Korean airlines on cd
by matthew sullivan Progress report on Canada’s virtual wineries.
by Roger Torriero Are some second labels better than the premier cru?
by brenda mcmillan Highlighting the Bairrada, Dão and Beiras regions of Portugal.
28// careful planning by rick vansickle
Travelling to wine country? This article is for you.
by rosemary mantini Tidings chooses the most innovative chefs in Canada.
by robert hausner Picking and cooking the best steak.
42// something unique by peter gill
A new way to travel through northern Europe’s famed wine regions.
44// Grüner on the other side by evan saviolidis
A new day for Austria.
48// you saucy thang, you! by duncan holmes
Creating the best sauce.
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//Ă la carte 8// from the editors 9// Contributors 11// Conversations Letters to the editor.
13// Simple Living Michael Volpatt
14// Umami Joanne Will
17// Anything but
18// Bon Vivant Peter Rockwell
47// must try Lisa Hoekstra
55// Bouquet Garni
66// final word
//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. 59 Australia // p. 59 Brazil // p. 59
Canada // p. 59-61 France // p. 61 Germany // p. 61-62 Greece // p. 62-63 Italy // p. 63-64 New Zealand // p. 64 portugal // p. 64 Spain // p. 64-65 United States // p. 65
//from the editors October Issue # 298
7 annual Maverick Chefs issue th
are we unbiased? by matthew sullivan
Aldo Parise email@example.com
If you are reading Tidings, it means that you take fine food and wine seriously — you don’t just care about how your Chardonnay tastes, you want to know a little more about how it’s made. Is it biodynamic or dusted with pesticides? Is it artisanal or mass-produced? Is it ethical? Reading Tidings also means that you — like us — take good writing seriously. However, unlike the Chardonnay, few give much thought to how the writing is produced and whether it accords with the highest ethical standards. In fact, even among the professionals there is no agreement on what the ethical ground rules for wine journalism are. The uncertainty comes from the way that wine writers get their material: does it compromise a reviewer’s objectivity when he or she attends a complementary tasting? What about if a bottle was couriered directly to the reviewer’s house? What if the reviewer was flown to France to sample the wine from a barrel? What if the reviewer has a stake, personal or financial, in seeing a winery do well? What should be disclosed and when? Recently, the president of the Wine Writers Circle of Canada was asked to step down from his post because some other members thought that his business activities were inconsistent with journalistic independence. The affair painfully divided the Circle. On one hand, it’s good to see ethical questions being taken so seriously, but the flap failed to address the larger issue of how all wine writers are woven into the fabric of the larger industry. Winemakers and wine agents use a steady diet of free lunches, free samples and promotional events to shape (or, at least, germinate) stories about their products. Does this compromise a writer’s integrity? The only way these issues can be resolved is if dedicated readers engage with writers and editors to ask difficult questions. Write us, email us and comment on our website. Let us know what standards you want. You’re entitled to the best.
Gurvinder Bhatia, Tod Stewart Contributing food Editor
Nancy Johnson Contributing Lifestyle Editor
Rosemary Mantini Columnists
Tony Aspler, Peter Rockwell, Michael Volpatt, Joanne Will, Sheila Swerling-Puritt, Lisa Hoekstra, Jonathan Smithe Contributors
Brenda McMillan, Rick VanSickle, Sean Wood, Harry Hertscheg, Evan Saviolidis, Gilles Bois, Peter Gill, Robert Hausner, Matthew Sullivan, Duncan Holmes, Roger Torriero Tasters
Tony Aspler, Rick VanSickle, Evan Saviolidis, Gilles Bois, Harry Hertscheg, Sean Wood, Jonathan Smithe and Gurvinder Bhatia COPY DESK
Lee Springer, Jennifer Croll web editor
Rosemary Mantini 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 // October 2011
editorial photo: Nathan Saliwonchyk
+ more on tidingsmag.com
Follow us on twitter and tumblr Quenchbytidings.tumblr.com twitter.com/quenchbytidings Features Rick VanSickle is a freelance wine writer who lives with his family in Niagara where a good bottle of wine is always nearby. He publishes a website called WinesInNiagara.com.
More maverick chefs! Tannis Ling and Joël Watanabe talk about what makes them top restauranteurs.
Extreme Cuisine Love beans? Try this Three-Layer Kidney Bean Dip.
Cooking Challenge Preserve the best of summer with healthful Chilled Berry Soup.
Wine Tasting club Discover Negroamaro.
A writer and editor based in Montreal, Lisa Hoekstra used to dream of being an astronaut. Until she realized that she is afraid of heights. Now she follows her passion for writing, a career path that keeps her feet firmly planted on the ground. Luckily writing also allows her to explore the wine world, pairing it with her love of great food.
Travel Eat and drink in the Czech Republic.
blogs Get your food and wine fix, updated weekly, at Best You Never Had and Kitchen Mama.
Original recipes; a daily serving of food
and drink news and views; culinary tips, tricks and techniques.
Sean Wood is the weekly wine columnist for the Halifax Chronicle Herald as well as a regular contributor to a. He travels extensively to report on developments in wine regions throughout the world; conducts wine events and provides consulting and training services to the hospitality industry and to government. He taught for several years in the Sommelier Certification program in the Atlantic Region and. has served frequently as a judge for various wine competitions.
