Enjoy the Cuvee 2013 Grand Tasting Gala in Ontario

Cuvee 2013Have you been reading my articles on Vancouver’s International Wine Festival that starts at the end of the month for a week, but you live in Ontario, and can’t make it out to enjoy all the featured wines?  Don’t fret as you have an Ontario wine event that you should be attending and enjoying.  The Cuvee 2013 Grand Tasting Gala kicks off on March 1.   Here is the information from the event organizers.  Read on for more information at: Cuvée Weekend • March 1 to 3, 2013

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Ontario’s hottest wine event kicks off on March 1 with the Cuvée 2013 Grand Tasting Gala. New features have been added this year, making the gala event more buzz-worthy than ever before. Over 40 winemakers will play favourites and each will pour a wine which they feel most proud of. As always, guests have the opportunity to mingle with the winemakers as they sample locally inspired cuisine prepared at live cooking stations by 10 of Niagara’s top chefs.

Après Cuvée

Après Cuvée is returning in 2013, so even as the Grand Tasting winds down, the party keeps going with live music, dancing, an Icewine and Bubbles Bar and Craft Beer.

Cuvée en Route

Each Cuvée ticket is also a pass to Cuvée en Route, which allows guests to tour and taste along Niagara’s Wine Route from Friday through Sunday. En Route participants enjoy exclusive tastings, special meals and menu items at participating wineries and restaurants.

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The 2013 BC Icewine Harvest – Info from the BC Wine Institute

Yes it was cold enough to freeze grapes this past week, and ice wine flowed!  Well at least frozen grape juice, but the wonderful ice wine is soon to follow.  The BC Wine Institute issued the following press release about the latest ice wine harvest, and I am passing it along to you.  Enjoy!

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January 18, 2013 (Kelowna, BC)

Tantalus Vineyards ice wine harvest 2013

Tantalus Vineyards ice wine harvest 2013

The Icewine harvest has returned to British Columbia!

After last vintage’s second-earliest start on record on November 19 and 20, 2011 the majority of the Icewine harvest in the Okanagan was on January 11 and 12, 2013. Harvested at minus 8°Celsius or below, the wine made from these frozen grapes must reach quality standards including 35 brix of sugar to be called true Icewine.

While some Icewine was harvested in the early morning hours of  January 1, 2013, the majority of the Icewine harvest continued just a few weeks later from 10:30 PM on January 11, continuing to the early morning hours of January 12, ending at about 5:00 AM. The BC Wine Authority noted that 27 of the 31 potential wineries picked that weekend, collecting approximately 450 tons of frozen grapes. Temperatures during harvest ranged from minus 9°to minus 14° Celsius, and the harvest was spread around the Okanagan Valley, from north to south.

Summerhill Pyramid Winery in Kelowna picked 6.25 tons of Zweigelt for Icewine at the Summerhill Vineyard and Eidse Brothers Vineyard on Friday night, beginning at 12:00 AM in minus 11° weather. The grapes were at 42 brix at pressing – much above the requirement of minimum of 35 brix. Unfortunately, the winery was too late for their Chardonnay Icewine grapes. Summerhill’s CEO Ezra Cipes explained that “deer and birds ate our entire crop of Chardonnay Icewine this year, despite netting the grapes to protect them.” The wildlife also reduced the amount of Zweigelt Icewine available as they ate about three quarters of the potential harvest. Cipes explained that the winery has no deer fencing to protect the grapes and also has a nature preserve on the property – perfect for a family of deer.

Van Westen Vineyards in Naramata began picking their Icewine at 2:00 AM on January 12. With temperatures at -11°, the inner cluster berries were thoroughly frozen. By 4:00 PM that day, the temperature had warmed to -6°and the team was still pressing frozen grapes. The winery picked about 1.7 tons of Icewine overall.

Oliver’s Tinhorn Creek Vineyards picked their Kerner Icewine at 5:00 AM on Saturday, January 12. The winery reports that they also picked their Icewine on the same day in 2012 – January 12.

The Icewine varieties picked are diverse in the Okanagan Valley, ranging from aromatic whites to tannic reds. January 11 and 12 saw the following grapes picked for Icewine, in order for highest tonnage: Riesling (132), Merlot (77), Cabernet Franc (36), Pinot Gris (35), Chardonnay (35), Zweigelt (34), Viognier (33), Pinot Noir (25), Sauvignon Blanc (25), Ehrenfelser (8), Cabernet Sauvignon (4), Kerner (3.5), Oraniensteiner (1.5), Syrah (1), Lemburger (1), Pinot Blanc (1), Pinot Auxerrois (1), Semillon (0.5), and Muscat (0.5).

With the Icewine harvest begun, palates across BC can look forward to new Icewine releases in 2013.

For updates on the harvest, follow @winebcdotcom, #Icewine and #BCwine on Twitter.

About British Columbia Wine Institute

Since 1990, the BCWI has played a pivotal role in taking BC’s wine industry from a vision to an internationally recognized niche region producing premium wines and providing quality wine tourism experiences.

Representing 133 member wineries throughout the province, the BCWI supports and markets the Wines of British Columbia (BC VQA), which gives consumers assurance they are buying a wine that is 100% from BC. The BCWI also markets the Wine Regions of British Columbia; delivers quality trade, media and consumer tastings; and acts as the voice of BC’s wine industry by advocating to government on behalf of its members. Find more at www.winebc.com.

Decanter World Wine Awards 2012 – Gold Winners: Canadian Winners

Decanter Gold Medal 2012

The current Decanter World Wine Awards 2012 were recently awarded.  We all want to know the Gold Medal wines so we can seek them out in our local bottle shop.  But what I want to know especially, is which Canadian wineries won a Gold Medal?  Here is the answer.

