This week, InVintory launched its newest high-end tier, Opus. A leap above its existing products, Opus is effectively a smart home solution for wine cellars. InVintory builds a custom 3D model of a wine cellar down to the exact wooden case or magnum bottle, which is unlocked on an iPad that is stationed at the cellar door. This allows customers to easily and visually find any bottle at the tap of a button.
To discuss this new product and talk about InVintory more generally, founders Jeff and Josh Daiter (father and son) joined Yule for an in-person interview at Jeff's condo in downtown Toronto.Learn how Jeff - a retired physician - was inspired to create InVintory after an incident that saw the very bottle he was trying to find in his cellar smash to the floor, and hear how Josh responded to Jeff's request for help and built a rudimentary app over a short family holiday. The trio also delve into the ethos underlying the company and where they envision it heading in the future.
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Yule Georgieva: Welcome to Chats from the Wine Cellar, the official inventory podcast. I'm Yule Georgieva, and this week we are returning with another regions episode, which I always love these because they give our collectors a great intro into all the various wine regions of the world so that they can go out and add more things to their collections. This week, we are turning to a region that is obviously very near and dear to Inventory's heart, Canada, since we are, of course, based in Toronto. Now, Canada may not factor into most people's ideas of collectible wines, but there is lots to discover here, and we are very pleased to have the wonderful Eugene Blinchuk, Master of Wine in the hot seat, to tell us about Canada. So, welcome, Eugene.
Eugene Mlynczyk: Welcome, yes, thanks. Thanks for the opportunity. It's exciting to speak about your home country, isn't it?
Yule Georgieva: Yes, very much so. So let's kick off just by learning a little bit about you. I mentioned that you're a master of wine and our listeners are well familiar with that very venerable title. But tell us about how you got into wine, what prompted you to pursue the master of wine and what do you do now?
Eugene Mlynczyk: It's a great simple story, you know, it sounds like one that I made up but not exactly, it's an authentic one. I came from an Eastern European background and if anything happened in my family it was maybe a bit of vodka and maybe some cherry wine that my mother liked and it had to be sweet. So that wasn't really in my culture but I went to school in California at Stanford and And as you well know, and it's one of our connections. And there we had a speaker series at the co-op I lived at on campus. Well, I call it a speaker series. It sounds fancier than it was. It was like, hey, let's do something on Fridays where we invite people or we watch a film and we'll have some wine and cheese with it. And because I was a year older, grade 13, still having been in play here in Ontario at that time, I was actually probably the only one of legal drinking age that could actually bicycle with a $20 bill to the local Safeway with my backpack, I remember, not a very fancy bike that I had either. And I would think, okay, tonight's theme is Chile. What can I buy from Chile for $20? And in the mid 80s, you could buy a few bottles. So that was my start was as a wine buyer, but at a very low budget.
Yule Georgieva: So... You know, the funny thing or the painful thing about that story is that when I was at Stanford there was a wide appreciation Course for credit, but you had to be 21 to take it and I wasn't 21 before my graduating final quarter So I never got to take it so you were you were ahead of us
Eugene Mlynczyk: I still think that's something that should be changed, but that's obviously a well above our pay grade to change the legal drinking age in the US But but I came back after Stanford to Ontario to to back to Toronto here my hometown and I started traveling a little bit in the Niagara wine region right and I remember still having living with my mom still at that time in her cellar one of those little fold-out I don't know if you the wooden thing that folds out that Then becomes like a little diamond shape and I could have my little cellar with 12 bottles in the basement And I remember filling it with a few things and including some you know 30 bench wines I had met Chris waters and Walter Sendzik there Originally years ago and and I was so proud of my wine collection my wine cellar Which was literally a dozen bottles of local nagra wine
Yule Georgieva: But doesn't take much to start a collection that still counts It does it does yeah, and then I was working in the arts
Eugene Mlynczyk: And I guess, for better or worse. You know, governments often cut in the arts. I was working in the McMichael Canadian Art Collection, and they had cut about half the staff. I was low on the seniority poll, so I thought at that time it was the most dismal thing that happened in my life, is losing my job. But then I reinvented myself into what else do I love or am I interested in, and quite quickly got into this career in wine. And of course, it's more than a career, it's a love and a passion. It's part of my life, of our lives, right?
Yule Georgieva: Yeah, well, so when did you finish the MW? When was that?
Eugene Mlynczyk: The MW, that was 2015, so I started in 2011. I did it in four years, which sounds impressive and many people say things like, Eugene, that's awesome, you know, you passed in the first time, but you can actually do it in three years and there's some people now, including at least one person, Vicky Burt, who's at WSCT in London in my year 2050, who did it in three years. So again, it's like, please don't be impressed. And also, everybody's journey is a bit different. So that was an indication of support from my company because my boss at that time, Ann Gibbons, was the one without her nudge, and I'd like to acknowledge her really, she's just retired from our company recently, was like, Eugene, you should do this. And I'm like, it's going to ruin my life, or I'm going to have a couple of years of pain. And can I still work, right? And so she gave me enough latitude to be able to travel a bit, to certainly work, but gave me some backup too, so that I could have a little bit of leeway to study. And maybe I should say, not a little leeway, but a lot of leeway. And without her, I don't think, without her very, very hard nudge, I don't think I would have started the program.
Yule Georgieva: It always helps to have mentors. So she's at your company now and tell us how long have you been with the company? What company are you at? What do you do now?
Eugene Mlynczyk: I am the, my title changed recently. So I'm called National Fine Wine Ambassador, which sounds again, very fancy. Many people, when I updated it on LinkedIn said, Eugene, congrats on the new job. It's not really a new job. It's a morphing of what I do into even more of a focus on events Education still selling because I've always been in sales and I work for our Tara wines Canada But in probably our best-kept secret our luxury wine team not a division Technically just a team called principal fine wines PR INCI PLE so there's probably a little nod in there, although people seem to not get it to our owners, because our owners of Artera since 2017 have been the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan. So principal, principal's pal, we believe in great principals for making wine and selling the top-end wines in our portfolio. That's what I'm responsible for, the fun part of the portfolio, let's call it that.
Yule Georgieva: Well, let's dive into the meat of today's conversation. Let's talk about Canada, and I'm very excited because this is one of your areas of expertise, not just because you live here, but because this is part of what you, I think, have studied more in the MW. And so we're going to cover all of Canada, but let's just level set for our collectors first. Tell us a little bit about Canadian wine history. Where, when did it start the industry here? Where did it start? Give us a little bit about those early days and how would you describe them?
