Monday, January 17, 2011

Report from ... The Icewine Gala - Friday January 14, 2011

One of the organizers of the event approached me and asked, "So how are we doing?  Are you gonna say nice things?"

Have I got that kind of reputation, as a hatchet man?  I only hatchet things that deserve to be hatcheted ... and here at the Icewine Gala, held at Casino Niagara, in the Grand Hall (where Cuvee is also held), there's no reason to pan anything, it's a beautifully set up, organized and carried out event.  If I had to make one complaint, because that seems to be what everybody is waiting for (so I will get it out of the way immediately), the glassware used for the event was some of the crappiest stuff I have ever seen wine poured into (especially for icewine) - and my sentiments were echoed from a number of sources.  The glasses were the chunky old style Chardonnay glass with the big bulbous bowl (see similar glass at right), truthfully I don't think a worse glass could have been chosen for the event, heck a regular old ISO would have been just fine, and you all know my feelings on the ISO glass.

But let's not dwell on the negative and focus on the positive aspects of the evening, of which there were many.  The room was stunningly laid out with ice sculptures everywhere.  Upon entering you were faced with an ice curtain that continued to drip all night - it was truly something to behold.

The winery personnel seem to enjoy getting out of their work-a-day clothing and slip into something more formal, it was hard to recognize a few of them.  The men had on their "Sunday Best" (dark suits and ties), while the ladies had on elegant evening wear.  Their was even some oriental flare on this evening as both Lydia Tomek (winemaker for Hernder) and Paul Lizak (owner of Legend) had on their respective Japanese and Chinese formal pieces (neither knew the other was going to wear their Asian attire).  Seeing them talking together was like stepping into another dimension.

The other formal 'gala', held in Niagara, is Cuvee (March), the difference is that at Cuvee restaurants take over the food service duties, here at the Icewine Gala the Casino is in charge of feeding the masses, and from the looks on the faces and the plates piled high the food was not an issue.

In the left hand corner of the room (as you walked through the main door) you found what Icewine is all about, sweets.  The sweets buffet was piled 5 levels high with everything from chocolates to cupcakes, and everything in between.  Chocolate covered strawberries shared space with fruit parfaits and white chocolate squares.  You name your sweet toothed poison and it was somewhere on these shelves.

The word for the night was "elegance" and the room was a-buzz with it, and also the accomplishment of breaking a Guinness World Record earlier in the day:  A 44L glass was filled with  25L of Icewine, shattering the record previously held by the Italians (who filled a 16.5L glass with sparkling wine).  One of the highlights of the night was getting your picture taken with the still filled Record Breaking piece of stemware.

One question that was asked of me that I could not answer was, "why did they not fill up the rest of the glass".  As the weekend rolled on it was brought to my attention that the record was for the glass itself, not necessarily for what it was filled with ... maybe someone would like to enlighten us about this (?) - I await the official Guinness pronouncement.  But the good news in all this is that is was broken here in Niagara. 

As for the other question, "So how are we doing?", posed to me earlier in the evening, I would have to say, "You're doing better than alright.  In fact, you're doing elegantly darling"  As for the person who asked, I forgot to mention, (in my best Hannibal Lecter impression) "Clarice, love the dress". (there was no better hatchet man than the good doctor).

Friday, January 14, 2011

Report from ... Ontario Breaks a Record - Friday January 14, 2011

It seems like it would be a foregone conclusion, but we still had to go through the motions.  Today at Casino Niagara, Ontario wineries broke an old Italian record of 16.5 L of booze in a flute, the Italians used sparkling wine, we here in Ontario did it using icewine.  In the words of host (and owner of Flat Rock Cellars) Ed Madronich, we are gathered to “smash the record” as 18L of mostly Vidal icewine was poured into a 44 liter glass (styled after the original icewine glass developed by Riedel.  A cheer rose from the crowd as pioneers of both icewine and the Ontario wine scene, Karl Kaiser and Donald Ziraldo, poured the last two bottles into the flute.  The representative from Guinness then stood up to make the announcement and present the plaque to Ed.  Done deal.

If I picture is worth 1000 words I give you 8000 words about the event:

Glass Covered
Ed welcomes everyone
Glass unveiled
The First Two: Ed Madronich & Allan Schmidt
Halfway there
Two away from the finish line
Donald & Karl pour the last drops
Proclamation of the record - We Did It!