CAYMAN ISLANDS ON CD
//features 20// FOUNDATION BY ROSEMARY MANTINI
Buying the perfect knife is not as easy as you think.
22// LIGHT IT UP BY MICHAEL PINKUS
In a world full of Cabs, do light reds have their place?
24// UNEXPLORED BY MERLE ROSENSTEIN
Exploring Italy’s Montecucco region.
26// WILDLY DEBATED BY GURVINDER BHATIA
Discussing traditonal vs modern winemaking in Italy’s first DOCG — Brunello.
29// ELEVATED BY TIM PAWSEY
Jumping into Salta, Argentina.
BY GILLES BOIS Organic wine is here to stay.
34// BEST PLACE EVER BY RICK VANSICKLE
Recalling your most memorable bottle of wine.
BY DUNCAN HOLMES The rustic charm of Italy.
44// IT’S FOOD. JUST
BY TOD STEWART Have you ever Instagramed your food? This is for you.
46// NEW DISCOVERIES BY LISA HOEKSTRA
Quench helps you set up the perfect beer tasting.
//à la carte 7// CONTRIBUTORS 8// FROM THE EDITOR 12// CONVERSATIONS Letters to the editor.
TOM DE LARZAC
14// UMAMI JOANNE WILL
17// LAZY MIXOLOGIST CHRISTINE SISMONDO
18// BON VIVANT PETER ROCKWELL
49// MATTER OF TASTE SHEILA SWERLING-PURITT
51// MUST TRY
55// BOUQUET GARNI NANCY JOHNSON
66// FINAL WORD TONY ASPLER
//notes 50// THE MAV NOTES
54// THE FOOD NOTES
An appetizing selection of food-friendly faves.
58// THE BUYING GUIDE
Top wines from around the world, scored.
ARGENTINA // P. 58 AUSTRALIA // P. 58-59 CANADA // P. 59-61 CHILE // P. 61 FRANCE // P. 61-63
17 4 // May/June 2014
GERMANY // P. 63 ITALY // P. 63-64 NEW ZEALAND // P. 64 SPAIN // P. 65 BEER // P. 65 SPIRITS // P. 65
Enjoy a Triscuit made with Brown Rice, Sweet Potato and the smokEy FLavour of Caramelized Onion
TRISCUIT ON CD Only a true visionary could have discovered caramelized onion. Who else could have reduced the crisp tang of onion into something sweet, smokey and incredible?
To create the perfect brown rice and wheat cracker, we
knew the flavour of caramelized onion had to be paired with an equally special ingredient: delicious sweet potato. Youâ€™ve never tasted a Triscuit like this.
Snack on, food lovers
The Perfect Pairing…
Opimian and You!
OPIM ON CD Opimian sparks conversation, creates friendship and connects people through their love of wine. As Canada’s premier wine club since 1973, we rely on the dedication and knowledge of one of the world’s leading wine experts, Jane Masters MW, who selects hand-crafted wines with our members in mind. Enjoy a taste of California’s Castoro Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Estate Grown, Paso Robles*. Cassis and brambly fruit aromas lead to a structured wine with great elegance and balance. This blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, with 14% Petit Verdot, was aged for 20 months in American and French oak barrels giving it lots of cedar flavours and fine tannins, although the oak is not dominant. Very pleasant to drink now, it will complement a variety of meat dishes and will continue to develop more complexity over the coming years.
Discover The Total Wine Experience and savour the perfect pairing. 1.800.361.9421 • opim.ca *Handpicked by Jane Masters MW and available exclusively to Opimian members on Cellar Offering 227 launched on May 30th. Grape Variety: Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot Aroma: Cassis & Brambly Fruits Taste: Structured Cedar Serve: 18°C Evolution: 2014-2018 M6 D8 Ideal with: Beef Sausage A complete recipe is available for members in this issue of Opimian News – see page 4. Not a member? Join today to get your copy!
In addition to writing for Quench, Rosemary Mantini is a Consulting Editor who loves teaching people how to achieve their own publishing dreams. Her passion for food and drink also seems to know no bounds. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contributing editor Gurvinder Bhatia left a career practising law to pursue his passion for wine and food. He is also the wine columnist for the Edmonton Journal and Global TV Edmonton.
COME SOCIALIZE WITH QUENCH FOLLOW US AT @QUENCHBYTIDINGS AND
Lisa Hoekstra is a Montreal-based freelance writer. In between playing soccer, expanding her wine knowledge and attempting to keep a single plant alive, she molds words to her biding. Her childhood love of reading developed into a passion for writing that has provided her with an outlet for her imagination.
Nancy Johnson logged 30 years in the music industry before segueing into writing about food, wine and life. She never turns down a glass of Ch창teauneuf-du-Pape. Or any other wine for that matter.
LIKE US ON FACEBOOK FB.QUENCH.ME SEARCH OUR EXTENSIVE RECIPE, COCKTAIL AND TASTING NOTE DATABASES ON
//from the editor
THERE IS ALWAYSa bit of an advance when we create each issue of Quench. You see I am writing this now in the middle of March. It’s still freezing outside. Everyone has a cold and we’re becoming a bit stir crazy. Please spring, where are you? But as you read this, hopefully the full sweat of the sun is upon us and we’re starting to see some budding — no comment you guys in BC. I always have a tough time in the winter. In the beginning, as the cold takes hold, I move indoors and start to cocoon. I cook more, enjoy darker, richer reds and take out the single malts. I’m building a layer that will take me through the winter. But as the whisper of spring hits the air and temperatures start to hover around zero, I am ready to shed it all. The house becomes a war zone as I start to spring clean — throwing out … well it just seems like a lot. I am doing copious amounts of research — new restaurants, bottling, techniques. I want to try new things. I want to spring forward. It’s an exciting time of the year at our house as friends and family await my new interests. This season I’ve taken to creating my own cocktail bitters and syrups. I’ve got beers to taste and some new gins I want to enjoy. And as the weather starts to heat up — relatively speaking — I have a number of Burgundies I want to open. So what do you have planned this spring? Let us know by writing email@example.com or visiting www.quench.me.
MAY/JUNE 2014 ISSUE # 319
Aldo Parise firstname.lastname@example.org ASSOCIATE EDITOR
Rosemary Mantini email@example.com CONTRIBUTING EDITORS
Gurvinder Bhatia, Tod Stewart CONTRIBUTING FOOD EDITOR
Nancy Johnson COLUMNISTS
Tony Aspler, Peter Rockwell, Tom de Larzac, Joanne Will, Sheila Swerling-Puritt, Christine Sismondo, Jonathan Smithe CONTRIBUTORS
Sean Wood, Harry Hertscheg, Evan Saviolidis, Gilles Bois, Ron Liteplo, Rick VanSickle, Merle Rosenstein, Michael Pinkus, Duncan Holmes, Tim Pawsey, Lisa Hoekstra TASTERS
Tony Aspler, Rick VanSickle, Evan Saviolidis, Gilles Bois, Harry Hertscheg, Sean Wood, Jonathan Smithe, Ron Liteplo, Crystal Luxmore and Gurvinder Bhatia COPY DESK
Lisa Hoekstra, Lee Springer, Kathy Sinclair CREATIVE BY PARIS ASSOCIATES ART DIRECTION
Aldo Parise PRODUCTION
ww+Labs, cmyk design, studio karibü ILLUSTRATIONS & PHOTOGRAPHY
Matt Daley, Francesco Gallé, Push/Stop Studio, august photography COVER DESIGN
8 // May/June 2014
SAM ADAMS ON CD
Canadian Feta. One of
summerâ€™s simple pleasures. Make the most out of summer with recipes that call for a backyard barbecue. Or try Canadian Feta on its own for an easy, delicious snack.
DAIRY FARM ERS DOUBL SPREAD TO FRIDAY
Ad Did you know?
Asian Feta Salad
Just like Paneer and Halloumi, Feta is also made for grilling.
MLE PAGE O COME Mojito-style Feta Brochettes:
• Mix 2 tbsp of canola oil, 2 tbsp of chopped fresh mint, 2 tbsp of lime juice, 1 tsp of lime zest, 1 tbsp of rum (optional) and a dash of freshly ground pepper. Stir in 7 oz cubed Canadian Feta and marinate in the fridge for 30 minutes. • Preheat grill to medium. • Skewer Feta cubes along with 1 or 2 grape tomatoes. • Grill quickly with lid open, and enjoy hot or cold.
Grilled Canadian Feta Skewers
Tasteful Tip You can also enjoy Feta warm, grated in soup or in stuffed peppers.
Discover these recipes and more at allyouneedischeese.ca/recipes
KYLIX MEDIA PUBLISHER
Pierre Chanzonkov firstname.lastname@example.org EDITORIAL DIRECTOR
Aldo Parise email@example.com
I’m glad Quench takes on new subjects easily. This notion of molecular sommellerie is one that helps disrupt this idea that wine is flat — that there is nothing new to learn. Keep it coming. Henri Bisonnette, email
... Plus we can buy two — sometimes three — bottles for one Champagne. We prefer that math ...
Lucy Rodrigues firstname.lastname@example.org ACCOUNTS
Marilyn Barter email@example.com CIRCULATION
firstname.lastname@example.org ADVERTISING Nicholas Wattson Advertising Director email@example.com
www.quench.me living.quench.me twitter.com/quenchbytidings
KYLIX MEDIA, 5165 Sherbrooke St. West, Suite 500, Montreal, Quebec, H4A 1T6, Tel: 514.481.6606, Fax: 514.481.9699.
You seem to be doing more articles on cider and beer. Thanks. Willa Nonzio, North York
Duncan’s article with all the cooking tips was so much fun to read that I couldn’t take mental notes fast enough. I have a tip of my own. I love garlic but it always stinks up my fingers. So I rub them against my stainless steel sink for a bit and the smell dissipates. Then I scrub with some hand soap and it’s all better. Saves me from spending $20 on one of those steel bars of soap. Jane Evans, email
Opinions expressed in this magazine are not necessarily those of the publisher.
I don’t know why people keep hyping up Champagne. I really do prefer Cava or even a Crémant. The soft bubbles and fruity notes make it a favourite at our house. Plus we can buy two — sometimes three — bottles for one Champagne. We prefer that math.
© 2014 Kylix Media Inc. Printed in Canada.
Bryan Freeman, Edmonton
SUBSCRIPTION RATES: Canada: $36 per year, $58 per 2 years; USA: $55 per year; Other: $75 per year. Single Copies: $5.95. Quench, Food and Drink Magazine, a registered trademark of Kylix Media, is published 8 times a year: (February/March, April, May/June, July/August, September, October, November, December/January).
ISSN-0228-6157. Publications Mail Registration No. 40063855. Member of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.
QUENCH USES 10% POST-CONSUMER RECYCLED FIBRES
Can we get more wines in the buying guide? Especially from smaller regions. I’d love to see more from Israel, Spain, Portugal and Uruguay. Every bottle I’ve ever had from these regions has always bowled me over. Niles Patel, email
12 // May/June 2014
Material chosen for publication may be edited for clarity and fit. Please email your comments and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
experimenting on you\\
LIKE MOST HOME COOKS,I enjoy cooking for other people, I particularly like trying to cook new things that I haven’t made before. Because I don’t get to cook nearly as much as I would like, I usually try new dishes when I have friends coming over for dinner. Cooking brand-new dishes is always exciting. There is the fear of failure, but nevertheless it’s always fun and a great way to build on the dishes that, with practice, become a go-to for weekly meals. I don’t typically tell anyone that I am experimenting with a recipe; some people may be scared by the idea of eating something that isn’t tried, tested and true. Or maybe it’s the fact that I’m treating them like guinea pigs? There is a sense of excitement that comes with making a dish for the first time. And I like to see the reaction that dish gets from friends and family. I ask my friends to be as honest as possible in order to make the dish better. By getting this feedback, it cuts down the time it takes to improve the dish the next time I decide to make it. By following some cooking basics — seasoning properly, cooking in a particular order, and building flavours throughout the process — I am confident that most of the time it will turn out well. Depending on what I’m making, balance between sweet, sour, salty and spicy are the keys that I focus on. I taste throughout to make sure the balance or flavour I hope for is achieved. If the balance is off, I try to compensate and ensure that the flavours I want to come through are dominant, with everything else in the background. It is easier to adjust the balance during the cooking process, so keep tasting. At the end of the meal, I announce they were lab rats. When the meal turns out great, it’s fun; when it doesn’t, then everyone is a bit more understanding. Usually a good dessert and some wine makes everyone forget about the meal.
BY TOM DE LARZAC
HONEY LEMON CHICKEN 4 2 3 6
1/4 2 2
chicken legs, split into drumstick and thighs tbsp olive oil garlic cloves, whole sprigs of thyme cup vinegar, balsamic or white wine tbsp honey tsp sugar (raw) cup water lemons (thinly sliced)
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. 2. Place large oven-proof skillet on medium-high heat.
Add olive oil, garlic and thyme to pan. Season chicken with salt and pepper. 3. Place half the chicken in the pan and sear on both sides (approximately 2 minutes per side). Remove onto waiting plate. Repeat with second half of the chicken. 4. With all chicken removed, add vinegar, honey, sugar, and water. When sugar is dissolved, add back all the chicken, turning once to coat in sauce. Arrange the chicken into one even layer in the pan. 5. Place lemon slices evenly over the chicken. Place in oven for 45 to 50 minutes, or until chicken is fully cooked. Reserve sauce and pour over chicken. …… A light red will do the trick. See page 22 for some ideas.
WHEN NATASHA KYSSA,co-owner of Ottawa’s SimplyRaw Express restaurant, first considered a raw-food lifestyle, she had been travelling the world for eight years as a fashion model and subsisting on tobacco, caffeine and processed foods. Her turning point came in 1990 when, at age 29, exhausted, depressed and battling weight fluctuations, she began shifting her diet to simple, unprocessed, plant-based meals. “Not surprisingly, my health took a dramatic turn for the better,” says Kyssa. “My depression diminished, I had more energy, my weight normalized, my complexion improved, my hair got shinier and most rewarding of all, I was able to resolve many of the personal issues that had caused me to make poor food choices in the first place. The closer I ate to nature, the better I felt. It was that simple.” The changes were, in part, a return to her roots — and those of her Austrian-born mother and Moldavian father, who had immigrated to Canada in 1951 and raised her on home cooking and unrefined foods. Kyssa’s traditional Eastern European family was noticeably different from others in her neighbourhood; her parents spoke Russian and German at home, listened and danced to Turkish folk music in front of an open fire, and meals were always prepared by her mother using fresh, natural ingredients. In 1975, her mother Ilse opened The Pantry, a vegetarian tea house in Ottawa, where she used local, organic ingredients. Ilse did the shopping by bicycle and took the kitchen scraps home to her garden compost. For her environmental
14 // May/June 2014
BY JOANNE WILL
efforts, in 1994 she received the Whitton Award, named after the City of Ottawa’s first female mayor. Inspired by her mother, Kyssa opened SimplyRaw Express in 2012. Kyssa has studied natural health and foods at many places, including the esteemed Living Light Culinary Arts Institute in California. Today she lectures, leads raw-food workshops, and runs a busy cafe. Her most recent book, The SimplyRaw Kitchen, was coauthored with her mother. It contains contemporary versions of traditional Eastern-European comfort food — both raw and cooked. While she advocates the healing and nutritional power of raw foods, Kyssa also understands the challenges of fully integrating a diet like that. The book offers guidance and tips on making the transition. What is her advice for those who want to incorporate more raw food into their diets? “I always recommend making gradual changes — starting with just adding a few side dishes or extra salad with meals,” she states. “Smoothies are one of the easiest and quickest ways to expose family members to healthier eating. Starting with fruit-only smoothies makes them sweet, delicious and appealing in colour. Gradually adding a few light greens will change the colour and be intimidating at first, but is an easy enough barrier to overcome. “I also recommend not announcing that it’s raw or vegan — just make it and serve it with a smile. Get the family involved in the kitchen and make it super tasty and fun, without the focus on it being different or healthy.”
“Buttery-delicious, yet lower in saturated fat. We can bearly believe it.” – The Salmon Experts
BECEL ON CD
Becel® Buttery Taste provides the delicious richness of butter but with 80% less saturated fat, to make a sauce that makes the salmon.
Becel® Maple Mustard Salmon 4 ¼ cup ¼ cup 4 tsp 1 tsp
¼ lb Salmon ﬁllets Becel® Buttery Taste margarine, melted Pure maple syrup Dijon mustard Low sodium soy sauce
Place salmon in an 8" x 8" baking dish. Mix sauce ingredients together, pour over salmon, then bake at 425°F for about 12 minutes or until salmon ﬂakes with a fork. Serve hot with extra sauce spooned on top.
Trade-mark owned or used under license by Unilever Canada, Toronto, Ontario M4W 3R2.
Get more recipes i at B Becel.ca l
SUMMER FRESH ON CD
ESPRESSO IS A NATURAL FOIL TO BOOZE. The point barely needs to be argued, since countless post-prandial hours have passed by in the company of espresso and cognac. But try to put them together in the same glass and a surprising number of hackles are raised. Coffee fell out of favour with many cocktail bartenders about a decade ago, when they grew tired of trying to work with its admittedly bullish flavour. But for those who continue to accept the challenge, the risk can have a real payoff, especially since coffee’s can stand its ground against potent and distinct spirits like tequila, rum and mezcal. Megan Jones, a cocktail bartender who works at Reposado, Toronto’s first tequila bar, realized the potential for mixing coffee with her beloved agave-based elixirs when she started to miss her old standby guilty pleasure cocktail, the espresso martini. “It’s one of those slightly cheesy, old-school cocktails that people throw under the bus,” says Jones. “But if you offered me one right now, I’d take it in a heartbeat.” Usually made with some combination of vodka, Irish Cream, Kahlúa, crème de cacao and/or a shot of strong, dark coffee, the espresso martini didn’t fare well in the recent craft cocktail movement, which favours brown liquor and bitter apéritifs over grain spirits and sweet liqueurs. Indelibly associated with the era of the Cosmopolitan and lychee libations, the espresso martini fell right out of fashion. But coffee lovers like Jones have been wondering if there’s a way to revive a dry version of it or, at least, reclaim espresso as an ingredient worthy of the craft cocktail world’s attention. Jones’ first foray has been into espresso-infused tequila and mezcals.
+ Visit quench.me/search-mixed/ for more drink recipes
BY CHRISTINE SISMONDO
“It’s pretty easy, actually,” she explains. “I just take the whole bean, press it lightly, add it to the spirit and then let it sit for about three days.” In a pinch, Jones says that the process can be hastened by grinding the beans, but warns that coffee can add a lot of bitterness quickly, so advises a close watch on any coffee infusions. She has used her coffee-infused mezcal for a bitter twist on an Old Fashioned at Reposado. Jones isn’t the only one bringing coffee back, although the west coast — where Starbucks took hold — is ahead of the curve on craft coffee cocktails. Shaun Layton, head barman at L’Abattoir in Vancouver, has used espresso in everything from syrups to vermouth infusions and straight-up traditional espresso martinis. Says Layton: “I actually don’t mind espresso martinis at all. When you shake espresso it creates a nice froth like an egg white would. That’s really cool.” Cool beans, that is.
L’ABATTOIR’S ESPRESSO MARTINI 1 1/2 oz Havana Club Añejo 1/2 oz Kahlúa Dash of simple syrup 1 oz fresh espresso Shake all ingredients with ice, fine strain into a cocktail coupe and garnish with 3 espresso beans.
Your week has 7 days. Someday isnâ€™t one of them. [ taste life ]
Must be legal drinking age. Watch your tail. Drink responsibly.
YELLOW TAIL ON CD
ILLUSTRATION: MATT DALEY/SHINYPLIERS.COM
eggs and faux champers\\
Why do some wines claim to be made with milk, egg or fish? Come on, if they can make wine by adding chocolate, why not tuna fish? The idea sounds bizarre because it is. The mention of milk, eggs and fish on wine labels is a consumerfriendly (meaning dumbed down for your mental digestion) way of saying that the wine may have come in contact with one of those elements. How? Winemakers typically choose a by-product of one of the three when they fine their juice. This clarification process keeps your favourite bottle of vino clear of residual floaties that are left behind during vinification. Though Canada made their mention mandatory in 2012, many other countries have been scaring the allergyafflicted for years by shouting out a warning regarding their use on their labels. Basically, what happens is a small amount of protein is added to the wine. This protein attracts any sediment in the liquid and pulls it to the bottom of the vat. The winemaker can then cleanse the wine of those chunky monkeys. Eggs whites, milk protein and, more often than not, the bladder of a sturgeon (or equivalent) are all used to the same effect. Does that mean that they’re still swimming around in your glass of Merlot? Probably not, and even the Feds suggest that any residual traces would be unlikely to cause health issues within the sensitive wine-drinking populous. No one seems to know for sure, so if you’ve got an aversion to sturgeon you may want to sidestep any bottle that indicates it might make an appearance, or at least check with your doctor to see what he or she thinks you shouldn’t be drinking.
