I think the highlight of my Oscar night (aside from the amount of bling dripping from the necks, ears and gowns of all the celebrities) was the F-bomb dropped in a moment of flustered monologuing by Melissa Leo. And if it hadn't been a school night, I think I would have cracked open a sparkler for the occasion.
But that's not the Oscar I'm referring to. I'm talking about the "Oscars" of the wine industry that are going on this weekend. Cuvee 2011, at the Fallsview Casino in Niagara Falls. I've never been, and I'd so love to go. Black ties, ballgowns, and a whole lotta wine. And food. And winemakers hobnobbing with celebrities. Doesn't that sound glam??
I've read different reviews about Cuvee. Some consider it a sham - that the wines chosen are hardly up to snuff in terms of representing the "best of the best". That it's elitist, limiting participation to wineries of the Niagara region. Others see it simply as a nice night out, a social gathering-slash-fundraiser no different from other shin-digs held in support of various philanthropic endeavours (this one is for the Niagara Community Foundation.)
Whatever the case may be, the line-up for Cuvee is impressive. If you're going, and the wines I've listed below are available, do indulge. Not the best of the best? Whatever. Just more proof that wine is an entirely subjective experience.
Chateau des Charmes 2007 Paul Bosc Estate Equuleus - Easily has 10-15 years of aging potential; this is a serious, muscular Clydesdale of a Bordeaux-style blend. Heavy on the peppercorn, green pepper, tobacco and tannin/acid presence. It goes for $40 a bottle, so be prepared to pony up the cash for this stunning wine.
Reif Estate Winery 2007 Meritage - Where most meritages are thick, beefy affairs, this one is approachable and fun. Full, ripe red fruit, plush mouthfeel, light-to-medium body, well balanced.
Reif Estate WInery 2007 First Growth Cabernet Sauvignon - Coffee, leather, tobacco on the nose. Jammy, juicy and warm on the palate, with firm tannins and a long, sweet-cherry finish.
(Keep an eye out for Reif's '07 cab merlot in May's LCBO/Vintages Classics catalogue. And look for "The Magician", the second instalment after The Fool in their tarot-inspired line of wines. This new one is going to be a pinot-shiraz blend.)
Nyarai 2009 Sauvignon Blanc - Classic! So good the LCBO wants it, even though there are only 30 cases left. Everything a sauv blanc should be, from the zingy acidity to the gooseberries.
Nyarai 2007 Veritas - Red blend of cab franc, merlot, syrah and cab sauv. Robust nose of campfire smoke, roses and cherry liquor, with a decadent chocolate-y finish tinged with earthy herbal notes.
Cave Spring Cellars NV Blanc de Noirs Sparkling Wine - Ever since Gloria got me hooked on this stuff, I've been trying to find one that's easier to get at (and hopefully less expensive). This has a pretty nose of flowers, pears, peach and the traditional yeast. It's off-dry, with lots of tight bubbles and a smooth, sweet finish.
Fielding Estate Winery 2009 White Conception - A stunning pinot gris-based blend that is both elegant and spirited at the same time. Fresh, clean, crisp; fragrant without being cloying, and zesty on the finish.
Norman Hardie 2009 Cabernet Franc - Finally, a franc that tastes RIPE! Lots of red fruit, plums, violets; juicy, well balanced. Hint of sweetness, still keeping with the somewhat assertive nature of the grape, but in a much more pleasant and friendly way. (I realize this is a PEC winery that won't be featured at Cuvee, but it's rare for me to find an Ontario-made franc that doesn't turn my face inside out with its green-ness.)