CTV Morning Live

CTV Ottawa Morning Live


June 15th, 2017

Theme:  Iconic Canadian Wines for Canada 150 Celebrations (and Father’s Day gifting!)

Overview:  Today on CTV Morning Live, CTV’s Lianne Laing, Henry Burris, and Sommelier Matt Steeves showcased some iconic Canadian wines that demonstrate how great Canada’s wine scene has become.  These wines represent some of the many fine wines being produced in nearly 700 wineries from coast to coast across this great nation.  Check out the CTV video here

The Canadian wine scene is thriving!

Canadian wineries are producing some of the finest wines on the planet, and what a terrific opportunity to celebrate this achievement with some iconic Canadian wines during Canada 150 celebrations.

With nearly 700 wineries from coast to coast, Canadian wineries are producing delicious wines that are earning top awards and international attention for their remarkable quality.

That’s right, some of the finest wines are coming from right here in Canada.  That’s an achievement we should all toast to and there’s no better time than Canada Day to do so!

Today I’ve got a selection of high quality Canadian wines, wines that have helped put Canada on the map for premium wine production.

In addition to being great wines to celebrate Canada 150 with, these wines also make great Father’s Day gifts.  Imagine dad’s face on Father’s day when he opens up a bottle of Burrowing Owl Meritage, Painted Rock Red Icon, CheckMate Chardonnay, Inniskillin Cabernet Franc Sparkling Icewine, Stratus Red or White, or a bottle of Benjamin Bridge Nova 7… nothing against pressure washers or lawnmowers, but if you’re looking for a truly memorable gift for your father/husband/father-in-law, one that he’ll truly appreciate, which doesn’t come with back breaking labour attached to it, then consider some of the many fine Canadian wines this year when you’re searching for that special gift.



Canada’s wine industry:

It’s an impressive stat each time I hear someone say that there are now nearly 700 wineries in Canada from coast to coast. And those hundreds of Canadian wineries are contributing in a big way to the Canadian economy.  Annually $6.8B of economic impact can be attributed to Canadian wine.  That’s significant.  And did you know that for every bottle of Canadian wine you purchase that provides over $30 in economic impact.  Stimulating our taste buds and the economy by enjoying some delicious Canadian wine.  Sounds like a great plan.



Canadians are choosing and enjoying record amounts of Canadian wine, and it’s no surprise once you realize how great our wines have become and how much our wine industry has matured over the past two decades.  Fortunately Canadians enjoy more than 1 billion glasses of Canadian produced wine every year, equal to 220 million bottles.   That’s a great sign of the growing popularity of Canadian wines and the maturing wine industry that continues to garner increased international acclaim every year.  This success is in part due to the leadership of the Canadian Vintners Association which helps ensure the continued growth and prosperity of the Canadian wine industry, and to wine lovers like you and I that buy and enjoy great Canadian wines with the special people in our lives, which in turn supports the hard working boutique wineries that take such great care to produce some of the finest wines available.

Enjoying local wine with local food is common around the world and it’s certainly caught on here in Canada with Canadian’s appreciating the benefits of enjoying high quality local products; products that reflect the local environment; products with great pedigree; and what a perfect pairing local wine and food is.


When I attended the Vancouver International Wine festival this past February I witnessed first hand the passion and interest in wines from all across Canada, and not just from fellow Canadians, which was a great thing to experience.   Of particular interest was how the Ontario, BC, and international attendees were going bananas over Nova Scotia’s Tidal Bay wines, which was so exciting to witness.  There were literally crowds around the Nova Scotia wineries’ booths all day long as they wanted to taste what they had heard all the buzz about.    Years prior some may have turned their nose up to wines from Nova Scotia, or Canada in general even, clearly out of ignorance, but now the world is catching on to this increasingly well known fact that Nova Scotia wineries such as Benjamin Bridge, are producing exceptional still white wines and sparkling wines, that showcase their maritime influenced terroir.

Today I’ve got a selection of what I consider to be iconic Canadian wines from coast to coast that I strongly encourage you to taste to appreciate how terrific the Canadian wine scene has become as we celebrate Canada 150!  With nearly 700 wineries across Canada this is but a mere sample of some of the finest wines available. 


