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  • Friday, June 9, 2017

Niagara Icewine Festival Review 2017 - Day 1 of 2

Butter Chicken and Naan with 2012 Fielding Riesling Icewine
On , I visited Niagara Wine Country to experience the annual Niagara Icewine Festival to taste some fine Icewine paired with culinary creations. This was the first of two straight Saturday's in Niagara - review from activities will be posted soon are posted here.

The first stop of the day was at Fielding Estate Winery for a pairing of their 2012 Fielding Riesling Icewine (89 pts) with a savoury Butter Chicken and Naan prepared by The Smokin' Buddha. The butter chicken was flavourful and had a fairly thick gravy that seemed a bit heavy on the oregano. It was also mildly spiced, complementing the sweet flavours from the Icewine. Furthermore, the acids in the Icewine cut into some of the rich, creamy gravy from the Butter Chicken that helped lighten the pairing overall. Very good portion size as well. This was a tasty experience with a lot of different flavours battling for your attention.

On the downside, it was unfortunate that the Fielding Riesling Icewine was not available for purchase, as some folks in my group wanted to take home a bottle or two. Moreover, it was somewhat odd that not even one Icewine was available for purchase in the boutique. I suspect that the wine was nearly sold out and they used whatever remaining stock they had just for the festival, while newer vintages of this Icewine were not ready yet due to the harsh winter of 2013-2014 (remember the "Polar Vortex"?) that led to severe crop damage and limited Icewine production capabilities across the region. On the bright side, I have been advised that a newer Riesling Icewine from Fielding is coming in the near future and should be on shelves soon.

2012 Niagara College Teaching Winery Dean's List Savant Icewine with White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake on a Dark Chocolate Crust

The rest of our Icewine Tour was in Niagara-on-the-Lake, with the next stop being at Niagara College Teaching Winery for a delicious, mouth-watering White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake on a Dark Chocolate Crust that was quite small in stature but packed plenty of flavour, and was paired with their 2012 Dean's List Savant Icewine. This was a very nice pairing xxxxxas the red berry flavours from each item played well together, while the fresh acids in the wine complemented the creaminess in the cheesecake. Overall, this was a sweet, balanced, and harmonious pairing that was well executed.

Our third stop of the afternoon was at The Hare Wine Co., a new winery that just opened it's doors in November. For their first appearance at the Niagara Icewine Festival, they offered a delicious Sticky Toffee Pudding prepared by Ello Gov'na that was paired with their 2014 Frontier Vidal Icewine. Portions (especially the Icewine) were once again small, however, the gooey toffee cake that was smothered in a treacle sauce and topped with Icewine Chantilly was lusciously sweet and delicious, while pairing beautifully together. The toffee cake sauce really brought out the butterscotch notes in the Icewine. Lovely pairing!

The Hare Wine Co.Sticky Toffee Pudding with 2014 The Hare Wine Co. Frontier Vidal Icewine

Hinterbrook Estate Winery was the fourth stop of the day. The pairing here was a Baked Square Crust filled with fresh Pineapple Jam Fruits and topped with Pine Nuts, paired with their 2014 Vidal Icewine. Lots going in the baked square - sweet, savoury, fruity, and nutty - which led to many different flavours brought out of the Icewine, especially enhanced pineapple notes. Once again, a nicely thought out pairing that worked well together.

Baked Square Crust filled with fresh Pineapple Jam Fruits and topped with Pine Nuts, paired with 2014 Nomad Vidal IcewineLobster Bisque paired with 2010 Konzelmann Estate Vidal Icewine

The final stop of the day was at Konzelmann Estate Winery, Niagara's only lakefront winery, for a Lobster Bisque with a hint of spice prepared by Tide & Vine and paired with their 2010 Vidal Icewine. I recall having this combo in the past at Konzelmann and enjoyed it very much, fully expecting that I would enjoy it this time around as well! The bisque was rich and creamy with small chunks of lobster and had a hint spice that paired beautifully with the Vidal Icewine. There was just enough acids in the Icewine that helped balance the creamy bisque, while the subtle spicy notes were subdued because of the sweet flavours in the wine. Following the food & Icewine pairing, we took a private tour of the winery which included a visit to the vineyard, a tour of the facilities, and finished up in an underground tasting room where we had the opportunity to taste some of their very fine Reserve wines.

