One of the best parts of living in Ontario’s Wine Country is when you are still seeing the grapes frozen, wrapped up in their nettings in the vineyards.
Let’s face it, there is no arguing when dealing with Mother Nature as she plays the largest role when it comes to harvesting the grapes for Ontario Icewine. These grapes will stay wrapped up on their vines until the temperatures reach -8C or lower. The very first Ontario Icewine vintage was back in 1984 from Inniskillin Estate Winery. (just a little bit of added history)
Niagara on the Lake's Icewine Village was held on the historic Queen Street in historical Niagara-on-the-Lake. The street was closed to traffic and was filled with vendors serving many different vintage icewines and food. Keep in mind, the longer you can age your icewine properly, the taste will totally change. We thought we would try a few icewines that we have never tasted before, besides the most well known varietal of Vidal. Our first stop was at Diamond Estates Winery, as they were pouring a 2013 Syrah Icewine and let us tell you - "It was amazing!".
We think one of the most intriguing icewines came from Pillitteri Estate Winery. Sarah was pouring the oldest vintage Icewine at the festival, being a 2002 Gewürztraminer. The color had changed to a nice creamy golden color. The flavors were still very much alive and vibrant. Right next was another Sarah, energetic, fun and full of information, pouring a Reif Estates Winery 2011 Grand Reserve Riesling Icewine that was so delicious.
One of the other more interesting icewines we got to try came from Stratus Estate Winery. They were pouring their 2013 Stratus White Icewine. After sampling it, we had to find out why this icewine tasted so unique compared to many of the other varietals that we have sampled throughout the years. Theirs was a blend of Viognier and Semillon, and we were shocked that the alcohol content was 14.3%. We don’t think we have ever tasted such a full-bodied icewine like this before. Generally icewines are not strong in alcohol, but very high in their sugar levels. This blend was unique to us and very enjoyable.
Still searching for something unique, we went over to Riverview Cellars Estate Winery. They were pouring their 2014 Cabernet Franc Icewine. And if you’ve been following The Wine Boys, you know that we do enjoy our Cabernet Franc’s. (Perhaps the next pet will be named "Franc"... but I think someone has the mind set on "Bubbles" - just having a hard time thinking of being outside and calling for a dog named Bubbles...).
For Food tastings we did the following:
Trius Winery Restaurant's Pulled Pork with Peanuts, Chilies and Celeriac Slaw. This had a beautiful mix of flavour and almost had me wanting a second, but refrained and moved to the next tasting.
Icewine Chicken Paprikash - Yorkshire Valley Chicken, roasted red peppers, Hungarian sweet paprika, Icewine Spaetzle - this sampling was brought to us from Peller Restaurant and it was delicious and also a shocker because it has the consistency of a stew... and the 'Picky' one of us, LOVED IT!!
Some of the other's that were great as well were Oban Inn's Tamworth Pork Belly & Shoulder with Chinese 5 Spice, Housemade pickles and a 10 Chili Rocket Sauce on grilled Naan Bread. Niagara's Finest Thai's Tom Yum Soup with Chicken - this has put Niagara's Finest Thai on the top of our MUST VISIT for a full meal.
To end our tastings, and we actually did a double order of this one... (darn sweet tooth) The Cannery Restaurant of Pillar and Post did up some Granny Smith Apple Fritters with drizzled warm caramel sauced. These were light, flavourful and just the best way to wash down all the icewine. YUMMY!!
Thank you to Andrew, and The Wineries of Niagara on the Lake for the opportunity to attend this event. This has to be the busiest January for The Wine Boys, so much to do and see in Niagara. We're doing a lot of 'firsts' this year so stay tuned for more of our adventures.
Did you attend this festival? What did you think? What were your favourites?
Til next time, have a great day and great wine!