All good girls and boys hunt for chocolate eggs at Easter. I’ve always been a bit of a rebel though. Who wants to hunt for chocolate, when they can hunt for wine?
Hunting for wine is a much better plan, I think. Especially when my partner in wine-hunting crime, Sharon, comes to visit from Toronto. Sharon and I have been friends since grade nine. She has seen me in flash-dance sweaters, shoulder pads, and enormously big hair – and she’s still my friend.
Yes, we go way back, and we laugh about how our beverage choices have changed. Back in the big-hair days we thought we were extremely sophisticated to guzzle Wildberry coolers, Fuzzy Navels, or Durangos. (Does anyone out there remember Durangos? Peach, mixed berry and other sweet flavoured beers. A late 80’s specialty)
Our tastes are more refined these days, thank goodness.
We hatched our weekend plans over a glass of Lush, a new favourite of mine from Two Sisters Vineyards. In our chatting and tasting, we decided to really make a weekend of it. Saturday we would go a-hunting at three wineries in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Sunday we would head over to Beamsville. We wanted to mix it up – some wineries we had never been to, and some tried and true favourites.
So we started off on Saturday at Colaneri Estate Winery.
Some of our friends and several of our guests at Highbrook had absolutely raved about the wines at Colaneri. And believe it or not, I hadn’t been there yet. Colaneri is very unique. First, for its wines which are done in the Appassimento, Ripasso and Recioto styles. The use of the Appassimento style seems to work well in Niagara. Our growing season can be shorter than in other wine-growing regions of the world, and our weather can be inconsistent. Add in some rather brutal recent winters, and the process of winemaking can become very challenging. The Appassimento approach that Colaneri uses can help to create consistent wines year after year with big, bold flavours. To me, the only downside is that it does result in a lower yield.
The second reason Colaneri is unique is for its building. I didn’t have a wide enough lens to get a full picture. It is very impressive on the approach to the vineyard, and the pictures on their website do it way more justice than mine do. From the road it is pretty spectacular, especially in summer, and also at night.
But what is truly spectacular to me are the wines.
Our friends and guests weren’t joking. These are absolutely gorgeous wines. If you love big, bold reds, look no further. I came home with some of their 2010 Visione Syrah, some 2012 Pensieri Merlot, and some 2012 Corposo, a Ripasso style wine. I also got some 2010 Paese Chardonnay. Honestly I could have spent much much more there – but I had to rein myself in as I had more wineries to get to!
The service was lovely too. The person who poured my wines was very knowledgeable, attentive, and happy to make recommendations. There were also at least two members of the Colaneri family there, assisting in the tasting room. It was a very warm, welcoming environment.
A great experience. I won’t wait so long to go back, that’s for sure.
Then it was time for lunch. You already know how much I love Two Sisters Vineyards, so I had to take Sharon there. Luckily I had the foresight to book a table a few weeks back, to make sure we got in for the long weekend.
It was a gorgeous day – the skies were so blue, the sun so bright. It was positioned beautifully over Two Sisters.
Really, isn’t that gorgeous? Here in Niagara, the sky seems so intensely blue. I am obsessed with the sky and sunlight since I moved out here. But I digress.
More Two Sisters beauty.
Apparently, come summertime, there will be some seating on this gorgeous patio overlooking the vineyards. I think I will be a regular.
But since it was too chilly on Saturday, we were ever so grateful to eat inside.
So much about Kitchen 76 at Two Sisters makes me happy. Going there satisfies many parts of me – the winelover, the foodie, the (very) amateur photographer , the sociology grad/peoplewatcher. And it is a beautiful, light-filled space to boot.
One of the things I especially love to watch is the culinary team.
And the food they create is delectable.
We started with one of our favourites, Arancini.
Next visit, I have promised myself to try something other than the Arancini….but they are so good I may not be able to keep my promise. Cheesy yet light. Crispy and oh so comforting.
Ken also had his favourite Salsiccia and Pepperoni pizza, with tomato, sausage, roasted peppers, grilled onions and Parmigiano
Sharon had tagliatelle with white wine, pancetta, shrimp and cherry tomatoes
And me? I had the Pesto pizza with wild mushrooms, ricotta, spinach, sage, parsley pesto and truffle oil
Look at that glorious cheesiness.
Actually, let’s look at it again.
Doesn’t that make you want to run to Kitchen 76 right this very second? It sure makes me want to. The crust they make for pizza at Kitchen 76 is truly divine. Combined with the cheese, the earthiness of the mushrooms, the pesto…. and all topped off with truffle oil. I believe truffle oil to be one of the most brilliant culinary items ever created.
In addition to this pizza, of course.
After that delicious meal, we stopped in at the tasting room to sample Eleventh Post. Something else I had to get Sharon to try.
Feeling totally pleased with the first phase of our Easter Wine Hunt, we decided to call it a day. After all, when you are spending two days hunting, you need to pace yourself. So we headed home to plan our day in Beamsville – of course, over a glass of wine.