Showing posts with label food. Show all posts
Showing posts with label food. Show all posts
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  • Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Taste the Season in Niagara-on-the-Lake - November 2018



Last , I had the pleasure of attending Taste the Season in Niagara-on-the-Lake. This annual Wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake event celebrates the season’s bounty with exceptional VQA wines and locally inspired food pairings at participating member wineries.

The event ran every weekend (Friday to Sunday) in November from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m, Touring Passes costed $55 and allowed us to enjoy a food pairing with VQA wine at each of the 26 participating wineries, while Designated Driver Touring Passes were available for $30.

Of course, visiting all of the wineries in 6 hours would've been impossible, so we picked wineries that aligned most with our palate and ended up visiting 13 wineries. If you wanted to visit each winery (and not rush through), you could probably complete the tour over 3-4 days. Details and reviews from each winery visit are provided below. We had a great time visiting Niagara-on-the-Lake and hope to attend this lovely event again next Fall.

PondView Estate Winery Lot 74 Sparkling Brut 2017 ($25, 87 pts) paired with chicken & waffles topped with a holiday-spiced strawberry Icewine glaze. Generously sized portion with lots of strawberry Icewine glaze. I thought this might end up being too sweet with an off-dry Vidal sparkling wine paired strawberry Icewine glaze, but it was anything but. The wine became quite savoury because of the chicken, and because it was fried, it cut right through the acids and further enhanced the savoury profile.

PondView Lot 74 Sparkling Brut 2017 (87 pts) with chicken & wafflesMarynissen Heritage White 2016 (89 pts) with carrot ginger bisque

Marynissen Estates Heritage White 2016 ($40, 89 pts) paired with a carrot ginger bisque. The stylish white wine is a blend of barrel-fermented and aged Gewurztraminer, Muscat, Pinot Gris, and Viognier and off-dry in flavour profile, while the bisque was thick, almost pureé in style, and a bit on the tangy side. On the down side, I was surprised that they would pour such an expensive (and quality wine) in a plastic cup. On the bright side, it was a delicious and interesting pairing with the wine becoming less sweet and more savoury when paired with the soup.

Inniskillin Vidal Icewine 2017 ($50, 375 mL, #388306, 89 pts) paired with Vidal onion soup topped with Niagara gold crouton. Both the soup and Icewine were delicious. Furthermore, the soup was flavourful and hearty and something I would definitely want to make at home. Together, this was a lovely sweet and savoury pairing which showed that Icewine can be enjoyed not only after dinner, but also before the main course of your dinner.

Inniskillin Vidal Icewine 2017 (89 pts) with Vidal onion soupReif Shiraz 2017 (88 pts) with black pepper, truffle & Parmesan popcorn

Reif Estate Winery Shiraz 2017 ($19, 88 pts) paired with black pepper, truffle and Parmesan popcorn. The popcorn was quite interesting (and delicious) on its own as I had never heard of popcorn with this kind of flavouring before. It worked well because the black pepper notes in the popcorn matched the black pepper notes in the Shiraz, creating a nice complementary pairing.

Lailey Winery Chardonnay Third Curiosity 2013 ($??, 88 pts) paired with butter tarts made at the nearby Harvest Barn. The wine was more stone fruit and citrus with just a hint of vanilla. However, when paired with the yummy butter tarts, the wine became more buttery and vanilla flavoured with some brown sugar notes from the tart also appearing on the palate. In this pairing, it was the tart that added interesting nuances.

Lailey Chardonnay Third Curiosity 2013 (88 pts) with Harvest Barn butter tartsPeller Estates Private Reserve Merlot 2016 (88+ pts) with curried lamb, butternut squash & lentil stew

Peller Estates Private Reserve Merlot 2016 ($24, 88+ pts) paired with curried lamb, butternut squash and lentil stew. Generous portions of stew were provided, however, it was a little inconsistent as my wife got plenty of lamb chunks in her stew, yet I only received a couple of small pieces. Nevertheless, it was a nice pairing as the peppery nature of the wine, along with some grippy tannins provided balance with the hearty lamb stew. An ideal pairing for the season!

Rancourt Chardonnay 2013 ($12, 87 pts) paired with locally made tiramisu. The unoaked Chardonnay paired surprisingly well with the acids in the wine balancing the creamy mousse in the tiramisu that was made by Harvest Barn. The tiramisu also brought out the lemony flavours in the wine. Delighted to see this crafty pairing from the new owners at Rancourt.

