I've been laid up for the last few days, living in my pyjamas, nursing a case of bronchitis and lamenting the fact that plenty of this week's prime wine-drinking opportunities are going to be lost on account of antibiotics. Stupid germs ...
Well, if I can't drink it, I can at least write about it. Right now I'm scoping out the LCBO's "Go Local" blitz online. The groovy jazz beat going in the background is a nice touch, and the visuals have me longing for a fresh glass of sauv blanc and a spot on Creekside's patio. (Their 2001 vintage was probably the best s.b. I've tasted that wasn't from New Zealand. Sadly, the next summer I learned the hard way that there are actual differences between one vintage and the next. Sigh. Should have bought more than one bottle.)
Sorry about the tangent - back to the task at hand. Just how "local" are we talking here? Yes, the usual suspects from Niagara and Pelee Island are listed, but so are far more "cellared in Canada" choices than are warranted. At least they're being honest this time around, with the disclaimer of "international grapes" right up front.
Folks, I've said it before and I'll say it again: please be kind to your palate and stick with the VQA stuff. Instead of reaching for the Hochtaler (which, to me, sounds more like someone snorting out a loogey), try something from the Niagara College Teaching Winery, Lailey Vineyards, Coyote's Run, Tawse or Maleta. I've checked the LCBO site; they're all there, ask for them by name next time you're in the store. It's a shame that they aren't more prominently featured in this "locavore" campaign, though, as many of their wines easily meet - and often exceed - the quality of the Big Guns like Peller and Jackson-Triggs.
What's a wine lover to do, short of making the trek down to the County or the Peninsula for those exquisite vintages that are passed over by the LCBO? Here's one idea: in a recent article in the St. Catharines Standard, several vintners suggested a chain of privately-run wine shops dealing exclusively in local wines might give the mom-n-pop winemakers and boutique wineries a chance to really shine. Then maybe that dismal pall unfairly cast over all Ontario wines for years would finally fade.