Savour Niagara, September 2009

Sep 17, 2009

My thoughts and memories beat against my head in the early morning light. Yes, I’m hung over. I had a lot to drink last night but I met some wonderful people, drank some wonderful wines and ate some wonderful food. Laughing, drinking, eating, meeting, shaking hands, this is what wine events are for.

And this blog entry will be less focused on wine (although I mention a lot of it) and more subject, basedon my personal experience and is dedicated to my family. 

Yesterday afternoon, I arrived at the Sheraton for the 13th Annual Savour Niagara to first meet up with my step-sister, Shannon, my father Peter and my step-mother Gay in the latter’s hotel room. Gay Douglas-Broerse is the President of the Board of Small Business Club Niagara. Not only is she an amazing entrepreneur, co-founder of One Source Solutions but perhaps the best ‘evil step-mother’ (her words not mine) in the world.

In the hotel room, the four of us enjoyed a few appetizers, also polished off a bottle of Henry of Pelham Pinot Noir I had picked up at that winery a few weeks back.

Around 6, we headed down to the lobby. I couldn’t have been accompanied by a more fashionable entourage. Gay and Shan were both dressed in black, sophisticated but also beautifully stylish. I’m sure they turned a lot of heads. As for my father, he cleaned up good with a casual grey blazer over a black t and blue jeans to match, what I call his Kaiser haircut and trimmed beard. (I too looked stunning.)

There was a small line-up and we met my step-brother, Aaron, stewing and cursing over some personal matters – he is in the midst of moving and the painters were a no-show for him yesterday afternoon.

“Things happen,” his mother told him. “Moving is not fun.”
"Oh [insert expletive] don't get me started," he said in his deep, bass voice.
With a smile, Gay replied, "We'll try not to."

But we all knew he had to catch up (being slightly in the sauce, it's hard to relate to those still anchored in sobriety.)

Starting in the Brock Room, my first healthy gulp of wine came from Cave Spring Cellars, a beautiful and bountiful glass of their 2006 Chardonnay Estate. A hint of buttery apples, beautiful acidity, lush but light.

I was in for a good evening.

Mark, my brother, arrived shortly after, looking pensive, intimidating and ready to take on a night of wine. The six of us found a table to linger around for the first bit, where I sampled the delicious honey-melon 2008 Sauvignon-Chardonnay blend from Reif Estate (I did a lot of white wine drinking last night).

I met up with another notable and lovely entourage, the ladies of Women in Finance: Renee Bermel, Linda Herkel and Connie Materno with their friend Nikki Enkellar of SendOutCards and JE Indoor/Outdoor Services. We headed over to the Herdner table where I had a chance to sip the 2007 Riesling. Excellent is all I can say (not to mention beautiful apples, some petrol and tropical fruit). Renee fell in love with their Iced Pear wine and paired it (yes, yes, yes, a pun) with the Thai Vegetable Curry on Kaffi-Scented Basmati Rice from Hospitality on Hand. They were heading over to Reif before I wished them a good evening and re-joined my family.

Mark, Aaron and I headed out into the corridor to Atrium I at the other end. There, they fell in love with the Colio Estate 2005 CEV Cabernet Franc - a full-bodied, deep,wine with notes of brooding green pepper, chocolate and black berry - while I indulged in 2008 CEV Pinot Grigio. A bit of old world and new in the glass – lemon and tropical fruit with a hint of banana. We feasted on Zee’s Grill offerings – a Capon Drummette Lightly Breaded and glazed in truffled honey and roasted garlic. The guy’s at Zee's got to know our faces (as did Arleen and Doug of Colio).

Being of Dutch background, I have a sweet tooth. For myself, the Chocolate Brownie with the slightly singed Marshmallow frosting of Zee’s Grill made my night. I had quite few of those, I can admit.

Stoney Ridge Estate Winery’s 2008 Reserve Gewurtztraminer – a bit of Alsace but with a sparkling bright acidity and a balance of lychee and roses.

Maleta Winery’s 2007 View Old Vines Dry Riesling – petrol and apple and just perfect.

Strewn Winery 2005 Riesling Terroir - a lovely, viscous wine with peachy apples.

Kacaba Vineyards 2008 Reserve Riesling - I just visited their winery the other week - excellent wines.

Calamus Estate Winery’s 2008 and 2007 Riesling – after drinking these wines, I truly have to visit the winery; I know, haven’t yet. (I know, I know, I’m a bad wine educator.)

