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It’ll soon be February and that means – it’s time for the Days of Wine and Chocolate festival in Niagara on the Lake, which I love, love, love! We’re probably going to go down on two separate weekends to be able to try as many as possible.

We’ve already purchased our tickets and we’re looking forward to tasting some of the delicious pairings below. My husband and I have flagged a few particularly interesting ones (in pink) although they all look amazing!

CATTAIL CREEK ESTATE WINERY

2008 Select Late Harvest Meritage Dark Chocolate Butterscotch Crunch

MARYNISSEN ESTATES WINERY

2008 Solstice
Milk Chocolate Sugarplums
 

CHÂTEAU DES CHARMES

2008 Cabernet Franc, Estate Bottled
Dark Chocolate, Red Currant and Chili
 

Niagara College Teaching Winery

2008 Dean’s List Chardonnay
Milk Chocolate Cashew Brittle

COLANERI Estate Winery

2009 ‘Pensieri’ Merlot Tiramisu
 

Palatine Hills Estate Winery

2006 Cabernet Sauvignon Proprietors’ Reserve
Dark Chocolate Almond Meringue

COYOTE’S RUN ESTATE WINERY

2008 Meritage
Dark Chocolate Wafer with Blueberries
 

Peller Estates Winery

2010 Private Reserve Gamay Noir
Dark Chocolate with Dried Cranberry & Sage

Diamond Estates

20 Bees Late Harvest Vidal and 20 Bees Buzz & Bubbles Sparkling Wine
White Chocolate with Pomegranate Filling

Pillitteri Estates Winery

2009 Straight Up Red
Dried Cherry & Pistachio White Chocolate Biscotti

HILLEBRAND WINERY

2010 Trius Cabernet Sauvignon
Dark Chocolate Infused with Red Wine

PondView Estate Winery

2010 Cabernet Franc Rose
Chocolate Truffle with Dried Cranberry
 

HInterbrook WINERY

2009 Cabernet Franc Icewine
White Chocolate with Hickory Smoke
 

Ravine Vineyard Estate Winery

2010 Ravine Sand and Gravel Cabernet Franc
Salted Pretzels Dipped in Milk Chocolate

THE ICE HOUSE WINERY

2009 Northern Ice Signature Series Red Dark Chocolate Espresso

Reif Estate Winery

2008 Pinot Noir
Caramalized Pine Nuts & Dark Chocolate Square
 

INNISKILLIN WINEs

2009 WMS 3 Vineyard Cabernet Franc
Triple Chocolate Biscotti with Hazelnuts

Riverview Cellars Estate Winery

2009 Fontana Dolce Sangria
Milk Chocolate Candied Orange Peel

jaCKSON-TRIGGS NIAGARA ESTATE WINERY

2007 Proprietors’ Grand Reserve Cabernet Franc Icewine 
Milk Chocolate Caramel Pecan Square
 

Southbrook Vineyards

2006 Cabernet Franc Icewine
Dark Chocolate Icewine Truffles
 

JOSEPH’S ESTATE WINES

2007 Merlot Reserve
Dark Chocolate Mint
 

Stonechurch Vineyards

2007 Cabernet Sauvignon
Dark Chocolate Paprika

KONZELMANN ESTATE WINERY

2010 Vidal Special Late Harvest 
Milk Chocolate Orange

Stratus Vineyards

2008 Sauvignon Blanc

Chocolat au Herbes de Provence
 

LAILEY VINEYARD

2010 Pinot Noir 
Dark Chocolate with Juniper Berries
 

Strewn Winery

2009 Cabernet Select Late Harvest
Dark Chocolate Almond Raisin

MALETA ESTATE WINERY

2006 GRAPE BRAIN Cabernet-Merlot
Milk Chocolate Coconut Cream

Sunnybrook Farm Estate Winery

Chocolate Embrace
Dark Chocolate Nutmeg
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Is it wrong to buy Halloween candy but end up eating it all yourself?

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I was craving chocolate.

So I made cake.

A “double-layered chocolatey-with-gooey-chocolate-icing” cake.

Sometimes a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.

