To celebrate the end of summer, I decided to take a little trip out to the Niagara region to do some taste testing. In the past year, I’ve acquired a love and taste for wines – and what better way to toast the (almost) end of summer than with a wine tour on bikes?
Seven of my friends and I chose to take the Private Vineyard Lunch and Cycle Wine Tour from Niagara World Wine Tours. We were provided with bikes and cycle guides to lead us on a leisurely ride to four wineries.
As predicted (by me, before this tour even started), I purchased something from each winery.
Vignoble Rancourt Winery – a French winery with delicious grapes we got to sample as a morning treat.
Purchased: Reisling, VQA: $16.80
Tasting notes: Slightly off dry. Delicate floral (white flowers) notes on the nose with fresh citrus, flashy lemon and touch of tangerine. Nicely balanced between bright acidity of the lemon with a little touch of sweetness, orange/ tangerine. Nice cleansing finish on mineral components.
Personal notes: It was a crisp delicious wine with just a hint of fruit – I usually don’t like white wines, but I had to buy this one!
Pillitteri Winery – an Italian family owned & operated winery with Sicilian roots. By far, the biggest winery we visited that day; it was definitely one of the more well-known ones in the Niagara region
Purchased: 2006 Vidal Icewine: $25.10
Tasting notes: A taste of this golden coloured Icewine fills the palate with an explosion of lush fruits of mango, passion-fruit, pineapple and lychees. Fantastic with exotic fruit salad, crème caramel, Roquefort cheese, blue cheese, or simply on its own.
Personal notes: I’m generally a fan of sweet things and after one sip of this, I fell in love with Icewine (if you can believe it, I’ve never tasted one before Pillitteri!) The sweetness of the lychee sold me.
Pondview Winery – a very new winery which opened in June 2010.
Purchased: 2009 Cabernet Franc Icewine: $35.00
Tasting notes: The characteristic red berries become super abundant on the nose and palate. Strawberries and raspberries combine with a sumptuous candied apple flavour. Crisp acidity is on hand to meet the rich sweetness of this decadent wine.
Personal notes: You can definitely taste the strawberries and candied apple flavour – I just had to get a red icewine to go with the white icewine from Pillitteri.
Caroline Cellars – family owned and operated winery with a farmhouse countryside feel.
Purchased: Rosé: $11.50
Tasting notes: This wine is a blend of wines from 2006 and 2007, but the exact blend is a winemaker’s secret. Strawberry and apricot jam on the nose give way to a palate bursting with sweet fruity notes. A great wine with turkey or pork dishes.
Personal notes: Goes down smooth and the fruity notes help too!
Things we learned that day:
- Dessert wine is meant to be tasted at the back of your mouth. This is done by pressing the tip of your tongue against the back of your front teeth. It’s less sweet and more tasty this way.
- How to detect wine faults (e.g. cork taint) by smelling and looking at the clarity of [white] wine.
- You never forget how to ride a bike – but getting on a bicycle after years of not having one as a form of transportation/fun makes you feel like you never knew how to ride a bike in the first place!
- Riding for a full day – even with breaks for wine and lunch – takes a toll on your derrière. Be ready to be sore the next day. Opt for half-day cycle-wine tours if you want to avoid the discomfort.
- Cars parked on the road shoulder for fruit stand shopping = hazards. Instability on a bike may or may not cause you to bail and throw your bike down to avoid going into a ditch. Not that this happened to me or anything… :)
- Watching friends ride while being tipsy on wine is hilarious and highly entertaining. It also leads to bets on who’s going to fall first.
- No matter how old we are, my friends and I will always have child-like tendencies; e.g. wanting to race each other on bikes, snickering at a wine bottle labelled “Too Easy”.