Guide to Canada’s Best Wines 2020 – Single Red Varieties

Announcing Canada’s Top Single Red Varieties – All Others

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Category Overview by John Szabo, MS

The “other single reds” category (i.e. not pinot noir, gamay, syrah, the cabernets or merlot), like the other single white category on which I reported earlier, encompasses, logically, a motley assortment of varieties and styles from across the country. But contrary to the whites, the greatest weakness in this red group is straight up value. There are many high-quality wines to be sure, but for the most part you are paying a premium for novelty or small lot scarcity.

To put some numbers on it, the top 15 single white wines, had an average price of $29.90 and point score of 90.3. So, according to a simple five-star value calculation from one (lowest value) to five (highest), based on price and score, the single whites had an average value of 3.52 stars. (Note that the actual value scores displayed next to WineAlign reviews are not automatically calculated mathematically, but rather each critic assigns their own value rating based on a number of factors that include price and score, but also cost of production and relative value compared to other worldwide examples and average prices, so there is subjectivity.)

The top 15 single red wines, on the other hand, had an average price of $45 and 90.1 points, for an average value rating of 2.28 stars.

I’ve speculated already on the reasons for this, which included higher production costs and the fact that consumers are willing to pay higher prices for red wines than whites or certainly rosés. And I do appreciate and encourage experimentation, it’s what drives the industry forward and sets the course for future successes. But from a consumer’s perspective, the results of many of these single red trials, while good, are frequently priced far above wines of a comparable quality made from the same varieties, say, sangiovese, tempranillo or malbec, grown in their regions of origin or of greatest association (Italy, Spain and Argentina, respectively, in this case).

All this said, the grapes that repeatedly bubbled up to the top of the charts were petit verdot and malbec, from both BC and Ontario, where commendable results have certainly been obtained. It’s worthwhile noting that petit verdot, as a single variety wine, really has no direct international comparisons for reference – it’s rarely bottled alone, as in its homeland, Bordeaux, where it is invariably blended. Thus, it carries less value baggage.

One of the most fun and enjoyable wines we tasted in the whole category was, improbably, a zweigelt from the Okanagan Valley, showing handsomely how less can often be more.

Have your own fun exploring the wines in this category, with the provisos noted here.

Return to the complete Guide to Canada’s Best Wines.

The top 10 Single Red Varieties – All Others in Canada:

Culmina Malbec 2016, VQA, Okanagan Valley, Golden Mile Bench ($45)

Southbrook Estate Grown Small Lot Petit Verdot 2017, Four Mile Creek ($45)

Stratus Malbec 2017, Niagara On The Lake | Niagara Lakeshore ($39)

Church & State Petit Verdot 2017, VQA Black Sage Bench, Oliver, South Okanagan ($75)

Church & State Malbec Coyote Bowl Series 2017, BC VQA ($75)

Arrowleaf Zweigelt 2018, Okanagan Valley VQA ($20)

Deep Roots Malbec 2018, VQA, Okanagan Valley, Naramata Bench ($30)

Moon Curser Touriga Nacional 2018, Okanagan Valley VQA ($40)

Black Hills Carmenere 2018, BC VQA Okanagan Valley ($69)

Black Hills Tempranillo 2018, BC VQA Okanagan Valley ($57)

More top Single Red Varieties – All Others

C.C. Jentsch Small Lots Series Malbec 2016, Okanagan Valley ($50)
Henry Of Pelham Bin 106 ‘lost Boys’ Limited Edition Baco Noir 2019, VQA Ontario ($30)
Stag’s Hollow Tempranillo 2017, Okanagan Valley VQA ($30)

Peninsula Ridge Mcnally Vineyard Reserve Malbec 2016, VQA, Niagara Peninsula, Beamsville Bench ($40)
Moon Curser Petit Verdot 2018, Okanagan Valley VQA ($32)
Organized Crime Petit Verdot 2017, Beamsville Bench VQA ($45)
Stratus Petit Verdot 2016, Niagara On The Lake VQA ($38)
Garry Oaks Zweigelt 2017, Salt Spring Island ($35)

Sandhill Single Vineyard Barbera ‘sandhill Estate Vineyard’ 2017, BC VQA Okanagan Valley ($40)
Quails’ Gate Old Vines Foch Reserve 2018, Okanagan Valley VQA ($30)

indicates the wine received a 5 star value rating from two or more writers.

Return to the complete Guide to Canada’s Best Wines.