Canadian Wineries Winning Gold Medals

Congratulations to both Ontario and British Columbia wineries!  Here is the link to find out all the Gold Medal winners.  Enjoy!

Banana Bread with Vidal Icewine Pairing

Today I made a batch of banana bread and thought about what to pair it with. Sifting through my memory, I thought that Mission Hill Winery’s Vidal Icewine (or their Late Harvest) would fit the bill. The Vidal grape has a honey and tropical fruit aroma and flavour. Banana from the banana bread is a tropical fruit, so it should mesh beautifully. While the bread is cooling, I am writing this article.

In case you would like to try this pairing, here is the recipe that I use for banana bread. It comes from the “Centennial Cookbook” and the recipe is by a lady named Lil Karpyshyn. I’ve made a few modifications, to make the recipe my own.

Picture courtesy of http://mdaras.com/lowgi/recipe/banana-bread/Banana Bread Recipe

1.25 cup brown sugar
3 eggs
dash of vanilla
3/4 cup oil (I use canola)
2 cups unbleached flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 cups mashed bananas (2.5 bananas)
1/4 cup raisins

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour a loaf pan. Beat sugar, eggs, and vanilla till creamy. Slowly add in oil. In a separate bowl, mix flour, making soda, salt, cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg. Slowly add flour mixture to the wet ingredients. Mix in the mashed bananas and the raisins. Pour into the loaf pan. Bake for 55 minutes. Test with a toothpick. It should come out dry.

Indulge and enjoy with the Vidal Icewine!

Want a Champagne Icewine Cocktail?

I was just browsing around on the web and I found this recipe for a champagne with icewine cocktail recipe and thought I’d pass it along to you. Although the recipe is listed as “champagne”, it really should be identified as “sparkling wine” as champagne is only from the Champagne region in France.

Since this is a long weekend, you may want to make some tonight or on Sunday night with friends. Enjoy and Happy New Year!

Fusion Royale Champagne Cocktail

By Scott McTaggart, Fusion Grill, Winnipeg
750 ml bottle sparkling wine (suggests Sumac Ridge Stellar’s Jay)
375 ml bottle icewine (suggests Inniskillin Vidal)
Preserved Bing cherries

Fill champagne flutes 3/4 full of sparkling wine. Add a dash of icewine to each. Drop in a cherry.

Makes 6 servings.

Small wineries in Kelowna

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} catch(err) {}Everyone visits the big wineries in Kelowna, like Mission Hill and Quail’s Gate, but there are other small wineries worth a visit. This past week I had the pleasure of visiting:
Rollingdale Winery
Kalala Organic Estate Winery
Camelot Vineyards Estate Winery

Rollingdale Winery is located in Westbank very near to the other big wineries in the area. Rollingdale is certified organic, which I think is getting to be more common in the Okanagan. There was a wide range of wines to taste, from whites to reds to dessert wines. This winery started in 2004, with most of the vineyard area in Okanagan Falls and a few acres around the winery in Westbank. An interesting white was their 2007 Chardonnay / Semillon. This is a wild ferment. Vanilla on the nose. Very tart with green apple flavours. Would be good chilled with shellfish. Their red selection was quite large, with the winery making a 2007 “La Droite” and a 2006/07 “La Gauche” wine following the blends that are used in the Right and Left banks in Bordeaux. The “La Droite” was primary Merlot, with smaller amounts of Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec. This wine was deep purple in the glass. Sweet cherry / plum nose. Round mouth feel, cherry flavour and firm but not overpowering tannins. For those with a sweet tooth a nice wine was the 2007 Pinot Noir Icewine. Pear coloured. Apple, pear, and burnt matches aroma and flavours. Good acidity to balance the sweetness.

Another certified organic winery I visited on this trip was Kalala Organic Estate Winery, also located in Westbank. I was impressed with all the wines they let me try. As it is now officially summer, I welcomed the Pinot Noir Rose 2007. This wine is light salmon / orangy in colour. Strawberry and cranberry nose. Strawberry flavour with good acidity. A great choice for a patio sipper. An unusual wine that I tried (and bought a few bottles) was their Kalala Cuvee Noir 2007. What made it unusual? The 3 varietals that they used to make this wine: Zweigelt, Blaufrankisch, and Michurinetz. I’ve tried two of the 3 varietals before, but not all 3, and not all 3 blended together! This wine was a deep, bright purple colour. Red fruit, plummy nose. Sweet candy, red fruit, ripe cherry flavours with low tannins. This wine should hold up to full bodied grilled meats. The prices for Kalala’s wines are also excellent. The Cuvee is $14.95 and the Rose is $17.95. Only their Zweigelt icewine broke the $20 mark with a price of $75. They want to keep the prices reasonable to show people that organic wines need not be expensive and can be quite tasty. The Zweigelt icewine 2006 if you are curious, had honey, orange, butterscotch aromas and flavours.

The last winery I visited was Camelot Vineyards Estate Winery. I do not know if this is an organic winery, but I do know that it just opened to the public 2 weeks ago. They produce both red and white wines, but at the moment, only their white wines are bottled and ready for tasting. The reds I saw were still in barrels (both French and American oak) waiting for bottling next year I believe. The 2 whites I tried were a Pinot Gris and a Gewurztraminer. I enjoyed the Gewurztraimer. It was light bodied, with lychee and spice aromas and flavours. I have tasted many very nice Gewurztraimers from the Okanagan the last few years. If you have not had a chance to try a BC Gewurztraimer, you should give it a try.