Konzelmann Estate Winery VineyardsKonzelmann Estate Winery Production Facility

Konzelmann Estate Winery Stainless Steel TanksKonzelmann Estate Winery Bottling Equipment

All-in-all, this was a very successful visit to Niagara Wine Country, with delicious food & Icewine pairings, as well as tasting many other delicious, local wines. Many of the wines I tasted are only available for purchase at the winery (or from the winery's website), and wine reviews of some of my favourites are provided below.

My trip to Niagara during the Icewine Festival did not end on this day, as I visited region the following weekend for more food & wine experiences. A review from the 2nd day of tasting will be posted in the coming days.

Tasting Notes:

FIELDING ESTATE BOTTLED RIESLING 2015 - VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#251439) (M) - $19.95
Medium+ aromas of lime, citrus and mineral, with tart/sour aroma replays on the palate. Off-dry in style, but with bright acids that cut into the sweetness. Nice chalky mineral texture that lingers on the long finish. Score: 89 pts

Fielding Estate Bottled Riesling 2015 (89 pts)

FIELDING SYRAH 2012 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $39.95
Aromas are of medium-high intensity, but seem somewhat closed at the moment, and offer black pepper, dark fruits and integrated oak notes. It's full bodied with fleshy tannins, balanced acids. Some elegance and suave. Long bitter finish with some dark chocolate flavours. Will age gracefully for 5-8 years. Score: 89 pts

Fielding Syrah 2012 (89 pts)Fielding Chosen Few 2012 (90 pts)

FIELDING CHOSEN FEW 2012 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $59.95
Made only in the best years with wines from a chosen few barrels, the 2012 is a blend of 38% Cabernet Franc, 37% Syrah, and 25% Cabernet Sauvignon. Pleasant, appealing aromas that are meaty and savoury combined with dark fruits of great intensity. The palate is full-bodied with well-knit flavours of black currant, dark fruit, and toasty oak. It has very good acidity and firm tannins. Finish length is excellent. Drinkable now, but should be better few years. Score: 90 pts

NIAGARA COLLEGE TEACHING WINERY BALANCE BARREL FERMENTED CHARDONNAY 2012 - VQA St. David's Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $18.95
Medium+ intensity aromas that are heavily oak-influenced with pineapple, woody, apple and baking spice notes. It's medium-full bodied with more apple and oak spiced flavours on the palate. It has balanced acidity and very good finish length. Score: 88 pts

Niagara College Teaching Winery Balance Barrel Fermented Chardonnay 2012 (88 pts)

NIAGARA COLLEGE TEACHING WINERY DEAN'S LIST PRODIGY ICEWINE 2012 - VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (S) (200 mL) - $33.00
This blend of white grape varietals (Vidal, Riesling and Chardonnay) has fresh, appealing aromas of apricots, pineapple, honey and lemon citrus of high intensity. The palate is medium+ bodied and offers very sweet aroma replays on the palate, balanced by fresh acids, and finishing long. Score: 90 pts

Niagara College Teaching Winery Dean's List Prodigy Icewine 2012 (90 pts)Niagara College Teaching Winery Dean's List Savant Icewine 2012 (89 pts)

NIAGARA COLLEGE TEACHING WINERY DEAN'S LIST SAVANT ICEWINE 2012 - VQA St. David's Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (S) (200 mL) - $39.00
A blend of 5 red grape varietals, aromas are of medium-high intensity with notes of strawberry, burnt sugar and caramel that also appear on the palate along with flavours of honey and hints of coffee. It's very sweet, a touch syrupy, but has nicely balanced acids. Finish length is very good. Score: 89 pts

THE HARE JACK RABBIT RED 2013 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (D) - $15.50
Selected as the official red wine of Ontario's Legislative Assembly for 2017, this has medium-intensity aromas of red & black fruits, subtle oak, and plummy notes. It's medium-bodied with sweet, rounded tannins and ripe fruited flavours. Balanced acids and medium-long finishing. There's some tannic structure for short term ageing, but I would drink this now. Blend of 60% Cabernet Franc, 25% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon. Score: 87 pts

