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To state the obvious, Canada is quite vast. That said, the country’s size isn’t typically top-of-mind.
But then Canada Day rolls around and offers an opportune excuse to contemplate the nation’s largesse; in this case when it comes to potables.
An astounding 6,000-plus kilometres separates this week’s West Coast and East Coast picks — to say nothing of the north-south divide.
So here’s to the nation with this week’s coast-to-coast-to-coast Canada Day toast:
Benjamin Bridge Pet Nat 2021 Artisanal Wine, Nova Scotia ($11.99 for 250 mL can, No. 68282)
The East gets representation from Nova Scotia’s Gaspereau Valley, home to renowned sparkling-wine-focused Benjamin Bridge.
The winery’s canned Pet Nat offers an engaging, fun and portable single-serve celebratory fizz.
Made from 100 per cent Geisenheim, a cool-climate-savvy hybrid grape crossing Riesling and Chancelor, this sparkler follows the ancestral method of bottling partway during primary fermentation. The result is unfiltered and naturally fermented, and shows great orchard and citrus fruit amid a cloudy and slightly funky backdrop.
A sharp entry leads to a robust mid-palate, with a gentle fizz concluded by a zippy finish featuring lingering tannins.
Bottom line: A-. Fun and funky can.
Rocky Creek Winery 2022 Pinot Gris, B.C. ($25, available from the winery and select private wine stores)
Repping the West — and we’re talking about as far west as you can get in Canada — is Rocky Creek Winery.
Located in the notable Cowichan Valley wine-growing pocket on Vancouver Island, Rocky Creek was established in 2005.
Their new vintage Pinot Gris is made from estate-grown grapes in an “orange wine” style that sees extended skin contact after crush — in this case for 16 hours.
The result is a bright pink-coloured wine wafting aromas of red berry and citrus peel, juicy with good acidity overall.
Some lip-smacking tannins show on a lingering finish, and this bright orange/pink wine calls for fresh fish.
Bottom line: B+. Vibrant and intense PG.
Ungava Gin, Quebec ($35.99 on sale until July 1, No. 96214)
Finally, to end with a real kick (and proper coverage for the entire country) it’s off to forage for arctic botanicals in northern Quebec. Six, to be specific: Nordic Juniper, Wild Rose Hip, Labrador Tea, Crowberry, Arctic Blend, and Cloudberry.
These rare botanicals are hand-foraged, dried, then steeped and later infused in a neutral corn-based spirit for five weeks. The emerging gin is immediately unmissable thanks to its unique, neon yellow colour — derived naturally from the rose hips.
Beyond the fetching shade, the aromas and style overall are classic citrus, floral and juniper — with berry and tart notes for good measure.
Bottom line: B+. A fun twist for classic gin-based cocktails.
The Swirl: Festa del Dolcetto 2023
Help celebrate Canada’s wine diversity by attending Stag Hollow’s upcoming Festa del Dolcetto.
Billed as a chance to “celebrate this expressive Italian grape and its place in the Okanagan landscape,” the event runs 4-7 p.m. on Thursday, July 6, at Stag’s Hollow Winery (2237 Sun Valley Way, Okanagan Falls).
Tickets are $45 (and limited to 50 guests), which includes snacking on Italian antipasti and spuntini while listening to live music and sipping through various styles and vintages of Dolcetto on the patio overlooking the hollow.
For complete details head to stagshollowwinery.com/Visit-Us/Winery-Events.
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