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 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 final post from my first tour, here are the details from my snowy stop at Inniskillin Wines.

 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.

Chicken and Waffles with Icewine Butter and Icewine Hot Sauce paired with 2014 Inniskillin Riesling Icewine VQA Niagara Peninsula VQA

  
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.

Patiently waiting to be turned into liquid gold

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.

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.

2012 Vineland Estates Winery Cabernet Franc VQA Niagara Peninsula VQA

2012 Vineland Estate Winery Cabernet Franc VQA Niagara Peninsula VQA

2012 Vineland Estate Winery Cabernet Franc VQA Niagara Peninsula VQA

I needed a bottle of red wine to reduce down and add as an ingredient for my umami paste that I make to put in my James Jackson Barbeque Signature Finishing Sauce. The wine, since it was to be reduced by 4/5, needed fresh fruit and balanced acidity, nothing overly tannic or extracted. Since the umami paste is an integral ingredient to my barbeque sauce, the components of the umami paste need to be of certain quality. I have tried a number of different varietals and vintages with mixed results. The 2012 Vineland Estates Winery Cabernet Franc VQA Niagara Peninsula VQA was the perfect choice to reduce and concentrate.

The deep translucent crimson colour hints at the nose of dark red fruit, cassis and leather. The flavours are lighter on the palate with black cherry and raspberries with an echo of leather from the nose. The balance between the vibrant acidity and forward fruit is bang on. Simply excellent, another stunner from the Ontario 2012 vintage. Go and get some (LCBO link here) before this vintage is no longer available!

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.

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.

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.