Celebrating its 25th Anniversary in 2013, Cuvée is the annual celebration of outstanding Ontario VQA wines and culinary delights over an entire weekend (usually the end of February/beginning of March).
The weekend long event started in the Fallsview Casino Resort on Friday night with the Grand Tasting Gala that featured the winemakers’ favourite wines, along with a select group of Niagara’s most renowned chefs treating everyone to sampling plates of their signature dishes – created at live cooking stations. With more than 40 of Ontario’s wineries taking part along with a number of local restaurants it was an evening of intoxicating aromas and delights to the taste buds.
When you think “wine and fancy food” you might be thinking “snobs and boredom” but not so. Every year is completely different from the previous because the event is always morphing and changing. Yes, some people wear tuxes and ball-gowns, but most people wear regular suits and dresses (including the odd Scotsman that shows up in a kilt).
With more than 40 wines to sample along with plenty of rich food, you have to pace yourself throughout the evening. Obviously one can’t sample every wine, but I always make it my duty to sample as many as possible – it would be disrespectful not to with all the work the vintners have put into creating their fine product.
My Favourites Of The Event
I like my wine with plenty of tannins and wood, so naturally red wine tends to be my favourite, but this year I found a white that gives the reds a run-for-their-money. I sampled the Chardonnay 2010 from Stoney Ridge Estate Winery (www.stoneyridge.com) and my eyes lit up – superb! Considering it was also the “Winner of Governor General Award of Excellence” – I’m not the only one who loves it!
My favourite reds were: Rare Vintage Pinot Noir, 2010 by Coyote’s Run Estate Winery (www.coyotesrunwinery.com) and Rockway Vineyards Small Lot Reserve Cabernet Franc, 2010 by Rockway Vineyards (www.rockwayglen.com).
The food was outstanding as always but for me the restaurant that stood out was Zees Grill @ Shaw Club Hotel (Niagara-On-The-Lake). All of the chefs create 3 samples, but only Zees had me going back for more, and all three were equally outstanding. Fallsview Casino Resort had four sample plates and three of the four were terrific (I just can’t get my head around Foie Gras so I didn’t try that). Inn on the Twenty had a wonderful curry coconut and cauliflower soup, it was unexpected, and I loved it.
Kickin’ It Up A Keg Or Two – Après Cuvée
To celebrate the 25th Anniversary this year they kicked it up a keg or two with the addition of live music, dancing, Craft Beer and an Icewine & Bubbles Bar.
My wife and I have attended Cuvee for a number of years and always reminisce about our first, where they had more fun after the food and wine celebrations. This year they really kicked it up a notch and made it an outstanding event. The live music by Jonesy was fantastic, and the dance floor was filled from the first song to the last.
By the length of the line-ups for beer samples, it was obvious that this was a very popular and welcome addition. As is my duty I had to try all that was on offer. Fortunately there were only four beers to sample, but only two I actually loved. They were both brewed by The Silversmith Brewing Company (www.silversmithbrewing.com) – the award winning Black Lager – a traditional German style beer and the Bavarian Breakfast Beer – a Weissebier (wheat beer).
In our opinion, Cuvée 2013 crushed it! It was a great night and we look forward to another spectacular Gala in 2014.
But wait, there’s more, the celebrations aren’t over at midnight, they continue on Saturday and Sunday at the wineries where you tour and taste along the wine route. Participating wineries feature specially chosen tasting flights and wine-inspired culinary offerings. The Cuvée en Route pass ($30) is available separately if you don’t wish to attend the Grand Tasting Gala (Gala tickets include the en Route pass in the price)
All proceeds from Cuvée go to the Niagara Community Foundation, which builds and manages income earning endowment funds to support charitable activities. Since 2000, the Foundation has received over $16 million in endowment funds and has awarded over $4.1 million in grants.
Copyright © 2013 Iain & Gail Shankland / TravelBloggers.ca (at)Gmail.com
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