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Rosemary Mantini
review in ‘Wine Tidings Magazine”

What an amazing experience I had Saturday evening enjoying a delicious dinner, al fresco, in the Wine Sensory Garden at Reif Estate Winery in Niagara-on-the- Lake. Efficient servers began to serve wave after wave of tasty hors d’ oeuvres to tempt our palates (warm mini lemon thyme biscuits with Mario Pingue’s shaved Bresaola and parmesan, endive spears with whipped chèvre, toasted walnut and drizzle of lemon thyme infused honey). The highlight of the whole evening was, of course, the delicious three course meal prepared by chef Robin Howe that was paired with three of Reif’s wines.

The first course consisted of pan roasted salmon wrapped in prosciutto and rosemary which, in turn, were delicately placed on a spring pea and crème fraîche purée and surrounded by a Pinot Noir reduction. This prosciutto wrapped morsel was like no salmon I have had in years. The prosciutto added a great textural and underlying smoky element to the perfectly roasted pink fish. The bright green pea and crème fraîche purée added a refreshing herbaceous touch. The matched wine was the 2007 Pinot Noir.

Now before you go off on your “no red wine with fish!” tirade, this was an absolutely stunning pairing. This Pinot, while exhibiting robust sour cherry and cranberry, had an underlying earthy element (like a cool forest floor) that matched well with the cured prosciutto.

The main course presented us with a galantine composed of roasted free range chicken and pistachio-lemon mousse in a Cabernet Merlot, roasted tomato, garlic and oregano jus. The textural and flavour elements of this dish were sublime. The roasted tomato and oregano infused jus, combined with the lemon and pistachio mousse, provided a somewhat Mediterranean zest. The 2008 Cab Merlot served to balance this dish.

Finally, the dessert consisted of individual upside down pineapple cakes with a dollop of pineapple sage and Icewine sweetened whipped Chantilly cream. What a delicious way to wind things down. The upside down cake was moist and the pineapple was a strong presence without being overpowered by sweetness. Even the addition of the Chantilly cream served as a perfect supporting role. The 2007 Vidal Icewine was smooth and subtle. There was enough acidity in this lip smacker to help bring the apricot and acacia honey to the forefront.