Ode to Cuvee

C.1 Assembling at the frozen Falls we marvel at the massive ice cubes and polar curtain that drapes across the Horseshoe. Further inland, within the warmth of the Fallsview Casino Resort, a rich assemblage of free flowing wine.

The annual Cuvee Grand Tasting is the Grand Prix of Ontario wine, celebrating excellence in Ontario winemaking. My ticket to ride is a wine glass and an appetite. Upon entrance, it’s as if Willy Wonka himself were singing, “Hold your breath; make a wish; count to three; come with me,” and there, within the hall, are seven stations of fifty-two wineries, teams of chefs preparing culinary decadence to match, tables of charcuterie, cakes, sparkling wine and craft beer bars and, of course, an ice wine buffet! The who’s who of Ontario wine making has come together to share their own choice of selection and be on hand to talk C.6 and celebrate the fruit of their passion.

Held on February 27, 2015 this was an opportunity to sample Ontario’s best wines, meet and get to know the wine makers, as well as renowned chefs, and simply indulge in food and wine.

The Inniskillin 2013 Riesling Reserve is a vibrant confluence of fresh fruit to keep in mind for the summer. Refreshing, fruit forward with well balanced acidity and delicate effervesence, this is an elegant and fun choice for auspicious beginnings.

New wineries have appeared on the scene, like Two Sisters Vineyards. A chance meeting with the Marotta sisters at the Peller Estates culinary station led me to their Cabernet Franc–a jam-y palate of berries, spice and vanilla with a round mouth feel that C.2 made me think of food pairings and a need to visit their winery restaurant, Kitchen 76. Of course the culinary star of Niagara is Chef Jason Parsons who has made Peller Estates Winery Restaurant an essential destination in Ontario gastronomy. Applying sous-vide to his cooking, Parsons offered the most luxuriously textured purse of Atlantic salmon I’ve ever tasted.

Along with the new we are introduced to the renewed. Maintaining consistent quality in wine is an art, and the Petit Verdot of Foreign Affair Winery, Magnotta Winery’s Enotrium Gran Riserva blend, and Rennie Estate Winery’s G Assemblage reflect the restrained skill and finesse to elicit the very best qualities that can be extracted from the juice of the grape without overpowering and without losing that perfect balance of sweet, soft and chewy tannins with ripe fruit and acidity that lend sophistication and relaxed harmony–like Lester Young on tenor sax playing a “less is more” style that could bring an audience just to the edge, but no further.

Le Clos Jordanne boasts the pinnacle of Niagara wine making with its Reserve Pinot C.4 Noir. It’s elegant cherries and complex luscious tannins reveal Sebastien Jacquey‘s beautiful stewardship of grapes from the heart of the Niagara Escarpment. And what of Lake Erie North Shore? This is a developing wine region that Ontarians need to discover, and Cooper’s Hawk Vineyards‘ Cabernet Franc Reserve, with it’s velvety mouth feel of raspberries, cherries and a dash of spice has me planning a summer trip to Ontario’s southern point. In the meantime, the weekend celebration continued with the Cuvee en Route passport program to tour and taste selected flights along the wine route.

Next year, don’t miss Cuvee!! For more info check out: cuvee.ca

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