My glass of bubbly for a pair of rubber boots. The mud and gravel in the parking lot of the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum just begged for it. But there I was in heels. Good thing the rest of the tasting was being held inside.
As I walked through the yard at Ottawa's Central Experimental Farm, I took a deep whiff. Wet straw, damp barn, sodden earth and undergrowth. Yup, smelled like a good pinot.
The overhauled museum couldn't have been a better choice for Savvy Company's third running of County in the City. I missed last year's sold-out show and hadn't been to "the Farm" with the kids in a long while. So I was totally blown away by the striking modernity of the new Learning Centre, with its mash-up of raw materials and flowing open-concept interior. I kept tugging on strangers' sleeves and squealing "Isn't this AWESOME?"
Both floors of the Centre were packed to their exposed beams with chatter, jazz, the clinking of glassware and, every so often, the distinct pop of another bottle of bubbles. Clusters of tables in the centre of each gallery allowed for the stream of guests to flow unfettered from one station to the next.
All of my favourites were there: Lighthall, Devil's Wishbone, Rosehall, Casa-Dea and Lacey, to name but a few. This time around we were also treated to local brews and ciders from Barley Days Brewery and the County Cider Company, as well as delish nibbles from Belleville's Pasta Tavola and the ever-popular Fifth Town Cheese. (Their lemon-zest-infused goat's milk feta would be fantastic with a zippy sauvignon blanc.)
A full-on kitchen party down on the farm - what better way to celebrate the best of the County in our city?
The Grange of Prince Edward County 2012 Pinot Gris - Caramelized apple on the nose with a good balance of weight and acidity. Tart apple finish with a bit of citrus zest and white pepper.
Harwood Estates 2012 Windward White (vidal, chardonnay and gewurztraminer) - An airy blend of floral and straw notes punctuated with flint. On the palate, clingstone peach and a slight sweetness that wraps up in a honeyed finish.
Lighthall 2012 Gewurztraminer - While I was trying the 2012, winemaker Glenn Symons told me about the subtle differences between it and the 2013 vintage. The former, grown in the Wismer vineyard at Lighthall, leaned more towards tropical fruit characteristics, while the latter had a distinctive spiciness to it. The very pretty nose of the first blooms of spring brought a smile to my lips immediately.
Hubbs Creek 2013 Sussreserve Gamay Rosé - Starts sweet but finishes dry, this summer sipper shines with a clean, fresh feel and garden-in-bloom floral notes.
Stanners Vineyard 2011 Straw House Red - Predominantly cabernet franc with a splash of pinot noir thrown in. Aromatics of bourbon, raisins and cedar plank lead to a soft mouthfeel and subdued tannins, with only a suggestion of green on the finish.
Devil's Wishbone 2012 Pinot Noir - Complex nose of dried roses and herbs. Lots of fruit and earthiness on the palate: currants, cranberries, mushrooms and truffles. This is an elegant, feminine wine with subtle tannins and a delicate, muted finish.