Fruit wine has long been overlooked when it comes to alcoholic beverages. For most folks, wine equals grapes. The LCBO does little to rectify this situation, with only a handful of fruit wine options available on their shelves. Which is too bad, because Ontario has many great fruit wineries offering wines ranging from dry to super-sweet, made from apples, berries, currants and more.
I had the opportunity to sample a selection of products from Archibald Orchards Estate Winery a couple of nights ago at the Locavore Unconference held at Montgomery’s Inn. In addition to the dinner of baked beans, coleslaw, maple ice cream and fresh baked bread, guests could sample a number of fruit wines from Archibald’s selection.
This fourth-generation farm is now run by grower and winemaker Fred Archibald and his wife Sandy. Many of their fruit wines place regularly in the top 3 at the annual National Fruit Wineries of Canada Competition, with the Spiced Winter Apple and Canadian Maple dessert wines placing Top of Category for 2004.
In the dry category, we sampled the Apple Blueberry and the Ida Red – Oak Aged. The first was a lovely combination with a tart blueberry flavour that was mellowed by the apples. This would pair well with venison or something hearty and earthy. The Ida Red Oak Aged was light and fragrant, with the vanilla notes from the oak accenting the tartness of the Ida Red apple.
The hard apple cider had only a light carbonation and was light gold in colour. It was sweet to the nose, but had a good dry finish and was more refreshing to me than most regular ciders, which I tend to find too fizzy.
Moving on to the sweet dessert wines, the Canadian Maple is a fragrant and flavourful version of a maple dessert wine with a balanced taste – it is not cloyingly sweet or overwhelming and heavy like many wines of this type. Paired with the hand-churned maple ice cream we were served for dessert, it was an excellent representation of seasonal eating at its finest.
My favourite of the evening was the Spiced Winter Apple wine, which we dubbed “apple pie in a glass” with notes of cinnamon and cloves accenting the sweet blend of apples. Both this and the Canadian Maple wine are definitely meant for sipping in small quantities, but are such outstanding examples of their type that they must be recommended.
Products from Archibald’s Orchards and Estate Winery can be purchased online and shipped via Canada Post, or in person at the winery located in Bowmanville.