Views from the Ontario Vines
with Fred Couch
The Niagara Chapter held its annual dinner at Peller Estates Winery on November 5 th . We chose to call this an “anniversaries” dinner because in 2011 there are many milestones – the 20 th anniversary of the OWS, the 50 th anniversary of Andrew Peller Limited, the 60 th anniversary of the Niagara Wine Festival and, although this may be disputed by some, the 200 th anniversary of the wine industry in Canada.
Peller Estates Winery
Members and guests were greeted by the Peller staff and were invited to sit by the roaring fire to warm up or try a few wine samples at the tasting bar before the reception. We were then escorted to the barrel cellar where we were served glasses of Peller Ice Cuvee sparkling wine. For those who haven't visited the barrel cellar at Peller, don't expect to see hoses, pumps, tanks, etc. This is an elegant barrel cellar with pristine barrels and tables set up with white linen and lit up by candle light.
We then left the coolness of the cellar for the adjoining wine library where Niagara President, Clarke Baker, welcomed members and guests from the Niagara, Toronto and Halton Chapters. He then introduced our guest speaker for the evening, Mark Torrance, National Director of Estate Wineries. Mark related some very amusing stories of the early days of Andrew Peller and how it all began with one of the most popular Ontario wine products of all time (and the wine many of us, in our youth, drank as our first wine) – “Baby Duck”. As they say, “you've come a long way, Baby”. This was confirmed by the wonderful wines that were served with the meal prepared by Executive Chef, Jason Parsons and his staff.
Clarke Baker presenting Mark Torrance with a certificate honouring the
50th Anniversary of Andrew Peller Limited.
The wine library is glass enclosed and I was surprised when Chef Jason informed me that the meal would be plated outside the room for everyone to see. It was quite amazing to watch how the team puts everything together. The meal started with a salad of prosciutto, grilled artichokes, baby arugula, Bleu Brie cheese with a wild mustard vinaigrette. The 2010 Sauvignon Blanc “Signature Series” was a perfect match with this salad.
Chef Jason Parsons
The main course was halibut wrapped in smoked bacon with Niagara peaches, fresh corn and Piacere cheese. This got rave reviews from our table and was perfect with the 2009 Chardonnay “Sur Lie”. We were in for a treat when Mark Torrance noticed that there wasn't any red wine being served with the meal and asked the staff to pour a glass of 2008 Cabernet Franc for everyone. I had a steak substitute for the main course so I was a happy camper when I saw the red wine coming around!
The meal part of the evening was made complete with a walnut cheesecake served with a grape sorbet & rosemary Crème Anglaise. This was matched with a 2007 oak aged Vidal Icewine – “Signature Series”.
To top off the evening, the group had a surprise in store. Jason Parsons led us up the ramp from the barrel cellar outside to where two roaring fires warmed the chill of the night. We were served a glass of 2007 Signature Series Riesling Icewine and one of Jason's signature Icewine marshmallows to toast on the glowing embers. The recipe for these delicious marshmallows can be found at http://www.jamesbeard.org/index.php?q=recipes%2Fshow%2Ficewine_marshmallows . Coffee and tea was then served inside to end a wonderful event.
An event like this could not have happened without a lot of assistance by the staff at Peller. On behalf of the Niagara Chapter, thanks go out to Sherri Lockwood, Georgia Greenan, Chef Jason Parsons and guest speaker, Mark Torrance for all your help. Thanks also to Sue Couch for helping me organize this dinner.
Photos by Bruce Jackson. More photos can be found on the OWS website at www.ontariowinesociety.com
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