Canadian Wine and Cheese Pairing: Tasting Our Whey Through the Best

Leanne and I chat about the top three wines in the six cheese categories for The Great Canadian Wine & Cheese Match on CTV News. You can watch the video clip above if you click on the arrow.

Stay tuned next week for the announcement of Gold, Silver and Bronze awards on CBC Television and Global Television.

Please share this post on social media by clicking on the social media buttons at the top of this post and using the hashtag #CdnWineCheese.


group tasting


To choose the winners, our team met this past Saturday to taste the wines and cheeses together.


group tasting 1


Team members for this tasting included:

Jennifer MacDonald, Wine Writer, Ottawa Citizen

Jane Staples, Wine Writer, Windsor Star and Ottawa Wedding Magazine

Matt Steeves, Wine Expert, CTV Morning Live

Monique Ippolito, Wine Writer, Ottawa Family Living Magazine

Doug McMillan, Wine Writer, Forever Young Magazine

Sean O’Regan, Director, National Capital Sommelier Guild

Craig Kuziemsky, University of Ottawa Management Professor and Wine Blogger

Tania Thomas, WSET Diploma and Certified Wine Specialist and Consultant

Rachelle O’Connor, Examination Judge, Algonquin Sommelier Program

Cherie Cole, Algonquin College Sommelier Graduate and Wine Blogger

Jane Lefresne, Sommelier Student and Wine Blogger

Jon Steeves, Algonquin College Sommelier Graduate and Wine Blogger



In part two of our discussion above, Leanne and I chat about great Canadian wine pairings for Canadian Cheddar and Blue cheeses.

You can order many of the cheeses that we tasted directly from the producers, or buy them in Canadian cheese shops.



cheeses 1Photo Credit: Tania Thomas
Balderson, Ontario
Balderson Vintner Cheddars are aged for 20 months and 40 months, respectively. These cheeses are produced to compliment both white and red wines.
Balderson Vintner Extra-Old Cheddar For White Wine is aged for 20 months and is graded to complement the subtler and sweeter flavours of most white wines. A creamier texture than other cheddars breaks down quickly on the palate with no lingering aftertaste.



Balderson Vintner Old Cheddar For Red Wine is aged for 40 months and is graded to complement the full-bodied flavour and tannins of most red wines.

These cheddars are available in most grocery stores, cheese specialty shops and you can also order them online from Balderson Village Cheese.


group tasting through glass 1Photo Credit: Sean O’Regan



Bella Casara Mozzarella Fior di Latte

Vaughn, Ontario

One of the most popular cheeses today is Mozzarella, a semi-soft rindless cheese with a lustrous surface and firm elastic body.

Mozzarella is most commonly used on pizza but it can also be use for lasagna, and pastas. Mozzarella can also be used to add flavour to any main course meal. Note the blue cow symbol on the container to indicate that the cheese is made from 100% Canadian cow’s milk.


Bella Casara Mozzarella Fior di LatteBella Casara Mozzarella


Bella Casara also produces a Buffalo Mozzarella that has more flavour and a longer shelf life than the regular Mozzarella. It was an American Cheese Society Award Winner 2013.


group tasting 2

Riopelle, Quebec Montza


This soft, triple-cream cheese is made with thermized cow’s milk and has a bloomy rind. The texture melts in your mouth, with mild flavours of butter, wild mushroom and nuts.

Le Riopelle de l’Isle is named after the famous Quebec painter Jean-Paul Riopelle, who happily agreed to have his name on the cheese as well as one of his paintings on the label.

This is a 2015 Canadian Cheese Grand Prix finalist in the Cream-enriched Soft Cheese with bloomy rind category. Launched in 2001, Le Riopelle de l’Isle has also won multiple awards, including Prix du public CASEUS 2010 award in the soft cheese category.


bottle lineup with bags


After each round of tasting was complete, we revealed the identity of the wines.



