Showing posts with label food. Show all posts
Showing posts with label food. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

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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


Friday, October 12, 2018

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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


Saturday, July 21, 2018

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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


Tuesday, July 10, 2018

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  • Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Niagara Grape & Wine Festival 2017 - Day 2 of 2

Vineland Estates Bo-Teek Vineyard
Last , I visited Niagara twice over the course of the month to partake in the 66th Annual Niagara Grape and Wine Festival. You can read all about the activities here.

The fun-filled began at Vineland Estates Winery where we were given a guided tour of the property and facilities by David Hulley. The tour began on the patio over looking the prized Bo-Teek Vineyard with a gorgeous view of the Bench, and in the distance Lake Ontario, followed by a visit to the St. Urban Vineyard where some of Niagara's oldest Riesling vines (late '70's / early 80's) can be found. The winery is housed in picturesque structures that date back to the 1840's, including a former farmhouse, century barn, and a charming Carriage House. The tour concluded with a visit to the production facility, where I had the opportunity to get a closer look at their state-of-the-art optical sorting machine. This game changing machine accurately sorts up to 2,000 berries per second, separating lower quality grapes from the higher quality grapes. Vineland Estates is the only Canadian winery to have such technology.

Vineland Estates - New TanksVineland Estates - "Game Changer" Optical Sorting Machine

Beer and Cheddar Bisque paired with Vineland Estates Cabernet Franc

Following the tour, we headed downstairs to the tank room to enjoy their Discovery Pass Experience, which featured a Beer and Cheddar Bisque paired with their 2016 Vineland Estates Cabernet Franc (#594127, $14.95, 88 pts). The soup was made using Shawn & Ed's LagerShed Beer and Cow's Creamery 2-year-old Cheddar. It was creamy, if a touch sour, but offered nice balance when paired with the wine. A comfort pairing perfect for cooler months. After the food and wine pairing, we went to the tasting room to taste through some wines from their delicious portfolio. Wine reviews of some of these wines, plus others tasted on this day are provided below.

The second stop of the day was at Megalomaniac Winery. The wine pairing here was the 2016 Megalomaniac Selfie (#453506, $17.95, 86 pts), an easy-drinking, off-dry blend of Chardonnay Musqué, Sauvignon Blanc, and Riesling that paired very nicely with the small-proportioned Japanese-style buttermilk and panko-crusted chicken tenders, finished with a local freestone peach and ginger root glaze. The chicken tenders were very tasty, a little spicy, and when paired together with the off-dry white wine, the chicken tenders became even spicier and really enhanced the ginger flavours from the root glaze. A lively pairing that was really well done! Megalomaniac sits atop a hill, and relaxing on their outdoor patio while enjoying the view really enhanced the whole experience.

Megalomaniac Selfie paired with Japanese-Style Buttermilk and Panko-Crusted Chicken TendersPillitteri Estates Winery celebrating Canada 150 Potato Skins

Our third stop of the day was at Pillitteri Estates Winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake, where they were celebrating Canada's 150th birthday by offering potato skins topped with ingredients from every province and territory in our great nation. With 13 ingredients making up this potato skin, you can bet there were going to be many flavours vying for your attention. Some of the ingredients included potatoes from Prince Edward Island (obviously), cheese from the three other Atlantic provinces, honey from Ontario, juniper berries from British Columbia, and Ox tail from the Yukon. Unfortunately, due to the complexity of this food item, and the fact that Pillitteri was very busy on this day, they weren't able to customize my potato skin. This led to me trying only a couple of bites before discarding it. Two wines were offered with this pairing - a choice of either the Pillitteri Gewurztraminer Riesling Fusion (#349126, $13.95) or the Pillitteri Cabernet Merlot ($20). I opted for the heartier Cab Merlot, thinking that it should go well with the starchy and complex, loaded potato skin. The Discovery Pass Experience was a bit of downer here for me, but I did get to taste some really special Icewines afterwards, which made the visit to Pillitteri worthwhile.

