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Edmonton 2014 Wine Guide



Edmonton 2014 Wine Guide

Contents CONTENTS 4 Introduction 6 Analyzing Wine 7 Tasting Wine 10 Wine & Food 13, 14 France 19, 20 Italy 23, 24 Spain 26, 29 Portugal 30 Germany 33 Austria 36 Greece 39 South Africa 40 Stemware 45, 46 Gadgets 48 Storing WIne 51, 52 Canada 55, 56 U.S.A. 58 Argentina 61 Chile 63, 64 Australia 66 New Zealand This guide is published by

Publisher Rob Lightfoot Creative Team Editor Jeremy Derksen Creative & Design Charlie Biddiscombe Photos Brenda Lakeman Words Mel Priestley Riedel Stemware provided by The Wine Cellar

© 2014 Postvue Publishing

All Rights Reserved, Reproduction in whole or in part is prohibited without the written consent of the publisher.

Postvue Publishing

#200, 11230 119 St. Edmonton, AB. • T5G 2X3 Ph: 780.426.1996

INTRODUCTION Wine is global. It is enjoyed the world over and made in dozens of countries throughout the world—though almost all of the world’s wine grape vineyards reside between the 30th and 50th parallels of latitude in both the Northern and Southern hemispheres, and only a handful of countries produce the vast majority of the world’s fine wines. The 14 countries in this guide are the world’s most important wine producers. This guide is intended to whet your appetite with key morsels of information about each major wine producing country. On each page you’ll discover facts about that country’s wine history, past and present, its key regions and grape varieties, and a range of other information on that area’s particular vinous expressions. Maps of each country’s most important wine regions provide a quick visual reference, though wine geography is complex and constantly evolving so these serve as a quick snapshot rather than a definitive atlas. Entire encyclopaedias have been written about French wine alone; the following pages are far from a complete or exhaustive resource. Instead, I hope that this serves as a springboard for your further exploration into the vast world of wine. Above all, I hope you find the guide useful and entertaining. Pop a cork and let’s enjoy!

Cheers! Mel Priestley


Edmonton 2014 Wine Guide

Edmonton 2014 Wine Guide


ANALYZING WINE Wine is comprised of several components that greatly impact its flavour. Being able to recognize and analyze each component is indispensable in deepening your wine tasting expertise.


Most wines smell and taste fruity, so it’s important to narrow down. Start general and get more specific: first try to identify a particular group of fruit (tropical, berry, citrus, tree) and then go through specific types: if it is citrusy, is it more like lemons, oranges, limes or grapefruit?


Not all wines have oaky aromas or flavours because not all wines are subjected to oak (during fermentation and/or barrel aging). Two types are commonly used in winemaking: American oak, which gives pronounced vanilla aromas; and French oak, which gives toasty spice aromas.


Earthy flavours in wine include damp gravel, forest floor, pine, mushrooms and sometimes even barnyard. Earthiness is usually a secondary characteristic, but sometimes it can dominate - particularly in European and older wines.


A wine’s acidity causes a rush of saliva in your mouth and is necessary to balance any residual sweetness; low acid wines can taste flabby and unfocused. High acid wines are usually food-friendly, as the acidity cleanses your palate and makes you want another bite.


Tannins derive mainly from grape skins and seeds, so the wines highest in tannin are dark, full-bodied reds; they are not usually present in white wine. Tannins are responsible for a wine’s dryness, as they literally suck all the moisture out of your mouth and leave it feeling raspy and dry. As wines age, the tannins mellow out and become softer.


Alcohol is perceived as heat on the palate, leaving your mouth feeling hot and boozy. It also contributes body, making the wine feel fuller and richer and giving the impression of sweetness.


All wine has some residual sugar, though it’s usually unnoticeable in dry table wines. It is important for the wine to have enough acidity to counterbalance any detectable sweetness. Otherwise the wine will be cloyingly sweet and leave your mouth feeling unpleasantly fuzzy.


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TASTING WINE There’s no magical secret to tasting wine and you don’t have to possess superhuman skills to do it - you just need to pay attention to all five of your senses. Grab a glass and let’s get started.


Note the wine’s colour, then tilt the glass over something white and check out the variation in hue between the middle to the edge - the greater this variation, the older the wine usually is. Both white and red wines turn brownish with age.


Give the wine a sniff and note the most obvious aromas. Then give it a swirl (keep the base of the glass against the table if you’re nervous about spilling) and take another whiff. Compare the difference: not only does swirling greatly increase the intensity of aromas but it also releases new ones that weren’t detectable initially.


Take a sip of the wine and use it like mouthwash to rinse out any residual tastes on your palate. Now take another sip and draw in a bit of air as well, which will make a funny gurgling sound. This is the classic wine tasting move that’s parodied in movies and television, but it actually serves a real purpose: 75 per cent of taste is contributed by smell, so sucking in air fully engages your nose and reveals a wider range of flavours.


The feel of a wine in your mouth is as important as the wine’s flavours, as several components of wine are actually tactile sensations: acidity, tannins, alcohol and sugar all have very different effects on your palate. See the opposite page for more information about analyzing these sensations.


Review the descriptors you picked out at each previous step and compare them with the comments of your fellow tasters or a wine reference book. Ultimately it’s your own opinion, but keeping your mind (and ears) open will increase your knowledge and tasting aptitude.


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WINE & FOOD Pairing food and wine requires as much luck as knowledge—perfect matches only occur when a particular combination creates an even better flavour together than apart. The following guidelines will help minimize any gastronomical disasters.

WHEN IN ROME: often, a region’s signature dish pairs well with the wines from that same area—Tuscan wine with pasta and pizza, Burgundy with coq au vin, Rioja with paella. Watch the weight: light dishes need light wines; heavy dishes need full-bodied wines.

ACIDITY IS KEY: wines with naturally high acidity are easier to pair with food because the acidity cleanses your palate between bites and prevents muddying flavours. Wines from cool climates tend to have higher natural acidity than those from warmer climates. Certain grape varieties also produce higher acidity wines: Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Sangiovese, Tempranillo, Grenache. GO EASY ON TANNINS: highly tannic wines wreak havoc on your palate, sucking moisture from your mouth and shutting down your taste buds. Tannic wines pair best with heavier, meat-based dishes. Adding an extra dash of salt also reduces the impression of tannins.