Rancourt Chardonnay 2013 (87 pts) with tiramisuPillitteri 25th Anniversary Select Late Harvest Riesling 2013 (88+ pts) with caramel apple crumble parfait

Pillitteri Estates Winery 25th Anniversary Select Late Harvest Riesling 2013 ($20, 375 mL, 88+ pts) paired with a caramel apple crumble parfait. The wine was semi-sweet, as expected, and paired very nicely with the parfait that matched the sweetness of the Late Harvest Riesling. However, it was the contrasting cinnamon spice in the parfait that really lifted this pairing and showed that spice and sweet makes for a delicious pairing.

Stratus Vineyards Weather Report Red 2014 ($29, #552604, 88 pts) paired with a lemon & chicken tourtière with crunchy roasted mustard seeds. The wine is a fairly easy drinking 7-grape blend led by the two Cabernets, but also showed some structure and elegance. Since this was my first time stepping into Stratus, I was pleasantly in awe at the very modern-looking and chic tasting room. The pairing fit the space as it was all very gourmet, and the roasted mustard seeds provided a kick to the nicely savoury and gourmet pairing.

Stratus Weather Report Red 2014 (88 pts) with lemon & chicken tourtièreJackson-Triggs Grand Reserve Merlot 2016 (88 pts) with wood-fired chicken wings topped with black pepper, sage & Parmesan

Jackson-Triggs Niagara Estate Winery Grand Reserve Merlot 2016 ($26, #563197, 88 pts) paired with wood-fired chicken wings topped with black pepper, sage and Parmesan. This was a delicious pairing as the black pepper spice and sage herb complemented the black pepper and herbally notes in the wine, while the Parmesan helped balanced the acids in the wine. So yummy that I was tempted to ask for a second serving. Simple, yet delicious, pairing that you could easily try at home.

Strewn Winery Riesling 2017 (88+ pts, $16) is a barely off-dry Riesling that was paired with a seasonal sampler trio of a vegetable spring roll, an edamame spread on a beet cracker, and an orange KitKat. Strewn always seems to do an interesting food and wine pairing, and lately they have been pairing 3 items with a single wine to see how the food & wine interplay changes with each food item. In the case, the vegetable spring roll brought out the green apple notes in the wine, along with a nice savoury element too. With the edamame spread on a beet cracker, the wine became more citrusy. Lastly, the wine actually enhanced the orange flavours in the KitKat while also becoming more creamy and smooth. Really well done!

Strewn Riesling 2017 (88+ pts) with vegetable spring roll, edamame spread on a beet cracker, & orange KitKatKonzelmann Lakefront Series Pinot Grigio 2017 (87 pts) with buttermilk brined fried chicken

Konzelmann Estate Winery Lakefront Series Pinot Grigio 2017 ($16, 87 pts) paired with buttermilk brined fried chicken, coated in Louisiana butter sauce, topped with house-made ranch dressing and arugula micro greens. Firstly, the fried chicken here was spicy and delicious and definitely something I would want to make at home. Since the wine was slightly honeyed and a touch sweet, this played towards the classic sweet and spicy pairing that tends to work very well.

Palatine Hills Estate Winery 1812 Red 2017 ($14, 87 pts) paired with Spicy Buffalo Chicken featuring creamy chicken, carrots and celery in flaky pastry drizzled with blue cheese aioli. The wine is a 50/50 blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon that is fruit forward and easy drinking. I wasn't too sure how this pairing would fare, but it turned out quite well as the flaky pastry wasn't very spicy and was quite casual in nature. This played perfectly to the wine's character and could be easily be a delicious appetizer & wine pairing at your next dinner.

Palatine Hills 1812 Red 2017 (87 pts) with spicy Buffalo chicken featuring creamy chicken, carrots and celery in flaky pastry drizzled with blue cheese aioli


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  • Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Niagara Icewine Festival Review 2018 - Day 2 of 2

Tawse Chardonnay Icewine paired with Butternut Squash Soup
On , I visited Niagara to take in the annual Icewine Festival for the second weekend in a row - read all about my visit on here. Once again, we visited 4 wineries to enjoy an Icewine and food pairing. We also managed to visit a 5th winery and do some fine wine tasting since it was conveniently located next door to one of the other wineries.

