Reif Estates Winery is located in the heart of Niagara on the Lake and is one of mine and OneBlondChef’s favourite spots to visit. They have very friendly and knowledgable staff who have a flair for hospitality. The winery itself was founded in 1977 but opened in 1983. From that day on Rief has been doing it right and producing some outstanding wines.
The Wine and Chocolate Experience
Gillian and I were privileged enough to be treated to the complete Wine and Chocolate Experience. If you have never tried a wine flight (see photo) before I would start with wine and chocolate because, of course, who doesn’t like chocolate? Though some of the below pairings would seem counter-intuitive, trust Archie (Sommelier) to perfect the experience.
2007 Late Harvest Riesling Paired with Smooth Dark Chocolate (54% Cacao)
I do not usually enjoy reislings but this one had an intriguing subtleness to it. At first on the palate was definite pear and as you let the wine heat up in your mouth it turns in flavour and forms into raisin. The sweetness in this wine definitely cuts any bitterness in the dark chocolate and even adds a velvety smoothness otherwise unnoticeable.
2010 Reserve Merlot Paired with Medium Dark Chocolate (60% Cacao)
A very full bodied Merlot with a wonderful nose of deep dark berries and earthy undertones. If you like full bodied wine that will figuratively stick to your teeth, you will love this one. The wine is somewhat on the acidic side and works very well with the paired medium dark chocolate.
2010 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve Paired with Extra Dark Chocolate (70% Cacao)
This wine is amazing and definitely my favourite so far from Rief’s entire selection, I had to take home a bottle. This wine has a very aromatic nose of earthy, peppery and spicy tones that I could not get enough of. The most I can say is that this is a very well balanced wine that was the catalyst of a personal ‘a-ha’ moment. When paired with the extra dark chocolate the two undergo a complete change and bring out an otherwise hidden “third” flavour. The earthiness of the wine and earthiness in the chocolate neutralize each other and bring out a hidden sweetness and fruitiness. The new flavour was so smooth and creamy, it was delectable, like a fine desert. I could not believe the transformation and am excited to show this to friends, family, and any one who will listen.
2009 Vidal Icewine Paired with Milk Chocolate (40% Cacao)
I have to admit, I was highly skeptical of pairing the sweet milk chocolate with a similarly sweet icewine, however, the two paired so well that I was definitely put in my place. The icewine and chocolate brought out a creamy caramel and a toffee smoothness in each other that was delightful. Of course, just when I think the experience is almost over, Archie brings out a 2005 vidal icewine to pair with the same milk chocolate; this was like a dream in your mouth, so smooth and creamy that I really couldn’t get enough. This inspired me to try it at home later, but you can read more about that in my post “Icewine Pairings Gone Wrong”. Aging icewine will dull the sweetness and add a creaminess, will cause the sugars to caramelize and crystalize, and the flavours to mellow while bringing down the acidity. I highly recommend aging a good icewine as it is definitely worth the wait.
The Icewine Experience
This was my first experience at Rief Estates Winery and I am truly inspired to share the passion and begin to bring others back. I will take you briefly though this experience that I got to share with Ayngelina. The icewine flight consisted of 4 different wines paired with equally delicious food.
2011 Select Late Harvest Vidal Paired with Pear and Sweet Potato Soup
I have an affinity for Vidal Icewines and was able to pick out the flavours of apricot and definitely some honey. It paired very well with the soup and seemed to bring out flavours that were never there before.
2008 Reisling Icewine Paired with Apricot and Apple Turnover
I have to say that still having just come from lunch this turnover was so good that I could not bear to put it down. The apricot in the turnover was without a doubt enhanced by the paired icewine.
2011 Vidal Icewine paired with a Pear, Blue Cheese and Pecan Streusel Tart.
This was a great icewine and perfectly paired with the savoury and sweet tart. The blue cheese was outstanding in this tart and it was only going to get better with the next wine, this however, remains the best pairing.
2005 Vidal Icewine paired with a Penicillin Infused Blue Cheese.
I have to say I was very, very skeptical about this as I am very allergic to penicillin. I did survive and it was probably the best blue cheese I have ever eaten. It was so creamy and smooth and comes from Sudbury. This is a unique savoury blue cheese that was prepared with sea salt. This aged icewine is unbelievable, is so smooth and has a subtle sweetness to it.