‘Oscars’ of the Ontario wine industry


    The ‘Oscars’ of the Ontario wine industry were delivered to thunderous applause at the Cuvée Awards last weekend. This spectacular red- carpet black tie Gala hosted by Fallsview Casino Resort glittered as Niagara’s culinary stars shared the spotlight with Ontario wine celebrities. This sparkling evening celebrates the Cuvée Award winners- the exceptional wines judged by the winemakers themselves and is the kick-off to an entire weekend of Cuvée celebrations.
    Georgia and I always dreamt of walking the red-carpet at the ‘Oscars’. Little did we know it would be in our very own back –yard! What was very evident that evening is that we have a lot to be proud of here in Ontario. We have arrived on the culinary and vinous world stage.
    The incredible culinary talents that evening included Celebrity Executive Chef of Peller Estates Jason Parsons, who prepared a platter  of Foie Gras, Black Truffle Potato Salad, House Cured Elk Bresola, 147 degree Quail Egg and Truffle Brioche, Icewine Poached Lobster, Smoked Bacon, Alberta Parmesan and White Bean Salad, Riesling Braised Pear, Blue Ice Tart, Icewine Caramelized Onions.  Simply to die for!
    The dynamic and sought after Chef Mark Hand whose career includes openings of On The Twenty and the Niagara Culinary Institute  at Niagara College wowed us with his whole roasted Cumbrae Farms Beef Tenderloin with “Broken Press” Rub Celeriac & Ernite Bleu Mash & Kettle Fried Parsnip Chips. This dish sizzled and we were completely captivated by its elegance and charm. Our culinary adventure continued with one of the most passionate and professional chefs in the Niagara area,  Erik Peacock , the Executive Chef and proprietor of one of our favorite restaurants the Wellington Court Restaurant in Saint Catherines  who’s stylized cuisine assortment of dishes resulted in  pure delight. Erik’s city to smart-casual, approachable fare in the country that evening was a  Lobster Chaud Froid, and Verjus Jelly, Lamb Tartare, Quails Egg, Jalapeno and Mint Pesto, Duck Pierogi, Truffle Crème Fraiche and Bacon Vinaigrette. Simply over the top! Incroyable! Un grand merci! This is just a sampling of the evening’s cuisine, the choices went on and on.
    And for desert, what caught our eye was the simply incredible array of cakes, pastries, chocolates and desserts prepared by Criveller Cakes of Niagara Falls. These exquisite pastries, masterpiece wedding cakes and selection of truffles and chocolates were simply amazing. The white Lily cake was simply outrageous in its beauty and imagination. Wow.
    And now to the wines and the winners who took home the  “hardware” of the evening.
    The Cuvée Awards are unique in that they are the only awards in Canada where the winning wines are chosen by the winemakers themselves, and this peer review makes Cuvée one of the most meaningful competitions for Niagara winemakers. Fifty-two Ontario wineries submitted over 190 white, red and sweet wines for a variety of awards. This year 41 winemakers tasted these 190 different wines in 3000 wine glasses and over 1000 bottles of wine. The tasting is done  blind, and the only information that the judge is given is the varietal and vintage of the wine. All wines were also rated to ensure that they met the Cuvée Standard of Excellence and therefore merit pouring at the Cuvée Gala.
    If you like to hear about this first hand tune in this weekend Saturday March 7th, 2009 at 10 am on as we welcome Liz Palmieri, with the Cuvee Awards for a rundown on who took home the  “hardware”, as well as  Dr. Allan Jackson, Co-Founder and Proprietor of  Jackson-Triggs Vintners, one of the esteemed winners.
    And the winner is….. 1st place GOLD winners. For a complete list of all winners ( 2nd and 3rd place)  go to Congratulations to all!
    Red Wine
    Thirty Bench Wine Makers
    Small Lot Cabernet Franc 2006
    Limited Edition Red Wine
    Creekside Estate Winery
    Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2005
    White Wine
    Legends Estates Winery
    Riesling Reserve 2003
    Limited Edition White Wine
    Cattail Creek Estate Winery
    Barrel Fermented Chardonnay 2007
    Creekside Estate Winery
    Viognier 2007
    General List Red Wine
    Dan Aykroyd Winery
    Cabernet Shiraz 2007
    General List White Wine
    Jackson Triggs Niagara Estate Winery
    Proprietors Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2007
    Sparkling Wine
    Hillebrand Estates Winery
    Showcase Sparkling Riesling 2006
    Sweet Wine
    Inniskillin Wines
    Riesling Icewine 2007
    Limited Edition Sweet Wine
    De Sousa Wine Cellars
    Cabernet Franc Icewine 2006
    Tawse Winery
    Meritage 2006
    Pinot Noir
    Niagara College Teaching Winery
    Dean’s List Pinot Noir 2007
    Cabernet Franc
    Thirty Bench Wine Makers
    Wine Makers Small Lot Cabernet Franc 2006
    Harvest Estates Winery
    Merlot 2006
    Creekside Estate Winery
    Broken Press Shiraz 2006
    Red Assemblage
    Wayne Gretzky Estate Winery
    Shiraz Cabernet 2006
    Legends Estates Winery
    Riesling Reserve 2003
    Calamus Estate Winery
    Gewurztraminer 2007
    Chardonnay Musqué
    Cave Springs Cellars
    Chardonnay Musqué 2007
    Sauvignon Blanc
    Peninsula Ridge Estates Winery
    Sauvignon Blanc Wismer Vineyards 2007
    Peninsula Ridge Estates Winery
    Fumé Blanc 2006
    Peller Estates Winery
    Signature Series Chardonnay Sur Lie 2007
    White Assemblage\Hillebrand Estates Winery
    Winery Trius White 2007
    Tony Aspler Cuveé Award of Excellence
    Darryl Brooker, Hillebrand Estates Winery
    Cuveé Gold Award
    Inniskillin Wines
    Cabernet Franc Icewine 2007
    Cuveé Award of Excellence in Viticulture
    Martin Schuele, Schuele Vineyards