+ Ask your questions at email@example.com
BY PETER ROCKWELL
Has Canada stopped making port and sherry? The thing is, Canada never started making port and sherry. It’s been “borrowing” both terms from their true countries of origin for decades — not-so-subtly suggesting to their customers that they were getting the level of liquid quality each name implies. Not that our home and native land had a monopoly on the illusion. It wasn’t that long ago that South Africa and Australia — both well-known and respected for their faux port and sherry — were at it as well. As of December 31, 2013, Canadian wine producers are required to drop the names port and sherry from their labels, thanks to something called the Canada-EU Wine and Spirits Agreement (now that’s a mouthful). It’s voluntary, but as you’ve noticed, the industry is complying, by moving to less geographically specific wording on their front panels. Before I get to them, let’s define port and sherry. Both are fortified wines (i.e. spirit is added somewhere along the production line), and while they seem as connected as peanut butter and jam, they have little else in common. The key to the controversy is location, location, location. Port is from Portugal and sherry is from Spain. It doesn’t come from Ontario, the Western Cape or a kangaroo’s hop outside of Adelaide. Those exotic locales simply make fortified wines “inspired” by the originals. With label changes well underway, Canuck fortified wines with a port-like slant are using Ruby, Tawny or Vintage to identify their output. While each speaks to a different flavour profile, it looks like the more consumer-friendly term Tawny is the first choice of winery marketing departments. Makers of wines formerly known as sherry are using Apera, an Aussie invention that’s a play on apéritif. Next up for a name change: Canadian Champagne. I’m voting for “Bub.”
BY ROSEMARY MANTINI
QUENCH’S ESTEEMEDeditor-in-chief complained to me recently that he thought he’d ruined his cherished Wüstof Santoku knife by sharpening it at an angle of 16° instead of at 20°. Huh? Since when are knives so temperamental? I suppose if you’re going to spend a good bit of money on a kitchen knife, then taking care of said instrument as per the manufacturer’s instructions is kind of important. The goal is not only to make sure your pride and joy will last forever, but also safety — working with a properly sharpened knife is safer. I don’t have to tell you that losing fingers is an inconvenience you don’t need. I have a favourite knife that I coddle, too. My no-frills Henkels isn’t quite on the same level of a Wüstof or K-Sabatier and the like. But I can’t complain. It’s served me quite well over the last decade. It certainly didn’t cost me anywhere near what some of these knives are going for. I saw a Toyokum chef’s knife advertised recently for $500. Should you spend that much on a knife? Let me suggest that worth is an interesting concept. That which we deem worthy is typically constructed by the values we hold. In other words, don’t let the salesperson sell you something you don’t really need. Online or in person, anyone can easily find stores that focus exclusively on selling knives. The walls of these establishments are lined with whatever the store owner or resident expert believes are the best knives. He or she may want to convince you to buy one or another. Trust me — rebuffing those efforts will be hard. The plethora of choice displayed before your eyes can be truly dazzling. You can choose between a single bevelled or double bevelled edge, carbon steel or ceramic, French or Japanese … The Japanese knife, by the way, is all the rage right now, which, dear readers, brings me to another question. How much of this knife frenzy is just plain hype? Everyone’s singing the praises of the super strong, single and double bevelled Japanese knives made with layered steels or carbon steels. Spend enough time watching the Food Network and you’ll see a lot of those celebrity
20 // May/June 2014
chefs wielding them. Let’s give credit where credit is due: Japanese knives generally do deserve the accolades. Still, you might want to stay away from trends unless your sole intent is to display the knife as a work of art. Even then there’s lots of choice. Check out Canadian Seth Cosmo’s useful and artful creations. Remember, you’re a foodie, and foodies love to cook at least some of the time. Out of all the kitchen tools and gadgets you might own, the knife is truly king. So much of what we put on the plate requires slicing and dicing. What you need is a good knife and a road map to finding one. Given its rock-star status in the kitchen, how should one go about choosing a good knife?
Don’t be afraid of asking questions that you might think are too basic or too broad. That’s as good a place as any to start. Approach the knife-buying experience as if you don’t know anything. The answers those questions engender will reveal the salesperson’s knowledge of, and attitude toward, both the products in stock and you, the customer. The truth is that although most of us don’t know much about specific knife statistics, we know a whole lot about our own personal preferences and habits. That knowledge is what’s going to lead you to your foundation knife — the one that will see you through years of fun in the kitchen. Before stepping into any knife store, start by asking yourself one question: what do I like to cook? Those roasted potatoes on your plate that grace the space beside the grilled steak are best chopped with a sturdy knife. The fact that those potato cubes don’t sport perfect angles really doesn’t matter. How perfect they look isn’t going to make them more or less appetizing. That length of sashimi, however, is best sliced by a Sashimi Bocho, a Japanese knife made expressly for that purpose, which produces a clean cut and encourages the slices to fall neatly in a particular pattern on the plate. In this case, aesthetics are almost as important as taste.
»» Every culture has fashioned the chef’s knife differently and according to the requirements of its cuisine
»» China and a few other countries produce their own knife styles, all differing somewhat in design and use
FORGED VS STAMPED BLADES »» Artisan knowledge is key in crafting forged blades because the process is multifold and complex
»» Stamped blades are just that — cut out from a sheet of steel THE SINGLE BEVEL »» The single bevel is ground to an angle on one side, while its backside is flat or slightly convex
Greg della Stua of Toronto’s Hacher and Krain explains that the ways in which a knife looks and cuts are products of the culture that designed them. People construct knives to complement their own cuisines. The art of prepping typically French, Spanish or Italian fare is easily handled by a French-style chef’s knife. German pork hocks are best tackled by the heavy-handled knives traditionally forged in that country. “It’s not that a knife is made in a given country that makes it right for you,” Greg says. “It’s how the knife fits in your hand and your cuisine that matters.” So, think about what kind of food typically occupies your pots and pans. Most of us like to experiment with a variety of recipes culled from different cuisines. Luckily, there does exist a knife for every occasion. There are also good all-purpose knives that make jumping from one cuisine to another easy. “The Santoku, a knife originating in Japan, and now the most commonly sold knife style in the world,” Greg suggests, “is perfect for refined slicing, dicing and chopping — a true generalist knife known in Japan as a Bonko Hocko (house knife).” Now, to the final consideration: how does the knife feel in your hand? Even something like a run-of-the-mill chef’s knife comes in a variety of styles. Each of us handles a knife in a particular way. Ask the salesperson for a board and spend some time going through the cutting motions. Try knives with a tapered blade and those with a flat blade. Knife handles alone come in a variety of shapes and weights. Give them all a try. Your knife needs to fit comfortably in the palm of your hand. Take your time and have fun with it. A trendy expensive knife is useless if it never sees the light of day.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
CHEF’S KNIFE »» General purpose knife that can be used to slice fruit, vegetables and meat (this is not a knife to use on bones!)
»» The blade can range in length from eight inches to 14 inches »» The curve of the blade ranges from slight to deep along the blade edge
»» The Japanese chef’s knife (modelled after the French K-Sabatier and called gyuto, “cow’s knife”) marries the two traditions: it sports the same cutting profile as the French chef’s knife with a variety of Japanese handles and blade types
»» Produces a very clean slice and is best used for food where the aesthetic of the cut is important »» Results in a very sharp knife »» It cuts best when you pull the knife toward yourself »» This is the typical knife style found in Japan
THE DOUBLE BEVEL »» The blade is ground to a similar angle on both sides »» Less sharp, but less prone to chipping »» This is the typical style of western knives »» Western double bevel knives are made with softer steel which means they lose sharpness faster than Japanese knives
CARBON STEEL »» Will rust and stain unlike stainless steel »» Will develop a patina over time »» Must be wiped properly after each use »» Was used to make all culinary knives until the early 1960s STAINLESS STEEL »» Resists rust and pitting »» Easy to maintain KNIFE SHARPENING »» European knives are generally sharpened to 20° to 22° »» Japanese knives are generally sharpened to 15° to 18° Greg’s advice: “Learn what your options are for how to sharpen a knife. You can use a variety of devices; some can help, many can destroy. If you are considering the use of water stones, always buy an inexpensive one to experiment and learn on first. Then, only after you have gotten a feel for it, should you consider spending any real money on water stones. Practice on a few of your less prized knives. Check out YouTube channels, like Korin from New York, to get a good understanding of what to do. Then practise and practise some more, and once you’re happy with the results, go ahead and sharpen your good knives. Otherwise, build a relationship with your local knife purveyor; so, if something goes horribly wrong, it won’t be a death sentence for your knife!” •
LIGHT IT UP
BY MICHAEL PINKUS
IN THIS WORLD OF CABERNETS,Shirazes, Zinfandels and the love for other big reds, the art of the light and the delicate are being lost to a generation. That’s a sweeping statement, but when people get together to talk about wine, you almost never hear lighter varieties mentioned aside from the precise Pinot Noir. Yes, people love the big guns, the ones with high alcohol, the big fruit and bold flavours up the wazoo — but what about a beautiful Gamay, a nice light Valpolicella, a well-made Merlot or even a delicate Dogliani; all can really do the trick on the palate — and best of all, they can accommodate a chill. I am talking about the lighter side of red. Those middle wines at a dinner party, the ones that come between the oaked Chardonnay and the California Cab: the unsung heroes that tie the whole party together. Now sure, I hear you saying, “I love a good Pinot once in a while,” and while Pinot makes a nice light red, you have to remember, and I know I’m going to make some enemies with this statement: it is the wine of geeks. The one who gets all the attention while the others flounder around in obscurity. I also want to point out that when I mentioned Pinot, you thought Noir, not Meunier … I could just rest my case here. “The meek shall inherit the earth” might also pertain to the wine world as it did in high school; Bill Gates had his share of sand kicked in his face, but look at him now. The likes of Gamay, Cabernet Franc and Merlot have also seen their fair share of that proverbial sand tossed at them, but one day they will rise up and take your taste buds to a whole new level — why not jump on the light reds bandwagon now, before it gets too crowded with all those wannabes? In my humble opinion, it isn’t long before we all get bored with those big wines and the meek shall inherit our glass.
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OLIVARES ALTOS DE LA HOYA MONASTRELL 2011, SPAIN ($13.95)
Unsung Monastrell can be as delicate on the palate as a really good Pinot. Raspberry and plum with an intermingling of cherry on the palate; a really pleasant sipper.
LAURENT GAUTHIER GRAND CRAS VIEILLES MORGON 2011, BEAUJOLAIS, FRANCE ($17.95)
The lowly Gamay will have its day again if wines like this keep getting made: delightful yet seriously complex with lots of wild cherry and white pepper on the intense nose and palate.
VILLA MEDORO ROSSO DEL DUCA MONTEPULCIANO D’ABRUZZO 2009, ABRUZZO, ITALY ($18.95)
Gentle fruit yet dark in nature with spiced raspberry and peppered plums.
CHÂTEAU DU CHATELARD CUVÉE LES VIEUX GRANITS FLEURIE 2011, BEAUJOLAIS, FRANCE ($20.95) Black cherry and white pepper; this one has some very welcome edginess for Gamay.
COYOTE’S RUN RED PAW VINEYARD PINOT NOIR 2011, ONTARIO ($22.95) Nose is floral with violet along with a big whack of cherry. Palate brings cran-cherry to the fore and backs it with violets and a good amount of acid as a backdrop. It’s a quaffable, chill ‘em down Pinot.
JERZU CHUERRA RISERVA CANNONAU DI SARDEGNA 2008, SARDINIA, ITALY ($16.95) This one will grow on you with raspberry, nice acidity and a coffee-like finish; it also has juicy red berries with an herbal quality.
COULY-DUTHEIL LA BARONNE MADELEINE CHINON 2010, LOIRE, FRANCE ($21.95) Blackberry and smoke with smooth tannins; this is a ripe, ready and easy to drink Cabernet Franc.
DESCENDIENTES DE J PALACIOS PETALOS 2011, SPAIN ($24.95) Good fruit with mineral, plum and good acidity. You don’t usually think of Spain for light, but it can be done, and this one proves they can do it very well.
ANGELS GATE’S PHILIP DOWELL
STU MARFELL FROM CLIFFORD BAY
FEATHERSTONE RED TAIL MERLOT 2011, ONTARIO ($19.95)
This one will take you a few sips to get into, but once you do you’ll be rewarded with smoky blueberry, fleshy plums and hints of white pepper.
BURROWING OWL MERLOT 2009, BRITISH COLUMBIA ($41.95)
Starts off with chocolate mixed with plum and raspberry then it settles down with touches of vanilla and smoke.
ANGELS GATE MOUNTAINVIEW MERLOT 2011, ONTARIO ($18.95)
Has a Franc-like note to it with its cigar smoke and plum notes with a tobacco lingering around with a slight herbal quality ... It might be short on fruit but it’s long on interesting flavour.
PASCAL AUFRANC VIGNES DE 1939 CHÉNAS 2011, BEAUJOLAIS, FRANCE ($17.95)
Black cherry aromas and flavours; good acidity and some chalkiness to the finish.
MALIVOIRE GAMAY NOIR 2012, ONTARIO ($17) Pure Gamay pleasure from nose to tip of the toes … cherry in both aroma and flavour then it adds raspberry into the mix and touches of white pepper — but nothing really gets in the way of that purity of fruit that is a well-made Gamay.
ÁGUIA MOURA EM VINHAS VELHAS RESERVA TINTO 2008, PORTUGAL ($16.95) Soft, supple and juicy, proving that a blend doesn’t have to overwhelm the taste buds: black cherry and plum rule here.
CLIFFORD BAY PINOT NOIR 2011, NEW ZEALAND ($19.95)
Lifted yet gentle fruit with good acidity and a nice intense finish.
ADELSHEIM ELIZABETH’S RESERVE PINOT NOIR 2010, OREGON, USA ($65.95) This select block and barrel Pinot has elegant of red fruit with lots of strawberry and cran-cherry.
LAILEY ZWEIGELT 2012, ONTARIO ($14)
This Austrian grape does well in Ontario, especially for those that dig red wines on the lighter side; red fruit dominated but with some blackberry and cassis in the mix, also some pleasant white pepper notes on the finish.
VINELAND PINOT MEUNIER 2011, ONTARIO ($18) Aromas of sour cherry with raspberry and a touch of something floral-esque; palate has plenty of red fruit flavour and good balancing acidity with some anise notes on the finish.
KEINT-HE PINOT 2 2010, ONTARIO ($20)
Pinot 2 is made with Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, there’s even a little Merlot in there; hints of spiced blueberry, cranberry and strawberry, the fun comes in on the long spiced cranberry finish ... This wine could handle a little chill, which would augment the fruit nicely. •
PICKING A GRAPE DESTINATION IN TUSCANY IS TOUGH. The varieties of reds and whites are endless. A fellow writer suggested Siena, home of the Palio, the famous horserace held twice a year in Piazza del Campo. A former professor plugged San Gimignano and Vernaccia di San Gimignano, the region’s only white wine with DOCG status. A colleague urged me to consider the Chianti Classico Region and Montepulciano, known for Vino Nobile. After much thought I chose Montecucco, a relatively new, tourist-light appellation in the Province of Grosseto in southern Tuscany, situated between Montalcino and Scansano. My tour guide for the trip was Giovan Battista Basile, owner of Basile Organic Wine Farm. On the drive south from Siena, we passed medieval castles on mountaintops, surrounded by slopes alive with vines. Narrow country roads flowed into tiny wellpreserved towns, encircled by woods, pastures, olive groves and grain fields. Basile settled in Tuscany in 1996. “I’m originally from Naples. I moved to Tuscany to join my sister who had opened an Agriturismo in 1992. I had studied law, but my interest in agriculture and viticulture grew in those years. In 1998, Montecucco was declared a designated wine region. At that point, I decided to search for a farm to produce my wines.” Montecucco DOCG covers seven towns with vineyards on the southwest hillsides of Mount Amiata, opposite the Brunello slopes. These towns are: Arcidosso, Campagnatico, Castel del Piano, Cinigiano, Civitella Paganico, Roccalbegna and Seggiano. The Orcho River divides Montecucco from Montalcino.
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BY MERLE ROSENSTEIN
Although it wasn’t until 1998 that Montecucco earned DOC status, and 2011 when the DOCG came into being, the region has been in vines for a long time. Legend has it that in his Commentaries, Pope Pius II tells a legend about Carlo Magno, on his way home to be crowned Emperor by Pope Leo III. Carlo Magno passed the Amiata and Maremma region, his army weakened by the plague. During his sleep, an angel appeared and said: “get up, climb that yoke, throw a dart and pick grass on which root the arrow has struck, toast it on the fire and when it is reduced to dust, give it to the sick to drink together with wine.” According to legend, the army recovered. The Sangiovese grape is easily influenced by terroir and climate conditions, and there are many styles and variations. In Montecucco — an ideal terroir — long sunny summers, hydration in the winter, cool breezes from Mount Amiata and marked differences in day- and night-time temperatures, along with technical knowledge, create distinctive wines. The Consorzio Tutela Vini Montecucco is an association of producers promoting and protecting Montecucco DOC and Montecucco Sangiovese DOCG. An internal panel of professionals recommends viticultural practices to improve wine quality. Dr Daniele Becchi, Coordinator of the Consorzio, said, “our red wines have some typical characteristics such as a marked violet smell and a third higher tannins than the average. The soil, sandstone boulder in some areas and lava ashes in the Mount Amiata area, makes this wine mineral and pleasant to taste. We also find a good level of acidity and a complex bouquet like
the better Sangiovese wines in Tuscany. Our varieties of Sangiovese are similar to those used in Montalcino and Scansano because these areas are close to us.” Dr Becchi also commented on the white wines. “For the whites, the principal unique quality is an almond and caramel aftertaste.” In the past decade, a lot of work has been done with the University of Pisa to find indigenous varieties of Sangiovese in the Maremma rather than using imported clones. “The University of Pisa is doing a research on clones of Sangiovese in our territory with the aim to rediscover and enhance this grape. The project started with fieldwork in the older vineyards to find the best clones for planting. These clones were planted in a ‘museum vineyard’ and also in other experimental vineyards to investigate their quality and potential,” Becchi explained. Basile told me that Montecucco DOCG wine “has one of the lowest yields per hectare in Italy at seven tons of grapes per hectare.” Wines are aged for longer due to stronger tannins. “An old story says that the original grape from Montalcino came from our region,” he offered. Montecucco attained DOC status in 1998. In 2011, new rules were established for producers of Montecucco Sangiovese DOCG. These rules did not apply to the Montecucco Rosso DOC blend. The DOCG wines have lower yields, and increased percentages of Sangiovese (90 percent). Montecucco Sangiovese also has a longer aging period. The entry level wine for the region is Montecucco Rosso, a blend of 60 percent Sangiovese and international or local grapes. Montecucco Sangiovese is the next level up, and usually contains 100 percent Sangiovese. The premiere wines, the Riservas, Rosso and Sangiovese, are meant for lengthy aging. Many producers in the Consorzio rely on organic viticulture and use indigenous yeasts. Members range from third or fourth generation farmers nurturing grapes alongside other crops, to new boutique wineries to larger commercial operations.
Owned by Maria Iris Bertarelli and her brother Claudio Tipa, Castello ColleMassari, in the foothills of Mount Amiata, was awarded “2014 Winery of the Year” by Italian wine guide Gambero Rosso Vini d’Italia. The 1,200 hectare farm, with 110 hectares of vineyards, 60 hectares of olive groves and 400 hectares of mixed crops, is certified organic. Tipa came upon the property in Maremma by accident. As he admits, “I had some appointments to see some properties in the more famous wine areas of Chianti and Montalcino. For some reason, one appointment was cancelled and I went to see this property in the Maremma area with an abandoned castle. As soon as I got here, I understood this was the place.” The winery is immaculate and efficient. Grapes are hand selected on sorting tables and sent to a modern 65,000 square-foot cellar by gravity. The underground aging cellar is cut from natural stone. Cedar planks line the ceiling to prevent dampness and blasts of steam maintain humidity. Wooden casks rest in rows on the floor. For ColleMassari’s top wine, the 100 percent Sangiovese Lombrone, grapes are selected from the best vineyards and fermented in open conical European oak vats. Malolactic fermentation occurs in 40 hectolitre vats, and the wine is aged for at least 18 months in the same vats. The wine spends another 12 months in the bottle after aging. The Lombrone has aromas of black and red fruit, ripe tannins, spice and a long finish.
BASILE ORGANIC WINE FARM
Basile’s six hectares of vineyard sit 350 metres above sea level, outside the town of Cinigiano. Like Tipa, Basile did not plan to set down roots in Montecucco. “I was really lucky. At the beginning, I was searching for land in the region of Montalcino, very close to our region. A river is the borderline between the Montecucco and Brunello regions. But then I under-
stood that it was much more interesting and exciting to start to produce my wines in a territory that was completely unknown, but potentially a great place to produce great wines.” All products are organic, and the farm employs solar energy and follows the principles of green building. Grapes are hand harvested and fermented in stainless steel and oak barrels at a controlled temperature. Aging occurs in French oak or tonneaux and barriques for 12 or 24 months. Cartacanta, 90 percent Sangiovese and 10 percent Merlot and Ciliegiolo, is medium bodied and tastes like blackcurrant fruit and spice with a slight sweetness and vanilla. The Ad Agio is 100 percent Sangiovese, with a long finish and nice fruit. Comandante was Basile’s father’s nickname, and Comandante Maremma Toscana IGT, comprised of Sangiovese and Merlot, is perfect with red meat and game.