Here are my short list of iconic Canadian Wines for Canada 150 celebrations and Father’s Day gifting:

  1. Benjamin Bridge Tidal Bay 2016, Nova Scotia – $22

Tidal Bay is uniquely Nova Scotian, in fact this is Nova Scotia’s first wine appellation and also the name of their signature white wine. Benjamin Bridge’s Tidal Bay is a unique blend of L’Acadie, Oretega, and Geisenhiem (grapes) that shows perfumed sweet orchard fruit, floral blossoms, and a refreshing Atlantic sea breeze on the nose. Subtle effervesence complements the racy palate cleansing texture that makes this wine ideally suited for enjoying with rich seafood dishes, or oysters on the half shell. White grapefruit, lime zest and minerality persist on the long crisp and clean finish. Serve ice-cold on a patio in the summer sun and enjoy the exceptionally refreshing characteristics of this premium Canadian white wine. Tasted April 2017. 92 points. Matt Steeves – http://www.quercusvino.ca






  1. CheckMate Fool’s Mate Chardonnay, Okanagan Valley, BC – $80 winery direct

CheckMate Artisanal Winery is quickly becoming recognized as one of Canada’s leading wineries, producing world-class Chardonnay and Merlot from their Golden Mile Bench, Okanagan Valley, BC winery. 2014 Fool’s Mate Chardonnay is a gorgeous expression of Okanagan Chardonnay from five of their estate vineyards between Black Sage Bench, Golden Mile Bench, and Osoyoos East Bench. Richly coloured, this unfiltered and unfined wine showcases the purest expression of southern Okanagan Valley fruit. The nose displays a beautiful bouquet of grilled pineapple, Meyer Lemon and lime parfait, brioches, sea breeze salinity, and delicate spice. The body is creamy, refreshing, and luscious with expressive tropical fruit balanced with minerality and baked bread flavours that persist on the finish. An incredibly smooth and layered wine with an exceptionally long textured finish. Enjoy over the next decade and beyond. Tasted May 2017. 93+ points. Matt Steeves – http://www.quercusvino.ca

Buy CheckMate Fool’s Mate Chardonnay Winery Direct


The ultimate Father’s Day gift…a gift wrapped box of three iconic CheckMate wines.
The ultimate Father’s Day gift…a gift wrapped box of three iconic CheckMate wines.

Henry, like me and many others that have tasted CheckMate and Stratus wines, was all smiles after sampling th CheckMate Fool’s Mate Chardonnay 2014 and the Stratus White 2013.  Gorgeous wines!

  1. Featherstone Canadian Oak Chardonnay 2015, Niagara – $21.95


Featherstone’s Canadian Oak Chardonnay proudly uses locally grown ‘Canadian’ oak for the barrels this creamy Chardonnay was fermented in. Don’t confuse this cool-climate Chardonnay with a Sonoma County (California) Chardonnay, despite its richness, as this hand-picked local-everything Chardonnay is purely Ontario-grown and a great expression of a richly oaked Chardonnay. If you like oaked Chardonnay (which I do!), then I recommend trying this unique offering from Freatherstone. Russet apples, cinnamon, lees, and brioche on the nose and palate. The oak influence shows up very prominently in this wine, while still allowing the orchard fruit to shine. Enjoy with pork roast with an apple chutney, or with creamy autumn harvest soups. Tasted April 2017. 88 points. Matt Steeves – www.quercusvino.ca



  1. Stratus White 2013, Niagara – $38 @LCBO or winery direct

Stratus White represents the finest white wine that this acclaimed Niagara-on-the-Lake winery produces.  Winemaker J-L Groux selects the very best grapes from a handful of varieties to incorporate into this premium white wine, and after countless blends, the best representation of the vintage is showcased in the final assemblage.  For 2013 the winemaker’s assembled masterpiece is a blend of 37% Chardonnay, 34% Sauvignon Blanc, 26% Semillon, and 3% Viognier – showcasing the potential that this cool-climate region is becoming increasingly renowned for.  A brilliant golden yellow, the colour alone, given its youthful age, suggests this wine will be intriguing and complex.  The bouquet confirms that observation. An intellectual wine ideally suited for enjoying with fine food and great company, it’s remarkably complex and inviting, especially if you enjoy other storied fine white wines of the world.  With grilled pineapple, exotic fruit, poached pear, custard, nuts, and minerality on the nose and repeating on the palate with layers emerging towards the long, linear, and harmonious finish that shows both a creaminess and freshness adding textural complexity.  Exceptionally well balanced with the structure to permit significant cellar aging.  A cellar candidate to enjoy its evolution over the next decade and beyond.  Enjoy 2017-2027+.  Tasted May 2017. 94 points.  Matt Steeves – www.quercusvino.ca

Available @ LCBO or Winery Direct

stratus white 2013

  1. Stratus Red 2012, Niagara – $44

This impressive Niagara-on-the-Lake winery consistently produces some of the finest wines available in Ontario.  2012 was the best growing season the winery had experienced which enabled the grapes to achieve their optimal ripeness thereby contributing to the big and bold style that this red blend exhibits.  Winemaker J-L Groux showcases his talent for assembling complex premium wines with the finished product composed of 29% Cabernet Sauvignon, 26% Cabernet Franc, 26% Merlot, 13 % Petit Verdot, 3% Malbec, and 3% Tannat (yes, Tannat!),  that spent 622 days in 35% new French oak.  Deep ruby with an opaque core, it’s inky with rich and concentrated dark fruit, fleshy black plum, sweet spice, truffle, and pepper aromas.  Boasting a very robust structure that’s loaded with fine tannins, and a remarkable freshness on the palate that showcases the winemaker’s delicate touch and craftmanship in assembling such an elegant yet powerful wine.  A cellar candidate that will reward an extra 5-10 years of aging.  Enjoy 2017-2027.  Tasted June 2017. 93 points.  Matt Steeves – http://www.quercusvino.ca

Available winery direct and at Vintages throughout the year.