La Sauvagine 2
This is a cow’s milk cheese that ripens from the outside in and has a supple rind and ivory body with a luxurious taste of butter and mushrooms that melt in your mouth.

Each fall, the Quebec skyline sees more than 13 million ducks, geese and teals fly over, making what this producer calls the sauvagine (French for wildfowl).

More than one hundred fifty years ago, founder Alexis Cayer settled land surrounded by mountains and valleys, the future site of Portneuf.


group with cheeseSay Cheese!

Glengarry, Ontario
Feta-ishGlengarry Fine Cheese The Lankaaster
The Lankaaster is a hard cheese with a slightly open texture and is shaped like a loaf to to be sliced and eaten directly on bread as the Dutch farmers do. The producer uses a starter culture that makes it typical of cheeses made on Dutch farms earlier in the century. Aged 2 – 4 months, and is categorized in mild or medium.

Grey Owl Goat Cheese

Notre-Dame-du-Lac, Quebec

Grey Owl



This Canadian goat’s milk cheese is visually arresting with its snow-white interior, and dark ash rind. The cheese has a tangy, fresh aroma and flavour and melts in the mouth.

It’s produced at Fromagerie Le Détour in Notre-Dame-du-Lac, Quebec and launched in 2008. The name of this cheese is not just for its colour, but also to honour Archie Belaney, one of Canada’s first conservationists, who was known as Grey Owl. and lived on Lake Témiscouata.

Grey Owl is made with non-animal rennet so it’s vegetarian friendly. After the milk is pasteurized, it coagulates slowly, is drained and lightly pressed into moulds. The vegetable ash is sprayed over the surface of the cheese after 7 days of the 14-day ripening period. Due to its alkalinity, this edible ash helps to counter the acidity of the cheese, mellowing its taste.



This BC garlic chèvre is topped with roasted garlic, olive oil and a sprig of rosemary  to add colour and flavour to the cheese. It’s made from pasteurized goat milk, bacterial culture, sea salt, rennet, garlic, olive oil, herbs.

Upper Economy, NS


This Nova Scotia blue cheese has a signature shape and appearance of a small black bell. You slice of the cap to eat the cheese inside, but not the waxy rind.

Dragon’s Breath Blue has a texture that’s soft to almost runny at room temperature.


Sainte Elizabeth de Warwick, Quebec

eti-bleu-elizabeth 3



Le Bleu d’Élizabeth is a semi-soft cheese made with thermized cow’s milk from the Holstein and Jersey cows on the family farm. It has a natural rind, with bluish veins from the penicillium roqueforti that gives it it’s pungent, salty taste. The cheese is named for the town in which it’s made.Bleu d'Elizabeth

This cheese was a winner in 2015 in the Blue Cheese category and in two categories in 2013 at the Canadian Cheese Grand Prix. Winner of the CASEUS d’Or and CASEUS Émérite, as well as 1st prize winner in its category at the 2013 Sélection CASEUS contest.







St-Benoit du Lac, Quebec
This Ermite blue cheese has been made by the monks of Saint-Benoît Abbey since 1943. They also make Mont Saint-Benoit, a mild Gruyere; Le Moine, a stronger tasting Gruyere, and Ricotta.
The history of Benedictine monks making cheese is long and well-respected in Quebec. It’s not as strong as tradition Roquefort blue cheese from France, and has a more earthy flavour.
This cheese has won many awards, including the Grand Champion at the Canadian Cheese Grand Prix in 2000 and in 2006. It was awarded best blue at the Canadian Cheese Grand Prix.

Canadian Wine and Cheese Pairing: Tasting Our Whey Through the Best  (Vide0 1)

Michael: Well, if you’re someone who likes to buy local, today’s wine segment will really appeal to you. It’s a chance to celebrate Canada, Leanne?

 Leanne: We’re doing that with Natalie MacLean, celebrated wine writer, Michael. First before we name names, we’re going to have Natalie explain just why this is such a great example of buying local. You are no longer just doing a favour to the Canadian economy by buying Canadian wines?