Tawse Winery was the first stop of the day. We began with the deliciously sweet 2013 Tawse Chardonnay Icewine ($36, 200 mL, #443739, 92 pts) which was paired with a Butternut Squash Soup topped with rosemary scented sourdough croutons. The soup was thick and more like a purée, and a touch spicy. However, the pairing was quite nice as the spiciness from the soup helped balanced the sweetness in the Icewine. The soup also brought out the apple and stone fruit flavours in the wine. Overall, this was a nice, well-balanced pairing. After the food and wine pairing, we heading into the cellar to taste a lovely array of fine wines from the Tawse portfolio.

Tawse Wine Tasting

The second stop was at Vineland Estates Winery for a balanced diet that featured chocolate in one hand and Icewine in the other. A decadent dark chocolate paté was paired with their 2016 Vineland Estates Cabernet Franc Icewine and even though both items were individually quite sweet, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the pairing wasn't overloaded with sweetness or cloying when paired together. The use of dark chocolate (instead of milk chocolate) was key. Lovely, rich, indulgent, and balanced!

Vineland Estates Cabernet Franc Icewine paired with Dark Chocolate Paté

Our third stop of the day was Strewn Winery, where they featured a back-vintage release of their 2013 Strewn Cabernet Franc Icewine and paired it with a deconstructed Black Forest Cake. Dark chocolate and red Icewines tend to make good pairings, and it was no different here. This was a nice, balanced pairing because the Icewine was sweeter than the bittersweet character of the dark chocolate cake, plus the red berry flavours in the Icewine were complemented and enhanced by cherries on top of the cake. Lastly, the creamy brownie base in the cake balanced out the acids in the Icewine.

Strewn Cabernet Franc Icewine paired with deconstructed Black Forest Cake

The final stop of the day related to the Discovery Pass Experience was at Wayne Gretzky Estates Winery and Distillery. We indulged in a mouth watering Double Chocolate Icewine Cupcake paired with delectable 2015 Wayne Gretzky No. 99 Cabernet Franc Icewine ($85, 200 mL, 88 pts). Once again, red Icewine with dark chocolate was shown to be a nice pairing. While the Icewine was sweet (as expected), the chocolate cupcake was not, and paired up together it provided for a well-balanced pairing that was not very sweet, but still very enjoyable. After the cupcake and Icewine pairing, we headed upstairs into the Members Lounge to taste a few wines while also getting a nice view of the vineyards and ice rink below.

Wayne Gretzky No. 99 Cabernet Franc Icewine paired with Double Chocolate Icewine Cupcake

Since we still had some time before wineries in the area close for the day, we walked over next door to Trius Winery to taste a few of their excellent small lot wines in their luxurious private tasting room called "The Loft".

Once again, I had a great time touring Niagara Wine Country during the Icewine Festival. Cabernet Franc Icewine was the pour of choice for the pairings at most of the wineries we visited on this day, as well as on the first day. If you enjoy Icewine and have a sweet tooth, I'm sure you will love attending this annual event too! It will be returning in January, 2019 and I'm sure it will be a great time!

Tasting Notes:

TAWSE QUARRY ROAD ORGANIC RIESLING 2016 - VQA Vinemount Ridge, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#198853) (M) - $25
Highly aromatic on the nose with limestone mineral driven aromas followed by candy apple, lemon, and subtle hints of stone fruits. It's medium-bodied and has an off-dry palate offering chalky mineral, limestone, and lemon/lime citrus flavours. There's good fruit concentration with bright acids that are well-balanced and the texture is just a touch fleshy. The long finish has a nice mineral aftertaste. A stellar buy. Score: 92 pts

Tawse Quarry Road Organic Riesling 2016 (92 pts)Tawse Beamsville Bench Chardonnay 2012 (90 pts)

TAWSE BEAMSVILLE BENCH CHARDONNAY 2012 - VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $29
The nose is highly aromatic and complex with hazelnut, banana, and toasty oak aromas, while also showing some maturity with some baked apple notes. The medium-bodied palate is lean with a nutty, complex palate and balanced acids. It is well-balanced throughout, with excellent length on the finish. Score: 90 pts

TAWSE MERITAGE 2012 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $60
From a very good vintage, this is a blend of 42% Merlot, 33% Cabernet Franc, and 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, this will benefit with a decant, but has a medium+ intensity nose of crushed dark berries, currant, cassis, mocha and vanilla oak aromas. It's full-bodied on the palate with fine, structured tannins that are chalky and drying. There's balanced aroma replays to go along with some earthy flavours on the palate. Acids are very good. A big wine that deserves 5+ years to fully reveal itself, and will be best over the next 7-12 years. One of the top wines of the vintage. Score: 92 pts

