Winemaker’s Dinner at Konzelmann

Last Friday I had the good fortune to be invited to a special event at Konzelmann.

I’ve written about Konzelmann several times since I started this blog, for lots of reasons. I like many of their wines. I like that their price range would be considered reasonable for many people. And even though I’m not partial to fruit wines, I love their peach wine too. It’s a terrific summer sipper.

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Aside from that, Konzelmann is one of the very first wineries I ever visited in Niagara. Back in the early 90’s, I used to come down with my parents every year for them to buy their “Christmas Wine”. Now, my Mom doesn’t drink much at all, but my Dad sure loved his wine. That’s probably something I inherited from him – well, that, and his eyes. He always enjoyed coming down here, spending a day going from winery to winery, even though there weren’t very many back then. For some reason he felt he had to justify this though. He always said we needed to stock up and buy a few cases of wine, “For Christmas”.  Konzelmann’s Riesling and Zweigelt were two of his favourites.

We never entertained during the holidays on a large scale, so I don’t know why he thought we would need all this wine especially “For Christmas”. Everyone in my family would just nod and smile, and give each other these knowing looks. My Dad – God bless him –  would always find reasons for us to open a bottle. We knew there wouldn’t be much left come December.

So, Konzelmann is also special to me because it brings back some happy memories of my Dad. And I think he would have had fun with us at their Winemaker’s Dinner.

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When we arrived, we were greeted with a glass of sparkling and some tasty hors d’oeuvres.

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We chatted, sipped and munched while listening to some smooth jazz tunes. The trio, Dually Noted, was terrific.

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I loved that Herbert Konzelmann, the owner/head winemaker, and Eric Pearson, Winemaker were there to welcome us. I’m positive they spoke to every single person there that night.

I told Eric he might end up on the blog. He didn’t seem to mind.

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Then it was time to begin our feast. The doors to our room were opened, and we were presented with this beautifully set table.

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A long communal seating arrangement, making the atmosphere both friendly and elegant at the same time. Place cards determined where we would sit, so we claimed our places

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Eager for our sumptuous repast to begin.

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There were some opening words

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And of course, a toast led by Herbert Konzelmann and Eric Pearson.

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Then we met our culinary master for the evening, Chef Paul Huggins.

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Chef Huggins is no stranger to Niagara, as he was the winner of Iron Chef Niagara in 2014. Currently he is Sous Chef at Marcus Samuelsson’s Signature Restaurant, Marcus’ Bermuda. Yes, I said Bermuda. He’s a lucky guy, huh?

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But we were lucky too –  lucky to have him preparing seven incredible courses for us, matched perfectly with Konzelmann wines.

Starting with a Chilled Asparagus Soup Shooter with a Parmesan Chip, paired with Konzelmann Winemaster’s Collection Sauvignon Blanc 2014. A perfect way to kick off this celebration of Spring

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Then we moved onto a Nova Scotia Scallop Carpaccio with Spring Pea Shoots, Tomato, Pickled Chili, Puffed Rice and Yuzu Vinaigrette.

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I enjoyed this one. The lightness of the scallop with the zing from the pickled chili, with an herb-y note from the pea shoots was very pleasant indeed. This was once again matched with the 2014 Winemaster’s Collection Sauvignon Blanc. It made for a refreshing flavour burst to start off our wining and dining.

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Next, a Chinese Five-Spice Quebec Duck Breast with Rhubarb Gastrique, Wild Leek Purée and Gingerbread Crumbs, served with Konzelmann’s  2012 Pinot Noir Reserve. It was a gorgeous match, the duck was absolute perfection. Such a treat for me too, I don’t get duck very often.

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Onto Miso Glazed Great Lakes Pickerel with Sweet and Sour Sorrel, Scallion Tempura Fritter, Hon-Shimeji Mushrooms and Dashi Broth.

I’ll tell you honestly that I’m not a particular fan of pickerel. I’ve tried it many times, but it’s just not my thing, I guess. I really loved the Scallion Tempura Fritter though. I’ll also tell you honestly that I’m not the biggest Riesling fan either, but Konzelmann just might have won me over here. Their 2014 Old Vines Reserve Riesling went really well with this dish.

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In between the courses there was a constant buzz of conversation. Everyone was enjoying the food, wine, and each other.

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Then we had what was my absolute favourite course of the evening – Truffled Artichoke Ravioli with Whipped Mascarpone, Shaved Asparagus, Crispy Shallots, and Truffle Butter.

Let’s just let the thought of those sublime ingredients sink in for a moment.

How did Chef Paul know that he was combining several of my very favourite things in the whole wide world?

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Oh, but it just gets better. This was paired with Konzelmann’s 2012 Chardonnay Family Reserve.

The angels were singing, friends. Singing.

What a beautiful, beautiful Chardonnay. Butterscotchy, perfectly balanced oak. If you love Chardonnay like I do, get thee to Konzelmann and buy some. Like, right now. You will not be disappointed.

And invite me over too,’ kay?

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I was willing to sit in a state of bliss and just bask in that incredible pairing.

But we had two more courses coming.

Moroccan Spiced Ontario Lamb Filet with Black Lentil Ragout, Charred Lemon, Fried Olives and Saffron Emulsion, with 2012 Cabernet Merlot Reserve

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The lamb lovers were raving about this one. I enjoyed the Black Lentil Ragout too, it was scrumptious. So was the 2012 Cabernet Merlot Reserve.

I might – just might – have had an additional pour.

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You may be thinking how we could possibly have had room for dessert?

Well, dessert was fresh and light, the perfect finale.

Here is Vanilla Yogurt Panna Cotta with Icewine Poached Rhubarb, Salted Oatmeal Granola, and Basil Sorbet matched with 2010 Vidal Icewine. It was recommended that we leave the Basil Sorbet to the very end, and it was a tasty way to cleanse the palate.

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While we finished up, we had some final words and thanks from our hosts. They graciously received our thanks in return.

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So once again I’ll say, thanks Konzelmann. You continue to give me some great memories.

Now I just have to go back and get my “Christmas Wine”. And I’ll be thinking of you, Dad.

**I was invited to attend this fantastic event at Konzelmann, but was not asked/required to write a post about it in return. All opinions are my own**