Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Report from ... The Wine and Herb Festival 2012, NOTL - May 2012

Last time out we looked at Get Fresh in the Valley - this time we cast our eyes to the other Springtime food and wine extravaganza, the one that set the standard for others to follow for springtime events.  We head a little more east, deep into the heart of the Niagara wine region, into Niagara-on-the-Lake (NOTL), where the now 28 Wineries of NOTL put on their annual Wine & Herb Festival.  I have been going to this event for upwards of 5 years, and each year the stakes seem to rise a little higher: the newbies of the group want to impress right out of the gate (see Stratus in 2009 -, while the old guard continually rises the bar on what they did the previous year.  All-in-all this, along with Taste the Season (also a NOTL presentation) are two of the premier wine and food pairing events in the Niagara region - and sit in my top 5 of annual wine events in Ontario.

This year, for the Wine & Herb, we forewent the numerical scoring - been there done that, and instead used a Good, Better, Best approach - plus gave bonus marks for unique and innovative foods and pairings, and also gave a few thumbs up and thumbs down for such things as "where was the herb" or "I'm making this at home".  This year we were also a little tougher because it wasn't just about the food, the herb had to shine. 

For those who are new to the event, Wine & Herb is a very simple concept: each winery is given an herb to create a unique food offering with , then they must pair it with a wine from their portfolio ... as with Get Fresh, the focus here is really on the food, we know these guys and gals can all make good wine ... the question is: can they prepare a cool bite to go with it?

Slightly over-baked biscotti at Konzelmann
Buddy stands (lies) on guard at Palatine
Palatine's crazy (yet winning) combination: ice cream (?) and Chardonnay (?)

Cannonballs ice cream described
The Ice House pairing pesto pasta with ice wine - daring

Riverview's pairing station - "This tortilla soup's the best thing I've had all day, " said Glen Brown (far right)
Served with the cutesy labelled new Bianco

Reif's outdoor serving station for the Herb de Provence creation
Chateau des Charmes wowed with this lemon verbena scone ... looks simple, tasted awesome. (how does one get the recipe?)

PondView's Cab-Merlot paired with lamb cassoulet: "I want more garlic," cried the masses

No comments: