Sunday, January 20, 2008

London Wine & Food Show – January 19, 2008

In speaking with an attending winery owner/winemaker, about this year’s London Wine and Food Show, he said, “Good show on the weekend - possibly one of the best that I have been involved with in the past few years.” That’s pretty high praise for a show in its 3rd year – but well deserved praise indeed. Over 90 exhibitors packed into the spacious Western Fair Progress Building – and although attendance doubled this year, according to organizers, it still felt like you could move around from booth to booth without the squeeze of, say, the Gourmet (Toronto) or Ottawa shows. And the array of attendees is amazing: consider that London is the half-way point between Toronto and Windsor and you get the best of both worlds meeting right here in the middle: Niagara wineries, Lake Erie North Shore wineries, Toronto breweries – local breweries and fruit wineries galore (there are easily half a dozen within a 45 minute drive of London).

Of course, anyone who has been to a wine show knows its not all about wine which is why they tack on the food part ... the local flair of London’s thriving food scene is on full display – from one of my favourite Mexican restaurants (Under the Volcano) to a new favourite place for spring rolls (the vegetarian restaurant, Zen Garden); the booth where I learned all about soy beans last year (Bean Ladies), to the ladies making purple shirts from grape juice (Original Grape Shirt Company); even last year’s best lasagna presenters were there showing off a new delicacy from their tea room. There were also travel services and tourism boards. They were all there; smiles at the ready for a grand old time – and they got one. And the capper was the Grape Guy (yours truly) who spoke to an over-packed house on the Saturday night … sorry to have gone overtime folks … but we all enjoyed an over-abundance of great wines.

Next year around this time, let me give you a piece of friendly and helpful advice - think about packing your bags and heading off to London (if you live in London or an hour away, lucky you) to take in the show of shows – “the best that I have been involved with in the past few years” my winemaker friend said – and as the old saying goes – he’s just said a mouthful.

New Discovery (food) …

Zen Gardens spring rolls … these little suckers sustained me throughout the day. I just love a good spring roll – or is it the plum sauce?

New Discovery (wine) …

Stop the presses and run out to you nearest LCBO for a bottle of La Puerta 2007 Shiraz ($8.35 - #614636) from Argentina – this smooth drinking dark chocolate, black fruit with a touch of spice wine is ready to go right now and at a price you should be buying by the case. Now here’s a little tip – price goes up by a dollar in February so stock up now. Look for the La Puerta 2005 Bonarda Reserva coming to Vintages August 8, 2008, a $13.95 value that taste more like it should be $25 … smooth, slightly sweet tasting with a good dry finish – spicy with just a touch of black fruit – yum.

Old Favourite Making New Friends …

Rush Creek Winery’s Decadence (strawberry chocolate wine) – was the last wine I poured during my seminar and was a huge hit around the room. If you haven’t tried this one you owe it to yourself to buy a few bottles – only available at the winery, but it’s worth the drive to Aylmer for this $10 miracle of modern winemaking. Could very well be the best chocolate infused wine Ontario makes. And if you’re making the trip check out Rush Creek’s new Ebony (black currant dry table wine) – awesome.

Other Wines of Note …

Oracle 2007 Shiraz ($10.90 - #36772 – South Africa) – the black fruit, raspberry, and licorice nose is followed by chocolate, red berry and a vanilla finish in the mouth.

Fat Bastard 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon ($14.90 - #28506 – France) – the newest edition to the bastard series (Nov. 2007 release) is a red fruit dominated easy sipper.

Rubesco ($13.85 - #41947 – Italy) – a light fruity red with a touch of cedar and not overly tannic … quite quaffable even.

Ontario Wines …

Look for the Sprucewood 2005 Meritage ($25.00) and the Aleksander 2006 Riesling ($12.95) reviewed in full on the OntarioWineReview website.

1 comment:

wino-fred said...

The London Show sounds wonderful. It's just the time of year. Driving to London in January sounds risky. Maybe next year we'll pack a bag, as you suggest, that way if the weather turns bad, we'll be prepared.