Friday, December 13, 2013

Taste the Season 2013 [Niagara on the Lake]

Remember our epic trip to Niagara-on-the-lake (NOTL) two years ago for Taste the Season (@NiagaraWine) here and here where we overtake the challenge to visit all 27 wineries within 2 days. This time around there's a total of 28 wineries but after so many visits to NOTL we decided to take it slowly and at our own pace.  The pass cost $45 each but this time around, I was lucky enough to be provided a pair of media passes.

After our lunch at Ravine Vineyard Bistro here, it only make sense to start our Day 1 here
House Made Ravine Clam Chowder
~ paired w/ 2011 Estate Chardonnay

 When at the winery, don't forget to visit their little bakery at the back, the have the yummiest treat and the day we went, they also have some vendors on site for some holidays shopping like handmade soaps and decorations.

Beef Goulash and Homade Spaetzle
~ paired w/ 2011 Cabernet Franc Reserve
 They were barely open the last time we passes by and didn't even participate

Smoked Bacon and Dark Chocolate Ice Cream Bar
~ paired w/ Trius Brut

Trius is probably one of the most beautiful winery in NOTL, I just can't help myself but take a few photos here once again. If you have a chance, you have to have dinner here with wine pairing 
(old post here)

 Meatloaf Slider Topped with Red Pepper Jelly
~ paired w/ 2012 Lakeview Cellars Syrah Rosé
I must point out that they had the Taste the Season station outside and although it was in a tent, it was rather cold. Then we were served wine in a warm glass which probably just came out of the dish washer... big NO NO

 Hearty Sirloin Chili
~paired w/ 2009 Estate Merlot

Shaved Beef Slider with Horseradish Aioli and Baby Arugula
~ paired w/ 2011 Primary

Inniskillin Icewine Corn Dogs with Chili Aioli
~ paired w/ 2011 Vidal Icewine
 One of the most popular winery, famous for it's icewine. As you may know, I am not a big fan of sweet wine but this is definitely a must try here. And drinking it with their own design of icewine Riedel glass call Vinum Extreme Icewine glass is a whole different experience, you get to taste the icewine in it's full flavors, aroma and somehow less sweet.

Herbed Goat Cheese and Wood Oven Roasted Vegetable Tart
~ paired w/ 2012 Gewürztraminer

 Local Blackberry Brownie with Dark Chocolate Cassis Ganache
~ paired w/ 2012 Cabernet Franc
They sale those amazing All-Natural Merlot and Icewine Wine Gums, wished I had bought more.

Pork Short Ribs in a Chipotle Red Wine Reduction 
~ paired w/ 2011 Merlot

Housemade Chorizo and Heirloom Baked Beans w/ a Chive and Aged Cheddar Scone 
~ paired w/ Ice Cuvée Classic
With the amazing restaurant at Peller, I was disappointed that it was rather dry mushy plain.... the the crispy cheese on top though.

That was the end of Day 1 Taste the Season and we decided to stay at  Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites St.Catherines and the room was amazingly spacious with hard and soft pillows to choose from... there was even a microwave in the room. Love everything about it except the incredibly noisy elevator next to the room that kept ringing and super loud mechanical noise.  One thing that I love about the room was the large shower with opposite shower heads that can fit two, perfect for those romatic getaways ;)

 The reason we stayed at St.Catherine is because I wanted to drop by my fave wineries at 20Valley before heading back to Taste the Season in NOTL.

I just can't resist each time to get a few bottles but this time we broke the record, we got a total of 14 bottles since they launched an amazing local squeeze red at $14.95 and local squeeze white for $13.95 (the red is now available at LCBO).

Homemade Guacamole and Taco Chips
~ paired w/ 2011 "Faux Pas" Riesling-Sauvignon Blanc
This was the former Stonechurch location, everything was sort of the same except everything is now painted in bright colors

Homestyle Meat and Cheese Lasagna topped w/ Tomato Based Harvest Vegetables
~ paired w/ 2010 Cabernet Merlot

Pulled Beef & Quebec Brie Slider
~ paired w/ 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon

Braised Beef Pot Pie 
~ paired w/ 2011 Cabernet Merlot
They have a cute little tapas shop here which they also sell hand made olive oil and vinegars.

Seasonal Nibbler Trio: Mushrooms w/Muskoka Cranberry Sauce, Creamy French Onion & Goat Cheese Spread, House Spiced Beef w/Horseradish Jelly
~ paired w/ 2007 Strewn Three
For those who like dessert wine, they have a really nice and affordable Late Harvest 2011 Vidal at only $16.10 a bottle (we got 2 bottles for Ben's mum). And winter time, make sure to try their mulled wine which is amazing.

Petite Chiffon Strawberry Cake 
~ paired w/ 2012 Chocolate Allure

Niagara Gold & Smoked Ontario Pork Quesadilla w/Ancho Crème Fraiche, Sponge Toffee, Cilantro
~ paired w/ 2011 Grand Reserve Chardonnay
I am sad to say that the quesadilla was so tough that you can't really tear through it given they have a full commercial kitchen there... although a very interesting idea to sprinkled crushed sponge toffee on top, the not made fresh part ruined it

Chèvre Panna Cotta w/ Raspberry, Pablano Salad
~ paired w/ 2012 Special Select Late Harvest Cabernet Franc

Key Lime Macarons
~ paired w/ 2011 Pinot Grigio

Vietnamese Inspired Pho Soup
~ paired w/ 2012 Pic'd White Wine
 They were so cute bringing out the condiments to go with the pho.

It was the last day of Taste the Season so they ran out of their original pairing but nontherless, being my favorite NOTL winery, their 2011 Triomphe Cabernet Franc was just as good as I remembered.

Although we didn't went to all 27 wineries, we did pretty good with 21 but it was a much more relaxed trip compare to the last time.

If you have never been, it's definitely an amazing  experience. Taste the Season happens only on the weekends of November. But no worries if you missed it, there's Icewine Festival happening in January, Days of Wine & Chocolate happening through February (went last year and if you have a sweet tooth, that's for you) and even Wine & Herb in May which I would love to go in 2014.

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