James Suckling’s Great Canadian Adventure


Thanks to WINEcouver over on Twitter, I just heard that James Suckling did a Canadian Wine Tasting at the laboratory of the Société des Alcools du Québec in Montreal, so of course we got a little excited, and on my birthday of all days.

James Suckling

And we weren’t the only ones. Twitter was abuzz with commentary about his favorites, who agreed or disagreed with the scores, and speculation about which wines garnered the highest scores as these were withheld for some time after the tasting. Lots of drama in the aftermath, but the time before the tasting was also full of drama. Wines from all over Canada braved the wintry weather to converge upon Montreal and all did not make it. A few unlucky bottles succumbed to the elements, and their frozen carcasses were cast aside. But of those who made it, 39 of the 84 wines were 90 points or more. That is an amazing ratio! Oh Canada, you are a cruel mistress!

James also did an interview with Radio Canada. I find it ludicrous that “some people in the province of Québec seem to want to make it an issue that [James Suckling has] been blind tasting wines from the Société des alcools du Québec (SAQ), the state-run wine and spirits distribution company” and insist that it should only be people from Quebec who should be rating wines at the SAQ. The Montreal Gazette also weighed in with this article.

So with the scores finally out, it came to light that the Mission Hills 2007 Oculus came away with the highest rating at 95 pts. Tinhorn Creek’s 2008 Cabernet Franc clocked in at a very impressive, and much more value-driven, 92 pts. Laughing Stocks Vineyards 2008 Blind Trust and 2007 Portfolio also fared very well, both coming away with 91 pts. The 2009 Hatfield’s Fuse from Blasted Church, which we did our very first Brandalicious article on a while back, was pinned down by Mr. Suckling at a cool 90 pts.

We’re fans of both Blasted Church and Tinhorn Creek here at Wineshout and pleased to see notable wine peeps also loving ’em, but the excitement doesn’t stop there. A special delight was to see Township 7 get high scores for their 2007 Merlot (92 pts.) and 2009 Sauvignon Blanc (93 pts.) which got the highest score of any Canadian white wine. Winemaker Bradley Cooper, one of the most likable guys around, has done a tremendous job in bringing out the best in these wines. It’s impossible to keep from mentioning Mr. Cooper’s own brand, Blackcloud, a Pinot Noir-only winery where he’s making Pinot Noirs can prove there is a future for the varietal in the Okanagan.

Road 13‘s 2008 Rockpile, named after the vineyard’s rocky soil, also did well with 91 points, and as we recently had a chance to try the blend for ourselves, we can say it’s a well-deserved score. With a smooth, velvety structure, soft tannins and spicy character, it delivers well for the low cost.

A thank you to James Suckling for doing the tasting of these and other great Canadian wines. Check out James Suckling’s site for more tastings and blogomania in all things wine and cigar.



  1. Where’s the opinion or congratulations to Mission Hill for producing the highest rated wine? Sour Grapes? 😉

    • Hay Jason, thanks for the reply and checking out the article 🙂 No sour grapes here, but haven’t tasted Oculus for ourselves and aren’t very familiar with Mission Hills beyond the surface. Looking forward to tasting a portion of their selection this spring.

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  3. Wineshout, I love to see ratings by esteemed winos on British Columbia wines, but I need to know the vintages as well. I’ll look it up on your link, but please include that information next time as BC experiences huge vintage variation in their wines. Thanks!

    Twitter: @Vinojogio

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