SWEET LIKES SPICE: no wine tastes good after eating scorching hot, chili-laced

food. For moderately spiced dishes, choose a sweeter wine like German Riesling or Italian Moscato: the sugar quenches some of the fire.

SUGAR ALERT: the wine should always be sweeter than the food, otherwise it will

taste thin and acidic. Drink sweet wines with sweet dishes: port, icewine, late-harvest and other dessert wines. Watch out for hidden sugar in food, like roasted root vegetables or barbecue sauce.

DEFAULT TO BUBBLY: sparkling wine is a great fallback pairing for a vast array of foods, especially oily or greasy foods. The effervescence cleanses your palate, making Champagne taste as good as beer with fried chicken, potato chips and even hamburgers.

CLASSIC PAIRINGS • lamb + Bordeaux • duck + Riesling • salmon + Pinot Noir • blue cheese + Tawny Port • pizza + Chianti • lobster + Chardonnay • oysters + Chablis • caviar + Champagne


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FRANCE France is the beating heart of the world’s wine industry, producing more fine wine than anywhere else on the planet. No other country has had a more profound influence on the global history of viticulture; French wine is the benchmark against which wines everywhere are judged.

BORDEAUX The largest fine wine region in the world, Bordeaux produces some 700 million bottles of wine annually. It is divided into multiple sub-regions and possesses an incredibly complex classification system. Though renowned for its top few estates, the vast majority of Bordeaux is neither famous nor expensive. Eighty per cent of Bordeaux is red and only five grape varieties are permitted by law: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot. White Bordeaux is mainly made from Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon. These varieties are also used to make Sauternes, Bordeaux’s unctuous dessert wine made from grapes affected by Botrytis cinerea, or noble rot.

BURGUNDY Burgundy is wine’s ultimate crapshoot: the best Burgundies are amongst the world’s most famous and sought-after, the worst are mediocre – sometimes even bad. Red Burgundy is made almost exclusively from Pinot Noir, a notoriously difficult grape to grow. Coupled with Burgundy’s temperamental climate, this results in very inconsistent quality. The best Burgundies are so good, however, that enthusiasts are drawn back despite the risk (and the price). White Burgundy is almost always made from Chardonnay. Beaujolais, the most southerly sub-region, produces very fruity red wines mainly from Gamay – a very different style than the rest of Burgundy.

CHAMPAGNE The quintessential celebratory wine, true Champagne only comes from the Champagne region of France, the most northerly French wine region. Champagne is made through a complex process in which its secondary fermentation (which makes it bubbly) occurs in the bottle. Only three grapes may be used to make Champagne: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier; it can be white or pink (rosé).

France Wine Regions Loire Valley





Rhône Valley

Languedoc - Rousillon Provence Edmonton 2014 Wine Guide


FRANCE - CONT’D RHÔNE VALLEY Northern Rhône wines are distinctly different from those of the south. The sole red grape in the north is Syrah, while southern Rhône wines are usually blends of many grapes, the most important being Grenache and Mourvèdre. Each sub-region permits a different number of varieties; the most famous, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, can be made from a blend of up to 13.

LOIRE VALLEY France’s Loire Valley is the most diverse wine region, making wine in every style from a wide variety of grapes growing along the long Loire River. Most are characterized by zesty acidity, notably its flagship wines from Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc; the most famous sub-regions for these grapes are Vouvray, Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé. Loire’s red wines are predominantly Cabernet Franc, the most famous being from the Chinon sub-region.

ALSACE Alsace is primarily white wine territory. Riesling and Gewürztraminer predominate, along with Pinot Gris, Muscat and Pinot Blanc. A tiny amount of red is made solely from Pinot Noir. These wines are all dry except for two types of late harvest wines, and all possess a characteristic undercurrent of refreshing acidity. Alsace also produces lovely sparkling wines called Crémant d’Alsace, made the same way as Champagne but usually less than half the price.

LANGUEDOC-ROUSSILLON The immense Languedoc-Roussillon region produces over a third of France’s total wine. Much of this is undistinguished table wine, though since the 1990s many of the wines have improved considerably in quality. This is one of the few French regions to label wines by grape (rather than just region), and many are made in an international style as these wines are widely exported.

DID YOU KNOW? • Benedictine monk Dom Pierre Pérignon is credited with inventing Champagne • More wine is produced in LanguedocRoussillon than the entire United States


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• France was the first European country to significantly export wine because most vineyards are near large rivers • Viticulture was first spread through France by the Greeks beginning in 600 BCE

Edmonton 2014 Wine Guide


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Edmonton 2014 Wine Guide

Edmonton 2014 Wine Guide



Edmonton 2014 Wine Guide

ITALY Every single part of Italy grows grapes. Wine is quite literally considered food here, and has been since viticulture was founded by the ancient Greeks and then spread rampantly throughout the country—and much of Western Europe—by the Roman Empire. Curiously, the vast majority of Italy’s plentiful wine was sold in bulk until well into the 20th century, with the exception of some wines from Italy’s top regions. Most Italian wine is based on Italian grape varieties; only a few areas have adopted international varieties.

TUSCANY The image of Tuscany is, for many, the quintessential wine region: an undulating patchwork of vineyards spreading over rolling hills under a bright sun. It is also home to three of Italy’s most important red wines, all based on the Sangiovese grape: Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano (often just shortened to Montepulciano). These wines were highly popular throughout the 20th century, though their quality declined until the region went through a vinous revolution in the 1970s and 1980s. This revolution raised the quality of Tuscan wines considerably, and also led to the advent of Super Tuscans: a group of innovative (and expensive) wines made with untraditional techniques and grape varieties, namely Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Because Italian wine laws did not permit these varieties in wines from this region, the wines were not allowed to bear a regional designation on their labels, despite being very good quality, until the laws were changed in 1992.

Italy Wine Regions Piedmont


Valle d’Aosta


Trentino-Alto Adige

















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ITALY - CONT’D PIEDMONT In Italy’s remote northern mountains lies Piedmont, the country’s preeminent wine region where its two most famous red wines, Barolo and Barbaresco, are made. Both are made from the Nebbiolo grape variety, which produces a coyly perfumed wine that shocks the palate with its forceful tannins—this is wine made for cellaring. Piedmont also makes a pair of everyday drinking reds: Barbara and Dolcetto, both named after their grape varieties. The region is also home to Asti Spumante, a popular sweet sparkling wine made from the Muscat variety.