  1. Burrowing Owl Meritage 2013 – $45 winery direct or at LCBO


For over 20 years Burrowing Owl has been producing some of Canada’s finest wines, from the Wine Capital of Canada, Oliver, BC.  Their 2013 Meritage (Bordeaux blend) is a blend of 39% Merlot, 27% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Cabernet Franc, 10% Petit Verdot, and 3% Malbec that were each hand picked and sorted, then vinified and barrel aged separately for 18 months in a blend of French, Hungarian, American, and Russian oak.  By vinifying and barrel aging each variety separately they were able to showcase the full expression of the terroir and achieve the perfect integration of fruit, acid, tannin, and texture in each finished wine thereby contributing additional complexity to the final blend.  International wine consultant Alain Sutre, who’s played key roles in producing other ultra premium Canadian wines, guided the development and final assemblage of this Meritage and it’s nothing short of stunning!  On the nose, loads of black currant, blackberry, mocha, cassis, black sage, and a touch of earth.  Full bodied with great structure, this wine has been assembled with great care to showcase and integrate all its big components in a harmonious way.  It’s wines like Burrowing Owl’s Meritage, and other premium BC wines with great acclaim, that shows why the Okanagan Valley is becoming increasingly recognized as and positioned to be a fine wine region of the world.  Enjoy with grilled beef tenderloin with a rosemary infused Port reduction or a scotch fillet steak with red wine jus – absolutely delicious!  Drink 2017-2027+.  Tasted May 2017. 94 points.  Matt Steeves – http://www.quercusvino.ca

Available winery direct or @LCBO


Burrowing Owl


  1. Painted Rock Red Icon, Okanagan Valley, BC – $55


Painted Rock Estate Winery’s flagship wine, Red Icon, showcases the high quality wines that proprietor, John Skinner, and consulting winemaker, Alain Sutre, are focused on crafting from this picturesque Penticton – Skaha Lake, Okanagan Valley winery.  With an objective of crafting world-class ultra premium wines that showcase the unique terroir of the Okanagan Valley, and that can compete with the finest wines in the world, Painted Rock is well on their way and the 2014 vintage is a gorgeous expression of this increasingly internationally recognized iconic Canadian wine.  Deep ruby red with an opaque core, the nose shows rich black fruits, black plum, black fig, blueberry, clove, mocha, and pipe tobacco.  Full bodied with big structure, it has great power and richness with remarkable freshness and elegance.  A very supple texture reveals the harmonious balance that showcases the quality of the fruit and attention the winemaker took in vinifying and assembling the components to achieve such a expressive and well integrated premium wine.  Decant then enjoy with slow-roasted prime rib with a rich red wine jus.  Cellaring is certain to reward those with patience as this youthful wine will evolve and improve with age as it approaches its optimal window of enjoyment. Drink 2017-2030. Tasted June 2017. 93 points. Matt Steeves – http://www.quercusvino.ca



  1. Icellars Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, Niagara – $50


Icellars Estate Winery 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the finest Ontario Cabernet Sauvignon’s I can recall tasting! This boutique winery from Niagara-on-the-Lake produces a very limited amount of wine, including only 150 cases of Cabernet, with every drop benefiting from their exceptional care and attention to detail in crafting some of Canada’s finest wines. The 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon, from their estate vineyard, was left to hang very late in the season, only harvested on November 17 at an impressive 24.5 brix, which contributes to the depth and richness noted in the glass. A deep ruby red colour, with lifted sweet spices, and an impressive medley of dark fruits and refreshing crushed raspberry on the nose. Full bodied, it’s rich, robust, and balanced with great elegance and finesse. Layers of dark fruits, mocha, and sweet baking spices on the palate. The fine dusty tannins are superbly integrated in this premium Cabernet making it wonderful to enjoy now and with structure to age gracefully over the next decade. Enjoy with charcoal grilled tenderloin with a port reduction. Tasted April 2017. 92-93 points. Matt Steeves – http://www.quercusvino.ca

Buy winery direct on-line, and if you’re ever in the Niagara region this is a must visit boutique winery.

This premium Canadian Cabernet Sauvignon is on my list of wines that I’d strongly recommend for celebrating Canada 150.




