21st Annual Niagara Icewine Festival 2016 pt. 3

 

Niagara Icewine Festival 2016 Tour 1


21st Annual Niagara Icewine Festival 2016

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 WineryRedstone WineryMegalomaniac/John Howard Cellars of Distinction and Inniskillin Wines. My first post of this tour is about my stop at Fielding Estate Winery followed by my post on my stop at Redstone Winery and I culminated my first day with a stop at Megalomaniac. My final and only stop on the Sunday, Inniskillin Wines, will be posted in the next few days.

Megalomaniac/John Howard Cellars of Distinction

Megalomaniac/John Howard Cellars of Distinction

From the Niagara Icewine Festival brochure – Megalo-Mixology-Mania … Icewine martinis are back! Megalomaniac is pleased to offer you three Icewine-based martinis. You will experience Icewine in three unique ways, as part of creative and delicious concoctions. Please call ahead for groups of more than six people.

Discovery Pass Tasting Menu

 
Another first-time visit, perched high on the escarpment with panoramic views, the winery with glass walled tasting room was abuzz as twilight crept in. Although the brochure notes said three cocktails, four were on offer. Under promise, over deliver!

  

Coldhearted Personality

First up was the Coldhearted Personality, a mix of their 2015 Megalomaniac Sparkling Personality Riesling VQA Niagara Peninsula VQA and 2014 Megalomaniac Coldhearted Riesling Icewine VQA Niagara Peninsula VQA (the 2013 information available here). Sweet and bubbly with aromas and flavours of sweet key lime pie and mango puree, a refreshing start with great balance between the acidity and big sweetness.

Vodka Martini

Vodka Martini was next up with Dillon’s Small Bath Distillers Method 95 Vodka, 2014 Megalomaniac Coldhearted Riesling Icewine, and a splash of Triple Sec and Dillon’s Small Batch Distillers Lime Bitters. The lime bitters added a layer of dimension to the backend, a twist on the classic Icewine Martini. More Triple Sec at the start, transitioning through the Icewine to the lime flavours, the pleasant aftertaste was reminiscent of a sweet lime rickey.

  

Cherry Vodka Martini

Cherry Vodka Martini followed, a combination of the 2013 Megalomaniac Grounded Cabernet Franc Icewine VQA Niagara Peninsula VQA and Absolut Cherrys Vodka with a few canned cherries thrown in the mix. This was cheery cherry, cherry, cherry! I spent a few of the summers of my youth at a cherry processing plant between Waterford and Simcoe, Norfood Cherry Growers. This cocktail took me right back there.

  

The Sweet Seduction

The finale to the martini tasting, and a very fine finale it was, was the Sweet Seduction. 2013 Megalomaniac Grounded Cabernet Franc Icewine VQA Niagara Peninsula VQA and white Crème de Cacao together created a most delicious cocktail. Big aromas and flavours of chocolate covered strawberries and Black Forest Cake. The ratio of liquid chocolate to Icewine glory was spot on, with the Icewine taking main stage and the chocolate singing perfect background harmonies.

  

2012 Megalomaniac Frank Cabernet VQA Niagara Peninsula VQA

Putting my final taste of the day in the hands of Lauren at the tasting bar, I tried her current favourite wine on offer, the 2012 Megalomaniac Frank Cabernet VQA Niagara Peninsula VQA. The colour was a thin translucent red, revealing a nose of roasted green bell pepper and inky boysenberry. In the mouth the bright young acidity was balanced with drying tannins and upfront red berry fruit. A very fine expression of Niagara Cabernet from a warmer vintage, terrific now with potential for evolution over time.

21st Annual Niagara Icewine Festival 2016 pt. 2

 

21st Annual Niagara Icewine Festival – 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 WineryRedstone WineryMegalomaniac/John Howard Cellars of Distinction and Inniskillin Wines. My last post was about my stop at Fielding Estate Winery and after a delightful start to my tour, as well as the recommendation of Katharine at Fielding Estate Winery, my next stop was Redstone Winery to try their aged Cabernet Franc Icewine pairing and their Syrah.

