RKS WINES: Canadian Wine Quarantine: Social Distancing and The Berlin Wall!

If I was to say to my Ontario readers Mayhem Wines in British Columbia’s Okanagan produces some jaw dropping quality wines that in my opinion rank it amongst the top wineries in the world 99.9% would say I was infected with some Omicrap virus and hallucinating.

Why is this?

  • The Liquor Control Board of Ontario prefers the profitability of California wines over all other wines even Ontario wineries. If Rodney Dangerfield was still with us he would say ex-Ontario wineries get no respect!
  • Ontario wine drinkers are stuck in their comfort zone to the extent the wines of British Columbia are received with as much fanfare as the wines of Uruguay. Herd immunity is relaced with Herd Frenzy where inferior wines such as Argentinian Fuzion rocket to success.
  • Even if there was a desire on the part of consumers to drink more British Columbian wine there is almost none of it on the shelves
  • Provincial liquor monopolies are greedy for every cent of tax revenue and direct winery sales from outside of a province to another are to be killed despite the fact the federal Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act was amended in 2019 to remove federal prohibitions about importing wine to provinces but leaving it to the provinces as to what importation rules would be is like leaving Little Red Riding Hood to have the Big Bad Wolf as a babysitter. No wonder the SAQ last year sent a threatening message to interprovincial exporters they were breaking the law of Quebec and would be pursued by the law for importing into Quebec except for imports through SAQ or their own intentionally cumbersome private ordering system. No tax loss there!
  • Allegedly the wineries outside of Ontario don’t have the volume to meet demand

The answer is either reform the Liquor Control Board of Ontario or privatize liquor distribution. If communism and the Berlin Wall collapsed in Europe certainly the Liquor Control Board of Ontario can collapse too. Until that day, given that provinces have been flogging social distancing for COVID, they have been social distancing out of province wineries from Ontario wine drinkers for years.

Geez, speaking of Ontario it really does not have the range of quality that the Okanagan has for red wines. So there is a Mayhem Cabernet Merlot to try. Mention that blend from an Ontario winery I might be squirming in my seat with less than anticipation.

I noted the wine is slightly cloudy which can indicate unfiltered wine or spoiled wine and in this case it is unfiltered. On the nose this blend of 72% Merlot and 28% Cabernet Franc is dominated by a lush and juicy Merlot which is held in check by a leaner Cabernet Franc. Juicy red cherry rules the aromas like a tyrant (or provincial health officer) keeping the teeming masses of blackberry, cranberry, 72% cacao and strawberry in a tight and disciplined formation. On the palate the tannins hit the roof of the mouth first and then spread to the rest of the mouth. But they are gentle. Although there is juiciness of red fruit there is enough drag down of that by blueberry, raspberry and strawberry jam to make this a classy and elegant wine.

Ajay Chavan as Mayhem’s winemaker has another winner under his belt. What a match for confit of duck with cherry chutney. This will improve in the bottle but consume before 2026.

I recall that 2019 was not a great growing season in the Okanagan but whatever handicap that presented has been well managed by Chavan.

The grapes are from Mayhem’s vineyards on Anarchist Mountain and the Tebutt Vineyard in Naramata. Both the Merlot and Cabernet Franc were fermented in stainless steel but were aged in French oak (40% new and 60% seasoned) for 11 months.

233 cases produced. For $21.74 folks you are getting a steal.

(Mayhem 2019 Cabernet Merlot BC VQA, Mayhem Wines (produced under the license of Meyer Family Vineyards), Okanagan Falls, British Columbia, $21.74, 750 mL, 14.1%, Robert K. Stephen A Little Birdie Told Me So Rating 94/100).

Published by Robert K Stephen (CSW)

Robert K Stephen writes about food and drink, travel, and lifestyle issues. He is one of the few non-national writers to be certified as a wine specialist by the Society of Wine Educators, in Washington, DC. Robert was the first associate member of the Wine Writers’ Circle of Canada. He also holds a Mindfulness Certification from the University of Leiden and the University of Toronto. Be it Spanish cured meat, dried fruit, BBQ, or recycled bamboo place mats, Robert endeavours to escape the mundane, which is why he has established this publication. His motto is, "Have Story, Will Write."

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