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  • Wednesday, January 25, 2012

2012 Niagara Icewine Festival - Review

Wow! What a weekend. By the time we were done mid-Saturday afternoon, I could not believe we were Icewine-d out! Here's why:

Our first stop was Château des Charmes for their mini Icewine glazed New York-style cheesecake and mocha cheesecake. Both were delicious and paired extremely well with the Icewine cocktail made with fruit juices. We also took in a tour of the facilities as we heard it is one of the best in the region. We heard correctly - it is very good and Rose is an excellent and entertaining tour guide. We also tasted quite a few of the wines and was extremely impressed with the 2007 Paul Bosc Estate Vineyard Riesling Icewine. Full review of this fantastic Icewine and other wines we tasted along the tour will be available in another post later this week.

Cellar at Château des Charmes
The next stop was nearby at Cattail Creek Estate Winery for some butter chicken. In a word - disappointing. The butter chicken was nothing like I had seen before - it was dry and mixed with rice, and I did not see/taste the mango chutney. It was also paired with the 2008 Select Late Harvest Vidal (the Official Icewine Festival booklet states 2006 Barrel Fermented Vidal Icewine). What happened? Seems like everything was off base here. Off to PondView Estate Winery...

"Fire and Ice" Wine Jelly
Two Icewines - Cabernet Franc in chocolate cup, and Vidal in glass. Both were very delicious. The Vidal Icewine was paired with a slice of baguette topped with blue cheese. The surprise was a cucumber topped with some cream (soft cheese?) and "Fire and Ice" wine jelly. Everything here was tasty with top-notch presentation!

Next up - Riverview Cellars Estate Winery for some homemade biscotti, and skewers of banana, strawberry & marshmallow - all dipped in a fountain of Belgian chocolate. Messy, but tasty. The Cab Franc Icewine was delicious, but it's flavours were drowned out by the chocolate. It was busy here! I also experienced for the first time the glass holder attached to the plate - it works, but I was nervous the whole time. :)

Icewine Marshmallow
Since we had some time, we made an unplanned visit to Peller Estates Winery for Icewine and marshmallows and wow! This was a hot spot, lots of people everywhere. Marshmallows were large, and took no time to crisp. How did they do that? Two Icewines were served - Vidal and the Oak Aged. Both were delicious!

Our final winery visit of the day was Jackson Triggs. Here, we sampled a few table wines, followed by the 2007 Cabernet Franc Icewine and the 2007 Delaine Vineyard Riesling Icewine. Both were impressive (and on sale)!

By now, we were quite Icewine-d out, but still had to check out the main event: The Icewine Village. Located on one block of Queen St. in the heart of Niagara-on-the-Lake, the street was buzzing with people sipping Icewine as they mingled outdoors from booth to booth and shop to shop. Many (if not all) Niagara-region wineries were represented. The ice sculptures were cool, but I felt a little bit more could have been done to make it more festive - perhaps some lights or colourful decorations?

Ice Sculpture at the Icewine Village, Niagara-on-the-Lake
On Day 2, as we made our way back home, we stopped at GreenLane Estate Winery for some gourmet grilled cheese. These two grilled cheese - one gorgonzola, the other cheddar - paired very well with their 2008 Riesling Icewine and red wine (2007 Cabernet Merlot?). Even though they were small-ish, they were very flavourful and filling.
Gourmet Grilled Cheese

Then, we made an unexpected stop at Legends Estates Winery for pulled lamb souvlaki. Wow! Another great appetizer that paired perfectly with their Reserve Shiraz, not so much with the Sauvignon Blanc. The Icewine for dessert was icing on the cake.

For our final stop, we visited Magnotta Winery for three sweet wines, paired with the classic: cheese. Amanda, our host for the tasting was very knowledgeable about the wines and winemaking process - you can tell she loves wine! We tasted the 2010 Vidal Harvest Moon, 2006 Passito Vidal, and 2007 Riesling Icewine. All three were delicious and paired well with the 3 cheeses offered: cheddar, friulano and blue cheese.

That's it for my review of the 2012 Niagara Icewine Festival. The festival will run one more weekend on January 28-29. If you enjoy Icewine, I highly recommend you go because the food and wine was fabulous.

You can purchase Discovery Passes on-site at any of the participating wineries. If you can hold back the urge, buy only 1 Pass and share the 6 tastings with your partner or loved one OR buy 2 passes and share 12 tastings. The weather looks like it will be pretty good this weekend too! Enjoy!


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