Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Sip & Savour Ontario

This is another event I’ve been a bit slow to post about, but I definitely Tweeted up a storm while I was attending. This really and truly was one of the most fun wine events I’ve been to in a long time – and not just because I got to spend some time with the very awesome Cellar Sisters.

Sip & Savour Ontario showcases some of the best food and wine Ontario has to offer. The winners of Tony Aspler’s Ontario Wine Awards are paired with some fantastic local food fare and the results are pretty spectacular. I’m already salivating at the thought of next year’s event.

Some of my personal favourites from the evening:

13th Street's Cuvee 13 Rosé is fabulous - not at all surprising from this winery!

And this is where I discovered Creekside Estate Winery's Backyard Bloc Sauvignon Blanc - one of my pick's for wine of the summer.

Kacaba Vineyards' 2009 Single Vineyard Syrah received a well-deserved silver at the awards and was a personal favourite of the evening.

I also had the chance to try Nyarai Cellars' Cadence for the first time - what a delicious red wine.

Vineland Estates had two winning Chardonnay's available for tasting.

There was also plenty of great food on display at the event, including:

This is a popelin - it was delicious!

Barque Smokehouse had a fabulous salmon dish.

I fell hard for these yummy Summerfresh desserts.

Thanks to the Sip & Savour Ontario team for inviting me to this event - I can't wait for next year!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Wine School Reconsideration

I recently completed Wines 2 at George Brown. I passed, but it definitely wasn’t as easy as I had hoped. Not that I didn’t love it – I very much did – but my newbie-ness was on full display. I’m still pretty awful at blind tastings, though I’m getting better (thankfully), but I find testing situations just brutal.

Really, I don’t know why this happens, but when you call something an exam I completely freeze up. That wasn’t the case when I was in school – I was great at exams back then – but when it comes to tasting I turn into an uncertain mess. It’s probably all the pressure I put on myself, but it’s frustrating. I don’t know how to stop second-guessing myself so much. In a normal non-exam setting, I find it pretty easy to tell Pinot from Nebbiollo, but in an exam they sure start to seem similar.

Whatever the case, I did my best, I learned an enormous amount and I found that at the end of the day I was still just as much in love with wine. But given my recent experiences I think I need to take a break from classes for a little while. Everyone at school has way more life experience with wine than I do and I think I need to get some more of that under my belt. So I’m going to take the fall to read all the expensive wine books I’ve purchased, attend all the tastings I get invited to and really practice my wine reviews.

You can expect to see more reviews posted on Wine Align (where I’m a member of the blogger cru) and I’ll continue to post regularly on the blog about my adventures. I think that my formal wine education will continue in the new year, but we’ll see. No more pressure for this wine lover – for now it’s going to be all about learning at my own pace.

And who knows, maybe if I go back to doing this just for love I’ll feel a little less stressed about things and ready to tackle another semester. After watching the documentary SOMM recently (which I highly recommend) I realized that I am not the only person who has gone a little crazy for the love of wine learning! And even though I can’t see myself ever having the ability to pass the master sommelier exam (can you even imagine what a nervous tester like me would be like trying to pass the hardest exam in the world?) I do love that there was a little part of me who wondered if I could do it. Ah, wine, you do have such a vice grip on my soul!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

A Fool and Forty Acres

A Fool and Forty Acres by Geoff Heinricks – a book about one writer’s decision to try and grow a vineyard in Prince Edward Country long before such a thing was considered a viable idea.

My lovely friend Ali on Twitter recommended this book and I’m really glad she did. I took A Fool and Forty Acres with me on our trip to the Mosel and now have memories of lying in our hotel room in Bernkastel-Kues reading the book with a view of the vineyards outside my window. While I didn’t finish the book on that trip (truth be told, this really isn’t a vacation read), I will always treasure that memory.
And I loved this book. I think partly because I too feel the pull of the County and understand innately the desire to give up the life I’ve built in Toronto to find my place among the vines. While I don’t want to start a vineyard, I can completely understand why Geoff did – and I applaud his dedication and determination to making that dream a reality.

For those, like me, who discovered Prince Edward County just recently, this is a wonderful history of the origins of wine growing in the County. Geoff truly was an innovator at a time when few thought there was much point in planting grapes in the area, and his vision laid the foundation for many of the vineyards I know and love today. This book is in many ways a love letter to PEC and the history and beauty of the County that are so hard to resist.

It’s also the story of one man’s struggle to turn a rundown farm into a viable vineyard. That Geoff succeeded despite the doubts of others and no end in struggles along the way is a testament to the power of his vision that PEC could be a wine region. Not to mention the incredibly hard work he put into growing those grapes. I can’t say I envied him the backbreaking work, but I understand putting everything you have into doing something you truly love.

I hope many of you who read this review will pick up a copy of A Fool and Forty Acres. For those who love the County, it’s a must read and for those who love wine I think you’ll find this a fascinating tale.