Eugene Mlynczyk: I guess it's not as difficult a task, Yule, as asking somebody to describe the history of Burgundy or France in terms of wine, because that goes back a thousand years or more. But our history really is about 150 years old, let's call it that. 1866 is the date that I have from Tony Aspler on when the first real winery was founded on Pelee Island, right? The southernmost point of Canada, really, that juts out into Lake Erie. And yet I would say that the modern industry only started in the 1970s. And although there were wineries around, like Kelowna Winery, I think was the first in BC in the early 30s. And certainly there were other wineries besides the winery on Pelee Island in the 1860s. But what was being done up till that point was La Brusca North American, you know, and some French hybrids. So not very, not vitis vinifera and not very modern tastes, if we can say that a little bit, of the term foxy, which is really hard to describe with those La Brusca varieties. But let's flash back, I guess it's a little bit around 50 years ago, almost exactly, 1974, for the first granting of a winery license by General George Kitching and those at the LCBO, the first winery license granted in Ontario since our version of prohibition. And then 1975, the official opening of Inniskillen Winery. So this was Karl Kaiser, sadly passed away a few years ago, Austrian wine lover who became a viticulturalist and winemaker and Donald Zoraldo, who's still very much around. And Donald was the nursery man and the economics expert there. And so with what Inniskillen started, that's why in much of the literature that we have now, and I sell Inniskillen, so it's full disclosure, of course, but I love their wines. And we, I would say, kick-started the industry. And a lot else followed. There were others working with us, the likes of Paul Bosk at Chateau des Charmes in the late 70s. And you've got Len Panichetti at Cave Spring and others that then we segue into the 90s with, you know, 30 Bench that I mentioned already and we have Henry of Pelham around the same time, late 80s forming. And each of these I consider to be a move forward and not just in the number of wineries but maybe in quality. So that's the beginning of my answer. I have a lot more than that to say. Should I continue?
Yule Georgieva: Well, so was it really in Niagara that the wine industry more broadly got kicked off? Because you did mention Kelowna was getting going, but was this really where it started?
Eugene Mlynczyk: You know, the history in BC I know a little bit less well. It goes back also into the 1800s. And I do know that fact because I was poking around the BC Wines website earlier today and Kelowna, which is a city, but the winery was, and I guess it's still around, I don't really know, C-A-L-O-N-A was founded in 1932. With the BC industry though, I'd say that the kickstart really was in the 70s into the early to late 80s, and that was people like Hanley Cellars, which actually produced the first commercial ice wine. Again, don't quote me on the date, but I think it was late 70s, 1978. In 1979, Harry McWatters is founding Sumac Ridge and he's lobbying the government in BC to give some breaks or some encouragement to smaller, let's call them estate, boutique wineries under a certain size. And then the next kickstart for the whole industry, both East and West, is the fear, and I think maybe rightfully so, was fear of free trade under Brian Mulrooney, in 1988 and that led directly, you see here's where you could have a silver lining if I lost my job in the arts because of the Mike Harris government, no offense but maybe, then I reinvented myself into the wine industry without that that sad thing happening this good thing wouldn't have happened and similarly with free trade when we look back it's like okay we're gonna have to really pull up our belts we're gonna have to unplant and pull out you know some La Brusca or maybe some of the hybrids and focus on Finifra and high quality because we're going to be up against a lot of competition globally. So that was 1988 in Ontario and I think the year or two later in British Columbia. But again, the names of Donald Giraldo in Ontario and Harry McWatters of Sumac Ridge in BC figure prominently out, although I know that the story is a little bit more nuanced and complex than that.
Yule Georgieva: And just for a little context for our listeners who may not be familiar, can you just quickly give us an idea of what is vitis vinifera versus hybrid?
Eugene Mlynczyk: Sure. So we've got, well, let's start with the labrusca, which I mentioned, which are the North American native varieties, which don't really make great wine, but there's a lot of experimentation coming around. So there's some people that are saying, let's be more open-minded and with people moving into new tastes, new flavors, willing to try different things maybe, let's not write it off. Then we have French hybrids which were largely created in response to Phylloxera, the evil little louse in the ground that devastated European vineyards, but couldn't really root or propagate on North American rootstocks, the feet of the vines, right? You have the top that would still be Vitis vinifera, the bottom would be a North American rootstock. Somewhere in between that, of course, you have the interbreeding of the Vitis vinifera, the classic European grape varieties that we all know with North American varieties, ending up with some very interesting things that are definitely becoming more popular now. They have been around for, you know, let's say a hundred years or more. This is things like red grapes, like Baco Noir, like Marichal Fauche as well. And a lot of these you can tell have French names because they were originally created in France to try to find an alternative to battle the disease of the Phylloxera louse. So we've got that and then we have Vitis vinifera, where the history of that in Canada is really, again, don't quote me on the exact years, but 1950s, right, onwards with experimental plantings, people like John Marinesson at Marinesson Estates, which, well, he's not alive anymore, but the winery still is around, planting some of the red Bordeaux grape varieties when nobody else thought that you should or could ripen these in our climate, and that might have been the early 70s-ish. And we've led this to a lot of great things. Even something as simple as Riesling, a cool climate grape variety, clearly from Germany as its homeland. We had Herman Weiss coming in 1979-ish to plant these at what became Vineland Estates. And without what he brought from Germany, I'm not sure we'd be in the same place. And Riesling is one of those star vitis vinifera varieties that does really well in Niagara, and of course is also well planted in British Columbia. So that's a long answer to your short question about the different categories of grape varieties where we vote for Vitis vinifera, I've still got a place in my heart for the best of the French hybrids and I don't really have a place other than in a jam jar for the La Brusca varieties. Although there's also a nuance to collectible or sellable, right? And in the Canadian context, I was gonna mention at one point, Yule, which is collectible sounds like we're going to trade it and resell it. And I'm not sure we're there with most Canadian wines, but I think hopefully many of the folks here listening into the podcast and people that are using inventory as a cellaring app are also buying wines to drink them and looking for wines that could potentially get better through cellaring. And that's what I'm focusing on today when we chat about the best of the cellarable Canadian wines.
Yule Georgieva: Absolutely, and I think that's such an important point that we use different terms. We use collectible for things that are sellable and investible for things that are to be traded.
Eugene Mlynczyk: Okay, so there's all nuances.
Yule Georgieva: 100% with you. Our collector audience is primarily people who are here to drink, as are you and I.
Eugene Mlynczyk: I love it, I love it.
Yule Georgieva: So-Dialing back into the history a little bit, it's a couple of things that jumped out at me. First, very connected to immigrants who are coming from old world countries and maybe bringing some of their experiences there. I know we have a lot of, like you said, we have a few Germans or Austrians here in Niagara who brought Riesling with them and are producing those sorts of wines. And then, so that's a great tale about how people bring more things to Canada and enrich our lives here. But then, question for you about the styles that were being produced in those early days. I think many people associate Canada with ice wine, right? And for a time, was that primarily what was being produced, like in those early days? Was it primarily ice wine that people were really looking to make, given the climate?
Eugene Mlynczyk: Well, I think it's a good question, Yule. The analogy might be not that dissimilar to what was happening in, let's say, Australia in the first part of the 20th century. And people were drinking, when they were drinking wine, they weren't drinking a lot of wine, and they were drinking fortified styles, imitations of port or sherry, maybe sweeter wines, right? And higher alcohol. But when those would be the early, early days. So the answer is it's not ice wine. And it's not ice wine until 1983, 84. Again, I think I mentioned very briefly that Haneley made the first ice wine that I'm aware of in B.C. in the late 70s. I think somebody still owns a bottle somewhere out there, but people think it was in Niagara. It wasn't actually in Niagara, but people like Carl Kleiser were on the leading edge in Niagara, but I believe, again, it might have been Hillebrand Winery, which is still around, that produced the first commercial ice wine in Niagara in 1983. Again, you're smarter than me if you looked it up on Google to make sure it's the right fact. What happened, and then I like to tell this story, and it's a very true story, is Karl Kaiser actually published a book that was very technical on ice wine making called Ice Wine Extreme Wine Making. Part of it was a beautiful cookbook also with what you can match ice wine to. And in there, he, at the very back in an appendix, he has all the detailed technical data, starting with the very first vintage. And he has the intention and the gall, I was going to say, to list 1983 as the first vintage, but it's got the vintage harvest parameters and it's got under harvest data says entire crop eaten by birds. So that's what happened in 1983. So 84 was our first vintage at Inniskillen. And then getting back to your question in terms of style, it was something that was not necessarily that understood by the populace. It gradually became more famous, leading up to things like the necessity of having a great victory at an international competition. And the whole industry got that with Ines Kylen's Vidal Ice Wine, 1989 vintage, that won the highest prize at Vin Expo in Bordeaux, in France. And you can imagine them being really shocked at giving a prize, tasting blind, I assume, to award this prize to that ice wine in the 1991 edition of Vin Expo. And that was then used, the Grand Prix d'Honneur awarded to that exact wine globally to help build up ice wine, not just for Ines Killen but for the whole industry. And I still think it remains the single greatest wine style that we produce, the single most consistently great wine style, but it's a little bit looked down upon as maybe a little bit stronger word. We kind of take it for granted that it's what we do the best and we look towards other styles and we are making other great wine styles beyond ice wine. So we've evolved again, if we look at the last 40 years from just ice wine as our single greatest wine that could be looked upon as collectible, sellable or globally to other wines that are now starting to emerge, including great table wines. And then we can get into the discussion. I'm sure you're gonna want to ask, what are the styles that are currently being produced? And what are the next styles coming up that we should be focusing on?
Yule Georgieva: So you're getting exactly into where I wanna go next, which is, first of all, before we get into the current styles, let's just talk about Icewine specifically, because that is such a calling card for Canada. So for those who may not be familiar with this particular style, what it is, let's just start with that one. What is ice wine? How is it made? What makes it special in Canada?
Eugene Mlynczyk: Well, first of all, strangely enough, I just bought a book on punctuation that inspired me to make sure we get things right. In Canada, legally, we call ice wine one single word without a space, and it's ice wine, I-C-E-W-I-N-E. Of course, in Germany, it was ice vine, so it was E-I-S-W-E-I-N. This is actually a legal requirement that we have on how ice wine is labeled in Canada, and it segues us into how is it produced. Legally, it must be harvested at minus eight Celsius or colder, and there's also minimum sugar parameters, and this also stipulates that the grapes must freeze naturally on the vine. So if you can imagine, this is easy for people to imagine because Canada feels like a cool climate country. It is not right now today in the middle of August whenever we're chatting here. But in the winter, we do get those winters that consistently year in year out, we can make ice wine. And I can't think of a year other than intentionally, you know, maybe one year when we wanted to produce less ice wine, that we weren't able to produce ice wine. Whereas in Germany, where we just had the international symposium of the Institute of Masters of Wine, one of the producers there, which was hosted in Germany, was talking to us and said, we are not going to focus on making ice wine anymore because we can't. The winters are too inconsistent, not consistently cold enough for the grapes to naturally freeze on the vine. And that's exactly what we get is we get these little pebbles that are rock hard, that freeze. We like to harvest that in a skillet, for example, at minus 10 degrees Celsius or below, and not necessarily at the very beginning of the freeze cycle. We're also netting the vines against birds. And instead of doing hand harvesting, which sounds like it's almost always better, it might not be better when you're calling people to come harvest in your field by hand at 2 a.m. in the middle of the night and it's minus 12 degrees Celsius, right? So, these sheens can effectively knock down big bunches because they're already very fragile. They held on a few months later than the vintage harvest for the rest of the grapes. And maybe it's December, often as a January night, exceptionally it has been as far as February. So, that's another fun fact. The harvest of ice wine is probably the only wine in the world where you can harvest the wines in the following year but they get labeled as the previous year's vintage because essentially speaking it's an extension of that growing season just a really long extension into the heart of the winter. So grapes pressed frozen outside while the water content is largely kept at bay as ice so you only get a really sweet nectar that then goes through a fermentation. It's a rather difficult fermentation for the yeasts and ends up with a lot of natural residual sugar, but I like to say concentration. So anybody that loves wines like Amarone or other concentrated, dense, complex wines, I would say you might have a chance of liking or in fact loving ice wine because it falls into that same category. It happens to be sweet, but it is dense, concentrated, complex, and rich.
Yule Georgieva: How would it compare to other sweet wines in the world? So for people who maybe have Sauternes or Takai as a reference, or even the natural sweets of say South Africa, how would this fit in?
Eugene Mlynczyk: Well, first of all, I mean, obviously non-fortified to take it away from port and some sherries, of course. It also has got really beautiful acidity. I would say, you know, laser-like acidity, especially in Riesling ice wine, although Vidal, from the best producers, the winemakers focus on having and preserving as much of that acidity as possible. So it's this yin-yang of the balance of sweetness and of sugar levels. And also the grapes, we don't want any betritus, that's noble rot, you can look that up if you like as well. That's what makes Sauternes so great and makes some of the Berenhaus-Laced, broken Berenhaus-Laced wines of Germany, of the noble wines that they are, as well as Tokaj from Hungary. And I love all those files, but that transforms the innate flavors of the grape to something a little bit different, something more honeyed, more like, I would use the word wool blanket, maybe it's not the right word, but something more earthy and dried fruit flavors. Whereas the best and greatest ice wines are almost like the perfect fruit purity of Riesling or Vidal or Cabernet Franc shining through in the glass, you know. And with that amazing acidity to balance the, you know, the natural sweetness that remains in the wine, it really is truly an amazing product and one that I love.
Yule Georgieva: Yeah, I agree. I think it oddly gets a sort of bad rap sometimes, I think, where people think it's a lesser sweet wine, but it's really just a different style. And as you say, it's nice sometimes to have that piercing acidity, that very fresh, pure fruit, since the grapes obviously don't go through the noble rot phase before they're harvested. So different styles, always worth trying. But on that note, let's turn now to our tour of Canada. This is the meat of our discussion today, and I'm very excited for it. And we'll learn about the different regions, the main regions of Canada, what styles of wines are produced there, what grapes are mainly grown, any other key tips you can throw out about key vintages or key producers to watch for, that'd be very helpful just to give our listeners a bit of context. So which regions are we gonna cover?
Eugene Mlynczyk: I like going from West to East because I think geographically and let's go, although I guess the sun rises in the other direction, but British Columbia and Ontario are by far the two most important provinces in Canada for producing wine. And many people from outside of Canada may not even know that we're producing wine also, and I'll touch very briefly on Quebec and Nova Scotia. But British Columbia, Vancouver, not near Vancouver, well, the heartland of production in British Columbia is the Okanagan Valley. That's a, basically I call it a rift valley, north-south, you know, a couple hundred kilometers. It's a very long valley, and that's the center of the British Columbia wine industry. It's now expanded out also to a neighboring valley called the Similkameen, where Rhys Pender, a fellow MW and friend, produces some wines at his place called Little Farm Winery, and I certainly encourage a visit out there as well. We've also got, if we go back to Vancouver, and people may be familiar with traveling to Vancouver and seeing the 2010 Olympics, there are wines made in the Fraser Valley, and they have been for, you know, 30 or 40 years at least. And there are also wines made on the Gulf Islands, and those are the islands between Vancouver and Vancouver Island, or further south towards Washington State. And finally, on Vancouver Island itself, notably in the place called the Cowichan Valley, which is just north of the beautiful city, the capital of British Columbia called Victoria. So, again, those are all places that are more, not similar to Okanagan, but the Gulf Islands, Fraser Valley and Vancouver Islands are humid, are wetter places with more rainfall. They get a little bit less or a lot less sunshine hours than the Okanagan because the Okanagan is basically high desert in the middle of the province, very mountainous area. So with Vancouver Island and any exploratory wines from that area closer to the coast, you might want to try or see things like Pinot Noir, some other hybrids are grown there as well, a lot of white wines and a little bit of sparkling. But our core discussion really is, let's say, 300 to 400 kilometers inland, got to go on a four or five hour drive to get there or a very short flight.
Yule Georgieva: And it is a big country. That's one of the messages that we're going to get here.
Eugene Mlynczyk: It is. I know we're not putting up a map, but we're talking about hundreds of kilometers, so it's not that easy to get there. Well, it is easy, but it just requires a little bit of time to get there. So a lot of people fly into Kelowna, which is sort of mid-Okanagan, or I say mid-north Okanagan. If we go a little bit further south to the south end of the Okanagan Lake, which is the main lake that defines the region, we end up in Penticton, and there we've got a couple beautiful sub-regions called Naramata Bench, and we also have areas around Summerland where Sunak Ridge was originally founded and other new wineries have certainly taken up the mantle. And we go further south and we end up in a place that's been in the news. Again, people will be watching this podcast perhaps at different times, but we had some forest fires in the south end of the Okanagan near Osoyus, O-S, I can't spell when I'm not writing it, O-S-O-Y-O-O-S, or let's spell that again afterwards.
Yule Georgieva: But, Ah-Soy-us.
Eugene Mlynczyk: Nailed it.
Eugene Mlynczyk: Delbury actually got the only desert officially in Canada, although I think my Manitoba friends have claimed there's a little pocket desert near a place called Carberry. They're not growing any grapes there. But Ah-Soy-us is the hot spot of the Okanagan. So because the Okanagan is so long north to south, you get from what we call Lake Country in the north, you have a Grey Monk Winery that was founded up in the Vernon area. You have Sparkling Wine, Pinot Noir, maybe a bit of Merlot, earlier ripening grapes there. You get Mid-Valley around Kelowna. You have people like Anne Sperling with her family winery making a variety of wines around there. You've got the likes of Cedar Creek, Failsgate, but you can also cross the West Kelowna. winery there is Mission Hill, which was founded, I didn't realize, in its initial incarnation in 1966, which is the year that I was founded. And I know I also sold Robert Mondavi wine, so I like to have numbers. That was the year that Robert Mondavi winery was founded, so I like to think that was a really good or lucky year. But Mission Hill is on the west side. They certainly produce big, bolder reds as well as whites. And they are sourcing, though, now from further south. So the focus originally of the Okanagan wine industry appeared to be sort of mid or North Valley and it's moved south, Penticton southwards, Naramata Bench southwards towards a town called Oliver. Just a dot on a map but a lovely place to visit and my friends who live there say it's a lovely place to live as well. And that's where you've got red wine country really. So you've got big Bordeaux red grapes, you've got Cabernet Franc, Cabsove, Merlot, you've got Syrah when you get down towards the Soyuz. And I would say that, you know, proudly that it's the one region or one place in all of Canada where we can year in year out, ripen the beloved Bordeaux red grape varieties. Elsewhere, we're doing three years in 10, maybe here in Niagara, maybe it's getting a little bit better, but I'm focusing on Bordeaux blends that are gonna include other elements when we're talking about Niagara rather than trying to go for solo cabs. So just because I love it, but if it doesn't match the climate or the place, the terroir, it doesn't make sense. So I don't know if I answered that question because that's the Okanagan center of British Columbia. A lot of red varieties, a lot of whites as well. Sparkling like much of the new world. It'll be a same kind of story in Niagara. We've got the freedom to produce what we like and everybody's trying to produce everything from A to Z, so to speak.
Yule Georgieva: Well, so on that note, are there particular varieties that you feel have really emerged as being the stamp for the Okanagan or that do particularly well in either the North or the South?
Eugene Mlynczyk: I think that there's examples of all or many of the great varieties that do really well, But personally, I love Okanagan Syrah and you know, Laughing Stock is another wine that I sell. We won an award a few years ago at the Six Nations Wine Challenge. I think Chris Waters might have been involved at some point, but we won against the other Pacific nations that would include Australia and New Zealand for the best Syrah. So that's one small example, but I've tasted other great Syrahs as well. Merlot doesn't always get the respect of Cabernet Sauvignon, but I think Merlot in both Washington State, just south of the Okanagan, and in the Okanagan itself, overperforms and is a very structured Merlot. And I would remind people, I know you spoke with Jane Anson not that long ago, and what is a great grape? Is it Cabernet Sauvignon? Well, the most planted grape in Bordeaux, and very highly featured on the right bank, is Merlot in Bordeaux, right? So we do some structured Merlot, and I love the Merlot and Merlot blends. I would also say that sparkling, you know, you've got Blue Mountain, you've got other producers further north that are producing some beautiful sparkling wines, although we give them a run for their money, perhaps with a few producers in Niagara and also with Benjamin Bridge on the East Coast in Nova Scotia. So big reds, whites do well too. Again, you've got to move and grow in the right position in the valley. Riesling, tantalus riesling is one that people often call out. And I know there's others from a Colmena winery that I also represent has got a beautiful riesling called Decora. And I love that wine. It's one of my favorite rieslings. So riesling, Pinot Noir, sparkling wine, Merlot, Bordeaux reds, maybe straight Cabernet Sauvignon. You see I've kind of covered way too much ground and it almost sounds unbelievable that the Okanagan can do all that, but yes it can.
Yule Georgieva: Yeah, well I mean to your point it is a pretty big region and it does have a very varied climate from the desert down in Uso, Ustat to the cool areas around Vernon, so it makes sense that there would be that much variety. But it does seem like the producers there are really going through this process of figuring out exactly where to plant what. Would you say that's true of you guys as well, that you're still mapping exactly what works where and learning your terroir?
