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.

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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.

Rotary Club of Palgrave 18th Annual Wines of the World

Rotary Club of Palgrave 18th Annual Wines of the World

Rotary Club of Palgrave 18th Annual Wines of the World

On Saturday June 6, 2015 I was privileged to attend the 18th Annual Wines of the World event held by the Rotary Club of Palgrave on the picturesque grounds of the EMG Caledon Pan Am Equestrian Park, Palgrave Caledon. A cool breeze complimented the Caledon sunset with another sold-out offering of wines from around the world. Below are my abbreviated notes on what I had the chance to try with my focus on what Ontario wines and ciders were on offer. The program was general in the description of the wines, I tried to get as much info as possible in the short timeframe this event ran.

2013 Errazuriz Pinot Noir Chile

2013 Errazuriz Pinot Noir, Chile

2013 Errazuriz Pinot Noir, Chile – lighter style of Pinot Noir with aromas rhubarb and cherry tart and tastes to match, balanced by smooth acidity.

2013 Epica, Chile

2013 Epica, Chile

2013 Epica, Chile – dark red colour with a brickish ruby and red raspberry nose. Smooth tannins with flavours of plum and cherry, low acidity and a fruity sweet finish

2012 Graffigna Reserve Blend, Argentina – deep dark red with aromas/flavours of spicy dark red fruit and slight crayon and a strong tannic finish.

2013 Zolo

2013 Zolo Classic, Argentina

2013 Zolo Classic, Argentina – ruby garnet colour leads to big expressive nose of bright red fruit (red plum, cherry) and a tannic finish balanced with acidity.

Graffigna Pinot Grigio Riserva, Argentina – thin and insipid, vagueness in flavour.

Downey's Estate Winery "Loose Goose"

Downey’s Estate Winery “Loose Goose”

Downey’s Estate Winery Loose Goose Gooseberry Fruit Wine, Ontario Canada – light and refreshing with a slight residual sweetness, flavours of fresh gooseberries, lime pith and lemon curd. A very refreshing summer sipper.

Downey’s Estate Winery Two to Tango Apple/Raspberry Fruit Wine, Ontario Canada – pale pinkish red leads to a nose of crab apple compote. Flavours of raspberry jam, apple jelly and a slight sherry note with balanced tannins and acidity.

2013 Silver Bay Cellars Pinot Noir VQA Niagara Peninsula VQA

2013 Silver Bay Cellars Pinot Noir VQA Niagara Peninsula VQA

2013 Silver Bay Cellars Pinot Noir VQA Niagara Peninsula VQA, Ontario Canada – aromas and flavours of bright cherry tart with a slight tannin grit and some brick on the finish.

2013 Sandbanks Cabernet Franc VQA Ontario VQA

2013 Sandbanks Winery Cabernet Franc VQA Ontario VQA

2013 Sandbanks Winery Cabernet Franc VQA Ontario VQA, Ontario Canada – translucent purple red with nose and flavours of ripe red fruits and a simple balance of refined acidity and fruit freshness. Excellent example of young Ontario Cabernet Franc. Enjoyable on its own, would match well with bistro cuisine.

2013 Peninsula Ridge Estates Winery Merlot VQA Niagara Peninsula VQA

2013 Peninsula Ridge Estates Winery Merlot VQA Niagara Peninsula VQA

2013 Peninsula Ridge Estates Winery Merlot VQA Niagara Peninsula VQA, Ontario Canada – bright red leads to aromas of red plum and cassis that are replayed on the palate with some wonderful toasted marshmallow notes on the finish. Balanced with bright acidity and tannic backbone.

2011 L'Evidence Bordeaux, France

2011 L’Evidence Bordeaux, France

2011 L’Evidence Bordeaux, France – big dark red with big alcoholic heat, aromas and flavours of singed red and black fruit with tannic grip and high acidity. A big, food friendly red.

2013 Henry of Pelham Family Estate Baco Noir VQA Ontario VQA, Ontario Canada – nose of sweet red fruit and candied cherry compote. Acidity in balance with a delightful fruit-forwardness, almost like a cross between Merlot and Gamay. A tamed brute with a smooth finish and complementary tannins. Excellent.

2014 Pierre Sparr Gewürztraminer, France – nose of lychee, rose petals and orange sorbet, replayed with flavours of orange peel and lemonade. Low acidity and a sweet finish.

