Sunday, 25 May 2014

New Festival of Wines PEI: Day Two

There's so many reasons to love wine! The way it awakens your senses, how it's a catalyst for great conversation and even how it brings you to that special "me" place of relaxation. But out of every reason there is to hail this internationally adored drink, I had two very special ones this weekend thanks to the New Festival of Wines in Charlottetown, Presented by Investor's Group!

Having been to the Festival the night before, I already had my eye on some amazing wines, but with over 260 offerings, I took a moment to relax at the Lounge sponsored by Cox and Palmer to check out my Festival guide and select even more! Award winners to locally sourced wines, each bottle is an experience and what's great about the Festival is that you can go to the on site store to purchase any or even all of your favorites.

So after marking my guide, writing book in hand, I set off to my first wine of the evening!

A fun and fresh start to my evening, Yellow Tail Sangria is an Australian Wine that was prepared over ice with some delicious citrus fruit for this tasting. It has a refreshing scent and reminded me of carefree Summer Days. From the Festival's spotlight Country, I was inspired by this almost flirty drink to start planning my activities for the next season, most of them turning out to involve a beautiful crystal punch bowl filled with this wine for my friends to partake in! Viva la Summer with this fruity and flirty Sangria!

Moving along to something a bit more intense, I found Cantena Alta, which is an extraordinarily concentrated Malbec with a 2010 vintage that made my senses absolutely soar! Rated at 91 by Wine Spectator for a reason, this wine has the color of a gem, which is exactly what it is. So warm and inviting, this red wine is impossible to resist and let's face it, being that good, who would want to resist it?

Speaking of things that are impossible to resist, the food from the Redwater Grille by Chef Jane Crawford is certainly one of those things. As you can see on my blog, I've been a fan of the Redwater for a very long time so you can imagine my excitement at seeing such glorious food before me!

My first taste was Asian fusion at it's best! The Korean Short Rib Tacos were loaded with fresh flavors and crisp ingredients that paired stupendously with the buttery short ribs and creamy ginger aioli. The Cilantro Sesame Slaw cinched the perfect Asian tone of the taco while the soft flour tortilla was a lovely base. Honestly, all I could say eating this was yum...because I was way too busy eating them!

That was only the beginning of all the imaginative food that Chef Jane was serving up, since the next thing I had was Candy Apple Chicken Wings with Blue Cheese Power and Green Onion. Can I get an OMG? I mean Candy. Apple. Chicken. Wings. It nearly blew my mind so much that I had to take a second to process how amazing it was. Sweet and savory with a kick of blue cheese and fresh green onion, there was everything to love about these appetizers! Let's face it, these are wings as only Chef Jane could create them!

Next was the Haute Poutine, a couture twist on this Canadian classic! With the most flavorful gravy, I've had to date, it had to be the duck confit in this gravy that made the difference. It was pure, decadent and bold with all that savory, creaminess that every gravy could aspire to. With melt in your mouth duck and picked onions melting in your mouth, this was a fork-full of perfection. All over super crunchy PEI Potato Hush Puppies, those cute little morsels add a fun crunch to such a classy take on poutine!

And after all that, you couldn't imagine anything getting better. But it does! If you're not sitting down, you better be before I tell you the dessert that Chef Jane served. Maple Cheese Cake Bites graced the Wine Festival like a chorus of angels singing to your mouth! These sweet and salty heaven scents were a party of their own as the came together with flavor and texture. Pure Maple-y silk on the inside with a crunch of decadent Dark Chocolate and the wow-inspiring Salted Bacon Brittle! I could eat these forever guessed it, ever!

Well played, Chef Jane, well played. You stole my taste buds again and again and again with all of these taste tempting foods. It just goes to prove that I can never go too long without your culinary creations, it's just the way life works.

After all the inspiration I wanted to pick a wine that would steal my heart away and so headed over to the Peller table, because who can beat a classic Canadian Winery? Their Ice Curvee Rose was exactly the wine I was looking for! This Chardonnay has delicate bubbles that tickled my tongue with it's sophisticated balance between sweet and intense. Special enough that it could be saved for special occasions and yet fun enough for even a picnic at the beach, the only was I can describe it is playful and elegant, kind of like the Marilyn Monroe of wines.

Staying within our great Country's borders, I moved onto some selections that are close to heart and home! Rossignol is located on the picturesque South Shore of PEI and offers a huge and eclectic range of wines and liqueurs that are unique and PEI-centric. I had three specific drinks in my mind, three liqueurs that I've known about but never had the chance to sip. Well, this was my chance!