Eugene Mlynczyk: I'd say absolutely that's true. And it's probably true of much of North America and I was going to say the new world, where we talk about the history depending on where you go, 100 years, 150 years of history. But modern era in most of these places is really 40 to 50 years. If the modern era in Niagara is defined by the founding of Innisfil in 1975. And it's defined in Napa maybe one way, 1966 with Robert Mondavi Winery. I mentioned Mission Hill, 1966 in British Columbia, but Kelowna before that. But the modern era, so we've been working with grapes, with these terroirs, with these places where we have people, people farming and making the grapes with the land, the climate, the slope, all the soils, all those things that come into that beautiful French word terroir, as really not yet fully formed.
Yule Georgieva: Well, there are some amazing wines out of BC, and I think this is one of the stories of the Okanagan is that, in addition to this process of trialing multiple different varieties in different regions or different sub-regions within the Okanagan, there are some legacy wines and some very well regarded wines. I mean, Oculus is obviously a very famous wine from Mission Hill that I think many people would know outside of Canada. Unfortunately, I think a lot of people don't know some of the wonderful wines that are produced there, but having been to Kelowna, unfortunately, you can't get as many of them out here in Ontario, but there's incredible quality, like you said, and some of it even is comparable to what's happening in Washington, given that Osoyoos kind of rises up out of Washington, right?
Eugene Mlynczyk: Yes, yes. And I'm not advising anybody on investing, but I still find it amazing that one of the most beloved vineyard areas in all of Canada around a soy is all over South to the soy ends abruptly at the South end of Lake of Soyuz where it becomes Washington state. And on the other side, you've got cherry orchards and other soft fruits, but you don't have a lot of grape growing that I'm aware of. So again, maybe it's transportation issues because you're not going to be going across the international border into Canada to process your grapes. And the rest of the Columbia Valley wine industry is much further south. But hey, I keep thinking if I had a lot of money, maybe I want to buy land just south of a Soyuz on the US side and do something with it because it's just a stone's throw.
Yule Georgieva: Yeah, and it's a little easier to ship line around in the US, so that might not be a bad investment. Let me know if you want a partner. Can I ask you one more question before we move on to Ontario? So just taking some of the examples that you listed, like Okanagan Syrah or Cabernet or Merlot, or even the Pinot Noir, how would those styles of those varieties compare to their, let's call them benchmarks, as people might understand them, right? So for the Syrah, are we at all comparable to Northern Rhone or are we at all comparable to Australia? I noticed that you said in the in the Six Nations competition you actually beat the Australians which they are known for their Shiraz which is San Bridal obviously so well done there. But maybe just give us a little bit of a benchmark of how these styles fit against those other more known styles.
Eugene Mlynczyk: I think the winemaker has some play here but much of the Shiraz is going to be mid-valley, like Penticton South, in fact, a lot of it around Osoyo. So our laughing stock that I mentioned, the Sira comes from Perfect Hedge Vineyard largely, which is only 10 kilometers from the U.S. border. That's about as far as south as you can get in the Okanagan. The style is mid-warm climate, and I'm hesitating there because it's still got continentality there. So, so far inland, as I mentioned already, hundreds of kilometers away from Vancouver You've got tons of summer sunshine hours during the growing season In fact quite a bit more than places like Napa Valley just because of the latitude and you've got really cool night So acidity is preserved and the wines are super structured So I was going to originally answer your question Yule as new world kind of bold Syrah style that doesn't go quite into the Shiraz category, thinking of Shiraz as maybe more highly oaked, maybe more black fruited. But with the nights that are so cool and that preserve the acidity, there's often a more white peppery than black peppery element that brings me back to Northern Rome in Europe. So it's kind of a bit of the best of both worlds and individually taste the wine from a producer, a Syrah from the Okanagan, or for that matter also some of the big Bordeaux reds. And you might start saying this reminds me of Napa a little bit except for the really high acidity and maybe firm tannins. But others might say this particular other bottling from another producer reminds me of Bordeaux and it's ripe but it's not over the top and it's really beautifully structured and more red fruited.
Yule Georgieva: Interesting. Yeah, I was with the Merlot in particular I'm interested there because Napa Merlots are quite different than the right bank Bordeaux Merlots, depending again on producer and year and all of that. But if you're making any Okanagan Petrus, then I think our listeners would definitely be interested.
Eugene Mlynczyk: Yeah. Well, again, I would say in that case, since you asked quickly about Merlot, I would draw a line probably more between the Okanagan Merlot and Bordeaux than Okanagan Merlot to somewhere down in California or Australia. Again, much maligned, probably doesn't deserve the, sort of, a bit more fame than it should get.
Yule Georgieva: Fair. All right. Well, that's a great introduction to BC. Let's move now to Ontario. So again, let's just do a little snapshot. The main region is obviously Niagara, where I live, and where you obviously work often as well and pop down to. But give us the lay of the land here. Tell us about Niagara, the main varieties, the main styles, and anything else you feel like.
Eugene Mlynczyk: Sure, so Niagara, again we talked a lot about the history, so I won't repeat any of that, other than to say that the region is quite urban, and in the 1950s, the Queen Elizabeth Way, our main highway that runs from Toronto through Hamilton towards Buffalo, went down below the escarpment, the geographical feature that defines the Niagara area and allows for great growing and for soft fruit production, and that allowed for more city expansion as well. So, it's been a bit of a yin-yang battle in terms of, you know, do we preserve this vineyard land or this peach growing land, or do we allow for extra houses to be built? The great thing about that, as opposed to the Okanagan, is that it's much more accessible for people from the U.S. or from Toronto to come and visit for a day visit. So that's the one benefit. And the defining factor of the Niagara Peninsula, let's say that it's about 60 kilometers from east to west and only as little as maybe 10 kilometers north to south, maybe 20, 25 kilometers at most. The declining factor for those that have been to Canada or understand the Great Lakes, the world's single largest volume of freshwater source, there's five Great Lakes, Lake Ontario is one of them. So Lake Ontario is on the north of the Niagara Peninsula and on the south, just as close as let's say 10 kilometers, maximum 20 kilometers away from the lake is the cliff face, let's call it that, it's not quite a cliff, of the limestone ridge called the Niagara Escarpment. That's a UNESCO World Heritage Reserve. And that runs five or 600 kilometers from Niagara Falls. There's the defining name for the Niagara Peninsula wine growing area. Many people know Niagara Falls, of course, Marilyn Monroe knew it. Many other people did and it's still a honeymoon destination and it's not that far from our growing area. So a great tourist place to visit. And of course, you could also bring your wine passion in there and within you know an hour certainly maybe a half an hour of Niagara Falls you're Gonna find a lot of great wineries to visit so that small region is the heart of our production It wasn't the first though if you remember the history lesson from the beginning the first was back in the 1860s in Peavey Island So that secondary area, which is not I guess it is probably the second largest production area But probably fewer wineries than Prince Edward County that area is called Lake Erie North Shore, where the southern tip of that is an island called Pelee Island, and there's also another sub-Appalachian out there in Lake Erie, so one of the other Great Lakes. That's very close to Detroit and another sister city here in Ontario, Windsor. So again, no excuse for not visiting your local wine areas if you live somewhere in the Detroit area or southern Michigan or even northwestern Ohio. Then we go to the third region, Prince Edward County, which is not Prince Edward Island. People know Anna of Green Gables, I love it. We had our honeymoon there many years ago. But the Prince Edward County is about halfway between Toronto and Montreal, give or take. And it's a tourist destination because it's got beautiful sandy beaches on the western side, but it juts out into Lake Ontario. So it's protected or moderated by Lake Ontario to some degree, but is much more open to winds and other factors. And in fact, in Prince Edward County, the biggest challenge is having to bury your vines, imagine it's possible to bury your vines every winter, otherwise they would die from winter freeze. Of course, now some other technical things are coming to play, including, you know, geotextiles, basically blankets to keep your vines warm enough in the winter so they don't freeze. But some excellent Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Sparkling Wine coming from what I would say is previously an emerging region, but a region that's fully emerged now. So those are the three main grape growing areas for wine grapes in Ontario.
