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  • Date publishedSaturday, November 16, 2013

2013 Gourmet Food & Wine Expo - Review

2013 Gourmet Food & Wne Expo
On , I attended the Gourmet Food & Wine Expo VIP night. The show returned for its 19th year, and this is the 3rd consecutive year (4th overall) that I attended. I always find the event to be super-busy for a Thursday night. However, it did seem like there were fewer people this year. Or, perhaps it only felt more spacious because they moved the event to the upper level of the North Building.

After purchasing some sample tickets, I walked around a bit to get a feel for everything and eventually began tasting at the Michael Andrew Brands booth to sample a selection of quality wines from Giesen (NZ) and Fielding Estate Winery (Niagara). Following that, I made an unexpected stop at the Christopher Stewart Wines & Spirits booth to taste a couple of Spanish red wines that I had never heard of. It was definitely the worth the stop as the Bula 2011 (wine review below) ended up being the best value wine of the night for me. It's arriving in LCBO Vintages in January, but you'll get a chance to pre-taste this before it hits the shelves.

While walking around, I came across the Muskoka Lakes Winery booth, with Matt French holding down the fort. We tweeted each other a couple of years ago at this very same show, but failed to meet at the time. Because of this connection, the following summer I visited the winery out in Bala, Ontario and tasted some very fine fruit wines. On Thursday, I tasted their 2010 Portage - a fortified dessert wine that was made using blueberries. It was very yummy!

I eventually found my way into the Fine Wine Lounge, where last year I tasted some amazing German Rieslings. This year, it was all about the Alsatian Pinot Gris at the Trialto Wine Group booth.

By now, I was starting to feel a little hungry and went searching for some food. I ended up having a Lobster Taco from the Rock Lobster group (booth #630). The next stop was Hidden Bench Vineyard and Winery for some top notch wines. I had tasted a couple of their white wines at the recent Taste Ontario! event, so tonight I opted for their Rosé and a couple of reds. Their Pinot Noir was easily the best wine I tasted all night, but it's $38 and only available at the winery. Definitely taste this if you get the chance!

After that I decided I was done tasting wanted to use my remaining tickets on some food items. I happened to see Paris Crepes Cafe (booth #231) and enjoyed a chocolate & fresh strawberry crepe to satisfy my sweet tooth. What happened next left a sour taste in my mouth.

There was only about 20 minutes remaining until the show was about to close, and I had 3 tickets remaining which I wanted to use on food. I happened to see a sign for IPA Kicked Chicken at the Magic Oven booth. It looked really good, and I was definitely interested in trying it. However, it was 5 tickets. So, as any savvy shopper would do, I asked the Owner if he could cut me a deal. I even offered to take a smaller portion, but he would have none of it - as he kept warming/turning samosas for what was probably Friday's crowd - and told me to go find a friend. He also made some other comments, which I won't repeat here. Suffice it to say, I wasn't pleased, especially since I have seen (and spoken to him) at wine trade tastings.

So off I go to find something worth 3 tickets and bump into Fire in the Kitchen (booth #1130), where they make specialized rubs and seasoning for grilling and oven roasting. Here, they offered a Mac & Cheese with Shredded Chicken which we could top with any of their seasonings that had been infused with oil. It was very delicious! The funny part about this is that I met the owner of Fire in the Kitchen a couple of summers ago in Bracebridge, when I was en route to Gravenhurst and Muskoka Lakes Winery. The rubs are quite tasty, and you can buy them at Longo's.

Bumping into friends and colleagues, and meeting new friends is always a highlight at these events. I won't name names, but you know who you are and it was great to see you! I did miss The Wine Sisters, who were apparently at the InterVin booth, but for the life of me I could not find it!

Here are my top 5 wines that you should try if you're heading out to the Gourmet Food & Wine Expo this weekend. Enjoy!

Tasting Notes:
HIDDEN BENCH ESTATE PINOT NOIR 2010 - VQA Beamsville Bench, Ontario, Canada (#) (XD) - $38
Medium-high intensity aromas that exude elegant notes of smoke, beetroot, cherry and florals. Aroma replays with ripe red fruits leading the way on the palate. Medium-bodied mouthfeel with integrated tannins and balanced throughout. The finish is medium-long and smooth. My kind of Pinot. Gorgeous. Available at the winery only. Score: 91 pts  (Booth #324)

Wine Review of 2010 Hidden Bench Estate Pinot Noir from VQA Beamsville Bench, Ontario, Canada

DOMAINE ZIND-HUMBRECHT CALCAIRE PINOT GRIS 2011 - AC Alsace, France (#190413) (M) - $27.95
Arrived in Vintages Nov. 9th. This white wine has a beautiful nose consisting of floral, peach and honeycomb. Juicy mouthfeel with bright acidity. Palate is medium in sweetness and has flavours similar to the aromas - peach and honey, along with minerals. Slight chalkiness arrives at the mid-palate. Finish is long and elegant. Very nice! Score: 90 pts  (Booths T03 & T04)

Wine Review of 2011 Domaine Zind-Humbrecht Calcaire Pinot Gris from Alsace, France

BODEGAS BULA 2011 - DO Montsant, Spain (#292094) (XD) - $17.95
Blend of 40% Carinena, 40% Garnacha (Grenache), and 20% Syrah. Medium-high intensity aromas of red currants, cherries and subtle smoke and dried figs. Full-bodied with red fruits, licorice, new leather, and sweet vanillan notes. Good structure, with tannins integrating very nicely. Finish is long and smooth. This red wine has the stuffing to age 5 years. Stay tuned - will be in Vintages this coming January. Score: 90 pts  (Booth #906)

Wine Review of 2011 Bodegas Bula from Montsant, Spain

MUSKOKA LAKES WINERY RED MAPLE 2012 - Canada (#050039) (S) (375 mL) - $23.95
Was one of my picks from the last Vintages release, but apparently didn't make it on to store shelves due to issues at the LCBO warehouse. Pleasant aromas of sweet cranberries and hints of maple syrup from the glass. Full-bodied, yet light on its feet with lovely aroma replays. Nice acidity. Hints of maple syrup continue on the medium-long finish. Sweet and delicious! Hopefully the issues will be resolved soon, as this is a recommended buy for the holidays.  (Booth #817)

Wine Review of 2012 Muskoka Lakes Winery Red Maple

GIESEN THE BROTHERS LAND SAUVIGNON BLANC 2012 - Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (#308270) (XD) - $17.95
From the LCBO General List and readily available. Very nice and intense aromas of guava, passion fruit and nettle. Medium-bodied with bracing acidity. Aromas show through on the balanced palate. Vibrant with a lengthy, bitter finish. Chill well. Tasted this a few months ago at the iYellow Summer Wine Jam with fairly consistent notes. Score: 89 pts  (Booth #913)

Wine Review of 2012 Giesen The Brothers Land Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand


  1. What an ass... the Magic Oven guy. I probably would have punched him! Okay, I wouldn't have. But he would have gotten an ear full for sure! An ear full of pizza!

    Also, glad we both like Hidden Bench. Excellent recommendation at the Taste Ontario event - they're my new favorite :)

  2. Tell me about it! It'll be interesting to see what happens when our paths cross at a future trade tasting.

    You're welcome! We have good taste! =)


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