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Niagara and Beyond: Oakville Sommelier

photo-42 | C. Silversides
photo-42 | C. Silversides

Recently my summer has been chock-full of grape experiences including a vinotherapy treatment inside the beautiful 100 Fountain Spa located at Pillar and Post in Niagara-on-the-Lake. They use grape-based products from local vineyards containing wellness promoting antioxidant polyphenols. Aside from spa treatments using grapes, I had the opportunity to taste grapes in the form of wine and a Graspa during the grand opening weekend of Vieni Estates in Beamsville, the newest winery and B&B in the Niagara Peninsula.

Vieni, which means “come” or “welcome” in Italian, is a 175 acre estate located in the Vinemount Ridge sub-appellation on the edge of the Niagara Escarpment. They currently produce sparkling wine in the Metodo Italiano (same as the Charmat method which is tank-fermented), still wine made from 17 grape varieties, Icewine, and Graspa - one of the original names for Grappa produced in Italy, a spirit made by distilling grape pomace which is typically enjoyed with espresso or as a digestivo after dinner. A side note: Vieni calls this distillate Graspa because the name “Grappa” cannot be used outside of Italy, similarly to that of sparkling wine in which the name “Champagne” is only permitted for use in Champagne, France for sparkling wine made according to its regulations in the méthode traditionelle (also referred to as traditional, classic, or champagne method which is bottled-fermented).

Vieni Estates Vieni Estates Winery Tour

Vieni Estates Winery Tour

Photo credit: © C. Silversides

After a tour of their facility by Master Winemaker Mauro Salvador, we sampled wines including one made from the only Aglianico grown and produced in Canada. A well known varietal in the southern Italian wine regions of Campania and Basilicata, this ancient aromatic grape makes a rich red wine with great structure. According to Salvador, Aglianico is a perfect match for his grandmother’s slow-cooked ragù!

Finally, I had the great pleasure of attending a Maison Louis Jadot tasting for sommeliers in Toronto with their winemaker of 42 years, guest speaker Jacques Lardière from the Burgundy wine region of France. The very dynamic Lardière spoke about understanding the hierarchy of vintages as he tastes from cask to cask, fragrance and spectrum of the flavour, vibrations and power from the ground below and above, minerality and how everything is connected - harmonious.

Maison Louis Jadot Tasting Maison Louis Jadot Tasting

Maison Louis Jadot Tasting

Photo credit: © C. Silversides

Let me tell you that every one of the wines we tasted from the 2011 Bourgogne Chardonnay - a blend of grapes mostly from Côte d’Or and Mâconnais, a fruity wine which makes a great aperitif and pairs well with goat cheese, vegetable terrines and poultry, to the 1996 Gevry-Chambertain Clos Saint-Jacques - a full bodied and complex Pinot Noir which matches strong cheese, mushrooms, and game (this wine can keep from 10-40 years - make sure to decant), were tremendously good!

Speaking of grapes, wine and food, what is happening in and around Oakville? Food Day Canada is this Saturday, August 3rd, and Handmade Market is coming to GreenLane Estate Winery at their new Vineland location on this date featuring homemade jam, gourmet cheese plates, and other items. The Downtown Oakville Jazz Festival is taking place August 9th-10th. Many restaurants and patios in the area will be surrounded by live entertainment on the streets of Oakville with five stages throughout. In Toronto, The Roundhouse Craft Beer Festival is happening at Roundhouse Park on August 10th-11th.

So there you have it: Niagara and Beyond