Monday, March 21, 2016

  • Monday, March 21, 2016

Niagara Icewine Festival Review 2016 - Day 1



On , I had the pleasure of visiting Niagara to take in the 21st annual Niagara Icewine Festival. In order to fully appreciate the winery offerings of Icewine paired with delectable culinary creations, we opted to spend the night near The Falls and tour more Niagara wineries the following day. A review of activities will be posted in a few days is available here, but here is what we did on the Saturday.

Colaneri Estate Winery Food and Wine Pairings
We began the day at Colaneri Estate Winery, arriving just before they had opened at 11 a.m. for a grilled pineapple with a hint of cinnamon paired with their Recioto Chardonnay, followed by a cream-filled cannoli paired with their Riesling Icewine (375mL / $69.95, 89 pts). Neither the grilled pineapple or the Recioto Chardonnay were very sweet, thus complementing each other quite well. What was most interesting was how the pineapple flavours in the wine really popped out while enjoying the grilled pineapple. The 2013 Colaneri Dolcezza Stellucha Riesling Icewine (375mL / $69.95, 89 pts) is a very sweet Icewine with delicate acids and paired well with the cannoli that was filled with a very thick cream; the sweetness of each item balanced each other well, making for an enjoyable pairing. Full tasting notes of some of my favourite wines tasted at Colaneri and the other wineries visited on this day are posted below.

Ice Sculpture at PondView Estate WineryBlue Cheese Bread Pudding with PondView Select Late Harvest Vidal

Our second stop of the day was at PondView Estates Winery for a sweet and savour pairing. The first pairing was a delicious Blue Cheese Bread Pudding with caramelized pineapple that was paired with a very nice Select Late Harvest Vidal. I was blown away by the quality of the Late Harvest Vidal, as well as the beautifully balanced pairing that really brought out the pineapple notes in the wine. The second pairing was a nice treat of 2013 PondView Vidal Icewine (200 mL / $24.95) inside a Chocolate-filled Strawberry Cup. While the pairing was indeed decadent, I didn't really get a chance to taste the dollop of Icewine that filled the Strawberry, but I can imagine the Icewine being quite good based on my notes from prior vintages.

Rancourt Gewurztraminer Icewine 2013 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (90+ pts)Rancourt Gewurztraminer Icewine paired with Harvest Barn Wicked Thai Chicken Soup

The third stop of this chilly afternoon was at Rancourt Winery for a pairing of hot soup and their lovely 2013 Rancourt Gewurztraminer Icewine (200 mL / $30, 90+ pts) which I tasted last June. The Harvest Barn Wicked Thai Chicken Soup was thick and creamy with rice and vegetables added to the mix. The bright acidity from the Icewine balanced the creamy soup very well and was an enjoyable pairing overall. Since I had already tasted through pretty much their entire portfolio last June and September, I only tasted their recently released, easy drinking and crowd-pleasing 2013 Rancourt (unoaked) Chardonnay (full tasting note below).

Since all of the wineries we visited on this were in Niagara-on-the-Lake, our commute times between wineries were rather short. As such, we arrived at our fourth and final stop of the afternoon at approximately 2 p.m.

Inniskillin Riesling Icewine paired with Chicken + Waffles

Inniskillin Wines always seems to be a zoo at this time of the year, and this year was no different. We arrived just ahead of a large tour bus to get our Discovery Pass Experience of Chicken and Waffles topped with Riesling Icewine Butter and paired with their amazing Riesling Icewine. I also added some of their homemade hot sauce to add some spice to the pairing. My piece of dark meat chicken was covered in a crunchy coating and placed on top of a triangular shaped waffle, then drizzled with some Riesling Icewine Butter. Each item of the food & wine pairing was delicious on its own, but also paired really well due to the high acids in the Icewine that cut through the deep-fried oily chicken. The hot sauce also complemented the Icewine very well - once again proving that hot & spicy paired with a sweet wine that has vibrant acids makes for an excellent pairing!