VENETO The Veneto region takes its name from the ancient city of Venice, which was a trading hub linking the eastern Byzantine Empire with the emerging western countries of northern Europe as far back as 1000 BCE. Wine was and still is an important commodity from this area—Veneto is often Italy’s most productive region, making wines in a wide range of quality. Veneto’s most renowned wine is Amarone, a red wine made from Italian grape varieties using a technique called Recioto, in which bunches of grapes are dried before being crushed. This results in a powerful, full-bodied wine with high alcohol and intense earthy flavours. Veneto is also home to the fruity, approachable red Valpolicella and the light, innocuous Soave. It is also where Prosecco originates—a widely popular Italian sparkling wine that has found a welcome home on wine lists around the world for its easy-drinking (and inexpensive) quality.


• Wine, olive oil and bread comprise what the Italians call the Mediterranean Holy Trinity

• The ancient Greeks called Italy “oenotria” - the land of trained vines • Italy is home to over 1000 documented grape varieties • Sangiovese’s name means “the blood of Jove,” a reference to the Roman god Jupiter


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• Marsala, a sweet fortified wine, is made on the Italian island of Sicily • The Bellini, a famous cocktail invented in the 1930s at Harry’s Bar in Venice, is traditionally made with Prosecco and white peach juice

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SPAIN Although it’s the country with the most land under vine in the world, Spain is only the third biggest wine producer. Currently the wine industry is in the middle of a revolution as winemakers modernize their practices. Much of Spain is hot and very dry, which severely curtails yields as vines must struggle to survive. Not all of Spain is desert-like, however: Rías Baixas in the cool northwest produces refreshing dry white wine especially from the Albariño variety, while Penedès in the northeast is home to Cava—Spain’s answer to Champagne. Spain is one of the world’s oldest wine countries dating back to 4000 BCE. Spanish wine was exported widely throughout the Mediterranean during the reign of the Roman Empire and viticulture continued throughout its history, spurred especially by its export industry—a trend that continues to this day. The English became major trading partners by the 13th century thanks to their thirst for Spain’s sherry (and due to England’s many wars with France). Spain’s most famous red wine is Rioja, made predominantly from the Tempranillo variety. Rioja is unique amongst the world’s fine wines for its long period of aging in oak barrels—four to 10 years is common. Extended oak aging has been a common trait of many Spanish wines, though many wineries have recently begun eschewing this for fresher, fruitier wines. The important Ribera del Duero region produces increasingly excellent red wines based on Tinto Fino (a genetic variation of Tempranillo). Spain’s rising star is Priorat, which makes inky, intense, massively-structured red wines from Grenache, Cariñena and small amounts of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Tempranillo.



Spain Wine Regions Rías Baixas Bierzo Rioja


Penedès Valdepeñas Yecla

Manchuela Alicante

Edmonton 2014 Wine Guide

Rueda Navarra

Ribera del Duero Calatayud

Ribera del Guadiana Valencia Jerez



Priorat La Mancha Jumilla

Málaga 23

SPAIN - SHERRY Sherry is the historical foundation of the Spanish wine industry even though it may not seem like it in North America. This fortified wine hails from the area around Jerez de la Frontera in coastal Andalusia. Though it is often treated as nothing more than a cheap kitchen ingredient outside Europe, it has a history dating back over a millennia. By the 16th century sherry had become a favourite drink of European nobility, especially those in the United Kingdom; most of the major sherry houses were founded by British families. Sherry is made only from white grapes: 95 per cent is made from the local Spanish variety Palomino with the balance comprised of Muscatel and Pedro Ximénez. Sherry is made through a process known as solera, a system of progressively blending and aging sherry by moving it through a network of old barrels, which oxidizes the wine and imparts a truly unique flavour profile. There are several different styles of sherry ranging from bone dry to very sweet.

FINO & MANZANILLA are elegant and dry with a salty sea tang produced by the development of flor, a veil of yeast that forms on the surface of the wine in the solera.

AMONTILLADO & PALO CORTADO are aged Finos that are fortified to raise their alcohol content and then put through a second solera. OLOROSO is aged, dark and nutty, untouched by flor but exposed to the highest level of oxidation of any sherry.

CREAM SHERRY is a sweetened Oloroso. PEDRO XIMÉNEZ is unctuously sweet, black-as-night and made solely from the eponymous grape variety.


• Spain is home to over 600 grape varieties but 80 per cent of its wine is made from only 20 of them

• Sherry was most likely the first wine exported to North America, starting in the 16th century. • Shakespeare references a type of sherry called “sack” in Henry IV, Part 2. • Cream sherry was developed in the 1800s solely for the British export market. • Rioja is often referred to as Spain’s Bordeaux


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• American author Ernest Hemingway visited a famous bodega in Rioja every year for 25 years—usually accompanied by a bullfighter • The Spanish practice of wrapping thin wire mesh around wine bottles originated to prevent people from refilling Rioja bottles with inferior wine and reselling them at a premium price

Edmonton 2014 Wine Guide


PORTUGAL Though much more famous for port, Portugal has produced dry tables wines in a myriad of styles going back several centuries. Throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, Portuguese wine was well-known to the English, who established extensive wine trade relations after going to war with France. In the 20th century, with the rise of a fascist dictatorship, self-imposed political exile and subsequent economic turmoil saw Portugal’s wine industry develop slowly and in isolation. Though the regime toppled in 1974, some Portuguese wineries still use very traditional winemaking methods such as foottreading grapes. Most Portuguese wine is made from indigenous grape varieties, which number over 230, and often represent Europe’s best values. The large northern region of Vinho Verde produces light, low-alcohol white wine with a touch of spritz, the best of which are made from the Albariño variety. Though a significant amount of grapes grown in the blistering hot Douro Valley are destined for port, many excellent dry red wines are also made here. The Dão and Beiras regions are also prime red wine territory, while Bairrada produces red wine as well as the bulk of Portugal’s sparkling wine.




