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Paradiso and Vineland Estates paired together to host a wine tasters dinner in Paradiso’s newly updated Burlington location. The venue is absolutely perfect for such events, the space allows for ample guests and the staff is always ready to take on 60 hungry wine enthusiasts. Chef Adam Mackay’s creativity and energy poured into making each dish marry perfectly with the chosen wines.

Vineland Estates is a beautiful winery located in the Niagara region, situated on an old Mennonite farm dating back to 1845. These wines have the feel of France with many of them taking notes from Chablis and Bordeaux styles. If you’re able to visit this summer you can enjoy staying in one of their rooms at the Estate house and/or take in a meal at their accredited restaurant. A wonderful way to spend a weekend around the Ontario Wineries.

Chef Adam took great pride in selecting his favourites wines and crafting a meal around them. We were seated to a five course meal that went from sea food to red meat and then finished with an innovative surprise.  The wine arriving before each course was served allowed you to explore with your senses before tasting it with your meal.

Grilled Ling Cod-Shaved root Vegetables, Creamed Leek and Green Apple Slaw. Paired with a Unoaked Chardonnay.

Spicy root vegetable took hold of your palate, green apple cleansing it. Creamed leeks cooked for an hour and a half in butter, Ling cod seasoned ever so slightly. A great way to roll out the red carpet. The Unoaked Chardonnay, smooth and light with floral notes. You can see yourself sitting on a hot deck in July with a glass. Easy to drink and easy to enjoy. Nothing acidic or smack you in the face. The whole pairing was well-rounded. My only complaint was the size of the fish. While this is a tasting, I expected more than an amuse bouche portion, while my husband dined on normal serving. Consistency is always key!

Oven Broiled Lobster-Savoury Bread Pudding, béarnaise Sauce and Baby Greens. Paired with Reserve Chardonnay.

The lobster tail sat beautifully displayed among a slice of savoury bread pudding. A light handed serving of béarnaise sauce and the perfect pinch of baby greens. I know the picture doesn’t seem light handed on sauce, however it didn’t match the portion of the lobster tail. The bread pudding was a memory of Christmas stuffing, perfectly cooked. It was the star of this show. Although I appreciate Chef’s humour in wanting you to work for your lobster, I couldn’t even get it out of the shell! This was a miss. Lobster isn’t in season and having to serve it for 60 people was probably a big stretch. The wine however was a hit. Notes of cheese, apples, smoke and rocks. Casted in french oak barrels the taste is remarkable. Smooth, non acidic, oaky without over powering. Chef had this at his wedding, so it was no surprise that it appeared on tonight’s menu.

Shaved Angus Ribeye-mushroom Fricassee, Tomato Jam, Roasted Red Pepper Emulsion. Paired with Cabernet Merlot.

The Tomato Jam a wake up to the palate. The Shaved Ribeye (cut thinly) placed among cooked down mushrooms. There was roasted red pepper emulsion, however it was hidden by the beautiful tomato jam and I didn’t even realise it was there until my Husband pointed it out. The ribeye cooked to perfection melted in your mouth. Those mushrooms were just a supporting cast to the lead performer. It was good. That tomato jam was the jam of your dreams. When you have something so amazing on your plate; being such a bright star, it’s hard to make judgement on the other elements. Then that Cabernet Merlot. I’m not a Merlot fan, it’s not my wine of choice. This 2015 Bordeaux style pointed out all the reason’s why I don’t care for Cab. Merlot’s. Musky, rich and deep. Acidic and sits on your palate for too long. I don’t want to leave too much on this wine. I think for a Cab. Merlot lover, you would probably adore this. I don’t. A miss for me.

Pulled Lamb Shank-Stewed Beluga Lentils, Cranberry Gastrique and Goat Cheese Tart. Paired with Reserve Cabernet Franc.

This was by far my favourite part of the tasting. That lamb, those lentils and a goat cheese tart! This was in plain English, a stew. However the elements that made this all come together was exceptional. Beluga lentils with resemblance to caviar, cooked without husk. Lamb braised for 30-40 hours. Sous vide onions cooked down with butter. The goat cheese tart cooked to ideal flakiness, with just the right amount of sharp bite. Placed like a king on top of his lamb castle. This showcased Chef’s talents to the highest level, you can really see what he can do when his imagination runs wild. Its genius really. The Cabernet Franc refused to be unnoticed. A 2012 that is only available at the winery, hand-picked from the ripest bunches a very selective process. Heavy without weight, smooth, and bold. A fantastic accompaniment to braised lamb shank.

Bittersweet Chocolate Torte-Dark chocolate pate, roasted strawberry Coulis and White Cheddar Ice cream. Paired with late harvest Cabernet Sauvignon.

I don’t want to knock out the light weight here because I think Chef was really thinking outside the box. However this was so sweet, it was almost sickening. Bittersweet Torte laying on a bed of dark chocolate pate. I had just a hint of the strawberry coulis. I didn’t even touch much of it. Then there was that ice cream, made to perfection with 9 year old cheddar. Smooth, but with a bit of crunch. The cheese was nothing more than an idea, a hint, a whisper. It was enough to get your attention, and make you take notice. Definitely something you don’t see everyday, and wonder why not! The late harvest Cab. Sauvignon was a surprise to say the least. Expecting something with body, this was more like port! it was sweet and fruity, hints of raspberry and fall all in one. Although the idea was good to pair the two. The overly sweet torte, paired with the sweet Cab. it was just all too much. I would like to try both of these on their own. Or maybe the Cab with a tray of cheese.

The dinner was yet another successful wine tasting for Paradiso. The only thing that I have to note is the amount of wine served. With 5 wines the servings should be relatively small. This was not the case, plus the staff were generous enough to top you up. Thank Goodness that we took a Uber! By the time dinner was finished hubs and I had to hold each other up! A lot of people around us were drinking other refreshments by the time dinner was done, I hope everyone was safe driving home. Paradiso only holds these tastings once a year, so make sure you sign up for updates because you’ll miss it. These book up fast!