Saturday, August 22, 2009

Report from ... Prince Edward County Tour with the Wine Writers Circle of Canada – Day 1 - August 21, 2009

Arrived in style (at 5:00pm), by train, and picked up in a white stretch limo, felt like a rock star as we piled into the back and drove through town; and why not – Prince Edward County is the new “in” place where winemakers, winery owners and chefs mingle and have made PEC the hot bed of culinary activity it is.

The limo took us to Waring House, an incredible inn that I have passed on the highway driving from winery to winery, but never stayed at, now I’m not sure why. I was put up in the new wing (Quaker Lodge) room 202, which was absolutely beautiful and spacious with a sitting room, bed room, and bathroom you could play football in; two televisions (one for each room, but not the bathroom) and a soft, luxurious bed big enough for 6. My understanding is that each room is decorated differently and furnished with the last placed and delivered order by the now defunct Gibbard & Sons furniture company from Napanee, Ontario.

Dinner was scheduled for Clara’s restaurant in the Claramount in, but first it was a hop skip and a jump over to the pub for a quick pint with fellow wine writers David Lawrason and Alan McGinty. David enjoyed the local bitters from Barley Days Brewery, I opted for the dark ale … I had a sampling of both and thought them good, but my leanings this hot afternoon was for something with fuller flavour.

Whisked off by same limo to Clara’s … but first we had a brief meeting with the rest of the wine writers at the water’s edge for a glass of welcome cheer and to watch the sun set, then a brief walk up to the restaurant (100m up hill) to help work up an appetite. Good thing we did, because dinner was an amazing 5 course feast prepared by chef Michael Hoy and his staff, who subscribe to the ‘locavore’ philosophy of the 50-mile diet (kinda like the 100-mile diet, but even closer to home) … the only thing served that was not grown or caught at least 50 miles away were the Niagara peaches for dessert.
Each course was served with wine, after all it was a winemaker’s dinner, and the five winemakers were in attendance – they rotated through each table at dinner, planting themselves at a different table for each course to discuss the County and their particular wine.
First up was the Pan-seared Lake Ontario Pickerel with citrus, sambel olek, fresh cilantro and beurre orange; paired with a Harwood Estate 2007 Gewurztraminer.Next was Pure Springs Rainbow Trout Gravalax with buckwheat blini Hagerman golden beet and sweet herb remoulade; paired with Rosehall Run’s 2007 Chardonnay “Rosehall Vineyard”.
Third on the list was the Flintshire Farms Breast of Guinea Hen with roasted shallots, fresh thyme and Neil Spikes’ fava beans, no nice Chianti served here, instead it was a 2007 Pinot Noir from the Grange of Prince Edward County.

Final main was a Century Game Park Bison with Windatt Cherry Baco Noir Sauce; served with Waupoos Estates 2008 Baco Noir Reserve.For dessert it was Italian Lemon Semi-freddo with ripe Niagara Peach along side Huff Estates 2007 First Frost.

Regular readers know my opinion on the First Frost, but the rousing winner of the food pairing this evening was undoubtedly the Rosehall Run 2007 Chardonnay.

And I can’t fail to mention the lovely hors d’oeuvres we had on the patio to start the evening … sushi rolls, duck confit with homemade pickled ginger and scallion with a mango chutney, and phyllo stuffed with caramelized apples and chevre. Everything was delicious.

Tomorrow it’s up and out early for a trip through the County for some power tasting at various wineries … too bad, I was just starting to get used to my room. (Read Day 2)


Windsortraveller said...

Just drove Windsor/Montreal and Montreal/Windsor on the weekend. Saw one sign (one!) on the 401 about Prince Edward County Wines, and I almost missed it. They need to do better advertising.
Went into the LCBO in Kingston after gassing up and asked them about the 'local' wineries. They had one red and two whites from Prince Edward County, all from the same winery.
Prince Edward County needs to do better advertising!!!

Michael Pinkus - Grape Guy said...

I would say the LCBO needs to bring in more Prince Edward County wine ... heck for that matter more 100% Ontario wine.