Niagara-on-the-Lake Icewine Festivities

Last week, I was the happy recipient of a “pay-it-forward” incident.

To give you the full story, let’s back up a bit. Remember my Discovery Pass dilemma? So many choices, only so many tickets. But while I was at Konzelmann (who has a brilliant pairing, by the way), Ken got to chatting with a couple of friendly tourists from Ohio.

Now, this is nothing unusual – Ken is always talking to people when we’re out. After all, you never know when someone will need a great B&B, right? So Ken will happily share the Highbrook love. These ladies were on their way home though, and they had leftover Discovery Pass tickets. What to do? Well, at first I was kind of puzzled. Leftover tickets seem impossible to me – kind of like the notion of “leftover” wine.  But these nice ladies shared their bounty with me, nothing asked in return.  The only thing they said was “Pay it forward to someone else one day.”

Deal.

So lucky me, my dilemma was solved, and I was able to get to seven pairings in Niagara-on-the-Lake. I’m only telling you my top five though, for the sake of brevity. I can ramble, as you probably know by now. Especially when it comes to wine.

Let’s kick it off at Konzelmann.

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I didn’t think Konzelmann could top their pairing from last year. I loved that pairing of butter chicken with Icewine so much, that I wrote a whole post about it. This year’s pairing probably deserves a whole post too, but I did promise I would be brief. Their Atlantic Seafood Chowder with a hint of spice, matched with Vidal Icewine was amazing. Honestly, one of my two favourite pairings.

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My other favourite pairing was from Rancourt. I first visited them last year during Days of Wine and Chocolate, where they blew me away with their offering. That was Lobster Bisque with White Chocolate shavings matched with their Chardonnay Reserve and gosh, it was good. I still talk about that pairing and it’s almost a year later. That’s how good it was.

Their Icewine Festival selection is just as incredible though – Harvest Barn Wicked Thai Chicken Soup matched with their Gewurtztraminer Icewine. To illustrate its goodness, I will tell you that Ken loved it. He is not a soup guy, so this really does say a lot. If you’re at the Harvest Barn and see this soup, don’t even think about it, just buy it. And heck, do that with Rancourt’s Gewurtztraminer Icewine too.

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PondView also had a terrific pairing of Chocolate-dipped Strawberry Cups and Blue Cheese Bread Pudding, with their Vidal Icewine. I was there pretty late in the day, and I think they had run out of the strawberry cups. I had just a plain chocolate one, but that didn’t matter in the slightest. It’s yummy. The blue cheese bread pudding was tasty too. Once again, Ken surprised me with his liking for this dish. He hates blue cheese, but really liked this bread pudding.  That’s why we’re a good match. Surprises make us both very happy. As long as they’re good ones.

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Chateau des Charmes seems to consistently do pairings I enjoy for the Discovery Pass tastings, and this one was no different.  They were serving  a Pork Belly Taco with apple onion slaw, and 2014 Vidal Icewine to wash it down. I’ll be honest and tell you that I am not partial to Vidal, but this Icewine was nice. The gent serving me explained that the 2014 Vidal Icewine is not as sweet because it hasn’t aged as long. Perhaps that was what added to my enjoyment of it. They had me at the word “taco” too.

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My last mention will be Riverview Cellars Estate Winery.

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Riverview was promising fresh fruit and housemade cinnamon-cranberry biscotti, dipped in a fountain of Belgian chocolate. This was matched with their Cabernet Franc Icewine. When I considered going there, I thought the chocolate fountain would make for some pretty neat photos. Alas, when I arrived, the fountain was empty. I was told that they only run it on Saturdays and Sundays, but I was there on a Friday, so missed out. I was disappointed.

However, the fruit and biscotti pairing was still tasty, even without the dramatic effects of a gushing chocolate fountain. The biscotti was very good. I usually stay away from them, as I find most are way too hard for my teeth to handle. This one was not. Add in some chocolate, and the yum factor skyrockets. Cab Franc seems to be my favourite of all Icewines too.

Finally, there is the Icewine Village.

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Unfortunately, I didn’t stay long at the Niagara-on-the-Lake Icewine Village. It was just too darn cold for me. But it looked like the lively crowd was having a great time.

This weekend, January 30th and 31st you can venture down there again. Perhaps the weather just might be a bit more co-operative. This weekend has a slightly different twist with a theme of Shop, Sip, Sample and Savour. Sip some Icewine, have some tasty goodies, and shop the stores of Queen Street. Sounds like a nice afternoon out. You also have one weekend left to enjoy the Discovery Pass listings, both in Niagara-on-the-Lake and Twenty Valley.

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And that, my friends, wraps up all of the Icewine happenings for me for this year. An awesome event in Twenty Valley, and lots upon lots of Icewine tastings and activities made for a very busy month. I’m telling you, blogging really is such hard work. All that food and wine tasting, general festiveness, meeting nice people. Yep, really tough.

Never fear though, I’ve got lots of other great Niagara stuff to share over the next few weeks. I’m also about to set off on a different adventure, which I’ll be telling you all about very soon.