Review of Ottawa’s 32nd Wine and Food Festival: New Vices and a dazzling Tasting Alley

Food and wine lovers seeking to elevate their repertoire of culinary delights turned out in high numbers on Saturday night at the 2017 Ottawa Wine and Food Festival (OWFF).

Event coordinators surpassed all expectations by curating a balance between sublime food offerings and copious selections of wines, craft beers and distilled libations.

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Attendees enjoying libations at Ottawa’s 32nd Wine and Food Festival

This year’s Tasting Alley introduced the Small Winemakers’ Collection. It provides public access to an international network of family winemakers. The OWFF provided an exciting venue for exposing wine enthusiasts to an alternative market of fine international wines.

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Jared Shattock of Kingston Estate Wines

Among them was Australia’s Kingston Estate Wines. Its representative Jared Shattock shared his excitement to offer the public vintage wines typically offered to the restaurateur market only. His vision is to provide an alternative source of fine international wines to Ontario consumers. Both the Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon received rave reviews from multiple wine aficionados along Tasting Alley that evening.

 

 

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Alexander Zahel, of Winery Zahel

Alexander Zahel of the Winery Zahel in Vienna, Austria, also spoke of the advantages of the Small Winemakers Collection. Zahel was irrepressible in his enthusiasm for being able to provide a personal marketing experience to public consumers and for delivering
high quality, handcrafted, fine wines. Of the Zahel wines on offer, the Grüner Veltliner Goldberg white received consistently high reviews from Tasting Alley fans curious about the Austrian wine market.

 

Peter Wearing, co-founder of the Small Winemakers’ Collection, shared the humble beginnings of his wine import business and its vision of providing Ontario restaurants access to high quality international wines. The wine agent’s vision, twenty-six years in
the making, now focuses on providing public access to artisanal family wine makers and familiarizing buyers with the families and the environment that influences their wines of choice.

The balance and variety of curated offerings that the Ottawa Wine and Food Festival team masterly delivered makes this event one of Ottawa’s premier tasting experiences.

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Attendees delighted at Chocolatier Rochef ‘s chocolate selections

The OWFF introduced another new tasting experience: Choco-CHIC acquainted the ultimate chocolate lover with Chocolatier Rochef of Gatineau. (Notwithstanding the six-foot chocolate fountain that literally served as a homing beacon for chocolate addicts), everyone’s sweet tooth was satiated by founder Roch Fournier’s delectable chocolate fondue, chocolate-covered fruits and divine truffles. With great passion, he shared the story of his modest beginnings as a home business that went viral, his training with Belgian chocolatiers, his focus on quality and flavour.

High demand has made Chocolatier Rochef a local chocolate boutique of choice. Chocolate lovers were not disappointed. Simply amazing chocolate!

Another debut at this year’s OWFF provided meat lovers with an amazing artisanal tasting experience. Carnivore introduced the local Seed To Sausage General Store. Its ample sampling of selections such as Dry Cured Chorizo, Jalapeño Blue Cheese Salami, Smoked Italian Sausage, and Nduja Fermented Spreadable Sausage had mouths watering and fans returning for seconds. The sheer silence of the venue was a clear testament to how thoroughly meat lovers were enjoying themselves.

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Enthusiastic attendees enjoying the great variety of tasting experiences

Seed to Sausage founder Michael McKenzie identifies himself as an artisan food maker and refers to his meat creations as functional art. He achieved his goal of a heightened visual and tasting experience by combining specific flavours and colours to deliver delicious food. The enthusiasm by Carnivore attendees was a sure confirmation that artisanal meats, fine wines and beer were a match meant to be.

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Mireille Morin (L) and Marcel Rheault (R) of The Rheault Distillery

Wine and beer enthusiasts were not limited to quenching their thirst with something fermented. The Rheault Distillery was on site for its second year to share its internationally awarded Loon Vodka. The 100% Canadian, five-time distilled vodka is the wonder spirit of co-owners Marcel Rheault and Mireille Morin. This alpha vodka has achieved international renown and Rheault is understandably proud when explaining the rigour and precision of the company’s distilling process.

 

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Attendees enjoy the offerings from the Rheault Distillery

The resulting spirit says it all. OWFF tasters revelled in its flavour and unparalleled smoothness and many were enquiring about its availability.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Attendees were all smiles as they enjoyed Ottawa’s 32nd Wine and Food Festival at the EY Centre

The balance and variety of curated offerings that the Ottawa Wine and Food Festival team masterly delivered makes this event one of Ottawa’s premier tasting experiences.

 

 

 

 

 

 

One cannot help but wonder what surprises lie on the horizon for next year. The event organizers continually engaged event goers throughout the evening to seek valuable feedback, doubtless intended to elevate the future festival experience even further. Well done, OWFF!

Roger Provencal is a contributing writer who is enthusiastic about wine tasting and pairing. He has travelled to many foreign destinations to help refine his palate. He is also an amateur scotch taster who has hosted many scotch tastings.

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