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Delhi Wine Club
Tasting : Canadian Wines from Ontario

Posted: Tuesday, 15 December 2015 17:20


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Tasting : Canadian Wines from Ontario

Dec 15: Toronto-based wine educator and consultant Dr. Nupur Gogia has been visiting Delhi during the last few days and used the opportunity to introduce wines from three Ontario producers at the Canadian High Commission on Saturday, writes Subhash Arora who attended the tastings and feels it is not only the icewine anymore but Canada can take credit for making wines which may not be cheap but are clean, crisp, cheerful, and cool climate food friendly wines

Click For Large ViewWhen Nupur Gogia contacted me over a month ago from Toronto saying she was coming to India and planning organizing a Tasting of wines from the Niagara Region in Delhi and if any  members of the Delhi Wine Club would be interested in such an event, I was immediately tempted to say- yes! Canadian wines have been getting better during the last decade or more and the ice-wines rate among the best in the world.

But when she said she would be bringing the bottles with her I suggested she try and work with the Canadian High Commission. It’s not feasible to conduct a tasting in a restaurant because of the archaic excise laws that do not allow it without a cumbersome process that can turn off many an overseas exporter from overseas. Of course, it could be done in a private home but it might not be very professional. The High Commission is also known to support the Canadian food and wine industry.

I am glad she took my advice and was able to organise it at the Canada Club within the High Commission Complex. She started her presentation going straight to the point, talking about the 3 major appellations of Ontario- Niagara Peninsula (with 10 sub-appellations) Lake Erie North Shore and Prince Edward County. The cool climate region at the same latitude as Burgundy (41-44˚), has 4 main varieties- Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Franc. Three big lakes in Canada are very helpful in moderating the climate and keep the winters warm and helpful in maintaining the acidity and freshness in wines. Soils are similar to France, she said.

Conceding off the bat, she said Canada used to make mediocre wines except the icewine, till about 20 years ago when the Canadian appellation system was started. Known as VQA (Vintners Quality Assurance) was introduced in Canada  (a point that ought to be of interest to Indian wine industry which works under no such appellation or wine laws), this step resulted in hugely improved quality as my palate suggested later.

Gogia had carried 7 wines from 3 wineries from the Niagara Peninsula- Flat Rock Cellars Twenty Miles Bench (, Cave Spring Niagara Peninsula ( and Southbrook Vineyards (the first biodynamic winery in Canada) and Wines tasted were:

1. Riddled Sparkling 2009 Flat Rock Cellars: Champagne style 70% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Noir with beer-crown cap (they use only screw caps for all the bottles). Delicious wine but from the fizz and the cap it appeared as if it was a frizzante- or else a miracle because a crown cap cannot hold the pressure of a champagne or any other spumante- over 5 bar atmospheric pressure. 88/100

Click For Large View2. Twisted 2013 Flat Rock Cellars –a Blend of Riesling Sauvignon Blanc Chardonnay and a touch of Gewürztraminer, made with non invasive winemaking. Felt a bit too sweet despite good acidity. Meant for spicy Indian food. 87/100

3. Connect 2013 Organic White Southbrook- Blend of Vidal, 58%, 21% Chardonnay- the balance being Sauvignon Blanc, is a low alcohol wine  (9.9%), very good with Indian cuisine. Made by a vegan winemaker there are no eggs used for fining and even vegans would enjoy the crisp and fresh wine, by itself or with vegetarian dishes. 86/100

4. Riesling  2014 Flat Rock Cellars- Made from grapes grown on young vines- 15 years old, off dry (34 gms/lit) but with good acidity and minerality, this light bodied wine is food friendly and  would go well with spicy food or snacks. According to Nupur it will age 5-7 years when the citrus flavour will develop more into honey and deeper fruit level.   86/100

5. Riesling  2013 Cave Spring –  In high neck German Riesling bottle (winery was started by Germans in the 1970s),  from  single vineyard  with one of their oldest blocks being 30-40 years old. Has limestone that will become more pronounced. A complex and well-balanced wine with slight pertrol-ly aromas. Excellent and elegant,  SWAAD wine  93/100

6. Transition 2013 Southbrook- An interesting red wine made by blending 100% Cabernet Franc  grapes taken from the winemakers who are organic but not yet certified, with grapes from the certified grower (and hence the label Transition). Not commercially available but in restaurants only. Fermented in oak casks, pressed and bottled and made with little intervention. Very juicy wine that blossomed in the mouth with mutton seekh kebabs. Soft tannins with lots of cherries and a layer of cigar box wooden flavours. Delicious with Indian food.  91/100  

7. Icewine 2006 Southbrook- A perfect example of why Canada is so well established as an icewine maker. Already amber colour which would turn darker with years. Tropical, Click For Large Viewcomplex and exciting  bouquet that carries on with the flavours. Persistent of the palate with seemingly never ending length. Alc 11.8% . 94/100

Nupur had wisely selected the wines to match Indian food. In fact, thanks to her generosity, there was a sea of Indian snacks that she used with dexterity to showcase the food-wine matching capability of Canadian wines. The bottle prices in retail in Canada appeared expensive but with high taxation of 100%, it might imply that they could be competitive for the niche market and worthy of a look by importers.

In any event, the wines were a testimonial and fine representation for the ‘Wines of Canada’- Ontario to be more precise. One hopes to find some of them on the Indian dining tables.

Kudos to the Canadian High Commission for putting their heart and soul into the event and validating my suggestion to Nupur to hold the tasting at the ‘Canadian premises’ rather than going through the nightmare and labyrinth of Excise rules and impractical process.

Subhash Arora

Nupur Gogia is a PhD from the University of Toronto, WSET Diplomat holder and the owner of Island Vines in Toronto, Canada - a company dedicated to teaching and consulting. She judges at wine competitions in Canada, specifically focused on promoting Ontario wines. She has supplemented the formal knowledge through extensive travels in wine regions in both the Old and New World. She also owns another company wholesaling and retailing ready-to-go Indian Foods in Toronto.

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