First from Rossignol was their Rose Liqueur which is presented in a stunning violin styled bottle. That translates perfectly to the flavor in your mouth, each sip blossoms in your mouth with a sweetness that shows it's bold side the more you get to know it. If I could pick one drink that could characterize my personality, I really think it would be this. I much prefer my roses in a liqueur than a bouquet, thanks to Rossignol!

Then the Cassis and Maple Liqueurs battled it out for my affection! But, and this might sound cliche, I loved them both equally, but for such different reasons! Deep, sweet and intense, the Cassis was like the tastiest wake up call I've ever had, luscious warmth and fruitiness made it perfectly memorable with every taste. Opposite from the Cassis, the Maple Liqueur was light, sweet and should be Canada's national drink. It would be so delicious in coffee, over vanilla bean ice cream, on pancakes or pretty much anything.

After all of that excitement courtesy of Canada's wine-makers I had to move along and pay tribute to something else that's equally as Canadian, Cheese! With two exhibitor's sharing their cheeses, I was so excited to see what they were offering.

Cow's Creamery came with a trio of cheeses; their Cloth Bound Avonlea Cheddar is the perfect cheese for wine! We're talking the height of sharpness and depth of flavor; it's earned every single award it's received and completely won my heart! Prepared with a special time-honored process, you can taste the years of tradition that stands behind this cheese. Their Cow's Creamery Applewood Smoked and Creamery White Cheddar are both classics and creamily delicious! The Applewood being every beautiful thing that the White Cheddar is but with it's smokiness, it would be the prefect compliment to earthy wines in my humble opinion.

Next, for more cheesy goodness was the Dairy Farmers of Canada with three unique cheeses. A creamy Boursin Red Chili Pepper spread on delicious breath was pleasure with attitude! Irresistibly smooth, it's perfect for parties or even just relaxing and indulging. I think I'll have a fun time pairing this fiery cheese!  Seeing the ADL Cheddar felt like coming home. This cheese, cultivated on PEI is so fresh you can taste it in every creamy bite! Last of my cheeses was a Swiss that hails from Quebec that had me from the first sniff! This cheese is the perfect Swiss that's enjoyable for everyone because of it's mild and still uniquely Swiss flavor.

After that I went to try out the Medallion Smoked Salmon table where they were serving up some of the best Salmon this Isle has to offer. Smoky and smooth, with all of the freshness of Salmon, I could think of a thousand different culinary uses for this Salmon. I can't wait to go and purchase some for myself because it belongs just about everywhere. At breakfast on bagels, lunch on pasta and dinner with some elegant dish dreamed up by an Executive Chef; Medallion Salmon wins best in taste!

Making my way across the room I was cheerfully greeted by the people from the PEI International Shellfish Festival! With all the flair of true Island hospitality they were serving up oysters and shucking people in. I was just a spectator since I've yet to build up the courage to try my first oyster but they made it look like so much fun that I'm marking my calendar to save the dates (September 18 - 21) for the Shellfish Festival so I can get shucked in myself!

And so, with the night coming to a close, I knew that I would have to pick two last wines that I could indulge in and savor as the last two cheers of the festival.

The first of the last was 3 Bridges an Award Winning Shiraz from Australia that fully expresses just how profound they are as a wine making Country. Full and spicy, this wine was seductive and all too tempting with it's cozy embrace on the palate, powerful mouth-feel and hints of vanilla and oak that made it something very special for me. Magnificent and flawless would describe this wine from the first sniff to the final sip!

Last was a super impressive, another award earning wine Les Jamelles trio of grapes from France with big, bold flavor! The Grenache, Syrah and Mourverde come together with spice and warmth that still surprisingly hosts a juicy nature with plum-like notes. Which all adds up to a complex wine that represents a unique blend of what France can offer to us, the wine lovers of the world.

And so with all of this said and all these wines later, I'm left with only one question... Why can't we have a month-long Festivals of Wines? It's a celebration of local talent, word class wines and grapes. Because let's all remember that this event starts with the earth and grapes that once cultivated by passionate humans become a drink that has inspired a broad range of people to greatness.


Oh...and I couldn't leave without another stop at the Property Guy's photo booth to hang out with the morphsuit men and take a fun snap shot!

Say, Cabernet Sauvignon!

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