In December we over-indulge. In January we hibernate at home or seek out the Southern sun and sandy beaches. Whatever our holiday plans may be, they include winter evenings with the warmth of friends, wine and cheese.
At our annual, year-end “Champagne and Latka” party, guests have come to expect good food and wine, in abundance. And we do not disappoint them. This year, we added something new to our party menu, and it was met with such appreciation, it will become part of our party fare repertoire. The large dining table was laden with wines from Colaneri Estate Winery and a rich assortment of Upper Canada Cheese made with love from the milk of their own Guernsey cows and goats. At first when we surveyed the table I thought that surely we had too much cheese. After all, we also passed smoked salmon canapes, potato latkes, baby lamb chops, lobster dumplings and more. To our surprise, at the end of the evening, the cheeses had been devoured and a few mere crumbs remained. Of particular note was the Niagara Gold, a mellow Oka-style semi-soft cheese, cellar-aged for five months. With its washed rind, it has nutty and earthy notes that make it the cheese of choice for many Niagara wine makers.
Over the years, we have begun to sense that our friends would prefer a greater selection of wine than just the bubbly which is our standard. The wines from Colaneri Estate Winery are being talked about. We chose to showcase the Colaneri Pinot Grigio which, with its pretty pink hue, surprised our guests, some of whom did not initially recognize what it was. Twenty percent of the grapes were kiln-dried to give this wine its full body. With notes of peach, apple, and honeyflower, it proved elegant and fun. Our red choice was the ’08 Colaneri Merlot. Aged 15 months in new French oak, its flavours of blueberries, raspberries and vanilla, and violet aromas, are smooth and provide a long finish.
These were the perfect wines to serve with the perfect cheeses that evening. Since then we have been asked their names, and we have been so proud to add that they are local wines and cheeses from our own Niagara region.
Another great party, enjoyed by all!