WINE SCHOOL 8 - 14 February 2016

REGION: Canada > Ontario

For the student of wine - and particularly terroir - Ontario is a fascinating and confusing wine region. As a whole the region is prone to hot summers and very cold winters but there are such significant variations in microclimate depending on site that both cool climate grapes and warm climate grapes are successfully grown.

The wine style for which the region has, deservedly, found international repute is icewine (see below), but some very good Chardonnay and Pinot Noir is also produced here.

Key red grapes: Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir
Key white grapes: Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Seyval Blanc, Vidal Blanc


GRAPE: Vidal Blanc

Vidal Blanc, or Vidal, is a winter hardy variety that thrives in Canada and northern United States. It can ripen to high levels of sugar and acidity in cool climates and so is predominantly used to make sweet wine, most notably in the luscious, intense Icewine of Ontario. Canada's most famous wine style, Icewine can be astonishingly sweet whilst retaining great freshness and vibrancy, giving it the edge over noble rot sweet wines as the ideal tipple to wash down a slice of sticky toffee pudding.

Drier wines made from Vidal Blanc are fruit-driven (pineapple, melon or pear) with floral undertones. They're rarely found in the UK but try with hake or halibut if you manage to track one down.

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Next week in WINE SCHOOL: Columbia Valley (USA) & Merlot

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