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Saturday, November 17, 2012

Gourmet Food and Wine Expo 2012



Gourmet Food & Wine Expo 2012
On , I attended the Gourmet Food and Wine Expo VIP Preview Night. I arrived just after the show opened at 6 p.m. and the place was buzzing with lengthy lineups for sample tickets. Once I got upstairs to the main pavilion, I noticed the first few aisles were busy, while the rest of the venue was relatively quiet. I quickly seeked and found one of the many booths to purchase sample tickets - 1 sheet of 20 tickets cost $20 - and fortunately, this line was short.

Vintages booth at Gourmet Food and Wine Expo
My first stop was the Dreissigacker booth represented by K&S Wine Imports in the Fine Wine pavilion located in the northern part of the hall. I am regretting tasting only two of the lower-end Dreissigacker Rieslings as both were outstanding wines (full detailed reviews will be posted later). I can only imagine how good their top-tier wines are! Must check out if you enjoy German Rieslings! It's a shame these aren't available at the LCBO.

The next stop was Coyote's Run, also in the Fine Wine section, to taste their new Meritage. While it was good, it definitely needs at least 2 more years before it's drinkable. By now, it was time for me to head over to the Canadian Cheese Tasting.

Canadian Cheese
This year's cheese tasting definitely seemed to have less interest than last year. Perhaps it's because they didn't serve any wine to pair with the cheese? Regardless, I had already tasted 2 of the cheeses on the menu previously. Upper Canada's Comfort Cream is a soft cheese that I tasted last month, while the Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar is a favourite of mine and was tasted back in July. The other delicious cheeses we tasted were the 14 Arpents semi-soft, and the Ménestrel firm and Aged Farmhouse firm cheeses. The final cheese tasting was the Le Rassembleu (blue cheese) and this was quite different from other blue cheeses - it was firm and had very earthy/hay/manure aromas. On the palate, the blue cheese was more traditional in flavours dominated by saltiness.

Cornerstone chilled wine lineup
Following the cheese, my mouth was feeling quite dry, so it was definitely time to whet my taste buds with some wine. Walking around, I eventually found myself at the Cornerstone Estate Winery tasting quite a few wines from their expansive lineup. In case you didn't know, Cornerstone is also home to the 2012 Winemaker of the Year - Andrzej Lipinski. His influence is definitely felt in these wines as they were all above-average. The Gewurztraminer and the Chenin Blanc were my favourite. Definitely taste the Icewines if you visit this booth!

Next, I found myself at the Trialto booth to taste a big, primarily Merlot-based '09 Bordeaux. It's very nice! I love Malbec, and the Catena version at the Trialto booth also impressed me.

Over the past year, I learned that the Georgian region is the oldest wine-producing region in the world - going back 8,000 years. I had never tasted wine from this country before, and shows like this are a great opportunity to sample wines that you might not otherwise be adventurous and purchase. Georgia is known for making sweet red and white wines. I tasted one of each Thursday night and both are quite the experience. Both were different, but the Qvevris (white wine) was definitely more pleasurable for my palate.

Back to more traditional wine for my taste buds, I found myself at a French wine booth. A couple of low-end reds from Antonin Rodet were tasted, but I was left quite underwhelmed by both offerings. By now, I felt like I needed something to nosh on to get me through the last hour or so. I wandered around and bumped into a few friendly faces. One friend told me about lobster rolls that were located just around the corner from her booth. At 5 tickets, they were expensive and a bit small. But, they were delicious! Thanks for the suggestion, Lindsay!

I wandered around some more and eventually found my way to the WineAlign booth to chat with a few colleagues and other winos. Also got to meet John Szabo. While there, it was suggested I check out Hidden Bench Vineyards & Winery. I believe this was the first time I had tasted anything from Hidden Bench and I came away with only good feelings. Their Riesling is very good, while their Terroir Cache needs more time to settle. Soon after, the announcers started telling everyone to close shop and get out, politely of course. =)

The show continues to run today and Sunday, and I hope your visit will be enjoyable as you wade through the hundreds of wines that will be poured. As mentioned earlier, full reviews of the wines I tasted will be published in a future post. Cheers!

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