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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Some of the lessons I learned in Niagara on the Lake - part one

We've been trying to orchestrate a weekend away with Bruce's friend and new wife ever since they moved to Connecticut in the spring. Not so easy when you've got two kids and they are sans enfants! Then my Mom offered to take the girls for a night so we headed off to Niagara to meet Alex and Katja. We decided to stay right in Niagara Falls, I know there are tons of quaint B&B's in wine country but if you are a tourist you can't get this close to the Falls and not spend at least a little time enjoying how spectacular they are. On the weekends in the summer there is a fireworks show every evening at 10pm. You just can't miss it!

Katja's family owns a winery in Austria, Bruce is a bit of a cork dork (I mean that in the most respectful way) and both Alex and I just like drinkin' wine! A couple of days in Niagara is going to be a blast!
First stop Inniskillin! They are internationally known for their ice wine, so we did a wine tasting with 4 of their different ice wines. We started with the Sparkling Vidal ice wine and had a couple of their regulars and because both Bruce and Katja could talk to the talk we were lucky enough to get to taste one of their older vintages. Our guests were hesitant to even try the ice wines but the sparkling one, won them over. Because they were so impressed with the ice wines we tried some of the vineyards other wines, they weren't nearly as impressive. The sparkling ice wine is meant to be enjoyed at the beginning of an evening with cheeses or at the end with cheeses and chocolates.
Check out Inniskillin's website, they've got a ton of valuable information on how to pair the wines...

It's funny because when you travel to Europe and get to know some of the people they talk about how unbelievably polite Canadians are. I never really appreciated what they meant until Katja, stated that the wine wasn't very good, right in front of the lady serving us, and that we should move on! I almost feel like if I taste a wine, I should buy it, and I make a whole bunch of excuses why I'm not buying it. It would never, ever, cross my mind to just say I didn't like it! huh?! I might try this new approach, out right honesty!

I'm not knocking Inniskillin, it's just that their wines are made to be served as everyday table wines. It means that bottle number 1, number 100 and number 10,000 will all taste exactly the same. We're in wine country for God's sake, we want the best of the best, the elite, not everyday table wine. I can get that at the liquor store at home. Onwards...

We headed off to Pellar Estates, it has a beautiful dining room, that came highly recommended. It was a bit early for lunch, but not too early for wine!! Once again Pellar Estates is more of an everyday wine so we didn't stay long. We did learn that 2010 was a banner year in Niagara on the Lake. Remember that when you are buying wine. Some of the 2010's are available for sale right now, you would want to cellar a white wine for 1-3 years and a red wine for 3-5 years to have them taste like anything though. Not much point in drinking it now, too young. I'm sounding like a bit of a cork dork myself!

We had lunch at Pennisula Ridge. It has a great little patio and is housed in a beautiful century home. We bought a couple of bottles of the 2009 Sauvignon Blanc, it's a light, refreshing table wine.
Stay tuned, now we've wet their appetites and we're going to head off to some of our personal favorites. We've got to really impress these Austrians! Next stop Hidden Bench...

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