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Justin Trudeau Joins the Cool(-Climate) Kids of Canadian Wine

Also in Unfiltered, the discovery of the oldest-ever wine in Italy, a cancer fund-raiser for a Napa winemaker, and the "blue wine" saga continues to unfold
Pictured: Justin Trudeau, not to be confused with Canada's most famous winemaker, Wayne Gretzky.
Photo by: Aaron Lynett/The Canadian Press via AP
Pictured: Justin Trudeau, not to be confused with Canada's most famous winemaker, Wayne Gretzky.

Posted: August 31, 2017

Presumably in an effort to get Millennials more engaged in its brand, Canada has joined the long list of entities releasing their own wines. And to help promote them, Canada recently enlisted celebrity Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (a proto-Millennial himself) to talk and taste among the vines at the Niagara College Teaching Winery last weekend. On his morning visit, Trudeau inspected some clusters at the Niagara-on-the-Lake campus' vineyard with college president Dan Patterson and head winemaker Gavin Robertson. To get the immersive experience, the PM also stopped by the vat room to do some hands-on learning with students, who showed off enological gizmos like a hydrometer and presented the PM with a glass of their final exam. Finally, Trudeau donned his somm finest—Burgundy-and-Gïk plaid blazer—to praise his local pours.

Per the St. Catharines Standard, the PM remarked that the industry had "grown by leaps and bounds” and the wines had become “world-renowned in terms of quality, in terms of product, and having institutions like Niagara College … for young Canadians to develop the expertise that is going to be more and more necessary in the world of wine." With Trudeau now hoisting glasses, Unfiltered sees an opportunity for diplomacy-by-blind-tasting at the table with fellow enophile heads of state and proxies Emmanuel Macron and Eric Trump.

An Italian Wine with Some Age on It

We know humans have been making wine since the days when they could still pair it with wooly mammoth steaks, but until a recent study, no one knew that Copper Age people in what is now Italy were saying "Saluti" (or … their word for it) as early as the third millennium B.C. Evidence from an archaeological site in southwest Sicily called Monte Kronio is the earliest sign of wine yet found in the country.

The proof, as they say in eno-archaeological studies, is in the presence of tartaric acid in organic residue, and that's exactly what turned up in samples taken from a Late Copper Age storage jar by a research team led by Prof. Davide Tanasi of the University of South Florida. “The presence of these molecules represents a specific marker and allows us to confirm the use of this vessel as a wine container,” concluded the researchers in a paper you can check out in the August 2017 issue of Microchemical Journal.

The study aimed to shed light on the dietary habits of the Italians of old, generally, and it sure does. “The archaeological implications of this new data are enormous, especially considering that the identification of wine is the first and earliest attested presence of such product in an archaeological context in Sicily," write the authors. Between Kronio and another nearby site, the team also found traces of cooked pork, animal fat and vegetal fibers. Unfiltered naturally wanted to know more. Were the ancients drinking a decadent Marsala? An elegant Nerello Mascalese? Alas, as Tanasi told us, "At this stage of the research it is impossible to establish if it was red or white."

Cancer Fund-Raiser for Napa Winemaker

Napa vintners are known as a charitable lot, but this time it’s one of their own that needs some help. Rutherford Hill’s talented winemaker and general manager Marisa Taylor is battling both kidney and thyroid cancer, taking her out of work while she undergoes surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. To help allay the cost of treatment, Chimney Rock winemaker Elizabeth Vianna has started a GoFundMe page for her fellow cellarmaster. “Spread the word,” Vianna told Unfiltered. “Anything we can do to relieve the financial stress part of the equation will be great.” You can donate here—and raise a glass of Taylor-made Rutherford Hill Merlot—to her health.

Blue Wine Saga Continues to Unfold as a Nation Holds Its Breath

The last time Unfiltered checked in with Gïk, the Spanish company behind the controversial “blue" "wine,” its creators were seeing red: Their product had been yanked from store shelves by the Spanish government after being found in noncompliance of Spain's not-blue law mandating "wine" be produced in certain colors like "red" and "white." Gïk was refashioned as 99 percent wine and 1 percent grape must and ignominiously lumped into the "other alcoholic beverages" category. But now, after the company navigated the U.S.' own complicated and frustrating liquor laws, Gïk is making its debut stateside—and in the land of the free, we're proud to display the blue alongside the red and the white in the wine aisle.

The ultimate beach wine

“We feel really happy and honored to be finally selling in the U.S., since it is a country in which we have felt a lot of interest and support since the beginning," said Aritz López, one of Gïk’s creators, via email. "To feel this daily interest is the most amazing thing that could happen to us." Over 30,000 bottles are already on preorder, and will be arriving in stores in late September beginning in Florida, Massachusetts and Texas. Unfiltered wishes the best to these young entrepreneurs whose pluck and determination will now allow Americans to imbibe a wine with a weird color. For those keeping score at home, it remains illegal to sell wine in grocery stores in more than a dozen states.

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Peter Neilson
Windsor, Ontario, Canada —  September 1, 2017 6:20pm ET
Niagara region in Southern Ontario is really producing some very nice wines, and I wish your magazine would cover them once in awhile. These are not just the ice wines that everyone seems to start and end their discussions of Canadian wines with. There are some very nice Cab Francs, Chardonnays, Reislings and even the odd Cabernet Sauvignon. With the fall of the Canadian dollar in the last couple of years, I have been buying more Canadian, and have found some really nice examples - the number keeps growing, that compare very nicely with $25 -$35 wines from California, South America, Australia and Europe. Our latitude is the same as Northern California, and with the moderating influence of the Great Lakes, the climate can be perfect in good years. Please give them some love.

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