Coyote’s Run Estate Winery with Jamaican Jerk Glaze ChickenCoyote’s Run Estate Winery Barrel Room

The fourth and final stop of the day was a very interesting one at Coyote’s Run Estate Winery. The culinary creation here was a farm-raised chicken, slow-cooked in a Jamaican jerk glaze and topped with Your Farm Gate’s fresh Ontario peach chutney, while served on a bed of basmati rice salad. Once again, two wines were offered - the 2016 Coyote's Run Lambert Vineyard Riesling ($19.95, 87 pts) and the 2015 Coyote's Run Estate Cabernet Franc ($24.95, 88 pts). However, here at Coyote's Run we were encouraged to try both wines with the food pairing to see how they fare. The Jerk chicken was mildly flavoured and not spicy, while the Riesling was bordering on off-dry, bringing out peach flavours from the chutney and wine. With the Cab Franc, the pairing became earthier and comforting, along with some of the jerk spice flavours becoming more prominent. While this pairing was quite interesting, our visit went to a whole other level after we met Assistant Winemaker Chris Protonentis. He was able to give us a quick tour of the facility before heading to the cellar for some barrel sampling of a few wines coming down the pipeline.

This was another fine day spent touring Niagara Wine Country during the annual Grape and Wine Festival. And just like on the first day, I was able to bring home recipes of some of the food items so we could try them at home. Get in touch with me if you would like a copy of any of the recipes.

Tasting Notes:

VINELAND ESTATES ELEVATION CHARDONNAY 2014 - Bo-Teek Vineyard, VQA Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#164459) (XD) - $25
The medium+ intensity aromas offer golden apple, pear, and butter notes with hints of hazelnut. It's medium-bodied on the somewhat creamy palate with balanced acids and nice aroma replays. The nutty finish has very good length. Score: 89 pts

Vineland Estates Elevation Chardonnay 2014 (89 pts)Vineland Estates Elevation St. Urban Vineyard Riesling 2008 (91 pts)

VINELAND ESTATES ELEVATION ST. URBAN VINEYARD RIESLING 2008 - VQA Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (#038117) (MD) - $30
The highly aromatic nose is showing some maturity, offering lemon citrus with whiffs of petrol and hints of minerality. It's medium-bodied and nicely textured on the palate with acids that are still quite lively. Off-dry flavour profile with lovely lemon/lime citrus, honeyed peach and floral flavours. Excellent finish length. Will easily age another 10 years. Score: 91 pts

VINELAND ESTATES CABERNET FRANC RESERVE 2012 - VQA Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $50
From a very good vintage, this has highly aromatic aromas of ripe blackberry, herbal, currant, cassis, mocha chocolate, and barnyard, all of which come through in appealing fashion on the medium+ bodied palate with smooth, refined tannins supported by very good, energetic acids. The smooth finish has excellent length. Score: 91+ pts

Vineland Estates Cabernet Franc Reserve 2012 (91+ pts)Megalomaniac Bespoke Pinot Noir 2015 (90+ pts)

MEGALOMANIAC BESPOKE PINOT NOIR 2015 - VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $49.95
Highly aromatic on the nose with elegant candied cherry, floral, raspberry, baking spice, and hints of minerality aromas. Fine tannins are light on the light-bodied palate with pretty aroma replays plus some oak spice elements that are lifted by fresh, bright acids. There's some structure to the palate and it's very well balanced. Great tension between fruit and oak. The long finish is a touch bitter. Score: 90+ pts

MEGALOMANIAC BESPOKE MERLOT 2015 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $59.95
The intense aromas reveal lovely forest red berry, dark cherry, mocha, forest floor aromas with hints of bay leaf and evergreen. On the medium-full bodied palate, this offers layers red and black forest fruits, chocolate, blackberry, cedar oak and some floral nuances. Medium-level tannins offer some structure and is balanced with fresh acids. Textured, classy, and long finishing. Age 3-4 years and drink to 2027. 91 pts

Megalomaniac Bespoke Merlot 2015 (91 pts)Megalomaniac Bespoke Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 (91+ pts)

MEGALOMANIAC BESPOKE CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2015 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $59.95
The medium-high intensity nose offers lush cassis, blackcurrant, and hints of olive, game and earthiness. The palate is full-bodied with smooth, silky, and structured tannins. It has very nice aroma replays, followed by an earthy mid-palate. Bright acids provide lift, and the finish is long and smooth. Drink or hold until 2027. Score: 91+ pts

PILLITTERI VIDAL RESERVE ICEWINE 2013 - VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (S) (375 mL) - $65
Fragrant and open with peach, apricot, lychee, orange citrus, honey and marmalade aromas. The palate is medium+ bodied and lush with delicate acids providing balanced freshness to complement the sweet aroma replays. The long finish is accented with some oak spice. Score: 91 pts

Pillitteri Vidal Reserve Icewine 2013 (91 pts)Pillitteri Gewurztraminer Icewine 2000 (90 pts)

PILLITTERI GEWURZTRAMINER ICEWINE 2000 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (S) (200 mL) - $35
The medium-high intensity nose has a mature character, showing notes of molasses, burnt brown sugar, earth, and orange peel, in a slightly reductive style. It's medium-full bodied on the palate with smooth, silky, voluptuous and velvety mouthfeel with sweet, honeyed aroma replays. Palate still has some freshness. Excellent finish length. Such a treat to taste an Icewine at this age. Score: 90 pts

PILLITTERI CABERNET SAUVIGNON ICEWINE 2004 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (S) (375 mL) - $70
This has a medium-high intensity nose of dried cassis, dried red fruit and blackberry aromas. The palate is full bodied and sweet with raisiny, dried fig flavours lifted with very good acids, Long finishing with nice aroma replays. Score: 89 pts

Pillitteri Cabernet Sauvignon Icewine 2004 (89 pts)

COYOTE'S RUN ESTATE SYRAH 2015 - VQA Four Mile Creek, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $34.95
From the red soil vineyard and matured for 18 months in an even split between Hungarian and French oak. The medium intensity nose seens closed, but offers complex glimpses of white pepper, meat, gamey, dark berry, earth, and savoury aromas. On the medium+ bodied palate, this offers crunchy tannins and very good acidity with balanced aroma replays that lean more towards fruit forward, with some savoury elements. The finish is long and clean. Very drinkable now, but I would age this for 2 years. Score: 89 pts

Coyote's Run Estate Syrah 2015 (89 pts)

COYOTE'S RUN ESTATE SYRAH 2016 - VQA Four Mile Creek, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $34.95
Barrel sample. A mix of sweet and savoury bouquet with ripe dark berry, white pepper, sweet oak spice, and gamey notes. It's full-bodied on the palate with nice aroma replays. fresh acids, touch grippy tannins, and long finishing. Score: 89+ pts

COYOTE'S RUN RED PAW VINEYARD PINOT NOIR 2016 - VQA Four Mile Creek, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (#079228) (XD) - $35
Barrel sample. Aged on the lees. This has floral, cherry, and earth aromas and flavours. It's light-weighted on the palate with structured tannins that are a touch grippy. Clean acids and a balanced, long finish. Score: 89 pts

Barrel Sampling with Chris Protonentis

COYOTE'S RUN BLACK PAW VINEYARD PINOT NOIR 2016 - VQA Four Mile Creek, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (#116442) (XD) - $35
Barrel sample. This has a medium-high intensity nose featuring dark fruit, dark berry, tea leaf, and mineral aromas. It's light-to-medium bodied with more dark berry and dark fruit flavours lifted by fresh acids. It has grippy tannins and a long finish. Needs at least a couple of years to come together. Score: 90 pts


Thursday, June 14, 2018

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  • Thursday, June 14, 2018

Niagara Grape & Wine Festival 2017 - Day 1 of 2

Pacific Snapper Ceviche and Niagara Apple Slaw with 2016 Jackson-Triggs Grand Reserve Riesling
Last , I visited Niagara to take in the 66th Annual Niagara Grape and Wine Festival that celebrates the harvest season. I have been fortunate to attend this festival many times and have always enjoyed the visit. Once again, I visited Niagara over two days and my review from second day will be posted shortly.

Our tour began in Niagara-on-the-Lake, at Jackson-Triggs Niagara Estate Winery for some Pacific snapper ceviche and Niagara Apple Slaw paired with their 2016 Grand Reserve Riesling. This was a nicely crisp, balanced pairing where the off-dry (i.e. slightly sweet) Riesling wine suddenly became quite dry when paired with the slaw due to the high, lemony acids from the ceviche overtaking the sugary elements in the wine. This was really quite well done. Using my Winemaker's Selections' Tasting Passes, we also got to taste their intriguing, and uncommon Entourage Grand Reserve Sparkling Wine made with Sauvignon Blanc, but otherwise did not taste any other wines as the tasting bar is always a zoo. Full wine reviews from Jackson-Triggs and all the other wineries visited on this day are provided below.

Harvest Barn Apple Cinnamon Chicken Wing with 2013 Rancourt Unoaked Chardonnay
The second stop of the day was at Rancourt Winery for grilled chicken wings brushed with Harvest Barn’s signature Apple Cinnamon grilling sauce, and paired with their 2013 Rancourt Unoaked Chardonnay ($14.80, 86 pts). I do wings and wine at home quite often and find it to be delightful. The pairing at Rancourt was also good, with mild stone fruit flavours from the wine meshing well with the mildly flavoured wings.

Moving along to the Beamsville Bench area of Niagara, Cave Spring Cellars was our third stop of the day. They were not participating in the Discovery Pass Experience, so we simply tasted a few wines from their lovely portfolio, followed by a short stroll on picturesque Main Street in Jordan Village.

The fourth stop of the afternoon was at GreenLane Estate Winery to taste their newly released 2014 GreenLane Guts and Glory Blend ($19.95, 87 pts), which is a blend of 55% Unoaked Chardonnay (Guts) and 45% Riesling (Glory), and paired with a Macaroni and Gorgonzola Fritter by Just Cooking. This was a nicely balanced pairing as the high acidity in the wine cut through the deep fried mac & cheese ball, while also providing a nice mouthfeel. The ambience on their outdoor patio is always such a delightful place, we took our time before heading inside and tasting a few of their top wines.

Just Cooking Macaroni and Gorgonzola Fritter with 2014 GreenLane Guts and GloryItty Bitty Pie Company Brie and Caramelized Onions Pie with 2013 Legends Estates Chardonnay Reserve

Our fifth and final stop of the day was at Legends Estates Winery. The food and wine pairing here was a mouthwatering, bite-sized pie stuffed with Brie and caramelized onions from the Itty Bitty Pie Company, and paired with their award-winning 2013 Legends Estates Chardonnay Reserve and 2012 Legends Estates Shiraz Reserve. Having tasted both of these wines previously, I was curious to see how each wine would the on prior visits to the winery, so I opted to pair the pie with the Chardonnay as the rich, buttery, butterscotch, and vanilla notes in the wine accentuated caramelized flavours in the pie filling, as well as the buttery flavours in the pie crust. Delicious pairing, indeed.

All-in-all, I was quite satisfied with yet another trip to Niagara Wine Country. This is only part 1 of my review, as I ended up visiting Niagara a couple of weeks later to partake in more Discovery Pass Experiences. Stay tuned, as that review will be posted in a few days time.

Tasting Notes:

JACKSON-TRIGGS GRAND RESERVE RIESLING 2016 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#367102) (D) - $21
Fragrant nose of tropical fruits, orange citrus, Flintstone vitamins and mineral waft from the glass, and all of it coming through nicely on the off-dry palate, balanced by clean acids. The finish is long with some bitterness and comes off as dry. Score: 88+ pts

Jackson-Triggs Grand Reserve Riesling 2016 (88+ pts)Jackson-Triggs Entourage Grand Reserve Sparkling Sauvignon Blanc 2015 (88 pts)

JACKSON-TRIGGS ENTOURAGE GRAND RESERVE SPARKLING SAUVIGNON BLANC 2015 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#353078) (D) - $29.95
A sparkling wine that is tart and sour with pink grapefruit notes, followed by some brioche, leesy and green stemmy aromas and flavours. It comes off as mostly dry on the palate with frothy mousse and a toasty brioche edge. Nicely balanced with a medium-long finish. Score: 88 pts

RANCOURT FOUNDER'S BLEND 2012 - VQA Niagara Lakeshore, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (XD)
Equal parts Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Petit Verdot, this is highly aromatic with lots of woodsy, barnyard, brett, and oak spice aromas, with underlying cassis and blackberry notes. It's full-bodied with nice aroma replays on the palate with notable, but well-integrated oak. Ripe tannins are smooth and refined. Acids are very good, while the finish is long. Score: 89 pts

Rancourt Founder's Blend 2012 (89 pts)Rancourt Gewürztraminer Icewine 2013 (90+ pts)

RANCOURT GEWÜRZTRAMINER ICEWINE 2013 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (S) (200 mL) - $30
Tasted a few times now, and still drinking very well. The highly aromatic nose offers sweet honey, pear, stone fruit, peach and some spices. The palate has very nice, balanced aroma replays. It's sweet, but the fresh acids keep everything nicely balanced. Excellent finish length. Score: 90+ pts

CAVE SPRING CSV CHARDONNAY 2015 - VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#529941) (XD) - $29.95
From 41-year old vines, 100% barrel fermented and aged for 10 months in French oak barriques and puncheons, this has a richly buttered nose of apple, pear, and lemon aromas of medium-high intensity. It has a medium+ body that is rich and buttery with, apple, vanilla and well-integrated oak flavours. Nicely textured with crisp, balanced acidity. Excellent finish length. Still a bit young - age this 1-2 years. Score: 91 pts

Cave Spring CSV Chardonnay 2015 (91 pts)Cave Spring Estate Bottled Riesling 2015 (89 pts)

CAVE SPRING ESTATE BOTTLED RIESLING 2015 - VQA, Beamsville Bench, Niagara Escarpment,, Ontario, Canada (#286377) (D) - $18.95
This has a medium-high intensity nose of orange citrus, peach, lime, and some limestone mineral aromas. It's medium-bodied with a chalky limestone mineral texture on the off-dry palate. Clean acids are a touch sour. Long finishing. Will age gracefully for many years. Score: 89 pts

GREENLANE OLD VINES RIESLING 2010 - VQA Lincoln Lakeshore, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (MD) - $34.95
The medium-high intensity aromas are quite fragrant and open with orange citrus, mineral notes, and hints of petrol. The palate is medium-bodied with very nice aroma replays in a medium-dry profile and lifted by vibrant acids. Excellent finish length. Lovely! Score: 90+ pts

GreenLane Old Vines Riesling 2010 (90+ pts)GreenLane Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 (91 pts)

GREENLANE CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2012 - VQA Lincoln Lakeshore, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $32.95
Ripe, medium-high intensity nose of evergreen, cassis, black currant, cocoa, and chocolate aromas, all of which come through very nicely on the wood-driven, full bodied palate. Balanced acids. Tannins are chalky, yet well-integrated and quite refined. The finish goes on and on. Score: 91 pts

LEGENDS ESTATES CHARDONNAY RESERVE 2013 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $18.95
The medium-intensity nose offers rich, buttery aromas with butterscotch, vanilla, and poached apple joining fray, all of which come through nicely on the medium-bodied palate. Acids are still clean, while the finish length is very good. Score: 88+ pts

Legends Estates Chardonnay Reserve 2013 (88+ pts)Legends Estates Reserve Shiraz 2012 (89 pts)

LEGENDS ESTATES RESERVE SHIRAZ 2012 - Lizak Vineyard, VQA Lincoln Lakeshore, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $23.95
This has a medium-high intensity nose that's very savoury with wood spice, green olive, meaty, and gamey aromas. On the medium-full bodied palate, this has black peppercorn, gamey and charcuterie flavours surrounded by good acidity and refined tannins. The finish length is very good. Score: 89 pts


Friday, April 27, 2018

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  • Friday, April 27, 2018

Giveaway - Win Passes to 2018 Sip & Sizzle in Niagara-on-the-Lake

Win Passes to Sip & Sizzle in Niagara-on-the-Lake

I had the pleasure of attending Sip & Sizzle in Niagara-on-the-Lake last May thanks to a contest win via Foodies on Foot. This year, I am pleased to give away a pair of passes to the 2018 Sip & Sizzle food and VQA wine pairing event happening in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Hosted by Wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake, this highly anticipated event will offer you the opportunity to sip and savour VQA wines with unique grilled gourmet pairings. Your individual pass will let you visit more than 20 participating wineries on any Friday, Saturday and Sunday in May.

This event is ideal for wine lovers or those with an appetite for barbecued food. This event also makes for a great girls' or guys' weekend, a perfect Mother's Day gift, or if you just want to do something fun & exciting on the long weekend.

Click here to view the list of participating wineries and their VQA wine and food pairing.

Good luck!

Event Details:

Sip & Sizzle
Where: Various Participating Wineries in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario
When: Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday in May from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Passes are $45 (+ taxes & fees) and includes one VQA wine tasting and food pairing at each participating winery.
BUY PASSES HERE

Contest:

Here's your chance to WIN a pair of touring passes to Sip & Sizzle in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Winner will receive two (2) touring passes valued at $90 per pair. Good luck!