 Redstone Winery

Write-up from the Niagara Icewine Festival brochure – It’s Gonna be ‘Chili’… Bundle up and join us fireside on the Terrace at Redstone to enjoy a cup of Chef Sider’s Icewine-inspired creation. A sweet and savory pairing of our 2010 Cabernet Franc Icewine with a Braised Venison and Dark Chocolate Chili is sure to keep you warm.

My first visit to Redstone Winery and my first time trying their wines. Somewhat understated on the outside, this winery with terrace and restaurant is simply gorgeous. The use of natural materials in the construction and finishing is beautiful. The Discovery Pass tasting was set on the terrace overlooking the vineyard below. An ideal setting save for the fact of the gusty wind blew over my glass spilling my sample. My cat-like reflexes saved the glass from smashing below and I told the sample guy to pour a bigger sample to prevent that from happening again. He did laugh, but didn’t pour a bigger sample. I retreated inside and took a seat at the bar to try the wine and chili.

 

A steadying finger to save this glass from blowing over!

The 2010 Redstone Cabernet Franc Icewine VQA Niagara Peninsula VQA had a colour of golden raspberry marmalade, a nose of strawberry compote and a slight whisper of sherry rancio, and flavours of strawberry rhubarb tart with a pleasant sweetness balanced gently by the tart, low acidity finish. A fine example of an Ontario Icewine with some age and maturation, with secondary and tertiary aromas at play. The chili on its own was big in its flavours of chili powder and cumin but overpowered the delicate nuances of the Icewine, turning it too acidic when tasted together. I can appreciate the intention of the sweet/savoury pairing but it just didn’t jive for me. While looking through the menus as I tasted my Icewine and chili I saw Fried Chicken Skins and thought to myself that it would be a crime to not try them. My favourite food item from the weekend, the crispy battered skins served with a garlic and lemon dipping sauce were exceptional, nicely seasoned with a spice rub with similar flavours as the chili. I will be back just for a double order of the Fried Chicken Skins! The Cabernet Farnc Icewine matched nicely with the fried chicken skins, both very indulgent in their own right, together the sweet and grease was an extravegent pleasure.

 

Selections from the Lunch menu

 

Fried Chicken Skins – Amazing!

Katharine from Fielding recommended the Syrahs from Redstone so I tasted what they had on offer, their 2011 and 2012 that was just being released.

 

Redstone Winery 2011/2012 Syrah

The 2011 Redstone Syrah VQA Lincoln Lakeshore VQA Redstone Vineyard was a pink crimson in the glass with aromas of tart red sour cherry and a light floral note. In the mouth there was still some tannic grip from the young tannins with finesse and crisp acidity on the pepper finish.

Jelena at the tasting bar poured a sample of the 2012 Redstone Syrah VQA Lincoln Lakeshore VQA Redstone Vineyard, a warmer vintage in the Niagara Region compared to the 2011. The colour was similar to the 2011 with a little purple added into the pink crimson. The nose was cooked red fruit and sun-baked brick, replayed on the palate with brickish tannins, a rustic yet smooth and juicy finish. I found the 2012 more masculine in nature than the more feminine 2011.

With a small sip left in each glass I combined the two for my own special Redstone Syrah blend and was pleasantly satisfied with the results, an Ontario Syrah that hit on all notes, the big fruit from the warmer 2012 and the delicate floral notes from the 2011. Truly a case where the sum is greater than the parts, the 2011/2012 was exceptional with ultimate balance and great harmony.

 

 

 

 

21st Annual Niagara Icewine Festival 2016

Four fabulous winery stops for the Niagara Icewine Festival

21st Annual Niagara Icewine Festival 2016

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 first post is about my stop at Fielding Estate Winery with the other stops to be posted over the next few days.