Yule Georgieva: And what, let's start with Niagara, what would be the main varieties that you find in these regions if you can summarize? I know it's similar to the Okanagan where there's such a range, but the main ones and the main styles.
Eugene Mlynczyk: So as a province, I don't have the plantings in front of me. I did at one time, of course, you can look that up on vqaontario.com or maybe it's vqaontario.ca. Those stats are always published, but we've got Riesling, which I already mentioned. We've got Cabernet Franc as a key style, but more Loire than Bordeaux, I would say. We also have a beautiful Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and sparkling, which then brings us to being Burgundian. And we have an annual festival or a set of seminars plus tastings and events called I4C, which was modeled after the Pinot Noir events that happened in Oregon. That just happened a few weeks ago here in July of this year, and that'll happen every year. So why do we have a Chardonnay, International Chardonnay celebration for Cool Climate Chardonnay? Because we make those wines really well here and we want to talk to other people and taste from around the world in that same style. So I've gotten to the sparkling wine styles which are largely made from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, makes sense. We're not copying Champagne but we are certainly with British Columbia and with Nova Scotia, I think making a signature style for the whole country, if we focused on sparkling. That's my one little place where I'm going to stake my claim, sparkling wine. What we also have is some great Gamay Noir. I know that Matt Kramer came to the festival that we call I4C a few years ago. It almost caused a little bit of a ruckus by saying, I love your chardonnay. And I know this is a convention and conference all about chardonnay, but you make some fantastic Gamay Noir here. That caused a little bit of open eyes. I think he's right, but you know when you're in the house of as a guest maybe you need to be careful how you say it. And I don't know if you see if there's another style I didn't cover because I love Ontario Syrah as well. You know from years back from a Delane vineyard owned by Don and Elaine Triggs and then Jackson Triggs I've been tasting those at 15 or 17 years of age and have loved Syrah when I doubted that Syrah was right for this climate. And in Ontario, it's absolutely, even if it's called Shiraz, I think much more Northern
Yule Georgieva: Rhone than anywhere in the New World in terms of its connections. Yeah, overall, I think Niagara is cooler than the Okanagan, especially the South Okanagan, right? So this isn't the place, if you're a rich, robust, Cavernet Sauvignon lover, this is not the place for you. This is more if you're into, like you said, Gamay Noir, like your Beaujolais, or your Burgundian styles, your cool climate Chardonnay and sparkling wine. That's fair?
Eugene Mlynczyk: Sparkling wine, absolutely. Maybe Bordeaux blends to kind of answer for being cooler, but being also more humid and having more disease pressure than the Okanagan does, which is very arid, generally speaking. In Niagara, we make some fantastic Bordeaux blends. There was a gentleman named, I believe Larry Patterson, he called himself Little Fat Wino. He used to run an event up at Fiesta Buckhorn. Buckhorn is somewhere north of Peterborough. It's in our cottage country, heading up into the Canadian Shield. And he would taste older vintages, I mean, sometimes decades old of Ontario Bordeaux blends versus the best from other parts of the world, including Bordeaux, including California, and often our Ontario aged wines, at least in his competition, would actually equal or best those in a very different style, I think. So there's something to be said for our region working really well for let's blend a different proportion of Cabernet Franc, of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, other Bordeaux grapes into this bottle and treat it as a cool climate style, and we can also do something pretty fun and successful.
Yule Georgieva: Yeah, interesting, because you did mention that Cabernet Franc is one of the signatures here, more similar to the Loire, which is obviously cooler than the Cabernet Franc in Bordeaux, and so that would make sense, that maybe the proportions have to change a little, but we can still do those red blends and do them quite well.
Eugene Mlynczyk: Yeah, and we try to fit a round hole into a, a round peg into a round hole, the square peg into a round hole, right? We're gonna do things that suit the climate. And some folks, when they ask me, what do you like or here, what should you like? I'm like, well, think about what makes sense in this place, right? And we're not gonna be growing mangoes in Niagara or maybe we will in 2050, right? So don't be looking for mangoes, but yeah, we can be looking for raspberries, peaches, beautiful plums, right?
Yule Georgieva: Yeah, it is really interesting to me that I think there's been a great trend recently in Niagara of certain producers who've gotten very focused on trying to map the different regions, because the regions that we have are quite large, but there is so much variety, and especially along that escarpment. I know some of the producers, like Thomas Batchelder, you and I have spoken about him before.
Eugene Mlynczyk: He's gotten quite focused on doing that, and I know you work with him, I think, on a project. Absolutely. So, Thomas Batchelder is one of the great vineyard of Niagara, one of the winemakers, but he's also working a lot in the field. He's got his own project, Batchelder Wines, making a really, I was going to say at one time it might have been exclusively Burgundian inspired with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from single vineyards, single vineyard expressions, but also he's working with Gamay, et cetera. Our project that originally was a joint venture with a company named Boisset. Many people know Jean-Charles Boisset from based in Burgundy, but now living, of course, in Napa. That was a joint venture project called Le Clos Jordan. And it sounds very French, although we were in the heart of Niagara, because we were inspired with that escarpment, the Niagara escarpment, that limestone slope that reminded us of the Cote d'Or and the beautiful golden slope in Burgundy itself. And so that project was started about 22 years ago, 23 years ago now, with the first vintage unofficially 03, but officially 04. And Thomas Batchelder was our winemaker from the start, and he's made some fantastic wines. We had a little hiatus, but we re-birthed, I think you would like to say, I don't know if that's a word. Vic Clozardin was reborn after a few years hiatus in the 2017 vintage and now continues on, including some beautiful accolades. I love the annual rundown of not the greatest wines of Niagara, but the most thrilling wines that I tasted in this past year by Rick Van Sickle. He's a plug, I'm not associated directly with Rick on this, but I love what he's got and what he writes about. And he's got an annual compendium at his website called winesinniagra.com and he has picked in the last couple years a couple of our Le Clos Jordan wines made by Thomas Batchelder as being among the best of the region. So there's many other contenders as well, beautiful wines from PaaS or Hidden Bench, some from Cave Spring, sparkling from Henry of Pelham. I mean, I could go on with, you know, when you're asking, I know you didn't ask yet, but I'm kind of answering, you know, what are some of my favorite wines that I've tasted? And there's almost too many to mention because it's my home region and I'm lucky enough to be able to taste these wines on a regular basis.
