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Winemakers’ dinner — digging the roots of wineries in Niagara-on-the-Lake

By Michael Lowe

If you don’t follow The Wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake on social media you’re likely missing out on many of their special events. Last weekend’s Dig Our Roots event was kicked off on Friday night with a winemakers’ dinner. Here’s a quick review.

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Dinner was held at the beautiful Pillar and Post Inn and Spa in the old town. A sparkling wine reception got the night rolling as sparklers from Château des Charmes, Niagara College Teaching Winery and Pondview Estate Winery were featured (photo above). A five-course menu (photo below) presented by Executive Chef Mark Longster followed paired with some very interesting wines.

Niagara wine

A salad of tender lettuces was paired with pears poached in Queenston Mile Vineyard 2016 Chardonnay, candied walnuts and a goat cheese crostini (photo below). The dish, paired with the Chardonnay, really worked well thanks to the ripe pear notes, integrated oak and caramel nuance in this elegant Chard.

Our second course featured duck prepared two ways — roasted duck breast and confit of duck leg (photo below). The wine pairing featured Riverview Cellars Estate Winery 2016 Pinot Noir. Elements in the dish used to tie in the wine were a cherry-Pinot reduction and raspberry salad which played nicely with the ripe, dark berry flavour and subtle cinnamon note in the wine.

An intermediate course of Upper Canada Cheese Comfort Cream and English Stilton with honey came next paired with Ravine Vineyard Estate Winery 2018 Small Batch Riesling. Moving on to the entrèe, we see the flavours amp up substantially — a beef rib eye steak rubbed with a dark, savoury spice blend with hints of coffee and pan seared to perfection. It’s served with gold potato mash dotted with corn kernels, asparagus and root vegetables (photo below). The beef, with its lovely dark crust was paired with Marynissen Estate Winery 2015 Platinum Series Cabernet Sauvignon. This pairing, for me, was a highlight of the night.

Dessert featured a duo of sweet treats—caramelized apple gâteau and chocolate icewine crème brûlée (photo below). The wine paired with dessert was Palatines Hills Estate Winery 2012 Vidal Icewine, which is showing its age gracefully now. It was a killer match with the apple components on the plate.

The dinner was attended by winemakers from each of the wineries who were seated among the guests giving us the opportunity to chat one-on-one. I was seated next to Marynissen’s new winemaker Mitchell McCurdy. He intimated that his goal is to refocus the red wine portfolio to capture the big, bold style reminiscent of those created by the late John Marynissen, founder of the winery.

The dinner, in this, its first year, is poised to become yet another of the wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake’s signature events. There are plenty of noteworthy events held at the 26 wineries over the course of the year. Dig Our Roots, sadly, only runs for one weekend but there’s much more on now and just around the corner.

Just one is the Sip & Sizzle wine and food pairing event running for four weekends in May. You can stay on top of upcoming events here or sign up for their newsletter. Event photographer Elena Galey-Pride has also posted photos on the Facebook page (link below)

Website: Wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake

Twitter: @NiagaraWine

Facebook: Wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake