This is the seventh – and final – installment in a series of interviews following up on discoveries made at TasteCamp North,held on both sides of the Niagara river on May 13-15, with some thirty-some wine bloggers and writers present. Today is Amanda Maynard, a die-hard Boston Bruins fan who writes the Wineing Woman blog between Stanley Cup finals games.
By the way, if you want to see the thirty some-odd posts generated so far by bloggers who attended TasteCamp, the whole list is being compiled here. At this date, there is more to come, so watch for updates.
Was this your first visit to Niagara – in Canada and/or the US?
This was my first visit to Niagara and actually my first time ever visiting Canada. For being such a big hockey fan, you’d think I would have visited the home of the sport by now. I’m glad to have been able to remedy that situation and try a whole bunch of new stuff, too (I’d never even heard of ramps, but we had them more than once and now I’m well aware of how awesome they are). Niagara Falls isn’t too shabby, either.
Had you ever had any Niagara wines before? If so, what was your impression of them?
I hadn’t had any but I’d always envisioned Canada as producing ice wines and only ice wines. I’m not sure if it was purposely to break that stereotype or whether the stereotype was wrongly acquired, but we hardly had any ice wines outside of those provided by the ice wine masters at Inniskillin. Otherwise, I had no idea what kind of wines we’d have the chance to sample. I was a clean slate with no prior judgement on wine quality, only an assumption of wine type.
After your visit to Niagara, how much has your impression changed?
Tons. Not only are their wines well worth trying, the weather’s pretty nice, too. Canada is all snow, right? Wrong. I got a sunburn our first day there (I’m fair skinned so that’s really not hard, but still!). Though the rest of the weekend was gloomy, I was quite surprised with the heat we encountered.
What did you appreciate the most?
Holy chardonnay! People throw around the “Anything But Chardonnay” phrase all the time but that truly was me two years ago. I had only recently opened up to unoaked chardonnay as a style that I could accept and enjoy. Now I’ve got a whole new viewpoint. It’s the hot and over oaked stuff that I don’t like. All of the chards that I’ve tried from cooler areas have been quite a different animal, oaked or unoaked. Niagara is really mastering that grape right now and I’m happy to say that it’s helped to change how I think about the grape.
What impressed you the least – or what needs improvement the most?
Price. I usually tell myself that I won’t spend more than X on a bottle of wine (The limit is usually $25 but I think it’s creeping close to $30 these days). That being said, I don’t think I bought many wines that were less than my limit. Since it was part education and part vacation, I splurged, but I’d say that a good chunk of the wines we had the opportunity to sample were bordering on out of my range. That said, not all of the producers were priced high and with time, it will hopefully be a barrier that subsides.
What was the most unexpected thing for you, during TasteCamp?
I wasn’t quite expecting the wineries to be as grand and opulent as they all were. If I knew nothing about wine but was driving through this region, I’d think that the wines were already quite established in the market because of the look and feeling of being there. Not only were the buildings beautiful, but the hospitality and kindness shown by everyone involved was quite impressive. Niagara’s not joking around. They want to be taken seriously and they’re presenting themselves in a way that helps the cause.
What would your wine of the weekend be?
Tawse 2009 Robyn’s Block Chardonnay. I fell in love with chardonnay that weekend and it was helped along quite nicely by that bottle. I can’t wait to share it with some fellow wine nerds.