Pinot Noir is Canada’s red grape, for better or for worse. Here’s the first coast to coast survey of where it is growing and what to expect in the glass.
When we 25 judges get together at the National Wine Awards of Canada there are wine categories that excite, and some that bore. And then there are some that seem to cause endless discussion. This year, at the Awards held in Nova Scotia in June, it was pinot noir that caused the most fuss. It was more difficult to find consensus within panels and among all the panels, and in the end, none of the over 100 pinot noirs entered scored high enough to earn a platinum medal, although ten did capture gold medals.
It is called the heartbreak grape for good reason. It attracts and entices almost everyone, but disappoints most at the same time. So sensitive, so temperamental according to the climate and soils in which it is grown. Such a chameleon that it cannot possibly meet a wide variety of expectations (thus our problem on the NWAC panels). It is almost worth the price when it’s great, and far too expensive when it’s not.
So, Canada, this is your most important red grape variety. I would argue it is our national red variety, not because it always makes magnificent wine but at least because it is being seriously attempted in at least four provinces – on the Pacific and Atlantic shores and many interesting places in between. And by the way, pinot noir doesn’t just have to make red wine. It can and does produce excellent sparkling wines and rosés in Canada. All the more reason to crown it as our national red grape.
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Prince Edward County
LAT 44, GDDs 1250
Prince Edward County is the only Canadian wine region essentially founded on the promise of pinot noir, based on experimental plantings in the late 90s by pioneers like Geoff Heinricks and Deborah Paskus who spied the incredible limestone bedrock, and had visions of Burgundy dancing in their heads. From the first winery opening in 2001 there are now about 40, virtually all making pinot, and all now habitually bury their vines to protect against winter kill. The PEC pinots are pale, light bodied, tart edged, capable of great elegance, low tannin, fragrance and minerality. Pinot specialist Norman Hardie who worked with pinot in Burgundy and in several New World locales has vaulted the region to national and even international fame but even earlier adopters like Long Dog, Rosehall Run, Grange of Prince Edward, and Closson Chase have fared well, joined more recently by tiny specialists like Exultet, Stanners, Keint-He, Hubbs Creek, The Old Third, and Lighthall. It is to my mind the most exciting, volatile and vexing pinot region in the country.
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For the complete article, see September 2017 Canadian Wine Report on winealign.com.