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The Wines of Canada (June 24, 2005)

book review
by Dean Tudor

The Wines of Canada (Mitchell Beazley, 2005; distr. McArthur, 307 pages, ISBN 1-84533-007-2, $39.95 hard covers) is by John Schreiner, a well-known Canadian wine writer with a half-dozen or so Canadian wine books under his belt. A few years back he wrote the definitive book on icewine, and The World of Canadian Wine. In fact, he had just revised his book on B.C. wines for Whitecap (my wine Book of the Month for April 2005), so many of his comments on B.C. wines have unfortunately been duplicated here.

The book is in a (by now) standard format for the Mitchell Beazley wine library: some sketch maps, vintage charts, production figures, no illustrations, a history of the industry, and information on the different grape varieties as well as the terroirs and wine styles. It includes a division of wineries into top level and all the rest (giving for each some directory information such as names, addresses, websites, description of the winery, and ome biographical data about the owner and/or winemaker). There are also star ratings on wine quality but no tasting notes.

Schreiner, like the other authors, contributes some opinions about current trends. He also adds a chapter on Vincor and its role on the international wine scene. They currently have significant investments and alliances, such as the one with Boisset of Burgundy in Ontario and with Taillan of Bordeaux in B.C.

The section on icewines is unique. Schreiner also covers fruit wines, ciders, and meads, for winemaking in Canada is still a small industry. There are only about 135 licenses in B.C., slightly fewer in Ontario, and only a handful in the other provinces (mostly fruit and cideries). Since my detailed knowledge of Canadian wines is greater than my detailed knowledge of the wines of other countries, I came across some errors of fact (e.g., Salmon River is not a winery; it is just a label), some errors related to elapsed time (e.g., Alliance is no longer being made, St. Jacob's Winery and Cidery no longer exists, and GrapeTree Wines has ceased production yet still has a website unchanged since 2002), and some typos (e.g., "remaned" for "renamed", "diamon" for "diamond").

Audience and level of use: Lovers of Canadian wines, wine schools, wine professionals.

Some interesting or unusual facts: About Thirty Bench wines, he says, "This is a winery where three heads are better than one." But now the winery has been sold, and the three heads are no more. In fact, the Canadian wine industry has had severe changes over the past year, and it is impossible to keep up to date everywhere.

What I don't like about this book: It provides no tasting notes, just overall quality assessments.

What I do like about this book: Fruit wineries and cideries are included, and there are internal page references.

Quality/Price Ratio: 94.

 

 

 

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