POGGIO AL GELLO
Poggio al Gello produces two wines from 100 percent Sangiovese, Rosso del Gello and Fosso del Nibbio. A third wine, called Pugnitello del Piaggione, is created from an ancient indigenous vine rediscovered about twenty years ago. Grapes have thick skins and high tannins. The name Pugnitello comes from the shape of the small compact grape cluster resembling a fist called pugno in Italian. In 2004, owner Giorgio Nelli planted Pugnitello, and in 2007 began producing wine. The resulting ruby wine is spicy with intense fruit and a persistent finish. The best way to really see the region is by touring the Montecucco Wine Trail (La Strada del Vino Montecucco). In addition to wine, the area is known for olive oil (IGP Toscano — Seggiano), chestnuts (IGP Mount Amiata), mushrooms and honey. The trail winds through viticultural, historic and cultural sites in and around the following towns: Paganico, Sasso d’Ombrone, Poggi del Sasso, Montecucco, Cinigiano, Porrona, Montenero, Montegiovi, Montelaterone, Castel del Piano and Seggiano. A true sight to see. •
THERE IS ONE ISSUE THAT HAS PROVOKED HEATED DEBATE THROUGHOUT MOST OF THE WINE PRODUCING REGIONS OF THE WORLD. BUT IT SEEMS TO SPARK, AND UNDERSTANDABLY SO, PARTICULARLY INTENSE AND EMOTIONAL REACTIONS WITH RESPECT TO THE OLD WORLD — NO WHERE MORE SO THAN IN ITALY. BY GURVINDER BHATIA THE DISCUSSION ISthat of traditional versus modern with respect to the style of wines being produced. That discussion becomes heightened when the focus turns to Italy’s iconic wines such as Amarone, Barolo, Chianti Classico and, especially some might say, Brunello di Montalcino. The medieval Tuscan hilltop, fortressed town of Montalcino has been famous for its wines for centuries. In 1744, Charles Thompson wrote, “Montalcino is not particularly famous, except for the goodness of its wines.” The history of Brunello can be traced back to the 19th century and since then, the wine has become a symbol of quality for the town, the region and the country. Brunellos can be found in the wine cellars of wine collectors around the globe alongside Bordeaux, Burgundies, Barolos and Super-Tuscans. It is perhaps the last category mentioned, the Super-Tuscans, that has caused much of the debate (but more on this shortly). The rules for the production of Brunello (the first wine in Italy to be designated a DOCG — Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita — a guarantee of origin) demand that the wine consist entirely of Sangiovese grapes, remain for at least two years in wooden barrels and must not be released to market until January 1st of the fifth year after the harvest. The discussion of traditional versus modern must start with an understanding of Sangiovese and the unique character given to it when grown around Montalcino. Sangiovese typically tends to be a rather sensitive grape, higher in acidity, with sour cherry and earthy flavours, rarely very dark in colour. According to Casato Prime Donne’s Donatella Cinelli Colombini, “Montalcino is the ideal place to grow Sangiovese. Nowhere else does this grape variety obtain such excellent results.” The wines are ripe and powerful with crisp acidity and ageability. Many factors combine to produce them: a climate that is drier and warmer than Chianti Classico; the area’s proximity to the sea, allowing the breezes to keep the grapes dry and healthy; and wide variations between day- and night-time temperatures. Many producers grow a clone known as Sangiovese Grosso (also called “Brunello”), but several producers use the same clone used for Chianti Classico, which highlights the effect terroir has on the grape. Even in Montalcino there are significant differences in terroir. The southern side tends to be warmer, resulting in wines with lower acidity, higher alcohol and riper, more powerful wines. The north side tends to be cooler, producing perfumed
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wines of elegance and higher acidity. But higher elevation vineyard sites in the southern area can result in wines that are as elegant as those from vineyard sites on the north side. With respect to the traditional versus modern debate, there are two camps. Those that believe that one style is better than the other and those that believe that quality and typicity trump style. Producer Sandro Bottega, a relative newcomer to Montalcino, believes that “Brunello must express the character of Sangiovese and Montalcino terroir, in terms of structure and minerality. Provided the wines are well made and do not dilute the essence of Brunello, both traditional and modern styles can exist in Montalcino, have their own space and keep a distinct personality.” Traditional Brunello tends to possess higher acidity and tannins, earthy and wild cherry aromas and flavours, and are aged in large Slavonian oak casks so as to not impart a strong wood flavour to the wine. They are, according to Col d’Orcia’s Count Francesco Marone Cinzano, “to be consumed in the traditional way, in other words at the dinner table with food.” Modern-styled Brunello tends to be fruitier, riper and plusher with softer tannins and vanilla notes from aging in small oak barrels. The wines are made to be more accessible, consumerfriendly and easier to drink when young. Is one style better than the other? Both have their advocates. I tend to agree with Sandro Bottega that so long as “the wines are well made and do not dilute the essence of Brunello,” both styles can co-exist and enhance their identity and uniqueness in the eyes of the consumer. The key is to ensure that Brunello does not compromise its identity. That should be the focus of the discussion. At one point, there was considerable discussion about changing the rules to allow the inclusion of additional grapes in the production of Brunello. Cinelli Colombini attributes the movement to an attempt by some producers to appeal to the palates of the American consumer, “one with great muscles (alcohol, wood, extracts, colour...). A taste which resembled the Super-Tuscans made with Sangiovese and international varieties.” She adds, “this trend has now really gone out of fashion and nobody would go in that direction any longer.” In fact, a few years ago, the producers voted and overwhelmingly decided that only Sangiovese should be used for Brunello. This debate, fortunately, now appears to be settled (although there is still discussion and speculation that some producers are adding other grape varieties to their wines).
But Brunello producers need to take the next step. With the diversity of the soil conditions, altitude of vineyard sites and micro-climates that exist in Montalcino, producers need to divide the region into subzones based on these differences. This will help consumers understand the differences in the styles of wines being produced and also encourage producers to highlight the differences to further distinguish the uniqueness of their wines.
DONATELLA CINELLI COLOMBINI FROM CASATO PRIME DONNE
Some argue that while Brunello should keep its identity, it needs to be able to compete in the global markets with other international wines. But it is by keeping its identity that Brunello will survive and thrive. The debate should not be about whether the traditional or modern style is better (a debate that tends to polarize producers). The discussion should focus on quality and distinct personality, to avoid a tendency to appeal to a broad consumer base by dumbing down the wine. The justification that the consumer wants easier drinking, fruit forward wines can lead to a belief that overripe, over-extracted, over-oaked wines will sell better. In fact, this leads instead to a homogenization where wines begin to taste the same regardless of their origins. The wine not only loses its unique identity, it loses its ability to connect with the consumer. Whether modern or traditional, Brunello producers should strive to keep the wines, in the words of Count Cinzano, “unique, recognizable, unreplicable.” Wine gets its context from the people, place, culture and history of its home. Bottega accurately adds, “easy, light or tannic wine, yet lacking identity, can be successfully produced anywhere — while Brunello can only be produced in Montalcino.” There is a strong movement worldwide with consumers and restaurateurs to support products that possess a sense of place. Consumers are buying from farmers’ markets, restaurateurs are promoting locally sourced menus. With respect to Brunello producers, Cinelli Colombini says, “today we all want to preserve the typicity of the grapes.”
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Ultimately, it seems that the majority of producers agree about the importance of not trying to make Brunello be too similar to Super-Tuscans or for that matter other styles of wines that may, in someone’s opinion, have a greater appeal to consumers. But to elevate Brunello to the next level and create a renewed interest in the wines, producers must move to map the region based on the diversity of vineyard sites. There seems to be a consensus that by maintaining its distinct identity and that of the uniqueness of the terroir in Montalcino as expressed through the Sangiovese grape, the wine and region will continue to be recognized as, in the word of Cinelli Colombini, an “Italian symbol of success.” •
BY TIM PAWSEY
WHEN YOU THINK OF ARGENTINA,chances are your mind goes first to Malbec and then to Mendoza. Both have become synonymous with the country (much in the same way that Shiraz and Australia are now inextricably linked). But just as Australia is wonderfully diverse, Argentina is also far from homogenous. Mendoza may be the wine industry’s driver but both Patagonia and Salta are now also beginning to come into their own. In particular, Northern Argentina is quite separate from the centre and south both physically and culturally. While Buenos Aires sports a decidedly European influence, an hour’s flying time north and west will land you in Salta, almost on the Bolivian border. The region was at the core of the long and bloody war against Spanish occupation that ended in the early part of the 19th century. In 1813, the battle of Salta was pivotal. The following year, the new territory was created, including parts of present day Bolivia and Chile — the region being home to numerous indigenous peoples. El Porvenir Laborum Syrah 2011, Cafayate ($37) The north’s principal wine region is Single vineyard. Classic, varietally correct aromas of meaty, gamey notes, with a structured a breathtakingly beautiful 190 km (three palate showing bright red fruits before dark, spicy and leather notes with good tension, hour) drive south of Salta, on Route 68, acidity and firm but integrated tannins. into the heart of the the Valles Calchaquies. Initially, the road runs through green hills El Porvenir El Porvenir El Porvenir dotted with farms. But the landscape soon Laborum Laborum Tannat Laborum changes to the rugged surroundings of Torrontes 2011, 2011, Cafayate Cabernet Quebrada de Cafayate. Cafayate ($23) ($37) Sauvignon 2011, The rock formations are absolutely Floral and chalky/stony Single vineyard. Very Cafayate ($37) massive. There are great slabs sloping sky- hints on top, before a firmly approachable with cherry Single vineyard. Balanced, ward, sometimes dotted with hoodoos, and structured and focused palchocolate notes up front, elegant, with cherry, having symbolic names such as the Castles, ate of stone fruit and citrus, followed by complex, layered raspberry and spicy notes the Obelisk and the Garganta del Diablo — with a lingering close. Takes black cherry and mulberry on a medium-bodied palate the Devil’s Throat. It’s desolate, dusty and Torrontes to a new level. on a seriously meaty palate underpinned by chalky tanwindswept, home to little more than cacti with a lingering finish. nins, good length and acidity. and a few hardy souls — but also deeply spiritual; an immense wonder of nature.
Amalaya Torrontes/Riesling 2012, Cafayate ($16) Lifted floral and apple notes with refreshing lively acidity on the palate, zesty notes and a lingering citrus finish.
Eventually the road negotiates around the last washout (what little rain that happens here in this near-tropical latitude is of the monsoon variety) to arrive at Cafayate in the heart of the Calchaquies Valley. Even though Argentina is normally classified as a New World producer, its viticulture dates from the 1550s, with the start of Spanish colonisation. Like so many other New World countries, it was the Catholic Church that initiated grape growing to produce communion wine. The difference in Argentina, however, is that the varieties used have always been vinifera, with hybrids never introduced. Grape growing in this region dates from the 1850s, and some more remote, smaller vineyards still have plantings that survive from the late 19th century. Aside from benefiting from the influence of the church, Argentine drinkers — no doubt in part because of their appetite for good meat — have developed a far more robust culture of wine drinking than most other countries. In the last century, the average per capita annual consumption exceeded 80 litres per person. Only in the last few decades has that figure declined to around 26 litres. In fact, Argentina could never produce enough wine to satisfy its demands until that decline set in. Interestingly enough, it was that shift in domestic consumption, along with devaluation of the peso, that propelled the Argentine wine industry to undertake an export program that it had never previously deemed necessary or possible.
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Historically, the Salta region has been known for its whites, specifically Torrontes. However, as the area was discovered by consultants such as Michel Roland (the first of many to arrive) in the late 1980s, plantings have been expanded to include several Bordeaux varieties. The first thing that strikes you about Cafayate (the ‘y’ is pronounced as a hard ‘j’) is how dry everything is. Annual rainfall in this arid near-desert rarely surpasses 200 mm and what irrigation there is comes from melting snow in the high Andes, which feeds the streams and aquifers. Nevertheless, the dry season is long, hot and dusty — ideal conditions for cacti to flourish, which they do seemingly everywhere, and perfect for resisting disease. Soils are generally equally unforgiving with a preponderance of well draining sandy loam, and alluvial deposits. The town itself (elevation 5740 ft above sea level; population 14,000) boasts a typical Spanish colonial square and substantial church. It feels much more like Peru than Argentina. Wine tourism here is just beginning to take hold, as locals and visitors alike discover the improving quality in the bottle. The people are genuinely friendly and obliging. There’s no shortage of tasting rooms, cafés and local craft markets to explore, with most of the wineries recently established away from the centre of town. In many ways, Bodega el Porvenir de Cafayate epitomises what has taken place in the wine industry here in recent years. When the present owners acquired the old winery in the town of Cafayate, established by Italian immigrants in 1890, they elected to preserve as much as possible of the existing structure and cellar. Along with the winery, they also purchased 50-year-old vines close-by, 80 percent of which were the region’s flagship Torrontes, plus Malbec and Tannat. After the first harvest in 2002 (which was relatively small), they undertook new plantings six km away at Finca Rio Seco. Here they developed 60 hectares of Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot, as well as more Torrontes, at 5,741 ft. Smaller plantings elsewhere (all high elevation) include Chardonnay and Malbec. Paul Hobbs has consulted since 2010 and the viticulture (as in much of Argentina) is primarily sustainable.
Not only is El Porvenir with its other labels Laborum and Amauta representative of the quality now coming out of Cafayate, but the winery’s success with other varieties in addition to Torrontes and Malbec is an indication of what to look forward to from these newer high elevation plantings. Argentina’s oldest documented and arguably Salta’s most celebrated winery, Bodega Colomé, founded in 1831, is part of the celebrated Hess Collection. It also boasts the country’s highest altitude vineyards. In fact, the Upper Calchaquíes Valleys are thought to be the highest vineyards in the world, with plantings primarily of Malbec and Torrontes as high as 3,111 metres above sea level. As winemakers move ever higher up the mountains (Donald Hess did just that with Altura Maxima, after he purchased Colomé) they’re reaping the benefits of much greater diurnals, which helps to drive acidity, colour and intensity of flavours. Like many regions, much of the satisfaction in visiting Cafayate comes from experiencing the overall culture of local wine and food, with specialties ranging from empanadas to roasted mountain hare that add up to a substantial, though still surprisingly tender, meal. The region is growing fast, which means there are now some fairly high-end accommodations available, such as Viñas de Cafayate Wine Resort, a very stylish and comfortable resort in traditional Colonial style, surrounded by vineyards, on the outskirts of Cafayate. Less luxurious, but still very comfortable and convenient, is Killa, an intimate hotel in the heart of town that blends Spanish design with indigenous art in a relaxing setting. The more intrepid head for luxurious, but isolated, Estancia Colomé, high in the mountains to the northwest, paying close attention to local travel advisories as rough roads and washouts are common. Cafayate is now being discovered, which is not surprising considering its truly spectacular setting and quite magical surroundings. If you’re looking to visit a wine region that’s truly different on so many levels, this unique and emerging area deserves serious consideration. •
Jose L Mounier Rosado 2011, Cafayate ($20)
Coquena Torrontes 2011, Cafayate ($20)
High altitude rosé from 1,850 metres sports vibrant garnet hue with floral, red berry and cherry notes on the nose before a lively, vinous palate and lengthy close. A great match with rabbit!
Chalky notes on top with honey and mineral hints. Tropical honey and vibrant citrus on the palate with luscious mouthfeel and a fine, mineral ending.
Colomé Estate Malbec 2010, Calchaqui Valley ($30) Red and black fruits on the nose with palate of forward deep red berries and spicy notes wrapped in vibrant, juicy acidity balanced with well managed tannins (no new oak used) before a generous finish. 85% Malbec, with Tannat, Cab Sauv, Petit Verdot and Syrah.
Pietro Marini Cabernet/Syrah 2008, Cafayate ($35) Black fruit on top with some definite oak and meaty notes before a structured palate. Firm tannins, spice and good acidity with peppery notes before a lengthy close.
Coquena Tannat 2011, Cafayate ($30) From 1,700 metre high vineyards, blue and black fruits on the nose. Supple and smooth, remarkable for Tannat, with blackberry and bramble, almost a touch of blackstrap molasses, plush dark chocolate hints, with well-managed but firm tannins and a lengthy end.
San Pedro de Yacochuya Torrontés 2011, Cafayate ($25) High altitude, old vines deliver this superb Torrontes. Fruity and floral notes before an intense mineral and chalky palate with juicy acidity and good length.
Pietro Marini Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, Cafayate ($35) Floral and red fruit aromas of violet and strawberry, followed by a lush, textured palate of damson and mulberry with some tea leaf and herbal notes before a lengthy finish.
BY GILLES BOIS
For more than 20 years, producers of organic wines from around the world have been gathering in Montpellier, France for Millésime Bio. This year, more than 780 producers from 12 countries (alas, none from Canada) were present. It was a unique opportunity to assess the progress of organic wines. A MAJOR STEP WAS COMPLETED IN 2012when a cross-Europe law was adopted by the EU: organic wine was born. Prior to that, wines could only be described as “made from organically grown grapes” since they couldn’t agree on suitable winemaking rules. The main sticking point was the maximum amount of sulfites that could be added. Logically, it is below what is allowed for conventional wines. In Canada, a similar federal law exists but each province can have its own regulation for wines sold locally. The number of organic wine producers has risen substantially in recent years, especially in Spain, France and Italy. It is now plateauing, as fewer are going through the three year conversion process. Demand has also grown but not quite at the same rate. Given that making organic wines requires twice as many workers as conventional wines, prices are inevitably higher. Will there be enough consumers to absorb all the new bottles coming? The risk of over-supply and subsequent market collapse does not worry Patrick Guiraud, president of Sudvinbio, the association behind Millésime Bio. He believes the increased offer is an opportunity to recruit new consumers. Sales have progressed by 15 percent in the last two years, both in France and internationally. Mr Guiraud predicts an even faster pace for 2014. “We are here to stay!” he claims with a confident voice. Fans of organic food will likely look for an organic wine — citing health and environmental protection. But what about taste, is it worth paying even slightly more for these bottles? Do they really taste better? There’s no easy answer since so many factors
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influence the final product. Organic in itself is not a guarantee, but it reflects a commitment to better quality. A dozen wine writers from North America had been invited to spend a few days in the Roussillon, with its breathtaking landscapes at the foot of the Pyrénées where we experienced the tramontane, a powerful wind that blows 200 days a year. It can drive you crazy sometimes, but it’s a great benefit to the vines — it dries them, keeping many illnesses at bay. Producers visited included Olivier Pithon, the son of renowned Jo Pithon from the Loire valley, Domaine Gardiès and the Cazes facilities in Rivesaltes where the tasting took place. All the wines presented were made by members of Sudvinbio.
LES CHEMINS DE BASSAC ISA BLANC 2012, IGP CÔTES DE THONGUE, LANGUEDOC ($18.60)
Bright yellow. This blend of Roussanne and Viognier shows nice notes of apricot, and other white and tropical fruits. It has a delicate acidity and a noticeably long finish.
CHÂTEAU DE NAGES VIEILLES VIGNES 2012, COSTIÈRES DE NÎMES, RHÔNE VALLEY ($15) This is a very nice blend of Clairette and Roussanne, with about 10% each of Grenache Blanc and Bourboulenc. It shows a great balance between acidity, fruit and alcohol. Texture is fatty and very pleasant.
CHÂTEAU DE BRAU PURE PINOT NOIR 2012, PAYS D’OC IGP ($23)
The nose shows typical Pinot Noir notes of red fruits such as cherry and fruit stones. Very light body and easy drinking. Oak free, it has a nice pure fruity taste.
DOMAINE DE CIGALUS ROUGE 2012, PAYS D’OC IGP ($50)
LES CHEMINS DE BASSAC ISA ROUGE 2012, IGP CÔTES DE THONGUE, LANGUEDOC ($17) An interesting blend of Mourvèdre, Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Pinot Noir all vinified separately. The light, perfumed nose is seductive. More lightness in the body, surprisingly so for a Languedoc wine. Nice fruity taste, supple mouthfeel through the somewhat short finish.
Intense red fruits nose of great purity and new oak notes. Full bodied, balanced, intense flavour, chewy supple tannins and a very satisfying long finish. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot under biodynamic viticulture.
EMMANUEL CAZES FROM RIVESALTES
DOMAINE D’AUPILHAC 2011, MONTPEYROUX, LANGUEDOC ($21)
Fresh nose of red fruits. Medium bodied with supple tannins and good acidity. Easy to drink and quite delicious up to the clean finish. Mourvèdre and Carignan for 60%, plus 20% Syrah and 10% each of Grenache and Cinsault. Biodynamic viticulture and large barrels aging.