This is from the Barefoot Contessa At Home cookbook. Recipe is here.

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We spent the day in Niagara on the Lake partaking in the Days of Wine and Chocolate festival.

PondView: It was the first time we’ve gone to this one – they opened last June (previously sold their grapes to other wineries) and we enjoyed chatting with one of the owners (it’s a family outfit).  They paired a 2009 BFBA Chardonnay with a white vanilla bean chocolate. Tasty! We also tried a very promising 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon and their 2007 Trinity red. Looking forward to good things from this winery in future! We bought a bottle of the Trinity red.

Marynissen: We’re fans of this winery and were happy to get to try their 2007 Cabernet Franc with dark chocolate mint. Yum. We picked up a bottle of the Solstice that we liked.

Riverview Cellars:  This was another new one on the list and what a treat it was. They started the tasting off with their 2008 Bianco, followed by their 2008 Rosso, and finished with their 2009 Vidal Icewine paired with dark chocolate peach cinnamon.

Ice House Winery: This was the third new one on the list We got to enjoy icewine slushies (so good!!! can totally see us sipping these by the pool next summer!), followed by the pairing of their 2005 Northern Ice Vidal Icewine and dark chocolate candied ginger. They also had a cute polar bear statue out front – below is Chris and I posing with him. 🙂

Ravine: We stopped here for lunch (I had the chicken pot pie with salad, Chris had the croque madame with fries and mayo). I ended up buying a loaf of the walnut currant bread as well. After lunch, we went next door and had their 2009 Gewürztraminer paired with white chocolate freeze dried strawberries – the pairing was quite good.

Maleta: Another favourite spot of ours – great wine and awesome staff. We had a nice chat with Sharon and enjoyed their 2006 Grape Brain Cabernet Merlot with dark chocolate maple walnut. We picked up some more 2003 Meritage and a very nice Chardonnay while we were there. I’m already planning to try one of Sharon’s suggestions to pair the chard with salmon!

Stonechurch: We had only been here once before. We got try their 2007 Cab Sauv Merlot with milk chocolate coconut cream. Nice! I love the shape of their bottles. 🙂

Palatine Hills: On most of our visits, we usually stop at this winery for the good wine and friendly staff and today was no exception. We tasted their 2006 Cab Sauv with dark chocolate cherry and ended picking up a bottle on our way out.

Konzelmann: Yes, another favourite! Here we got to try the 2009 Shiraz as well as their Pinot Noir (which we’ve tried and purchased before), paired with dark chocolate nutmeg. Although the Pinot paired better with the chocolate, the Shiraz was great as well – nice and peppery. We got a bottle of each. Love the staff here!

Strewn: We’ve only stopped here once before as well – this time we enjoyed their 2008 Meritage paired with dark chocolate raspberry. The cooking school area is a great setting for the tasting – too bad we live in Mississauga and can’t partake in their classes!

Stratus: After a lackluster stop the very first time we’d visited this winery (none in our group liked the wine the first time we visited over a year ago), we decided to give it another go. We tasted the 2007 White which was actually very good, paired with a roasted chocolate-covered brazil nut. Nice!

The next wine festival is in May (Wine & Herb). 🙂

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In January, we enjoyed the Ice Wine Festival in Niagara/NOTL. In February, we get to go to the Days of Wine & Chocolate festival in NOTL. We’ve been looking forward to it for a while (the tickets were a Christmas gift – yay!) and we’re already salivating, looking at the pairings to be offered. Since we’re only down for the day, picking which wineries to visit out of the 25 participating ones is always tough. We think we’ve narrowed it down to the highlighted ones below.

DAYS OF WINE AND CHOCOLATE PAIRINGS
Wine and chocolate pairings are offered each weekend in February from 11 am to 5 pm.