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Wednesday, December 13, 2017

First image of this post
  • Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Sip and Sizzle in Niagara-on-the-Lake 2017

Grilled Prawn, Shoot and Sprout Salad and Citrus Zest Emulsion with 2016 Château des Charmes Sauvignon Blanc
On this cold, wintry day, let me take you back to when I visited Niagara-on-the-Lake to partake in the annual Sip & Sizzle food and wine pairing event thanks to winning a contest on Foodies on Foot. This excellent event was running on weekends in May at over 20 wineries in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Unfortunately, due to my busy schedule, I was only able to attend on the final day of the event, so I tried to squeeze in as many wineries as I could in a single day.

The first stop was at Château des Charmes for a crisp pairing of their 2016 Château des Charmes Sauvignon Blanc Estate Grown & Bottled ($14.95, 87 pts) with a grilled prawn, shoot and sprout salad and citrus zest emulsion. This was a delicious pairing as the "sip" is an ideal match for seafood, while the green and citrus notes from the salad complemented the flavours from wine. The zesty dressing also added a bit of zip to the overall pairing, really brightening the flavours. This sizzling pairing was quite well done.

My second stop was at Ravine Vineyard to savour the 2016 Ravine Cabernet Rosé ($22, 88+ pts) paired with Rossco’s harissa grilled chicken thigh on a mixed grain salad. This was a nice, balanced pairing where nothing really jumped out, except for the herbally character in the wine that matched some of the herbs in the dish. The chicken was nicely grilled off the BBQ and added subtle smoky flavours to the overall pairing. Portion size was also very good. This was a nice, wholesome and comforting pairing.

Rossco’s Harissa Grilled Chicken Thigh on a Mixed Grain Salad with 2016 Ravine Cabernet RoséGrilled Chicken Taco topped with Mango Salsa with 2015 Riverview Bianco Riesling Gewürztraminer

Our third stop of the day was at Riverview Cellars Estate Winery for a mildly sweet 2015 Riverview Bianco Riesling Gewürztraminer ($14, 87 pts) blend that was paired with a grilled chicken taco topped with a mango salsa that was made with some of the Bianco white wine. This pairing was all about matching the sweet, fruity flavours from the wine to the mango salsa. The clean acids from the wine also helped create a balanced pairing. Overall, this was a well executed pairing that I would love to try at home.

At our fourth stop of the afternoon, we visited Inniskillin Wines for another grilled chicken taco, but this time it was spiced with chipotle and topped with avocado. It was paired with their 2013 Inniskillin Reserve Shiraz Cabernet ($25, 88+ pts). This was a quality and balanced pairing, with plenty of spiced, peppery notes from both the taco and the red wine complementing each other well.

Grilled Chicken Taco spiced with Chipotle and topped with Avocado and paired with 2013 Inniskillin Reserve Shiraz CabernetCherry Cheesecake Flambé with 2012 Lailey Pinot Noir

The fifth stop was at Lailey Vineyard Winery, where the pairing was off the beaten path and a little adventurous by pairing a dessert item with red table wine. It was interesting to try their 2012 Lailey Pinot Noir (89 pts) paired with a dessert item - a cherry cheesecake flambé. The cherry flavours in the wine matched the cherry notes in the cheesecake, plus the wine's bright acidity balanced out the creamy texture from the cheesecake. The cheesecake also wasn't very sweet, which helped allow this to be a good pairing.

Wings are a popular item at Rancourt Winery, our sixth stop of the afternoon. On this day, we were offered BBQ chicken wings braised in Harvest Barn's famous Vidalia onion sauce and paired with their 2013 Rancourt Noble Rouge ($15, 86 pts), a Cabernet Merlot blend. Wings and red wine are always a good pairing in my books, and at Rancourt we had wings in a sweet sauce paired with a wine that also had some sweetness in it, providing for a balanced pairing. Unfortunately, I gobbled it down so fast that I forgot to take a picture.

Lamb Slider with 2014 Trius Merlot

The seventh stop was at Trius Winery where we were supposed to pair the 2015 Trius Merlot with a spiced lamb Merguez sausage, spring slaw, honey, and mint yogurt dressing. However, since we were approaching the end of the day on the last day of the event, it appears as though they ran out of that specific wine and the sausage because we got the 2014 Trius Merlot ($16, 87 pts) paired with a yummy lamb slider. No complaints from me! Bigger red wines with red meats are usually a pretty good pairing, and this was no exception.

