Saturday, September 10, 2011

Crossing it off the bucket list: Niagara winery tour, and my challenge to you to share your favourite local wine!

Saturday, September 10, 2011
Hang onto your hats, folks - Ontario does so much more than just icewine!

This past week I had the good fortune of experiencing my first-ever wine tour as part of LCBO's goLOCAL month, which runs from Sept. 11 to Oct. 8. The fact that it was my first wine tour, might I add, elicited gasps from my foodie friends. ;) Needless to say, and 8:30 am be damned, I think I was definitely the most excited person there! There I was, in all my nerdy glory, tweeting all the new tidbits of knowledge I was picking up, and I found three new favourite local wines to boot!

We took our own private VIA Rail train on the way up, which I loved (I love trains! Such a fun way to travel) and had a pretty tasty breakfast of oranges and grapefruit, orange juice, and a bacon quiche served with grilled sausage, Lyonnaise potatoes and scorched tomatoes - not bad for train food at all, I quite enjoyed it. We first visited Hillebrand Estates Winery (where we drank Trius, Vineland Estates and Peller Estates wines); then proceeded to Creekside Winery (for a food truck lunch courtesy of El Gastronomo Vagabundo and Gorilla Cheese, paired with Creekside Winery wines); and our last stop was Angel's Gate Winery (which *might* just be the most beautiful place on earth - you can see Toronto from across the water, and the building itself looks like a beautiful old church to me). There we tried wines from Angel's Gate obviously, as well as a couple of Dan Aykroyd's wines from Diamond Estates (no, he was not there!) and Henry of Pelham.

My favourite wines (most-favourite from top to bottom) were definitely:

2010 Trius Sauvignon Blanc
2010 Henry of Pelham Riesling
2008 Creekside Estate Winery Shiraz

And now it's time for some nerdy wine observations, facts and figures I learned along the way:

  • What struck me instantly is how supportive the winemakers are of eachother. It really seems like a beautiful community to be part of.
  • I also learned a lot about the terroir and geography of the region. I had no idea that the reason why bench regions are so good for grape growing is because they often are on a slant, meaning water drains away from the vines (which is good as they don't need a ton of water).
  • I also didn't know that most of the bench regions and the other areas suitable for grape growing in and around Niagara have already been fully planted, so it's unlikely there will be much more planting there.
  • Wine Country Ontario is between 41° and 44° North, which is the same latitude shared by Burgundy and many other cool climate wine regions of Europe.
  • Wines from cooler climates tend to be more aromatic, lighter in body and higher in acidity than those from warmer climates.
  • Core red varietals in Ontario are Baco Noir, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Gamay Noir.
  • Core white varietals in Ontario are Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Vidal Blanc, Gewurtztraminer, and Chardonnay.

Now get out there and find your favourite local wine OR if you already have a local favourite wine, share it with me, I'd love to try it so flip me your suggestions!

Yours in food,



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