Three Ontario wines that will liven up your holiday party

You no longer have an excuse to keep serving the same boring, Italian wine

By Lidiya Yermakova

On Monday December 18th, 2017


For lawyers, December is a season of parties, big and small. But whether it’s a big firm’s annual come-one-come-all-blow-out celebration or your small firm’s intimate get-together, I’m willing to bet one thing will be the same: there will be wine. Lots of wine. But unfortunately, it will likely be the sort of wine firms always serve at such events: kind-of-boring wine.

But never fear! I’m here to help by providing a short list of more interesting, more drinkable wine with which you can wow your guests and colleagues. And, better still, all of the wines I have chosen come from local Ontario wine businesses.

Below are three Ontario bottles that, I guarantee, will be hugely popular at your holiday party. Cheers, salut, kanpai — and, as always, please enjoy responsibly.

  • Pearl Morissette 2016 Jeunes Vignes Pinot Noir
    $30; available at the vineyard or online 

Pearl Morissette, a small winery in Jordan, Ont., consistently produces some of the most exciting and sought-after local wine. The winemakers abide by a “traditional” method of winemaking, which uses natural yeasts that occur in the grapes and the atmosphere in order to generate fermentation. The resulting wine is always funky, curious and alive.

The 2016 Jeunes Vignes Pinot Noir is an excellent choice for holiday parties (or as a gift). This medium-bodied young wine has a what I can only describe as a rollicking structure. It can even be a bit sparkling at the very beginning of the bottle, a phenomenon common among natural wines. If you want to be all French about it, you might call this one a vin de soif. I like to call it crushable.

  •  Norman Hardie 2016 Riesling
    $21; available at the LCBO

Norman Hardie is the leader of the “new generation” Ontario winemakers doing unique things with local grapes. Hardie’s winery, in Wellington, Prince Edward County, sits on soil that’s rich in clay and limestone. The minerality tends to find its way into the taste of the wines themselves.

The 2016 Riesling is a crowd pleaser. While the wine has a fair bit of residual sugar — this is not a bone-dry Riesling — it is so well balanced that even those who insist on zero residual sugar will enjoy a glass or two. The tasting notes are half citrus rind, half limestone. Plus, it’s available in the Vintages section of most LCBOs — including the First Canadian Place location, as of this writing — so you really have no excuse.

  • Southbrook Vineyards 2016 Skin Fermented Vidal (orange wine)
    $29.75; available at the vineyard or online

Southbrook Vineyards is a gorgeous Niagara-on-the-Lake winery. It also happens to be the first wine estate in Canada to earn organic and biodynamic certifications. What’s biodynamic, you say? Well, it is a unique approach to farming grapes. Most of the farm work is done by hand (not with machinery) and farm animals roam the vineyards.

The 2016 Skin Fermented Vidal is an “orange” wine. Winemakers achieve this unique colour by fermenting light grapes as if they are dark ones: the grapes are crushed and then allowed to macerate with the skins, pits and other particles inside the juice. Technically, this produces a “tannic” white wine.

Orange wines are, in general, oxidized, minerally, intensely citrusy, and even chalky. This Vidal is little bit of all of the above, while still remaining well-rounded and highly drinkable. Since orange wine is an acquired taste, I suggest having something else on hand if you are going to pour this at a gathering. But this bold choice will impress the weekend sommeliers in attendance. And, you’ll sound uber cool talking to your articling students on Monday morning, when you casually let slip that “rosé is so 2016”. Serve chilled.

Lidiya Yermakova is a regulatory lawyer at Koziebrocki Law.