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Niagara Icewine Festival

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Niagara on the Lake saw a weekend full of tourists seeking the liquid gold that is the town’s claim to fame.  Icewine Village overtook Queen Street with the wineries of Niagara on the Lake showcasing a dessert wine from their portfolio and restaurants serving up decadent bites for the hungry masses. As Queen Street was alive with the foot traffic of wine tourists, the benefits of this festival were apparent.  Shops were crowded with bustling with visitors, and restaurants saw hungry travellers indulging and enjoying some time out of the cold.

On our journey through Icewine Village I had the opportunity to do some indulging myself. Here is a look at what I tasted along the way!

Our first stop was Stratus to taste their 2008 Semillon Icewine. Unique flavours abound with notes of candied citrus fruit, honeysuckle and compote tree fruit comprising a very full tropical dominant body. Acidity mixes with a punch of pineapple in the mid-palate making this Icewine a definite winner!

We made a pit stop at Ravine’s bistro location to indulge in the fanciest pork and beans I have ever tasted. Sweet and savoury with sausage in a thick and delicious sauce that was packed with white kidney beans. The perfect food to warm you from the inside on a cold winter day!

After a nibble, more Icewine was on the agenda and a stop at the Niagara College Teaching Winery’s booth was in order to continue our compelling adventures in the glass. We tasted their Savant, an Icewine comprised of five red varietals: Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Merlot and Syrah. This results in a compelling flavour profile that is unique and interesting and definitely a must-try on a tour through wine country. Bright berry on the nose is matched with unlikely complimentary notes of pear and apple… tree fruit in a red Icewine! It has a beautiful mouthfeel and the colour in the glass is inviting, warm, and just as incredible as the flavours that follow!

Another nibble crafted by the talented team at Stone Road Grille was a Thai squash soup with a shrimp hidden in the bottom of the cup! A beautiful warmth-inducing treat that had unique flavours with a hint of greens and a light spice that packed a needed punch!

Next up on the tasting agenda was a Cabernet Franc Icewine from Peller Estates, one of Niagara’s largest and most well-known wineries. This Icewine was exactly as you would expect… simply divine! Bright berry flavours danced across the palate with raspberry and cherry sticking around for a long and satisfying finish. I can just imagine this wine paired with a blue vein cheese, or for the culinarily creative –  a blue cheese cake. Just thinking about it has my mouth watering!

After all of this Icewine, you’d wonder how a girl could sip on more… but for the sake of educating your palates, I persevered. Next up was a Riesling Icewine from Ravine, and oh my, what a wine it was! A lighter Icewine than the others discussed, this wine danced across the palate quickly, and while not thick (and pleasantly so), it definitely delivered on flavour. Bright green apple, sweet candied lemon, acidity aplenty and a finish that lingers and leaves you wanting more. Bravo!

Finally, we completed our Village visit with a Cabernet Franc Icewine matched with the Chocolate Salted Caramel Tart by Epicurean. The wine delivered classic Cabernet Franc flavour, and was the perfect opportunity to taste yet another wine from the recently opened Hinterbrook’s impressive portfolio. Chocolate and Cabernet Franc Icewine is a pairing sent by the gods, and this tart was the ideal companion to create a perfectly sweet treat!

In short, an exceptional experience was had on Queen Street in Niagara on the Lake! The Icewine Festival continues next weekend with the passport program, which promises to continue the celebration of the finest fruit of Niagara’s bounty! Sante!

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The Author

Allie Hughes is the wine and culinary contributor to Naturally in Niagara, feasting on the decadent experience that is life in this region. With a fine wine sensibility honed at the International Sommelier Guild, Allie is taking the journey of Niagara by the glass with you with each new taste. Allie is also the creative mind behind the marketing of the Canadian Food and Wine Institute, and owner of Hughes & Co., a boutique social strategy firm.

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