SaviourLife visits Cuvee Grand Tasting March 23, 2018

By Elaine B Peters

This year was the 30th Anniversary of Cuvee, an event that celebrates Excellence in Ontario Winemaking. Organized by Brock University’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI) and held at the Scotiabank Convention Center in Niagara Falls.  

Over 100 Wines from 48 Wineries in attendance, many for the first time. With 12 Food sampling stations from well-known local Restaurants such as Benchmark Restaurant at NTC, HobNob, Treadwell, Zees and Italian Ice Cream (the chocolate/orange/cheesecake was devine), they had almost every taste covered. The area where The Righteous Monger was with Niagara Food Specialties was a hub of activity most of the evening.

Prior to the Gala there were some pretty special Awards were handed out. Sue-Ann Staff won the Tony Aspler Cuvee Award of Excellence. It was a big surprise to the 5th Generation winemaker as the Family and everyone kept it a secret from her. She almost didn’t attend but thankfully her Mom convinced her to go.  She is a role model to many Women in the industry, including me.

Albrecht Seeger won the Cuvee Vineyard of Excellence Award. He is an 8th Generation grape grower who along with his Wife Anja Bertelmann maintains a large 150-acre vineyard of premium Vitis vinefera grapes.

The inaugural Cuvee Winemaker of Excellence Award was given to Angelo Pavan, vice-president, winemaker and founding partner of Cave Spring Cellers. I got to speak briefly with him as well. Such a wealth of knowledge on the industry and engaging man to speak with. Well-deserved indeed.

The Wineries were arranged into 6 areas, with over 100 Wineries a strategy was needed to ensure you did not overdo it trying to taste them all.

I started with Sparkling wines. 13th Street, Chateau des Charms, Fielding, Henry of Pelham and Kacaba were the ones I was able to try. Our Ontario Sparkling is really hitting the mark with the range and style of options from Methode Traditionnelle to tank method, with the costs adjusting accordingly. You can get a bottle of very fine bubble for around $30.00 now in the LCBO and still go local.

Next up I tasted the whites. Looking back on my notes I realize I tasted a lot of Chardonnay that evening, 7 to be exact. They ranged from Two Sisters Unoaked Chardonnay in a Chablis style to ones from Adamo Estates, Tawse Winery, Karlo Estates, Westcott Vinyards and ICellers which were all excellent examples of how Ontario Chardonnay has evolved into a more refined full bodied, flavourful style with oak used to enhance not overtake the grape characteristics.

I also tasted two White blends; White from Stratus Vinyards (sophisticated blend that for with a meal would unify a meal) and the Crown Land White from The Hare (easy drinking Riesling/Gewürztraminer blend for out on the patio or just because).

Last but not least the Reds. Cabernet Franc is very quickly becoming a key standalone varietal. A better understanding of the “hang-time” needed to reduce the impact of the green pepper flavours it was once known for, wineries such as Vineland Estates (Bo-Teek), Two Sisters, Stratus, Adamo and Cave Spring (La Pena) and The Hare (Noble) have great ones.

Ontario is also now known for its Bordeaux Blends based on Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot or Syrah. Chateau des Charms (Equuleus), Icellers (Wiyana Wanda), Southbrook (Triomphe) and Malivoire (Meritage) deep, full bodied with great balance of fruit and oak flavours that are so elegant to serve at ones table.

A couple of Pinot Noirs from Flat Rock and Karlo Estates and a Syrah from Kacaba that was just out of this world and well that was my palate done.

The After-Party was where more sparkling and craft beers could be sampled. I had one glass of Megalomanic sparkling and called it a night. It was a fantastic event, can’t wait for next year.


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