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Canadian Wine Wire: A new cider with a message, Niagara Vintages releases, Thirty Bench’s big award and CVA’s honour roll

Canadian wine

By Rick VanSickle

Wines in Niagara recently had a taste of the new D’Ont Poke the Bear Cider, the newest creation from Andrew von Teichman and Allan Jackson, who also produce VQA Ontario wines under the same label that comes with an important anti-bullying message.

Jackson and von Teichman were both bullied as children and created D’Ont Poke the Bear to celebrate those that fight back and put their friends first … Oh, and you can put the apostrophe wherever they want!

By donating $0.25 per bottle of wine and $0.05 per can of craft cider, they will set out to make this happen.

The D’Ont Poke the Bear Cider is locally sourced from seven different types of apples and is made without any added flavours.

Here’s our review:

Canada wine

D’Ont Poke the Bear Cider ($3.25 per 473 mL can, 88 points) — This is a delicious summer cider made at 5% abv that highlights fresh apple aromas and flavours all delivered with a touch of sweetness that’s nicely balanced by refreshing acidity. Clean, tasty and delivers a powerful message. Take that to your dock and sip it!

D’Ont forget that a portion of every can of cider goes back to Friends First, a group raising money for anti-bullying in Canada!

Friends First

The Friends First mission is to build more connected communities and support the eradication of bullying. They provide young and old with the tools to promote kindness through confidence, empathy, and empowerment. This foundation is a resource for those who seek to end bullying in their communities and in turn, foster a more tolerant and thoughtful world.

Check out here to learn more about this awesome initiative!

Also in this report: Niagara releases from the Vintages release this Saturday, recipients of the Canadian Wine Industry Awards, a big wine for Thirty Bench Wine Makers at the Decanter wine awards, and a big $11 million investment from the government of Canada to advance innovation and growth in wine sector.

Three Niagara wine picks from Vintages
release Saturday at LCBO stores

Ontario wine

2027 Cellars Edgerock Vineyard Pinot Noir 2016 ($25, 91 points) — This is winemaker Kevin Panagapka’s first attempt at a Pinot Noir at this lower price point. Quality Pinot like this is hard to find in Niagara (or anywhere, for that matter). Edgerock is a vineyard on the Twenty Mile Bench farmed by Wismer. Panagapka uses 40% new French oak, always wild fermentation for all his wines, 70% of the fruit is whole berry pressed. The quality of oak, grapes and winemaking for 2027 Cellars is the same across the board whether it’s a $19 bottle of wine or a $40 bottle. The nose on this fine Pinot is fresh and delicate with strawberry, cherry, rhubarb, subtle toasted vanilla and oak. Turns more complex on the palate with obvious tannins to bring complexity and structure into the equation to go with savoury red fruits, underbrush and well-integrated spice notes. A personable Pinot that will have you scratching head at the quality to price ratio.

Best Canadian wine

Foreign Affair Amarosé 2017 ($19, 89 points) — The winery calls this “a first-of-its-kind partial-appassimento rosé. The appassimento part comes from 10% dried Chardonnay added to the mostly Pinot Noir. I have no idea how they come up with these complicated formulas, but I do (mostly) like the results. It shows a pretty pink/salmon colour in the glass with a generous nose of strawberries, melon and a squirt of citrus. It has a creamy feel on the palate and is richer than some rosés we’re seeing in Niagara but still, it has wonderful red berries and uplifting citrus accents on the finish.

Rosewood Sussreserve Riesling 2016 ($16, 88 points) — This is the last vintage for this style of Riesling that involves blending unfermented grape juice back into the fermented Riesling. It has a bright nose of lime, peach, grapefruit and apple. It’s light and refreshing on the palate with citrus, sweet peach and crisp lime on the finish.

