I had a quick, 48-plus hour trip to Ontario earlier this week, checking out the Ice Wine Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Foodies have known for years that the province churns out world-class ice wines, from producers such as Inniskillin, Stratus, Cave Springs and Lailey. What most people outside of Canada don’t realize, is that the food and wine scene is hopping, especially the drier, table wines. Over the course of two dinners and three lunches, I tasted some surprising varietals (gamay, baco noir) in addition to the sweeter late harvest rieslings and cabernet franc ice wines, and I kept wondering why these wines were not yet available in Chicago (it’s complicated, and price has something to do with it).
I ate jam and marmalade from an 80 year-old company in Niagara-on-the-Lake, sipped non-alcoholic grape juice from the vidal (white) and baco noir (red) grapes, dipped artisanal cheese into pure ice syrup (a new product from Toronto chef Susur Lee) and tasted some of the best two-year aged prosciutto I’ve ever had. Ontario is a lot like Sonoma right now, and you’re going to be hearing a lot more from the producers there. I spoke with Magdalena Kaiser-Smit from the Wine Council of Ontario this week, about the ice wine phenomenon, as well as some of the other hot items coming out of her province. Canadian Food & WineInilkillin’s Ice Wine Ice Syrup from Toronto Pouring ice wine at the festival
Greaves jam Ice wine grape juice from local grapes Rose wine from Ontario
Canadian Gamay Noir Baco Noir and Gamay from Ontario