Natalie: Exactly.

Leanne: They’re all really good now, these ones are the best.

Natalie: They’re so good  It’s not a patriotic duty. It’s a duty to your taste buds. Our wines and our cheeses, 100% Canadian, are so very good and the quality is improved. The number of producers for both wines and cheeses has expanded from coast to coast. And I think they just belong together naturally. They grew up together.

Leanne: We’ve seen such a change in five years. We’ve seen such a change in two years.

Natalie: Yes.

Leanne: But I remember you having mentioned just how much money stays here …

Natalie: Exactly.

Leanne: … if in fact you buy a Canadian bottle versus an imported bottle of wine.

Natalie: Exactly, because we’re talking about jobs, the economy, agriculture, the roots of our economy because both wine and cheese are the most value added products we make agriculturally. So you’re talking about farmers and grape growers being able to sustain these businesses when we support them.

Leanne: As a romantic, you wanted to talk about matchmaking and why wine and cheese actually are the perfect match.

Natalie: They are. I love this quote “Cheese is milk’s reach for immortality.” but so is wine for grapes, right? They’re both fermented liquids. Immortality, meaning they both can age well after fermentation. Both develop a range of flavours and there’s an astonishing range of styles in both wines and cheeses.

Leanne: Last year we told you about the Great Canadian Wine Match and it wasn’t just a cheese match. We looked at all foods and we had Canadians nominate wines. This year we’re just telling you about the winners and we’re going to do it rather fast. We have a lot more whites on the list.

Natalie: We do.

Leanne: A lot more Sparkling than I would have expected. I think we’re starting in Niagara.

Natalie: Let’s start with Niagara. Handsome Brut, which is a Sparkling wine made in the Champagne method and with Champagne grapes. These Sparkling wines and white wines have the acidity to naturally cut through the fat of a creamy cheese. It’s like a silver knifes, slicing it and refreshing your palate.

Leanne: She has a way with words.

Natalie: Thank you. This one’s great because it’s absolutely dry. We’re still in Niagara with Konzelmann Pinot Blanc. If you like Pinot Grigio from Italy, try this one … very refreshing, very crisp. Bouncing over to Nova Scotia, Benjamin Bridge.

 Leanne: I’m really happy to be two Nova Scotian girls. We didn’t ever think we would be on television talking about an award-winning Sparkling wine from Nova Scotia.

Natalie: Exactly, Benjamin Bridge is the only Nova Scotian wine, right now, that is available coast to coast, with their Nova 7. They had two wines that where voted in.

Leanne: Two voted in? That’s quite something.

Natalie: Absolutely, and so if you look at the effervescence and the crispness, we have a Balderson Cheddar that’s made for white wine. It’s going to go with these wines and even a Chardonnay will work well.

Leanne: And just in behind here?

Natalie: We have a Chardonnay from Quebec. Often we don’t think about Quebec producing wines but they do. I was there this weekend. You can drive to the Eastern Townships. It’s great to visit the wineries. They produce wines and ciders. A lovely range and this one made it in for creamy cheeses.

Leanne: We’re going to be back, we’re going to share more wines and we’re going to share more cheeses. If you’re frantically writing down this list, not to worry. Natalie has it all on her website and we have a link to that. We’re going to be back because Michael wants us to repeat the name of the wine 

Natalie:  Niagara’s Konzelmann Pinot Blanc … like Pinot Grigio.

Leanne: I know.

Canadian Wine and Cheese Pairing: Tasting Our Whey Through the Best (2nd Video)

Michael: Let’s go back to Leanne and Natalie MacLean for the latest from the vine, ladies?

Leanne: And we’re taking our viewers everywhere,  to Prince Edward County, to Niagara, to B.C. and some Ciders from Quebec. Of course Natalie always likes to bring Viognier along.

Natalie: Very good Leanne.

Leanne: Because it’s the toughest one for me to pronounce.

Natalie: It is.

