Thursday, May 03, 2007

Sniffing and Swirling in Niagara

The town of Jordan is little more than a quaint touristy strip. The expression “blink and you’ll miss it” would apply to a pedestrian here. Sara and I arrived Saturday morning to celebrate our second anniversary in mixed form. I, a little hung over. Sara, a little over-zealous. I knew this when Sara, normally a flawless driver, backed her SUV into the only other car in the parking lot. Luckily there was no damage and, since people don’t actually exist in Jordan, no one saw it. Shortly after checking into our hotel we met our wine tour guide, Dan, a 70 year-old who doesn’t look a day over 45. Our wine tour included tastings at three wineries: Jackson Triggs, Strewn, and Caroline Cellars. After picking up the seven girls who would join us on our tour, we were off.

Jackson Triggs is the biggest and most technologically advanced winery in Niagara. We learned that French oak casks produce better wine than American oak, ice wine grapes are picked at -8, and hot, dry summers produce better vintages because water dilutes the grapes. We then tasted four wines from their 2004 vintage. I was surprised that they didn’t switch the glasses after each tasting. ‘But I can’t tell if I’m tasting the butter in this chardonnay or the oak from that Riesling.’ Next stop was the much smaller Strewn Winery. I didn’t enjoy the wine as much here but the salmon lunch was quite good. We were also given a brief tutorial on food and wine pairings. Our third and final stop was at Caroline Cellars. Caroline Cellars is a family-run winery with no presence in the LCBO. That’s a shame because the wine here was easily the best of the day. Or was it all the attention? As soon as I finished a glass, a fresh one with a new wine was placed before me.

On the way back, Dan gave us a tour of Old Niagara. This historic, elegant little town deserves more than a quick pass through. But our hotel, Inn on the Twenty, was enough reason to stay in Jordan. We had an excellent dinner at the hotel’s restaurant, well-known in the region.

All in all, it was a fun and informative trip. And I came up with a handy expression: “What’s bad for the farmers is good for the vintners.” Though if I were to actually use it, I’d probably need to figure out which wine goes best with a knuckle sandwich.

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