Since the brand spanking new Wayne Gretzky Estates Winery & Distillery was (unofficially) open to the public next door to Trius, we decided to pop-in and check out the new digs. It was crazy busy here, so we only managed to taste a few wines before heading over to our final stop of the day. This is a place I definitely want to come back and taste through the distilled products.

Grilled Halloumi Cheese marinated in Curry Sauce on Naan Wedge and topped with Niagara peach, and paired 2016 Jack Rabbit White

The eighth and final stop of the day was at The Hare Wine Co. for a grilled Halloumi cheese marinated in a mild & creamy curry sauce on a Naan wedge topped with Niagara peach, and paired with the 2016 Jack Rabbit White ($14.50, 86 pts). The wine was off-dry with plenty of floral and citrusy flavours that paired well with the peach, while the acids in the wine helped balance the creamy cheese. A good pairing overall, even though the portions at this winery were a bit on the small side.

This was my first time attending Sip & Sizzle and I was quite pleased with the many sips and sizzling culinary creations. I would definitely recommend this event food and wine lovers, especially those folks who have an affinity for BBQ fare. I hope to attend this lovely event featuring the wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake again in 2018, and firmly believe that you should attend too! Wine reviews of some of my favourites wines tasted on this day are provided below.

Tasting Notes:

CHÂTEAU DES CHARMES ST. DAVID’S BENCH VINEYARD GAMAY NOIR DROIT 2015 - VQA St. David’s Bench, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (#346742) (XD) - $18.95
Medium-high intensity aromas of pepper, earth, black cherry, blackberry, and gamey notes that are quite complex with a certain rustic charm. It's medium-full bodied with cherry, oak spice, and brambly fruit flavours lifted by bright acids. There's supple tannins, good fruit concentration, and a long, juicy finish. Score: 89 pts

Château des Charmes St. David’s Bench Vineyard Gamay Noir Droit 2015 (89 pts)Château des Charmes Vidal Icewine 2015 (92 pts)

CHÂTEAU DES CHARMES VIDAL ICEWINE 2015 - Estate Bottled, VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (#565861) (S) (200 mL) - $26.95
Highly aromatic and complex nose of peach, apricot, honeysuckle, pineapple and honeydew melon. The palate is medium-full bodied with bright fruited aroma replays that are nicely balanced. It's lusciously sweet, but balanced with very good acidity. The finish length is excellent and nicely balanced. Score: 92 pts

RAVINE VINEYARD CHARDONNAY 2015 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $30
Aromas of medium-high intensity with rich, oak-influenced buttery, apple, and smoke notes, plus hints of butterscotch, pineapple and caramel. The medium-bodied palate offers nice aroma replays that are well-balanced and supported by nicely articulated acids. Finishes long with caramel, sweet oak, and vanilla notes. Score: 91 pts

Ravine Vineyard Chardonnay 2015 (91 pts)Ravine Vineyard Reserve Riesling 2015 (90+ pts)

RAVINE VINEYARD RESERVE RIESLING 2015 - VQA St. David's Bench, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (MD) - $35
Contains 30% botrytis affected grapes, this has medium-high intensity aromatics of petrol, honeycomb, and apricot. The palate is medium-dry (i.e. noticeably sweet) with very nice aroma replays and a light mineral texture. Acids are bright and refreshing. Finish length is excellent. Score: 90+ pts

RIVERVIEW CELLARS SALVATORE'S RESERVE CABERNET FRANC 2012 - VQA Niagara River, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $30.15
Medium-high intensity aromas show white pepper, herbaceous, leafy, brambly, blackberry and medicinal aromas that are slightly cooked/stewed. It's medium-bodied with herbally, dark fruited, medicinal, and iodine flavours, plus touches of chocolate mocha. Refined tannins are well-integrated and acids are balanced. Earthy, mocha, and vanilla notes linger on the medium-long finish. Score: 88 pts

Riverview Cellars Salvatore's Reserve Cabernet Franc 2012 (88 pts)Riverview Cellars Salvatore's Reserve Syrah 2013 (89 pts)

RIVERVIEW CELLARS SALVATORE'S RESERVE SYRAH 2013 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $30.15
Medium-high intensity nose offers white pepper, blackberry, dark fruits, earthy, and vanilla oak aromas. This is much more open and fruit forward compared to when I tasted this in September 2016. It's full-bodied with pleasing aroma replays lifted by bright acidity. Smooth, refined tannins. Long, earthy-peppery finish. Score: 89 pts

