We spent some time up north this past weekend. Kevin’s godfather lives in Rochester, NY, and we wanted to see him. We took the opportunity to head up to Niagara Falls, Canada, and the Niagara wine peninsula.
We had previously visited several Canadian wineries in the spring of 2004. I fell in love with the Niagara Parkway in the spring, with the river and vistas on one side and gardens and grapes on the other.
We enjoy our icewine and discovered great icewine in Niagara, but were also thrilled with the wines offered other than icewine. Like everyone, we visited Inniskillin on that first trip. We really enjoyed Inniskillin, but they do have a rather powerful marketing arm in the United States. This trip we wanted to go to smaller wineries and wineries with less of a presence in the States, but I fully admit we were sidetracked. Read on to learn about each winery we visited on this trip, including Coyote’s Run, Chateau des Charmes, Joseph’s Estate, Jackson-Triggs, Peller Estates, and Lailey. A complete Flickr photo set is also available.
So we’re back from a wine-and-food-filled vacation at the Epcot Wine and Food Festival. There was simply so much to do and see and eat and drink. We tried everything from beer to tea to wine, and all sorts of wonderful foods. Photos, such as they are, can be found on Flickr.
Once my conference ended and we ventured into Epcot the first night, we were sort of overwhelmed. The food at the festival booths is tapas sized, so that you can both spend more money and try more things. Each portion runs anywhere from $1.50 to $5.50. That first night, Kevin tried a few different items, whereas I observed the various offerings and waited for my perennial favorite, France.
Thursday we went to the Magic Kingdom, but by Thursday night, we were ready to hit the wine bar at the Festival Center. From there, we started our evening in Canada and tried to work our way towards the center of the Epcot world.
Friday was spent at Sea World, which is a wonderful and relaxing break from the behemoth that is Disney. Friday evening we headed back to Epcot and again started in Canada.
Saturday we played in Epcot, all day, but headed back to our room around 3 pm. We returned to Epcot that evening, as we had tickets to the amazing Party of the Senses. The Party was a food, entertainment, and wine extravaganza, and one to which I’m sure we’ll return.
Sunday we attended a Wine School, led by Doug Frost, MS, MW. The day-long seminar was about Spanish wines.
Over the next few days, I’ll be extracting tasting notes and experiences from our notebooks and posting them on the blog. The Wine School and Party of the Senses will each merit an individual post. I had hoped to blog my impressions each night; instead, I fell into bed exhausted. There is little as exhausting as a trip to Walt Disney World.
Off to Disney for the Epcot Food and Wine Festival. I’m dealing with a professional conference on Sunday through Wednesday morning, but after that, it’s all Disney.
On Sunday, Nov 12 we’ll be attending an all-day course on Spanish wine. On Saturday, Nov 11, we’ll be attending the Party of the Senses, with over 80 chefs and wineries. Until that point, we’ll be attending complimentary wine & beer tastings and seminars and just generally enjoying ourselves.
Because vacation tends to put me in a blogging mood, I’ll try to blog my impressions. I’m usually pretty good about taking notes.
Becks & Posh is after my heart. I love champagne. I love sparkling wine. Heck, I just love the bubbles. So it only seems right that I should do this WBW up in style. We hosted a Breakfast Party on Sunday and popped open not one, but two different bottles of champagne. I like to think I met all the challenges on Sunday, from actually cooking, to successfully pairing, to even finding a small Champagne house.
I’ll first bore you with the menu before I get on with it and let you know about the champagne. We served a simple quiche with ham and gruyere cheese (a recipe we picked up in Disney’s France at the EPCOT Wine & Food Festival). We matched that with rosemary-and-olive-oil-tossed red potatoes and an English muffin topped with ice wine jelly. It was all followed by a yummy fruit pizza/pie. (I can cook anything – as long as it involves a pie crust.) The food paired wonderfully with both bottles of bubbly.
Now for the bubbly. We went for a large house and a small one, hopefully meriting some of those extra kudos from Becks & Posh. Our large house – a Vilmart Champagne Grand Cellier Brut, NV, which we purchased from Microwines for $66. Our little guy – Joel Falmet Champagne Brut Tradition, NV, also purchased from Microwines but for $29.99.
Mmm .. mmm… good! We all enjoyed both of the champagnes, but favorites were split evenly between those gathered. With these two champagnes, I think it all depends on your mood.
The Joel Falmet was sort of edgy, considering that it’s "real" champagne. It was almost (but not quite) pink in color, especially when sitting next to the Vilmart. It had a bit more oomph, with some berries peeking out of the flavor. When we purchased the wines, we were told that Joel Falmet was a bit of a rebel. The domaine is located in Cotes des Bar, which is 70 miles southeast of all the big guys. These are the grapes that the large champagne houses use for blending. The domaine produces only about 1200 cases a year of the Brut Tradition, and less than 2000 cases total. This particular champagne is 70% pinot noir, 20% pinot meunier, and 10% chardonnay.
The Vilmart was very light and traditional, with a very pale color
(amidst all the tiny bubbles). It had a delicate taste, very subtle,
almost creamy. This is a traditional champagne, very classy. Vilmart comes from the Montagne de Reims and was founded in 1872. It was founded by a man named Desire Vilmart. How can someone named Desire not make a good champagne? The domaine is still in the family. I read somewhere that Vilmart is considered "the poor man’s Krug." The champagne is aged in new French oak and is comprised of 70% chardonnay and 30% pinot noir.
If you were paying attention, you noticed that the two champagnes are composed of opposite amounts of different grapes – most notably pinot and chardonnay.
Here’s the thing – if you’re in the mood for a really fun champagne that is still of high quality, yet affordable, go for the Joel Falmet. It rates a full from us.
If you’re in the mood for something more traditional and classy, and you want to drop over $50, search out the Vilmart. It also scores a .
I’d buy either one again and I think they were both worth their dollar, something I haven’t found much of lately.
Oh, and Breakfast Parties? Lots of fun! No one has had a chance to have a bad day yet. I highly recommend it.
UPDATE: Sam has posted the Wine Blogging Wednesday Roundup over at Becks & Posh. Check it out!
Last year I attended a professional conference held at a Disney resort. Because I’m a Disney fanatic, Kevin flew down and we extended the trip into a full-blown Disney vacation. I had been extremely excited to visit EPCOT, as I hadn’t seen it since the early 80’s. It turned out that we were there during the 10th Annual EPCOT Wine & Food Festival.
The Festival was more than we imagined. Free (er … included with admission) seminars were hosted all day in the information center. We attended several seminars, but the one that stuck with us the most was given by Doug Frost (Master Sommelier, Master of Wine) on Greek wines.
We tasted several
Greek wines while Doug talked about the under-appreciated wines of the region. Doug was not at all what we expected. He was like someone we would hang out with on a regular basis, and quite young. He was also extremely passionate about his subject. As a trainer, I know that the more passion you display for your subject, the more enjoyable the class and the more information your students take away. Doug Frost succeeded in that – so much so that I couldn’t tell you anything about the other seminars beyond, "We tasted wine." (We might have been at a South African session in there somewhere.) Disney also offered other free seminars on food and cooking.
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