 

Icewine and nachos, a fantastic pairing!

 Fielding Estate Winery

Write-up from the Niagara Icewine Festival brochure – Icewine Ole! To celebrate the Icewine Festival at Fielding we’re serving up cheesy ‘Chile Con Queso’ nachos topped with crumbled bacon and blue cheese. Paired with our 2012 Riesling Icewine or 2012 Cabernet Franc it’s a fiesta not to be missed.

 

2012 Fielding Estate Winery Riesling Icewine VQA Niagara Peninsula VQA

First stop of the day and my favourite pairing of the weekend. The 2012 Fielding Estate Winery Riesling Icewine VQA Niagara Peninsula VQA colour was a bright golden yellow hue with a nose of candied apricots and pineapple jam, flavours replayed on the palate with a mouth-coating slight unctuousness, sweet with a light seam of acidity. I enjoy the classic blue cheese and Icewine pairing and this take with nachos gave a shabby chic playfulness with the added texture from the chips, a really nice cheese sauce and the pungent creaminess of the blue cheese. Simple yet luxurious, similar big flavours in each of the ingredients lead to very enjoyable pairing.

After the tasting in the tank room, I went back to the retail space and tasting bar to try some of their other offerings, specifically their 2013 Viognier, 2012 Syrah and 2012 Chosen Few high-end blend.

 

2013 Viognier VQA Niagara Peninsula VQA

 2013 Viognier VQA Niagara Peninsula VQA

Pale, pale faint tint of pale yellow, like clear water. Nose of peachy apricots, with some time a hint of candy floss. Flavours of stone tree fruit and touch of fresh lime, crispness from the cooler vintage year.

 

2012 Syrah VQA Niagara Peninsula VQA

 2012 Syrah VQA Niagara Peninsula VQA

Dark red, semi-transparent. Nose of brick pepper spice. Androgynous in nature, not masculine or feminine in style, somewhere either in between or outside. Fresh red fruit and pepper (green peppercorn?) in the mouth. Balance of fruit and spice.

 

2012 Chosen Few VQA Niagara Peninsula VQA

 2012 Chosen Few VQA Niagara Peninsula VQA

A blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. Translucent crimson, clean and clear. Fantastic aromas of toasted marshmallows on asphalt and Brunswick Stew. Vibrantly youthful in its tannic crispness, the dark fruit is balanced by the other big flavours that march across the palate. Drinking very well now, great potential for more to evolve from this wine.

2012 Inniskillin Vidal Icewine VQA Niagara Peninsula VQA

2012 Inniskillin Vidal Icewine VQA Niagara Peninsula VQA

2012 Inniskillin Vidal Icewine VQA Niagara Peninsula VQA

One of the treats to myself from the Christmas season, I purchased a few mini-bottles of the 2012 Inniskillin Vidal Icewine. I opened this young Icewine for the most recent Ontario Wine Chat on Twitter. I am a huge fan of Icewine in general, usually the aged variety, so I decided to open a younger one to see how it compares to the aged versions I have opened recently.

The colour was light golden yellow, much paler than the deep golden colour that most aged Icewines are. The nose was bright and lively with a definite sweetness of preserved lemons and candied pineapple. With a silky unctuousness and gently cloying (in a good way) mouthfeel, the flavours were a replay of the nose with lemon marmalade and pineapple preserve.

A welcome change to the aged Icewine I usually open, the youth and vibrancy of this delicate nectar was enjoyable from the first sip to the last.

2004 Royal DeMaria Wines Sauvignon Blanc Icewine VQA Niagara Peninsula VQA

2004 Royal DeMaria Winery Sauvignon Blanc Icewine VQA Niagara Peninsula VQA

2004 Royal DeMaria Wines Sauvignon Blanc Icewine VQA Niagara Peninsula VQA

I received this wonderful bottle of Icewine from a past co-worker for my birthday a number of years ago. Royal DeMaria Wines is not a typical winery in any sense of the word “typical”. Focussing only on Icewine, Joseph DeMaria stumbled upon a proprietary “fumble” while making his first batch of Icewine and has used the technique since to make atypical Icewine.