2011 Cannanou Riserva Sardinia, Italy – bright red colours leads to a spicy red fruit nose and sweet red fruit, flavours of cranberry sauce and fresh cherries. Low tannins and an acidic finish.

2014 Café Culture Pinotage, South Africa – dark red with a nose of freshly ground coffee, replayed with sweet fruit, light tannins and refreshing acidity.

Spirit Tree Cidery 2013 Reserve, Ontario Canada – light and refreshing with tart apple notes, fine thin mousse. Would never have guessed it it 8% abv., drinks much lighter.

Pommies Farmhouse Cider, Ontario

Pommies Farmhouse Cider, Ontario

Pommies Cider Farmhouse Cider, Ontario Canada – a slightly drier version of the flagship Pommies Dry Cider with a gorgeous fine fizz, a hint of residual sweetness swept away with a refreshing acidic twang. This is my go-to cider for the summer, another fine offering from Pommies Cider Co. Simply excellent!

2009 Lailey Vineyard Pinot Noir VQA Niagara Peninsula VQA‏

2009 Lailey Vineyard Pinot Noir VQA Niagara Peninsula VQA

The 2009 Lailey Vineyard Pinot Noir VQA Niagara Peninsula VQA is a delicious wine. Elegant colour of ruby red garnet. Nose of high perfumed cherries, forest floor, and happiness. Flavours of elegance and sophistication, ripe red cherry, violets on a damp forest floor, beet compote, fresh and clear spring water.

Lovely acidity to match the fruit, dryness and fruitiness in poised balance.

This is an amazing example of Canadian Pinot, a couple extra years in my cellar have elevated this excellence in a glass. Very well done.

2002 Lakeview Cellars Meritage VQA Niagara Peninsula VQA‏

2002 Lakeview Cellars Meritage VQA Niagara Peninsula VQA

2002 Lakeview Cellars Meritage VQA Niagara Peninsula VQA

I have had this bottle in my cellar for years and have thought of opening it many times. I never really thought it the right occasion or something else would pique my interest and I would choose that bottle instead. Turns out that it is wasn’t me that picked this bottle to open, but my beautiful wife that finally grabbed it and popped the cork. Actually, cork would be a misnomer as it turned out to be sealed with a synthetic “cork”, not known for being preferred for aging wines.

After passing me a glass and asking, “Does this smell off to you?” I closed my eyes, took a big whiff and responded “It sure doesn’t smell on!” With trepidation and reluctance, I took a very small sip. Good or bad, I pride myself on trying to convey the essence of the wines I taste. The time spent in bottle definitely did not improve this wine.

With a nose of melting crayon, nail polish remover, and windshield washer fluid, the colour revealed no hint of brick on the rim, something I expected from 13 years in bottle. The mouthfeel was ultra-tangy, like licking a zipper with a piece of aluminum foil in my mouth. Flavours of rotten cherries, freshly laid asphalt, and spoiled dill pickle juice. The synthetic cork was encrusted with small tartrate crystals. In this case not wine diamonds, more like wine cubic zirconias. Thoroughly awful and repugnant.

2012 Henry of Pelham Family Estate Winery Riesling VQA Niagara Peninsula VQA

2012 Henry of Pelham Family Estate Winery Riesling VQA Niagara Peninsula VQA

2012 Henry of Pelham Family Estate Winery Riesling VQA Niagara Peninsula VQA

A guest for dinner and her request was for a white wine. A trip to the cellar and the 2012 Henry of Pelham Family Estate Winery Riesling VQA Niagara Peninsula VQA was the first bottle I laid my hand upon. I picked this bottle up last year before Christmas from the reduced section at the local LCBO. I believe it was reduced due to the latest vintage being offered, not from someone returning 7 bottles.

With a light golden colour, the nose burst forward with bright zesty floral aromas. Lots of green apple peel, lime pith, and a touch of a floral (think just-opened tulips and daffodils) note. The flavours were a replay of the nose with vibrant green apple, slightly under-ripe pear, and a touch of kiwi and dried apricots. The combination of flavours and aromas gave the slightest impression of petrol starting to form, delightful and delicious. Complex yet simple at the same time, a truly fine example of a Canadian Riesling.

