Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Report from ... Hillebrand Jazz Festival - July 11, 2009

For the second year in a row, after eighteen years without, Hillebrand was looking down the barrel of a rainstorm on jazz day. The morning arrived with cloudy skies, which opened wide at about 9:00 AM and dumped the wet stuff on Niagara for more than an hour; even worse, the forecast called for it to continue all day. Contingency plans were made and even the idea of what to do if they had to (God forbid) cancel, was floated as a last resort, mostly because there was lightning in the forecast, and nobody wants to be onstage attached to an electrical instrument when the lightning strikes. Thankfully none of that came to fruition because the skies cleared, for the most part (there was still a few sprinkles interspersed during the show) and the festival went on without a hitch.

Up in the winemakers tower sixteen folks including myself, my fiancĂ© Erica, Darryl Brooker (winemaker), his wife, the godfather of Canadian wine writing Tony Aspler, his wife, Master Sommelier John Szabo plus wife and child, Rod Phillips from Ottawa and others, all sat and enjoyed a lovely lunch prepared by chef Frank Dodd and his staff while listening to the sounds of (amongst others) Joe Sealy and the Shuffle Demons (who brought even us in the tower to our feet as they stole the show). Highlights of the lunch were "Wellington" County beef rib eye, wild salmon and herbs, Ted's Arctic char and a chilled sweet pea soup with smoked bacon ice cream (I couldn’t have made that one up even if I had tried). It was truly a lovely afternoon. Of course, no afternoon spent at a winery is complete without wine, and many were poured, not just with lunch, but also as aperitif and sneak peak at the new wines coming out from Hillebrand. My top five are below (some of which I have reviewed before):

1 - 2008 Showcase Ghost Creek Vineyard Riesling - $25.00 (*****)
2 - 2007 Trius Red - $21.95 (*****)
3 - 2008 Artists Series Limited Edition Sauvignon Blanc - $16.95 (****½)
4 - 2008 Trius Unoaked Chardonnay - $14.25 (****½)
5 – 2008 Trius Cabernet Franc - $15.25 (****)

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