CHÂTEAU DE LA LIQUIÈRE NOS RACINES 2011, FAUGÈRES, LANGUEDOC ($19)
This blend of Carignan with some Grenache shows an inviting nose of ripe red fruits. Rich middle palate, smooth texture. The finish is not without finesse. Very good.
DOMAINE DES CARABINIERS 2012, LIRAC, CÔTES DU RHÔNE ($17)
Fine red fruits nose, expressive, open. Medium bodied, the supple tannic backbone supports the fruity extract leading to a clean, balanced finish. A blend of 50% Grenache, 25% each Syrah and Mourvèdre under biodynamic viticulture.
DOMAINE D’AUPILHAC LOU MASET 2012, AOC DU LANGUEDOC ($12)
A very young wine featuring a bright purple colour and a fresh red fruits nose reminiscent of Vin Nouveau (no oak aging). Light and somewhat acidic on the palate, it’s tempting to drink it in large gulps. Very refreshing. A biodynamic blend of Grenache and Cinsault complemented with Syrah and Carignan.
DOMAINE PIERRE CLAVEL COPA SANTA 2011, CÔTEAUX DU LANGUEDOC ($25.50) Biodynamic Syrah with 17% Grenache. Nose is all about red fruits with a lively freshness. Generous, more than medium bodied with a rich core of fruit wrapping the soft tannins. Finish is a little warm.
BORIE LA VITARÈLE LES TERRES BLANCHES 2012, SAINT-CHINIAN, LANGUEDOC ($28)
The soil may be white, but not the wine! A blend of Grenache and Syrah with a deep ruby colour and a typical red fruits nose. Tight in the mouth, the tannins are quite present, especially in the slightly astringent finish. It needs time to soften up. •
BEST PLAC I WOULD WAGER THAT THE MOST MEMORABLE BOTTLE OF WINE YOU EVER ENJOYED WASN’T SO MUCH ABOUT THE WINE AS IT WAS ABOUT WHERE YOU DRANK IT. AN UNFORGETTABLE BOTTLE, ONE YOU WILL REMEMBER UNTIL THE END OF TIME, IS ALWAYS AS MUCH ABOUT THE WHERE AND THE WHO THAN THE ACTUAL LIQUID ITSELF.
A MOONLIT BEACHon a tropical island with your favourite (insert man, woman or whoever) and any wine, just pick one, will forever be locked in your memory bank. Chances are good that a cheap bottle of eau de puit would be your newest, most beloved wine if shared over a romantic dinner with, say, Scarlett Johansson (Esquire’s Sexiest Woman Alive) or Adam Levine (People’s Sexiest Man Alive), on a sun-drenched beach in Bora Bora with dazzling white sand and warm azure seas. Oh, yes, sweet dreams are made of this. Pour me another glass of that delicious plonk du plonk! Conversely, that bottle of Domaine Leroy Musigny Grand Cru becomes merely average, forgettable even, when opened anywhere in the vicinity of the Chernobyl nuclear plant in the Ukraine and shared with Kim Jong-Un and his pal Dennis Rodman. Yikes. There is no denying it, place means an awful lot and can turn the wine drinking experience from heavenly to hellish if you are not oh, so very careful.
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ACE EVER BY RICK VANSICKLE
I will never forget a Mitchell Peppertree Shiraz 1998 from the Clare Valley in Australia that I enjoyed on a wet, cold, windy and otherwise dreary winter’s day Down Under. In the driving rain, I was dropped off at the Mitchell Winery, just another in a long string of Aussie wineries visited over a stretch of 10 days. Andrew Mitchell thankfully suggested skipping the winery tour and heading instead to his family cottage to warm up, drink some wine and chat, which was music to my ears. The rustic yet homey Mitchell cottage is an inviting retreat for a weary traveller. We were met at the door by Andrew’s wife, Jane, and inside there were lovely aromas wafting from the kitchen. Andrew Mitchell started hauling out bottles of wines and we drank heartily. The smells were overwhelming as Jane coaxed us to the table where Andrew had found room for another six bottles of wine. Piping hot plates of osso bucco were dropped in front of us. Diving into that glorious dish of lamb put it all into perspective when paired with the Mitchell’s Peppertree Shiraz. At that moment in time, there wasn’t a more perfect place to be or a more perfect bottle of wine to share with new friends who had opened up their home to a tired stranger. There have been countless other memorable bottle of wines enjoyed over the years — Domaine de la Romanee Conti Romanee Conti 1994 and Screaming Eagle
Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1995 shared with Rush frontman Geddy Lee in the basement of the Chicago Chop House in Calgary come to mind — but one experience looms larger than all the rest.
With catch in hand, we made our way to the deserted and pristine beach, waves softly crashing along the long sandy beach. A brilliant sunny day, fresh-grilled King George whiting garnished with nothing
all five senses. So on those days when I just want to relax, have my mind wander and take in the comforts of being in my own personal special place (my home), I jump into the tub, make it bubble, turn on the chilling music and pop open a bottle of 2002 Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin. I open that particular vintage because not only is it yummy but 2002 was milestone year for me, so I collected a few from that vintage to remember and celebrate the great memories of that time. “After spoiling myself with a few glasses and soaking in the tub, I’m left feeling euphoric as if all the little bubbles (both from tub and glass) have scrubbed and tickled all my stresses and worries away. By the end of it, I get out feeling invigorated, relaxed and naked in all senses of the word.”
MIKE WEIR, MASTERS CHAMPION, PGA TOUR PLAYER AND FOUNDER OF MIKE WEIR WINE INC, NIAGARA
It was a stinking hot day as our plane touched down on isolated Kangaroo Island off the coast of South Australia. The sun beat down relentlessly as we were whisked away for the short drive to a waiting fishing boat. The 38-foot Hot Spot Too, skippered by salty sea veteran Lance Tyley, embarked on a course for the serene waters of Emu Bay. Our mission on this day was reeling in some King George whiting — a long, thin salt-water fish prized for its delicate and tender flesh. We would not be denied our prize catch. Tyley wasted no time finding the perfect shelf where the whiting could hang out. We filled the ice bucket with plenty of fish that would soon become the perfect grilled lunch paired brilliantly with some of Australia’s finest Rieslings.
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but fresh-squeezed lemon and chilled bottles of Jacob’s Creek Steingarten Riesling right there on that beach a million miles from anywhere; life does not get much better than that. Memories are made of this. So it is with a number of Canadian wine personalities when asked what their most memorable place to enjoy a bottle of wine is. From sharing with interesting people and sipping in exotic locales to a long, hot bubble bath after a hard day’s work, here’s a sampling of their answers.
LYDIA TOMEK, WINEMAKER AT HERNDER ESTATE WINES, NIAGARA
“I have always had a deep love and appreciation for bubbly because of all the wines out there, they truly arouse you on
“A number of years ago, I was golfing in South Africa. My wife (Bricia) and I took one of those African safaris. My choice for the most interesting place to have ever enjoyed a bottle of wine was on that safari in Africa with Bricia while enjoying a bottle of wine from Stellenbosch.”
SANDRA OLDFIELD, WINEMAKER, PRESIDENT AND CEO OF TINHORN CREEK WINERY, OKANAGAN
“The best place I ever drank, or still drink, a bottle of wine is on a bluff overlooking Bodega Bay in California with a dear friend of mine. High elevation, rolling green hills, on a locals-only road surrounded by pastures. It is a special, almost sacred place to me when shared with this life-long friend of mine. The world melts and finally it seems like wine’s true purpose has shone through: sharing friendship, real conversation and nature with whatever wine you brought to enjoy.”
DONALD ZIRADLO, ZIRALDO ESTATE WINES, CO-FOUNDER OF INNISKILLIN WINES, NIAGARA
“During each Vinexpo, Count Lur Saluces (then owner of Château d’Yquem who retired in 2004) threw a reception at the Château. I had met the Count at the New York Wine Experience when he came over to the booth and asked to taste Icewine. I have always thought of d’Yquem as the pinnacle of dessert wine. “He then came to Toronto for a $2,500 a plate charity dinner. The French Ambassador hosted a luncheon that same day to which I was invited and presented the Count with a bottle of Icewine. When the Ambassador apologized for not having Château d’Yquem for the lunch along with a fine collection of French wines, the Count suggested we open the Icewine. I was, of course, very flattered and we became great friends. “The following Vinexpo I was invited to the Count’s reception at the Château … wow! What an event. He poured 1986 d’Yquem with lemon roll cake. I must admit I drank so much I had a sugar high and, of course, I love ‘sweet.’ My guests Jeffrey Caldeway, label designer and author of Icon, The Art of the Wine Label, and his wife Rhonda from California … were suitably impressed.”
ALLISON SLUTE, EXPORT MANAGER AND CERTIFIED SOMMELIER, PILLITTERI ESTATES WINERY, NIAGARA
“The best place I ever drank a bottle of wine was at a restaurant called Cin Cin by the Sea in Barbados. It was 2012 and the newly opened Cin Cin was one of the best restaurants on the island. It was a picture perfect day and our table was outside looking out into the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea. “The wine bottle on the table was Pillitteri’s own Gewürztraminer Riesling. A wine I have consumed many, many times before, but to enjoy it in such a remote
THE WORLD MELTS AND FINALLY IT SEEMS LIKE WINE’S TRUE PURPOSE HAS SHONE THROUGH: SHARING FRIENDSHIP, REAL CONVERSATION AND NATURE WITH WHATEVER WINE YOU BROUGHT TO ENJOY.
part of the world and know that I had a hand in getting the wine into the market made each sip all the more refreshing. For me, there are few places and wine memories that come close to the significance of this one.”
ANGELA AIELLO, FOUNDER OF IYELLOW WINE CLUB, TORONTO
“My story begins with a romantic Italian trip with my beloved sommelier boyfriend. After many amazing nights in the heart of Tuscany, we decided to drive to Naples and enjoy more wine and pizza. After arriving in Naples, we planned a getaway to the Island of Capri. My boyfriend had made us a reservation at a Michelin star restaurant, so we woke up early to beat the crowds on the ferry to the island. It was such an amazing day and we still had time to spare before our 1 pm reservation, so we were two romantic lovebirds walking to our Michelin star restaurant for an amazing lunch. “We were slowly climbing north on the island of Capri, up massively huge steps in what seemed like the middle of nowhere with no one else around. By 1:15 pm we were getting hot, hungry and a little anxious. Where was this
amazing restaurant that had been recommended to us? My boyfriend asked one of the only people we had seen on this ‘trail’ where the restaurant was, and they replied: ‘up the steps.’ We continued to walk for an hour, and by this time we were exhausted. We finally arrived around 2:30 pm to a clearing in the steps where there was traffic. ‘WE ARE HERE,’ I thought! But we were told the restaurant was another 200 steps away. By this time my mood had switched from loving and romantic to exhausted and hungry. ‘200 more steps — are you kidding me?!?!’ I wailed. ‘We’ve been walking for almost three hours!!!!!!’ “We finally made those 200 steps but were told we still needed to take a cab — only to be over three hours late and find out they only serve seafood, and I have a serious allergy! So we made the best of it — but the best part, and most memorable wine I’ve ever tried, was the Italian rosé we had while sitting in that restaurant. Not only was it exactly what I was craving to drink, but it was worth every single bit of effort up those 1,000 steps to the restaurant. The priceless view, enjoying three bottles of wine, while looking into my boyfriend’s eyes — it is a memory that is so pressed into my mind I will never ever forget.”
PAUL SPECK, PRESIDENT OF HENRY OF PELHAM FAMILY ESTATE WINERY, NIAGARA
“I was in Hawaii working the market with my agent who had opened up a couple of Icewine stores in the late 1990s in Honolulu. My wife, Melissa, joined me and when the few days of work were over we went to Kauai. It’s not very developed and was used when they filmed the movie Jurassic Park. It has a rain forest on one side and a desert on the other. We rented a timeshare for a few days that looked over the Pacific Ocean. I brought a bottle of 1995 Estate Chardonnay from one of the tastings I had done on the mainland. One evening, we sat on the porch and drank the wine, and I remember thinking I never thought the Niagara wine business would ever develop the type of international acclaim that would take me to a place like this! It made the wine taste all the better.”
BRAD ROYALE, SOMMELIER, AIWS, WINE DIRECTOR CANADIAN ROCKY MOUNTAIN RESORTS, CALGARY
“Andre described the new Apple store as we disembarked from our ferry ride from Tsim Sha Tsui to Central in Hong Kong. ‘Who cares?’ I said as we walked by. No reason to care as Andre, Bryan and I were on our way to his office to grab a couple bottles and hit the town. “We had been in Hong Kong for 45 minutes and the thought of visiting an Apple store was destructive to the game plan at foot … drink a few beautiful bottles of wine and then descend into Hong Kong. Adventure burned at the brain. “Andre Kok’s office was a cubicle space, situated tightly among lean staircases, tiny elevators and grippingly narrow grey hallways. A bottle of 1999 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti VosneRomanée Cuvée Duvault-Blochet was an easy steal and made for a ceremonious first drop.
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“Andre quipped there was a back alley restaurant that served stuffed chicken wings that would make a decent, if not overly casual, place for this bottle to meet our tongues. Where do you drink DRC in an alley with chicken wings? In Hong Kong. “You are almost invisible walking around Hong Kong with bottles of wine; no one cares. Glasses were brought promptly and we opened the wine ourselves. The alley was crowded with wicker chairs, cigarette smoke and neon lights, the smells and sights sticking to our faces. “The wine was superb, hard at first and then succumbing to the pleasures of being stretched … firm cherries with telltale aristocracy. The chicken wings were delicious. “The night continued, things went from clear to fuzzy. Jet lag woke me at nine a.m. A reach for my phone revealed a soggy mess; a misplaced bottle of water had successfully nourished my phone to death. “Dress was acquired; a walk through the streets and quick ferry ride gave way to the new Apple store where I sheep-
ishly purchased a new phone. Welcome to Hong Kong.”
TERRY DAVID MULLIGAN, CANADIAN ACTOR, WINE CRUSADER AND HOST OF TASTING ROOM RADIO, VANCOUVER
“The most memorable and romantic setting (for drinking a bottle of wine) is hands-down God’s Mountain, just south of Penticton in the Okanagan Valley and above the blue of Skaha Lake. It looks and feels like you’re in Greece or Sicily as you look down on the azure blue lake with a wind that carries scents of sage. “Food prepared and created by Joy Road Catering at a long, long table and holding perhaps 30 people under a line of what I thought were olive trees, surrounded by vines and a light unlike any other. That’s because at God’s Mountain, the building is made from the same white stucco that you see in all great shots of Greece. Unforgettable.” •
Every summer, gym-friend and fellow stroke survivor Silvio leaves the beauteous Lower Mainland of British Columbia and heads off to his second home in Serra d’Aiello, a community of about 500 on the equally-wondrous instep of Italy’s foot. There, in shorts, sneakers and a bright yellow Ferrari T-shirt, he soaks up the sun, rides his bike, kicks a soccer ball around with the amici of his childhood and eats the rustico food that stamps his Calabrian homeland. Indeed, it is enjoyed across regions leading all the way to the top of Italy’s boot. By Duncan Holmes Silvio’s place is a bit inland from the sea, in up-and-down terrain where farmland is scarce and it’s easier to grow pigs, goats, chickens and vegetables than it is cattle. And once you’ve grown them, you either eat everything right then and there — innards included — or find a way to preserve your harvest through the season ahead. Think great smoked meats and amazing sausage! When he goes “home,” Silvio says that his favourite taste is cabbage, plain and simple, as it seems to be in much of Italy. Steam the leaves until they’re tender, splash on some olive oil, tasty Mdeiterranean herbs, salt and pepper, and dig in. Simple ingredients, perfectly balanced with each other. It’s rustico defined, a balance of ingredients and presentation that you like to achieve in your own kitchen. Right? OK, the portly tenor singing Nessun Dorma may be missing, but you get the idea.
Of course Italian rustico isn’t all about cabbage. Italy’s warm climate, adjacency to the Mediterranean and centuries of evolution have filled the country’s tables with the colours, tastes and smells of some delizioso foods. Think minestrone, chicken cacciatore, any number of pastas and pizzas, and that killer of a dessert, tiramisu, and you’re there. Silvio and I have similar ammirazione for the first two Godfather movies. And while we talk often about the brutal ambitions of the Corleones and their like-minded enemy families, we also talk about the food of those movies: the outdoor feast for Connie’s wedding; the boys going to the mattresses and loading up with spaghetti; the classic “leave the gun, take the cannoli” decision following the elimination of a traitor in the driver’s seat of a car. Was a scrumptious, sweet treat ever as important? Rustic food, in the Godfather movies and throughout Italy, is part of the north-south landscape and one with Italy’s people. It’s not just meat, potatoes and another vegetable. Most often, it’s many plates that combine many tastes and flavours, like tossing eggplant, tomato, red onion, basil, olives and garlic together with olive oil to make a salad. Simple, but a bit different, and every ingredient from right here!
I once asked another Italian why in every pasta ad, Italian wine ad and yes, Godfather movie, there is invariably a stock shot of a large family? They’re laughing their collective heads off at a long table as they chow down on a red and white (tomato and pasta) meal under either olive trees or grape arbors? “Because that’s the way it is,” he said. “It’s one o’clock, everyone shows up on time because the food is ready, and cucina povera begins. The family, the table, it’s the meeting place — the food is served and shared from bowls and platters; there’s a two-litre fiasco of wine; it’s a time when the kid in the family gets a chance to say, ‘hey Papa, I need a new pair of shoes;’ and pre-pubescent Maria announces that she has a boyfriend! “These times together are important. Coffee and a brioche for breakfast, no snacks between meals, and when we come to the table, food is the liaison, the catalyst for communication. My mother said, ‘happy tummy, happy mind.’” What’s close to home is what’s on the table — the unsuspecting hare, the wild boar. The bounty of the home garden, up to and including all of Silvio’s precious cabbage, pair with the famous smoked meats and sausages that will see them through the winter. What’s rustic Italian food? The answer to that question is kind of like that great response of Louis Armstrong when he was asked what jazz is. Said Satchmo: “if you have to ask what jazz is, you’ll never know.” Goda del vostro pasto!
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Silence of the Lambs brought the lowly fava bean front and centre, as it did Chianti. But with or without his accoutrements, Mr Lecter would tell you that favas are a great food, and this recipe from the Academia Barilla in Parma puts them together with anchovies, a little fish that hasn’t always swum in the gastronomic mainstream, but works well in many more recipes than mere Caesar salad.
2 ¼ lb fresh shelled fava beans 2 cloves garlic, chopped 1 pinch marjoram Vinegar to taste
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 4 anchovies, desalted, deboned and chopped (optional)
1. Boil the fava beans in a medium pot of salted water until they are al dente, about five minutes, then drain.
2. Meanwhile, prepare the sauce: mix the garlic, marjoram, vinegar, olive oil
and anchovies, if desired. Season with salt and pepper, and serve with fava beans. 3. Alternatively, serve the fava beans with chopped fresh chives, oil, salt and pepper to taste.
fava beans with anchovies
Many of us have made our own versions of this rustic classic. If asked how we made it, the short answer might be that we combine chicken with some canned tomatoes, garlic and other seasonings, and cook it up. In a Food Network recipe, I discovered that there’s more to it than that.
4 chicken thighs 2 chicken breasts with skin and backbone, halved crosswise 2 tsp salt 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper ½ cup all purpose flour, for dredging 3 tbsp olive oil 1 large red bell pepper, chopped 1 onion, chopped 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped ¾ cup dry white wine 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice ¾ cup reduced-sodium chicken broth 3 tbsp drained capers 1 ½ tsp dried oregano leaves ¼ cup fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped
1. Sprinkle the chicken pieces with 1 tsp each of salt and pepper. Dredge the chicken pieces in the flour to coat lightly. In a large, heavy sauté pan, heat the oil over a medium-high flame.
2. Add the chicken pieces to the pan and sauté just until brown, about 5 minutes per side. If all the chicken does not fit in the pan, sauté it in 2 batches.
3. Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside. Add the bell pepper, onion and garlic to the
same pan and sauté over medium heat until the onion is tender, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. 4. Add the wine and simmer until reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes with their juice, broth, capers and oregano. 5. Return the chicken pieces to the pan and turn them to coat in the sauce. Bring the sauce to a simmer. Continue simmering over medium-low heat until the chicken is just cooked through, about 30 minutes for the breast pieces and 20 minutes for the thighs. 6. Using tongs, transfer the chicken to a platter. If necessary, boil the sauce until it thickens slightly, about 3 minutes. Spoon off any excess fat from atop the sauce. Spoon the sauce over the chicken, then sprinkle with basil and serve.
baked red cabbage This is a bit more elaborate than Silvio’s childhood favourite. Again, it makes the cabbage extra special. Sign up at the Academia Barilla — academiabarilla.com — and you’ll become a star with Italian rustico and much more, right in your own kitchen.
