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People are often surprised to hear that great wines are made in Canada.
"Canada?" they say in tones of astonished scepticism. "Isn't it all under three feet of snow most of the year?" A view which has perhaps only grown with the success of the cult Channel 5television programme "Ice Road Truckers." Well, it has a grain of truth, an ice cube of truth perhaps: ice wine is certainly what the Canadian producers are best known for in the international wine trade - and their ice wines are amongst the best in the world.
But Canada produces some excellent table wines too. Early settlers first tried to cultivate European vines with only limited success in the 18th century. Even after hybridising their vines with local variants, however, their efforts were not a resounding success, producing a characteristic "foxed" flavour that was, at best, an acquired taste. It was therefore not until the 1960s when developing Canadian consumer tastes were accompanied by significant improvements in vine-growing and wine-making made the production of excellent Canadian table wines possible. Then the prohibition-inspired limitation on the issue of new vineyard licences was removed in 1974 leading to a sudden explosion of Canadian wine-making.
Since then and with the encouragement of the Vintners Quality Alliance (VQA) Canadian growers have demonstrated that they could coax really complex and delicate flavours and aromas from their cool growing conditions and delivered surprise after surprise to the international trade.
Canadian table wines are still mostly kept for domestic consumption (where the market is still tightly regulated through State-owned monopoly retailers) but Canadian ice wines have been exported in ever-increasing quantities through the early years of the 21st century and developed a reputation as the very best ice-reared wines available, with substantial sales in the USA, China and Japan.
We are delighted to bring both the ice wines and table wines of one of Ontario's most famous producers, the Pillitteri Estates Winery to the UK. Their ice wines from Niagara (yes, as in "Falls") are truly stellar and encapsulate the very essence of why Canadian ice wines have taken the world by storm. However, as well as a comprehensive range of their ice wines we are also very pleased to carry a good range of their Merlots, Cabernets Sauvignon and Chardonnays which make a great introduction to the wonders of Canadian wine-making.