The Hare Jack Rabbit Red 2013 (87 pts)The Hare Frontier Riesling Icewine 2013 (89 pts)

THE HARE FRONTIER RIESLING ICEWINE 2013 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (S) (375 mL) - $65.00
The fragrant nose offers sweet peach, apricot, and lemon aromas and flavours. It's medium-full bodied and balanced by nicely textured acids. Slightly tart mid-palate while having a medium-long finish. Score: 89 pts

THE HARE FRONTIER VIDAL ICEWINE 2014 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (S) (375 mL) - $65.00
Oak-aged for 1 year in French oak, this offers medium-high aromas of honey, apricot, peach, butterscotch and steely mineral notes with pleasingly sweet aroma replays on the palate. Some oak-spiced notes appear mid-palate. Acids are well-balanced and finish length is very good. Score: 89 pts

NOMAD CABERNET FRANC RESERVE 2012 - VQA Niagara Lakeshore, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $69.95
Medium-high and well-balanced aromas give off a clean, elegant bouquet that's focuses on black fruits, herbs and sweet oak. It's medium-bodied on the palate with the same aromas on the flavour profile. Bitter tannins are well-integrated. It has bright acids and a milk chocolate finish. Score: 90 pts

Nomad Cabernet France Reserve 2012 (90 pts)

NOMAD VIDAL ICEWINE 2014 - VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (S) (375 mL) - $49.95
Appealing aromas of medium-high intensity, featuring pineapple, honey and orange citrus notes that continue on the very sweet palate. Perhaps a touch cloying with delicately balanced acids. Very good finish length. Score: 90 pts

Nomad Vidal Icewine 2014 (90 pts)Nomad Cabernet Franc Icewine 2014 (90+ pts)

NOMAD CABERNET FRANC ICEWINE 2014 - VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (S) (375 mL) - $69.95
The highly aromatic nose offers cherry, strawberry jam, rhubarb and more sweet red fruits. The palate is medium-full bodied with well-balanced acidity and very appealing aroma replays and hints of orange peel. Finish length is excellent. Score: 90+ pts

KONZELMANN ESTATE VIDAL ICEWINE 2010 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (S) (375 mL) - $65.00
I recall tasting this back in 2014 and it was very delicious then. Today, it is still highly aromatic with pineapple, and mature aromas of caramel and brown sugar. It's very sweet and thick with low acids making this just a touch cloying. Delicious flavours of burnt sugar and caramel on the palate. Finishes long. Drink over next year or two. Score: 90 pts

Konzelmann Estate Vidal Icewine 2010 (90 pts)Konzelmann Chardonnay Family Reserve 2012 (90 pts)

KONZELMANN CHARDONNAY FAMILY RESERVE 2012 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $49.95
Medium-high aromatics offer pear, nutty, binned apple, and hints of bubblegum. Medium-bodied on the palate with pleasing and elegant aroma replays along with baking spice and hints of lime flavours. the finish length is very good with some mineral notes. Score: 90 pts

KONZELMANN CABERNET MERLOT RESERVE 2012 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $39.95
A blend of 43% Cabernet Franc, 42% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Merlot, this has an highly aromatic nose that's elegant with red and black fruits, well-integrated oak and a touch bretty. It's full-bodied on the smooth palate with suave, elegant and structured tannins. Very nice aroma replays with integrated oak flavours come through on the palate. It's well-balanced with very good acidity. Warming, long finish that's held together quite well. Drink now or better to wait and enjoy over the next 5-10 years. Score: 91+ pts

Konzelmann Cabernet Merlot Reserve 2012 (91+ pts)Konzelmann Cabernet Merlot Family Reserve 2012 (92 pts)

KONZELMANN CABERNET MERLOT FAMILY RESERVE 2012 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $49.95
Similarly blended as the Reserve, this has elegant black currant, cassis, vanilla and oak aromas of medium-high intensity and seems a bit shy right now. The palate is full-bodied with structured tannins that are a bit tight. Very nice aroma replays along with some black cherry and floral hints, balanced by juicy acids. Excellent finish length. A powerful, finesse wine that should be cellared for at least few years and drink to 2020. Score 92 pts


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