Yule Georgieva: Yeah, I'd agree with that. Those are definitely some of my favorites. Whenever I think about Niagara versus the Okanagan, I always think here about those more Burundian styles. I love La Clos de Redon. I collect Batchelder wines. There's a few other producers, Cloudsley, Five Rose, who are doing wonderful things with their terroir. And then in the Okanagan, that's where I go for when I want those. I often think of them as the richer reds, even though they are often more old world or northern grown in style, if we're talking about the Syrah or even some of the other red blends. So I think there is definitely something for everybody, depending on where you are. But here, I think we do the cool climate Chardonnay, Pinot Noir really, really well, even though we do a lot of other stuff.
Eugene Mlynczyk: Yeah, again, it's a little bit of we can do a lot of different things in the future. I mean, this is why the future is bright. Buy and taste and buy what you like for cellaring. A lot of it will cellar, including the whites, including Niagara Rieslings, for example, which I've tasted at, you know, 25 or 30 years of age. Ice wine will age. It's another thing that a lot of people aren't necessarily doing and it ages beautifully. Not necessarily for us reselling, but seeing where things are decades from now, because decades from now, maybe we will have figured out a little bit more what we should focus on. I don't think we'll ever draw a line like they have in the Appalachian Appalachian system in Europe on you can only do this. And there must be these grapes with these vinification patterns. We do have rules and regulations under the VQA, the Vendors Quality Alliance guidelines that are administered by a central organization including tasting panels. I think those will stay around as well. But we are going to remain somewhat more flexible than most of Europe, I'd say. Although they're also picking different varieties to allow in Bordeaux, for example. I don't know if you and Jane Anson talked about that because where the climate is headed may need a rethink on which grapes actually suit that region.
Yule Georgieva: Let's turn to Nova Scotia and Quebec. I don't want to leave them out, because there is a couple of good things to say there. So why don't we quickly cover those two regions?
Eugene Mlynczyk: Sure, sure. Well, Quebec, I am not super familiar with, although I travel there and I'll be traveling next week for vacation there. I always thought of it as super marginal, but again, there's some amazing things happening there. I tasted a great Cabernet Franc. I didn't think you could make a varietal Cabernet Franc in Quebec on the south shore of the St. Lawrence River, a property named Domaine de Fleuve, which was featured at the I4C event last year on a panel that I helped guide. There's a few other producers around the apple country, just east of Montreal, in what is called Vestry or the eastern townships. And maybe this is a connection, wherever apples grow, you can make great cool climate wine. This is true in places like South Africa, like in Elgin. It's true in Collingwood and merging area further north of Toronto and maybe in the Ottawa Valley. And it also then should be the thing that justifies, hey can we do vinifera grapes or hybrid grapes in this area? Well we can ripen apples here so maybe we can. Let's give it a shot. And that is the passion and the love for wine that is the highest per capita in all of Canada and Quebec. And I think that's why the wine industry there has been increasing. So what can be produced? I've tasted some great Chardonnay, believe it or not as well, and a lot of hybrids and the industry is becoming stronger. So go Quebec, right? Definitely still an emerging region.
Yule Georgieva: Yeah, interesting. I don't think there are that many wines, especially exported, but definitely one to keep an eye on, especially as the producers get their hold there.
Eugene Mlynczyk: Yeah, definitely. Maybe where we were 20 years ago, with no offense to the industry, just the nature of how far you've come. And they're probably waiting, we are, to see where the climate will land. If we jump to Nova Scotia, I mean, really it's the Annapolis Valley. It's been a soft fruit growing region for many decades. The history there, I didn't look it up onto when the first wineries were around, but Yost is one of them, J-O-S-T. The one that I know that I talk about because I love it, I'm not associated with it directly, is Benjamin Bridge. Kind of an unusual name, but making some beautiful sparkling wines, really almost exclusively focused on sparkling wines with a few others there as well, Tidal Bay, some Frizzante wines, a few other, Cab Franc seems to be a theme today. They also poured a Cab Franc last year at I4C that I didn't realize they made. Again, a table wine, a non-sparkling Cab Franc from the 2016 vintage that they produced minimal cases of, and it was delightful. So what can you do in Nova Scotia? You can also make a wine called Tidal Bay. So they don't have specifically an appellation system the way that we do in Ontario and British Columbia, neither does Quebec, but they did create a classification system or a style called Tidal Bay, which is a really rapier-like, beautifully acidic white wine that goes delightfully with the oysters and seafood of the region. So that's an argument for maybe something like Muscadet or like really angular champagnes matching with seafood if you were in northern France. And that's kind of what's happening to my mind in Nova Scotia. Again, an emerging region further along than Quebec. And I would say we thought about it in like 1, 2, 3. If Ontario and British Columbia are somewhere 1, 2, then Nova Scotia is definitely number 3 in terms of following closely with the future to look at.
Yule Georgieva: Wonderful. Well, now we get to trends. So let's talk about the future of Canada. What are some of the trends that you see afoot here? We spoke about some of them already, right, about the discovery or the exploration of which varietals fit with which terroir. But what are some trends that you see afoot right now and where do you think the industry is heading moving forward?
Eugene Mlynczyk: I think in many places there's a trend for organic, for natural, for pet-nat, naturally sparkling wines that still have some sediment in them for minimal intervention. I think these are not specific to place although it's more difficult to be organic in a wetter or more humid climate like Niagara let's say then than the Okanagan. In terms of styles I think I pointed to a couple other ones Yule that are going to become more prominent. I'd like to say we're going to focus a little bit more but again as soon as you quote me on that we have to wait 10 or 20 years to see if it becomes true. Sparkling wine across Canada I think is the hidden star. It's not hidden really because there's a lot of great sparkling wines already and I would say that for Niagara, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, yes. Plus I still want to allow room for, this is where am I getting specific, room for Cabernet Franc and Riesling. Gamay also has a nod. So almost all of the above but if I had to pick one I'm gonna say sparkling and because sparkling is often made from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, let's say that it's going to be that kind of a champagne slash Burgundian focus at least in terms of inspiration. In British Columbia, the glorious South, Oliver Osoyus, I think is inimitable in Canada and it's going to continue to be Syrah and smartly made reds that try to avoid over ripeness and over alcohol while they maintain that continental benefit, the advantage they have of nighttime coolness, acidity, ripe tannins, lots of sunshine hours, but let's make them really juicy and crunchy but well-structured. So I guess I've argued myself into British Columbia being the land of bold but balanced reds going forward.
Yule Georgieva: Well, amen to that. I agree with that. And I think that's an overall trend that I like seeing across the industry, is the movement away from the extracted high-alcohol reds to something with a little bit more balance and elegance, even in regions like Bordeaux or even in California, where we might associate it with a jammier style, right? So I'm very all for that trend across the board. So let's turn now to your recommendations. Now, rather than just tell us about the great Canadians wines you've had recently, let's put a little filter on that. Can you tell us about some of the wines that you've had recently that have been older? Because that might be a trickier one, because there's not as much old Canadian wine out there, but I'd like to give our collectors a sense of which wines age well and some of the experiences that you've had that can give them a sense of what they might expect in 20 years if they go buy something today.