Tawse Meritage 2012 (92 pts)

VINELAND ESTATES CABERNET FRANC ICEWINE 2016 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (S) (375 mL) - $79.95
The medium-high intensity nose offers nice strawberry, raspberry, and honeyed nose in a slightly tart profile. On the palate, it's medium-bodied with a smooth mouthfeel and nice red fruited aroma replays with some tartness. Acids are balanced while finish length is very good. A sweet Icewine that also has some tart qualities to it. Score: 88 pts

Vineland Estates Cabernet Franc Icewine 2016 (88 pts)Vineland Estates BoTeek Cabernet Franc Clone 327 2015 (90 pts)

VINELAND ESTATES BOTEEK CABERNET FRANC CLONE 327 2015 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#621342) (XD) - $35
Fascinating to see a single clone Cab Franc from Niagara, this has a medium+ intensity nose of ripe cassis, currant, blackberry, dark cherry and tobacco aromas, while the medium+ bodied palate is a bit chewy with fine, structured tannins. Bright vibrant acids lift the palate that has very nice aroma replays with some earthy tones on the mid-palate, and finishing long with tobacco notes. Nicely balanced overall, this will drink nicely over the next 5-6 years. Score: 90 pts

STREWN CABERNET FRANC ICEWINE 2013 - VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (S) (375 mL) - $70
Medium-high intensity nose is ripe and lush with strawberry, rhubarb, and sweet red fruited aromas. It's medium-full bodied with a lush mouthfeel and nice aroma replays plus some spiced flavours. Well-balanced with good acids, while the finish is long and spiced, and a touch warming. Score: 90+ pts

Strewn Cabernet Franc Icewine 2013 (90+ pts)

STREWN CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2012 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $28
Coming from a very good 2012 vintage. The medium-high intensity nose is inviting and pretty, and already showing some maturity with floral, dried cherry, and some wet forest floor aromas. It's full-bodied with supple, rounded tannins that are resolving nicely. Nicely balanced overall with very nice aroma replays on the palate and supported by very good acids. A touch warm on the mid-palate while the finish is long with hints of oak spice. Ready to drink now. Score: 89 pts

Strewn Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 (89 pts)Strewn Clay Block Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 (89 pts)

STREWN CLAY BLOCK CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2014 - VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $38
From Cabernet Sauvignon grown exclusively on the property on clay soils, this has a medium+ intensity nose with riper, rounded bright red & black fruits, currant and mineral aromas. It's medium+ bodied with tart aroma replays and smooth, supple tannins. Balanced acidity. There's a nice mineral note arriving on the mid-palate and continues on the long finish. A very good mineral-driven Cab Sauv that I would love to see in a better vintage. Score: 89 pts

WAYNE GRETZKY ESTATES SERIES RED 2015 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $34.95
A blend of 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Cabernet Franc, 20% Syrah, and 20% Merlot that has a medium-intensity nose of dark plum, dark cherry and musky oak spice in a ripe profile. It's medium-full bodied on the palate with soft, rounded tannins and dark plum aroma replays. It has very good, juicy acidity, while the finish length is medium-long with bitter currant notes. Score: 88 pts

Wayne Gretzky Estates Series Red 2015 (88 pts)Wayne Gretzky Estates Series Cabernet Merlot 2015 (89 pts)

WAYNE GRETZKY ESTATES SERIES CABERNET MERLOT 2015 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $34.95
Blend of 51% Cabernet Franc, 31% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 18% Merlot has a medium-high intensity nose of ripe blackberry, black cherry, oak spice, and currant with herbal hints. It's medium-full bodied on the palate with firmly structured tannins and nice aroma replays plus tobacco notes. Acids are bright, while the savoury mid-palate lingers on the long finish. A big wine for pairing with red meat now, or age 3-5 years. Score: 89 pts

WAYNE GRETZKY ESTATE SERIES SHIRAZ CABERNET 2015 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $29.95
This blend of 62% Shiraz, 23% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Cabernet Franc has a medium+ intensity nose that has savoury, meaty, and charcuterie aromas with hints of black pepper, dark plum, cassis, and dark currants. The palate is medium-full bodied with somewhat firm tannins that have some grip and flavours of dark berry, earth, plum and sour cherry. Acids are very good, while the finish is long. Drink over the next 5-7 years. Score: 89 pts