But I have to say, we all kept coming back to Zee’s Grill and Colio Estates in the 1st Atrium. I think it was the way the room was set up, a nice little nook, very open and less busy than the Brock Room. It was also the entertainment. I’m not a lover of Jazz but when the lovely  Juliet Dunn (a popular compliment to many wine events in Niagara) croons Bésame Mucho, her voice easy on the ears and her beauty easy on the eyes, its easy to understand why we lingered.

Piensa que tal vez mañana                                                          
Yo ya estaré lejos, muy lejos de tí.                    

(I think that maybe tomorrow
I'll be far, far away from you.)  

The evening felt like many evenings all together, all at once, the music everywhere. I remember looking at my cell phone and saying, no, it can’t be just 7:30. Wine slows down time, changes it, one moment a myriad of moments  Aaron and Gay both felt the same. I sat sluggish with wine on a bell hop hotel cart sipping on a Palatine Hill 2008 Gewurztraminer - lovely lychee and grapefruit. 

After laughing and finishing her cell phone call, Shannon sat down beside me. I felt a little sentimental. With a silly, drunken fist I punched her tanned shoulder and told her it was great to have her as my step-sibling. She felt the same. We talked about relationships, that confusing line between passion and love. I confessed to a few situations where it was easy to want, but not, love.

(Ella in Victoria, you crossed my mind. A beautiful, wine-soaked regret. Black curly hair and carnation-white cheeks, red lips, green blue eyes. I shook my head. I can’t believe you almost got me into a fight with that bouncer.)

Gay, being the very intuitive mother, checked up on her daughter, brought over a coffee from Starbucks. I offered my seat.

“Going on your date?” Gay asked her daughter.
Responding with tough maternal love, “I want to check him out. I want to approve.”

My father also headed out, shaking our hands, kissing his wife goodbye.

Aaron, my brother and I met up with a co-worker, Tim and the three government workers (my brother works for Canada Pension) griped about the real world. We had a few laughs and the wine had definitely lightened my step-brother up for the course of the night.

I have to say, Aaron is quite a character. By the end of the evening, as the crowd dispersed and the agents cleaned their tables, while all the women were innocently nabbing flowers off the tables, a woman sidled up to ours.

"You guys look like a nice bunch."
"We are," my step-brother formally and mischievously replied, his tone on the cusp of sarcasm.
Aaron introduced himself and us. The woman said hello and it turned out they had a mutual friend.
"John. Of course."
"You know him?" she asked.
"We worked together. He trained me for my position."
"He's a fantastic guy."
"Yeah, he's a great kisser."

That just got everyone. My brother chuckled, Gay burst into a hearty laugh. My lids swallowed my eyes, my head sunk and my shoulders bounced -I started and couldn't stop quietly howling for ten minutes.

The woman, concerned, asked if I was crying.

I shook my head, breaking into more laughter. I eventually composed myself, finishing my apple-citrus Wayne Gretzky Estate 2007 unoaked Chardonnay.

But we were all gone. Time had finally caught up to us. I tried to steal a glass on my way out but I couldn't. The ladies had taken all the flowers. The songs sung by the lovely Juliet whispered through my mind...

Piensa que tal vez mañana

My brother and I stayed in my step-mother's suite - she had the pull out, we crashed in the beds. On the way up, I waved goodbye to Aaron in the lobby, drunkenly telling him he too was a great kisser.

As I finish this blog entry, I look over at my bed, my body swimming with the faint remains of last night's wine. My head still hurts but the memories will be some of my happiest.

(I also want to add it was great meeting you Ashley - Gay is lucky to have you around. Don and Susan, I hope to see you guys at the next Savour Niagara.  Don, I've tried and I've tried but I can't remember the wine you recommended. A Pinot Noir from Oregon... ? I shake my head, memories washed in wine. It was great meeting you guys.)


Calamus Estate Winery
Cattail Creek Estate Winery
Chateau des Charmes Wines
Colio Estate Wines
Coyote's Run Estate Winery
Herdner Estate Wine
Kacaba Vineyards
Konzelmann Estate Winery
Maleta Winery
Niagara College Teaching Winery
Palatine Hills Estate Winery
Reif Estate Winery
Rockway Glen Estate Winery
Southbrook Vineyard
Stoney Ridge Estate Winery
Wayne Gretzky Estate Winery


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My focus is mainly on wine culture, history and education. I love the stories behind wine - the people, places and the regional personalities of the wine-countries around the world.

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