After completing the Discovery Pass Experience, we moved next door to the historic Brae Burn Barn - a 1920's barn that was last renovated in 2008 - to taste some fabulous wines by Inniskillin. Amazingly, in all my years visiting Niagara and Inniskillin, this was my first time inside the barn and I was quite impressed with the space and its multitude of tasting bars. Since I hadn't tasted through a flight of wines from Inniskillin in a long time, our host, Katia, was very kind enough to take us through a very fine flight of Inniskillin Wines. I enjoyed many of the wines we tasted here and was quite impressed with the quality of wines. One of the most interesting wines I tasted was the 2012 Inniskillin Cabernet Franc Sparkling Icewine (375 mL / $120) - a sweet sparkling wine made from (frozen) Icewine grapes. Full wine reviews of my favourite wines are posted below.

2012 Inniskillin Cabernet Franc Sparkling Icewine

Since Inniskillin was the final stop of the day and we finished up quite early, we headed to The Falls area and checked into our hotel to rest and freshen up before dinner at Boston Pizza. After dinner, we enjoyed a fantastic magic show by Greg Frewin. A quick stop at the Casino concluded the evening's activities before a full night of rest in order to be ready for another day of food & wine in Niagara on Sunday. A full review of Sunday's activities will be posted shortly can be found here.

Tasting Notes:

COLANERI PROFONDO PAESE RECIOTO CHARDONNAY 2013 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (MS) (375 mL) - $29.95
Green apple, lime aromas follow through to the light-to-medium bodied palate and joined by hints of honey and poached pears. It's medium-sweet with a crisp mouthfeel balanced by nice acidity and long finishing. Score: 90 pts

COLANERI PAESE CHARDONNAY 2010 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $24.95
One of the few wines in Colaneri's portfolio that doesn't use any dried grapes, this dry Chardonnay is oaked in 1000 L barrels and has medium+ intensity aromas of subtle vanilla, melon, cantaloupe, and butter. The aromas make an appearance on the medium+ bodied palate with additional notes of cream vanilla and a spiced mid-palate. At 6 years old, it still has vibrant acids which linger on the long finish. Score: 88 pts

Colaneri Paese Chardonnay 2010 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (88 pts)Colaneri Coraggioso Amaroso Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada  (90 pts)

COLANERI CORAGGIOSO AMAROSO CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2012 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (D) - $49.95
Bottled in the summer and released more recently, this appassimento-style of Cabernet Sauvignon has dried fruit, fig and cassis aromas. It's off-dry with cherry, blackberry, plum and vanilla flavours on a full-bodied palate. The mid-palate is oak spiced coming from the cigar oak barrel ageing. Rich with a very long, warm finish. Needs time to fully come together, but can be decanted and enjoyed now. Score: 90 pts

PondView Select Late Harvest Vidal 2014 - VQA Ontario, Canada (89 pts)

PONDVIEW SELECT LATE HARVEST VIDAL 2014 - VQA Ontario, Canada (S) (375 mL) - $24.95
Highly aromatic and inviting nose showing a sweet nose of peach, apricot and honey which follows through on the sweet palate. It's light-to-medium weighted with juicy acids and good length on the finish. A fine value! Score: 89 pts

PONDVIEW VIOGNIER 2014 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $16.95
First vintage of this wine for PondView and it's a very good effort. Matured in uncommon Acacia wood, this has medium-to-high intensity aromas featuring lovely floral and hint of honeysuckle aromas. The medium+ bodied palate has bright acids to go along with pleasing aroma replays. It's dry and finishes long with hints of cantaloupe and fresh lemons. Not many left - get it while you can. Score: 88 pts

PondView Viognier 2014 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (88 pts)PondView Bella Terra Chardonnay 2013 - Barrel Fermented, VQA Four Mile Creek, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (88 pts)

PONDVIEW BELLA TERRA CHARDONNAY 2013 - Barrel Fermented, VQA Four Mile Creek, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#347922) (XD) - $25.00
Medium-to-high aromatics featuring elegant butter, vanilla, pineapple and hints of butterscotch that replay on the palate. It is also full-bodied with slightly creamy mouthfeel and vibrant, juicy acids. Well-balanced with gentle spice notes on the lingering finish. Score: 88 pts

PONDVIEW BELLA TERRA MERITAGE 2012 - Unfiltered, VQA Four Mile Creek, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $44.95
Medium+ intensity aromas of dark fruits, hint blue fruit, dark chocolate and some new wood. It's full-bodied with very nice aroma replays. Balanced acids. Firm tannins should allow this wine to age gracefully for a number of years. Dark chocolate and peppery notes round out the long finish. Blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. Score: 90 pts

PondView Bella Terra Meritage 2012 - Unfiltered, VQA Four Mile Creek, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (90 pts)Pondview Bella Terra Cabernet Franc 2012 - Unfiltered, VQA Four Mile Creek, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (90 pts)

PONDVIEW BELLA TERRA CABERNET FRANC 2012 - Unfiltered, VQA Four Mile Creek, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $39.95
Aromas of medium intensity with lots of herbal spice notes followed by oak and black cherry that also follow through on the medium-to-full bodied palate. Hint of greenness on the flavour profile. Very good length on the finish. Age this 3-5 years to let the firm, drying tannins settle in. Score: 90 pts

Rancourt Chardonnay 2013 - VQA Niagara Lakeshore, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (86 pts)

RANCOURT CHARDONNAY 2013 - VQA Niagara Lakeshore, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (D) - $14
This unoaked Chardonnay has a medium intensity nose of candied lemon and lime, plus some buttery aromas that also make an appearance on the medium-bodied palate. It has a creamy mouthfeel with good acids and decent length on the finish. Easy drinking, crowd pleaser. Score: 86 pts

INNISKILLIN RESERVE SAUVIGNON BLANC 2014 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $19.95
Inviting and complex nose of medium+ intensity with notions grass, kiwi, hay, white fruit and spring flower. The aroma profile, led by grassy notes, continues on the medium-bodied palate and joined by elegant cat pee flavours. It has balanced acidity and finishes long with slight green notes. Restrained and elegant in style, this is quite a fine Ontario Sauvignon Blanc indeed. Score: 89 pts

Inniskillin Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2014 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (89 pts)Inniskillin Montague Vineyard Chardonnay 2013 - VQA Four Mile Creek, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (88 pts)

INNISKILLIN MONTAGUE VINEYARD CHARDONNAY 2013 - VQA Four Mile Creek, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#586347) (XD) - $24.95
9 months in new French oak, this white wine is somewhat shy but exhibited vanilla, ripe pear, apple, butter and some toasted oak aromas. It's creamy on the full-bodied with elegant, pleasing aroma replays along with hints of butterscotch. Balanced acids and good length on the finish, I expect this to improve with air. Score: 88 pts

Inniskillin Reserve Shiraz Cabernet 2013 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (90 pts)

INNISKILLIN RESERVE SHIRAZ CABERNET 2013 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#225482) (XD) - $24.95
Medium-high aromatics showing currant, black fruits, dark berry and cedar oak. Full-bodied on the palate with very fine, well-knit aroma replays. Shows finesse with smooth, velvety tannins, balanced acids and excellent length on the finish. Excellent balance overall. Drink now or over the next 5-7 years. Score: 90 pts

INNISKILLIN RIESLING ICEWINE 2014 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#558288) (S) (375 mL) - $79.95
Elegant and highly aromatic nose of peach, citrus and honey aromas waft from the glass. On the palate, it's medium+ bodied with very sweet aroma replays that are nicely balanced by finely tuned acids. Excellent balance overall, while the finish length is also excellent. Class-leading Icewine! Score: 92 pts

Inniskillin Riesling Icewine 2014 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (92 pts)Inniskillin Oak Aged Gold Vidal Icewine 2013 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (89 pts)

INNISKILLIN OAK AGED GOLD VIDAL ICEWINE 2013 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#019083) (S) (375 mL) - $89.95
4 months in French oak. This highly aromatic wine offers harmonious apricot, peach, and honey aromas on a full-bodied palate with interesting baked apple and poached pear flavours. It's very sweet, with just enough acidity to keep the wine from being cloying. Smooth and with a very long finish. Score: 89 pts


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