Wayne Gretzky Estate Series Shiraz Cabernet 2015 (89 pts)Trius Showcase Wild Ferment Chardonnay 2015 (92 pts)

TRIUS SHOWCASE WILD FERMENT CHARDONNAY 2015 - Oliviera Vineyards, VQA Lincoln Lakeshore, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#199273) (XD) - $36.75
Medium-high intensity nose is a elegant and really starts to open with some air, offering buttery, apple, and popcorn aromas. It's medium-to-full bodied with nicely balanced aroma replays and very good fruit concentration. Lemony acids are fine and juicy. Elegant spice notes mid-palate with nutty hints. Excellent finish length. Score: 92 pts

TRIUS SHOWCASE RED SHALE CABERNET FRANC 2015 - Clark Farm Vineyard, VQA Four Mile Creek, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $48.75
The medium-high intensity nose is ripe with cassis, dark cherry, dark berry, vanilla and tobacco aromas. The palate is medium-full bodied with very good fruit concentration and nicely balanced aroma replays. Very good acids are juicy. Spiced mid-palate and some mineral notes on the long finish. Medium-firm tannins have some grip. Will reward with 2-3 years ageing and drink by 2024-2025. Score: 90+ pts

Trius Showcase Red Shale Cabernet Franc 2015 (90+ pts)Trius Showcase East Block Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 (89 pts)

TRIUS SHOWCASE EAST BLOCK CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2015 - Clark Farm Vineyard, VQA Four Mile Creek, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $48.75
The medium+ intensity nose is smoky with blackberry, cassis, blackcurrant, licorice aromas with a whiff of green pepper. It's full-bodied with subtle green pepper flavours plus the aroma profile coming through on the palate. Structured tannins are grippy, while the acids are juicy and mouthwatering. Long curranty finish. Needs 3-4 years of cellar time, and drink by 2028. Score: 89 pts


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  • Monday, December 17, 2018

Niagara Icewine Festival Review 2018 - Day 1 of 2

Hernder Cabernet Franc Icewine with Salted Caramel Chocolate Brittle
On , I visited Niagara to taste a few food & Icewine pairings as part of the Discover Pass Experience that was available at participating wineries throughout Niagara during the annual Icewine Festival. The weather turned out to be great on this day - mostly sunny, albeit a little on the chilly side. In all, we visited four wineries across the region and enjoyed some very tasty food & Icewine pairings, as well as tasted a few other wines at the tasting bar.

We began the day at Hernder Estate Wines for their award-winning 2013 Cabernet Franc Icewine paired with a generous bag of salted caramel chocolate brittle. The pairing was delicious and really showed how well chocolate can be paired with Icewine. The bright acids in the Icewine helped balance the creamy chocolate, while the salted caramel added interest to the pairing. It was a sweet pairing, but the salt in the brittle and the lively acids in the Icewine together helped keep the pairing from being cloying on the palate. This was very well executed!

For our second stop of the day, we went to Niagara College Teaching Winery for a delectable S'More Fudge Brownie that was filled with marshmallows and paired with their 2013 Niagara College Dean's List Savant Icewine (88 pts, $40 / 200 mL). The fudge brownie square was of generous proportions and very flavourful, with hidden marshmallows offering a nice element of surprise. The Icewine was luscious and sweet, but the fudge brownie was even sweeter and actually overpowered the wine, leaving only chocolate and marshmallow flavours in the mouth.

Niagara College Dean's List Savant Icewine with Fudge Brownie SquareInniskillin Vidal Sparkling Icewine with Southern Fried Chicken

Our third stop of the day was at Inniskillin Wines to enjoy Southern Fried Chicken on a Vanilla Waffle topped with Cocoa Icewine Hot Sauce and paired with their 2016 Inniskillin Vidal Sparkling Icewine (reviewed below). First off, the Sparkling Icewine was delicious and sweet, but not cloying due to it's effervescence. The fried chicken was served a bit cold, but otherwise tasty, and combined ith the waffle made for a delicious treat. However, it was the Cocoa Icewine Hot Sauce that really brightened up this pairing as it helped balance the Icewine and made the pairing complete. I would love to try this culinary creation at home!

