Niagara Ice Wine Festival
Niagara Ice Wine Festival Reviews
Niagara Ice Wine Festival---Many Thumbs Up! Jan 28, 2015
I always find time to enjoy the Niagara Wine Festival in late summer but have never taken time out to browse the venues of the Niagara Ice Wine Festival in January. That could mainly be attributed to the fact that I usually run away screaming to a warmer climate and miss the festival altogether, but this year I stayed home.
The Festival takes place over the last three weekends in January and this year had 36 participating wineries, 19 of them were located along the wine route in Niagara-On-The-Lake and the rest were located along the wine route beginning in West St. Catharines and extending into Grimsby. We chose the latter part of the route as it is closest to our home. During our winery visits we encountered a couple from Orlando Florida who travel north every winter just to partake in this festival. I was aware that Niagara Region received many visitors from the US for the fall festival but didn't realize people traveled up from the south in winter to enjoy the Ice Wine Festival. I am glad word is getting out as the region produces quality wines and the growth is helping to employ locals.
We bought the Discovery Pass for $40 which entitled us to 8 food and wine pairings. Our least favourite was Creekside Winery. The wine was delicious but we didn't eat our food pairing because the lady that served the food licked her fingers and then touched our food when she garnished it. The pairing was Pork Belly braised in Cabernet Sauvignon Ice Wine with Winter Vegetable Slaw served with a sparkling wine.
Our next visit was to 13th Street Winery and was our favourite. The tasting was in a beautiful room with windows on three sides and featured artwork by local artists. The pairings were Pulled Beef Short Ribs and Corned Bread served with a Gamay Noir. The dish was exceptionally flavoured and paired perfectly with the wine.
Another hit was Flat Rock Cellars which paired Smokey Beef Chilli with Zesty Lime Sour Cream and a Pinot Noir.
Hernder Estate Winery offered up Butternut Squash Soup with Apple along with their Vidal Ice Wine. The Ice Wine was absolutely delicious however we were not fans of the soup. It was like a hot soupy applesauce with squash and ginger as apposed to squash soup with apple. It was far too sweet to be considered a savory soup dish.
Sue-Ann Staff Estate Winery was very interesting. When we pulled up, a huge gorgeous dog ran up to greet us. We weren't startled by this as we figured if the dog was loose on a day when many people would be visiting then it was likely a friendly creature, it only added to the charm of the place. The tasting occurred right in Sue-Ann's home. General wine tastings and sales took place right in her kitchen and the food and wine pairing took place in her dining room. She paired delicious syrupy Vidal Ice Wine with various chocolate of our choice. My chocolate was topped with peanut butter and pop rocks, I loved it!!! What an interesting combination of textures and tastes. We were stunned to find out that the ice wine was only $25 per bottle. Many of the Vidal ice wine we have tasted costs double that figure and more, we of course bought two.
Vineland Estates Winery paired Slow Braised Short Rib Cassoulet with Ice Wine Creme Fraiche and Cookstown Radish Slaw served with a Cabernet Merlot. Once again the wine was without fault but the food fell short of our expectations. The winery must have underestimated the amount of visitors it would have as the beans in the Short Rib Cassoulet were hard and was served without the creme fraiche ice wine and radish slaw.
Tawse Winery offered two tastings. The first was a sparkling wine served with a rosemary/blue cheese shortbread and the second was a Reisling Ice wine served with a candied lemon shortbread. Both were winning combinations.
Megalomaniac Winery did something different than all the other Wineries. They offered 4 tastings of cocktails made with Ice wine. The first was a Cabernet Sauvignon ice wine mixed with sparkling wine. The second, I can't recall, but the third was lemon-cello and Vidal ice wine, which was scrumptious. The last, and my most favourite, was the Cabernet Sauvignon ice wine mixed with Creme de Cacao, it was like cake in a glass! The Cabernet Sauvignon ice wine was $35 a bottle compared to other wineries where one may see it sold from $65 to $85 per bottle.
Because ice wine is so sweet, a small amount goes along way. It is very expensive because of the weather conditions it takes in order to harvest the grapes and the fact that the grapes must be pressed before they thaw, as a result only a scant amount of sweet concentrated juice from each grape is used. To make the wine we need a temperature of at least three consecutive nights at -11 C before the grapes can be harvested. Here in Niagara there is a chance that the ice wine harvest could be lost if these conditions are not met. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ice_wine
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