400 g red cabbage 1 tbsp plus 2 tsp vinegar 3 ½ tbsp extra virgin olive oil 2 tbsp finely chopped onion 2 large eggs 2 tbsp heavy cream ⅔ cup grated Parmigiono-Reggiano cheese 200 g mixed greens 1 tbsp plus 1 tsp balsamic vinegar (preferably from Modena) Mixed fresh herbs (optional)
1. Heat oven to 325˚F. 2. Blanch the cabbage in a pot of
boiling, salted water with a bit of vinegar. Let it cool, then roughly chop. 3. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large saucepan and sauté the onion. Add the cabbage and cook for a few minutes; let cool. 4. Mix the cabbage mixture with the eggs, cream and Parmigiano. Season with salt and pepper. 5. Transfer the mixture to individual ramekins and place them in a bain-marie, or set in a roasting pan filled with enough hot water to reach halfway up the ramekins. Bake them for about 30 minutes or until set. 6. Dress the mixed greens with the remaining oil, the balsamic vinegar and a pinch of salt. Serve with the baked cabbage and garnish with herbs.
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tiramisù You know that any recipe that starts with four egg yolks is going to be rich. And don’t forget the mascarpone!
large egg yolks plus 2 large egg whites cup plus 2 tbsp sugar 1 cup mascarpone 1 tbsp plus 2 tsp brandy (optional) 8 ladyfingers 1 cup sweetened coffee Unsweetened cocoa powder as needed
1. Beat the egg yolks with three-quarters of the sugar in a heatproof bowl until thick and pale; then set over a pan of simmering water and cook, whisking constantly, until warmed through. Remove from heat. 2. In another bowl, beat the egg whites with the remaining sugar until stiff peaks form. Stir the mascarpone into the egg yolk mixture, and then gently fold in the egg white mixture, letting it remain light and frothy. 3. Dip the ladyfingers in the sweetened coffee — add brandy if desired. Transfer 4 ladyfingers to an 8-inch glass baking dish or 4 dessert bowls — 2 ladyfingers per bowl. 4. Pour in a layer of the cream mixture, alternating with another layer of ladyfingers and ending with cream. 5. Refrigerate the tiramisù, covered, for about two hours. Top with a generous dusting of cocoa powder.
Cannoli — the plural of cannolo — originated in Sicily, gaining latter-day fame because they got a big mention in The Godfather — “leave the gun, take the cannoli.” It is a pastry dessert, a tube of fried pastry dough with a creamy filling. The tubes around which the pastry is formed are available at most kitchenware stores. They are about the size of the middle of a roll of toilet paper! (This recipe is also from the esteemed Academia Barilla in Parma.)
FOR THE PASTRY
cup plus 1 tbsp flour 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder 2 tsp unsalted butter, room temperature 1 large egg 3 ½ tsp sugar 1 tbsp Marsala wine or rum Olive oil for frying, as needed
FOR THE FILLING 250 g fresh ricotta 30 g candied fruit, roughly chopped 30 g chocolate chips or semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped 30 g pistachios, roughly chopped ½ cup sugar Icing sugar
FOR THE PASTRY
Combine the flour, cocoa, butter, egg, sugar and a pinch of salt in a bowl. Turn the mixture onto a clean work surface, add the Marsala and knead until dough is smooth. Let it rest for 30 minutes.
FOR THE FILLING
1. Strain the ricotta through a sieve into a medium bowl. Stir in the fruit, chocolate and pistachios. Wrap it in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour. Roll out the dough to 1/8 inch thick and cut it into 4-inch squares. Wrap the squares diagonally around cannoli forms. Heat oil in pan until shimmering. 2. Place the cannoli form with the dough into the hot oil and fry until golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the oil, drain on paper towels and let cool. Once the shells have cooled, remove them from the cannoli form(s). 3. Use a pastry bag to fill the cannoli with the ricotta filling, then dust with icing sugar. Serve immediately. The moist filling soon makes the dough lose its crispness. • quench.me
BY TOD STEWART
IT’S FOOD. JUST EAT IT! I’ll be honest: when it comes to social media, I’m decidedly antisocial. No Twitter. No Instagram. A moribund Facebook account. I don’t even have a cell phone (I can hear the gasps of incredulity; and yes, I do have electricity and running water) and am pretty much ignorant on the subject of texting (or other practices that rhyme with it).
AND THE MORE TIMESI have to stay stopped as the light ahead turns green while the smartphone zombie in front of me blissfully thumbs away, eyes cast lap-wards; the more times I’m cut short in mid-conversation with someone because they absolutely must stop to read and respond to The Most Important Text Message Ever; the more times I’m driven batty by the incessant buzzing, pinging and flashing of the damn things in the most inappropriate places, at the most inopportune times, the happier I am that I don’t own an iLeash or one of its pestiferous ilk. Lol (as it were). Now, before I’m written off as an old fuddy-duddy and/ or Head Weaver of the Royal Order of Luddites, it should be noted that I am not at all against the wonders of technology (though I am of a vintage that remembers when an app was something served before an entrée). What I am against is when techno gizmos cross the circuit ribbon-thin line that separates “convenience” from “distraction.” Yes, dear readers such as you could claim that one person’s distraction is another’s convenience, and it’s all a matter of perspective and that I should basically just drop it. However, doing so would leave me considerably shy of my word count. As much as I don’t want to
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come across as not being receptive to your suggestions, I’m going to have to respectfully bow out of considering opinions other than my own at this point. Would you rather be writing this? Right. Didn’t think so. So just relax. Okay, where was I? Oh, yeah … so, like, the irony of smartphones is that they aren’t used much as phones, at least as far as I can tell from the perspective of a non-addict. I mean really, talking is so landline. Instead, these “phones” are message senders/receivers. Fine and dandy, I suppose. But then some propellerhead had to come up with the bright idea of jamming in a camera, elevating mere message boxes from the realm of purely irritating to that of actually dangerous. Sure, any presumed right of personal privacy is now out the window. Whatever. The real frightening part is that the banality of some tweets now extends to all things visual. Which brings me … um, sorry, did I just hear you mutter the word “finally”? ... to the subject at hand. The “phonecam” lets people – who in many cases shouldn’t be taking pictures – take pictures (or even shoot videos) of all sorts of things they shouldn’t be taking pictures of, in places where pictures shouldn’t be taken at all. I could cite a plethora of examples
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plucked from the pages of daily newspapers, but let’s try to be original. What about, oh, I dunno, pictures of food. Taken in restaurants. And typically sent out to a host of unlucky recipients. This all-too-common practice can be grating on a few levels. First off, food photography, as any food photographer knows, is an art form. It takes good lighting, an eye for composition, expert technique, time and patience to make a food shot look appetizing. In other words, things you don’t typically encounter at your typical restaurant dinner with a typical diner. So when you take a quick phonecam shot of that spectacular ragù di anatra con tagliatelle and text it to your friends, the following conversation likely supervenes on their end: “Hey, honey, the Smiths just texted me a photo of their main course at Villa Tuscano tonight.” “Oh? What is it?” “Dunno. Maybe road kill.” “Yum. Glad we’re not there.” So if the goal of sending out these kinds of photos is to make those receiving them drool with envy and want to rush out to Villa Tuscano, you have decidedly kicked things way into the rough. And thanks to you, Villa Tuscano probably lost a few potential new customers. In fact, the whole food photo-taking-sending endeavour begs the question as to why, exactly, it’s done. This will no doubt present an interesting area of study for future behavioural scientists. Anyway, for every person who doesn’t want to receive these “feasts for the eye,” there are probably a dozen more who wish they weren’t taken in the first place. “It’s food. Just eat it,” scolded über-chef David Chang as he infamously banned diners from indulging in amateur food porn at his MomofukuKo flagship in NYC. This, of course, prompted howls of indignation from (largely) “food bloggers” as well as those armed with the lethal, “If I’m paying $200 for a &^%$#@ meal, I have the right to take a &^%$#@ picture of it! Humph!” logic bomb. (Yeah, and if I’m spending $200 for a &^%$#@ meal, I have the right to stand on my chair and crow like a &^%$#@ rooster. But just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should do it.) See, there’s a distinction between taking a quick, non-invasive photo and crowing like a rooster, or being intrusive with your camera. It all comes down to the annoyance factor. And maybe the difference between being mildly affected and totally bonkers. “If the flash is off it doesn’t bother me,” says Steven Davey, someone who has no doubt seen plenty of this kind of thing (possibly including crowing like a rooster) as restaurant critic for Toronto’s NOW Magazine. This seems to be at the centre of the issue. You are entitled to do almost anything, anywhere (within the limits of the law and good taste), so long as your indulgence isn’t annoying/grossing out those around you. This is called having manners which, admittedly, seems to be falling out of favour these days. Ask Danny McCallum, Executive Chef at Toronto’s upscale Jacobs & Co. Steakhouse, if you want proof. “We do tableside Caesar salads,” he informs. “The makers are constantly having their picture taken without being asked, and I know some of them really don’t like it, and, in fact, refuse to have
it taken. Sometimes things get out of control with big cameras and flashes, but mostly it’s OK.” Mostly… Photographing restaurant staff, other diners, etc. without consent? No way. Hauling out a DSLR the size of shoebox and turning your table into a mini photo studio? Forget it. Using a camera with the flash on in a restaurant? Not particularly welcome by others. But handled with some tact, there shouldn’t be a problem in snapping a quickie or two. Some restaurants have actually been known to help patrons get good photos of their meals without interfering with the wellbeing of others. And some restaurants serve food that pretty much asks to be photographed.
Anyway, for every person who doesn’t want to receive these “feasts for the eye,” there are probably a dozen more who wish they weren’t taken in the first place. David Wolffe who, along with wife Donna, runs The Caledonian, an authentic Scottish Pub and Restaurant in Toronto, sees many a foodie shutterbug. “Yes, we get lots of people taking food shots,” he admits. “Our take is hopefully it is in good jest, as we serve what some would deem to be odd food.” I suppose if you’re serving beer battered pickles and deepfried Mars bars you kind of are begging for the cameras. Then there’s the matter of the traditional Scottish stuffed sheep’s gut. “Hey, honey, the Smiths just texted me a photo of their main course at The Caledonian tonight.” “Oh? What is it?” “Dunno. Maybe, um, guts ….” Remember, just because you can …. •
I ENJOY A GOOD BEER. It’s always been the go-to beverage when I’m out with friends. What I’ve only recently learned is that craft beer has nuances and flavours, like those of fine wine. I’ve always bought the name brands — Keith’s, Heineken or Corona — mostly because I just never knew which craft beers I’d like. So it only makes sense to have a beer tasting. Tasting a variety of bottles — and better still, learning what it is in those frothy glasses that I love — gives me something I can actually take out with me when browsing the beer aisle. The question is, how do I host a beer tasting? As with any new and exciting undertaking, it’s best to approach it one step at a time ... And ask for some expert advice. My advice comes from three people who have explored the nuances of beer and enjoyed every second. Crystal Luxmore, a familiar name in Quench, is a Toronto-based beer writer, editor, Certified Cicerone and Prud’homme Beer Sommelier; Roger Mittag, also known as the Professor of Beer, runs the Prud’homme Beer Certification program and founded Thirst for Knowledge Inc., Canada’s leading beer education company; and Tracy Phillippi, the Marketing and Communication Coordinator for Garrison Brewing Company, a home brewer and a craft beer fanatic. Now that the introductions are over, let’s get down to business.
WHO, WHERE AND WHEN
Who, where and when are the important questions at this juncture. I can’t really help you with the when — though I can suggest you do it on a Friday or Saturday evening, just in case things get … rowdy. Nor can I tell you WHO to invite, just how many. Keep the group small. “Try to stay around 12 people,” suggests Mittag. You want to be able to seat everyone and keep conversation flowing. Too many and the volume level will be too high to easily discuss each sample as a group. As for where: “the best thing, quite honestly, is to make sure there is good light so that people can really observe the beer,” says Mittag.
Now we move on to what. If this is your first time hosting a beer tasting, try a sample of styles from small breweries. “Most people want to try the basics and learn the difference,” says Luxmore. You’ll need to narrow down your selection to a small enough sample that your guests can enjoy the evening and still identify the nuances of flavour in the glass. “I like to work with eight to 10 different beers,” says Mittag. “Anything more than that will saturate your taste buds and you won’t pick up the details on the last few.” The five styles that Mittag, Luxmore and Phillippi all agreed should be included in a first-time tasting are: Pilsner, British Pale Ale, Belgian Wit, German Wheat Beer and Porter or dark Lager. For the remaining styles, they suggest you pick from India Pale Ale, Saison, Stout, fruit beer, bitter or brown. “I like to throw in something different people don’t expect, like a sour beer,” adds Luxmore. She usually points wine drinkers to Old Brown or Flemish red, which have a lot of notes similar to a wine. “My tastings primarily centre around Nova Scotia craft beer (and Ontario craft beer when I was in Toronto, and Wisconsin craft beer when I’m home),” states Phillippi. She ends with a strong speciality
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beer, to finish with a kick. Phillippi also suggests having a “starter beer” because people, “start to get antsy if they are attending a ‘beer party’ and are not handed a beer when they arrive.” Try something light and easy on the palate, like a Pilsner or a Coles Lager, for the reception, suggests Luxmore.
Avoid serving a meal during the tasting itself. “If you want to really notice the flavours [in the beer], it’s best to keep the food off the table because the smells will interfere,” states Luxmore. However, you should always have something for your guests to nibble on. You’ll need, at minimum, something available to cleanse the palate. Mittag suggests having unsalted crackers on the table for guests to use as a palate cleanser. “Beer and cheese go very well together,” says Phillippi. “The carbonation in beer scrubs your palate and allows you to taste the subtle flavours and fat of cheese.” Luxmore agrees, “I love tasting beer and cheese together … I think it’s really mind blowing.”
The how is up to the space you have available and the furniture at your disposal. When it comes to the table, you could have a round table set up with the glasses; a buffet style with a table along the wall and comfortable chairs for seating; or a U set-up with yourself in the middle to host. “I always set people up in a circle with a table in the middle. It’s very approachable and makes everyone feel equally involved,” says Phillippi. Mittag, when he’s hosting formal tastings, likes using the U formation so that he can work with every person there. However you choose to set up your table, “try to keep it social, because beer is a social experience,” says Luxmore.
Like wine, beer shows best in a specific style of glass. Some companies, like Final Touch, offer a beer tasting set with glasses sized for this occasion. But wine glasses will do. “Each style of beer has a different glass that it should be served in, which most people don’t own,” says Phillippi. “I suggest red wine glasses because it allows you to swirl the beer and release the aromas. For non-beer drinkers, I think this also restores a little bit of classiness to the beer.” If you have a collection of red and white wine glasses, even better. According to Luxmore, lighter beers should be served in white wine glasses — the shape concentrates the aromas for a better tasting experience; and darker beers served in a red wine glass, which will open up the aromas. If you still don’t have enough glasses for everyone, because let’s face it, not all of us have 96 wine glasses — which is how many you will need for a 12 person tasting of eight different styles — you can always wash the glasses in between tastings. Or allow guests to rinse the glass. Mittag suggests serving beer in a wet glass. “To prime your glass for a rich head, rinse it in cold water just before you pour.” Alternatively, if you prefer not to wash dishes, pick up those tiny plastic wine glasses. They are actually the perfect size for a
BY LISA HOEKSTRA
tasting, since you’re only supposed to have two to three ounces per beer. You can always warn your guests that the plastic glasses aren’t optimal and provide them with one wine glass for when the tasting is done, so they can taste their favourites afterward.
At the very least, have enough paper and pens for each guest in case they wish to take notes. “It helps if you provide people with an opportunity to record their observations, but this is totally dependent on the group,” says Mittag. “A lot of people just want to try different things and have some fun, and that is really the important part.” Alternatively, you could create tasting note sheets. On the sheet, make sections for look, smell, taste and second taste. Include the notes from the label and producer so guests can compare and have a basis for their tasting experience. “I always bring tasting sheets for people,” adds Phillippi. “I also offer several suggestions for each category because people often need suggestions in order to identify the flavour or aroma they are sensing.” She suggests offering a one or two sentence description of each beer on the sheet itself. That way people can compare what they’re sensing with what the producer says should be there.
Don’t pour the beer until it’s time to taste. Pouring too soon will allow the key aromas to escape from the glass and prevent a full tasting experience. “I pour one sample at a time and bring it out,” says Phillippi. “The aroma (and sometimes head retention) dissipates very quickly, so I want people to focus on that beer when it’s freshly poured.” In addition to the aromas and head, the appearance of the beer will change as it airs out. “To really appreciate a beer, you need to have it freshly poured,” says Mittag. “That way, you can get a good perspective on the appearance ... the aromas and flavours. If you pre-pour, the head will dissipate and it will look terrible.” Temperature also plays a very important part in a beer tasting. As with wine, the aromatics and flavours will change depending on the warmth or coolness of the beer. “Even a lager and a wheat beer should be out of the fridge for at least 10 to 15 minutes,” Luxmore goes on to say. “Some high gravity (alcohol) beers with caramel and chocolate notes taste nice at cellar temperature,” says Phillippi. She points out that most brewers will suggest a serving temperature on the label. In contrast, Mittag suggests enjoying each sample at a slightly warmer temperature. “I take my beer out of the fridge at least 45 minutes before I start,” he states. To him, sampling the beer too cold is a big faux pas for beginner tasters. When pouring, you should keep the samples between three to six ounces. “Everyone drinks at a different pace and a full 12 ounce beer sample will create a very distracted group of people,” says Phillippi. Keep the remaining bottles on the table for guests to enjoy afterwards. The trick to pouring? Always pour with an inch or two of head. “Aside from great appearance, foam allows all of the wonderful aromas to leave the beer and go to you,” says Mittag.
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The head also protects the beer, preventing the oxygen from getting in and the carbonation from getting out. This keeps the beer fresh for longer. When pouring, tilt your glass to a 45 degree angle, Phillippi advises. “When the glass is half full, slowly tilt upwards and pour directly down the middle. This will give you the perfect head retention.” That works for all beer except one. German Wheat beers have yeast in them that needs to be included in the glass to open up the aromas, says Luxmore. To do this, you pour three quarters of the bottle into the tasting glasses, then swirl the remaining liquid around to get the yeast worked up. Then you pour the yeastfilled beer into the glasses to top them off.
All of your preparations are complete and the fun begins — the tasting! Taste the beers in order from lightest to heaviest in alcohol. “Colours are not always a marker for intensity,” says Luxmore. “It can be darker in colour but lighter in flavour.” However Phillippi and Mittag state that you can go by colour with the IPA at the end. Take for example the beers suggested earlier: Lager/ Pilsner, Pale Ale, Saison, Bitter or Brown, Belgian Wit, German Wheat Beer, Stout, Porter, India Pale Ale and ending with a strong, specialty beer. When in doubt, use the alcohol percentage as your marker for order. There is room for error, though you don’t want to overwhelm the senses at the beginning — which is why you go lighter to heavier in flavour. Once the beer is in the glass, you want to go through the motions, so to speak. Smell it first and note the different aromas in the glass. THEN look at it and mark down colour, clarity and head. Follow that up with a taste — take the time to analyse the different flavours in the mouth. And then do a second taste; you’ll get different sensations in the mouth both times. “I usually keep smelling throughout the tasting,” says Luxmore. The aromas change as the head dissipates and the carbonation escapes. This will change the experience in the mouth. Any one sample could merit a third and fourth taste, though you’ll want to caution guests to take it slow. They can re-taste it at the end if they want. “Slow down and start thinking about where you might have smelled or tasted that particular item before,” says Mittag. Encourage your guests to share their observations. Discuss each sample and make sure they know that there is no right or wrong answer. “Everyone experiences beers differently and no one is wrong!” says Phillippi. She suggests encouraging guests to think about what their experience is in terms of the memory it evokes, if they can’t describe it with specific characteristics. “Think of a memory ... Grandma’s chocolate chip cookies, farm fields, etc.” It’s not about the beer in the glass so much as the experience it invokes and the discussion you have. With the right people and the right atmosphere, you will discover that every style lends itself to more than just the flavours and aromas; it becomes an evening of friendship. As for me, I’ll be tasting as many craft beers as possible so that the next time I’m out on the town, I can order with confidence and class. •
finding an alternative\\
WHAT IF YOU COULD FIND AN ALTERNATIVE WINE,which would offer you as much, or even more, than your usual choice of Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio? There is a grape variety that would match up perfectly with spring’s bounty of asparagus, fiddleheads or artichokes. My choice would be for the fresh and complex style of Grüner Veltliner from Austria. What does it taste like? Well, it’s crisp with herbaceous notes and a slight hint of white pepper on the finish, and it tends to be a light- to medium-bodied dry wine. (You wouldn’t want to serve a heavy-bodied, high-alcohol white wine with, let’s say, asparagus.) Some people may have a little difficulty pronouncing Grüner Veltliner, so it was sometimes called “GruVe.” These wines pair well with Chinese cuisine such as Peking duck, or with curries, seafood salads and of course Austria’s famous wiener schnitzel; it is also ideal with chicken or smoked meats and fish. The grape is now grown on a small scale in British Columbia, California, Oregon, Washington State, Maryland and Virginia, as well as Australia. But home sweet home is Austria. The Danube River runs through the regions of Wachau, Weinviertel, Kamptal and Kremstal, where most of it grows — located in the northeastern corner of the country. Grüner Veltliner accounts for 30 percent of all Austrian plantings and is grown in a climate that is well suited to this fresh, aromatic wine. These vineyards are on the same latitude as Burgundy and, surprisingly, their area is only half the size of Bordeaux. The clay and loam soil imparts creaminess and length into these tasty wines, while Grüner Veltliner grapes are grown on granite and slate soil, giving them their minerality and zip. Be sure to chill your bottle prior to drinking.
MATTER OF TASTE
BY SHEILA SWERLING-PURITT
WINZER KREMS GRÜNER VELTLINER “13ER” 2012 ($12.95)
Medium-bodied, well-balanced acidity with a subtle finish of spice, light herbs and some minerality.
GROONER GRÜNER VELTLINER 2013 ($14) Bone-dry; tropical fruit notes with crisp balanced acidity.
EDITION CHREMISA GRÜNER VELTLINER 2012 ($24.95)
Luscious and full-bodied with lots of extract; long, opulent finish with the typical peppery minerality and mild spiciness.
DÜRNBERG GV RABENSTEIN DAC RESERVE 2011 ($22.95)
Good extract. Spice on the palate with a long mineral finish.
RABL GRÜNER VELTLINER KITTMANNSBERG 2012 ($14.95)
Medium-bodied, dry; excellent structure; spice with some stone fruit notes and minerality on the finish.
LAURENZ V GRÜNER VELTLINER FRIENDLY 2012 ($18.95) Soft stone fruit; juicy palate with a touch of spiciness, white pepper and good acidity.
SALOMON GROOVY GRÜNER VELTLINER 2013 ($13.95) Very long finish with good acidity; will age well. •
the mav notes\\ 91 MCWILLIAM’S MOUNT PLEASANT ELIZABETH SÉMILLON 2006, HUNTER VALLEY, AUSTRALIA ($20) Hunter Valley Sémillon is one of the world’s most unique and exciting wines when released with some bottle age like the McWilliam’s. Classic aromas of smoke, lanolin, grapefruit, cut straw and lemon evolve even as you swirl the glass. The palate shows refreshing Meyer lemon, lime and passion fruit in a perfectly dry, yet brilliantly vibrant, style. (RV)
90 13TH STREET MERLOT 2012, ONTARIO ($17.95) The best Merlot I’ve tasted from this winery. Deep purple colour with a nose of blueberries and blackberries, plums, smoke and a touch of vanilla oak. Dry, full-bodied, full and round with juicy acidity and velvety tannins; wonderfully ripe and clean fruit aspect here coupled with good structure and overall balance. Drinking well now, although will also reward holding for 2 to 4 years. (TA)
93 FOREIGN AFFAIR GRAN Q 2010, NIAGARA ($150) This is Foreign Affair owner Len Crispino’s dedication to Giuseppe Quintarelli (now deceased), Valpolicella’s most famous maker of Amarone wines. It is one of the biggest wines I have tasted from Niagara, made from grapes (Cab Franc, Cab Sauv and Merlot) dried for an average 90 days. The nose is astonishing; gobs of blackcurrant compote, rich, thick cassis, leather, graphite and sweet spices. The whopping 17.5% alcohol on the palate is backed up by luxurious, sweet and complex dark fruits, well-defined tannins and an array of spices that echo on the finish. Drink heartily, but serve with grilled red meat. (RV)
The Macallan 1824 Series Amber 40%, Scotland ($99.99)
Uncovers fine oak sensations on the nose with almost peppery spiciness, white chocolate, dried citrus, banana and hints of stone fruit. Rich, full and smooth on the palate in the traditional Macallan mold with subtle peatiness, oak and lightly fiery spirit on the finish. (SW)
94 Berthet-Rayne Cairanne 2011, France ($23.33)
Blending 6 southern Rhône varietals results in this interesting and versatile food wine. Solid gold in colour, smelling of pears, peaches and a hint of cumin. A ton of fruit, especially peaches, on the palate makes it seem slightly sweet, but it is nicely balanced with acidity and a flint edge on the finish. Will drink well over the next 2 years. Best with flavourful foods like chicken souvlaki with wild-grain rice and sautéed chard with garlic and anchovies. (RL)*
92 Chapoutier Les Bécasses 2010, Côte-Rôtie, Rhône Valley, France ($80) Ruby purplish. Beautiful Syrah nose of red fruits, smoke, black olives; refinement is the main theme. Seductive and elegant on the palate, it is delicious. The very long finish leaves a lasting sweet, smoky aftertaste. (GBQc)
89 Triacca Chianti Classico ‘Bello Stento’ DOCG 2012, Tuscany, Italy ($25) Bright and flavourful; pure cherry and raspberry with a savoury quality, hints of tobacco, liquorice and mineral. Elegant and persistent, lingering with fruit and mineral, and balanced acidity. The perfect Tuesday-night pizza wine. (GB)
90 Bodegas Valsacro Dioro Rioja 2005, Rioja, Spain ($32.95)
An unusual blend from Rioja (40% Grenache, 40% Syrah, 20% Carignan). Deep ruby colour with a spicy, black-cherry nose and evident oak; dry, full-bodied with richly expressive fruit (cherry, plum flavours with chocolate notes) carried on lively acidity. Lovely mouthfeel. (TA)
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BY JONATHAN SMITHE
YOU MUST HAVE OVERDONEit once or twice in your lifetime. Well I have definitely done it on several occasions. Whether it is an overdose of food or drink, I’ve found one thing always gets me back on my feet. Fernet Branca is an Italian herbal liqueur with a very amaro (bitter) edge. It’s this strong (both in taste and in alcohol, 39%) bite that makes this a cure all drink. Bitters have long been known to have some regenerative benefits. In fact, some pharmacists used to administer a dose of bitters when ever you came in with a stomach ache. Fernet is best served ice cold. The high alcohol kick will be dulled and you’ll be able to enjoy the deep, sweet, spicy notes. But if you really want to cured of that upset stomach then you’ll have to open a can of cola. I originally got this recipe when I was working in a bar, oh so many years ago.
FERNET AND COLA
2 oz Fernet Branca Ice Cola 1 lime wedge Pour the Fernet into a Highball glass. Fill the glass up with ice and top with the cola. Drop the lime wedge in and be cured. Take your time though. Remember excess is how you got into this mess. •
HE WAS INTRODUCED TO MEas the “Gelato Man of San Gimignano” and is considered by many to be the best gelato maker in the world. But 32 years ago in Germany, Sergio Dondoli owned two restaurants, while his brother-in-law owned a gelato shop. It was jealousy that prompted Dondoli to abandon the restaurants to try his hand at gelato-making, primarily because his brother-in-law was able to take six months holiday each year versus Dondoli’s three. From the onset, Dondoli had a desire to be different, to create flavours that no one else was making. But his first experiments resulted in “bad gelato” (his words). He purchased a book by Sicilian gelato master Luca Caviezel and after some persistence, found himself apprenticing with Caviezel. Under Caviezel, Dondoli says he learned technique and the knowledge of both the chemical and physical aspects of every ingredient. Most importantly, Dondoli learned to use the ingredients in their context and how the technique would transform the ingredients. In 1992, Dondoli set up shop in the main square of the walled medieval Tuscan hill town of San Gimignano. His creative flavours, gregarious personality and ridiculously delicious gelato attracted the attention of everyone from local priests to the Florence football club to international celebrities and politicians. He counts former British Prime Minister Tony Blair as not only a good customer but a personal friend. Quite simply, Dondoli’s gelato is amazing. He excels at the traditional flavours such as fior di latte, pistacchio, stracciatella and nocciola. He is renowned for his chocolate gelato. In fact, he recounts that in 1993, he won the title of best chocolate gelato in competitions in Rome, Rimini and Milan. In Milan, two friends of the gelato-maker, tired of losing competition after
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BY GURVINDER BHATIA
competition to him, both submitted Dondoli’s gelato as their own. The three finished with the first, second and third prizes all using Dondoli’s gelato. Dondoli actually makes 33 different flavours of chocolate gelato using several crus, including the award-winning Amedei, and serves them during “cocoa week,” which, he says, is generally the week before Easter. Where his passion, curiosity and creativity excel is in his unique flavours, for several of which he holds registered trademarks. Curva Fiesole (ricotta and bilberry), Venere Nera (blackberry and lavender), Champelmo (pink grapefruit and sparkling wine), Crema di Santa Fina (saffron and pine nut cream) and Rosemary Baby (raspberry and rosemary) all possess incredible balance and purity of flavour. His Zabaione di Vin Santo is remarkably light with intense flavour penetration. Dondoli credits his grandmother with the technique of frothing the eggs to achieve the beautiful texture that effortlessly glides across the palate. He definitely has a sixth sense for creating flavours and works with many chefs locally and internationally on special events and dinners. Dondoli makes it very clear that good gelato cannot be created without quality ingredients. He uses organic, nonpasteurized cow’s milk 90 percent of the time. When asked if using raw milk makes a significant difference in the flavour of the gelato, Dondoli gets serious and responds, “it does if you know the taste of real milk.” The first of his gelati that caught my attention was served at a dinner the night before I visited him in his shop. The cagliata di pecorino, made with sheep curds, had an amazing creamy texture and subtle flavours of rosemary and sage resulting from the diet of the local sheep.
Word-of-mouth has certainly assisted in growing his business ... winning countless competitions, including the Gelato World Championship (twice), hasn’t hurt. In the two hours I spent in his small shop on a chilly February afternoon, there were never fewer than a half-dozen customers. At the height of summer, Dondoli estimates he easily serves 2,000 to 3,000 customers a day, which definitely helps with turnover. In high season, Dondoli will have almost 40 flavours available, and with his production team of four, will make each flavour every day to ensure freshness. He says the quality of gelato is compromised if it sits for more than a couple of days. With his steady stream of gelato-holics, idle scoops are not a big concern. Dondoli no longer enters competitions, but instead is on the judging team for the World Championships. He considers himself the “gelato ambassador” of the world. He draws a clear distinction between artisan and industrial producers. In Italy, Dondoli says that of the more than 35,000 gelato shops, less than 3 percent are artisanal. The public often can’t differentiate because they are “too used to drinking Coca-Cola” (obvious parallels exist in the wine industry). But Dondoli insists that once the consumer gets exposed to great-quality artisan gelato, the differences become clear to them.
GELATO MAN SERGIO DONDOLI
Dondoli is often invited to culinary schools to teach the art of gelato production and does some consulting (“I cost a lot”). His next project is to open Teatro Gelato (theatre of gelato) in San Gimignano to show people how gelato is made. His passion and drive are clearly in good health as is his curiosity to continue learning. Looking to the future, his dream is to have his son (29 years old and a chef ) enter and ultimately take over the business. I asked if he was getting the six-months-a-year holidays he was hoping for. With a wicked grin, he replied that he hasn’t taken a day off in years and wouldn’t have it any other way. •
//the food notes 92 CAPEZZANA CARMIGNANO BARCO REALE DI CARMIGNANO DOCG 2010, TUSCANY, ITALY ($48) 88 KACABA PROPRIETOR’S SELECT SYRAH 2011, NIAGARA ESCARPMENT ($29.95) The Syrah leans towards the wilder side of the grape: hickory smoke, game, leather, herbs, cassis and spice, or in other words, the good stuff! Medium-weight and elegant, the palate is soft with cassis fruit and violets adding complexity. There is very good length, and it is ready to drink. Serve with pepper, herb and red wine marinated quail or duck breast. (ES)
92 Konzelmann Estate Winery Vidal Icewine 2010, Niagara ($65)
This Icewine has started to reveal mature notes of caramel, alongside the dried apricots, peach compote, spice and honey. Full-bodied and super rich, the acidity is on the low side, so chill it well and drink with a terrine of foie gras. (ES)
90 Rockway Vineyards Small Lot Block 12-110 Chardonnay Wild Ferment 2012, Twenty Mile Bench, Ontario ($19.95)
This impressive Chardonnay spent 10 months fermenting au naturel. This has produced an impressive bouquet of cream, pear, apple, spice, coconut, honey and cream. There is density on the palate, a slight sweetness, a creamy texture and a spice-driven finale. I should also add that there is a slight high tone of VA, thanks to the natural ferment factor, which adds complexity. Drink over the next 3 years, preferably with lobster or Alaskan king crab with drawn butter. (ES)
90 Tour des Gendres Cuvée des Conti 2012, Bergerac Sec, Southwest, France ($17.20)
Bright pale yellow. A light floral touch hits your nostrils first, followed by citrus, white peach, tropical fruits, dried herbs and a soft mineral note. Generous fat texture; the middle palate is chiselled by acidity and an intense flavour leading to a long, full finish. This wine will pair perfectly with smoked salmon. (GBQc)
The Macallan 1824 Series Sienna 43%, Scotland ($174.99)
Darker and richer in colour than its stablemates and more austere, though with more depth and complexity on the nose. Powerful and richly fruity on the palate, with a panoply of dried fruits, spicy sensations and fiery, peaty notes on the long finish. A splendid whisky. One to contemplate after dinner. (SW)
54 // May/June 2014
Beautiful aromas and flavours of black and red berries, earth and spice, with great structure. Firm yet well-integrated tannins, a caressing texture and long, complex finish. Great with wild boar. (GB)
TREE BREWING CAPTIVATOR DOPPELBOCK, BRITISH COLUMBIA ($6.25/650 ML) This German-style double bock lager took home a gold at the 2013 Canadian Brewing Awards — and it’s a gem. Deep ruby red with notes of booze, brown sugar, toffee and hazelnut, it’s the ultimate dessert beer, or a frontporch-under-the-stars sipper. Pair with sticky toffee pudding or maple walnut ice cream. (CL)
50 shades of grey\\
I LIKE TO SET GOALS FOR MYSELF,and this year I’ve decided to embrace the real Nancy: I’m letting my hair go grey. I’ve been inspired by celebrities who are following the natural route, what I like to call the Great Grey Way. Take Diane Keaton, for instance. I have no idea what she was singing about at the Golden Globes because I was mesmerized by her silken waterfall of silver, grey and blonde hair. I can’t keep track of what product Jamie Lee Curtis is selling because all I can think about are those sassy grey spikes on top of her head. And Helen Mirren is positively elegant with that halo of soft platinum hair. Even youngsters like Pink, Lady Gaga and Kelly Osbourne have tapped into the trend, although heaven only knows why anyone would deliberately aspire to look like her great-grandmother. I was 21 when the first grey strand appeared. I’m not sure what happened after that, because I’ve had a standing appointment with my hair stylist ever since. But no more. I look at it this way — going grey is a statement, but not a permanent one. I have Lady Clairol’s phone number on speed dial should I start morphing into Lily Munster. Meanwhile, I’ve been experimenting in the kitchen. And these, my friends, are the results.
BEEF TACOS SERVES 4 TO 6
I’m a fan of Mexican food but not a fan of salty pre-packaged taco seasonings. This recipe is a great blend of spices and faster than fast food. This recipe calls for 3 different types of chili powder, each of which adds a layer of flavour. I keep chili powder — and all red spices for that matter — in the fridge.
lb ground beef small onion, minced
+ Search through a wide range of wine-friendly recipes on quench.me
BY NANCY JOHNSON
Taco Mix: 2 1 1 1 1 1 1
1/2 1/2 1
tsp chili powder tsp sweet paprika tsp Ancho chili powder tsp chipotle chili powder tsp garlic powder tsp onion powder tsp oregano tsp sea salt tsp cumin tbsp flour
1 package taco shells, warmed according to package directions Taco condiments: Shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, shredded cheese, sour cream
In a large skillet, brown beef and onion. Stir in taco mix and 2/3 cups water. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer uncovered 3 minutes. Serve in shells with condiments. …… Nothing works better than a frosty mug of Mexican beer. For frosty mugs, rinse beer mugs with cold water and store in the freezer.
ORZO WITH HAM AND PEAS SERVES 4
Note to self: no more 9-lb Easter hams. This recipe is a result of having too much of a good thing. The egg yolk lends this dish a creamy richness.
1 1 1 1
cup uncooked orzo tbsp olive oil tbsp butter sweet onion (such as Vidalia), diced
cloves garlic, minced 1/4 cup white wine 1/2 cup heavy cream 1/3 cup chicken broth 1 cup frozen peas 2 cups diced ham 1 egg yolk 1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano Chives, snipped
1. Cook orzo according to package directions. 2. In a large skillet, melt butter with olive oil.
Sauté onion until softened. Add garlic and cook 1 minute longer. 3. Add cooked orzo, stirring to coat 1 minute. Stir in wine; bring to a boil, lower heat and let reduce about 1 to 2 minutes. 4. Add cream, chicken broth, peas and ham. Simmer over medium heat, uncovered, about 5 minutes or until peas and ham are cooked through. 5. Remove from heat; stir in egg yolk, cheese, salt and pepper. Garnish with chives. Serve immediately. …… Riesling is a very nice match with the salty ham.
PASTA SALAD WITH PEPPERONI SERVES 6
I love pasta salad for dinner, but it never seems to have enough dressing on it. I’ve solved this problem by making the vinaigrette twice — once to dress the salad and again later to pass at the dinner table. I also cut the vegetables to about the same size so no one ingredient stands out. I call it “diced” in the recipe, but the chef’s term is “brunoise” — meaning the veggies are cut to about 1/8 inch size. And finally, I let guests add the cheese at the table, since most cheeses do not do well sitting in a vinaigrette.
1 1 1 3 1
package rotini, cooked cup mini pepperoni sweet red pepper, diced stalks celery, diced cup minced red onion 1/2 cup sliced green olives Pasta Salad Vinaigrette (recipe follows) 3 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and sliced 1 cup diced cherry tomatoes Paprika, for garnish Shredded mozzarella cheese
1. In a large bowl, toss rotini, pepperoni, red
pepper, celery, onion and green olives. Pour vinaigrette over salad and refrigerate 1 to 4 hours. 2. To serve, arrange sliced eggs around edge, mound tomatoes in the centre and dust all with paprika. …… Pinot Grigio is a nice match.
56 // May/June 2014
GRILLED STEAK SANDWICHES WITH HORSEY SAUCE SERVES 4
We never had sandwiches for dinner when I was growing up. My mom believed in a sit-down dinner every evening — meat, veggie and starch plus canned peaches for dessert. Sometimes I have to remind myself that a grilled steak sandwich is a most suitable main course, especially in the summer.
cup low-sodium soy sauce cup balsamic vinegar 1 tbsp brown sugar 1 tsp thyme leaves ¼ tsp pepper 1 flank steak (1 1/4 lb) 8 slices sourdough bread 1 small red onion, sliced 1 beefsteak tomato, sliced Horsey Sauce (recipe follows)
1. Mix soy sauce, vinegar, brown sugar, thyme and pepper in a large zip-top bag. Add steak, turning to coat. Refrigerate 1 hour.
2. Remove steak from marinade. Discard marinade. 3. Grill steak covered for 12 to 15 minutes until medium
rare, turning once. About 5 minutes before steak is done, grill bread on both sides. 4. Slice steak diagonally across the grain. Top 4 slices of bread with steak, onion, tomato and remaining bread. Pass Horsey Sauce.
Stir together equal parts mayonnaise and sour cream. Add prepared horseradish to taste. …… Sitting outside with friends under the azure sky and enjoying this sandwich with a glass of Zinfandel — what could be better?
HONEY HOISIN CHICKEN THIGHS SERVES 4 TO 6
Sticky goodness. Chicken thighs are juicy and economical. When on sale, they are a great bargain, so stock up. I use an All-Clad reduction pot to reduce and thicken the sauce. If your sauce doesn’t thicken, add a bit of cornstarch mixed with cold water, bring to a boil and remove from heat.
1/2 1/2 1/2 2
1/4 1 4
cup lower-sodium soy sauce cup orange juice cup hoisin sauce tbsp balsamic vinegar cup honey tsp Sriracha sauce, or to taste large or 6 small bone-in skinless chicken thighs
1. In a large zip-top plastic bag, combine the soy sauce, orange
PASTA SALAD VINAIGRETTE Make the vinaigrette twice — once to dress the salad and a second version to pass at the table. The Seasoning Mix makes a little over 4 tbsp — enough for both.
tbsp Pasta Salad Vinaigrette Seasoning Mix (recipe below) cup cider vinegar tbsp fresh lemon juice cup canola oil
In a medium bowl, whisk seasoning mix, vinegar and lemon juice. Whisk in canola oil.
