetness to balance the wine’s zesty character. This youthful example offers attractive peach and citrus fruit aromas and flavours with some fragrant floral accents. Drink now to 2030. Available at the above price direct through cedarcreek.bc.ca, various prices in Alberta.

CheckMate Artisanal Winery End Game Merlot 2017 (Canada)

SCORE: 94 PRICE: $95

The 2017 vintage of CheckMate’s End Game Merlot really impresses. Following the house style, this is richly concentrated with dense ripe fruit flavours that gain complexity from fragrant sage, sassafras and savoury notes. This youthful red would benefit from time in the cellar before opening, drink 2022 to 2030. Available direct through checkmatewinery.com.

Closson Chase Vineyard Chardonnay 2019 (Canada)

SCORE: 91 PRICE: $33

A blend of barrel-fermented chardonnay from Closson Chase’s South Clos and Churchside vineyards, this complex and rich white is nicely structured with nutty, toasty and fruity flavours. The texture is creamy and carries through to a long, lingering finish. Drink now to 2025. Available direct through clossonchase.com.

Fogolar Riesling 2019 (Canada)

SCORE: 90 PRICE: $14.95

Winemaker Marc Pistor is responsible for the Fogolar wine brand in Niagara. A graduate of the Brock University wine program who worked alongside Bruce Nicholson at Inniskillin before becoming a consultant to a number of wineries in Ontario, Pistor concentrates on consumer-friendly and classic wine styles. This honeyed white is a textbook expression of Niagara riesling, with lime, peach and floral notes. Drink now to 2029. Available direct through drinkcollab.ca.

Hester Creek Old Vine Pinot Blanc 2020 (Canada)

SCORE: 88 PRICE: $15.99

Hester Creek cares for a parcel of pinot blanc vines planted in 1968, which represents the bulk of the blend for this dry and refreshing white. The mix of citrus and apple flavours makes this an easy-to-appreciate wine to enjoy with or without food. Drink now to 2022. Available in B.C. at the above price or direct through hestercreek.com, various prices in Alberta.

Lakeside Cellars Portage White 2020 (Canada)

SCORE: 88 PRICE: $22

This bright and enjoyable white is a vibrant blend of sauvignon blanc, pinot gris and chardonnay from the Okanagan. The mix of riper apricot, pineapple and peach flavours is nicely balanced by zesty grapefruit notes. It’s a fresh style to enjoy now. Available direct through lakesidecellars.ca.

Spearhead Pinot Noir Cuvée 2019 (Canada)

SCORE: 93 PRICE: $42

A blend of pinot noir grown at Spearhead’s winery in Kelowna and Golden Retreat Vineyard in Summerland, B.C., the Cuvée from 2019 is a red wine with grace and style. The silky texture draws you in, while the mix of ripe dark fruit and spice flavours adds to the enjoyment. This is flavourful and complete. Drink now through 2029. Available direct through spearheadwinery.com.

Tightrope Winery Syrah 2019 (Canada)

SCORE: 92 PRICE: $35

This full-bodied syrah delivers expected dark fruit flavours with pepper, herbal and vanilla notes on the nose and palate. Made in a dry and distinctive style, it has a firm structure and persistent finish that suggest this will develop nicely over time. Drink now to 2029. Available at the above price direct through tightropewinery.com, various prices in Alberta.

Trius Brut Rosé Sparkling (Canada)

SCORE: 91 PRICE: $29.95

One of the pioneering sparkling producers in Niagara, Trius continues to impress with its inviting and invigorating pink bubbly. Made in a dry and refreshing style, this offers appetizing berry fruit flavours that are nicely balanced by the acidity. It’s perfect for toasting, sipping or enjoying with a meal. Available in Ontario at the above price or direct through triuswines.com.

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