Saturday noon time, 2 cars left Toronto.
The first destination was Niagara-on-the-Lake.
The first winery that we chose was Pillitteri Estates Winery. Due to technical difficulty, we set Niagara-on-the-Lake downtown as destination. But we were very lucky since this winery was just on the way. Got out of the car after about an hour drive. The drive didn’t seem long since we had been chatting. The weather was good.
So here we are… we bought the Ice Wine Discovery Pass ($30) for a maximum of 5 winery visits (with food pairing with the wine tasting). It was a good deal – since each of them cost about $10 if you don’t have a Discovery Pass. We tried out some table wine downstairs at the front.
Then, we went to the area on the 2nd floor and started our first round of tasting. First we had the 2006 Vidal with piece of pineapple, blue cheese, apricot and date. I’d say the blue cheese and pineapple go very well with the ice wine. I’m not really a wine drinker, but these two years I’ve been drinking more and more. It’s always good to learn to appreciate wine. The 2nd pairing was a 2004 Cabernet Franc and chocolate coated almond biscotti. I like the 1st pair better while some friends like the 2nd pair.
Feeling good – finally we can relax a bit and forget everything that happened or were happening back in Toronto. Some ppl bought some wine from there… while browsing the collection, I saw this “Too Easy” from Australia. Interesting… wonder how it taste like.
After the first stop, we quickly moved on to the 2nd stop – Jackson-Triggs. While deciding the destinations, Jackson-Triggs and Inniskillin were the two that most of us agreed that we should visit. Its building was considered quite grand and modern compared to the other ones that we’ve visited. First thing we saw when we went in was this – biscuits, chocolate and marshmallow on the table. A staff was roasting the marshmallow and putting them together. We just stood there and took pictures (didn’t get offered though :p).
Then, we went in the room and tasted the table wine first… I tried a red one and I found it so-so.
I’ve also tried a few other ice wines – Gewürztraminer and the Vidal. The featured ice wine there was the Cabernet Franc. Again. But I like it. We had that with the savory (blue cheese + tomato sauce on toast) and then with the chocolate truffle. I still find the “ice wine + chocolate” too sweet.
OK, the last stop of the first day – the Peller Estates. We were there around 4pm, and then we found out that they have a wine tour ($5) at 4:30pm. With our Discovery Pass, we have to pay $5 extra for the ice wine tasting since they offer 3 different types of ice wine, hot chocolate and marshmallow. So we thought, why not?
The ice wine tasting was held outdoor!!! Very cold. But for some reasons, the ice wine seems to taste even better in cold weather. After the three wines – Riesling, Oak Aged and Cabernet Franc, we had the hot chocolate and marshmallow…
Standing closer to the fire… Smoke gets in my eyes (-.-)
Then we went on the wine tour… The gentleman gave us a quick history of the estate, how they make their wine, as well as how to taste the wine (red/white/ice). It was worth getting the tour.
The next day, we went to the Château des Charmes. It was a huge mansion.
Here are the three ice wine that they mixed – with the recipes:
1. Appletini =
1 oz Vidal Ice wine + 1 oz Sour Puss Apple + 1 oz Smirnoff Apple Vodka
2. Apricot Icicle =
1 oz Vidal Ice-wine + 1 oz Apricot Brandy + 1 oz Absolut Vodka
3. Raspberry Freeze =
1 oz Vidal Ice wine + 1 oz Sour Puss Raspberry + 1 oz Absolut Raspberry Vodka
I think it’s a good idea to have something different. But personally, I still prefer the ice wine to this mix.
The last stop – Inniskillin – one of Canada’s first estate wineries. It was my first time visiting this place. From outside, it has a humble look. There were some “grapes” outside for display. I like that. It seems that there are some renovations going on, but I wasn’t too sure and it was too cold to walk around and check. 😮
RL mentioned about its ceiling. From this picture, it just looks like the floor and ceiling is switched. Hardwood ceiling – nice. So here’s what we have – Parmesan Fondue with bread stick paired with Oak Aged Vidal, and Dark Chocolate Cranberry Bark paired with Cabernet Franc Ice wine.
Oh it was heavenly. I love cheese! It’s just so… meaty. Don’t know how to describe that. Everything seems to be *just right*. Talking about that… now I’m craving again.
After that, we started to head back. We also visited the Twenty Valley @ Jordan. There weren’t a lot of things to see/do. There were some wine & food tasting. There was the Cave Spring, some antique/gift shops and ice sculptures. *cold cold*
2 thoughts on “Niagara Ice Wine Festival”
Great write up and great photos as always! Thanks for all the info…
I used to live in N-O-T-L, and would always recommend JT, Peller and Inniskillin as the “must see” wineries. A good mix of modern, old and famous respectively. So which was your favourite?
Where did you eat while you were down there?
Also, may I ask what camera you use most of the time to take your photos?
Thanks! Keep those posts coming…
Hi somemale, I use Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX01 most of the time for my pictures. It’s smaller compare to my D80 (sigh, it’s collecting dust now since I haven’t been out shooting), and it’s much better quality compared to my cell phone. I really like this camera… now I think they introduced the FX50+ already…