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Sunday, September 12, 2010

Wine Council of Ontario Tour of Lake Erie North Shore wineries, part three of three

The Time and Date: Tuesday Aug 24 through Thursday Aug 26, 2010
The Event: Lake Erie North Shore and Pelee Area Wine Country FAM Tour
for Wine Writers' Circle of Canada and other media, courtesy of the
Wine Council of Ontario.
The Venue: Bus, host wineries, and the Windsor Hilton Hotel.
The Target Audience: WWCC members and other wine media
The Availability/Catalogue: we drank several wines that were not really
available anywhere except at the winery, as accompaniment to the
lunches and dinners that we had.
The Quote/Background: we were to taste wines and interview principals
to increase our understanding of the LENS and Pelee wine appellations
(microclimates) plus wine country experiences in the area. Many of the
new wineries host events such as weddings, team building, corporate
parties, and the like.
The Wines: some of the wines we had with food or at the last minute
were library wines – they were not available for sale but would, of
course, rank high. Muscedere Vineyards led the way with stunning
Meritage 2006, Pinot Noir 2006, Syrah 2007, and Cabernet Sauvignon
2007. Colio Estate Vineyards had Six Barrel Shiraz 2006 and Nine Barrel
Shiraz 2007. Mastronardi pulled several barrel samples, including
Merlot 2008 and Cabernet Sauvignon 2008, skedded for release in early

The Food: we began with lunch at Mastronardi. We had just tasted with
winemaker Lyse LeBlanc when the first course arrived from the caterer
(Philly's): a fabulous pan fried pickerel, freshly caught that morning.
Tried against their Brianje Riesling and Chardonnay BF. A tomato and
garden salad followed, that I had with a'Dorah sparkling. The heavies
arrived next: steak and mushroom with a cabernet sauvignon reduction.
And the palatschinke ended the meal (and us), along with the vibrant
Vidal Icewine. And Chardonnay BF IS my Best Friend in the wine world.
That night we got in an hour late, and delayed our meal at the Lebanese
restaurant Mazaar. There we had their usual parsley salads, hummus,
baba ghanoush, followed by platters of different meats on skewers
(chicken, beef, lamb -- each done three ways or more). There was only
one LENS wine on the list, Sprucewood Shores Riesling, so we ordered
four or more bottles and heartily consumed them. I waddled home before
the rest did.
Up bright and early the next day for the breakfast buffet at the
Hilton. No wines here, but average foods except for the bacon and the
smoked salmon. There was also a bran muffin that looked and tasted
densely like the real thing (with raisins). Lunch was at Sprucewood
Shores, catered through in Kingsville. We had a local
salad, followed by a lamb shank on a bed of polenta with chopped
tomatoes, and ended with angel food cake and berries. We sipped at the
wines that had been tasted. The lamb shank was enormous but both Zoltan
Szabo and I managed to pick clean our respective bones. On to Pelee
Island Winery for a massive tasting with four other wineries and Pelee
Island Winery itself, followed by dinner at the PI Winery. We opened
with cold potato and red pepper soup which hit the spot with Pelee's
new sparkler, Secco Pelee Frizzante, made from pinot bianco, selling
for $15. It has just been released but to restaurants only. Nicely
creamy through cuvee close. Other wines came out, such as the
Chardonnay Barrique, a steal at $14. The next course was an inspired
simple farfalle pasta quickly followed by a tomato and bocconcini
salad. The fish course was a grilled radicchio stemmy leaves with
pickerel and perch cheeks. The main was a huge pork chop with a
rosemary sprig sticking up (very 90s-ish). Dessert was, I think, muesli
ice cream – or at least that's what it tasted like. A pile of sweeties
came out but I could not handle them.
Up bright but not early for checkout and more smoked salmon with bacon.
We drove forever, and those that missed breakfast picked at the cheese
platters at Smith and Wilson. We made a few wrong turns and ended up a
few hours late for lunch at M.E. and Suzies in Port Stanley. They have
an extensive wine selection featuring only VQA wines from LENS/PI. We
were started with a cold ale (Earl's Elgin County Auburn Ale) that goes
into their ale and cheddar soup (which was then served to us on the
windy patio). This was followed by a smoked trout salad (which chef
does himself) on Belgian endive boats. Out came more Pelee Island Secco
Pelee for a toast! Table wine was Pelee Island Gewurztraminer 2006
Reserve, very nicely aged. It was instructive to see how well it can
age. The three beet salad (red, golden, and a mix of yellow and red)
had plenty of microgreens from the surrounding area. Pelee Island
Semillon Sauvignon Blanc was a perfect accompaniment. Then came two
kinds of freshly caught perch: pan fried with no salt, while the other
perch was lightly battered. Both the Gewurztraminer and the Sem-Sauv
went very well here. A success with everybody! For dessert, a rich
maple syrup crème brulee and Pelee Island Vidal Icewine from 2004
(which I nailed as to its year). Then we waddled to the bus.
The Downside: overall, too much food.
The Upside: daily perch and pickerel!
The Contact Person:
The Marketing Effectiveness (numerical grade): 93.

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