PASTA SALAD VINAIGRETTE SEASONING MIX 1 tbsp garlic powder 1 tbsp onion powder 1 tbsp sugar 1 tbsp dried oregano 1 tbsp dried sweet red and green peppers, minced (optional) 1 tsp dried basil 3/4 tsp black pepper ½ tsp dried thyme ½ tsp kosher salt ¼ tsp celery salt
In a small bowl, mix spice ingredients well.
juice, hoisin, vinegar, honey and Sriracha sauce. Add chicken; seal and turn to coat. Marinate 4 hours, turning occasionally. 2. Preheat oven to 350˚F. 3. Remove chicken from marinade. Reserve marinade. 4. Coat a wire rack and baking sheet with cooking spray. Transfer chicken to rack and place on baking sheet. Bake chicken, uncovered, 1 hour or until cooked through and tender, turning after 30 minutes. 5. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, bring reserved marinade to a full boil over medium heat. Boil gently for 10 minutes. Brush chicken with sauce during last 15 minutes of cooking. Serve additional sauce on the side. …… I serve this with one of my favourites — a spicy Gewürztraminer.
FRENCH SILK PIE This has to be one of the fluffiest, melt-in-your-mouth, over-the-top chocolate pie recipes in the world. While the original recipe used raw egg, today’s baker seeks out the freshest pasteurized eggs available and makes the pie the same day.
Pastry for single-crust pie, baked at 450˚F for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden and cooked through.
cup sugar cup butter 100 g unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled 1 1/2 tsp vanilla 3 pasteurized eggs Sweetened whipped cream
1. In mixer bowl, cream sugar and butter until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Blend in cooled chocolate and vanilla. Add pasteurized eggs, one at a time, beating for 2 minutes after each addition. 2. Pour into baked pie shell. Chill overnight. Garnish with whipped cream. …… Excellent with a Vidal Icewine or strong black coffee laced with Kahlua. • quench.me
the notes\\ OUR SCORING
EACH WINE IS JUDGED ON ITS OWN MERITS, in its respective category. Readers should open their palates to compare the relationship between quality and price. We’d also ask you to carefully study the commentaries in order to get an idea of whether the wine might appeal to your taste. The prices listed are suggested retail prices and may vary from province to province. Since a large number of these wines can be purchased across Canada, check with your local liquor board, or its website, for availability. Our tasters are Tony Aspler, Sean Wood, Gilles Bois, Evan Saviolidis, Harry Hertscheg, Gurvinder Bhatia, Rick VanSickle, Ron Liteplo, Tod Stewart, Crystal Luxmore and Jonathan Smithe.
/ARGENTINA / 88 Trivento Amado Sur 2012, Mendoza ($16.99)
An interesting blend of Malbec, Bonarda and Syrah. The result is a pleasingly rounded, complex and nicely balanced wine with generously ripe fruit, supple tannins, good length and a harmoniously integrated finish. (SW)
/AUSTRALIA / 92 Mountadam Estate Chardonnay 2009, Eden Valley ($24.95)
If you are willing to spend $25 on an Australian Chardonnay,
58 // May/June 2014
buy this one, because it’s amazing. Straw colour with a hint of green, it has a spicy, toasty nose; it’s full on the palate with richly extracted flavours of peach and pineapple backed by vanilla oak. It’s one of the best Chardonnays I’ve tasted from Australia. (TA)
88 Wyndham Estate Chardonnay 2012, Southeastern Australia ($13.99)
Ripe citrus with subtle buttery and vanilla spiciness on the nose. Lively citrus flavours backed up with well-balanced acidity and a delicate touch of buttery spice on the clean, crisp finish. (SW)
QUENCH USES THE 100-POINT SCALE 95-100 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 90-94. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 85-89 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 80-84. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 75-79. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70 & under. . . . . . . . . . .
exceptional excellent very good good acceptable below average
* . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . available through wine clubs green. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . white & rosé wines red. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . red wines
93 Dandelion Vineyards Lionheart of the Barossa Shiraz 2011, Barossa ($22)
The fruit for this outstanding Shiraz is culled from gnarly, ancient vines, many over 100 years old, in the heart of the Barossa. What a treat this is, with mind-blowing aromas of persistent blackberry, blueberry pie, wild raspberry, spicy black peppercorns and cocoa. Flavours of ripe raspberry and pepper lead the charge on the palate with bramble, tar, chocolate and fine tannins rounding out the profile. (RV)
90 Chapoutier Shays Flat Shiraz 2011, Victoria ($32) Purplish. Distinguished nose
of ripe black fruits and spicy notes with a touch of eucalyptus. Supple, with a nice roundness on the palate. It is so good it is almost irresistible. (GBQc)
89 Heartland Stickleback Red 2010, Barossa Valley ($13.95)
Ben Glaetzer, the winemaker at Mitolo, also makes very rich and affordable wines under the Heartland label. His Stickleback Red 2010 — a blend of Cabernet and Shiraz — is dense purple-ruby in colour with a smoky nose of blackberry and vanilla; it shows sweet blackberry fruit with a chocolate note and is great value. (TA)
+ Find a collection of wine, beer and spirit tasting notes at quench.me/notes/
88 Rymill TheYearling Cabernet Sauvignon 2011, Coonawarra, South Australia ($14.99) This medium-weight wine offers varietal blackcurrant, green herb, cinnamon, clove and inky tannic notes on the nose. Blackcurrant and black plum flavours with brisk acidity and dry tannic backbone lend Bordeaux-like character. Food-friendly; exceptional value. (SW)
/CANADA / 91 Malivoire Moira Rosé 2013, Niagara ($20)
A single-vineyard effort from Pinot Noir grown in the estate’s Moira Vineyard. It has a pure and delicate nose of pretty cherry, strawberry tangerine and a whiff of cream. The dominant red fruits carry seamlessly to the palate and offer a refreshing and elegant summer pleaser. (RV)
91 Inniskillin Riesling Icewine 2012, Okanagan ($35/200 ml) Quince and apricot infuse the intense tropical fruit aromas and the rich, unctuous palate. Honeyed spice notes linger long. Exciting post-weekend brunch sipper. (HH)
91 Rennie Estate Christine Chardonnay 2011, Niagara ($35)
The nose is expressive with tropical fruits, pear, pineapple and lovely integrated oak and vanilla spice. It has gorgeous depth of flavour on the palate with toasted oak, spice, sweet vanilla and perky acidity to lift the flavours through the finish. (RV)
91 Inniskillin Niagara Estate Riesling Icewine 2012, Niagara ($69.95)
An absolute delight to drink! Huge apricot, sponge toffee, mineral, spice and lime on the nose mesh with honey, peach and apple on the palate. It is stylish with fresh acidity and a long finish. A sublime pairing with crème brûlée if ever there was one! (ES)
90 Haywire Pink Bub 2012, Okanagan ($25)
This traditionally made pink sparkler is made with 51% Pinot Noir and 49% Chardonnay from grapes grown in a cool mountain vineyard site near Oliver. It is simply lovely with cherry, brioche, crisp apple and biscuit notes on the nose. The palate shows a lively, persistent mousse with vibrant red fruits made in a crisp, refreshing style. (RV)
90 Rosewood Origin La Fumée 2012, Niagara ($26) A blend of 85% Sauvignon Blanc and 15% Sémillon, aged for 6 months in 500 litre puncheons. This is the first attempt at a Bordeaux-style white from Rosewood. It has lovely aromas of quince, grapefruit, herbs, smoke and vanilla bean. With attractive mouthfeel, the grapefruit, citrus and kiwi fruits build on the palate and are joined by smoky herbs and barrel-spice notes. Rich, yes, but balanced out by decent acidity. (RV)
90 Fielding Estate Winery Riesling Icewine 2012, Niagara ($32.95/200 ml) Has a surprising elegance factor, especially considering of the heat of 2012. Peach,
Macintosh apple, honey, marzipan, white flowers, nectarines and citrus weave around a core of fresh acidity. Excellent length and a long finish make for a truly tasty drop. (ES)
along with more savoury fennel and mushroom. Finishes with satisfying slate, lime and mineral. Excellent balance making it a delicious off-dry, on-its-own sipper. (HH)
90 Pondview Estate Winery Vidal Icewine 2011, Four Mile Creek ($40)
88 Rockway Vineyards Small Lot Gewürztraminer 2012, Niagara ($20)
This wine is a worthy successor to the 2010, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Peach, apricot, honey, white flowers, sponge toffee and spice are all in play. Concentrated, it has a long aftertaste and fresh acidity to provide lift. (ES)
89 Inniskillin Estate Series Pinot Blanc 2012, Okanagan ($14)
Very peachy and tropical from its aromatic punch-in-the-nose to its juicy-fruity palate to its lip-smacking finish. Accompanied by a supporting cast of honeysuckle, Fuji apple, citrus salad and lingering fennel. Clean, fresh and irresistibly quaffable at 12.5% alcohol. Terrific value; perfect partner for lunchtime fare. (HH)
89 Strewn Terroir Sauvignon Blanc 2011, Ontario ($17.95)
Straw-coloured with a nose of lanolin, cut grass and grapefruit zest; on the palate, medium-bodied, dry, grassy, gooseberry and grapefruit flavours predominate. Very fresh and lively with zesty acidity; perfect for seafood dishes. (TA)
88 Inniskillin Reserve Series Riesling 2011, Okanagan ($14)
Citrus and herbal scents with hints of diesel. Mouth-watering flavours of bright orchard fruit
Intense aromas of rose water, lychee, smoke, cold cream, honey, mango cream and some hints of spice. On the palate, the wine turns decidedly spicy, with grapefruit peel and Turkish delight notes. There is very good length, a slight sweetness and pleasant acidity. Pair this with coconut curry chicken or a duck terrine topped with a fruit compote. (ES)
88 Coyote’s Run Estate Winery Sparkling Chardonnay, Niagara ($24.95)
Made in the traditional method, this Chardonnay bubbly spent 19 months on its yeast cells before being disgorged. The final product offers up a mix of yeast, apple, pineapple and spice, as well as pinpoint bubbles, helping to create a creamy texture. A lengthy aftertaste. (ES)
88 Coyote’s Run Estate Winery Red Paw Chardonnay 2012, Four Mile Creek ($24.95)
Aged in 100% Hungarian oak for 6 months, this Chardonnay unleashes a perfume of smoke, cream, pineapple, apple and anise. Honey, flowers, cream and a spice-driven finale complete the picture. Pair with a rich cheese such as Chaource, Livarot or 5-yearold cheddar. (ES)
//the notes 87 Inniskillin Estate Series Chardonnay 2012, Okanagan ($14) Showcases a deft treatment of grape skin maceration with a mix of stainless steel and French oak fermentation, followed by extended lees contact. The outcome is a well-rounded mouthfeel, highlighted by crisp citrus, ripe apple and oak-derived vanilla. Superb match with steamed mussels. (HH)
87 Coyote’s Run Estate Winery Unoaked Chardonnay 2013, Niagara ($14.95)
Every vintage of this wine delivers terrific value, and the 2013 is no exception. An explosive bouquet of spice, peach, red apple, lilac and honey meets up with creamy notes on the palate. Medium in body, there is admirable acidity and very good length. In essence, this is a very customer-friendly wine that will please many palates. (ES)
86 Rockway Vineyards Fergie Jenkins Series Riesling 2012, Twenty Mile Bench ($14.95)
The 2012 rendition of the wine starts off with a perfumed burst of peach, lemon, honey, white flowers, mineral and bergamot. Grapefruit and lime enter on the palate where there is medium length and pleasant acidity. It is ready to drink now, so chill it down and serve on the patio this summer. (ES)
86 Rockway Vineyards Small Lot White Assemblage 2012, Niagara ($16) This midweight blend of Chardonnay, Riesling and
60 // May/June 2014
Gewürztraminer dishes up moderate aromas of minerals, honey, flowers and red apple. The palate turns creamy with some spice and caramel notes on the finish. Drink now. (ES)
92 Township 7 Vineyards Reserve 7 2011, Okanagan ($35)
A blend of all 5 Bordeaux red varieties and a great effort from a cooler vintage in the Okanagan. The nose shows an elegant amalgam of cassis, currants, blackberry, herbs, spice and subtle red fruits that are just emerging. It shows pure elegance on the palate with dark and red fruits, dried herbs and savoury spices with firm, grippy tannins and a long finish. (RV)
92 Rennie Estate “G” 2011, Niagara ($55)
The grapes for this appassimento-style blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cab Franc are dried for 70 days. It’s dark, almost opaque in the glass and throws off big aromas of crushed blackcurrants, thick blackberry compote, oak stylings, vanilla toast, forest floor and dried herbs. On the palate, it’s rich and unctuous with an array of highly extracted fruit flavours including currants, plums, cherries and sultana raisins, bolstered by vanilla-nutmegcinnamon spices, earth and medicinal herbs. (RV)
91 Tawse Laundry Vineyard Cabernet Franc 2011, Niagara ($32) The nose shows bramble, wild raspberry, savoury cherry, cassis and mocha spice. It’s bursting with red fruit flavours on the palate and
backed up by roasted herbs, wet tobacco leaf and mint spices on a highly structured frame. Could hold this for a couple of years. (RV)
91 Rosewood Lock, Stock & Barrel 2011, Niagara ($34)
A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cab Franc and Petit Verdot that shows gorgeous cassis, currants, oak spice, mocha, liquorice and meaty-earthy notes on the nose. It has verve and energy on the palate with dark fruits mingling with some juicy cherry notes, fine oak spice, tar, liquorice and bramble all leading to a long finish. Can age this for 5-plus years. (RV)
91 Lakeview Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Icewine 2012, Niagara ($75) A bouquet of strawberry, raisins, roasted herbs and cocoa powder meet up with buckwheat honey and guava paste on the palate. It is on the full side, with excellent length and solid acidity. (ES)
91 Vineland Estates Cabernet Sauvignon Icewine 2012, Niagara ($75) Jam all the way: prunes, strawberries and raspberries mesh with flowers on the nose. The palate features much of the same as well as pineapple and earth on the elongated finale. Concentrated, ripe and quite luscious, to say the least! (ES)
89 Tawse Gamay Noir 2012, Niagara ($19)
The nose shows pure and ripe cherries, strawberries, currants and subtle spice notes. It’s bright and cheery
on the palate with lovely red fruits, a hint of plum, liquorice, spice and herbs, smooth tannins and good acidity. Great food wine to serve with charcuterie, roasted pork belly or barbecue pork tenderloin. (RV)
88 Inniskillin Estate Series Merlot 2011, Okanagan ($17)
Fragrant scents of violets, plum and red cherry. The flavours turn towards a deeper ripe raspberry and black cherry. The one-year French and American oak aging contributes structure, balance, well-integrated tannins and hints of vanilla and dark chocolate. Pair with charred, grilled vegetables or marinated meats. (HH)
88 Inniskillin Discovery Series Zinfandel 2009, Okanagan ($26)
Assertive nose with smoky, woody scents, brightened by red berries and pomegranate. Juicy acidity, plush tannins and ripe raspberry flavour are well integrated. Complex finish of liquorice and black pepper. Match with grilled or roasted red meats. (HH)
88 Riverview Cellars Cabernet Franc Icewine 2012, Niagara ($59.95)
Riverview’s Cab Franc is a midweight stickie with a personality of strawberry, cocoa, earth, violets and herbs. There is generous length, and it is ready to drink. (ES)
87 Coyote’s Run Cabernet Merlot 2012, Niagara ($16.95) A herbal/minty element weaves through the plum,
raspberry, anise and earth qualities. There are supple tannins and admirable length, which will allow the wine to age short-term. My suggestion would be to drink it over the next 3 years, preferably with grilled lamb chops or pork al-pastor style. (ES)
87 Inniskillin Dark Horse Vineyard Cabernet Franc 2011, Okanagan ($26)
Black fruit aromas flecked with wild berries and floral notes. Full bodied with rich blackcurrant and sweet plum flavours. Spicy finish backed by sweet oak, courtesy of 12 months aging in both American and French oak. Serve with braised meats. (HH)
/CHILE / 88 Montes Twins 2011, Colchagua Valley ($12)
I’m not often swayed by label designs, but I couldn’t resist picking up this bottle with its hilarious drawings by British cartoonist Ralph Steadman. Twins refers to the blend of Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile’s Colchagua Valley. Dense purple in colour, the bouquet has spicy blackcurrant and blackberry backed by vanilla oak — flavours that fill the mouth. Works well with lamb dishes or beef. (TA)
/FRANCE / 93 Maison Roche de Bellène Rully les Cloux 2011, Burgundy ($32) I almost don’t want to tell you about this pretty and
extraordinary find from Rully. It is that good; I want to buy it all for myself. Such a nose of fresh-cut acacia and honeysuckle with flint, lemon, apple and hints of toasted oak. It is delicate and polished on the palate with crisp, riverbed minerality that drives the citrus, apple-pie and floral notes. (RV)
89 Moulin de Gassac Chardonnay 2012, Languedoc ($13.30)
91 Hervé Azo Bourgogne 2011, Burgundy ($17)
89 Pfaff Pinot Gris 2012, Alsace ($15.80)
The vineyards for this Chardonnay lie just beyond the designated boundaries of Chablis, but make no mistake, the only thing about this wine that isn’t Chablis is the price. The nose shows pure citrus, wet stone and flint. It has lovely texture in the mouth with searing acidity driven by fresh grapefruit, lemon and apple flavours. Truly exciting at this price. (RV)
91 Brumont Château Montus 2009, Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh, Southwest ($24)
Golden colour. Distinguished nose of pear, apricot, fresh pineapple, a touch of almond and a good deal of oak. Balanced, the fatty middle palate is contrasted by the acid-lifted finish. Very good length. Drink or hold 2 to 3 years. (GBQc)
90 Champagne Tarlant Reserve, Champagne ($40.85) A well-priced, mouth-filling bottle. Pale straw in colour with a bouquet of brioche and honey; medium-bodied dry, the toasty flavours mingled with lemon and white honey. (TA)
A flavourful, fleshy, unoaked Chardonnay. Bright straw in colour showing a minerally, spicy nose of apple and pear with a floral note; full and voluptuous on the palate with a richly textured mouthfeel; well balanced. Great value. (TA)
Pfaff is the new name of Pfaffenheim (sorry, no prize for this easy guess!). Pale yellow. Typical Pinot Gris nose of white fruits (apple, white peach), while floral notes develop in the glass. A tad sweet on the tongue, it has a nice roundness and volume. The finish is very long and quite present, lifted by acidity. (GBQc)
89 Mas des Bressades Cuvée Tradition Blanc 2012, Rhône ($15.95)
A blend of 50% Roussanne, 10% Marsanne, 30% Grenache and 10% Viognier. Straw-coloured with a high-toned nose of pineapple and toast; it offers a full-bodied, spicy, peachy-pineapple flavour and is beautifully balanced. Great value. (TA)
89 Brumont Torus 2010, Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh, Southwest ($17.10)
Straw yellow. Tropical fruits, buttery notes, dried herbs (thyme) give an overall impression of dryness. The shy acidity is more present in the finish. Ripe fruity taste, nice length. Ready to drink. (GBQc)
89 Château des Arroucats Sainte Croix du Mont 2010, Bordeaux ($17.30) A sweet wine that comes in 750 ml format rather than the usual half-bottle. Botrytisaffected, it’s remarkably pale in colour with an unctuous nose of peach and honey. Full-bodied on the palate, it has an intriguing flavour of barley sugar candies. The cost is very reasonable; serve it chilled with fruitbased desserts. (TA)
89 Hervé Azo Chablis 2011, Chablis ($20)
A well-priced Chablis from an excellent producer that shows juicy grapefruit, green apple, sea breeze, crushed oyster shells and flinty-smoky minerality on the nose. I love the texture of this bone-dry Chardonnay and the citrusgunflint flavours that wash over the palate. (RV)
88 Les Argelières Chardonnay 2011, IGP Pays d’Oc ($10.75)
Light silvery-yellow. The nose is tropical fruit, reminiscent of a piña colada served in an oak glass. Very dry and minerally, the oak dominates the fruit on the palate. Ready to drink. (RL)*
88 L’Arjolle Sauvignon Blanc/Viognier 2012, Midi ($11.95)
Pale straw in colour, the wine has a minerally, floral nose of lychee and gooseberry — flavours that replicate on the palate. It’s medium-bodied, crisply dry, fresh and lively on the tongue. Good value and makes a great pairing with Caesar salad or goat cheese. (TA)
//the notes 88 Brumont Gros Manseng/Sauvignon 2012, VP Gascogne, Southwest ($12.70)
Very pale. Sauvignon-dominated nose with nice freshness, citrus and discreet tropical fruit notes. Well-dosed acidity, easy to drink; very fresh on the palate. (GBQc)
87 Château Moulin de Launay 2012, Entredeux-Mers ($11)
Pale silvery yellow. A “Juicy Fruit” nose of mango, apple and pineapple, with a hint of mint. The fruity theme continues in the mouth with pineapple and more mango, but with a seasoning touch of bitterness on the long finish. Medium-bodied and soft on the palate. Drink up. (RL)*
87 Chapoutier Riesling Schieferkopf 2010, Alsace ($25)
Pale yellow. Open and fresh nose; minerally, citrus, apricot, hints of petrol. Assertive on the palate with sharp acidity and a nice fatty middle palate. Not very fruity, but it will reconcile those who dislike Alsace wines for their sweetness. (GBQc)
