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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Biking Niagara on the Lake

A mere hour outside of Toronto, just past Hamilton on the QEW, you spot a sign that reads, “Entering the Greenbelt.” Vineyards pop up on either side of the road, and just beyond those vineyards on the left, is mighty Lake Ontario. Welcome to the Niagara on the Lake region. Yesterday, Butterfield & Robinson’s Kathy Stewart designed and led us on a wonderful 35-mile ride through this fertile breadbasket. We started in the small village of Jordan, grabbed our bikes and were soon riding up the 300-foot Niagara Escarpment that makes this place so special (I’ll delve into this further when discussing the distinctive Niagara wine and terroir later this week). Soon we were riding on relatively level backcountry roads past vineyard after vineyard, lilacs and azaleas in full bloom, peach trees, and signs for rhubarb and asparagus for sale. 

 
Smack dab between the escarpment and the lake, this area of the region is known as The Bench. Not nearly as flashy and well-known as the Niagara on the Lake wineries, these boutique wineries create a feeling of Sonoma to big brother Napa. We had tastings at Hidden Bench, Cave Spring Cellars, and Flat Rock Cellars, run by the passionate owner, Ed Madronich. The region is best known for their Riesling, Pinot Noir, and Chardonnay. Many of the Rieslings had a pleasing lemon/lime or grapefruit aftertaste, stemming from the limestone in the escarpment. It had a nice dry finish, not cloying in the least. At lunch at Inn on the Twenty, where we’re spending the night, we tried the Cave Spring Cellars Estate Riesling, perfectly paired with a just-picked fiddlehead and asparagus salad, and a main dish of scallops. I learned quickly that this wine tastes best when coupled with excellent food. 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 05/22/13 at 09:35 AM
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Longtime Boston Globe travel writer, Steve Jermanok, dishes out his favorite travel locales and provides topical travel information that comes across his desk.

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