Yesterday was a glorious and sunny day in Niagara. Perfect conditions for my first ever visit to Ontario wine country. I certainly hope it's the first of many. Along with 2 carloads of fellow foodies, we made the two hour trek
north south and managed to hit tastings at 4 wineries.
We started with a stop at Southbrook, where I tried a chardonnay and a sauvignon blanc. I think I'm going to have to say I'm not a sauv blanc fan. Another one I tried that day hit my throat like shards of glass. :( We also visited Château des Charmes for a five wine flight. CDC was the impetus for the road trip, as they'd put out an invite for the tasting just for Twitter folk. We rounded out the day at Megalomaniac and managed to squeeze in a few more sips there.
Our second, and longest, winery visit of the day was to Ravine, where Alex took good care of us. We tasted some lovely merlots and got a preview of a 2009 wine that's not been released yet. Gotta say, I can't wait for release day on that one.
After the tasting, we had lunch at Ravine's cafe next door. Being seated on the enclosed (for the winter) patio gave us a lovely view of the rows of vines to go with our lunch. I ordered the Merlot Braised Short Rib on Ciabatta with Applewood Smoked Cheddar and Sweet Pepper and Onion Sauté.
I do like a good ciabatta. The crusty chewiness is just so satisfying, and this one didn't disappoint. While the short ribs on their own didn't display a lot of flavour, combined with the pepper, onion and smoked cheese, it made for a perfect balance of tastes - sharp, smoky, savoury and sweet. The coleslaw was a bit baffling to my palette, as I could not figure out what was giving it its odd sweetness. It wasn't the sweetness of a straight vinegar and I found out later that it may have been anise. I'm not fond of anise flavour at all, so I'll guess that's what I found slightly unpleasant about it. Otherwise the slaw had this great crunch/rubbery texture thing going on with the cabbage and carrots.
There are so many different wine regions to explore within a couple of hours of Toronto, and many more wineries. I'm looking forward to making more trips out that way and experience all the great things - both food and wine - the area has to offer.