Grape and Wine (2018) PART THREE: Konzelmann Estate Winery

There are things I miss sometimes now that I don’t live in Niagara. The list seems to grow longer with my prolonged absence. One thing I miss greatly is peaches. Man, those peaches. August hits and it’s all I could think about when I was a kid. Yeah, we find them in Toronto grocery stores but it’s just not the same as getting them from the farms.

Now I’m an adult and I like wine and peaches.

And guess who has a peach wine? Yeah, buddy. Konzelmann has a peach wine.

STOP THREE: KONZELMANN ESTATE WINERY

Konzelmann is located perfectly next to the lake. They have this lookout that you can take pictures from, overlooking the vineyard that leads (almost drops off) into the lake. It’s, to me, one of the most perfect Niagara views you can see.

As soon as we got in, we went straight for the food pairing they had going on for the Grape and Wine Festival and were not disappointed.

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Konzelmann had this wonderful idea of pairing their 2017 Lakefront Series Shiraz with Philly Cheesesteak Wontons from the Dirty South Food Truck.

Everything here is freakin’ delicious. Let me start with the wontons. The mozza and smoked gouda is what did it for us. The shaved steak, too. Just… everything. All of these wonderful protein-rich ingredients blending with the wine created a perfectly smokey mouthful where you could find a battle between tannin and fatty foods. The sweeter red fruit flavours from this Shiraz complement the tangy sauce drizzled on top to give this pairing an extra layer of complexity and mouth-joy.

Now, there was something about this that tasted super familiar. I mean, I’ve had a Philly Cheesesteak before, but there was something else. It was the sauce you see on top of the wonton that did it. We were both instantly reminded of McDonald’s Big Macs. Boy, do we have a pairing for you in an upcoming post.

When this pairing was devoured, we headed over to the tasting bar. Now, we tasted an awful lot of Konzelmann wine, so I’m going to highlight just two of our favourites here.

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One that we absolutely adored was the 2016 Gewürtztraminer Late Harvest. Gewürtztraminer is typically one of my favourite white varietals and this one certainly showcases every trait I love about this grape. It boasts a heavier mouthfeel, almost a complete absence of acidity, and rich, vibrant tropical flavours of pineapple, mango, and lychee. Right off the nose, you’re smacked across the face with everything that this wine is and this is why I like it; this wine isn’t afraid to walk into a room, announce it’s presence, and just be what it is. It’s a little sweeter than I usually like any of my wines, but I make an exception in this case.

If my endorsement isn’t enough, it took home a Gold at the Ontario Wine Awards. We definitely grabbed a bottle of this and, as I write this blog post, it’s next up for drankin’ (yes, drankin’).

The other wine we got a hold of, drank, and purchased, was the 2017 Lakefront Series Peachwine. Oh, yeah. Made with local peaches. Know what it tastes like? Like peaches. Like someone took a Niagara peach off a tree, injected it with a bit of alcohol, insisted you try it, and you bit into the most crisp, refreshing, and satisfying peach ever.

We’ve got some ideas for this peach wine. I mean, beyond simply dumping it into our mouths and savouring the flavours therein. You’ll see. You’ll all see.

Anyway, thank you VERY MUCH to whoever the wonderful soul is that runs Konzelmann’s social media accounts, and thank you very much to the staff at Konzelmann for their wonderful hospitality.

Can’t wait to come visit again soon.

Grape and Wine (2018) PART TWO: Rosewood Estates Winery

I grew up on a cul-de-sac full of friendly neighbours that — no joke — would actually come over and borrow a cup of sugar (or other ingredients). It was a simpler time.

The coolest thing in the world to me, as an adult, are neighbour wineries. Mostly because I only have to stumble a short time before borrowing another cup of wine.

Right next to Angel’s Gate, you’ll find Rosewood. And you’ll be glad you did.

STOP TWO: ROSEWOOD ESTATES WINERY

Rosewood is located a short distance across the field from Angel’s Gate. In fact, below is Exhibit A: A photo taken from Rosewood, looking toward Angel’s Gate.
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Rosewood is one of the more unique, smaller producers in the area. They’re unique by way of their mead production, especially. And their branding is full of every bee pun you could imagine. This also affords them the opportunity to make some pretty awesome merch featuring bees.

The only thing better than their merch might be their lawn ornaments. That brings us to Exhibit Bee.
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Now, the wine. And the mead.

First, we tried the 2016 Viognier. Unfined, we’re told. Well, we were told it was unfiltered, which is basically the same thing. Are we splitting hairs here? Alright. Let me give you the quick explanation:
Fining uses some kinda substance like egg whites to gather up all the small solids in the wine and extract them. So, yeah, if you’re a vegan and a wine drinker, chances are fair you’re not as vegan as you thought.
Filtering is often done by pushing the wine through several slats with filters that almost look like square pieces of cardboard.

But anyway, the Viognier was pleasant. Oaked in a way that sort of muted a few of the more flowery notes I’ve come to expect from a Viognier, but with that came a bit of a more noticeably heavy mouth-feel, a mild vanilla undertone, and long tropical finish.