The fourth and final stop of the day was at Peller Estates Winery, where at this time of the year they always seem to do Icewine Marshmallows paired with one their delicious Icewines. This year, Winery Chef and CityLine personality Jason Parsons is pairing his famous Icewine Marshmallows with Cabernet Franc Icewine. Although the Icewine is (always) delicious, this pairing is really about the experience, as you are outside on the patio, overlooking the vineyards amidst the cool air while roasting your own marshmallow over an open fire. This can be a somewhat messy experience, and you might smell like smoke afterwards, but it was a lot of indulgent fun! After the marshmallow & Icewine pairing, we headed inside for a private tasting of a few Peller Estates wines. Tip: Do any wine tastings first, then head outside to roast your marshmallow.

Peller Estates Signature Series Cabernet Franc IcewineIcewine Marshmallows

All in all, I was very satisfied with my first trip of the year to Niagara to celebrate Icewine Fest. Tasting notes of some of my favourite wines tasted on this day are posted below. The stop that was the overwhelming favourite was our visit to Hernder Estate Wines, where we sampled a variety of quality wines that were also very good value, including the Hernder Caluroso fortified wine that everyone brought home with them.

I also visited Niagara on the , the final weekend of Icewine Fest, and a full review from that day will be posted tomorrow is posted here. This lovely event runs every January and I am looking forward to attending again in 2019.

Tasting Notes:

HERNDER CABERNET FRANC ICEWINE 2013 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (S) - $50.05
The medium-high intensity nose offers typical strawberry and rhubarb in a honeyed profile, followed by a touch interesting orange marmalade aromas. The pleasingly sweet aromas continue on the palate, which is a touch hot on the mid-palate. Acids are good, while the finish length is very good. Score: 89 pts

Hernder Cabernet Franc Icewine 2013 (89 pts)Hernder Caluroso (89 pts)

HERNDER CALUROSO - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (S) - $24.95
This fortified wine is highly aromatic on the nose with complex orange, burnt sugar, nutty, and caramel aromas. It's medium-dry (i.e. fairly sweet) on the medium-full bodied palate and very smooth, with a long, velvety smooth and nutty finish. Score: 89 pts

NIAGARA COLLEGE TEACHING WINERY DEAN'S LIST CHARDONNAY 2012 - VQA St. David's Bench, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (#040659) (XD) - $23.15
This has a medium-high intensity nose of sweet vanillin oak with butter, baked apple and pear aromas. It's medium+ bodied with nice aroma replays and a toasty mid-palate. It has balanced acidity and very good length on the finish. Score: 88+ pts

Niagara College Teaching Winery Dean's List Chardonnay 2012 (88+ pts)Niagara College Teaching Winery Dean's List Meritage 2012 (90+ pts)

NIAGARA COLLEGE TEACHING WINERY DEAN'S LIST MERITAGE 2012 - VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $25.15
This is a blend of 43% Cabernet Franc, 30% Merlot, and 27% Cabernet Sauvignon from the very good 2012 vintage. It has a medium-high intensity nose that is pretty with ripe blackberry, cherry, sweet oak spice, earth, cassis, and a hint of sweet herbs. On the medium-full bodied palate, it has smooth, fine tannins with some structure, while the acids are mouth-watering. Flavours offer curranty, earth, and forest floor notes. The finish length is excellent. Drink over the next 5 years. Score: 90+ pts

INNISKILLIN KLOSE VINEYARD RIESLING 2016 - VQA Niagara River, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (D) - $24.95
Single vineyard. Medium-high intensity nose has fine mineral, wet stone, Flintstones vitamins, lime citrus, honeyed peach, and herbal aromas. It's off-dry on the palate with light aroma replays, juicy acids, and good length on the finish. Score: 88 pts

Inniskillin Klose Vineyard Riesling 2016 (88 pts)Inniskillin Vidal Sparkling Icewine 2016 (91 pts)

INNISKILLIN VIDAL SPARKLING ICEWINE 2016 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#560367) (S) - (375 mL) - $80
Open, fragrant honeyed, apricot, lemon citrus aromas flow into the palate nicely with fine mousse and lemon tart and peach flavours joining the party. It's sweet, but very good acidity keeps things fresh and balanced. Excellent finish length. Nicely balanced overall. Score: 91 pts

INNISKILLIN VIDAL ICEWINE 2016 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#388306) (S) (375 mL) - $49.95
Medium+ intensity nose featuring apricot, honey and peach aromas. It has a voluptuous mouthfeel with honeyed melon flavours that are very sweet. Gentle acids offer some freshness, while the finish length is medium-long. Score: 89 pts

PELLER ESTATES SIGNATURE SERIES RIESLING ICEWINE 2015 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (S) (375 mL) - $82.95
The medium-high intensity aromas offer ripe pineapple, lemon citrus, orange rind, and apricot notes. It's medium-full bodied with bright acids lifting the palate and very nice aroma replays. Excellent finish length. Score: 90 pts

