Ottawa warmly welcomes Prince Edward County winesPublished on May 10, 2012

  • Bill Milliken of Closson Chase.

  • Bryan Rogers of Keint-He Winery and Vineyards.

  • Gerry Spinosa of Exultet Estates Winery.

  • Kimball Lacey of Lacey Estates Vineyard and Winery.

One of my greatest joys as a traveller is discovering new wines. Others must feel the same, hence the increased number and variety of wine experiences taking place in Ottawa this year.

On May 9, the beautiful Panorama Room in the National Arts Centre was the setting for a unique event called The County in the City, which showcased some of the many great wineries that call nearby Prince Edward County (PEC) home.

Organized by Ottawa's Savvy Company, this ‘taste and buy' event was a great opportunity to explore dozens of wines from Canada's fastest growing wine region, dubbed by the popular American lifestyle magazine Wine Spectator as "the world's least-known great wine zone."

The NAC event was ideal for those who are not able to attend the upcoming PEC Terroir Wine Festival, being held in Picton's historic Crystal Palace on May 26. Having a local session also served to overcome the only drawback to spending time in The County, as it's affectionately known, which is lugging home all the treasures - including awesome wines - to be found there.

At the local event, all I had to do was nibble great cheeses and sample wines from eleven wineries, many of whom were pouring three or more different kinds, then place my order.

At this event, the winemakers were on hand to offer wine tips such as food pairings and information about cellaring. It was wonderful to have an opportunity to ask them about the unique characteristics of their products, the methods by which the wines are crafted, the importance of terroir in shaping their wines and so much more.

When you visit their wineries in The County, they are often busy in the vineyard thus not readily available to the general public.

What was particularly interesting about the wineries present is that many of them are favourites of sommeliers in Ottawa's best restaurants, many of which boast wine lists featuring the finest Prince Edward County has to offer. Without making a trip to the County, however, it is impossible to enjoy these wines at home, since many of them are not available at the LCBO.

I focused my tasting primarily on Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs, the two wines that have helped The County become famous as a wine destination. Many of the Chardonnays were impressive, with good balance and boasting the buttery-popcorn nose that is typical of PEC. Similarly, many of the Pinot Noirs shared a unique, appealing flavour owing in large part to the region's minerality.

Once I'd tasted a number of products, I eagerly got busy shopping. I ordered a combination of bottles from a number of the winemakers as there was no requirement to commit to a whole case of each wine and the courier charges were free! Now I'm eagerly waiting for my shipment to be delivered and busily planning which foods I'll serve with each.

In the meantime, I'm also thinking about checking out Savvy Company's next local events, a craft beer tasting and another taste and buy session featuring 28 wineries from Niagara-on-the-Lake. So much to drink, so little time!

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