INNISKILLIN NIAGARA RESERVE SHIRAZ CABERNET 2015 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#225482) (D) - $24.95
Medium+ intensity aromas that are ripe with red cherry, white pepper, currant, cassis, and herbs. It's medium-full bodied and dense on the palate with oak spiced aroma replays that have a touch of sweetness. Acids are bright, tannins a touch grippy, and the finish length is very good. Score: 88 pts

Inniskillin Niagara Reserve Shiraz Cabernet 2015 (88 pts)Inniskillin Montague Vineyard Chardonnay 2014 (88 pts)

INNISKILLIN MONTAGUE VINEYARD CHARDONNAY 2014 - VQA Four Mile Creek, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#586347) (XD) - $24.95
Clean apple, pear, and butter aromas of medium-high intensity with hints of tart citrus and melon. The palate is medium+ bodied with nice aroma replays plus toasty oak notes. Acids are very good. Long, buttery finish. Score: 88 pts

LAILEY BARREL SELECT CHARDONNAY 2013 - VQA Niagara River, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $30
From four outstanding barrels, this has medium-high intensity aromatics featuring clean apple, butter, pear, sweet oak vanilla and hints of nuttiness. It's mid-weighted with lovely well-balanced aromas replays, crisp acids, while finishing long and clean. Score: 90 pts

Lailey Barrel Select Chardonnay 2013 (90 pts)Lailey Syrah 2013 (90+ pts)

LAILEY SYRAH 2013 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $30
Medium-high intensity aromas have complex gamey, black peppercorn, oak, olive and earthy notes. It's medium+ bodied on the palate with nice aroma replays and fresh acids. Tannins are integrating nicely. Long, balanced finish. Will provide pleasure over the next 5 years. Score: 90+ pts

RANCOURT CABERNET FRANC 2012 - VQA Niagara Lakeshore, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $20
The complex nose is ripe with sweet oak spice, herbaceous, white pepper, dark fruits and chocolate aromas of very good intensity. The palate is medium+ bodied with fresh acids and nice aroma replays. Refined tannins are integrating nicely. Finish length is very good. Drink over the next 3-5 years. Score: 88 pts

Rancourt Cabernet Franc 2012 (88 pts)

TRIUS SHIRAZ 2015 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $22.75
This new arrival is blended with 5% Viognier. Aromas of medium-high intensity offer black peppercorn, blackberry, gamey, dark currant, and dark berry notes. It's full-bodied with some tannic grip and very nice aroma replays. It has fresh acids and finishes long. This well-made wine should be aged 2+ years for the tannins to soften. Score: 88 pts

Trius Shiraz 2015 (88 pts)Trius Showcase Red Shale Cabernet Franc 2012 (91 pts)

TRIUS SHOWCASE RED SHALE CABERNET FRANC 2012 - Clark Farm Vineyard, VQA Four Mile Creek, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $45.20
From the Clark Farm Vineyard, this has medium-high intensity and complex aromas of currant, leafy, herbaceous, oak, and forest floor. It's full-bodied and structured with some tannic grip and nicely balanced aroma replays. Very good and juicy acids add freshness and lift. Hints of minerality exist on the long finish. This is a serious Cab Franc to enjoy over the next decade. Score: 91 pts

WAYNE GRETZKY NO. 99 RIESLING 2015 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#144865) (M) - $14.95
Medium+ intensity aromas feature some mature petrol notes, along with mineral, green apple, citrus and peach aromas. There's a nice mineral texture on the light-weighted palate with appealing off-dry (i.e. slightly sweet) aroma replays. Vibrant acids keep things fresh, while the finish length is very good. Score: 88+ pts

Wayne Gretzky No. 99 Riesling 2015 (88+ pts)The Hare Frontier Cabernet Franc 2013 (89 pts)

THE HARE FRONTIER CABERNET FRANC 2013 - VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada (XD) - $50
Contains trace amounts of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, this has medium-high intensity, oak-influenced aromas of tobacco, cigar, smoke, dark cherry, pepper, and dark currant with very good complexity that continues on the medium-full bodied palate. It has vibrant acids, good tannic structure, and long finishing. Enjoy over the next half decade. Score: 89 pts


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