The Canadian Cellar

Issue #16     July, 2020

As you know each July we celebrate our country’s birthday and toast this wonderful place we’re so very lucky to call home. We normally do so with colourful, (not colorful) public gatherings and grand displays of fireworks and parades. While those events were sidelined this year, (we’ll make up for it next July) there has been no holding back with flag flying and wardrobe bearing our well-founded nationalistic pride.

This being the case, a good friend and loyal visitor to the cellar each month rightfully suggested that perhaps this issue of Jim’s Affordable Cellar  could celebrate some of this country’s very own wines. Brilliant idea! And it’s about time, because there are quite a few fine Canadian wines worthy of our attention.

So this month, we’re going to celebrate Canada and sorry but we’re not going to apologize for it. (Ah crap, I just did.) Anyway, it’s absolutely fitting we have three bottles from Canada on the tasting table because we’ll be doing something we do with joy every month. We’ll be celebrating red and white.

Welcome back to the cellar.  

As you can see by the colour scheme of the label, this bottle is absolutely made for our little tribute. But looks aren’t everything, it’s what inside that counts. And upon opening it we discover that the winemakers at Tawse in Niagara put a whole lot of goodness into their wine thanks to their rigorous organic methods. And a very special ingredient; know-how.

Tawse Growers Blend Pinot Noir
750 mL bottle  VINTAGES#: 130989

Tawse Growers Blend Pinot Noir is slightly transparent, as you’d expect from any self-respecting Pinot. It has a ruby colour that dances and shimmers particularly with a little late afternoon sunlight behind it. Then there are sophisticated flavours of raspberry and cherry along with classic Pinot earthiness. Each sip reminds you that this wine is undeniably of the land it came from. All this to say, I’m really glad I put my paws on this Tawse.

From the Niagara Escarpment, we travel west to one of the most beautiful valleys in Canada. The Okanagan. This majestic valley is roughly 200 km long and 20 wide. It lies between the Columbia and Cascade mountains in south-central British Columbia. Many summers ago I picked cherries there. But that was before grapes got under my skin.

Quails’ Gate Chardonnay is beautifully produced at the Quails’ Gate Winery from grapes that thrive in vineyards on a south-facing slope above Lake Okanagan. Nice place to live especially if you’re a grape.

Quails’ Gate Chardonnay
British Columbia, Canada
750 mL  bottle  VINTAGES#:  377770
$21.95 $24.95Save $3.00

This excellent wine is a pleasing pale yellow in the glass, like you’ve just poured the morning’s first ray of light. (Just to be clear, I did wait until noon to pour my first glass.) It wafts a fresh minerality and asparagus comes to mind, plus aromas of walking in a herb garden. There’s lots of tasty flavour (not flavour) here too; kiwi and slightly lemony but smooth and refreshing. In short, this Quail is very quaffable.

We could spend quite a bit of time enjoying many other great wines from the Okanagan, but we have an interesting one waiting patiently for us from back in Niagara.

The Foreign Affair The Conspiracy
Ontario, Canada
750 mL  bottle  VINTAGES#:  149237

This wine is perfect for our monthly ‘under the radar’ selection. The Foreign Affair Winery is one of the pioneers in the Niagara Peninsula of making wine using a not often talked about method called ‘appassimento’. Appassi-what, you say? I had never heard of it either. But basically it’s a classic European wine-making tradition that means harvesting the best bunches of grapes carefully by hand. Then, these ‘chosen ones’ are placed gently on racks in single layers to air dry for two to three months. This process concentrates the ripe juices and adds flavours that are full and robust.

Here we have a blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. And as the intriguing name suggests, they conspire to create a tasty result.

It’s aromatic and dark in the glass and it’s a fruity, full-bodied affair for the taste buds. Definitely worth raising the flag, and a glass for.

There you have it, three more reasons other than Leonard Cohen, Terry Fox, Michael J. Fox, The Group of Seven, Emily Carr, William Kurelek, Bill Reid, The Gaspe Peninsula, the game of hockey, Foster Hewitt, Sydney Crosby, William Naismith, the game of basketball, Mount Logan, Mike Weir, Chris Hadfield, Christopher Plummer, Rick Hansen, Alice Munro, Stephen Leacock, Roch Carrier, Margaret Atwood, The Fraser River, The Cabot Trail, Stanley Park, The Confederation Bridge, The Canadarm, Sir Frederick Banting, Gordon Lightfoot, Gord Downie, Gordon Pinsent, Gordie Howe, Rush, Oscar Peterson, back bacon, butter tarts, Stompin’ Tom Connors, and our health care system, to be very very proud that we’re Canadian.

That list could go on and on and on but let’s leave it there for this month. And before we leave the cellar let’s remember our many remarkable and strong front line workers who have helped get us through these past challenging months.

See you back here in August. Until then, keep your glass of wine close and your friends even closer.

Oh and as I mentioned last month, if you’re interested in any back issues of Jim’s Affordable Cellar, or a little background on yours truly, just visit where you can revisit our times together over the last 16 months.


As I mention every month, if you know a lot more about wine than I do, and are finding yourself thinking ‘thanks but no thanks’, please tell me to put a cork in it. I won’t be insulted, and I’ll give you one less email to read each month. On the other hand, if you’re enjoying my wine meanderings, I’m glad. And please let me know what you think. Of course, if you know someone who might like this monthly distraction, they can contact me at:

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