Edmonton 2014 Wine Guide

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Edmonton 2014 Wine Guide

PORTUGAL – PORT Port is probably the world’s most famous sweet wine, made by fortifying red (and occasionally white) table wine with neutral grape spirits before it finishes fermenting, resulting in a sweet wine with an alcohol content around 20 per cent alcohol by volume. True port comes from Portugal’s Douro Valley, though most wine-producing countries make a similar style of fortified wine. Port is the product of trade wars between the English and the French in the late 1600s. After France prohibited wine exports to England, English wine merchants seeking alternative markets arrived in Portugal. They began shipping the high-quality red wines from the Douro Valley back home, but added a measure of brandy in order to preserve the wine during the long sea voyage. There are a few different styles of port: tawny, ruby and vintage.

TAWNY PORT is named for its golden colour, the result of being aged in wooden barrels for several years prior to bottling.

RUBY PORT is a generic, cheap style of mass-produced port with rich red fruit flavours. VINTAGE PORT is not only the most renowned style of port, but also one of the

world’s most famous and collected wines. Vintage port is only made in certain vintages that have been “declared” by the port houses when the grape harvest is deemed high enough quality, and are designed to be cellared for several decades.


• Most of the world’s cork supply comes from Portugal’s extensive cork tree forests

• Port can be made from a mixture of over 80 grape varieties • Many ports have sediment or “crust” that is traditionally eaten by the English on toast • Port takes its name from Oporto, the second largest city in Portugal

Edmonton 2014 Wine Guide

• Mateus, a sweet sparkling rosé from Portugal, is one of the world’s most famous wine brands • Madeira is a fortified wine and arguably the world’s longestlived, made exclusively on a tiny Portuguese island 1000 km from the mainland


GERMANY German wine is possibly the most misunderstood in the world: the stereotype of cheap, cloyingly sweet German wines is due to the huge success of labels like Blue Nun and Black Tower, but Germany’s finest wines are actually not sweet, aside from a small amount of very high quality dessert wine. Germany is eminently a white wine producer, and proof that white wines can be aged—sometimes for over two decades. Riesling is its champion grape, capable of achieving such depth, complexity and unique character that it is wholly unlike any other version of this grape grown elsewhere. Much of this is due to the uniqueness of German vineyards, the best of which (namely those in Mosel-Saar-Ruwer and Rhe• Germany’s tiny amount of ingau) cling to extraordinarily steep vineyards in river valleys, sometimes at a grade of 70 per cent or more. red wine is mainly made from Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir) Wild vines are native to Germany, but the country’s viticulture was founded by the Roman Empire before • Many German vineyards the first century CE. The spread of Christianity was must be tended and harvested possibly the most significant factor in the development of Germany’s wine industry. Many famous German by hand because they are so vineyards have monastic origins. steep that mechanization is impossible Germany is at the northern extreme of wine production, with vineyards at the same latitude as Newfound• The high acidity and clean land. This harsh climate means that vines do not always achieve the same level of ripeness, which is the guiding flavours of German Riesling principal of German wine labels: Kabinett is regularly make it the ultimate food ripened table wine, Spätlese is late harvest, fully pairing wine – it goes with ripened and slightly sweet, and Auslese is very ripe and just about everything sweet. Germany is also home to some of the world’s most amazing dessert wines made from botrytized (noble rot) grapes, and is also where icewine was first created.




Germany Wine Regions Mosel-Saar-Ruwer






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AUSTRIA Austria is a wine powerhouse—but if you’ve never tried an Austrian wine, you’re not alone. Although virtually unknown in North America until well into the 1990s, wine has been made in this corner of the world for thousands of years. Austria makes some of the most elegant yet powerful wines in the world, especially its bracingly dry whites: the most famous and widely-planted grape is the indigenous Grüner Veltliner, which makes spicy, refreshing wines with lemon-lime and herbal flavours. Riesling is also an important grape, along with other white grapes including Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. About 30 per cent of Austrian wines are red, led by the intriguing Zweigelt variety, developed in 1922 at Austria’s Federal Institute for Viticulture, from a crossing of the St. Laurent • The Celts planted Austria’s and Blaufränkisch varieties. first grapes in the fourth century BCE In a strange twist, the “antifreeze scandal” of 1985—when a group of unscrupulous vintners • Austria is home to Riedel, the added diethylene glycol (an antifreeze ingredient) to their wines to enhance sweetness and body— world’s highest-quality wine is responsible for Austria’s current high-class stemware industry. Although the chemical was at such low concentration it was harmless, it led to a global • Smaragd, the Wachau region’s boycott and subsequent collapse of the industry. highest wine classification, is This proved a blessing in disguise: inferior massmarket wines disappeared and a few top-quality named for a lizard that lives in producers rebuilt the industry under the strictest the vineyards wine laws in Europe.



Austria Wine Regions Burgenland





Traisental Edmonton 2014 Wine Guide



Edmonton 2014 Wine Guide

Edmonton 2014 Wine Guide


GREECE Wine was such an integral part of Ancient Greek culture that they even had a god devoted to it: Dionysus (Bacchus to the Romans). Greece isn’t wine’s birthplace but archaeological evidence proves that wine was made by the Greeks as far back as 6500 BCE; wine references are peppered throughout classic Greek literature. Greece’s contemporary wine industry is very different than its ancient origins as the world’s foremost wine exporter, remaining largely undeveloped until the twentieth century. Greece’s recent fine table wines are uncommon throughout North America except for the pungent retsina, which is based on the ancient practice of adding pine tree resin to wine in order to preserve it on long voyages. Greek wine is made in scattered pockets throughout the country mainly from indigenous grape varieties. The northern regions, namely Náoussa and Rapsani, are red wine territory, dominated by the woodsy, spicy Xinomavro variety and the lighter, velvety Agiorgitiko. Seventy per cent of Greek wine is white, led by the citrusy Assyrtiko variety, mainly made in the southern regions on the Peloponnese peninsula and throughout the Mediterranean islands.


