O Canada

Ontario's most overlooked grape is a tremendous value

Given Ontario's proximity to the United States, it's surprising just how little of the region's wine we see here–especially given that its status as a premium wine-producing locale is quickly rising.

Ontario's Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are living up to the excitement started when Burgundy-based Boisset invested in the area, citing terroir similarities with France. And other winemakers are proving that Ontario is worth consideration via nervy, mineral-rich Rieslings.

But the area's best variety might be the one no one talks about: Gamay, the grape of Beaujolais.

We're not talking bubble-gummy nouveau styles here: Ontario's best are comparable to great cru Beaujolais–a little earthy, a little spicy, with lots of juicy berry flavor that's particularly good with a hint of a chill and a thickly buttered baguette topped with ham.

Plus, the 2007 vintage is regarded as Ontario's best yet, making this a great time to stock up on our picks:

2007 Château des Charmes St. David's Bench Gamay Droit ($17) From a special clone unique to the winery, this bottling falls on the richer end of the Gamay spectrum, with meaty, dark-cherry flavors and an earthy growl of spice (thecuvee.com).

2007 Grange of Prince Edward Estate Winery Trumpour's Mill Gamay ($15) From Prince Edward, a near-island that juts into Lake Ontario and is Ontario's newest appellation, this wine balances sweet berry flavors with tart cranberry notes (thecuvee.com).

2007 Henry of Pelham Short Hills Bench Gamay ($15) From one of the first Ontario grape growers to plant wine grapes, this bottle is a soft, spicy, easy-drinking summer wine (thecuvee.com).

2007 Cattail Creek Niagara-on-the-Lake Gamay ($15) Light and fruity with bright cranberry flavors, this wine is a good choice to chill for picnics and rooftop drinking (thecuvee.com).