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  • Friday, February 8, 2013

Dinner at Peller Estates

Last Fall, I was fortunate to win the "Dinner for Two at Peller Estates Winery" contest held by DINE Magazine. The prize was a 5-course Tasting Menu with Wine Pairings. Since I knew I would be Niagara for the Icewine Festival, it was only fitting that I make what was already going to be a fantastic weekend even better by enjoying this great prize at the same time.

On , after enjoying a full day of Icewine, we checked into our hotel in Niagara Falls and freshened up before returning to Peller Estates. I had dined here a few times in the early years of this century, but this was my first meal here in a while, and I really wasn't sure what to expect given that we would be experiencing a Tasting Menu (i.e. set menu) where we didn't get to pick what we eat. But Chef Parsons and his staff were all very, very accommodating, given our dietary restrictions on this day.

We started off our meal with an Amuse Bouche of rare Tuna crusted with 5 spices, Icewine reduction and a strawberry/raspberry jelly. Although I'm not a big fan of Tuna, this was a nice start to our evening.

Rare Tuna crusted with 5 spices

For our next course, we enjoyed a plate of Niagara Heirloom Beetroots, Buffalo Mozzarella, Fennel Seedlings and White Chocolate Dust paired with the Peller Signature Series Ice Cuvée Sparkling Wine (reviewed below). The beetroots were fresh with a nice crunch to them, and really tasted great when dipped into the White Chocolate Dust (where can I get some of this?). I love Buffalo Mozzarella - and this version was soft, creamy and delicious. The pairing was good with everything balancing nicely and nothing dominating the palate.

Beetroot salad

Up next was the soup course - a Cauliflower and Heirloom Bean Soup that also contained nuts and small chunks of 9-year-old Aged Cheddar. The soup was a little bland, but the cheese really added some "pop", and was overall quite good. Some salt and pepper would've been nice. This was an interesting pairing with their 2010 Private Reserve Chardonnay as the wine brought out the nutty notes in the soup. The creaminess from the soup also helped calm down the wine's lively acidity.

Cauliflour and Bean Soup

Our final item before the main course was a pair of fried Pickerel fish cakes, with a side of vegetables and crème fraîche. The fish cakes were quite dry, but tasted great when dipped into the smooth and crème fraîche dip that reminded me of Hollandaise sauce. It was paired with the bone-dry 2011 Private Reserve Pinot Gris, which was probably my least favourite wine of the night, and also the worst pairing - the flavours and mouthfeel just didn't mesh.

Fried Pickerel Fish Cakes

Prior to the main course, we were offered Blackcurrant and Star Anise soda to cleanse the palate. This was quite refreshing and definitely did the job! For our main course, we had fettuccine topped with a grilled Salmon that was paired with the 2009 Andrew Peller Signature Series Chardonnay 'Sur Lie'. Nothing exciting on either front for this course. However, the Salmon was fresh and tender, while this white wine was light, crisp and perfectly suited for fish.

Fettuccine and Salmon

By now, the two of us were quite full and weren't sure if there was any room for dessert. But, we all know that famous saying, right? =) Compliments of the Chef, our server brought out a sampling of each of their desserts they had available on this Saturday night - 6 desserts in all. Suffice to say, our eyes lit up like little kids in a candy store. On our dessert platter we had (from the top, counter-clockwise) Sticky Toffee Pudding with Vanilla Ice Cream, Carrot Cake, Apple Crumble, Red Velvet Cake, Toffee Pastry and Chocolate Ganache. There were also drops of fondants, jelly and caramel. It was all very decadent. My favourite items were the Pudding, Ganache and the Toffee Pastry. All of this was paired with their fabulous 2010 Signature Series Cabernet Franc Icewine. While the flavours from the Icewine didn't complement much of anything on the dessert platter, the high sweetness-levels and acidity from the Icewine did allow it to pair well with the desserts. The Red Velvet Cake and berry jelly paired the best with this Icewine.

Dessert platter

Overall, I was quite happy with our dinner here at Peller Estates. It's always a good sign when you leave a restaurant with a full stomach. The ingredients were fresh and the service was impeccable. I would not hesitate to dine here again. Dining at a luxurious restaurant at a winery is an experience that everyone should enjoy at least once in a lifetime. My first such experience was here, back in 2003. It felt nice to be back!

Tasting Notes:
PELLER ESTATES SIGNATURE SERIES ICE CUVÉE - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#284547) (D) - $31.95
Floral, peach, toast and leesy aromas from the glass with more toast and floral replays, along with some yeast on the palate. Creamy, long-lasting mousse with a hints of honey on the mid-palate. Finish is dry. Score: 88 pts

PELLER ESTATES PRIVATE RESERVE CHARDONNAY 2010 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#) (XD) - $18.95
Mainly apple and pear aromas with tart mango coming through at the tail end. More ripe orchard fruits (apple, pear) on the palate, plus pineapple notes that give way to a mineral, nutty finish. Round mouthfeel with very good acidity. Quite smooth and balanced. Delicious! Score: 90 pts

PELLER ESTATES PRIVATE RESERVE PINOT GRIS 2011 - VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (#) (XD) - $18.95
Apricot, citrus and pear aromas. Crisp and dry with minerality and hints of apricot and pear on the palate. Medium-bodied with lively acidity and a short finish that is slightly off-dry. Score: 86 pts

PELLER ESTATES ANDREW PELLER SIGNATURE SERIES CHARDONNAY 'SUR LIE' 2009 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#024059) (XD) - $31.95
Crisp, fresh lime, citrus and vanilla aromas. Lively acidity with tart lemon/lime on the palate and some minerality showing through. Medium-full bodied with lemon and spice on the finish. Score: 89 pts

PELLER ESTATES ANDREW PELLER SIGNATURE SERIES CABERNET FRANC ICEWINE 2010 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#) (S) (375 mL) - $90.10
Jammy red fruit, red currants and candied fruit aromas. Candied red currants, strawberries and honey on the palate with bright acidity. Very good balance between sweetness and acidity. Finish is medium-length. Would pair well with meals. Score: 91 pts


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