2009 Quail's Gate Gewurtztraminer

January 21 2012 - 2:15 PM

Scoring Canadian wine in the United States is much harder than finding drugs, ice wine excepted.   Wine in Canada is relegated to domestic consumption, and most wine produced is in two regions:   Niagara Valley in Ontario and the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia, both of which have been praised for quality and whose wines have won several well-deserved awards

Canada, surprisingly, has a wide variety of wines, from expected cool-climate Rieslings, Gewurtztraminers, Pinot Blancs and Pinot Noirs to Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, as well as hybrids such as Marechal Foch.   I've noticed that Canadian wines tend to be more nuanced, with less sweetness, less extraction, and less fruit, definitely a function of climate, but perhaps also influenced by the market. 

Quail's Gate Gewurtztraminer has some strong Alsatian influences and doesn't tend to be a New World white with big flavor, sweetness, and manufactured tastes that I tend to simultaneously anticipate and loath at first sip.   It has a straw color, with a delicate nose, containing a palate of varietal characteristic rose petals, with pears in light syrup, and subtle hints of its limestone terroir.  Alcohol level is a sensible 12.5 percent, and though the Web site claimed over eight grams per liter of acidity, I'm not sure if the acid matched wines from Alsace, though perhaps the relative sweetness (14 grams per liter) threw me off somewhat.

Still, at $20 per bottle in Alberta province and procured by a nice little shop, da Vine, in central Edmonton, I felt that this wine offered  value enough for me to take a few bottles back with me.  Canadian wines tend to be a bit pricier. and according to a wine shop worker this is the result of the difficulty of growing grapes in such a cool climate.  This is compounded by provincial taxes varying wildly to the extent that they make the U.S. look harmonious by comparison.  The extra few dollars, to me, is an insurance policy against buying a chemically-altered product that bears little resemblance to what should have been a more drinkable wine if it did not have so much intervention in the cellar.

–Brian Ziegler