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.

2008 Le Clos Jordanne Village Reserve Pinot Noir VQA Niagara Peninsula VQA

2008 Le Clos Jordanne Pinot Noir Village Reserve VQA Niagara Peninsula VQA

2008 Le Clos Jordanne Village Reserve Pinot Noir VQA Niagara Peninsula VQA

The 2008 Le Clos Jordanne Village Reserve Pinot Noir VQA Niagara Peninsula VQA was that second wine I opened during Thanksgiving weekend. This was the wine we had with our turkey dinner, a wine that matched perfectly with the brined and roasted turkey and all the accroutrements.

Thanksgiving Dinner 2014

Thanksgiving Dinner 2014

With a brickish ruby colour, the nose opened with sour cherry, mushroom, a hint of bingo dabber, slightly damp forest floor and under-ripe plum. The fully softened tannins contributed to flavours of chalky cranberries, a hint of soy sauce, and red fruits -sour cherry, raspberry, red plum. While the 2002 Henry of Pelham Speck Family Reserve Cabernet-Merlot VQA Niagara Peninsula VQA was quite masculine, this was more feminine in nature and needed time to open. I would say this Pinot is at its prime and drinking beautifully now.

2002 Henry of Pelham Speck Family Reserve Cabernet-Merlot VQA Niagara Peninsula VQA

2002 Henry of Pelham Speck Family Reserve Cabernet-Merlot VQA Niagara Peninsula VQA

2002 Henry of Pelham Speck Family Reserve Cabernet-Merlot VQA Niagara Peninsula

Family get-togethers such as Thanksgiving, Easter and Christmas are great reasons to open up those special bottles of wine from the cellar. For both the selections I took down to my parent’s place I chose wines that I had more than one bottle of to see how they were evolving. The first bottle opened on the weekend was the 2002 Henry of Pelham Speck Family Reserve Cabernet-Merlot VQA Niagara Peninsula VQA that I picked up on a trip to the Niagara Region in 2007. The Speck Family Reserve is the highest tier of wines produced by Henry of Pelham, wines made for cellaring and longer-term enjoyment.

Made from a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (33%), Cabernet Franc (19%) and Merlot (48%), the fruit was cropped at approximately 2 tonnes per acre from some of the oldest blocks held by the Speck Family. With a saturated inky purple colour, I was surprised that there wasn’t even a hint of brick on the rim after over 10 years of bottle age. The nose matched the deep, dark colour with copious dark fruit – blackberry, black cherry, black raspberry – along with printer’s ink, wet chalkboard, nasturtiums and a hint of black pepper and a high floral note. My beautiful wife detected black cherry, black plums and cinnamon. The dark fruit was replayed on the palate, dusty dry tannins with grip and bite (in a good way) and a spicy fruitiness. My beautiful wife thought it tasted like leather and plums.

This wine still had a brooding strength, a powerful, manly wine that is still in-your-face in its style. Simply awesome, I am so happy I bought two bottles 7 years ago and have had the patience to not open them. It will be a lot tougher now that I know what a treasure lies beneath that other cork.

2007 Nyarai Cellars Vertitas VQA Niagara Peninsula VQA

After an eventful day of falling down my stairs and putting on a cooking demonstration at the Bolton Farmers’ Market, I needed a glass of wine. A quick look and some contemplation in the cellar as to what wine would suit the mood. My choice was the 2007 Nyarai Cellars Vertitas VQA Niagara Peninsula VQA. The twist-off closure seemed appropriate for the setting.

Nyarai Cellars Veritas 2007 VQA Niagara Peninsula

Nyarai Cellars Veritas 2007 VQA Niagara Peninsula

Blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah. Vibrant colour of ruby red with a garnet brick rim. Wonderful nose of perfumed flowers (think sugared violets), pleasant medicinal hint, granite stoniness, inky black berries. The palate is refined elegance with multiple layers of flavours – white pepper, gentle spiciness, over-ripe raspberries, red plum and integrated fine tannins. With time the nose evolved to mushrooms and cherries and the flavours of smoked meats and peppered cherry jam emerged. The truth is that this wine is outstanding, drinking perfectly now, I feel that I opened it at the exact right moment. Multi-dimensional – sweet (but dry), spicy, savoury – a wine like fine barbeque.