Monday, March 3, 2008

Report from: Cuvee 2008 Gala - February 29, 2008

What a day, the snow began falling at about 2pm in Toronto and I didn’t hit the road till 3. It was a nightmare of a drive, who would have thought that 5cm of snow at the end of February in Toronto, Canada would cause so much havoc … by this time of year we should be used to it and be driving according to the conditions; but every turn I made was wrong and when I thought I was in the clear, a new accident would happen just a few clicks up the road – so it was back to dipsy-doodling through back routes to try and avoid it. 5 hours later I was in Niagara Falls – and an hour later I found myself in the Great Hall of the Fallsview Casino enjoying the festivities. In truth it took me about half-an-hour to get my bearings and feel like I wasn’t climbing the walls of my car anymore (5 hours to go 130km I enough to make you go stir-crazy) – and by the time I was feeling better the evening was over.

When all the dust in my head had settled I learned that Creekside had won 3 awards (four if you count the Mike Weir wine); Hillebrand took 3; the Peller Group of Wineries (Thirty Bench, Peller and Hillebrand) had walked away with 6. An upstart (Cattail Creek) had wowed all with their Limited Edition Sweet Wine Award, Cave Spring took home two (a red and a white) and Hernder had re-won best Merlot, with the same exact wine they won it with last year (Is that fair? Can they do that? You decide) - It has now been brought to my attention that this was a mistake on the part of Cuvee - as it turns out, nobody won best Merlot and the previous winner (Hernder) was not removed from the program before it went to print.

Featherstone, (usually closed from late December to April) had to open on the weekend due to a win for their ’07 Gewurztraminer. Reif pulled off a coup by winning for their Vidal Icewine second year in a row (no controversy here – it was a different wine from previous year, same style). Other winners included Jackson-Triggs, Niagara College and Pelee Island.

Somebody commented to me that there would be a great article in the fashion of the night … men are hard to criticize in suits and tuxedoes (nobody came in Bermuda shorts or ripped jeans), so of course I refer to what the women were wearing; but I’m no Mr. Blackwell and fashion isn’t my game (though I did find myself being catty with fellow people-watchers like I am during the Academy Awards – “What on earth is she wearing?” – no wonder Cuvee is called the Oscars of the Ontario wine scene). So, in this article, I’ll make little mention of the paperbag princess, the age-inappropriate micro-mini, or the lady (ladies) in red that caused quite a stir. Afterall, Cuvee is about the wine, the real story is how it got here, not who brought it. See you all next year.

Cuvee 2008 Winners:

Red Wine: Thirty Bench Wine Makers 2005 Benchmark Red
Limited Edition Red: Creekside Estate 2004 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
White Wine: Cave Spring Cellars 2006 Gewurztraminer
Limited Edition White: Featherstone Winery 2007 Gewurztraminer
General List Red: Hillebrand Winery 2005 Artist Series Meritage
General List White: Hillebrand Winery 2006 Trius Riesling
Sparkling Wine: Peller Estates Ice Cuvee Rosé
Sweet Wine: Reif Estate 2005 Vidal Icewine
Limited Edition Sweet Wine: Cattail Creek Estate 2006 Barrel Fermented Vidal Icewine
Meritage: Creekside Estate 2004 Reserve Meritage
Cabernet Sauvignon: Pelee Island 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon (Vinedressers)
Cabernet Franc: Cave Spring Cellars 2005 Estate Cabernet Franc
Merlot: Hernder Estates 2004 Merlot
Syrah/Shiraz: Creekside Estate 2005 Broken Press Shiraz
Red Assemblage: Mike Weir Estate 2005 Cabernet Shiraz
Riesling: Thirty Bench Wine Makers 2006 “Triangle Vineyard” Riesling
Sauvignon Blanc: Jackson-Triggs 2006 PGR White Meritage
Chardonnay: Niagara College Teaching Winery 2006 Barrel Fermented
White Assemblage: Hillebrand Winery 2006 Trius White

Red indicates one of my top 10 predictions – see report from Cuvee Media Tasting
Pink indicates one of my top 20 predictions – see same report.
Click on wines in blue to read my review at

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