Beat the heat Canadian-style

Canada Day always leaves me a little patriotic. It also signals the start of those hazy, lazy days of summer.

When the mercury moves towards the 30s those big wintertime reds can become too much. I don’t want a big meaty Shiraz on the patio, much less on the palate. I’d rather have something that will quench my thirst and cool me down.

To beat the heat, aim for acidity over sweetness, and look for the lightest-colour wines you can find. In most cases, that means something light and crisp–a Riesling vs. Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc over Cabernet Sauvignon.

Luckily, Canada just so happens to produce an awful lot of crisp, thirst-quenching wines.

Malivoire Ladybug Rosé

Niagara’s Malivoire Wine Company produces a number of excellent wines. The whites I’ve tried have been good, but are a little richer and more suited for cooler weather. But their “Ladybug” Rosé is perfect for one of those hot Winnipeg summer evenings.

It’s a very Canadian blend of Cabernet Franc, Gamay and Pinot Noir (all well-suited for Niagara’s climate) that shows nice berry aromas and a deeper flavour than you’d expect from a rosé. Plenty of crisp acidity and a very long finish make this a perfect match with just about anything.

You’ll find this one at specialty wine stores for around $18. If you’re going to share it with friends, make sure to have an extra bottle or two on hand, because you’ll need them!

Cave Springs Beamsville Bench Estate Bottled Riesling

You’ll find Riesling on any list of good summertime wines and Cave Springs makes a particularly excellent one in its Beamsville Bench Estate Bottled Riesling.

It’s dry but has just a hint of sweetness to balance the considerable acidity.

I found citrus and mineral aromas, and it showed both peach and citrus flavours.

It’s well worth its $21.99 price tag (at specialty wine stores) whether spoiling yourself or celebrating a special occasion, but if you’re so inclined, you could also age it for a decade or more. But summers are so short that it seems a shame to wait.

Quail’s Gate Chenin Blanc

One of my favourite summertime whites is the Quail’s Gate Chenin Blanc. There isn’t a lot of Chenin Blanc grown in Canada, and outside of the Loire (and maybe South Africa), the grape isn’t taken as seriously as it should be. But this fine example shows just how good Chenin Blanc can be in the right hands.

Cut with a small amount (10%) of barrel-fermented Sauvignon Blanc, making it a bit richer, it starts off softly with a hint of sweetness which is quickly subdued by citrus flavours and a dry finish. I’d be cautious about pairing it with anything stronger than light seafood, whitefish or scallops at most, but it’s also really good on its own.

As an aside, the 2007 vintage of this wine was served to President Obama at a state function in Ottawa two years ago. And much like the Cave Springs Riesling, this Chenin could age as much as 5 or 6 years. But do yourself a favour and try some now.

Pelee Island ‘Eco-Trail’ White

Last but certainly not least, Pelee Island’s ‘Eco-Trail’ (a blend of Auxerrois and Chardonnay) is a crowd-pleasing summertime wine perfect for picnics or family gatherings.

You won’t find a lot of strong flavour here, but it’s easy-drinking and crisp, with hints of melon and apple.

It’s a steal at $10.95 (at most Manitoba Liquor Marts) so pick up a case for your next family BBQ or just try a bottle of this everyday favourite next weekend. wine editor Alec Stuart has been in and out of the wine industry since 1996 and has spent the last ten years handling wine education for the Kenaston Wine Market. If you have a question for Alec or a suggestion for a future feature, drop us a line.

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