Even though the groundhog is calling for an early spring, the snowy weather and frigid temperatures continue. That's quite alright for wine lovers because there's plenty of wine-soaked fun taking place indoors this month. So you don't miss any of it we've put together a list of some promising vinous events this February.
Raclette on the Bench
Date: Feb. 16th & 17th 11am-5pm
Location: Hidden Bench Vineyards and Winery
4152 Locust Lane Beamsville, ON
Cost: $12 a plate
Each year around Valentine's Day Hidden Bench's vigneron Harald Thiel turns up the fireplace in the tasting room and stocks-up on cheese to serve warming plates of delicious raclette to guests. For those who have never enjoyed a taste of raclette, it's made with a wheel of creamy semi-soft cheese gently heated until it's perfectly gooey and then scrapped with a knife to be served alongside traditional accompaniments like potatoes, pickles and cured meat. In this case Thiel is using his connections as a former partner of Jordan's Upper Canada Cheese Company and making his raclette with its excellent Oka-style cheese, Niagara Gold. It will be accompanied with double-smoked pork loin and yukon gold potatoes for $12 a plate. It's the kind of comforting fare that would pair beautifully with a glass of Hidden Bench's crisp Riesling, aromatic Gewürztraminer or one of its fantastic Chardonnays. Reservations aren't necessary so you can drop in at your leisure, but if you have a larger group (six or more) phone ahead so staff can ensure you're well accommodated.
Winemaker's Dinner with Thomas Bachelder
Date: Feb. 19th 6pm
Location: Spencer's at the Waterfront
1340 Lakeshore Road Burlington, ON
Cost: $120. Call 905.633.7494 or email for tickets.
Over the past decade Thomas Bachelder has been and continues to be responsible for some of the most exciting Pinot Noir and Chardonnay coming out of Niagara. He has a deep passion for not only Niagara wine country, but the other places he has lived and made wine—Oregon's Willamette Valley and Burgundy. He brought his passion for those grapes and places together last year when he launched Bachelder Wines' inaugural vintage to critical and consumer acclaim. Now Bachelder would be the first to admit that his wines are best enjoyed with great food. So he and his wife and business partner Mary Delaney have teamed-up with chef Andrew McLeod and the team of the renown Spencer's for a special winemaker's dinner. Both teams are busy at work finalising the pairings for the menu, but you can expect a great multi-course dinner built around seasonal cuisine as well as the latest Bachelder vintage of Niagara, Oregon, and Bourgogne Chardonnays. There's even a promise of a new Pinot Noir. Until now only Bachelder Chardonnays have hit LCBO shelves so this is an opportunity to get a preview of what's to come. Couple that with Bachelder's always impassioned and insightful words and you have the makings of what promises to be one of the most exciting nights of 2013 for local wine lovers.
A Wine Lovers' Masquerade Soirée
Date: Feb. 23rd 7-11:30pm
Location: Foreign Affair Winery
4890 Victoria Ave N., Lincoln, ON
Cost: $90. Call 905-562-9898 to purchase tickets by the Feb. 14th deadline.
For those that don't know the Crispino family, who own and operate the Foreign Affair Winery, they have a deep love of the north-eastern region of Italy known as the Veneto. In fact, it was the time they spent there that inspired them to open a winery focusing on appassimento, the grape-drying technique which is behind the region's most famous wines.
This year the winery is drawing on one of the region's famous cultural events, Carnevale di Venezia. During the Carnevale locals and visitors don distinctive masks and elaborate costume, while celebrating in the Venice's streets and squares. The winery is hosting a masquerade party, with food and wine, inspired by that good time. But because it's a winery the dress code has a vinous theme, requiring attendees to dress-up with a famous wine, grape varietal or wine region in mind. The winery has a few ideas for inspiration, such dressing-up like monk Dom Pérignon (who the famous Champagne is named after), but feel free to be creative. Why not come as a certain failed-writer turned middle-school teacher and oenophile sporting a burgundy velvet blazer with a bottle of '85 La Tâche in tow?
Written by Mike Di Caro
Michael Di Caro covers all things vinous at Spotlight. His lover affair with Ontario wine began over a decade ago and he’s been in front of tasting bars trying to sweet talk staff into pouring a taste of a library wine or the latest unreleased bottle ever since. Since good wine can’t be made without great grapes, you can also catch him amongst the vines trying to persuade the winemaker into revealing his/her next big thing for you on Spotlight. His epicurean tendencies don’t just stop in the glass either. During the rest of his free time you can find him searching for the perfect bowl of Dan Dan noodles, exploring the city’s best tasting menus or baking cookies and mucking about in the kitchen.