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Then we moved to the 2017 Notorious PTG. The name is obviously referencing Biggie Smalls. This red blend was served up chilled. Would pair well with a T-bone steak, cheese, eggs, and Welch’s Grape. It wasn’t really something we were into, but I’ll tell you what: It wasn’t bad. Very fruit-forward; heavy on the raspberry, cherry and plum notes of the Gamay Noir. If you’ve got a grandma throwing ice cubes in her wine all the time, this is the wine for her.

Next up was the Locked and Loaded. I’d rank it in the top three red blends I’ve had out of Niagara. It has nearly everything in it: Merlot, Malbec, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Petit Verdot. It was rich in every dark berry flavour, and oaked perfectly to give it the forest floor and herb flavours. More than that, it was smooth like cashmere, with just a light, pleasant tannin bite and a long finish.
We bought this. It didn’t last long. We opened it at a house party (our mistake) and everyone swarmed the bottle. We need to return to get more.

Lastly, we had to get in on the mead. We tasted the Mead Royale and loved it. Mead isn’t something I’m overly experienced with, but it was pleasantly sweet (like a late harvest) and rich in honey flavour without knocking your taste-buds out. It’s a wonderful drink that reminds me of banana, peanut-butter and honey sandwiches. There… uh… may be a pairing there.
We definitely grabbed a bottle of this.

Rosewood Estates is a must stop for anyone looking for a unique winery that clearly takes the time and care to get their wines and meads just right — and they’re not too shy to experiment a little.

Grape and Wine (2018) PART ONE: Angel’s Gate

Have you ever had a hangover last two days and think, “Yeah. I earned that one”?

Yeah. Yeah, you probably have.

But have you ever woken up the next morning, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, feeling like you completely avoided the jet-lag on your return flight from Drunk Town?

Yeah. Yeah, you probably have. And doesn’t it feel fantastic? Luckily, this is what happened to us — all of us. We brought a small crew with us to Grape and Wine this year and, somehow, all of us managed to awake the next morning unscathed, and ready to taste more wines the following day.

With that, let’s get into the winery visits, the discoveries, and the wonderful shenanigans that is the Grape and Wine Festival (or Niagara Winefest)!

STOP ONE: ANGEL’S GATE

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As we got into Niagara, the first stop was Angel’s Gate. I’ve been here a few times: a few times for recreation, and once for a meeting of i4C volunteers (and let’s face it, that was recreation, too). So I knew their back patio area was and is amazing, and I knew there was some wicked wood-oven pizza to be had.

But first: Wine.

We started with two whites. The first being the 2011 Mountainview Oaked Chardonnay. It had more characteristics of an Old World oaked chardonnay, with a long finish, medium-bodied mouth-feel, and a definite mineral-like quality. The kind staffer administering our tasting was talking about how the winemaker was comparing it to a Chablis-style chardonnay, and it definitely showed why.

Yes, we bought a bottle. Yes, we’ll have a junk food pairing for this beauty soon enough!

Next, we tasted the 2016 Süssreserve Riesling. For as sweet as it is, it’s balanced perfectly with the right acidity. I’m honestly not partial to sweet wines, and I find that when I taste riesling wines, I’m looking for a good balance of sweetness and acidity (or just a dry riesling) so that I don’t feel overwhelmed.
It’s like this Süssreserve was made to order.
So yes, we bought a bottle.

Then, remembering their 2012 Mountainview BIN XCV and how lucky I was to indulge in a bottle of that, all of my attention was focused on the 2015 Mountainview Cabernet Franc.

The Cab Franc was rich, bold, heavy, and just the way I like my reds. Notes of forest floor (yes, I’ve licked the forest floor), and massive flavours of currants, plum, and all the smokey goodness that the appassimento style brings to this wine combines to make another really good addition to the Mountainview series.

We did not buy this one. BUT HANG ON. I know, I know, I know.
“But Thomas, you just described a winegasm and you DID NOT buy this?!”
You’re right. Haaaaaang on.
We will be returning soon. And this wine can be cellared. And though it’s priced well at $30, we had to buy their 2016 Pinot Noir, as it is one of our absolute favourites.

We left with three bottles. But we’ll be coming back for more. No wine left behind… at least not for long.

On to the patio.

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Our group treated ourselves to a few of their wood-oven pizzas and glasses of pinot noir out on their patio for a bit. We were lucky to have the perfect fall weather for it and could see clear across the lake to Toronto.

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Another big bonus of being out on the patio is that our lunch was pleasantly interrupted by the sounds of harvest season. Music to our ears as the crusher destemmer started up and began to rumble, but couldn’t get close enough to ask anyone which kinds of grapes were being crushed.

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For those that don’t know, a crusher destemmer is just what it sounds like: It shakes a lot and crushes grapes while also sifting out stems.

All in all, it was a wonderful, very successful visit to Angel’s Gate.
We’re excited to return soon, and watch out for our pairing with the 2011 Mountainview Oaked Chardonnay!

Special thanks to Nicole Thorsley for taking the wonderful photos!