I Pay Rapt Attention

Wine-y Wednesday

Posted in adventures by Zoelle on August 20, 2008

Welcome to the perennial first-row gawker, Niagara edition. Later on, I’ll post my thoughts about weddings and detroit and the like. Right now, I only have enough concentration to discuss today.

Some background information: 1. I don’t know much about wine.

2. I’m a terrible Tourist. Really. All the crap they make for tourists? I hate it. I had to be dragged to niagara falls. Literally.

3. As a result, yesterday (the tourist day) was not-so-fun.

4. I’m sort of obsessed with nature.

With that in mind, here’s why today was awesome:

We (my illustrious mother and I) started with a breakfast in our hotel, the Old Stone Inn. This place is growing on me. The free breakfast is better now that the waiter knows we tip, so it wasn’t ice cold, and the potatoes were delicious, rather than blackened and disgusting. This was a pleasant and welcome surprise. The staff has been uniformly helpful, if not particularly knowledgeable about anything I care about. No matter, they aren’t afraid of telephones, which makes them better people than me.

On the way to Niagara-by-the-Lake, we stopped at Niagara Glen. This was a very good idea. As previously mentioned, I really like nature. Prior to this vacation, I had been going (somewhat grudgingly, but with general willingness and eventual pleasure) on hikes every morning. I always forget how much nature refuels me until I’m there and suddenly I remember what it feels like to be a human being who doesn’t despise the majority of the world. Niagara Glen is beautiful. You go through a thickly wooded area, you can see rapids, there are butterflies everywhere, it’s amazing. You should go.

Then came the highlight of the day: Wine Tasting! The Niagara wine route doesn’t get much press because it’s sort of up-and-coming, but it was covered in a recent Wine Spectator, so I thought we’d check out a few of the wineries listed there, and then some of those I’d heard recommended around town. My review, per winery (in order of visit), follows:

Reif: At Reif we sampled a Chardonnay, a Laguz, a Sowhilo, a Cabernet Sauvignon and a Merlot reserve. I’m not a huge fan of whites, but even with this many samples, the only wine I was really interested in at all was the Sowhilo, which I found peppery and at least vaguely interesting. Overall impression was Eh, though maybe that’s because it was 11:30 am. On the other hand, the first taste per person was free. Which is sweet.

Stratus: So at this point, I decided it might be a good idea to pull out my Wine Spectator article and see what was actually recommended, rather than trying to run off of my memory. This was a good idea, since this led me to Stratus, which was good, because by far and away Stratus was my favorite winery of the day. No contest. We chose the 3 wine flight for $10 (though the lady who assisted us, discovering that we had never tried ice wine, actually ended up giving us 4. We tried the 2005 Stratus Red, the 2006 Geurztraminer, the 2007 Reisling Icewine, and the 2007 Icewine Red. It’s been something like 6 hours since we went, and my mother still won’t shut up about that Stratus Red. It’s  a blend of seven varietals, which sounds like an ungodly number, but it’s worth every one, apparently. My favorite was the Gewurztraminer. Yum. The icewines were also excellent. If this wine had wider distribution, I’d swallow the ridiculous prices and buy it all the time. Unfortunately, it’s not really all that available in the US. We’ll see what I can do with the powers of the internet.

Jackson Briggs: We went here for the tour. It was informative, the building is really cool looking, and I liked the staff. I have nothing to say about the wines. I didn’t like either white (I think one was a Chardonnay and one was something else) at all, and the red was sort of flat and unexciting. Whatever, I got my tour, and it was cool. Points for architecture.

Lailey: This one was pretty small, but the people over at Stratus sent us, so we thought we’d give it a try. We had a Cab, a Merlot, and a Pinot. Nothing bad, nothing special. Eh.

Inniskillin: We only stayed here for a few minutes, because it was pretty crowded and I wanted to get back (I was a little worried about my mother’s ability to drive.) We sampled their super crazy italian gold medal winning reisling ice wine, and it was delicious and wonderfully sweet as expected. They’re known as the icewine people for a reason. Yum.

So yes. I’m now a happy girl, and we’re looking forward to Nature and Wine part deux tomorrow, where we head to Vineland for a few more Wine Spectator and hotel-bartender approved tastings 🙂

Oh, vacation, how I love you.

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