Peller Estates Signature Series Riesling Icewine 2015 (90 pts)Peller Estates Signatures Series Vidal Icewine 2016 (89 pts)

PELLER ESTATES SIGNATURES SERIES VIDAL ICEWINE 2016 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (S) (200 mL) - $41.95
Medium-high intensity aromas featuring peach, honey, apricot and lemon citrus. It's full-bodied with balanced acids and a concentrated, voluptuous mouthfeel. Nice aromas replays, and very good length on the finish. Score: 89 pts


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  • Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Giveaway - Win Tickets to Hamilton's Food & Drink Fest

Hamilton's Food & Drink Fest
I am giving away Two (2) General Admission tickets (valued at $30/pair) to Hamilton's Food & Drink Fest that is taking place from to at the FirstOntario Centre in downtown Hamilton. These tickets are valid for any one day of your choosing.

Your chance to win tickets to #FoodandDrinkFest and contest entry form is at the bottom of this post.

At Hamilton's Food & Drink Fest, you can experience an exciting variety of Ontario VQA and international wines, spirits, craft beers, local gourmet food, specialty coffees, teas, decadent desserts and more, all while helping to support a great local initiative, Food 4 Kids!

Created and presented by Hamilton, Burlington, Oakville, Halton, Brant, Haldimand, Lake Erie North Shore, Pelee Island, Prince Edward County, Niagara Peninsula and Niagara-on-the-Lake's most popular restaurants, culinary experts, chefs, innovative food trucks, breweries and wineries.

Also enjoy entertaining live musical acts and fun informative cooking demonstrations all in one convenient and central location! You can also bring your kids on Sunday as the event opens up to all ages.

Personally, I have never attended this event, but I am very excited to attend this year!

Event Details:

When:, 4-10 p.m.
, 12-10 p.m.
, 12-5 p.m. - Family Day

Where:FirstOntario Centre
101 York Boulevard
Hamilton, ON

Must be 19 years of age or older on Friday/Saturday. Children and infants welcome on Sunday.

Contest:

Here's your chance to WIN a pair of tickets to Hamilton's Food & Drink Fest. Winner will receive two (2) tickets valued at $30 per pair. List of exhibitors.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


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  • Friday, October 12, 2018

Giveaway - Win Tickets to Gourmet Food & Wine Expo 2018

I am giving away Two (2) pairs of ELITE Pass tickets (valued at $100/pair) to the upcoming 2018 Gourmet Food & Wine Expo that is taking place from to at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre in downtown Toronto. These ELITE Pass Tickets grant you front-of-the-line access through the special ELITE entrance and are valid for any one day of your choosing.

Your chance to win tickets to #GFWE2018 and contest entry form is at the bottom of this post.

Win Tickets to Gourmet Food & Wine Expo 2018

The 24th annual Gourmet Food & Wine Expo offers you 1,500 wines, beers, spirits and gourmet foods to experience - more than ever before. You can journey around the globe with cooking pros, talk one-on-one with industry experts and taste the newest dishes and drinks.

You will have the opportunity to sample tons of new craft beer, awesome spirits, world-class wine and of course, food from some of the area’s top restaurants and chefs.

Some of this year's highlights include:
  • Tutored Tastings Program offers the opportunity to taste some of the world's best wines while learning from top industry experts.
  • Chef Stage features complimentary cooking demonstrations all weekend hosted by celebrity guests and incredibly talented locals.
  • #TrendCentral Stage presents interactive tastings sessions of cutting-edge wines, beers and spirits.
  • Spiritology Pavilion infuses passionate bartenders into the heart of the action to showcase the latest from Toronto’s exciting cocktail scene.
  • Grand Tasting Bar offers a unique opportunity to taste incredible wines alongside top industry experts.
  • The Central Entertainment Area is the pulsating heart of the show, featuring eye-catching décor and dazzling entertainers throughout the four-day expo.
Having attended this event each of the past 7 years, I can tell you firsthand that you'll have a great time!

Event Details:

When:Thursday, , 6-10 p.m. VIP Preview Evening
Friday, , 2-10 p.m.
Saturday, , 12-10 p.m.
Sunday, , 12-6 p.m.

Where:Metro Toronto Convention Centre, North Building
255 Front Street West
Toronto, ON

Must be 19 years of age or older. No children or infants permitted.