  1. Chateau des Charmes Equuleus 2012 – $43 (Red Wine of the Year)

Chateau des Charmes Equuleus is a blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Cabernet Franc, and 25% Merlot from the St. David’s Bench sub-appellation of the Niagara Peninsula.  This flagship red wine is a deep ruby colour with an opaque core, the 2012 vintage was one of Niagara’s best and warmest in recent history which contributed to this big and fully ripe wine that shows the great varietal characteristics of this popular wine region. Only produced in exceptional vintages, the 2012 shows dark plum, black cherry, mocha, graphite, leather, sous bois, and sweet spice on the nose.  The palate is rich and concentrated with an elegant texture that sees the fine tannins sprinkled throughout and playing a supporting role without stealing any attention from the complex aromatic and flavour profiles.  This award winning wine is a terrific example of the fine red wines Ontario is producing.  Enjoy 2017-2027 and pair with roast beef and root vegetables or firm aged cheeses. Tasted May 2017. 92 points. Matt Steeves – http://www.quercusvino.ca

Chateau des Charmes Equuleus 2012 won RED WINE OF THE YEAR at the recent Ontario Wine Awards held on May 31, 2017 at Niagara College in Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON.

Available @LCBO or winery direct or at one of the winery’s boutique wine shoppes throughout Ontario.  If in Ottawa, Minto Place at the corner of Laurier and Lyon has a great little shoppe with all sorts of Chateau des Charmes wines available for purchase.






  1. Benjamin Bridge Nova 7 2016, Nova Scotia – $25


Benjamin Bridge has been making a real fizz in the sparkling wine scene over the past decade. This Nova Scotia based winery is producing sparkling wines that rival those from Champagne and other storied wine regions around the world. A combination of ideal terroir for producing crisp & complex cool climate grapes, along with creative winemaking expertise, has resulted in world-class sparkling wines, unlike no others, each and every vintage.


There’s a tendency to compare Nova 7 to Italy’s Moscato d’Asti, given its gentle effervescence and off-dry low alcohol style, but I must say Nova 7 is in a league of its own. Crisper, perfectly balanced, more complex, and loaded with refreshing minerality, Nova 7 is unlike no others, and many Canadians have caught on to this. Nova 7 is becoming Canada’s favourite wine.


In its tenth vintage now, the 2016 shows a very faint rose gold colour with the characteristic aromas of sweet honey suckle, marigold blossoms, asian pear, and fresh stone fruit. Very lightly effervescent, the mid-palate shows creamy and sweet orchard fruit and fresh ginger, all backed with crisp and refreshing acidity on the long finish. Beautifully balanced, this off-dry wine is loaded with refreshing minerality making it a great choice for east coast seafood appetizers, sushi, tart berry desserts, or simply to enjoy on its own. Benjamin Bridge wines continue to be some of the most interesting I’ve tasted vintage after vintage and the 2016 Nova 7, in its 10th year, is another great example of the world-class wines winemaker Jean-Benoit Deslauriers is producing year after year. Tasted April 2017. 94 points. Matt Steeves – http://www.quercusvino.ca



PS: Pour some Nova 7 as you celebrate Canada 150 in 2017…could there be a more Canadian thing to do?

Available at LCBO in late June 2017.






  1. Inniskillin Sparkling Cabernet Franc Rosé, Niagara – $79.95/375ml


Iconic Canadian winery, Inniskillin, is world renowned for their luxurious Icewines, and their sparkling Cabernet Franc Icewine is totally next level!  By combining a few of my favourite elements of the Ontario wine industry, namely Cabernet Franc, Icewine, and bubbly, Inniskillin has achieved a profoundly expressive, richly textured, and superbly balanced wine that showcases the greatness of their terroir for producing the finest Icewine in the world – a fact few would challenge.  The 2012 sparkling Cabernet Franc Icewine shows perfumed strawberries, bing cherry, and strawberry-rhubarb compote on the nose and palate.  Mind blowing texture with the 289g/L residual sugar beautifully balanced with fresh acidity and palate cleansing bubbles.  This is the ultimate wine for pairing with the most decadent dessert dishes, or enjoy with spicy Asian cuisine, the hotter the better.  Could there be a more proudly Canadian wine?Tasted May 2017.  95 points. Matt Steeves – www.quercusvino.ca


Available online: http://www.greatestatesniagara.com/product/Inniskillin-Sparkling-Cabernet-Franc-Icewine



























This time of year Canadians celebrate “Canadian Wine Day” (@CanadianWineDay on Twitter), to mark the passing of Bill C-311 on June 28, 2012.  Bill C-311 is the law that when passed has helped pave the way for permitting wine shipping across provincial borders, winery to consumer direct.  A big step to creating a Canadian wine culture and a giant leap to supporting our Canadian wineries.  Perhaps most importantly, now I can get some of my favourite BC and Nova Scotia wines shipped directly to me, and my wine loving friends in other provinces can do the same!