86 Château Roquefort 2012, AOC Bordeaux ($15)
Pale yellow. Bouquet of gooseberry, a bit of “cat’s pee” and flowers. On the palate, it is clean and light-bodied, tasting of gooseberries and tropical fruits with refreshing acidity and a bit of flint on the finish. (RL)*
86 Pfaff Pinot Blanc Grande Réserve 2012, Alsace ($15.75)
Pinot Blanc is blended with one-third Auxerrois. Very
62 // May/June 2014
pale. Minerally nose of citrus and floral notes. Fine acidity tempered by a little sweetness in the fatty middle palate. Short finish lifted by acidity. Drink now. (GBQc)
85 Bernard Perrin Crémant de Bourgogne 2010 ($17.67) Pale yellow with lots of fizz. Smells of Grannny Smith apples and pineapple. Medium-bodied. On the palate there are simple, clean, slightly sweet apple and melon flavours. Drink now. (RL)*
84 Tortoise Creek Sauvignon Blanc 2011, IGP Côtes de Gascogne ($11)
Pale yellow. The bouquet is lemon-lime with undertones of gooseberry. Light-bodied and light flavoured; tastes of lemon and red currant. Ready to go; drink early. (RL)*
79 Bourgogne Aligoté 2012, AOC ($15.67)
Pale silvery yellow. Aromas of apricots, Macintosh apples and pastry. Lightbodied. On the palate, there is lots of acidity with apple and apricot flavours. Best drunk as a kir (with a dollop of cassis liqueur), and as soon as possible. (RL)*
93 Château Tour Salvet 2010, AOC Haut-Médoc ($18.17)
Very deep plum red. Nose of cassis, leather, smoke and vanilla. A classic, classy claret, well-balanced and rich with cherry and blackcurrant flavours. Needs a little more time to peak. (RL)*
93 Domaine de Trévallon 2008, VP Bouches-duRhône, Rhône Valley ($65) Owner Eloi Dürrbach saw his wine downgraded to vin de pays after he refused to bring down the Cabernet Sauvignon content to 20%, 20 years ago. We’re grateful he did because his wine has become an icon. Medium ruby in colour, it has a pure nose of delicate red fruit notes with a floral scent and a touch of soft spices. Tight with a dense, fruity core, the sophisticated but discreet oak wraps the fine tannins, giving the wine a powdery texture. Finish is expansive with great balance and power. Drink or keep 10 to 12 years. (GBQc)
92 Château Montus La Tyre 2003, Madiran, Southwest ($124)
Very dark colour. Kirsch, soft spices, black fruits; the sophisticated oak is quite present. Supple and smooth at first, it shows its power in the middle palate, which is firm, concentrated and full of chewy tannins. Very long, powerful finish, a tad warm on the tongue. A definite keeper. (GBQc)
91 Château Vignelaure Rouge 2008, Coteaux d’Aix-enProvence($16.50)
Surprisingly good wine from an inauspicious vintage in Provence. Deep, browning garnet. Nose of pipe tobacco, strawberry jam and a hint of vanilla. On the palate there is lots of black cherry and blackberry fruit in nice balance with oak flavours and enough acidity to keep it fresh. Peaking now. (RL)*
91 Chapoutier La Bernardine 2010, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Rhône Valley ($50)
Purple. Nose dominated by cherry and liquorice. Supple attack gaining in power in the middle palate. Full-bodied with tender tannins, it remains quite supple for a CdP. The medium-length finish has a great fruity flavour. (GBQc)
90 Château HautSelve 2010, Graves, Bordeaux ($21)
Dark ruby. Attractive nose of red and black fruits, with a small dose of oak. Assertive acidity, finesse in the delicate tannins, purity and precision in the middle palate. Balanced finish to match. Drink or keep 5 to 7 years. (GBQc)
89 Domaine de l’Arjolle Z de l’Arjolle Zinfandel 2011, Midi ($19.95)
The only Zinfandel currently produced in France. Deep purple in colour, offering a plummy nose with herbal and cardamom notes. Dry, full-bodied, full on the palate with remarkable structure and balance. Not lacking in freshness, this is also really well priced. (TA)
89 Clos Floridène 2010, Graves, Bordeaux ($27.30)
Purplish. Ripe raspberries and red berries with oak and mineral notes. Full-bodied and very fruity. The finely grained tannins grip the tongue. The nice acidity keeps it balanced and favours a long evolution, even if it drinks well today. Enjoy with a marinated flank steak. (GBQc)
89 J-P Brun Terres Dorées 2011, Morgon AC ($34.99)
Morgon is one of the more ageworthy Beaujolais Crus. Opens with vibrantly scented cherry, herbal and mineral aromatics. Dark bitter-cherry flavours show good depth of fruit, firm tannins and still youthful acidity. Has character and will age further (2 to 5 years). (SW)
88 Château Puy Favereau 2008, AC Bordeaux Supérieur ($12.33)
Deep, dark plum red. Bouquet of violets, raspberries and strawberry jam. Mediumbodied, it has lots of raspberry fruit; well-balanced and structured with sufficient tannins and a longish finish. Obviously French, it is made for rare roast beef served with a rich, dark jus. Good for another couple of years. (RL)*
88 Chapoutier Marius Rouge 2012, VP Pays d’Oc ($15)
Purplish. Raspberry and other red fruits, a little oak. Emphasis is on the fruit; the wine is friendly, easy to drink, nice on a warm day with a hamburger hot from the grill or sandwiches. (GBQc)
87 Château Cadillac 2010, Bordeaux Superieur AC ($19.99)
Opens with berry, dark plum and scents of cinnamon and clove with earthy and minty herbal overtones. Blackberry and blackcurrant fruit with notes of coffee and dark chocolate in the mouth are delivered in a wellrounded package with a dry tannic finish. (SW)
80 Domaine de Milhomme 2011, AOC Beaujolais ($15.50)
Pale pinkish crimson. Good typicity to the Gamay nose, with candy-like raspberry aromas. Lightbodied with high acidity over the red berry flavours; a little shy on concentration. Drink now. (RL)*
/GERMANY / 91 Mönchhof Robert Eymael Riesling 2011, Mosel ($16.95)
Another great-value wine from Germany. Very pale lime in colour with a nose of petrol, honey and pear; light-bodied and spritzy on the palate, with minerally, off-dry flavours of honeyed apricot. Elegant and beautifully balanced. (TA)
/ITALY / 97 Capezzana Vin Santo di Carmignano Riserva DOC 2007, Tuscany ($65)
Remarkably rich and complex with aromas and flavours of dried apricots, orange peel, almonds and crème brûlée. But the richness is cut by beautiful acidity to keep the wine fresh and anything but cloying. The wine will age forever, becoming more complex and nutty over time. Truly a stunning wine made predominantly from Trebbiano grapes. (GB)
93 Baglio dei Fenicotteri Prim’Amore Passito di Noto 2008, Noto DOC, Sicily ($50)
The organic Moscato di Noto
grapes are hand-selected and gently pressed after being picked ultra-ripe and left to dry and shrivel. A neutral grape-based spirit halted fermentation, resulting in 85 g residual sugar per litre and 17.5% alcohol. Intense, exotic nose with apricot and petrol. Rich, unctuous palate. Long, spicy finish. Superb with tiramisu or almond cake. (HH)
91 Cantina Ottoventi Bianco 2012, Sicilia IGP ($23)
Ottoventi, meaning eight winds, pays homage to the various breezes in western Sicily’s Erice region. Blend of Catarratto (50%), Grillo (40%) and Zibibbo (10%). Floral, spicy nose features tropical fruit and orange blossom. Orange and honey flavours fill the round, medium-bodied palate. Long mineral finish. Sublime with sashimi. (HH)
89 Tonnino Pinot Grigio 2012, Terre Siciliane IGP, Sicily ($20) International grape varieties like Pinot Grigio can still capture the warmth and generosity of Sicily. Peaches ‘n cream nose with hints of pear. Juicy acidity with spicy, honeyed flavours and waxy texture. Mineral finish with a refreshing salinity. Pair with a clams or mussels pasta. (HH)
93 Mimmo Paone Mamertino di Milazzo Nero d’Avola/Nocera 2008, Messina DOC, Sicily ($30)
An impressive red blend from the northeast part of Sicily in the province of Messina.
Exotic, herbal aromas on the nose. The elegant, complex palate fills with ripe berries, dark spices, velvety tannins and lively minerality. Captivatingly long finish. Delicious with braised meats. (HH)
92 Triacca Chianti Classico Riserva ‘La Madonnina’ DOCG 2010, Tuscany ($38)
Enticing, with engaging floral aromas and flavours of cherry, raspberry, sage and mineral. Elegant and harmonious, showing no shortage of structure, delivering elegant complexity with a lifted, lingering aftertaste of berry and mineral. (GB)
91 Guastella Nero d’Avola Rosso 2011, Sicilia IGP ($18)
This western Sicilian winery is in the Jato valley of the Monreale region, just southwest of Palermo. Lovely ruby colour. A stunning nose of blueberry, dried herbs and floral notes. The juicy, plush, medium-bodied palate bursts with berry flavour. The finish is lively, minerally and streaked with saltiness. Pairs well with lasagna. (HH)
91 Capezzana Ghiaie della Furba IGT 2008, Tuscany ($75)
Structured and fresh, with aromas and flavours of blackberry, black cherry, flowers and mineral. Wellintegrated oak and firm tannins; concentrated and intense, but with an abundance of elegance and a vibrant finish with fruit and spice on the aftertaste. Cabernet, Merlot and Syrah. (GB)
//the notes 91 Monte del Frá Lena di Mezzo Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOC 2007, Veneto ($80)
This blend of Corvina (80%) and Rondinella (20%) offers elegance and austerity, but is also rustic and complex. Underbrush, dried berries and fig on the nose and palate, along with spicy cinnamon and smoked black pepper. Velvety tannins and black liquorice are the lasting impression. Drink with mature cheeses. (HH)
90 Castelucci Miano Perric.One Perricone 2009, Sicilia IGP ($35)
These Perricone grapes grow on the Madonie Mountain slopes at an altitude of 700-800 metres above sea level, with average wines of 30 to 40 years. Fresh berries with leafy and earthy scents. Great balance and a savoury palate, bolstered by plum and chocolate. A firm mineral spine from front to long finish. Match with meat stews. (HH)
90 Villa Poggio Salvi Brunello di Montalcino 2008, Tuscany ($45.95) Deep ruby colour with a herbal/cherry bouquet. Flavours of tobacco and
dried cherries with an engaging sour-cherry finish that complements its firm, tannic structure. (TA)
90 Capezzana Carmignano DOCG 2009, Tuscany ($48)
Quite elegant but full, with black cherry, blackberry and spice flavours; beautifully balanced, vibrant and fresh with a touch of mineral on the finish. Sangiovese and Cabernet. (GB)
90 Capezzana Ghiaie della Furba IGT 2009, Tuscany ($75)
Balanced and polished with supple tannins, lovely fruit flavours of currant, black cherry and plum; full texture and persistent on the elegant, silky finish. Will pair with everything from roast game birds to rich meat sauces to game meats. (GB)
89 Di Majo Norante Sangiovese 2012, Sangiovese Terre degli Osci IGT ($15.99)
Scents of spicy red fruit set the tone for luscious, gently ripe fruit flavours backed by good acidity and lightly firm tannic grip. Very well balanced, with a splash of dark chocolate
and appetizing bitter cherry on the finish. (SW)
89 Gregorio de Gregorio Magali Merlot/ Nero d’Avola 2012, Sicilia IGP ($20) This Merlot-Nero d’Avola (80%/20%) blend is sourced from their organic vineyards in the western Sicily region of Monreale. Dense purple colour. Black fruit and violets on the nose. Inky, minerally texture with ripe black fruit flavours and fleshy tannins. Long, intense finish. Pair with red meats or the cheese course. (HH)
89 Capezzana Barco Reale di Carmignano DOC 2011, Tuscany ($29.99)
Polished, subtle and elegant with fresh aromas and flavours of cherry, blackberries and raspberries with a medium body. Extremely well-integrated tannins and a lovely, lingering finish. A very drinkable and well-made wine. Sangiovese and Cabernet. (GB)
89 Col d’Orcia Rosso di Montalcino DOC 2012, Tuscany ($37) Elegant and charming with
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64 // May/June 2014
cherry, mineral and earthy flavours; medium-bodied with very fine tannins and a lifted fresh finish. A very classy wine. (GB)
89 Donatella Cinelli Colombini Rosso di Montalcino DOC 2011, Tuscany ($38)
Lovely ripe cherry and blackberry with tobacco and earth, firm, supple tannins, bright acidity and a long finish. Complex enough for roasts, but elegant enough for rabbit. (GB)
/NEW / ZEALAND 89 Giesen Sauvignon Blanc 2013, Marlborough ($17.95)
This vintage is better than the excellent 2012, as well as being an stellar value! Sourced from the Wairau subregion of Marlborough, the passion fruit, fruit salad, guava, pink grapefruit, honey and hints of tomato vine leap out of the glass and onto the taste buds. There is a vibrant mouthfeel and a long lime-driven aftertaste. Of course, goat cheese and freshwater fish are a perfect pairing for this wine. (ES)
/SPAIN / 89 Romate Fino Sherry NV, Jerez ($16.95)
Deep straw colour with a nose of dried citrus fruits, nutty and smoky; light and fresh on the palate with very good intensity and a grapefruity finish. A very pleasant afternoon drink; serve slightly chilled. (TA)
88 Faustino VII Tempranillo 2011, Rioja DOC ($15.99)
Interesting nose reveals red fruit with background vanilla, clove and a whiff of herb. Fresh blackberry and plum flavours, together with a pleasing bitter dark-cherry note in the mouth with softer, light oak-influenced vanilla, solid tannic backbone and deftly balanced finish. (SW)
/BEER / Brasserie Dupont Saison Dupont, Belgium ($7– $10/750 ml)
Notes of lemon, citrus, earthy mushroom, light honey and grain, black pepper, anise and earthy hops play together in harmony. With a sweet start, bone-dry finish, riot of spices and earthy bitterness, it’s tough to find cheeses or dishes that some aspect of this beer doesn’t work wonderfully with — just avoid tomatoes and desserts. (CL)
Howe Sound Brewing Total Eclipse of the Hop, British Columbia ($13– $15/1000 ml)
Thanks to a hefty malt bill, this thick, creamy brew is on the sweeter side, featuring notes of
candied orange, brown sugar, multigrain bread and birchbark. The hearty brew can stand up to hearty, spicy fare: chili, Cajun and sharp cheddars are good matches. (CL)
Muskoka Brewery Spring Oddity, Ontario ($9.95/750 ml)
A Belgian-style spritzy golden brew spiced with juniper berries, heather and orange peel, it packs a fruity, floral punch and a long, gin-like finish, all supported by a full, boozy base. The beer’s herbaceous quality makes this a great accompaniment to fresh asparagus or fiddlehead. (CL)
Brasserie Cantillon Kriek 100% Lambic, Brussels ($10/375 ml)
This Cantillon is made from a blend of lambics (up to 3 years old) and sour cherries. The result is a bright pink, very dry, puckering brew with a funky, sour complexity — barnyard, lemon peel, must and hints of cherry. It’s a stunner of a beer, well worth seeking out. (CL)
Beer Academy Belgian Maple ($6.50/625 ml)
Boasts heady aromas of raisin, plums, nutmeg and baked apple with hints of maple syrup. It drinks like a date square, but the grassy hops and Belgian spice dry it out. The rich, complex beer is a great match for most pork dishes — be decadent and have it with a peameal bacon butty for brunch. (CL)
Great Lakes Brewery Crazy Canuck Pale Ale, Ontario ($3.79/473ml) Blond in colour with citrus,
yeasty and malty aromas, and a lightly hoppy scent. More flavourful than the rather mild aromas would suggest, showing robust fruity malt, good body and surprisingly hoppy bitterness on the finish. (SW)
Les Trois Mousquetaires Grande Cuvée Baltic Porter Black Lager, Extra Strong Non-Filtered Beer, Quebec ($11.99/750 ml)
At 10%, this one opens with smoky, bready and yeasty aromas with chocolate malt and spicy overtones. Remarkable fruity sweetness gives way to rich, spicy dried fruitcake character on the full-bodied, rounded palate, with a touch of dry hoppy and chocolate bitterness on the finish. (SW)
Oakham Ales Jeffrey Hudson Bitter, England ($4.99/500 ml)
Floral, citrus and light malty aromas with lightly sweet, creamy and fruity malt flavours in the mouth. There is a distinct touch of citrus and moderate hoppy bitterness on the finish. A nicely balanced brew with general appeal but enough character to satisfy the aficionado. (SW)
Harviestoun Schiehallion Craft Brewed Lager, Scotland ($6.49/500 ml)
Presents an attractive frothy, creamy head with a mild, faintly hoppy scent and gentle malty aroma. Instantly refreshing in the mouth, with clean citrus, light fruity sweet malt in a lighter-bodied package. Finishes with a splash of creaminess and an agreeable touch of bitterness. (SW)
/SPIRITS / Glenora Glen Breton Rare 10 Year Old Single Malt Whisky 43%, Nova Scotia ($76.31/700ml; $79.99/750ml)
Apple, citrus and pencil box / cedary oak on the nose, with flavours of dried citrus, apple, vanilla and a hint of maple coming through on the palate. Spirity and fairly light-bodied with medium length on the finish, it is reminiscent of a good Lowland Malt. (SW)
Glenora Glen Breton 14 Year Old Single Malt Whisky 43%, Nova Scotia ($120)
Nose is developed and richly complex, with aromas of exotic fruit, vanilla and cedary pencil box. Rich fruity malt in the mouth unfolds honeyed citrus and spicy dried fruit with lightly fiery spirit on the ashy-dry finish. (SW)
Glenora Glen Breton ‘Battle of the Glen’ 15 Year Old Single Malt Whisky 43%, Nova Scotia ($150)
Showing discernable tropical fruit, especially banana, added to the apple, citrus and maple character of the house style. Great length on the very complex, satisfying finish. (SW)
The Macallan 1824 Series Gold 40%, Scotland ($64.99)
Subtle, rather delicately scented nose shows tree fruit, hints of citrus, vanilla and banana. Clean, lightly sweet flavours reveal sherried fruit, suggestions of milk chocolate and gentle peaty notes on the finish. (SW)
wine and pregnancy\\ AT THE MILLÉSIME BIO FAIRheld last January in Montpellier, the capital of the Languedoc-Roussillon region, close to 800 producers from all over the world were showing their organic and biodynamic wines (see page 32). On either the front or back label of the French wines, adjacent to the printed alcohol content, was a sign the size of a thumbtack. Inside the universal symbol for “don’t do this” — a circle with a diagonal line through it — is the profile of an obviously pregnant woman raising a glass of wine to her lips. One would have thought that this image would be clear and unambiguous: if you’re pregnant, don’t drink wine; but there have been so many misinterpretations of the symbol that the federal agency regulating the sale of beverage alcohol in the United States has dropped it (although a printed warning against drinking while pregnant is still a mandatory requirement on US bottles). This symbol, however, is still required on bottles of French wine. The problem as the US regulators saw it was that some women took the symbol to mean that wine is a contraceptive, and that if you drink wine you won’t get pregnant. Some thought the opposite: if you drink wine, it will help to get you pregnant. The whole debate around wine (and alcohol in general) for pregnant women is fraught with difficulty. There is no question that a mother’s heavy drinking can be detrimental to her unborn child, likely to result in fetal alcohol syndrome that damages the baby’s central nervous system; but there is a growing body of literature that suggests light drinking can actually be beneficial. Talking from personal experience, the mother of my two children drank wine in moderation throughout her pregnancies and both kids turned out just fine. A research study at the University of Copenhagen studied 63,000 Danish women and published their findings in November last year. The women were interviewed three times about their alcohol consumption, twice during their pregnancy and a third time when their child reached the age of six months. When their children turned seven, some 40 percent of the women were interviewed again. The researchers found that that women who drank “a small amount of alcohol” during pregnancy tended to be healthier than those who abstained altogether. The “drinkers” watched less television, ate more fish and were more likely to exercise. As a result, they exhibited a normal body mass index compared to the nondrinkers who were more likely to resort to pop and sodas for their liquid refreshment. In that same Danish study, it was found that women who drank a glass of wine a week during their pregnancy gave birth to children who were better adjusted both emotionally and in their behaviour patterns than those who abstained. The question, of course, is: what constitutes “light drinking” for a pregnant woman? The Department of Health in Britain has pegged it at one drink a few times a week.
66 // May/June 2014
BY TONY ASPLER
In another recent study, a joint team of researchers from Ireland, England, New Zealand and Australia compared the results of 5,628 women who gave birth for the first time between 2004 and 2011. The findings showed, according to Obstetrics & Gynecology, the official publication of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, that “drinking small amounts of alcohol during and even beyond the first trimester of pregnancy didn’t seem to raise the risks of premature delivery, low birth weight or high blood pressure for the mother.” The experts are still divided over the issue, and it is simpler for doctors to tell their pregnant patients to refrain from drinking alcohol in any form. Which is a pity because this admonition denies women the pleasure of a relaxing glass of wine — at a time when they would probably most appreciate it. •
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