Discovery Pass Tastings
I recently had the opportunity to head down to the Niagara Region for the 21st Annual Icewine Festival, my first time down to experience this event. I am a huge fan of Ontario Icewines and I was excited to use the Discovery Pass (still available for $40, more information here) to try some Icewine inspired wine and food pairings. As I was flying solo I had to be careful of my alcohol consumption and limited myself to four wineries over the two days I was down. One of the great things about the Discovery Pass is that it can be split between all the weekends that the Icewine Festival runs as well as between people. On this trip I visited Fielding Estate Winery, Redstone Winery, Megalomaniac/John Howard Cellars of Distinction and Inniskillin Wines. My final post from my first tour, here are the details from my snowy stop at Inniskillin Wines.
From the Niagara Icewine Festival brochure – Northern Cool Meets Southern Warmth … Warm up this cold winter with our own take on the southern favourite, Chicken and Waffles, spread with our classic Riesling Icewine Butter. Enjoy this warm pairing with Inniskillin’s cool and highly awarded Riesling Icewine.
My only stop on the Sunday, a light snowfall added to the ambience of this classic Niagara winery. Inniskillin Wines makes one of my most favourite things, Sparkling Icewine, and I was elated to see they had offerings of both their Vidal and Cabernet Franc versions in addition to the Discovery Pass pairing listed above.
Although listed as a warm pairing, the sample I got warm room temperature, not surprising considering the sheer volume of people through the doors. I’m a fan of chicken and waffles and this take with some Icewine elements added, in the form of the Icewine Butter and Icewine Hot Sauce, was a delicious mouthful. The 2014 Inniskillin Riesling Icewine VQA Niagara Peninsula VQA was a wonderful pairing with the sweet, salty and savory heat from the chicken and waffles. This Riesling Icewine was typical excellence from Inniskillin with a vibrant yellow-gold hue leading to aromas of golden ripe pineapple and honeyed guava, following through with a sweet and balanced punch of tropical fruit and a vibrant seem of acidity making this refreshing and happy, warming and delicious. The Icewine Butter was the key ingredient, adding a layer of texture to bring all the components into harmony across the palate, the sweet-salty-heat-creamy profiles all playing together nicely.
From the indoor tasting room to the tasting bar outside, I ordered the 2012 Inniskillin Sparkling Cabernet Franc Icewine VQA Niagara Peninsula VQA and went with the White Sparkling Icewine pairing, the raw oysters, instead of the ‘Smores offered with the Sparkling Cabernet Franc Icewine. I lucked out to get one of the remaining Fanny Bay West Coast oysters, and a Malpeque from the East Coast. An Icewine mignonette was offered along with generic cocktail sauce and lemon, I went with a splash of the mignonette on both of the oysters. Both were cold and fresh, tasting like the smell of the ocean with a tart sweetness from the garnish. I have tried the Inniskillin Sparkling Vidal Icewine in the past but had yet to try the Sparkling Cabernet Franc Icewine and was super excited to see it offered. Wow! The 2012 Inniskillin Sparkling Cabernet Franc Icewine VQA Niagara Peninsula VQA was outstandingly astounding! Served in a frozen art deco ice saucer, the deep reddish brown colour had a muted nose that opened up with the first sip of this amazing nectar. The delicate fairy bubbles whispered sweet nothings as they danced across the palate, revealing a cacophony of aromas and flavours: cranberry tart, barbeque ribs, peach pie, strawberry jam. I found this to be true happiness in a glass, effervescent excellence remarkable in its verve and function as pure luxury, a fitting end to my first visit to the Niagara Icewine Festival.