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DID YOU KNOW? • Greece is home to over 300 little-known indigenous grape varieties • With almost zero annual rainfall, grapevines survive in Santorini by sending their roots deep into pockets of water hidden in the island’s volcanic fissures • Ancient Greek wine was exported as far as France, Italy, Egypt and the Black Sea

Edmonton 2014 Wine Guide



Edmonton 2014 Wine Guide

SOUTH AFRICA South Africa’s wine industry is over 300 years old, clustered in the country’s southwest corner around the old port city of Cape Town. Dutch colonists began making wines here in the mid-1600s from imported French vines. Though virtually unknown in North America until after the United States lifted trade sanctions in 1991, Europeans have been familiar with South Africa’s vinous offerings for much longer, mainly cheap bulk wines. Today, most South African wine is made by large co-operatives, the biggest and most powerful being KWV (Co-operative Wine Growers’ Association). These co-ops formed at the turn of the twentieth century to safeguard the industry from war, economic turmoil and vineyard diseases. While successful in keeping the industry alive, it was at the cost of becoming stagnant, monopolized and technologically backwards. In the past two decades the co-ops’ power has declined and many promising wines have arisen out of the country’s few dozen private estates. White wine dominates, especially Chenin Blanc and, increasingly, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. Red wine production is growing exponentially, with Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinotage the most prominent—the latter is a uniquely South African grape born from a crossing between Cinsaut and Pinot Noir, and is excellent paired with the country’s barbecued game meats.

Edmonton 2014 Wine Guide

DID YOU KNOW? • In the mid-1700s a sweet white wine named Constantia was renowned throughout Europe; it was reportedly a favourite tipple of Napoleon • Pinotage’s wild, gamey flavours have been described as similar to road tar, smoked meat and blood • Over 50 per cent of South Africa’s grapes are distilled into brandy and cheap spirits


STEMWARE Wine tastes better out of a certain type of glass. While expensive crystal is not required, these guidelines will ensure no glass is wasted.

MATERIALS: plastic is the worst material for wine glasses. It makes the wine taste dull and flat and prevents appreciation of subtle flavours or aromas. If you wish to savour wine at all you need to use glass stemware, even on picnics and camping trips. BOWLS: wine stemware needs to have a large bowl that is a fair bit wider at the base than at the mouth. This allows you to swirl wine without spilling everywhere, and increases the wine-toair ratio—which releases the wine’s aromas and concentrates them towards your nose, so that you can smell what you’re drinking. STEMS: wine glasses should have a stem. This allows you to hold on to your glass without warming up the wine inside too quickly. Stem-less wine glasses, however, can be useful for certain occasions, such as casual affairs and outdoor events. RIMS: an oft-overlooked feature

of a good wine glass is the rim—the thinner the better. Thick rims act like speed bumps, making wine feel rough and uneven. Rims should fold inward like a tulip, rather than outward like a trumpet.

RIEDEL: While generic wine glasses are perfectly serviceable, wine truly does taste better out of a quality crystal stem. Austrian firm Riedel makes the world’s highest quality crystal stemware. CARING: wash fine crystal by

hand in warm water with mild soap. Inexpensive glasses can go in the dishwasher, though if they are too delicate they may break. Dry the glass with a lint-free cloth by holding it under the bowl, and do not store upside down—the rim is the most fragile part. Above all, only buy wine glasses you can afford to break—accidents happen.


Edmonton 2014 Wine Guide

Edmonton 2014 Wine Guide


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Edmonton 2014 Wine Guide

Edmonton 2014 Wine Guide



Edmonton 2014 Wine Guide

GADGETS - ESSENTIAL You don’t need a lot of equipment to enjoy a glass of wine, but there are a few essentials that will make your experience much better.

STEMWARE A huge collection of expensive crystal glasses is unnecessary, but it’s important to have a properly designed wine glass to maximize your experience of a wine’s aromas and flavours. (See page 40.)

CORKSCREWS A good corkscrew is your most important wine tool, because even though screw caps are increasingly common, many wines are still bottled with corks. The best value is a good-quality waiter’s corkscrew, which are sleek and efficient but do require a bit of practice to master. Machine or lever-style corkscrews are foolproof and effortless to use, though the better-quality ones can be quite expensive. Avoid winged and basic twist-and-pull corkscrews as they tend to shred corks.

DECANTERS Decanters allow wine to “breathe”— exposing it to oxygen and releasing its aromas and flavours; they also allow you to remove sediment from older wines. Not all wines need to be decanted; it’s unnecessary for most everyday drinking wines under $20 (unless you like the aesthetic value). But tannic red wines like Cabernet Sauvignon, Bordeaux and Barolo really benefit from decanting, as well as older wines that have developed a lot of sediment. A simple, inexpensive decanter serves most purposes, though there are some incredibly designed, beautiful (and expensive) decanters on the market.

WINE GLASS CHARMS Ranging from plastic mustaches to Swarovski crystal rings, wine glass charms come in every conceivable shape and style—some even double as a coaster. While obviously appealing to those who like accessorizing, they are actually quite useful. At gatherings with even a small number of wine drinkers, it’s easy to lose track of your glass. Wine charms ensure that guests aren’t sharing glasses (and the latest cold virus). An alternative to the usual charms are metallic pens which guests can use to mark their glass with their name or a doodle.

Edmonton 2014 Wine Guide


GADGETS - NONESSENTIAL Wine’s popularity has resulted in an explosion of all sorts of gadgets and gizmos. Many are unnecessary (and several are useless) but if you’ve got some spare cash the following items can make your wine tasting experience more pleasant.

AERATORS Aerators claim to enhance the aromas and flavours of wine and can range from simple to complex designs. They are often used in conjunction with decanting, and some have a built-in screen to filter sediment. They are most useful for heavy, tannic red wines that benefit from extra exposure to oxygen, like Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah, but they are unnecessary for the average bottle of wine under $20. Beware aerators that claim to “age” your wine, as most everyday drinking wines don’t need to be aged and can actually end up tasting like they’ve been open for a few days instead of a few minutes.

WINE TOTE BAGS The liquor store’s plastic bags are terrible for transporting wine – durable, reusable wine totes cushion individual bottles in transit and prevent accidental breakage. The best totes are insulated; Built NY offers an excellent selection of wellmade wine totes. Bonus: tote bags can double as gift bags too, if the wine is a present.

WINE THERMOMETERS We tend to serve red wines too warm and white wines too cold – a wine thermometer allows you to serve wine at the perfect temperature. Essentially a digital thermometer that wraps around a wine bottle, wine thermometers take the guesswork out of when to put the bottle in the fridge or take it out.

BOTTLE TOPPERS If the topper snaps on to form an airtight seal it’s useful for sealing partially finished bottles. If it’s basically just a wobbly, decorative cork, it serves no other purpose than its questionable aesthetic value.


Edmonton 2014 Wine Guide

Edmonton 2014 Wine Guide


STORING WINE It’s easy to overlook the place where you store your wine, but you should avoid a few terrible spots that can damage a bottle of wine before it’s ever opened. Avoid exposing wine to heat, light and rapid temperature fluctuations, and try to keep the bottles lying on their side so that the corks don’t dry out and let in oxygen. Here’s a brief overview of the best and worst places in your house for storing wine:


The kitchen is the worst place to store wine, yet it’s probably the default choice for many people. Kitchens are too hot and bright; never put wine above the fridge, stove, dishwasher or any other appliance as they give off lots of heat, which can oxidize or otherwise damage the wine. Even countertop wine racks aren’t a good idea because kitchens get very warm when you’re cooking, plus wine bottles should be kept away from light.


A cool, dark basement is a very good place to stash your wine. Just make sure to keep them away from drafty windows, the furnace and other appliances.


The temperature in a garage fluctuates too much for it to be a good wine storage place. They are also usually unheated, which means if you forget the wines over the winter you’ll end up with a bunch of frozen (and probably broken) bottles.


It might seem strange to stash wine in your bedroom closet, but this is a pretty good spot since it is dark and typically remains at a comfortable temperature.


Investing in a wine fridge is a great idea if you’re an avid wine drinker, as these fridges keep bottles at a constant optimal temperature. There are several expensive versions available on the market, as well as many very reasonably priced ones available at housewares stores.


Edmonton 2014 Wine Guide

Edmonton 2014 Wine Guide



Edmonton 2014 Wine Guide

CANADA – BRITISH COLUMBIA Canadian wine is tough to generalize; British Columbian wine even more so. This is due to its youth as a wine region and the extreme variations amongst its four wine regions. Very different conditions exist in the sun-baked Okanagan Valley, the windswept Similkameen Valley, and the rainy coastal Fraser Valley and Vancouver Island regions. BC’s first grapevines, planted in the early 1900s, were destined for the table and not the cellar; the province’s wine industry as it exists today didn’t really start until the 1990s after Canada entered the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the United States. This forced Canadian wines to compete with California’s, which were far superior—at the time most Canadian wines were shoddy, sweet and overly alcoholic. Faced with the new international competition, over half of British Columbian grape growers ripped out their inferior vines after the 1988 harvest and replanted with higher-quality European grape varieties. The industry has grown exponentially ever since.


Because BC’s wine industry is still maturing, no single variety stands out as a flagship grape. Coolclimate varieties like Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir and Gamay are well suited to the northern Okanagan as well as the damp coastal regions of the Fraser Valley and Vancouver Island. The parched southern Okanagan and Similkameen Valleys grow slower-ripening Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Shiraz quite well. Experimentation is the underlying philosophy of British Columbian wine and it will take many more years before the true emergence of a definitive regional identity.

• BC’s first wines were made from loganberries, not grapes • BC’s wine regions are around the same latitude as Germany’s Mosel-Saar-Ruwer wine region • Though invented in Germany, Canada produces the majority of the world’s icewine

Kelowna Victoria


Edmonton 2014 Wine Guide


CANADA – ONTARIO Canadian winemaking followed the path of the early settlers, making Ontario the seat of Canada’s oldest wineries. Seventy-five per cent of Canada’s wine comes from here, made from myriad grape varieties, in a variety of styles. Like the rest of Canada’s wine regions, Ontario is still figuring itself out. There is one wine that Ontario has mastered, however: icewine, proof that Canada’s icy winters can be put to good use. Icewine put Canada on the international wine map and 85 per cent of it comes from Ontario. Out of all wine nations, only Canada is cold enough to consistently produce excellent icewine every year, as the grapes must be harvested when temperatures stay below -8°C. (Germany, where icewine originated, isn’t always cold enough to make icewine every vintage.) Vidal, a white hybrid grape variety, is responsible for the bulk of Ontario’s icewines, along with Riesling and Cabernet Franc. Ontario’s vineyards are all located along the Great Lakes, as their moderating effect is what allows the vines to survive the harsh winters. The Niagara Peninsula is the best known region and where most of the wines are made; it has become particularly noted for its Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Franc. The tiny Lake Erie North Shore region grows similar varieties as Niagara, along with a significant number of hybrid varieties like Marechal Foch and Baco Noir. The brand-new Prince Edward County region is at the northern fringe of wine territory—vines are often buried in the fall to protect them from the bitingly cold winter—but its handful of producers have high hopes for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.


Toronto Hamilto n

Windso r


Edmonton 2014 Wine Guide


• Canada’s oldest winery is Pelee Island, on Lake Erie • The Niagara Peninsula is along the same latitude as Italy’s Chianti region • The majority of Canadian icewine exports are sold in Asia, namely China, Hong Kong and Japan


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Edmonton 2014 Wine Guide

USA - CALIFORNIA Outside Europe, the United States is the world’s most important wine consumer and producer, churning out over two billion litres of wine every year – over 90 per cent of which comes from California. Wines were first made by Franciscan missionaries around 1770; the wine industry expanded rapidly with the population boom after the 1849 gold rush. Californian wine production soared, only to crash in the 1890s due to overplanting, then all but disappear with the arrival of phylloxera (a vine disease) and then Prohibition.. A burst of investment in the 1970s and 1980s spurred the industry’s evolution into its current powerhouse status.

NAPA VALLEY The most famous Californian wine region—though it produces only a fraction of the state’s total wine output—Napa Valley’s classic wines are buttery, oaky Chardonnay and rich Cabernet Sauvignon. Many of the most famous and collected American wines are made along this hot, 50 kilometre-long valley.



• California often labels Sauvignon Blanc as Fumé Blanc

Extremely varied microclimates allow Sonoma, Napa’s laidback neighbour, to make a wide variety of wines. Within Sonoma is the Alexander Valley, known for its plummy Cabernet Sauvignon, the cooler Russian River Valley which makes luscious Pinot Noir, and the Zinfandel paradise of Dry Creek Valley.

