Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Sip & Sizzle 2014 [Niagara on the Lake]

Have been meaning to go to Wine & Herbs happening each year in May at Niagara-on-the-Lake but this year they re-branded the event and mixed things up. Sip & Sizzle (@NiagaraWine) take place every weekend in May and 2 weeks ago, we manage to visit all 26 wineries within our 2 day stay at NOTL.

We usually prefer to stay overnight so that we don't need to rush and be able to visit all the wineries.

Day 1

Cabernet Franc Smoked Flank Steak, Grilled Marc's Mushrooms, Charred Tomato Vinaigrette
~ paired w/ 2012 Cabernet Franc Rose
Food was prepared by The Yellow Pear (@FarmtoTruck) and it was delicious. Interesting how the red meat  is paired with a rose instead of a red here but since it was served at room temperature it worked really well since it was really light and refreshing.We try to avoid wine tasting at these events but I definitely wanted to try some of their new Chardonnay and we end up splurging on a $44 Poetica 2004 Chardonnay that was so buttery smooth.

Honey Glazed Grilled Shrimp & Pineapple Skewer
~ paired w/ 2013 FRESH Moscato

Pork Pastrami Sausage with Riesling Sauerkraut
~ paired w/ 2012 Trius Riesling 

Grilled Pineapple served with Gelato di Carlotta's Coconut Gelato
~ paired w/ 2012 Pinot Grigio
The Gelato here was super delicious, definitely a must visit next time and it's perfect with the grilled pineapple which was reflected in the wine.

Grilled Tomato and Goat Cheese Tart
~ paired w/ 2009 VAQ Chenin Blanc

Grilled Asparagus with Olive Oil and Monforte Feta Cheese
~ paired w/ Tollgate Fume Blanc

Grilled Salmon Tataki, Charred Mushroom Ponzu, Puffed Rice, Cucumber
~ paired w/ 2012 Grand Reserve Sauvignon Blanc
Perfect pairing with the perfect view. Love the open up patio to sit and enjoy.

Grilled Pork Belly with Wild Leek and Local Honey
~ paired w/ 2011 Chardonnay
 Love how the re-heat it on the spot, the entire place smell so good and love how it's paired with a crisp Chardonnay that cut through the fattiness. Only wish it was a bigger piece.

PEI Blue Mussels, Grilled and Chilled with Dill, Garlic and Shallots
~ paired w/ 2012 The Empress Chardonnay
I usually love mussels but this was rather plain and boring

Market Grill Ontario Pork Slider, Smoked Poblano Relish, Black Cumin Slaw
~ paired w/ 2012 Niagara Estate Meritage
 Love how the incorporate ice wine in the relish and wine to cook their meat.

Grilled Sea Scallop Skewer with Grapefruit and Vanilla Gastrique
~ paired w/ 2013 Riesling

12-Hour Smoked Pulled Pork on Brioche
~ paired w/ 2012 Merlot

Mesquite Grilled Chicken Chipotle Antojito with an Avocado Drizzle
~ paired w/ 2012 Cabernet Merlot

Charcoal Grilled Lamb Spiedini
~ paired w/ 2011 Sand and Gravel Gabernet Franc
Always enjoy freshly grilled offering although we had to wait a few minutes, thought that was the whole idea of the event.

 To end the day, bought a dessert at the bakery at Ravine

 Day 2

 Cabernet Sauvignon Marinated Grilled Flank Steak with a Sour Cherry Marmalade
~ paired w/ 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, Estate Bottled
 Wish this was served hot off the grill and thought the marmalade was the star here and paired so well with the wine. This is definitely a wine that would be prefect aged a few more years.

 Grilled Pork Encrusted with Herbes de Provence on a Crostini
~ paired w/ 2013 Rose
Love the strawberry on top, tied the pork and the wine together really well.

Grilled Stuffed |Apricots
~ paired w/ 2011 Estate Series Chardonnay Musque
This was the only place that had an actual grill / bbq, thought there would be more actual fire happening during this event since it's called "sizzle". Simple and delicious, this was probably my favorite.

 Pizza on the Grill, Let Us Show You How
~ paired w/ 2012 Faux Pas
Previously known as Stonechurch, they still have some of the wines on sale at the back, at less than $8 a bottle we bought a case. They reinvented the space, including chairs and tables to hand out.

Hickory Smoked Pulled Pork with Grilled Tortilla and Garlic Aioli
 ~ paired w/ 2012 Gamay Noir Rose
Not a big fan of the wine once again and they definitely need to work on the presentation here plus the yellow plate us not helping at all.

Ontario Venison & Pancetta Slider finished with caramelized Onion 
~ paired w/ 2012 Shiraz
They always manage to incorporate wine into the receipt and it's always delicious. The meat was moist and so perfect with the sweet caramelized onion and red wine honey mustard. The Venison was cooked int he same red wine, so of course the 2 paired so well together. This is a rather popular winery but somehow I have never like their wine and this one was slightly sour and heavy alcohol to the pallet.  

 Smoked Balsamic Mennonite Sausage topped with Crisped Parmesan Asparagus Spears 
~ paired w/ 2013 Rose
Their food are always prepared by OliV Tapas who has a slight tasting room on the side, make sure to drop by for some olive oil and balsamic tasting after all the wine tasting. They would even recommend wine pairing.

 Grilled Vegetable Trio : Smoky, Blackened, Spicy
~ paired w/ 2012 Gewurztraminer Terroir
Love the blend here and how the different pairing bring out different flavors of the wine.

Beef Slider topped with Red Wine Honey Mustard
 ~ paired w/ 2009 Noble Rouge
Never knew about this winery and this is the first year they are participating in this type of event. Tasted a few of their red and it was very delicious and of good quality, this is definitely a winery that I will keep an eye out.

 Chili Spiced Beef Skewer on Toasted Quinoa, Cilantro & Sunflower Seed Salad w/Cranberry & Buttermilk Dressing ~ paired w/ 2012 Cabernet Franc Rose
 A more generous portion compare to the other places and one of my favorite pairing. Love the spices of the lamb with the sweetness of the salad paired with the rose that's bursting with berry aromas.

 Balsamic Marinated Grilled Ontario Asparagus Wrapped w/House Cured Maple Bacon
~ paired w/ 2009 Dean's List Pinot Noir
Can't help but wish this was served hot, the cold fatty bacon was just not working for me and would have worked a lot better with the wine

 Vine Smoked Lake Perch Wrapped in Wild Boar Bacon
~ paired w/ 2011 Private Reserve Gamay Noir
This was kept warm and somehow the fish skin remained crispy, love the pairing of the barrel aged Gamay Noir which had a refreshing acidity to it. It also have a slight smokey flavor that paired so well with the smoked fish here. There's a reason why Peller is the most popular winery in NOTL, their wine are just so smooth, love how this one lingers with current and spices.

The Rebirth of Cool, a taste & learn of Chardonnays from 8 world class wineries happening July 18-20th, this is definitely something I am interesting in attending.

Verdict :
Love the mix of white, rose and red wine
Wish there was less pulled pork, maybe the wineries can consult each other and not have repeat of the same items ?
Overall, love it and the weather couldn't be more perfect.

This type of events are perfect for people who are not familiar with the wineries in NOTL since this will give you a chance to get a taste at each one of them. However, if it's your first time at the wineries, you may end up spending more time at each stop and would probably not be able to make all the stop within 2 days which is a perfect excuse to stay an extra night or come back again.

Personally I do tend to make at least 2-3 visit a year even if it wasn't for an event like this since I like to stock up on my local wine. A lot of their wine are not available at the LCBO and you can only get at the winery or at selected restaurants.

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