After a brief transplantation to Lansdowne Park, the Wine and Food Show (er, Festival, if you please) was finally back home. Mind you, that "home" had a massive renovation over the last few years, transforming itself into the classy Ottawa Convention Centre, complete with its curvaceous, Gehry-esque glassed façade overlooking the Rideau Canal. But it was home nonetheless. And I was ready to get my wine on.
I was immediately impressed by the number of Ontario wineries taking part. I don't think I've seen that many at the show before; the "locals" totally dominated the main hall. A sure sign that people are finally giving our own winemakers and growers a chance to prove just how good Ontario wine can be. Here's a review of some of my favourites:
2011 seems to have been the year for new wineries, some of them mere weeks old. My first glass was a dry-style rosé from Lighthall Vineyards. It opened up in May, just around the corner from Long Dog in the southern reaches of Prince Edward County. The label bears the stylized image of a luna moth that serendipitously landed on the winery's front door in its early days. A good omen? The wine itself was tart and crisp, with subtle cherry notes and a flinty finish.
Between the Lines is, as the name suggests, smack dab between line roads 5 and 6 in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Both the gewurz and pinot noir were well-crafted; the pinot had a distinctive nose of mushroomy soil and blackberries followed by moderate tannins and an earthy sweetness.
I've been following the tweets pouring forth from Good Earth Food and Wine Co, but haven't yet had a chance to try their products. A foodie haven first and foremost, Good Earth has evolved to offer full-on food and wine experiences to visitors. Can't wait to go next summer.Their 2009 chardonnay spent about 10 months on new French oak, giving it just the slightest creamy/buttery feel without going overboard. Had a solid seam of acidity, wonderful spice and gushing pineapple on the finish.
Stoney Ridge had both of their "Simply" wines at the show; I opted for the red blend to go with the bison tartare (Wakefield Mill) I was noshing on. Heavy on the cabernet franc, which almost turned me off the wine altogether, but it came through with good structure and balanced tannins.
Bumped into the fine folks from Colaneri again, having met them at last year's Tasting Alley and the Savvy NOTL event in June. This time around, I sampled the Cavallone 2010 Pinot Grigio, done in an appassimento style. Definitely meant for food pairing rather than sipping, this was a hefty version of the usual light-and-casual 'grigio. Smokey, rich, honeyed, with a slippery mouth feel and a long, spicy pear-lychee finish.
Kacaba's 2008 Barrel-Fermented Chardonnay won gold at the show, and after some hesitation, I found out why. This was a stellar example of perfect balance: a hint of oak and nuances of butter stood in the background, allowing the full range of the varietal's characteristics to shine through. Must get some of this for the cellar.
And oh, the food. But more on that later ...