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  • Date publishedThursday, June 20, 2013

2013 Niagara New Vintage Festival Review

2013 Niagara New Vintage Festival logo
Last weekend I visited Niagara for the annual New Vintage Festival, which focuses on new-release wines paired with culinary adventures for the senses. Due to a late departure from Toronto, coupled with lots of traffic on the QEW, we arrived later than expected and had to be swift with our stops.

We picked up our passes at our first stop - Featherstone Estate Winery and ventured back on to their patio to partake in their Discovery Pass Experience. The first pairing was their 2012 Rosé paired with a grilled angel food cake - which was hot off the grill - and topped with roasted balsamic strawberries. Both the rosé wine and angel food cake were good on their own, and when tasted together, there was a delicious flavour sensation full of strawberries in my mouth.

2012 Featherstone Rosé with Grilled Angel Food Cake

The second experience was also delightful, with their 2011 Late Harvest Cabernet Franc paired with a mild Québecois bleu cheese crostini that was topped with a sour cherry preserve. Once again, lots of strawberry and cherry flavours when paired together, while the cheese also helped cut down the sweetness of the Late Harvest. Good acidity in the wine also helped make this a very nice pairing.

2011 Late Harvest Cabernet Franc with Québecois bleu cheese crostini

After quickly tasting a few wines in the tasting room, we bumped into @wine_gems on the way to the car and then headed over to Sue-Ann Staff Estate Winery.

It was pretty cool to meet Winemaker Sue-Ann Staff at a recent Churchill Cellars tasting, and now, to be in her home for the Discovery Pass Experience was the strawberry & whipped cream on top of a waffle! On the menu inside Sue-Ann's dining room was a sweet & savoury waffle topped with a light, summer-inspired cream sauce containing organic chicken and vegetables - which turned out to be mushrooms. Paired with this creation was her 2011 Pinot Grigio. This white wine was not your typical PG, it was big and very flavourful (and very good!) The wine pairing with the waffle was of contrasting flavours and generally went well together. But since I have a mental allergy to mushrooms, I didn't really enjoy the dish, and the waffle was much too sweet - I would have preferred it with whipped cream and strawberries instead.

2011 Sue-Ann Staff Pinot Grigio with Creamy & Savoury Waffle

The staff tending to patrons inside the house were the most enthusiastic I've ever seen at a winery - they love their job! This was my first visit, so we took a small, self-guided walk around the house and couldn't help but notice the contrasting styles - a very large, modern kitchen that seems to take up half the house, combined with an early 1900's look everywhere else. It felt quite grand and is definitely something worth checking out!

Colaneri Estate Winery

Up next was what-will-be a grand property, if it isn't already - Colaneri Estate Winery. With the property still under construction, and expected to be for 2 more years, we headed downstairs into a great room overlooking the vineyards for some homemade pizza paired with their 2010 Riesling. The pizza was topped with roasted red peppers, red onions, zucchini, and goat's cheese. The Riesling was light and fruity and complemented the pizza quite well as there were no strong flavours coming from either the wine or the pizza. In fact, this wine could have complemented many other light dishes as well. We ventured upstairs into the tasting room to sample a wide assortment of wines. Being my first ever visit here, I wanted to taste as much I could. Full reviews of the wines tasted during this trip for all the wineries I visited will be posted in the coming days.

2010 Colaneri Riesling with Homemade Pizza

Since it was now already past 5 p.m., we ventured to the only winery that was still open for the Discovery Pass Experience - megalomaniac / John Howard Cellars of Distinction. We arrived at megalomaniac after driving upon a long, winding road up the hill to what is the highest vantage point of the Escarpment - it was really was a nice view! Without about 10 minutes left before they had to close, the staff was nice enough to let us taste their Discovery Pass Experience offering, and also taste a few wines afterwards. We tasted their first ever "Bubblehead" Pinot Noir Sparkling Wine - the wine is so new that it hasn't even been labelled yet - with a white chocolate ganache tart that was topped with a strawberry compote. The pairing was, once again, quite good with the sweet flavours from the tart being cut by the dry, sparkling wine and providing good overall balance. Strawberry notes in the wine were brought to the forefront during this pairing.

Megalomaniac Bubblehead Pinot Noir Sparkling with White Chocolate Ganache Tart

This concludes my review of the 2013 Niagara New Vintage Wine Festival. Overall, I enjoyed my rather short visit and am sure I will return next year. Look out for my detailed reviews of the wines tasted as there were some fine wines that I would happily recommend - many of which can only be found at the winery.

If you're interested, this weekend will be the final weekend for the New Vintage Festival. There are over 40 wineries participating in the Discovery Pass Experience, and the weather looks like it will be hot and mostly sunny! Let me know if you're heading out to the escarpment - shoot me an email or post a comment - and tell me where you're going or where you went. Until the next wine event... cheers!


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