Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A Tour of Niagara Wine Country

September marks the start of the LCBO's celebration of Ontario wines with the annual goLOCAL campaign.

This year, the promotion has challenged us to "Find Your Favourite".  Considering there will be over 130 Ontario products from 50 wineries featured on the LCBO shelves in the next month; it's not an easy task, but we'll sure have fun trying.

To make the choice easier, there will be over 1500 tasting events and food & wine paring sessions province-wide throughout the month.  Check out for all goLOCAL activities.  

In the meantime, we started the quest to find our local favourites at the source, with a timely visit to Niagara wine country at the start of harvest while the first pinot grapes were beginning to be hand-picked for sparkling wine. At Hillebrand Estates, home of the popular Trius label, vibrant & refreshing wines were on the menu with the Trius Brut and Brut Rose sparkling wines on showcase as excellect examples of the style and flavour profile.  

Vibrant & refreshing describes wines alive with character, fragrant and deliciously quenching, while accentuating distinct flavours from food pairings.  Trius VQA Brut ($25.95) isn't just for celebratory imbibing, this sparkling is fitting for the everyday, pairing well with everything from french fries to goat cheese croquettes.  Did we find our Ontario favourite here? Quite possibly...

Our next stop brings us to Creekside Estate Winery.  Noted for their experimentation and innovative approach to winemaking, Creekside likes to make serious wines with an irreverent attitude. 

With an appreciation for local food as much as local wine, lunch at Creekside comes via local food trucks from El Gastronomo Vagabundo and Gorilla Cheese.  A deep & bold pairing of Creekside 2008 Shiraz ($15.95) with the kicked-up chili jam on Berkshire Belly Steamed Buns take your palate on a wild ride and showcases the robust black pepper spice of the Shiraz.  On the other hand a crisp & zesty pairing of Creekside 2010 Sauvignon Blanc ($13.95) with Tempura Cod Tacos balance the heat of local corn salsa and Bajan hot sauce with classically crisp citrus and acidity.  Paired with the right local eats, there are sure to be some favourites found here...

We move on to Angels Gate Winery, where the view over the lake and not-so-far away can catch a glimpse of the CN Tower and city life you once knew.  Making use of Ontario's natural talents, Angels Gate produces such vibrant & elegant wines as a 100% Chardonnay Sparkling (2008 Archangel, $19.95) and 2009 Gamay Noir ($12.95).  Vibrant & elegant wines have a sultry reveal of their full depth of flavour; full of character and length that glide across the tongue, speaking volumes without being shouting loud.  It's definitely not hard to find a favourite in this wine profile...
It seems that there's a local favourite for every occasion, even a different favourite for every kind of meal.  The moral of the story is, the more you taste and discover of Ontario wines; the more you will appreciate the quality, diversity, food-friendliness and the endless choices for a favourite that's just right for your taste.  Labels and vintages may come and go, but love of terroir lasts a lifetime.  Niagara Pinot Noir is a HUG favourite (especially Flat Rock 2009 Pinot Noir, $17.95).  What's yours?  Let us know in the comments.

---Michelle Tham

Check our recent Hip + Urban Girl of the Week, Angela Aiello as she shares her Ontario favourite:  

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