Monday, June 15, 2015

Wine and movies: a Niagara Integrated Film Festival preview

Watching Kajutijuq: The Spirit That Comes in the cellar
by Allan Tong
TIFF co-founder Bill Marshall hosts the second edition of the Niagara Integrated Film Festival (NIFF) from June 18-21 by pairing films, gourmet food and the peninsula's finer wines under summer skies.

It's a grand idea that has worked in other wine regions around the world by allowing audiences to enjoy choice vintages and quality world cinema at the same time. Events fall into a few categories:

The $159 Ultimate Gala Experience is the most luxurious, offering a film screening at a winery such as Jackson-Triggs, which will serve a five-course meal, specially chosen wines and a glass of wine during the film. The ticket also gets you into the after-party.

Also for $159 is the Full Filmalicious Experience which offers nearly the same package as the Gala, minus the after-party, and featurs a three-course meal with paired wines. Wineries include Peller Estates and Redstone.

Filmalicious screenings that show movies without the meal, though include a glass of wine, cost $29. Food and drink are available at additional cost. Wineries include Pelham Family Estate and Southbrook.

Traditional film screenings that exclude wine and food take place in Niagara Falls' Seneca Queen Theatre (which has a licensed cash bar) and St. Catharines' Landmark Cinemas–Pen Centre.

For those who want to tour several Niagara wineries, there is a mini-bus that will take you to three wineries in four-and-a-half hours. At $89, the Film Feast ferries wine lovers around to sample wines which are paired with hors d’oeuvres and Canadian short films.

Brie cheese, grand padano, aged cheddar, capicola and prosciutto
A sample itinerary includes PondView Winery (above) where brie is paired with a delightful Harmony white, and prosciutto matched with a supple Harmony red. A chardonnay and cabernet merlot are also poured. The tasting takes place on the relaxing patio overlooking Pondview's rows of grapvines.

Harmony Red by PondView
Glass in hand, visitors then watch short films in the chilly cellar surrounded by barrels (pictured at the top). Blankets are available to keep movie-goers warm and they'll need them for Scott Brachmayer's Kajutijuq: The Spirit That Comes. It's a rare and effective psychological Arctic thriller.

Pairing wine and food on PondView's patio

Visitors nestle in the cozy, warm viewing room in the lower level of the Konzelmann Estate Winery. Here, you nibble on a mini-chucken caesar on frico, smoked salmon blini and finish with a mascarpone-and-strawberry muffin (below) over a glass of Konzelmann's smooth pinot noir. A guide walks visitors through the tasting process and explain the various pairings, which were on-the-nose. Of the short films shown here, Scott Weber's The Timekeeper is one of the best at NIFF, telling a poignant Twilight Zone-like fantasy about a watchmaker who has the power to sell people more time to live.

Each winery guides visitors and answers questions at tastings

Each visitor on the tour enjoys a glass of Konzelmann's pinot noir

The last stop is Pillitteri Estates where the tasting and screening takes place in a wedding banquet hall. The TV screen where the short films are shown are tricky to watch here given the size of this space, so it's advised you take a seat up close. 

The pairings: thyme- and butter-tossed mushrooms en croute with goats cheese and crisps matched with a fine pinot gris; beef tenderloin with fingerling sea salt frites and saffron aioli paired with a hearty cab merlot; and for dessert, confit duck  cornish pasty with pickled blue cheese that was married with Pillitteri's reknown Vidal Ice Wine.

The presentation and organization is professional throughout the tour, though like many bus tours it feels a little rushed. Each stop at each winery last 50 minutes, including the viewing of two short films. Perhaps there should be a little more time to take photos and snap up something from the shop. However, that is a minor quibble for an afternoon of wine, gourmet fine and fine cinema.

No comments:

Post a Comment