Cost: $18.95 (Sale:15% off for the month of December) Grape: Chardonnay Category: White Wine Location: Winery Country: Canada Region: St. David’s Bench, Niagara Region, Ontario Format: 750 mL Producer: Niagara College Teaching Winery Alcohol: 12.0% Alcohol/Vol.
I think this is the nicest Chard with oak influence at only 12% alcohol that I’ve tasted. As the name suggest, nice balance between the fruit, oak & acidity. Score: 90/100
Tasting Note: Bright gold in colour with good acidity, a medium intense nose & a long length on the finish. Wine features lemon, green apples, peach, pear, clementine, honeydew melon, meringue, oak spice & vanilla.
Pairings: Drink this now or in the next 4-6 years & pair it with Roasted Chicken With Apples and Leeks.
Cost: $29.95 (Sale Price until Jan 3, 2021: $24.95) Grape: 54% Chardonnay, 46% Pinot Noir Category: Sparkling Wine Location: LCBO Vintages Country: Canada Region: Niagara Peninsula, Ontario Format: 750 mL Producer: 13th Street Winery Alcohol: 12.5% Alcohol/Vol.
This just might be the best Ontario sparkling rosé that I have tried to date; simply delightful. Score: 94/100
Tasting Note: Deep salmon in colour with fine mousse, good acidity, a medium intense nose & a long length on the finish. Wine features brioche, strawberry, raspberry, pomegranate, Spy apple, clementine, roasted almonds & limestone.
Interesting Point: This is JP’s 2020 batch, although it’s non-vintage, he has elevated it from his previous batches.
Pairings: Drink this now or in the next several years & pair it with Madawaska cheese & roasted almonds.
My judging was based on 3 taste factors: 1) The wine being offered, 2) The food being offered, and 3) How the wine & food paired together.
My winner for best food & wine pairing at the Niagara Grape & Wine Festival is Niagara Teaching Winery with their Gastronomy Pinot Noir paired with Chef Tarun’s homemade olive & sautéed mushroom tapenade crostini with red peppers, chives & Prosciutto topping.
The newest edition to Niagara College Teaching winery is their Food Truck 101 with Chef Tarun cooking up some amazing food Wednesday to Sunday from 11 am to 6 pm. The food truck is located at the back of the Teaching Winery’s boutique, where you can enjoy some of the best foods this side of Toronto on their large patio, along with some amazing wines which I have reviewed, and not only was I incredibly impressed with the wineries 2014 Balance Blanc de Blanc Brut, but it won Double Gold and Sparkling Wine of the Year at this years Canadian Wine Championships. Congrats to wine maker Gavin Robertson. My pairing suggestion would be with any of the fries on the menu, as there’s nothing like pairing fries with Champagne/Sparkling wines.
Chef Tarun was born in India where he studied hotel management in IHM Mumbai and came to Canada in the Fall of 2018 where he studied culinary management at Niagara College. His goal is to open his own fine dining, fusion cuisine restaurant somewhere in Ontario where he can be close to local farms in order to provide patrons farm to table experiences and sustainable food options.
Lets talk about some of the delicious food that I tasted recently:
The Tacos are messy, but oh so good. Out of the four that he cooks, I would give the nod to the pulled pork as that is probably the best pulled pork I’ve ever had, so moist, tender & flavourful. His Baja fish tacos come a close second. The fish is marinated and so very moist and flavourful. Chef Tarun makes his tacos very spicy probably a few notches hotter than most people would be expecting from a food truck at a winery, so if you like it hot, leave it be, but if you want it toned down, please let your server know how you like it.
Now, let’s talk about fries. One word describes them: amazing. Thinly sliced, with crunchy exterior, yet perfectly tender inside and spices to match your palate. My favourite is his Cajun. He can up the heat if you like it, as I did as the top of my head was sweating, but I couldn’t stop eating them, so delicious. Masala spiced is my 2nd favourite followed by a tie with the salt n’ pepper and smoked paprika.
Chef Tarun’s nachos platter, which is a fusion cuisine dish influenced by his Indian culture and Tex Mex fusion, is deceiving large, and generally to be shared unless you’re really hungry.
Outside his regular menu, Chef Tarun will be featuring new options each week, I had the privilege to sample his Ice wine panna cotta with berry coulis, salted chocolate, strawberries, dehydrated mint and dill flowers. It was very flavourful, elegant and delicious. A true Niagara winery pleasure.
In conclusion Chef Tarun runs a great kitchen because he cares. There’s soul in his food and you feel that when you eat it; you just feel fulfilled.
Could this be the best traditional made Riesling sparkling wine in Canada? Well, I don’t know as I’ve never tasted every one of them, but in the ones that I have & lets include Blanc de Blancs sparkling wines in general & further add that’s it’s under $27, this is definitely one of the best. Score: 93/100
Tasting Note: Straw with a green ting in colour with fine mousse, good acidity, a medium intense nose & a fairly long length on the finish. Wine features lime, green apples, pear & limestone.
Interesting Point: I just love the colour coding labels the Teaching Winery is using for their sparkling wines.
Pairings: Drink now or over the next 7-9 of years on its own or pair it with cucumber gazpacho, especially the one from the Teaching Winery food truck’s chef; Tarun makes.
Grape: Pinot Noir
Category: Red Wine
Region: Niagara-on-the-Lake, Niagara Region, Ontario
Format: 750 mL
Producer: Niagara College Teaching Winery
Alcohol: 13.0% Alcohol/Vol.
Styled in classic Ontario Pinot style (Old Word meets New World) it’s taut, complexed & full of Pinot flavour. Score: 89/100
Tasting Note: Light ruby to garnet in colour with high acidity, a medium to low intense nose, firm tannin & a very long length on the finish. Wine features Rainier cherries, pomegranate, cranberries, strawberries, red beets, sweet tobacco, a touch of vanilla, underbrush & violets on the nose.
Interesting Point: Chill to 15 C degrees & use a balloon style glassware.
Pairings: Drink now or over the next 4-5 of years on its own or pair it with roasted duck & pickled red beets.
A mishmash of red wines makes this on the sweeter side but has some nice spice to add some complexity. Score: 85/100
Tasting Note: Light ruby in colour with average acidity, a medium+ intense nose, light tannin & a length on the finish. Wine features plum, Kirsch, blueberry pie, Bing cherries, raspberry, ripe tamarinds, black tea, raspberries & Allspice.
Negatives: Comes across a little like a commercial California red wine.
Interesting Point: This is where the quality of the stemware is important as if you use high quality glassware it will accentuate the negatives in this wine, therefore use the traditional Italian table wine glassware, just a glass will do.
Pairings: Drink now or over the next couple of years on its own or pair it with Moroccan spiced lamb chops with allspice and thyme.
Niagara College Teaching Winery winemaker; Gavin Robertson, has outdid himself with his new traditional method Rosé sparkling wine, & I am putting it as one of Canada’s top Rosé sparkling wines that I have the pleasure of tasting.
Tasting Note: Pale salmon in colour with a fine mouse, good acidity, a medium intense nose & a long length on the finish. Wine features light yeast, strawberry, red apples, pear, kiwi & hazelnut.
Interesting Point: The Teaching Winery now has 4 sparkling wines (Blanc de Blancs, Brut, Rosé & Riesling. The Riesling sparkling I will be reviewing next Sunday), & I love the colour labeling of all 4 wines.
Pairings: Drink now or over the next 5-7 years on its own or pair it with Cajun spiced fries, especially made by the Teaching Winery chef; Tarun, from his food truck now on the premise serving excellent food.