Dinner with the Winner – Inniskillin Wines

Peter Morrell dines with the people from Inniskillin Wines on the eve of their triumph at the 45th annual International Wine and Spirits awards where they were declared “Canadian Producer of the Year”

As well as the unmissable Falls, the Niagara Peninsula in Ontario, Canada offers a whole range of other attractions including world class vineyards. I was in the area last year and dropped in to see one of the best wine producers, Inniskillin who also have an interesting visitor centre with restaurant. The vineyard is situated along the Niagara Parkway, a heartstoppingly beautiful drive featuring countryside, farms and cottages.

Inniskillin make an impressive range of red and white wines but their flagship range is their series of icewines. For those not familiar with icewine, it is made by allowing the grapes to stay on the vine until early winter when they freeze. This concentrates their very essence into a tiny amount of juice. Harvesting is done at night and the grapes are pressed in unheated barns. The end result is an intensely flavoured wine that elegantly pairs with both puddings and cheese.

Inniskillin’s Head chef Tim MacKiddie together with other members of the team were in London recently and Tim cooked a meal which showcased the quality of the wine and Canadian cuisine.

Before settling down to eat we savoured an aperitif of their 2012 sparkling Vidal icewine. The bubbles really brought out the intense aromas of the wine both in the bouquet and on the palate.

Our first course was a Canadian lobster risotto with tiny florets of cauliflower, leeks and the UK’s own Montgomery Cheddar. This really was a pleaser, with the sweetness of the lobster being balanced by the savoury character of the cheese. The wine match was the 2012 Inniskillin Montague vineyard Chardonnay showing lots of luscious tropical fruit notes with hints of spice and flowers in the background.

The food that Tim serves at the vineyard is all local and this ethos was continued in our main course with Kentish lamb served with icewine caramelised onions, an onion broth, and chanterelle and cep mushrooms. For this course the companion wine was the 2012 Inniskillin Montague vineyard Pinot Noir. Lots of tobacco, leather and dark stone fruit on the nose developed into chocolate, soft summer fruits and spice of the palate and the well structured tannins left a long and satisfying finish.

Each wine was enthusiastically introduced by Stacey Mulholland of Inniskillin and before the pudding we also heard from Matt Knight of Reidel. Reidel has been at the forefront of designing glasses that deliver the optimal taste experience for many popular types of wine. A collaboration between them and Inniskillin has created the ideal glass from which to get the maximum enjoyment from icewine. Before the pudding we compared the taste from an ordinary wine glass with one from the specially designed version, the difference was staggering.

Our final course was a Vidal apple “fritter”, with sponge toffee, dates, almonds and an intriguing ice cream flavoured with pine needles from a Christmas tree. The accompanying wine was the 2012 Vidal icewine, the perfect match.

One extra finesse worthy of mention was the butter served with the fresh bread. It was flavoured with an icewine reduction giving it a unique and memorable taste.

When I heard that Inniskillin had won the 45th annual International Wine and Spirits awards for “Canadian Producer of the Year” I was delighted but not surprised, having witnessed the passion that the Inniskillin team have for producing great wines it is well deserved.

If you are in Niagara to see the Falls then I recommend that you make the 10 minute detour along the Parkway to see Inniskillin and sample their award winning wines and delicious food. Inniskillin wines are also available from good wine merchants in the UK.

Useful Links

Inniskillin Wines

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