• Napa Valley is the second most popular tourist destination in California, after Disneyland

MENDOCINO & LAKE COUNTY These cooler, rugged northern regions are known for excellent Sauvignon Blanc and Zinfandel, as well as Rhône-style red blends and Petite Sirah.

• The largest winery in the U.S., E. & J. Gallo, is also the largest in the world – producing about the same amount of wine as the entire country of Portugal

CENTRAL COAST The huge, hot Central Coast is an area of mass-production, encompassing many individual wine regions and crushing 75 per cent of California’s grapes. Oceans of blended generic wines are made here by several huge wine firms, as well as some excellent varietal wines and a few top dessert wines.

• California had about 700 wineries before Prohibition, and 140 after

California Wine Regions Sacrament o



Livermore V alley

San Francisco Santa Cruz Monterey

San Luis Obispo Santa Barbar a

Lake County

Santa Cruz Mountains

Napa Valley Santa Clara V alley

Central Coast Monterey Paso Robles

Santa Rita Hills Santa Maria V alley

Edmonton 2014 Wine Guide


USA – WASHINGTON & OREGON California’s wine industry dwarfs the industries throughout the rest of the United States, though Oregon and Washington stand out as areas capable of making wines that are every bit as complex and elegant as California’s best. Oregon is Pinot Noir paradise – one of the few pockets in the world where this capricious variety consistently produces lovely wines. Oregon’s wine industry didn’t enter its modern form until Pinot Noir was first planted here in the early 1960s. The immediate success of these wines brought significant attention and investment to the state’s wine industry. Oregon’s best-known region is the Willamette Valley, with other significant regions lying to the south. Washington’s industry is much bigger than neighbouring Oregon and has grown exponentially over the past few decades. Washington had only two wineries during California’s wine boom in 1969, now there are over 800. With a climate that is considerably drier than Oregon, Washington can successfully grow a wider range of grape varieties. The majority of Washington’s wines are made in the dry eastern regions and are renowned for their sharp acidity and clarity of flavours. White wines predominate in Washington, led by Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Sauvignon Blanc. There’s far more excitement over Washington’s red wines, however, especially Syrah—though Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot prevail as the leading reds.


• The first American Viticultural Area (AVA) was Augusta, Missouri

Washington & Oregon Wine Regions


Portland Salem


• Wine is made in all 50 American states, including Alaska and Hawaii • Washington, D.C., consumes the highest amount of wine per capita in the U.S.

Both Washington and Oregon have a long tradition of making non-grape fruit wines—their first wines were made from a variety of orchard fruits including apples, pears and various berries. While less of these fruit wines are made today, they represent a small but interesting niche of the Pacific Northwest industry.



Edmonton 2014 Wine Guide

Yakima Valley

Columbia Valley

Walla Walla Valley

Willamette Valley

Umpqua Valley

Rogue Valley

Perfectly placed in the South Okanagan


erfectly placed on rich South Okanagan farmland, Tinhorn Creek overlooks the old gold mining creek that is the winery’s namesake. We are environmental stewards of 150 acres of vineyards: “Diamondback” on the Black Sage Bench, and “Tinhorn Creek” on the Golden Mile Bench. Both provide us with the fruit to craft the superb, terroir driven wine that we’re known for. Our top tier Oldfield Series represents the finest of each vintage. Edmonton 2014 Wine Guide


ARGENTINA It’s hard to imagine a time when Argentinean Malbec wasn’t a staple on wine lists. Velvety, rich and brimming with red fruit flavours, Malbec is Argentina’s banner grape and the one on which it has built its international reputation for high quality, good value wine. Founded by European colonizers (of mainly Spanish origin), Argentina’s wine regions are all located in the western strip of the country bordering the foothills of the Andes. Long daylight hours allow vines to ripen slowly here, giving them luscious depth and concentration of flavour. Argentina’s most famous region, Mendoza, is home to 70 per cent of the country’s wine production; this is Malbec’s prime territory. Another Argentinean speciality is the dry, perfumed white variety Torrontes. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Chardonnay are also important varieties mainly for the export market. Despite its recent international fame, just a few decades ago almost no one outside Argentina had tasted the country’s wines, because the locals drank almost all of it. Though one of the world’s richest nations by the turn of the 20th century, the Great Depression triggered a halt in foreign investment. Coupled with Argentina’s social and political unrest throughout the latter half of this century, domestic consumption of Cafayate wine fell drastically and the industry stagnated. Argentina took a cue from its neighbour, Chile, and engaged in a massive vine pull scheme in the 1990s, replanting with higher quality varieties. By the early 21st century Argentina had revolutionized its wine industry and become the world’s fifth biggest producer, most of which is exported internationally.


Buenos Aires

DID YOU KNOW? • Chile and Argentina’s most famous wine regions (Maipo and Mendoza) are located directly across the Andes from each other

Argentina Wine Regions

• Argentina’s vineyards are at some of the highest altitudes in the world – many almost 1500 metres above sea level • Italian grape varieties and winemakers are common in Argentina due to the large population of Italian immigrants



La Rioj a

Córdob a

Mendoz a

Río Negr o

San Juan




Edmonton 2014 Wine Guide

LUIGI BOSCA MALBEC # 1 SELLING PREMIUM ARGENTINA MALBEC IN ALBERTA 50 year old vines Lujan de Cuyo, Mendoza Argentina

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Edmonton 2014 Wine Guide



Edmonton 2014 Wine Guide

CHILE Chile is the world’s foremost producer of best value wines, especially single grape varietal wines. The reason is simple: geographically isolated, Chile has near-ideal grape growing conditions, is blessedly free of most vineyard diseases, and the cost of land and labour is very reasonable. Most vineyards are located in the centre of the country, where Spanish colonists first planted European vines starting in the mid-1550s. Chile’s wine industry was much more influenced by France than Spain, however; wealthy Chilean landowners modeled their estates after French chateaus in the mid-19th century and planted French varieties. Domestic satisfaction with merely ordinary (not great) wine kept the industry stagnant for decades and by the 1970s over half of Chile’s vineyards were pulled up in the face of plummeting prices and a sharp decline in local consumption. • Chile has never fallen victim