A colour of ultra-deep golden toffee. Nose of lanolin, candied gooseberry compote, perfumed high-note, slight rancio, oxidative sherry notes. Another smell that is hard to place, is it bananas foster?!
Flavours of overripe gooseberry, bright seam of acidity that carries the golden elixir across the palate like a velvet hammer. Sherry notes and a perfumed aftertaste.

Glorious to have aged icewine to sample on a whim. Magical liquid, not at all like the usual suspect of overly sweet and cloying icewine. Refined and elegant yet strong and firm. An enigma of a wine, finely superb.

Thirty Bench 2007 Small Lot Riesling Icewine VQA Beamsville Bench

Thirty Bench Small Lot Riesling Icewine VQA Beamsville Bench 2007

Thirty Bench Small Lot Riesling Icewine VQA Beamsville Bench 2007

I recently had the luxury of going to Acapulco Mexico with my beautiful wife’s family for a wedding and brought this bottle of Ontario, Canada VQA Icewine with me. I know that Mexico has many pleasures to indulge in but I wanted a piece of home to enjoy on a quiet night with the woman I love.

We opened this fine bottle I have had in the cellar for a number of years on a quiet night once the girls had fallen asleep, tired from a long day of sun, heat and swimming. Our room’s ice bucket worked as a perfect chiller and a quick trip to the lobby bar with bottle in-hand worked to free this glorious juice as I neglected to bring a corkscrew. I poured a sample for Martin the bartender in thanks for opening and the look on his face was wonderful, a picture of total surprise as he had never tried an Icewine before. I asked if he liked it, although I knew instantly he did.

A quick trip back up the elevator and out to our 13th floor balcony overlooking the Acapulco Bay. After first sniff the beautiful wife instantly said tangerines and I agreed, along with some other candied tropical fruits (pineapple, maybe a little mango), replayed on the palate with a seamless vein of acidity that cut through the gentle sweetness, a finish that begged for another sip. The only thing I could think of to describe the colour would be an Acapulco sunset. Fine company, fine wine and a transcendent view of the Pacific Ocean in the distance. Truly a memorable experience.

Peller Estates Limited Edition Founder’s Series 2003 Vidal Icewine

Peller Estates 2003 Vidal Icewine

Peller Estates Limited Edition Founder’s Series 2003 Vidal Icewine

Wednesday night is #ONWineChat on Twitter. I try to open an Ontario Wine and with this week’s topic being #Cuvee2014 that is coming up in a couple weeks I thought a wine was needed to reflect the grand nature of a Cuvée Gala. I had put this bottle in the fridge for two weeks prior but didn’t end up opening it. Tonight was the night to open this aged Icewine, one of bottles I have had in my cellar the longest. I can’t remember exactly where I got this, but I think it was on sale many years at the local LCBO. I really like aged Icewines for the added luxury that time gives.

Peller Estates 2003 Vidal Icewine A gorgeous golden hue

Peller Estates Limited Edition Founder’s Series 2003 Vidal Icewine
A gorgeous golden hue

The colour of golden glory, a deep burnt yellow. The nose was Sherry-like at first with roasted nutty sweetness, changing to notes of freshly pulled Laur’s Butterscotch and Lemon Salt Water Taffy from their booth at the Norfolk County Fair. Beautiful wife thought the nose had a hint of hard maple candy and apricots.

The mouthfeel is smooth like silk, a luxurious sweetness balanced by refined acidity, not cloying at all, vibrant in an aged way, with a whisper of winter softened tannins. Candied pineapple, preserved lemon, lanolin and happiness. Beautifully rotten grape juice.