Clear Lake | Canadian wine club to launch in China

By Jim Boyce | Canada offers grape lovers far more than icewine and soon Chinese consumers will have nine nice new options to try. Clear Lake Wineries will launch in Shanghai this month and sell those wines, all hailing from the province of Ontario, both online and via a monthly club. Named after the Great Lakes, which contain about one-fifth of the world’s fresh water and profoundly influence the wine industry, the company will initially represent four brands.

  • Angel’s Gate, near the city of Beamsville, planted its vines in 1996, produced its first vintage in 2000, and has grown to 35,000 cases per year. It has six vineyards at Beamsville Bench, plus properties at Creek Shores and Twenty Mile Bench, for a total of 190 acres. Winemaker Philip Dowell works with Chardonnay, Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc.
  • Closson Chase is in Prince Edward County, at the east end of Lake Ontario, and owned by seven partners, including renown industry figure Deborah Paksus. It covers 30 acres, uses Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir, and got under way in the late 1990’s—see the timeline here—before producing its first vintage in 2004. There are lots of links to news coverage, reviews and recommendations, including by Beppi Crosariol, Tony Aspler and Jancis Robinson, here.
  • Malivoire, named after former movie special effects expert Martin Malivoire, is also on Beamsville Bench. It started with Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Gewurztraminer, Gamay and Pinot Noir, sources from four vineyards, and now makes 24,000 cases per year. The Malivoire ‘Moira’ Chardonnay scored well in this review by Alder Yarrow. Also see this look of 18 Malivoire wines by Jamie Goode as well as this article by Rick VanSickle.
  • Tawse, opened in 2005 is owned by Moray Tawse, a Burgundy lower: the stress on Pinot Noir and Chardonnay is no surprise. It covers 200 acres, sources grapes from five vineyards, with the oldest vines being Chardonnay that dates to 1981 and Riesling to 1976, and makes 30,000 cases per year. Paul Pender and Rene Van Ede head up the wine-making, with an organic / biodynamic focus. There is also a label by Canadian musician Jim Cuddy of the band Blue Rodeo. Tawse was named Canadian winery of the year for 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2016 by Wine Align.

Back to China. Clear Lake Wineries will officially launch on February 16 at restaurant The Cannery in Shanghai (see here for tickets). Canadian-born Shanghai-based sommelier Emilie Steckenborn will lead a tasting and a pairing with foods by chef Freddy Raoult.

Mary Whittle, president of Clear Lake, says the goal is “to create a community of Canadian wine aficionados in China who we can engage with in an edutainment environment to learn about and enjoy great wine.”

Well, as Blue Rodeo sang, you’ve got to Try. (Then get Lost Together in the wine.)


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