The Great Wines of Canada

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This week we shall adopt a phrase from the Federal Government; we present a column based on “need to know.” We would like to acquaint our readers with a new entrant into the exclusive club of fine winemaking nations; Canada. That’s right Canada, our frigid neighbor to the north.
Wine is made in almost every country of the world, but all too often it is “nothing to write home about” or in such limited quantities as to be of little consequence to the world market. Canada, had for several years, fallen into the latter category. They had become a producer of one of the rarest wines in the world, Ice Wine. Ice Wine is wine made from the juice of frozen grapes that are lightly pressed while still frozen thus giving up only a drop or two of concentrated juice per grape. The Canadian Ice Wines are ethereal. They are full flavored, super fruity and have an extremely heavy body. But, and there is always a but, these wines are very expensive, sparsely produced and directed at a specific clientele. To become a “player” a winery must produce a significant amount of wine and do it consistently and constantly.
Jackson-Triggs, a winery that has made a reputation for quality with their Ice Wines, has entered the fine table wine business. As is usual with anything Canadian, the names for things or places are either French or Native. The area where the wine grapes are grown is called the Okanagan Valley, located about 30 miles north of Washington State in British Columba and just west of Vancouver. The Okanagan Valley has excellent grape growing soil and a moderate climate controlled by winds off of the Pacific Ocean and although they probably won’t admit it, benefiting from the effects of global warming.
We began out sampling of the Jackson-Triggs wines with the Proprietors’ Reserve 2003 Chardonnay ($12.99); observing the rule, white before red. We were surprised at the fullness and flavor of this wine in contrast to many of the weak and flavorless chardonnays that we have been inundated with in the past few years. This is a premier chardonnay and we predict a great future for this wine among those of us who want “real” chardonnays again.
The next wine we sampled was a shocker. It was the Jackson-Triggs Proprietors’ Grand Reserve 2002 Meritage ($24.99). We can say, with out any reservation, that this was one of the finest Meritage wines we have EVER tasted. It is a blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and several other classical grape varieties. To say the least, the wine was incredible.
The Meritage was followed by a pair of merlots; the Proprietors’ Grand Reserve 2002 Merlot ($24.99) and the Proprietors’ Reserve 2002 Merlot ($14.99). Both of these wines present merlot in its finest, classical form, rich, full flavored and concentrated. These wines give merlot a new meaning and should be used to set the standard for all of the merlot wine now being made.
We then finished up with Jackson-Triggs Proprietors’ Reserve 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon ($14.99). Here too, we found the grapes produced in The Okanagan Valley were endowed with a strength and fullness found only in the famed French Classified Bordeaux wines of the sixties, which it closely resembles. The wine is big in flavor, big in quality and falls into the category of wines we will never forget.
What ever the cause of these wines being so concentrated and full, the effect has proven to be outstanding. Big is not a word for these wines; they are huge. They epitomize everything that a wine should be and prove that Canada is an up and coming winemaking country and that their future as a winemaking country is assured.
But, and here is that darned but again, the wines of Jackson-Triggs are also almost impossible to find. Only the top wine stores will carry them, when they can get them. Production has been small in the past two years due to bad weather in the early flowering period which limited the production of grapes, so the wines will be in limited supply. we write this to tell you to keep your eyes open for them.

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