Sunday, November 16, 2014

Report from ... Taste of the Season, Niagara-on-the-Lake - November 15, 2014

Being welcomed at Palatine Hills Winery
This year we took the same approach to Taste the Season as we did with the 20 Valley's "Wrapped Up" event ... we picked the pairings that appealed to us, or liked the sound of.  Truth is wine part of the pairing plays second fiddle to the actual food offering.  As I mentioned previously, if you were truly into the wines of the area you have 25 other weekends of the year you could visit wine country - this event is all about the food.

We checked out a dozen Niagara-on-the-Lake wineries as our selections, they were:  Between the Lines, Coyote's  Run, Hinterbrook, Inniskillin, Palatine Hills, Peller Estates, Pondview, Rancourt, Ravine, Konzelmann Niagara Collage and Stratus.  Below are the top 5 food offerings we enjoyed most.

Our Top 5 Wine and Food Pairings ...

pairs a 2009 Merlot with Garlic Teriyaki Oven-Roasted Chicken Wing
- this is one tasty chicken wing, I could have eaten a plate full -
Peller Estates
pairs their totally delicious 2012 Private Reserve Cabernet Franc with
Caramelized Onion Pulled Pork with Roasted Red Pepper and
Feta Compote on a Peppercorn and Shallot Focaccia
- I love pulled pork so this was a no-brainer ... but it was even better than expected -
their signature 2012 Vidal Icewine with
Carmelized Onion Tart with Ontario Goat Cheese and Thyme
- the residual linger after tasting this lasted right till we reached
the next winery; this is that party snack you'd hang out by the tray so
you could get 2nd, 3rds and 4ths ... really tasty, don't miss it

Between the Lines
showing off this delicious and unique 2012 Lemberger with
Venison Goulash, Braised Red Cabbage with Cherries and Buttery Spatzle
- we think they did this before, with tasty success,
but this time it was even better than the last time
Niagara College Teaching Winery
pairs a 3-grape 2012 Dean's List Prodigy Icewine with
Spiced Pumpkin Cheesecake with a Chocolate Crust and Ginger Cream
- well balanced, not too sweet, ended the day off nicely with great bite of dessert -
Alternate 5th ...

Pondview Estate Winery
Another instant classic, 2012 Bella Terra Cabernet Franc, with
5 Bean Chili with Pulled Pork and Ground Beef on an open-faced(?) Mini Ciabatta Bun
- this was on my partner in crime's list (wife); she would have dropped the Chicken Wing
in favour of this Chili on a bun ...  we agreed on the other four
For information on the Taste of the Season event in Niagara-on-the-Lake or to get tickets for the final two weekends check out this link:

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Report from ... Wrapped Up in the Valley - November 1, 2014

It's back, the annual Wrapped Up in the Valley, the Twenty Valley Wineries holiday smorgasbord of food and wine - okay so not as much a smorg as a wine and food pairing extravaganza, where each winery on the passport program tries to tempt your tastebuds with fancy food selections and delectable wines.

As I have said in the past, these events are less about the wine and more about the food, heck if you wanted to go for the wine you have 25 other weekends in the year to do that - so obviously it's the food that is bringing you out.

We (the wife and I) scan through the 24 selections on offer and decide which to visit.  Knowing there are 24 in total you can't do them all properly in the weekend, so you pick one's that appeal to you the most - let's face it, not all selections appeal to everyone so it is best to pick the stuff you think you might like.  

We chose the following 12 to visit:  13th Street Winery, Cave Spring Cellars, Creekside Estate Winery, Flat Rock Cellars, The Good Earth Food & Wine Company, Henry of Pelham, Stoney Ridge Estate Winery, Sue-Ann Staff Estate Winery, Tawse Winery, Vineland Estates Winery, Vieni Wines and & Spirits.

They can't all be winners so below you'll find our top selection in no particular order ...

Starting our day ...
Our Top 5 Selections ...

The Good Earth Wine & Food Company
pairing 2012 Cabernet Franc with
Tuscan White Bean Soup, Tomato and Bacon Mist and Crumbled Frico
"this is definitely something we'll try to make at home"

Vieni Wines & Spirits
2012 Gamay Noir (my own selection) with
Rigatoni alla Buscaiola (wild mushroom and sausage)
"nothing beats homemade pasta and the sauce was very tasty"

Vineland Estates Winery
2012 Chardonnay Musque (seemingly an odd choice) with
Chorizo Sausage, Roasted Garlic Aioli with Pickled Cabbage
and Niagara Gold on a Challah Bun
"the pairing really worked and the bun to filling ratio was perfect"

Sue-Ann Staff Estate Winery
2012 Riesling, Loved by Lu paired with what seems like the usual:
(but always with a twist) Gourmet Grilled Cheese, this year it had
Applewood Smoked Cheddar topped with Momma Staff's Sweet and Savoury Raisin Sauce ...
this seems to be a perrennial thing at Staff's winery, but something new is done every year.
"Momma Staff sure knows how to grill the hell out of a Grilled Cheese, if you're gonna make
a classic you gotta do it right ... and she really does"

Creekside Estate Winery
2011 Laura's Red paired with
Braised Beef and Ermite Blue Cheese Crumbled Tartlet
"plenty of filling and not too much tart - [we'd] have this again"
The event continues through the month of November on both the weekends of the 8 & 9 and 15 & 16 ... you can check out the event and all the details right here and tickets can be purchased here.