Top Canadian red wines

Wine news

Tue 18 May 2021

By Stuart Peskett

Canada may get plenty of coverage for its sparkling and icewines, but its reds are gaining ground every day.

Canada’s key wine regions are spread across the country, from British Columbia in the west – home to the renowned Okanagan Valley – to Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia in the east. All the major red grapes thrive in Canada, especially the classic Bordeaux varieties of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Malbec, shown to great effect by C.C. Jentsch Cellars The Chase 2016, an IWSC silver medal winner.

Syrah and Carmenere do well, too – the former displaying the classic northern Rhône aromas of pepper, red fruits and herbs – while the 2018 bottling of Black Hills Estate Winery Carmenere was an IWSC gold medal winner this year, scoring 95/100 pts and drawing praise from the judges for its “ripe fruit structure and vibrant acidity”.

Jackson Triggs winery was a gold winner in 2020

Canada isn’t just about the traditional “big” red varieties, however. It’s also capable of elegant, beguiling Pinot Noir, a notoriously demanding grape that needs the right cool-climate conditions to thrive.

Canadian red wines may receive less attention than their North American counterparts in California, but they’re starting to make their presence felt, not just because of the diversity of reds available but also because of the sheer quality of this burgeoning country. The following is a selection of the best Canadian red wines, as judged in the 2020 IWSC.

Carmenere 2018iwsc-top-canadian-reds-1.png
Black Hills Estate Winery

Distinctive varietal richness on the nose and bursting with ripe fruit structure and vibrant acidity. Cool and bright with an elegant tannic backbone, strong green flavours leading to black fruit ripeness and a mineral-rich core. Balanced and youthful. 12.6%

Syrah 2016iwsc-top-canadian-reds-2.png
C.C. Jentsch Cellars

Lovely aromas of red fruit, leather, herbs and spice with a savoury olive note. Follows through onto the palate as well - layered complexity, very elegant with that signature precise acidity, supple tannins and a long finish. 14.1%

Grand Reserve Meritage 2016iwsc-top-canadian-reds-3.png
Jackson-Triggs Niagara Estate Winery

Cedar prominent on the nose. Clean black fruits with cassis on the silky-smooth palate. Dark berry fruits are lifted by the fine-grained tannins, adding intriguing complexity. Powerful yet charming. 13.5%

GSM 2017iwsc-top-canadian-reds-4.png
Road 13

Sensationally aromatic, expressing beautiful typicity with focussed ripe dark fruits lifted by notes of garrigue and herbal freshness. A real foodie wine with a distinctly European feel and excellent ageing potential, bursting with blackcurrant, blackberry, damson and wild strawberry ripeness. 14.4%

Small Lot Cabernet Franc 2016iwsc-top-canadian-reds-5.png
C.C. Jentsch Cellars

With a bold nose of cherry tart, marzipan spice and a touch of thyme, this generous wine balances dark fruit with savoury meatiness, fine-grained tannins and a refreshing, lingering finish. 14%

Simo 2015iwsc-top-canadian-reds-6.png
Indigenous World Winery

A beautiful nose of red and black fruit underpinned with oak and leathery complexity. Ripe and full with a hint of eucalyptus on the palate and a delicious, creamy mouthfeel. 13.8%

Syrah 2017iwsc-top-canadian-reds-7.png
Black Hills Estate Winery

Attractive savoury complexity with hints of forest floor and leather, balanced out with ripe cherry and bramble notes. Silky tannins, balancing fresh acidity and neat vertical structure. 13.5%

The Chase 2016iwsc-top-canadian-reds-8.png
C.C. Jentsch Cellars

Sweet black cherry nose with menthol and chocolate. Nice definition, and the blend is thoughtful and well structured. Silky tannin with judicious use of oak to support, but not overwhelm. 13.7%

Estate Reserve 2015iwsc-top-canadian-reds-9.png
Clos du Soleil

Elegant, layered berry and bramble fruits on the nose with notes of baking spice. Fine tannins and fresh acidity balance with fruit complexity. Quite serious in style. 13.9%

Single Vineyard Osprey Ridge Malbec 2017iwsc-top-canadian-reds-10.png

Voluptuous and youthful with juicy blackberry, liquorice and sweet spices balanced by savoury meaty notes. Powerful toasty oak underpinned by chocolate smoothness leading to a chewy muscular finish. 14%


Cabernet Franc 2017iwsc-top-canadian-reds-11.png
Strewn Winery

Elegant aromatics of cassis, with subtle oak spice. Attractive weight of fruit on the palate, showcasing the fresh red berry flavours. Fine structural balance and subtle tannin. 14.4%

View top-rated Canadian white wines