Leanne: Viognier … Describe Viognier and that one is from …

Natalie:  … B.C. from Black Hills and it’s a very floral wine. Think about a Canadian Goat Cheese and the meadow and the flowers. Think about the white flowers and the aromas in the wine … you could see why these pairings start to work.

Leanne:  And that’s from Black Hills. That’s great.

Natalie: Black Hills is a great winery.

Leanne: So we’re trying to name as many wineries as possible and to get the list of the winners from you. The list in its entirety is on Natalie’s website. So we have some Prince Edward County wine.

Natalie: We do love driving up there. It’s a beautiful region to visit but more importantly to me, at least, the wines are fantastic. I love loading up the trunk in Prince Edward County. So we have Long Dog Pinot Noir and we have a Cabernet Franc from Casa-Dea, both terrific producers. Huff also has a Sparkling wine that’s really terrific. They have a really cool climate up there that gives that edge, that nervy acidity that is going to work so well with cheese.

Leanne: Henry of Pelham, scoring 2 on your list.

Natalie: WE have a Riesling from Henry of Pelham in Niagara which will go well with your creamy cheeses. You want to look for the cows label there … that happy blue cow tells you it’s from Canadian Milk. You have a Henry of Pelham Baco Noir. If you like Cabernet and you like Shiraz, go for Baco Noir. It’s a Canadian specialty and especially of Henry of Pelham. The smoked Applewood cheddar from Balderson is a beautiful pairing.

Leanne: That’s sounds like a match made in heaven. Now, there’s a cider on the list as well.

Natalie: There is.

Leanne: So this cider is from Quebec.

Natalie: We have a cider from Quebec. We have blue cheeses. You need something sweet or strong or both with blue cheeses. We have a cider from Quebec which is made from apples. We did allow Canadian Ciders into this competition. We have a port style wine from Prince Edward County … Harwood. We have very robust reds, Smoke and Gamble from Port Dover.

Leanne: I would like to know more about this wine.

Natalie: Sure, it’s a method called Appassimento. It’s an Italian method but they’re using it and so are several wineries in Niagara, in Port Dover; to get that extra dimension to their red wines. It gives you a bit more flavour, a bit more alcohol and a bit more depth in a cool climate. So, you put that with the blue cheese that’s made in Quebec from the Benedictine Monks. I love that Benedictine Blue. I visited the abbey this…

Leanne: You’ve been on a lot of road trips recently.

Natalie: I know. I was singing their praises and it’s a beautiful combination. I also want to mention Nova 7 from Benjamin Bridge in Nova Scotia. This has just a touch of sweetness, just a touch of honeydew sweetness. It would still go with Blue, even though Blue is a strong, salty, pungent cheese. Sweet meets heat or salt and they really work well together.

Leanne: Sweet meets heat or salt.

Natalie: Exactly.

Leanne: There are so many note worthy moments in this little tutorial. I have to say we have about 45 seconds left. This is a chance for you, the wine writer, you’ve travelled all over the world and you’ve written books about wines from all over the world. What should Canadians know? What should we all know about picking up a hostess gift to bring along that is a Canadian wine? People are still trying to shake that off “Oh! It’s a Canadian wine.”

Natalie: You’re safe with both the Canadian cheeses and wines. It does make a lovely hostess gift and it’s also great for entertaining. If you’re not a wizz in the kitchen, there’s no cooking involve. Think about summer entertaining and think of Canada Day which is right around the corner. You can put out a lovely spread of all these cheeses and Canadian wines. Let people pick and choose and mix and match and you’ll be astounded at the range of flavours.

Leanne: And the bottom line is, we have a lot to toast and boast about …

Natalie: We do.

Leanne: … in terms of what the Canadian wine producers and cheese producers are doing. Thank you so much Natalie.

Natalie: Thank you Leanne.

Leanne: And, of course, the list as I’ve mentioned a few times, Michael, is on Natalie MacLean’s website and we have a link on our website. 


Posted with permission of CTV





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