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August 23, 2017
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Season's sippings

Five knockout Canadian wines that are sure to sparkle at your holiday get-togethers

It’s time to deck the halls and stock the cellar. Amazingly another holiday season will soon arrive, and no doubt bring the usual annual flurry of festivities and merrymaking. A bit of proactive wine planning in this time of busy social calendars and impromptu invites will allow you to effortlessly spread the cheer.

This should include picking up wines that will please a crowd, make a great gift, even perhaps tickle the taste buds under the mistletoe! Keep a bottle each of bubbly, white and red on hand and you're pretty much prepared for the holiday season. Add something sweet for dessert and you have all your vinous bases covered — just don’t forget to replenish as required. In the spirit of supporting local wineries, here is a wish list of CanCon wines ready for pouring throughout the holidays, available throughout the country.

The gift of wine

Wine makes a great gift. It’s more celebratory than socks and much more palatable than a lump of coal. But what's the best bottle to present to the wine fan on your list? Sure, if you know the lucky recipient’s particular preferences it’s great to tailor the selection. But when in doubt — or when looking to bestow a bottle to a colleague or acquaintance — the classy option is a bold red that is ready to either warm the toes or go down for a stint in the cellar. A wine like Laughing Stock Vineyard’s Blind Trust Red, which not only tastes fantastic but comes across quite rakish thanks to its heavy bottle and intelligently cheeky ticker-tape packaging.

Located on the picturesque Naramata Bench in British Columbia, Laughing Stock was founded in 2003 by two reformed financiers. The Blind Trust Red is the winery’s homage to a blind financial trust, a trust that gives a fiduciary third party complete discretion to make investments on the uninformed beneficiary’s behalf. In the wine’s case, each vintage Laughing Stock’s winemaker has full discretion over the final composition of the blend.

The 2009 bottling is a classic Bordeaux blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec (in 70/22/8 proportion respectively, for the number crunchers!). It offers plush blackberry and currant fruit, a sumptuous but structured mouthfeel overall, and a ripe tannin finish. The Blind Trust Red is drinking great right now with an hour or two in the decanter, and it will mature gracefully over the next few years.

Priced from $29.00-$41.95.

Open-house white

At times holiday wines shine best when they’re not the main star. A reception-ready white helps see both hosts and guests through the holiday party and canapé circuit. Of course there is no rule against red wines but, given the logistics of most receptions, ideally the wine will be fresh and on the lighter-side lest palates get bogged down before the night is through. And there’s no shame in seeking out value-centric bottles, particularly when looking to slake a thirsty crowd!

Cue Mission Hill Family Estate’s “Five Vineyards” Pinot Blanc. The Five Vineyards line sources grapes from five distinct growing regions throughout the Okanagan Valley, and the vineyard blend creates a super zesty, crisp Pinot Blanc.

This unoaked white wafts aromas of apple and pineapple and is lively right through to its punchy finish. Plus, with a respectable 12.5 percent alcohol-by-volume this Pinot Blanc lets the conversation flow without overwhelming the senses, yet the wine certainly has ample flavour. It matches up wonderfully with all manner of finger foods, from shrimp cocktail to sausage rolls.

Priced from $14.95-$16.45.

All-around red

Turkey, tourtière, latkes, roast goose, honey-glazed ham, tofurkey. There’s typically no shortage of food during the holiday season which — unless you plan on opening multiple bottles — can make wine pairing a little tricky.

Consider Pinot Noir if you require a multitasking bottle when the family gathers for the holiday meal. It’s a dynamic red that pours beautifully as an all-around wine for the table: fruity enough for lighter fare but robust enough to pair up with protein.

The Pinot Noirs of Ontario’s Le Clos Jordanne have quickly garnered acclaim both in Canada and around the wine world. Based in Jordan Village on the Niagara Peninsula, the winery opened in 2006 and operates with the most meticulous of winemaking practices — from organic viticulture to hand harvesting and grape sorting.

All the effort shows when tasting the single-vineyard Le Clos Jordanne’s Claystone Terrace. It’s a brawny but elegant Pinot Noir. Rich cherry fruit and mocha spice meld with a savoury earthiness and wet stone undertones in this complex red that certainly ranks as one of Canada’s top wines.

Priced from $45.00-$45.75.

Sparkling new year

Sparkling wine is a must during the holidays. Not only is it great for ringing in the New Year, bubbly is guaranteed to put the cheer in any yuletide celebration. Blue Mountain Vineyard and Cellars’ “Gold Label” Brut has long been considered one of Canada’s best sparkling wines, and it’s fantastic to see it gaining availability across the nation.

The Mavety family, Blue Mountain’s proprietors, have been farming their vineyards in the South Okanagan for more than 40 years. They use estate-grown Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes (with a smidge of Pinot Gris) in their sparkler, which is made using the laborious Méthode Traditionnelle process that requires secondary fermentation to take place in bottle.

This festive bubbly has a fine mousse that gives off rousing aromas of lemon and brioche, with ample richness on the palate before a crisp, citrusy finish. It’s great sipped solo with glasses raised, and also works wonderfully with food, from greasy fried chicken to brunch on Christmas morning.

Priced from $23.90-$32.95.

Sweet returns

The wine doesn’t have to stop with the main course, especially during the holidays when family and friends convene and conversation may linger long into the night. A bottle of dessert wine adds an exclamation point to the meal, and ice cider offers a tasty break from the grapey norm.

Domaine Pinnacle is a family-run orchard and cidery located in Quebec’s Eastern Townships, where the 174-hectare farm takes advantage of the region’s geography to produce a stunning array of ice ciders and apple brandies. Domaine Pinnacle Ice Cider is made from six different varieties of apples harvested later than usual, after frost has arrived.

It’s amazingly lush and concentrated, with baked apple and caramel nuances and a smooth finish that leisurely languishes across the tongue. Keep this bottle in the fridge until the opportune moment arrives, then serve solo, with a cheese plate or traditional fruitcake!

Priced from $24.90-$29.95 for 375ml.

This article was accurate when it was published. Please confirm rates and details directly with the companies in question.

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