The 1980s heralded vast changes with the return of democracy, stimulating growth in the wine industry—notably, investments by many leading European wine families including Spain’s Torres and Bordeaux’s Rothschilds. Most of Chile’s fine wines are based on only four grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc. The bulk of Chilean wine comes from the warm southern valleys. The historic Maipo region is most famous and renowned for Cabernet Sauvignon, while the cooler and much newer Casablanca Valley shows potential for beautiful Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay.

to phylloxera, a vine pest that decimated the world’s vineyards in the late 1800s • Carmenère, the “lost grape of Bordeaux” was identified in Chilean vineyards in 1994; up until then it was thought to be Merlot • Chile is an important table grape exporter

Chile Wine Regions Valparaíso









Bío Bío

Edmonton 2014 Wine Guide



Edmonton 2014 Wine Guide

AUSTRALIA Who hasn’t tried an Aussie Shiraz? Australian wine rose from obscurity to international acclaim in little more than two decades. Prior to 1990 its wines were notoriously cheap and sweet, but by 2005 Australia was the world’s sixth largest wine producer with one of the most technologically advanced industries anywhere. Shiraz, the same grape as Syrah, established the reputation of Australian wine as intensely fruity, easy-drinking and mass-appealing. But the industry certainly doesn’t revolve around this one grape, as Australia produces a number of wines from dozens of grapes in all different styles. One of the guiding principles of the Australian industry is selection and blending: many wines are made from a blend of smaller wine lots, each made from grapes grown in various locations over a huge area. This is done for single grape (varietal) wines as well as multi-grape blends, such as Australia’s popular blends of Grenache, Shiraz, and Mourvèdre. Multiregional blending allows wineries to produce wines consistently each year, and while mostly reserved for the lower tiers of wines, Australia’s most famous (and expensive) wine, Penfolds Grange, is made from a blend of the best lots of Shiraz wine over an area spanning hundreds of square miles. This practice contrasts starkly with the traditional (and highly popularized) French philosophy of terroir, which involves selecting a good site for growing grapes and allowing the resulting wine to express the unique qualities of that site.

Perth West

Australia Wine Regions West

Margaret River


Great Southern Region South

Clare V alley Barossa V alley


Adelaide Hills

Eden Valley

McLaren V ale

Southeast Adelaide





Yarra Valley


Mornington Peninsula Hunter V alley

Ruther glen Edmonton 2014 Wine Guide


AUSTRALIA - CONT’D Radiating out from the city of Adelaide are Australia’s most renowned wine regions. South Australia is the southern hemisphere’s equivalent of California: a true wine state, cranking out the vast majority of the country’s wines.

BAROSSA VALLEY Perhaps the most notable region, the Barossa Valley is famous for its full-powered Shiraz.

COONAWARRA Almost as well-known, Coonawarra is renowned for its finessed, structured Cabernet Sauvignon.

HUNTER VALLEY Located in New South Wales, the Hunter Valley is known for its excellent Chardonnay but especially its nuanced, complex Semillon (this grape is often made into a very blasé, humdrum wine elsewhere in Australia).

WESTERN AUSTRALIA & MARGARET RIVER Although remote, the wine regions in the far western area of Australia actually predate the original plantings in South Australia. Geographical isolation kept this western region tiny until the 1980s; the area’s most famous wines, especially Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay, hail from the Margaret River region near the city of Perth.

SOUTH & SOUTH EASTERN AUSTRALIA Many of Australia’s lower-tier wines are labeled South or South Eastern Australia, rather than one of the smaller regions in these states. The grapes may have been cultivated anywhere in these vast areas. Consistency is paramount in entry-level Australian wine, and part of why it has grown so popular; much of this is achieved through Australia’s state-of-the-art industry. Virtually all vineyard tasks, from pruning to picking, are mechanized, and the wines are made with the latest equipment using the most innovative techniques.


• Australia’s landmass is the most ancient in the world—over one billion years old.

• Australia is the second-largest wine exporter to the United States, after Italy • Australians drink the most wine per capita of all English-speaking countries, two and a half times more than Americans • Almost 50 per cent of wine sold in Australia is bag-in-box (“cask”) wine


Edmonton 2014 Wine Guide

• The Australian Wine Research Institute at Adelaide is one of the world’s foremost wine schools. • Ninety-five per cent of Australian wines are produced by five large firms: Foster’s, Constellation, Pernod Ricard, McGuigan Simeon, and Casella.

Edmonton 2014 Wine Guide


NEW ZEALAND A single grape put New Zealand on the international wine map: Sauvignon Blanc. In the mid-1980s the country rose out of obscurity with this wine, which achieves a unique flavour profile here (especially in the Marlborough region): vibrant green flavours of gooseberries, lime and fresh herbs backed by tropical notes. Despite what you might expect from its southerly latitude, New Zealand has a chilly maritime climate which results in wines with naturally high, refreshing acidity. Almost three-quarters of the country’s wines are white, led by Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and Riesling. The country does have a flagship red grape, however: Pinot Noir, which is notoriously difficult to grow. New Zealand’s Pinot Noir, especially from the Wairarapa region, is bright and fresh with jubilant strawberry and interesting damp stone flavours—very unlike Pinot Noir from the grape’s home territory of Burgundy, France. Sauvignon Blanc’s success spearheaded sea change in the nation’s wine industry, which had been seriously fettered by an overzealous temperance movement: wine couldn’t be purchased in shops until after World War II and couldn’t be sold in restaurants until the 1960s. Even then, there was a 10 pm curfew on alcohol sales. The country’s lush, fertile landscape also proved problematic; innovative trellising and vineyard management is needed to tame unruly grapevines into producing high quality fruit. The few intrepid winemakers who prevailed pioneered New Zealand’s currently flourishing industry, which is tiny by international standards but still commands plenty of attention.

DID YOU KNOW? • California’s Napa Valley has almost twice as much vineyard land as New Zealand • Nearly 50 per cent of New Zealand’s wines are made by a single company: Montana • New Zealand’s vineyards are the most southerly in the world


New Zealand Wine Regions



Hawke’s Bay




Central Otago





Edmonton 2014 Wine Guide

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Edmonton 2014 Wine Guide

Edmonton 2014 Wine Guide  

Edmonton 2014 Wine Guide