2012 Niagara Icewine Tour Report 6/8: Ravine Vineyards/Icewine Village


The second stop on yesterday’s tour was Ravine VIneyards, which was hosting a special hockey game for the Icewine Festival amongst local Niagara winemakers. The unusually warm weather, however, required a quick change of plans from an ice hockey rink (which completely melted) to a ball hockey rink marked off by haystacks from the property.

Also set up was a makeshift Icewine Village where the wineries from last week’s Icewine Village setup on Queen Street set up displays upon used wine barrels in front of the rink to pour samples from.

Ravine Winery also has its own tasting bar, of course, as well as a beautiful bistro and coffee shop. With all that was around and plenty to do, unfortunately there was a contingent from the tour that was not happy with the “lack of choice” and being “trapped” at the winery for the extended lunch hour as opposed to the traditional free time in the Niagara town village itself. The wine club president actually had to ask the tour bus driver to take a contingent to, no joke, a nearby McDonald’s in order to appease the disgruntled contingent.

Now I had mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, if you’re going to come all the way out to Niagara you should come prepared to spend money. On the other, I can see why people might have wanted a cheap lunch so they could spend more money on wine. Nevertheless, the incident was smoothed over quickly.

I chose to lunch at the bistro and had a great table d’hote with soup, steak frites, and a chocolate pot de creme pie, all of which were really quite good and a bargain at $25 before tax and tip. Rather than order wine at the table, I kept going to the makeshift village and getting icewine samples to go with my food. While this happened, I was asked if I could film a spot for the Icewine Festival media spots swirling and tasting my icewine. I graciously complied, only to realize after I was done that I just reinforced the icewine loving Asian stereotype. May as well just change my name to Charlie Fu now. pileon

After lunch, I went to the tasting bar and was surprised to see a familiar face there. Molly Ziraldo (niece of Canadian icewine godfather Donald Ziraldo) whom I met previously a couple of times at Southbrook was now working at Ravine. After exchanging pleasantries and getting an update on how she ended up working at Ravine, it was on to the wines.

NIAGARA COLLEGE 2010 PRODIGY ICEWINE – I gave a note on this on my first report on the Icewine Village. This blended Vidal, Riesling and Chardonnay icewine was so good I felt compelled to try it again and it was just as good the second time around.

COLANERI 2010 GEWURZTRAMINER RECIOTO – A dessert wine made from dried Gewurztraminer grapes. Excellent craftsmanship resulting in a full-bodied wine with light raisin sweetness but an added sharpness from the Gewurztraminer spice. Really quite different.

CATTAIL CREEK 2007 CAB FRANC ICEWINE – Prefectly respectable full-bodied Cab Franc icewine with nice strawberry flavor.

RAVINE 2009 RIESLING ICEWINE – An excellent Riesling icewine with bright lemon lime and high racy acidity. Right up there with Henry of Pelham, Malivoire and Vineland as my favorite Riesling icewines to date.

TRIUS 2010 BARREL-FERMENTED VIDAL ICEWINE – A rare barrel-fermented Vidal with rich apricot and vanilla flavors.

CHATEAU DES CHARMES 2009 RIESLING ICEWINE – Paul Bosc’s Chateau des Charmes is a Riesling specialist, having brought the vinifera to Niagara first. The quality here is evident, as its marked difference from other Riesling icewines.

Whereas most Niagara Riesling icewines including my favorites listed above make racy acidity their hallmark, this one trades off a bit of that acidity in exchange for a shocking amount of minerality that gives it a richness and complexity that surprised the heck out of me.

Now I know that term is way overused with Rieslings but I must note that it is also not one I have ever used to describe icewine before. In fact, I’ve only ever found those notes in German Spatleses and Auslese.

All this said, I must note that the difference in acidity level will take you by surprise if you like high acidity in your Rieslings, icewine or otherwise. While this is duly noted, I have to recommend this due to the fact that it is so different from other Riesling icewines I’ve had. This is going to be a love it or hate it one for most people I think.

OVERALL: This was a really fun stop. It’s the first time on one of the iYellow tours that I got to stop and eat at a winery itself and it was a superb meal. The winery and bistro alone would’ve been good but the icewine village setup made it especially great.

It was particularly funny as people both inside the restaurant and serving at the Icewine Village realized I kept going back outside and was refilling to go along with my food and I kept getting all these great “That’s a great idea, why didn’t I think of that?” looks and smiles as I went back and forth. Well, you have to be as addicted to icewine as I am to come up with an out of the box idea like that. flirtysmile

Is the food good at teh Ravine Bistor? For lunch or for dinner as well?

Hi Bob,

I found the lunch food to be excellent. However, I should note that I did order off the special Icewine Festival prix fixé menu. I have no reason to believe that the regular menu is sub-standard, however. I have not been there for dinner.