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.

 

 

 

 

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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.

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.

2006 Jackson-Triggs Proprietors’ Reserve Shiraz VQA Niagara Peninsula

2006 Jackson-Triggs Proprietors' Reserve Shiraz

2006 Jackson-Triggs Proprietors’ Reserve Shiraz VQA Niagara Peninsula

I have made the #ONWineChat – Ontario Wine Chat on Twitter -part of my weekly routine. Held on Wednesday nights (now at 9 pm EST changed from 10 pm EST) this gathering of wine-minded individuals discusses a different topic each week. Organized by Shawn McCormick (Twitter handle @UncorkOntario, also the creator of a fantastic FREE App Uncork Ontario https://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/uncork-ontario/id435865875?mt=8 which lists Ontario wineries and gives your distance to them, check out http://www.uncorkontario.com), I look forward to relevant topics pertaining specifically Ontario Wine and the discussions from wine lovers, industry insiders, wine makers and vineyard owner/operators. Last week’s discussion was about Sameness in Wine, if the VQA/LCBO are contributing to a monotonous flavour across the board.

A look through my cellar revealed almost all the Ontario Wine I have bears the VQA label, meaning that the wine inside the bottle is 100% Ontario grown fruit and passed the VQA quality-control requirements. I tried to find a wine that was Ontario Wine but not VQA, the only ones I could find were from Chesslawn Winery http://www.chesslawnwinery.com and since I am still saving these to see how they progress with time, I decided to open something else that may buck the trend of “sameness”. Wrapped in a brown paper bag and signed by Marco Piccoli (I remember getting them signed at the Kingsway LCBO years ago, he was the winemaker at the time) I went for one of these 2006 Jackson-Triggs Proprietors’ Reserve Shiraz VQA Niagara Peninsula.

With a few years of bottle age I was curious to see how this wine would perform at this time. Would it indeed be a Shiraz or more like a Syrah now? Definitely the latter! A little concerned when I took off the foil cap and saw a synthetic cork, upon opening my concern faded away. With a garnet rim and lovely ruby colour, the nose was classic Syrah with white pepper and light red fruits, with a hint of tobacco. The beautiful wife smelled black current and tobacco and tasted balsamic vinegar. The palate continued with the white pepper and a fantastic reduced balsamic flavour intermixed with some red current and a soft cherry tinge. Thank you Marco Piccoli for making a beautiful Shiraz/Syrah. Glad I still have another bottle of this beauty to bring out for a friend of mine who particularly enjoys Syrah, no matter what it says on the label!