Niagara in January may not be top-of-mind for a getaway, but with icewine, great eats, music and lots of fun activities on the schedule for Ontario’s biggest wine region, it should be. In fact, this weekend was the first of three jam-packed weekends full of all of the aforementioned. For 2015, the region is celebrating #NiagaraChilled, which includes the Icewine Festival, 20 Valley Winter WineFest and much, much more. Niagara is definitely a hotspot for winter wine fun right now.
Shawn and I have visited the Icewine Festival over the last two years and we’re excited to be returning this year with the fabulous iYellow Wine crew. iYellow put together a preview event last week to make sure local bloggers were aware of just what Niagara has to offer this month.
You can find a full schedule and information about the many events and tastings at www.niagarachilled.com. While the first weekend activities have taken place, there are still two more weekends to go and they are chock full of things to do.
At the preview event, I was able to taste through some fantastic examples of Niagara icewine – a great reminder that Ontario icewine is an incredible treat. Here are the wines we sampled:
Peller Estates Ice Cuvée Classic - This is a long-time favourite for me. It's a traditional method sparkling with an icewine dosage added after fermentation. It's also delicious. This was a popular option for those looking for something less sweet and more in line with the typical wine experience. For me, this showcases the diversity of icewine and is a reminder that it can be used in many ways.I'm really wishing I could be in Niagara for this year's icewine cocktail contest, which takes place on the second week of #NiagaraChilled.
Cave Spring Cellars 2013 Riesling - A popular choice at the event, this icewine has very balanced acidity that helps the sweetness seem less intense on the palate. I really enjoyed it and highly recommend this for those wanting to introduce someone to icewine.
Peller Estates 2013 Oak Aged - This is a Vidal-based icewine. Personally, I like Vidal icewines, but they present as much sweeter. While the actual sugar levels may be on par with a Riesling icewine, I always find the Vidal comes across as sweeter because of the lower acidity. I was curious about the oak aging on this one, but really didn't get a lot of oak on the palate or nose.
Chateau Des Charmes 2012 Cabernet Franc - I love Niagara Cabernet Franc and am always interested in how winemakers use this more savoury grape in icewine. The CDC 2012 was a good example of how you can do something a little different with icewine and still keep the most important characteristics. I got a great licorice note on this wine on the first few sips and then it developed more ripe berry and candied fruit qualities. It was nicely balanced and didn't feel overpoweringly sweet. I paired it with a lamington (Australian white cake with chocolate and coconut) from Kanga quite successfully. The cake wasn't overly sweet, so it didn't overpower the icewine.
This sneak peak has me excited to try even more fabulous icewines when we visit on the 24th. Be sure to add me on Twitter and Instagram if you'd like to follow along. And you can book your own icewine adventure via www.niagarachilled.com.
Learn more about #NiagaraChilled via this video from Angela Aiello: