Starting off with the hors d’oeuvres of pineapple ginger satay chicken and tomatoes & goat cheese tarts with basil while sipping on the first 2006 wine released in the marketplace by an Ontario winery … the 2006 Beamsville Bench Reserve Riesling – crisp acidity with white peach, hints of citrus and minerality on the nose, the sweetness level is a 2 and tastes like white peach with a touch of honey in the mouth.
We moved into the newly renovated barrel cellar for the first course of the evening, which saw the 10 year old 1997 Old Vines Reserve Chardonnay paired up with a pear and fennel soup with blue cheese and walnut oil drizzle – the combination was sublime; a sweetish soup paired with an older chardonnay that had apple, pear, almond, hazelnut and asparagus on the nose – following through with the same on the taste and a longggggg finish. There are precious few of these bottles remaining – so if you’re a fan of older Chardonnay, now’s the time to be opening this one (or begging Stoney Ridge to sell you one). The wine and soup paired like nothing I have had before, and worst of all, nobody would give me the recipe.
Moving onto the pork tenderloin with bacon mustard cream, which was served alongside the 2004 Reserve Merlot. Now Ontario Merlots are a difficult pairing, especially when young – because Ontario Merlot takes a good 5 years to truly mature into a suitable drinking wine … but this one is coming around nicely – a spicy character with blue and black berries and some cassis, cedar and vanilla on the nose. The taste was black raspberry, vanilla and a cedary finish. The pairing worked …hats off to Liubomir for this risky move that paid off … or should I be thanking chef Rob Trout for the excellent food that probably would have gone well with an over-the-hill Pinot Grigio served in an old boot (thankfully we had the benefit of Stoney Ridge’s excellent wines served in etched stemware instead).
Ending our meal was the 2005 Igloo – a late harvest Cabernet Franc that has been barrel fermented and aged. Candied strawberry nose with a little tartness on the taste; it went well with the Strawberry mousse in brandy snaps with strawberry and thyme compote. Not an inventive or earth shattering pairing strawberry with strawberry, but sometimes simplicity makes sense, especially after the first two wines went so well – no sense risking the possibility of a busted dessert pairing. Stoney Ridge, and Liubomir, proved once again the longevity of their wines and the knack they have for pairing them with good food.
Starting with the 2005 Reserve Chardonnay … made with a shot of Chardonnay Musque for added complexity. 18 months in oak has treated this wine well with vanilla and pineapple on the nose along with other tropical fruit nuances … soft in the mouth, this wine really tastes wonderful now but has the potential to age a further 5-plus years. If it has the legs of the 1997, in ten years dinner guests will be blown away by its majesty. The medium-long finish really stays with you both in the mouth and in your memory.
Next up, the 2005 Founder’s Reserve Pinot Noir was truly something to experience. Not often do you get this kind of deep colour in Pinot, but ruby red was the colour of the day for this one. A red fruit nose and taste with hints of oak and dusty cocoa like tannins. This is a limited soon-to-be-released wine that was made using one (yes I said ONE), French oak barrel – that’s it … we’re talking 25 cases of this superb wine is available … and the ageing potential on this one’ll be 10 years-plus easy, and considering the speed last year’s version sold out, you’d be wise to place your order for a bottle or two now.
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