Also released at Vintages stores Saturday:

• Trius Brut Rosé ($33)
• Cave Spring Estate Bottled Chardonnay Musque 2016 ($18)
• Redstone Limestone Vineyard South Riesling 2016 ($20)
• 13th Street Gamay 2016 ($20)
• Creekside Rosé 2017 ($16)
• Long Weekend Wine Company Rosé 2017 ($14)

Von Mandl, writer Lawrason
and Kaiser honoured
by the
Canadian Vintners Association

L-R: Bruce Nicholson (winner of The Karl Kaiser Canadian Winemaker Award), CJ Smith (winner of the BC Wine Institute Industry Recognition Award), Anthony von Mandl (winner of the Canadian Wine Industry Award of Distinction), Dan Paszkowski (CEO of the Canadian Vintners Association), Miles Prodan (CEO of the BC Wine Institute), Vera Klokocka (winner of the BC Wine Institute Award of Distinction), David Lawrason (winner of the Canadian Wine Industry Champion Award), Christa-Lee McWatters-Bond (Chair of the BC Wine Institute), Geoff McIntyre (Representing MNP, Sponsor of the Canadian Wine Industry Awards), David Wilson (Chair of the Canadian Vintners Association)

Anthony von Mandl, David Lawrason and Karl Kaiser were all honoured for their contributions to the Canadian wine industry last week in the Okanagan Valley.

The Canadian Vintners Association (CVA) recognized the trio as winners of the 2018 Canadian Wine Industry Awards last Tuesday.

The awards recognize individuals, organizations and businesses that have gone above and beyond to support and enhance the wine industry in Canada, celebrating the success, leadership and outstanding commitment in Canada’s grape wine industry.

The winner of the Canadian Wine Industry Award of Distinction— regarded as the highest form of peer recognition in the Canadian wine industry — was Anthony von Mandl.

For more than 40 years von Mandl has dedicated his life’s work to an audacious dream: to produce world-class wines in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley and showcase them at architectural landmark wineries that attract visitors from around the world.

Today, the von Mandl Family’s collection of Estate vineyards and luxury wineries includes Mission Hill Family Estate, CedarCreek Estate Winery, CheckMate Artisanal Winery, and the radical new gravity-fed Martin’s Lane Winery, which crafts exceptional Pinot Noir and Riesling wines that have captured the world’s attention.

“Anthony’s lifelong commitment to putting the Okanagan Valley on the international map as a region producing world class wine, is remarkable,” said Dan Paszkowski, President and CEO of the CVA. “His vision and dedication have been instrumental in the development of the BC wine industry, a region whose exceptional quality wines can stand alongside the best in the world.”

The Wine Industry Champion Award, presented to an individual who has provided exemplary support to the Canadian wine industry through media, research, policy or advocacy, was awarded to David Lawrason, a wine journalist who has spent over 30 years reporting on wine, and making wine more accessible to Canadian consumers. Toronto-based Lawrason has travelled across Canada, tasting thousands of Canadian wines and sharing his observations with consumers from coast to coast.

“I am thrilled to honour David’s exceptional contribution to consumer wine education today,” stated Paszkowski.

“David’s dedication to Canadian wine, whether through co-founding the WineAlign National Wine Awards of Canada, or teaching the Canadian Wine Scholar course, are a snapshot of how hard he has worked to educate Canadian consumers about Canada’s high-quality fine wines.”

The Canadian Vintners Association was thrilled to add a third award to its Canadian Wine Industry Awards in 2018. The Karl Kaiser Canadian Winemaker Award was created to celebrate great Canadian winemakers, in honour of the legacy of the late Karl Kaiser, a Canadian wine industry pioneer and viticultural visionary. The recipient of this inaugural award was Bruce Nicholson, senior winemaker at Inniskillin.

“There is no-one more deserving of this inaugural Karl Kaiser Canadian Winemaker Award than Bruce. With over 30 years of experience in both British Columbia and Ontario, he has made world-class wines that have gained international acclaim, shared his skills and knowledge with a new generation of winemakers, and continues to demonstrate the endless potential for Canadian wines,” remarked Paszkowski.

Thirty Bench wins best in show
at Decanter wine awards

Bordeaux, Burgundy and now Beamsville can be counted among the very best wine regions in the world.

Thirty Bench Wine Makers took home the top prize for the winery’s 2015 Small Lot Cabernet Franc, made by winemaker Emma Garner, with the Best in Show medal and a score of 97 points at the Decanter World Wine Awards (DWWA), the world’s largest and most prestigious wine competition.

