Canada is on the verge of breaking out big time on the world wine map, says Ian D'Agata, and not just for their sweet wines. He picks 10 exciting wines to try.

During my adolescent years in Toronto, learning both English and French as per the wishes of my Italian parents, I fell in love with the country’s diverse and delicious bottlings.

It’s a love affair that continues, stronger than ever, to this day: I’m still enthralled by what are some of the world’s best, if least known, Rieslings, Chardonnays, Pinot Noirs and Cabernet Francs, and champion their merits any chance I have. Once known only for its sweet icewines, it’s the country’s dry wines that are now turning heads.

What I find thrilling is just how much they have improved in a very short period of time. Early efforts were often beyond rustic, and I remember being laughed out of rooms in Italy back in the early ’80s when presenting Ontario Merlots or late-harvest Rieslings to Italian wine snobs trained on Pomerol and Mosel. But the potential for greatness was obvious (at least, to those willing to see it), and my faith never wavered. Over the years, the laughter died away.

Today, much like young New World wine powers such as Oregon and New Zealand, Canada’s wines – and the men and women who make them – have arrived.

A taste of Canada wine: