Sunday, April 22, 2012

Ice Wines and Seasonal Desserts at Finale

After a simply divine Valrhona Chocolate and Port Wine tasting at Finale Desserterie earlier this month, I was psyched to return to Finale's Park Plaza location this week to be back in the care of Executive Pastry Chef, Nicole Coady, for an Ice Wines and Seasonal Desserts tasting. I entered into the evening having never experienced ice wine before, so I was very excited to find out what all the fuss was about! And of course, enjoy some of Chef Nicole's delectable seasonal desserts. 

For those of you who aren't familiar with ice wine, here's a quick ice wine 101 for you:

Ice wine is a type of dessert wine produced from grapes that have been frozen while still on the vine. The sugars and other dissolved solids do not freeze, but the water does, allowing a more concentrated grape must (must is freshly pressed fruit juice that contains the skins, seeds and stems of the fruit) to be pressed from the frozen grapes, resulting in a smaller amount of more concentrated, very sweet wine. With ice wines, the freezing happens before the fermentation, not afterwards. Due to the labor-intensive and high risk production process resulting in relativively small amounts of wine, ice wine is generally quite expensive. Canada and Germany are the world's largest producers of ice wines. 
We kicked off the evening with what turned out to be my favorite pairing of the night: a 2006 Jackson Triggs Vidal from Niagara, Canada paired with Finale's Signature Cheesecake.

Chef Nicole makes Finale's Signature Cheesecake with Mexican vanilla, which gave the dessert a more earthy flavor and a deliciously dense consistency. The earthy themes in the cheesecake set the stage for a perfect pairing with the Jackson Triggs Vidal, highlighting the sweet and fruity notes in the wine. Combined with the chocolate and strawberry topping, I was in heaven! 

Throughout the evening, we continued to experience a variety of other radiant pairings including:
  • 2009 Renwood Amador ice wine from California paired with a Strawberry Frangipane tart
  • 2006 Selaks Marlborough from New Zealand with a Key Lime Tart
  • 2009 Cooper Mountain Vin Glace from Willamette Valley, Oregon with a Lemon Tart
  • 2006 Inniskillin Vidal ice wine from Niagara, Canada with Creme Brulee

In tasting each pairing, I was amazed by how well the sweet and citrusy flavors of each wine complimented each delightful dessert. I imagined the process must be somewhat scientific, like an online dating site for ice wines and seasonal desserts, but Chef Nicole admitted to a strategy that sounded much more fun! She explained that as she tasted each wine, she proceeded to raid the pastry case at Finale until she found each wine's perfect dessert match. I don't know about you, but if that's how Chef Nicole spends her days at Finale, I'd like to get in on the action! Every ice wine deserves a perfect dessert. Aw, how romantic!

Many thanks again to Chef Nicole for hosting us, and for preparing such an impeccable array of seasonal desserts for our enjoyment that evening! 

I already can't wait to return to Finale for next month's tasting: Craft Beer and desserts! 

*While I did receive this complimentary tasting from Finale, these opinions are honest and entirely my own.


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