Over 16,000 wines from more than 60 countries are blind tasted and scored by the competition’s judges. Thirty Bench is the only Canadian winery to be awarded Best in Show, the top prize, at the 2018 competition and the first-ever Canadian winery to win the Cabernet Franc varietal class. Thirty Bench Wine Maker’s 2015 Steel-Post Riesling was also judged at the competition and earned a score of 97 points.

Winemaker Emma Garner

The 15th edition of the DWWA took place over the course of one week in London with 275 international experts, including 59 Masters of Wine and 25 Master Sommeliers from 33 countries assessing the entries. According to Decanter Magazine: “wines at the DWWA are given an enormous amount of consideration and thoughtfulness. Among all wine competitions in the world, this is the competition producers want to be part of. It was clear to the panel of judges that the Cabernet Franc from Thirty Bench Wines was the best in its varietal class and is evidence that wine lovers should be taking note of what is happening in Canada.”

“The recognition from the international wine community demonstrates our commitment to producing premium wines grown exclusively within the Beamsville Bench appellation,” said Emma Garner, winemaker, Thirty Bench. “It’s an honour for our Cabernet Franc – which is hand-picked and organically farmed – to be recognized by such accomplished judges as one of the best wines in the world.”

Wines In Niagara recently reviewed the Small Lot Cabernet Franc, this is the published review with the new price for the wine, available at the winery now.

Thirty Bench Small Lot Cabernet Franc 2015 ($75, 91 points) — A rollicking nose of cherry, raspberry, plum, currant, graphite and rich barrel spice notes with just a hint of bramble and herbs. This is a highly structured Franc and tight, but does open up to a full complement of red and dark fruits, anise/licorice accents, gobs of puckering tannins and vibrant acidity through the finish. Cellar 5+ years.

Canada invests over $11M to advance
innovation and growth in wine sector

Canada’s wine sector is growing, with the industry generating revenues of $1.2 billion in 2016 and employing over 5,600 people. Wine makers and grape growers across the country are working hard to ensure their businesses are able to thrive in Canada’s climate, and innovate as the industry grows.

Last week, Stephen Fuhr, MP for Kelowna Lake Country, spoke at the Canadian Vintners Association’s annual general meeting, where he reaffirmed the Government of Canada’s support for the wine and grape sector through three key investments. Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, previously announced these investments on July 4, in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Fuhr highlighted the government’s investment of up to $8.4 million to the Canadian Grapevine Certification Network (CGCN) under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, AgriScience Clusters. This is the first time grape and wine producing organizations from across the country have come together, as the CGCN, to develop a national research cluster devoted to advancing the Canadian grape and wine industry.

This research investment, which includes up to an additional $3.7 million from industry contributions, will help growers better protect their crops, test new vine varieties, and analyze growing practices in Canadian vineyards that are better for the environment.

Fuhr also congratulated the Canadian Vintners Association on completing a $1.5 million project under Growing Forward 2, AgriMarketing program. This funding helped the Canadian wine industry enhance Canada’s international reputation as a top cool climate wine producer through market development and trade advocacy activities, and helped launch the Wines of Canada brand.

In addition, Fuhr underscored an additional investment of $1.5 million over three years to the Canadian Vintner’s Association (CVA) under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, AgriMarketing program. The funding will assist the industry in activities such as participation in trade shows, missions, and promotions in traditional markets, such as the United States, the United Kingdom, and China, as well as CVA’s participation at international trade advocacy events.

Quick Facts

Canada’s wine industry generated revenues of $1.2 billion and employed over 5,600 people. Exports of wine in 2016 equalled $133.6 million.

The Canadian Agricultural Partnership is a five-year, $3 billion investment by federal, provincial and territorial governments to strengthen the agriculture and agri-food sector. The Partnership builds on Growing Forward 2, the previous five-year agreement that ended on March 31, 2018.

The Partnership includes programs and activities to enhance the competitiveness of the sector through research, science and innovation. Through the AgriScience Program, a five-year, up to up to $338 million initiative, the government is supporting leading edge discovery and applied science, and innovation driven by industry research priorities.