Eugene Mlynczyk: Well, it's a great question, Yule, and I think it's a valid one with the proviso that I actually have quite a few older wines, especially from Ontario in my own cellar, which is basically behind the wall behind me here, because I started buying wine in the 90s and I have also blocked them in, in a place that's not too accessible, which is why I really should reboot on my inventory app so that I can know where do I have wines and when should I drink them. So I've cellared some wines that people may have said, Eugene, that wine is too pedestrian or everyday, like a nice everyday wine, it's not cellarable. So I've been surprised pleasantly. I'll give you a couple examples recently. Back in January, I opened a bottle of 2000 vintage Peninsula Ridge Chardonnay, maybe with 1999. But Jean-Pierre Collat, who is at 13th Street now, made that wine, he came from Domaine La Roche. Another story is, why do people want to come from other countries to Canada and make wine? It's that freedom of being able to make different styles and not being necessarily told, all you can make is Chardonnay. That's what Jean-Pierre told me at one time. So the under 20 dollar Peninsula Ridge bottling of more than 20 year old Chardonnay opened recently in January 2023, aged beautifully. I don't have a particularly cool cellar, so it could have evolved faster, but it was very mineral, very creamy and a lovely wine. That's one example. I have a couple others as well. So older ice wine I mentioned, I know that also a couple of years ago I opened, although I open periodically older ice wine, but one example that sticks in my head is an 18 year old Inniskilla Oakage Vidal ice wine that we opened for our oldest child's 18th birthday. That was back in 2016. And at that 18 year mark, the ice wine had turned into a very dark color, not opaque, but, you know, uh, Amber, probably Amber Brown, uh, with a little bit of green at the rim, you know, you can tell that it's been aged for a while, but in the glass, beautiful acidity, complex layers of flavor, you know, not caramel, but you know, night flowers, a tangerine peel, just beautiful, beautiful flavors. So ice wine aged, stored even at moderate temperatures, but consistent temperatures, can age for a decade or more, can be in this case, a birth year bottle, I would say. I have a couple other examples too. If we can go back to sparkling wines, we can think about 13th Street, their Premier Cuvée, in the, I think it was 2013, but also the 2015 vintage, aging, of course, a lot of it was aged long on lees and bottle before release and Stratus as well as making a beautiful sparkling wine. That's commercially available called What's it called is age for 10 years. It's called X trials I always thought that was supposed to refer to like the X-file set of movies, but there JL grew is making beautiful wines and and the people that have taken over alongside him as well. And 10 years aged on leaves, sparkling wine from Niagara, that already is instantly sellable to my mind.
Yule Georgieva: You know, one thing that's actually important to highlight because it came up in your answers here is that there is so much talent in Canada, not just from our local community, but from those who've come from other countries. We spoke about this a little bit with the immigration that actually kicked things off, but I think that's still true today. And even some people who are locals like Thomas has studied or worked elsewhere. And so there is that influx of the world's knowledge of wine coming here to bring the best of what is out there to making the best of what Canada can produce. So I think that's actually an important point to highlight. And it's nice to see that we have that attractiveness to people coming from even places like Burgundy just because we offer that opportunity and they still bring their sales.
Eugene Mlynczyk: Maybe open-mindedness is a competitive advantage in that way to use that kind of business terminology is like we are not bound by tradition, although we're creating it as we go along. And I guess that maybe it's not the final thing I want to say, but because we spoke a little bit about Thomas Batchelder and Le Clos Jordan, I also have, because I own and have been buying these wines right from the start, I've been cellaring them and opening them periodically. Some so-called off vintages, 06 and 09 in Ontario, that were cooler years, maybe slightly wetter years. Again, you can go to Wines in Nagren, Rick Van Sickle's got a beautiful detailed set of notes on many of these vintages. So these are where I would say, be careful just looking at a vintage chart as a single brush for that entire vintage Especially because we have so many different styles produced within British Columbia, Ontario and elsewhere So oh six and oh nine Leclos Jordan both Chardonnay and Pinot Noir to me Every time I've opened one of those bottles when I think the cats still be good The wine is always thrilled me to the point where it's not just a word that the Brits use more ish meaning I think that means you want more, you want another glass. But rather, Eugene will fight for this wine and not share it with his friends. Just against my usual, you know, and I think in the whole industry, a generosity of wine is best enjoyed in the company of family and friends. Why would you want to drink it yourself? Well, you want to drink it yourself if it's your last bottle of a tremendous wine that tastes so good at first sip that you're going to go into the other room. And I didn't actually do that, but I wanted to go drink it by myself and not share with my friends.
Yule Georgieva: That is a good standard for what makes an exquisite wine. It's that you become a hoarder. You stop sharing it with others.
Eugene Mlynczyk: You become extremely selfish about it.
Yule Georgieva: Wonderful. Well, Eugene, this was such a great survey. Is there any final word on Canada that you'd like to share with our listeners before we wrap up?
Eugene Mlynczyk: I think if a lot of the folks listening in today and beyond are thinking about Canada, you've got to think beyond ice wine. But remember that ice wine is our international calling card. It is still, I think, the single greatest wine style that we make. But we make so much more and that is the part that we make so much more. Where will we be 10 years from now, 20 years from now? And you can be in at the ground level buying wines that are sellable because you enjoy them now and maybe they'll become, you know, investment grade in the future. But I would say buy with your palate if you can find a way to taste in advance, or listen to trusted friends or others, including critics that you can align your palate with. Don't look just at the numerical scores. They matter, they're simplistic, but go beyond that to what styles of wine do I like, where can I find them? And if some of these are produced in Canada, by all means, please find a way to purchase them. If you're in the US, you can drive across the border and not get charged too much. For Canadians going to the US and doing the reverse, we always feel like we're much more penalized where it's like two bottles of wine at no duty charge, right? But you've got that ability to find a way to get the wine into your cellars, it's a taste, drink it periodically, and learn and have that conversation with the producers, with the individuals that are making the wines, and it's gonna be a great further conversation. And that's no secret why Canada was listed in a couple places recently as one of the top 10 wine countries in the world or wine locations that is emerging that you should be paying attention to. And again, you can probably Google that and find out exactly where that was published, but we are beyond emerging. We've arrived and we are going to be even more important as we go into the future.
Yule Georgieva: I agree. And to your point about visiting, the other nice thing about coming to Canada is that the wine regions really are beautiful. The towns are beautiful, the restaurant scenes are wonderful, and the people are, of course, stereotypically very, very friendly. So please do come visit us. And Eugene, thank you so much for joining. To all of our listeners, don't forget to subscribe so you don't miss any episodes and leave us a review and feedback on topics you'd like to hear more about, whether it's more regions or deep dives into a region we've already done. To learn more about Inventory or to start managing your wine collection, go to inventory.com and download the app on the Apple App Store or follow us on Instagram at Inventory. And thank you so much, Eugene, for the time. This has been really wonderful to dive into our home country. I even wore my Canadian red, as you can see, in honor of today's conversation. And I learned a lot and I hope all of our listeners did too.
Eugene Mlynczyk: My pleasure. It was really quite delightful to speak to you today, Yule, and to all of the folks out It was really quite delightful to speak to you today, Yule, and to all of the folks out there.