The Great Canadian Wine Challenge – TGCWC, for those of you curious about the acronym – is an excellent idea and a fun challenge. If you don’t live in Nova Scotia. Or, if you’re living in Nova Scotia, you don’t like big, bold red wines. Or even less bold red wines.
The options are fairly dire here Canada’s Ocean Playground. Nova Scotia has a rapidly growing and developing wine scene, and the wines are very good, it’s just that the climate and the terrain aren’t really suited for reds. I would gladly put any Nova Scotian sparkling up against the best of Champagne – try Benjamin Bridge’s Brut, for example, a beautiful example of what Nova Scotia can do for sparklers. The Tidal Bay wines, offered by most Nova Scotian wineries, are interesting to compare as they give winemakers the opportunity to show their style within a set of specific guidelines.
Sometimes, though, I want more than Nova Scotian wine. Sometimes I want a bottle of malbec. Or merlot. Or a riesling. If I want to buy a non-Nova Scotian Canadian wine at the local NSLC (the Nova Scotian answer to the LCBO), I have approximately eight shelves to choose from. Those shelves all have the same bottles. I like Sibling Rivalry, it’s a solid choice, but I want more! I won’t drink Cellared in Canada wines, which don’t count for TGCWC, but there are easily four times as many CIC wines than there are “real” Canadian wines. Plus, to add insult to injury, they label the CIC shelves as “Canada” while the real Canadian wines are left to languish under a “VQA” label.
I also want to point out that yes, I could get some mail order wines. But I’m here for only a few months, I don’t want to order a case from the same winery and I’m pretty sure that Nova Scotia has yet to free their grapes.
So. To my friends, I apologize. To the Canadian winemakers, I apologize. I will continue to buy your wines, I will continue to drink Canadian (including Nova Scotia wines!), but I just can’t handle the lack of selection. Sometimes a gal just needs a Malbec.