At Pondview Estate Winery with the Puglisi's and David Levy of Chocolate Tales. Get ready  to make truffles!

 

Two of life's greatest pleasures together, wine and chocolate, was the theme of the day.  Enjoyed with an awesome group, a decked out limo for VIP travel,a knock-out fabulous chocolate inspired luncheon, three wine tastings, including icewine slushies and a chocolate truffle workshop, thank you David Levy of Chocolate Tales  in Niagara-on-the-Lake, how much more can you ask for on a chilly February winter day.

Never a dull moment and lots of fun on The Wine Ladies wine tours to be sure!

If you could just imagine the best possible group ever of extreme fun loving, crazy for wine and chocolate twenty-five individuals, it wouldn't be much different from the incredible group we had with us on our inaugural Wine and Chocolate tour last month.

All VIP guests receive a gift bag filled to the brim with wonderful surprises including some Cookies & Corks and d'vine Skin Care made from grapes!

Lots of prizes to be won! Psychic Marishka and Fire Captain Roy each win a bottle of delicious 2011 Northern Ice 2011 Cabernet/Dornfelder Signature Series from the Ice House Winery. Congrats!

With a reasonably early morning pickup, one in Toronto shorlty after 9:00am and the other in Oakville, our “standard” extreme luxury limousine (Niagara Classic Transport) was the mode of transport for our rowdy,  “joie de vivre” gang.  The tour kicked off with a steaming hot cup of java and fresh out of the oven pastries and muffins for all, thanks to our generous Whole Foods of Oakville.

Some of our guests board our luxury limo bus with delicious hot steamimg coffee and home made muffins for the ride to Niagara-on-th-Lake.

Barrelling along the QEW... excuse the pun, the chatter is continuous as there are no shrinking violets on this bus to be sure! On our way to what promises to be a very special treat, our first stop will be to meet the award winning and charming winemaker (of course he is charming, he is Italian) Marco Piccoli of iconic Jackson Triggs winery. Marco will greet us with special bubbly, take us on a private tour, answer all questions and lead us through a personalized tasting.  Following that Executive Chef Tim MacKiddie will present his chocolate inspired luncheon menu created especially for our group with explanations of his three course wine and food pairings. 

Here is a snapshot of our first stop, from the bubbly to the barrel cellar, the wines and the menu did not disappoint!

 

 

In keeping with the theme of the day, Executive Chef Tim offered up a truly delicious chocolate inspired luncheon menu. From the  Cauliflower and white chocolate “cappuccino"  Truffle creme,Valrhona coco "soup" if you will, although truly understating how fine it was, to the Beef cheeks braised in red wine and cocoa nib, Ontario root vegetables, Candied garlic and Fine herbs, the entire culinary experience was divine. And not to mention the wines from the Delaine Vineyard, which sources the best of the vintage, the 2010 Syrah was a favorite of many, with ripe fruit, spice and hints of chocolate and coffee on the nose, luscious and gogeous! We also enjoyed the Delaine Vineyard Chardonnay and the Grand Reserve Riesling Icewine, hitting the high notes of greatest appreciation from all!

Second stop, the King awaits us! We do indeed feel like royalty as Luciano Puglisi, proprietor of Pondview Estate Winery welcomes us, alas his crown has been abdicated to following Kings. Lou, as he is “commonly” called won the prestigious title of Grape King in 2008 awarded by the Ministry of Agriculture for the finest quality vineyards in Ontario. We learn the story of Lou’s roots, his family roots to wine dating back three generations in Sicily with a rich culture and history of growing grapes and making wine.  Lou goes on to tell us how Prince Charles and he shared a joke at an event at the Niagara College Teaching Winery that he was invited to due to his crowning of Grape King. When they were introduced a few words/pleasantries were exchanged, and then Lou jokingly said to Prince Charles, "well you might be the Prince, but I am the King". Apparently Prince Charles has a wonderful sense of humour and laughed heartily!

Lou takes us through a tasting of a variety of is VQA wines, but the piece de resistance is the 2010 Cabernet Franc that sparks passionate pleas of "may I have a refill?"  Full bodied, rich, intense with an alluring colour of dark ruby, an aroma of black currant and black licorice and a flavour reminiscent of chocolate and mocha. 

Whilst we are drinking in the stories orated by Luciano there is a seductive, sweet waft of cocoa permeating the wine room. Chocolatier David Levy of Chocolate Tales, Chocolate Dave as he is affectionately called, is whipping up a grenache for our group, the future chocolate truffle masters! This is the “work” portion of the event, we must all create our own individual truffles! A brief explanation of the “do’s and don’ts” don’t over handle, do take small chunks of grenache, do be precise with stencils etc... sheesh, just pop it in my mouth! Damn, that tastes good! Dave entertains while explaining the history of, the making of, the health benefits of and the love of bringing people together through his chocolate workshops, what his companyis all about. See who has talent below, as a future chocolatier! Not I, that is for sure!

 

Final stop, final refreshment, last but not least, another unique and special treat awaits us, icewine slushies and cocktails at the Ice House Winery.

 

 
Few people or winemakers know icewine as well as owners Jamie Macfarlane and his lovely wife Karen, who is a sensory researcher, scientific yes, but key to the palate and its many pleasurable possibilities!. 
 
The winery, built in a small quaint century old peach barn is charming and at once we  feel at home with broad smiles and enthusiasm from both Karen and Jamie. Ushered  in we begin our experience with Jamie, who has been pegged by many as the “icewine wizard”.  Jamie shares a few words on the how to’s of making icewine, minimum temperature for picking is -8 degrees celcius, pricey due to low yields, high risks and more. Sipping on our vidal icewine slushies served up in martini glasses we’re feeling mighty special and very cosmopolitan! Absolutely delicious! Next we try our hands at blending our own cocktail including icewine and white wine, with our own combinations. Great fun and conversation is had by all and before too long it is time to bid adieu. “We’ll be back” promises many guests in our group, no wonder Jim Treliving, of Dragon’s Den and now from TV show “The Big Decision” saw fit to make the Macfarlanes an offer!
 
All aboard, on our way back, despite a full day of excitement, lots of wine and fabulous food, this group is still ready to party! Good thing, because as usual we have our “go to” sparkling Girls’ Night Out wine ready to pop and pour while we give away prizes.
 
A big thank you to all that helped make this a special day, as we stretch our legs, just the two of us now on our way home to Oakville, exhausted and drunk with appreciation for our new found friends, wonderful partners and the absolutely fabulous day!

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