Days of Wine and Chocolate Part I

Living in Niagara wine country offers such an array of events for both seasoned wine lovers and those of us who just take pleasure in finding a really great wine and pairing it with an equally fabulous dish!  As a lover of all things sweet, February was  a favourite!!  Three Sundays of Days of Wine and Chocolate.  What’s a girl to do!

Until this month I was not a lover of red wine.  Who knew Merlot would end up being a favorite!!

I will start by confessing that I am by no means a wine expert!  I think, as is the average wine consumer, I like what I like, and therefore I buy what I like!  I can’t always tell you the different “notes” and “undertones” or “finishes” of a wine, but I can certainly give an honest evaluation of what I enjoy!  I tend to gravitate to the sweet desert wines, but was pleasantly suprised by all the wonderful reds that paired so nicely with the dark chocolate treats!

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This is a view of the vineyards that are maintained and harvested by the Niagara College Students.

Next stop was Ravine Winery and I could have spent a very long time here!  The pairing was a 2011 Cabernet Franc with a Chocolate Pecan Tart.  I really enjoyed this hearty red complimented by the  sweetness of the tart with dark chocolate drizzle.

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This winery has the cutest little “General Store” with all kinds of culinary delights.  Flavored oils, fresh breads and baked goods, artisan cheeses and colorful kitchen tools!

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Between The Lines Winery is the cutest little place! Here we enjoyed a 2011 Rosé paired with white chocolate macadamia mousse.  The Rosé was crisp and fruity and enhanced by flavor of the mild white chocolate mousse.

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Inniskillin is known around the world for their award winning Icewine.  We  enjoyed a 2008 Vidal Icewine with a chocolate peanut butter ball.  The Icewine was sweet and smooth and balanced perfectly with the dark, almost bitter chocolate with just a hint of peanut butter!

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Icewine grapes on the vine!

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Pellar Estates is a stunning winery that pleases all the senses!

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Here we enjoyed Andrew Peller Signature Series Ice Cuvee paired with a candied bacon and chocolate covered sponge toffee.

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This was one of only a couple of sparkling wines we tasted and it was a surprise to the palette.  It was not as sweet as I had anticipated given it was an ice cuvee.  This one, for me was just okay.  The chocolate covered sponge toffee however was a real winner here for me.  The sponge toffee is made in house by the Chef.  It was delicious and wished I could have brought home a whole bag!

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Pellar Estates Winery is massive and there was lots to explore while tasting, and they have tons of culinary delights.  I did come home with a really cute serving bowl!

At Marynissen Estates Winery we met the loveliest two ladies who introduced me to how wonderful Merlot went with a dark rich chocolate dessert! Here we tasted their 2007 Merlot with a triple chocolate fudge brownie.

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I was really looking forward to visiting Pondview Estates Winery as they were pairing a 2011 Select Late Harvest Vidal with a banana chocolate tart drizzled with caramel.  The wine was fruity (think peachy) and sweet, exactly how I like it!  The tart was not nearly as sweet as I had expected in fact, I could barely detect a banana flavor, but good all the same.

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Coyote’s Run paired their 2011 Five Mile White with a white chocolate dipped lemon shortbread.  The wine was crisp and fruity and the subtle lemon flavored cookie was a treat.  One of the larger sweets on the tour!

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One of my favourite wineries was Hinterbrook!  Here we were greeted by a gentleman named Rick, who was a wealth of knowledge and really knew his stuff.  We enjoyed a paring of their 2010 Merlot with a Cafe Royle, which was a dark chocolate delight, again had me swooning over the Merlot.

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We got to sip our tasting as we explored the cellar room which smelled of just a hint of oak!

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Rick left us wanting to come back again for a more complete tour and to enjoy their patio in the summer time!

I hope you are enjoying the tour so far, and I have left you wanting to return for more!!

I will leave you to savour all the wonderful wines and sweets and will post Part II next week.

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