Ontario Wine Culture

Cave Spring Oenologist and Viticulturist Gabriel Demarco explaining the unique qualities of Chardonnay Musqué to an attendee.

For an Ontario wine lover it’s the best time of year. We’ve still got some of the best of the summer bounty, the stifling peak summer humidity has receded to gentle sun and crisp autumn breezes and harvest is upon us. To celebrate that the LCBO doubles down and for the next few weeks highlighting local wine. It began with its Bring Local Home kick-off event in late September. “Today is all about falling in love with local,” said Marie Cundari, the LCBO’s director of New World and Ontario wines.

Chef Devan Rajkumar and food stylist Miranda Keyes previewing their Bring Home Local Web Series.

Throughout the year the LCBO stocks 735 wines by 175 VQA wineries, about a third of all wines that received the VQA seal of approval last year, making it the largest seller of local wine. But over the next couple weeks when you walk into a LCBO you’ll see some extra championing of Ontario wine including more local wines in the bi-weekly Vintages releases, bottles on sale and displays with the Bring Local Home slogan. New for this year the LCBO is releasing a five-part web series starring chef Devan Rajkumar and food stylist Miranda Keyes going to all corners of the province in search of the best food and drinks produced in our backyard. Along with the new look Food and Drink magazine it’s part of an extra emphasis on partnering local wine, craft beer and spirits with the bounty of Ontario’s farms and food artisans. It’s a particular wise move given how Ontario’s cool climate wines reach another level when they’re paired with food.

In honour of the campaign here are a few great local wines to pick-up at the LCBO and enjoy alongside tonight’s dinner or around the family table at Thanksgiving.

2017 13th Street Gamay

Niagara, $19.95

With the finesse of a white wine but a little bit of that extra red wine oomph, Gamay is the perfect transition grape as we move into autumn. The team at 13th Street has long been on team Gamay and it shows in this wine which is bright and highly crushable. It’s full of dark berries and backed-up with a touch peppery spice, sun-warmed soil and a fresh finish. It’s the perfect partner for an easy weeknight pasta featuring some of those end of season tomatoes. Put it in the fridge 15 minutes before dinner’s ready and it’ll make the fruit pop and really sing with dinner.

2018 Hinterland White Cap

PEC, $23.35

This sparkling wine is made using the Charmat method, the same as Prosecco, but it’s so much more compelling than your average Italian bubbles. It greets you with a hello hug of floral and fruity white peach, citrus and a hint of something tropical that’s subtle like a good cup of tea rather than in your face like grandma potpourri. But it really comes into its own on the finish where those creamy bubbles lead to dry, bright finish that’s refreshing minerally as sea spray crashing into rocks—thank that signature Prince Edward Country limestone soil and cool climate acidity. Chill a bottle, grab some takeout sushi and tempura from your favourite neighbourhood spot and fire-up that Netflix queue on Friday night—goodbye work week, hello weekend.

Cave Spring’s Chardonnay Musqué.

2016 Cave Spring Chardonnay Musqué

Niagara, $17.95

Made from an aromatic clone and swiping a hard left on the oak barrel treatment this is anything but your average bottle of Chardonnay. It’ll charm the Chard-skeptics with floral wildflower honey, white peach and honeydew and please the another bottle of Chardonnay crowd with a beautifully round and rich texture that’s as satisfying as a morning latte. But best of all both camps will be equally happy thanks to a crisp dry and long finish of white tea, jasmine and orange blossom. In short it’s versatile and charming enough take home to mom for Thanksgiving as it is to elevate a weekday a salad of garden fresh greens, roasted pear, pecans and shaved parm.

What grows together, goes together. Ontario cheese pairings for VQA wines of the LCBO Bring Home Local campaign courtesy of Afrim Pristine of the Cheese Botique.

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