One of my favourite things to do is look at wine bottles.
At wineries, in the liquor store, I love walking alongside the shelves, taking in the labels, vintages and varieties and piquing my curiosity about the contents inside each bottle.
Last night, the Cuvée Wine Awards were handed out in Niagara Falls at the Fallsview Casino, reaffirming that what's inside so many Ontario bottles is fabulous wine. The awards, dubbed the Oscars of this province's wine industry, have been handed out for 24 years and are a celebration of all that fermented grape goodness and its soulmate, food. The awards also benefit the Niagara Community Foundation.
There were 45 wineries at the gala and 10 chefs serving up some of the most delicious and creative morsels. Hospitality on Hand wins my award for best use of a sweet potato with its vegetarian "spare rib" made of the tubers. It shares the honours with Fallsview Casino Resort, which served up a whimsical take on fish and chips with its potato wrapped tuna, served with an Asian slaw, pureed edamame (mushy peas anyone?) and an edible rice paper front page of a newspaper.
Wines that won my tastebuds over last night included Maleta Winery's 2008 Grape Brain Riesling, which could fool you into thinking it's bone dry one until you get a sweet kick in the aftertaste, Cornerstone Estate's 2009 Chenin Blanc reserve, packed with pears and honey, Calamus Estate Winery's light and refreshing 2010 Pinot Gris, 2027 Cellars' 2008 Falls Vineyard Riesling and Hinterbrook Estate Winery's 2010 Riesling, which to me smelled like delicious brown sugar and apples (I was standing near the dessert table when I stuck my schnoz in the glass, mind you, but it still tasted spectacular).
Without further ado here are the 2012 Cuvée winners: Red wine: Palatine Hills Estate Winery Proprietor's Reserve Merlot 2007 Limited edition red wine: Angels Gate Winery Mountainview Pinot Noir 2009 White wine: Greenlane Estate Winery Riesling 2010 Limited edition white wine: 2027 Cellars 19th Street Chardonnay 2010 LCBO red wine: Creekside Estate Winery Shiraz 2009 LCBO white wine: Hillebrand Winery Trius Sauvignon Blanc 2010 Dessert wine: G. Marquis Vineyards Riesling Icewine 2009 (1st place), Inniskillin Wines Sparkling Vidal Icewine 2010 (2nd place) Limited edition dessert wine: Sue-Ann Staff Estate Winery Riesling Icewine 2007 (1st Place), Diamond Estates — The Winery Dan Aykroyd Signature Series Vidal Icewine 2006 (2nd place) Sparkling wine: Tawse Winery Spark Rosé 2009 (1st place), Featherstone Estate Winery Joy Sparkling Wine 2008 (2nd place), Peller Estates Winery Ice Cuvé Rosé NV (3rd place) Chardonnay: Stoney Ridge Cellars Excellence Chardonnay 2009 (1st place), Tawse Winery Robyn's Block Chardonnay 2009 (2nd place) Riesling: Greenlane Estate Winery Riesling 2010 (1st place), Hinterbrook Estate Winery Riesling 2010 (2nd place), Cave Spring Cellars Riseling CSV 2009 (3rd place) Gewürztraminer: Konzelmann Estate Winery Gewürztraminer Late Harvest 2010 (1st place), Riverview Cellars Winery Gewürztraminer 2010 (2nd place) Sauvignon Blanc: Peller Estates Winery Private Reserve Sauvignon Blanc (1st place), Featherstone Estate Winery Sauvignon Blanc 2011 (2nd place) White blend: Stonechurch Vineyards Riesling Gewürztraminer 2009 (1st place), Rockway Glen Estate Winery Chardonnay/Riseling 2010 (2nd place), Diamond Estates — The Winery Hat Trick White 2009 (3rd place) Pinot Grigio/Pinot Gris: Fielding Estate Winery Estate Bottle Pinot Gris 2010 Viognier: Fielding Estate Winery Viognier 2010 (1st place), Creekside Estate Winery Reserve Viognier 2010 (2nd place) Cabernet Sauvignon: Peller Estates Winery Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 (1st place), Lakeview Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2007 (2nd place) Cabernet Franc: Fielding Estate Winery Cabernet Franc 2010 (1st place), Vignoble Rancourt Winery Cabernet France 2007 (2nd place), Niagara College Teaching Winery Dean's List Cabernet Franc 2009 (3rd place) Meritage: Kacaba Vineyards Reserve Meritage 2007 (1st place), Vineland Estates Winery Cabernet Merlot Reserve 2007 (2nd place), Tawse Winery Meritage 2008 (3rd place) Pinot Noir: Angels Gate Winery Mountainview Pinot Noir 2009 (1st place), Niagara College Teaching Winery Dean's List Pinot Noir 2009 (2nd place) Merlot: Palatine Hills Estate Winery Proprietor's Reserve Merlot 2007 (1st place), Kacaba Vineyards Reserve Merlot 2007 (2nd place) Gamay Noir: 13th Street Winery Gamay Noir Sandstone Old Vines 2010 Red Blend: Colaneri Estate Winery Insieme 2009 (1st place), Diamond Estates — The Winery Hat Trick Red 2010 (2nd place) Syrah/Shiraz: Creekside Estate Winery Broken Press Syrah 2008 (1st place), Colio Estate Wines, Inc. CEV Small Lot Shiraz 2008 (2nd place) Tony Aspler Cuvée Award of Excellence: Ron Giesbrecht, Winemaker, Henry of Pelham Family Estate Winery (for consistently producing fine wines across Henry of Pelham's portfolio for 22 years) Cuvée Award of Excellence in Viticulture: Duarte Oliveira Sr., Oliveira Vineyards.