Contest:

Here's your chance to WIN a pair of tickets to Gourmet Food & Wine Expo 2018. Two (2) winners will be announced! Each winner will receive one (1) pair of tickets valued at $100 per pair. List of exhibitors.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


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  • Saturday, July 21, 2018

Cantalici (Tuscany) Winemaker's Dinner at Mangia et Bevi

Cantalici Winemaker's Dinner at Mangia et Bevi
Last , I had the pleasure of tasting the wines from Tuscany's Cantalici Winery with Winemaker Carlo Cantalici and Export Manager Angela Butini at Mangia et Bevi in the eastern end of downtown Toronto.

After everyone arrived, we sat down at the long, communal-style dinner table and Angela and Carlo began telling us about their winery and taking us through the wines with course from the delicious 4-course meal, eventually ending the night with some Vin Santo.

The winery, L'Antica Fornace di Ridolfo, was formed by Carlo and his brother Daniele in Castagnoli, a small medieval hamlet close to the village of Gaiole in Chianti. It was named after an ancient kiln that was built in the 16th century by a wealthy Florentine family, and the kiln was preserved and integrated into the winery when Carlo and Daniele purchased the property in the late 1990's. Today, the estate has three properties in different areas of Chianti spread out over 90 hectares of hand-harvested vineyards, at altitudes from 300 to 450 metres above sea level.

The most interesting wine of the night was the 2012 Chianti Classico as it really blossomed over the course of the evening.

Thank you to AMV-Whiz for the invitation and hosting this event. It was a lovely evening with fine wines, delicious food, and very good conversation. You may find these wines at the LCBO, but can otherwise contact AMV-Whiz for availability.

Cantalici Winemaker Carlo Cantalici and Export Manager Angela Butini

Tasting Notes:

CANTALICI PETALI ORGANIC ROSÉ 2016 - IGT Toscana, Italy (#314004) (XD) - $18.15
100% Sangiovese. Medium intensity nose that has attractive herbal, strawberry and citrus notes. It's dry on the structured palate with balanced acids and a touch glycerin like texture. The mid-palate is spiced and finishes with blood orange and strawberry flavours, with good length. Score: 87 pts

Cantalici Petali Organic Rosé 2016 (87 pts)

CANTALICI CHIANTI CLASSICO 2012 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#314012) (XD) - $25.15
A blend of 85% Sangiovese, 10% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, quite shy initially, but eventually opens up beautifully with cinnamon, clove, sweet oak spice, dark cherry and rose flowers, all of which come through in spades on the medium-bodied palate with nicely integrated tannins and very good acidity. It has a medium-long finish. Give this a short decant (1 hour) prior to serving and drink over the next 3-5 years. Score: 90 pts

Cantalici Chianti Classico 2012 (90 pts)Cantalici Baruffo Chianti Classico 2013 (88 pts)

CANTALICI BARUFFO CHIANTI CLASSICO 2013 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#315795) (XD) - $25.15
100% Sangiovese. This has a medium+ intensity nose in a (new) wood and dark profile with dark berry/cherry, blackberry and oak spice aromas. It's medium-full bodied on the palate with tannins a touch chalky. This has nice aroma replays that are oak influenced with clove and sweet oak spices. Acids are fresh and the finish length is very good. Still young, should improve in 2-3 years. Score: 88 pts

CANTALICI MESSER RIDOLFO CHIANTI CLASSICO RISERVA 2011 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#315787) (XD) - $33.60
This 100% Sangiovese is named after the 1st owner of the property and who was also mayor of the town. It has a medium-high intensity nose with red berry, cherry, and subtle oak spices. The palate is richly concentrated with more dark cherry, berry and oak spices. Tannins are well-integrated, acids are juicy and the finish length is very good. Score: 89 pts

Cantalici Messer Ridolfo Chianti Classico Riserva 2011 (89 pts)Cantalici Baruffo Chianti Classico Riserva 2012 (90+ pts)

CANTALICI BARUFFO CHIANTI CLASSICO RISERVA 2012 - DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (#541078) (XD) - $35.95
100% Sangiovese from vines planted 500 metres above sea-level, this has medium-high intensity aromas of sweet oak spice, floral, and dark berries. It is full-bodied and richly structured with smooth tannins and lovely aroma replays. Acids are mouth-watering and the finish length is excellent. Has the stuffing to age 10 years. Released into LCBO VINTAGES on . Score: 90+ pts


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