T he ancient art of winemaking is a skill best perfected over a prolonged period of time. Choosing which variety of grapes is most suited to your specific region is one part science, two parts experience and instinct. Red, White, Rosé or Brut, all have the potential to tingle the pallet into a mouthwatering frenzy. Get it right and the world is certain to beat a path to your front door with glass in hand.
The geological bench of the Niagara Escarpment produces many of the finest wines in Canada. Home to Vineland Estates Winery for the past 25 years, the original Mennonite homestead has been painstakingly restored and updated to house fine dining and banquet facilities, a world-class wine shop and tour of the winery as well as guest accommodations.
The Bed and Breakfast Cottage and Estate Guest House offer self-contained, luxurious surroundings perfect for a weekend getaway or mid-week retreat. The ideal setting for family gatherings, the guest house showcases 3 bedrooms, a large living and dining room, full-size kitchen with laundry room and an outdoor covered deck. Facing vineyards in all directions, watching the sunset on grape-laden vines provided the perfect setting in which to drink in the surrounding countryside.
The Niagara Region of southern Ontario is also well-known for its diverse scenery. Two-lane paved dreamscapes corkscrew throughout an area rich in produce and the historic beginnings of Canada. Our choice for this weekend destination was the spectacular V10 version of Audi’s newest super sports car, the R8.
The Audi R8 5.2 FSI features a rear mounted 5.2L DOHC V10 engine with direct injection and 4-valve technology. It produces 525 horsepower at 8,000 rpm on premium unleaded fuel. Torque is equally impressive; 490 lb-ft at 6,500 rpm.
Mated to a 6-speed manual or R-tronic sequential manual (automatic), the Audi R8 5.2 FSI accelerates with blinding speed. Zero to 100 km/h per hour blows past in a mere 3.9 seconds. Top speed is listed at 306 km/h.
If this isn’t enough to pop your cork, salivate in the knowledge the V10 engine is electronically limited at the top end, meaning without regulation, it could go even faster.
Stopping power comes via large 4-wheel ventilated and perforated disc brakes equipped with ABS, EBD and BA, (brake assist). Push the pedal hard to the floor and braking from any speed to zero km/h is nearly instantaneous.
Tires sizes are immense. Ten-spoke Y design 19” alloy wheels are shod with 235/45 ZR19 low profile rubber at the front and enormous 295/30 ZR/19 rubber in the rear. Standing behind the R8 5.2 FSI, the sight of that much rubber inspired a long day of driving throughout the Niagara Region.
S-turns quickly became straight lines with only a minor twist. Arrow straight highways were nothing more than an excuse to put the pedal down and let the revs build to a crescendo. On a fall day with the trees in glorious colour, hours passed like minutes.
Dry pavement, such as we experienced in the morning, was consumed faster than our five course dinner at the winery later that evening. Kilometers flew by; an endless succession of weighted steering wheel maneuvers and gated gear shifting. While my preference for the supercar of today is to paddle-shift from the steering wheel, the R8 5.2 FSI is so good; it reminded me anew that nothing beats the simple joy of driving “old school”.
A dominant automobile on waterless roads, it was in the rain where the Audi R8 5.2 FSI really started to shine. Wet pavement offered little resistance to the power of quattro All-Wheel Drive mounted below a supremely powerful, high torque V10 engine. Near perfect weight balance and Z-rated tires easily channeled away the wet. After a few hours, we found ourselves longing for dark skies filled with moisture and flashes of lightning.
Back at Vineland Estates Winery, each course of the evening’s dinner was expertly paired with the finest wines from the award-winning vineyard. Winemaker Brian Schmidt’s attention to detail produces signature varietals such as Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Franc. Worldwide recognition includes the honour of being Canada’s first ever winery to win the coveted “Premio Speciale Grand VinItaly 2003″ award at the international competition VinItaly, held in Verona, Italy.
A crisp start and strong finish is the key to any great wine and Vineland Estates Winery delivers. The 2010 Audi R8 5.2 FSI is a dream drive that’s hard to resist no matter where you are. On the back roads of Ontario’s Niagara Region, the pairing was positively perfect.
2010 Audi R8 5.2 FSI
Price as Tested, (before taxes): $181,200
Options: Carbon Engine Compartment Trim, Carbon Sigma Side Blade
Configuration: mid-engine, quattro-drive (AWD)
Engine/Transmission: 5.2L V10/6-speed manual
Power/Torque: 525 hp/490 lb-ft
Observed fuel economy: 15.5 L/100 km, (500 km)
Fuel Tank Capacity: 90L
Warranty: 4 years, 80,000 km basic
Competitors: Aston Martin V12 Vantage, Corvette ZR1, Ferrari F430, Porsche 911 GT3, Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4
Where to Stay:
Vineland Estates Winery
3620 Moyer Road