Cattail Creek Estate Winery
2008 Select Late Harvest Merlot paired with White Chocolate Raspberry

Château des Charmes
Brut Sparkling Estate Bottled paired with White Chocolate Pistachio

Coyote’s Run Estate Winery
2008 Red Paw Vineyard Pinot Noir paired with Milk Chocolate Cashew

Hillebrand Winery
2008 Trius Red paired with Dark Chocolate Almond Raisin

The Ice House Winery
2005 Northern Ice Vidal Icewine paired with Dark Chocolate Candied Ginger

Inniskillin Wines
2007 Winemakers Series 2 Vineyard Merlot paired with Dark Chocolate Espresso

Jackson-Triggs Niagara Estate Winery
2005 Grand Reserve Methode Classique paired with Milk Chocolate Caramel

Joseph’s Estate Wines
2007 Carline Gamay Rosé paired with Chocolate Hazelnut

Konzelmann Estate Winery
2009 Shiraz paired with Dark Chocolate Nutmeg

Lailey Vineyard
2008 Vidal Late Harvest paired with White Chocolate Cranberry

Maleta Estate Winery
2006 GRAPE BRAIN Cabernet Merlot paired with Dark Chocolate Maple Walnut

Marynissen Estates Winery
2007 Cabernet Franc paired with Dark Chocolate Mint

Niagara College Teaching Winery
2006 Cabernet Sauvignon paired with Dark Chocolate Apricot Pecan

Palatine Hills Estate Winery
2006 Cabernet Sauvignon paired with Dark Chocolate Cherry

 Peller Estates Winery
2009 Private Reserve Sauvignon Blanc paired with Milk Chocolate Candied Orange

Pillitteri Estates Winery
2007 EXCLAMATION Reserve Merlot paired with White Chocolate Blueberry

PondView Estate Winery
2009 Berrel-Fermented, Barrel-Aged Chardonnay paired with White Vanilla Bean Chocolate

Ravine Vineyard Estate Winery
2007 Gewürztraminer paired with White Chocolate Freeze Dried Strawberries

Reif Estate Winery
2006 Select Late Harvest Vidal paired with Apple Truffle

Riverview Cellars Winery
2009 Vidal Icewine paired with Dark Chocolate Peach Cinnamon

Southbrook Vineyards
Blackberry Fruit Wine paired with Dark Chocolate Chili

Stonechurch Vineyards
2007 Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot paired with Milk Chocolate Coconut Cream

Stratus Vineyards
2007 Stratus White paired with Roasted Chocolate-Covered Brazil Nut

Strewn Winery
2008 Meritage paired with Dark Chocolate Raspberry

Sunnybrook Farm Estate Winery
Black Currant Wine paired with Dark Chocolate Anise

 

 



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Knocked off 2 more recipes tonight which brings the total to 58 of 90:  Spring green risotto and Chocolate-dipped strawberries.

The risotto turned out great! This was my third try at making a decent risotto and I’m happy to report that it turned out beautifully. The last couple of times it turned out too salty (which was my fault for miscalculating the amount of pancetta in the recipe) so I was very happy that this one turned out so good. It was Barefoot Contessa’s Spring Green Risotto from her Back to Basics cookbook. The “spring green” part came from the leeks, fennel, asparagus and peas. Add to that the white wine, mascarpone, parmesan, lemon zest and lemon juice, plus the requisite chicken stock, and you get a warm and comforting, yet bright risotto. Enjoyed with a glass of white wine (Sibling Rivalry – Henry of Pelham estates from our wine of the month delivery for July).

Creamy goodness 🙂

For dessert was Ina’s Chocolate-dipped strawberries. Start with fresh strawberries. Then, for the dipping sauce: semisweet chocolate, plus the secret ingredients: a bit of heavy cream, orange zest, Grand Marnier, light corn syrup and instant coffee granules. The coffee and orange flavour really brought depth to the dipping sauce and I kept dipping my finger in long after we ran out of strawberries. 🙂 I needed the rest of the package of strawberries for the jam! So I kept the rest of the sauce for another time.

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What do you get when two of my favorite things come together in a joyous,  rapturous, awesome event?

THIS.

Yep. And we’re going. We haven’t picked the date yet, but one of those weekends will be filled with luscious wine and decadent chocolate.

I can’t wait.

The Days of Wine and Chocolate in Niagara on the Lake.

Wine.

Chocolate.

TOGETHER!!!

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