Next Month In Tidings 5th annual mav wine and spirits awards East coast fun: Finger lakes and long island Deep reds from sicily and portugal Mapping out your kitchen Great wines under $10 canada’s saucy gamay
Rosemary Mantini has enjoyed a lifelong love affair with travel. She’s sure that eating up any food or drink the locals create is the best way to experience a culture.
The heart of venice ... And So Much More
Austria wine bureau on cd TASTE CULTURE
Enjoy Austria‘s new red wine culture, lead by Zweigelt, Blaufränkisch and St. Laurent. Distinctively delicious and refreshingly different – these wines are far away from the uniformity of the international red wine mainstream. And with character and style, they make superb companions to a beautiful meal. www.austrianwine.com
Elaine Lemm was right. Her Yorkshire Pudding recipe was easy to make, and it worked. We loved them!
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Tony Aspler has dived into the old debate about whether to collect and cellar wine or just drink it instead. I’m certainly no collector, but I have known disappointment when a wine I’ve been holding on to is past its prime and undrinkable. I don’t bother cellaring wine for investment. I’ve learned to just enjoy it regardless of whether or not I have a special meal to enjoy it with.
... I followed Brenda McMillan’s suggestion, and had a Manzanilla style sherry with a snack of Iberian ham. Dreamy! ...
L. Shipener, Toronto
www.tidingsmag.com www.tidingseats.com Now in our 38 th year Kylix Media, 5165 Sherbrooke St. West, Suite 414, Montreal, Quebec, H4A 1T6, Tel: 514.481.6606, Fax: 514.481.9699. Subscription Rates: Canada: $36 per year, $58 per 2 years, USA: $55 per year, Other: $75 per year. Single Copies: $5.95. Tidings, Canada’s Food & Wine 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). Opinions expressed in this magazine are not necessarily those of the publisher. © 2011 Kylix Media Inc. Printed in Canada. ISSN-0228-6157. Publications Mail Registration No. 40063855. Member of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.
Re. Sean Wood’s “Delightful”: When I travel, I often find that the wine available to the locals is made with different grapes than what’s exported. Trying wine made from grapes that I might never have heard of is a great way to learn more about wine and the place I happen to be visiting. Jared Hughes, Quebec City
I really liked Brenda McMillan’s article on Spain. I followed her suggestion, and had a Manzanilla style sherry with a snack of Iberian ham. Dreamy! S. Ahmad, email
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We acknowledge the financial support of the Government of Canada through the Canada Periodical Fund (CPF) for our publishing activities.
I love when you don’t focus on a single area. The September issue had a great mix of Old World but can you please give me more tasting notes. It’s my favourite part of the guide. Harold Mewes, email
Material chosen for publication may be edited for clarity and fit. Please e-mail your comments and questions to email@example.com.
ALL WATERS ARE NOT CREATED EQUAL.
san pelligrino on cd S.Pellegrino® and Acqua Panna® are far from ordinary waters. S.Pellegrino flows from thermal springs in the foothills of the Italian Alps, while Acqua Panna emerges from the Tuscan Apennine Mountains. Their long journeys to the surface infuse each of these waters with its own special combination of minerals. The result? Great tasting waters that complement fine dining, refresh the palate and bring a myriad of flavours to life.
© 2011 NESTLÉ WATERS CANADA.
by michael volpatt
//let’s reminisce When I was younger my sister, brother and I would toast pieces of white bread, slather them with butter and top them off with garlic salt and a little bit of oregano. This was our version of garlic bread, and to this day, I still make it. It always brings back memories of sitting in front of the television arguing over what to watch and always losing since my sister was the oldest and the only girl in the brood. Living in Sonoma County offers me and my friends access to so many artisan bread makers. One of my favourites is Beth Thorpe of Nightingale Breads. She makes a French baguette that is out of this world and literally melts in your mouth. Her creations are a far cry (and much healthier) than the white bread we used to use for our after-school snack. Using really good bread is important when making an oven-roasted garlic bread. In my kitchen good ingredients take centre stage so when you add the ingredients below to your shopping list, be sure to search for the perfect loaf of bread. For a truffled risotto dinner party that a few friends and I hosted the other night we prepared this garlic bread as an accompaniment and used Nightingale’s French baguette. This one was quite different from the bread of my childhood (much better too), very garlicky and absolutely delicious. 1 1 8-10 1 2 1
loaf of Italian batard, cut in half stick of unsalted butter, softened cloves of garlic, minced cup of Parmigiano Reggiano, grated tbsp chopped fresh sage tsp Kosher salt and 2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Once the butter is very, very soft, place all of the ingredients (except for salt and pepper) into a bowl and mix very well. 2. To soften the butter you can leave it at room temp for an hour, put it in the microwave on defrost for a minute or two or whip it with a mixer. Add about 2 tsp of salt and 2 tsp of freshly ground black pepper. Slather onto the bread and bake for about 20 minutes or until the bread is lightly browned and crispy. 3. As an alternative you can roast about 10 to 15 cloves of garlic and add that to the mixture as well. Roasted garlic has a wonderfully nutty flavour without the bite you get from uncooked garlic. 4. To roast, take a large piece of aluminium foil and create a bowl. Place the garlic into the bowl and add about 1 tbsp of olive oil. 5. Close up the bowl so that it forms a tent around the garlic and roast at 350˚F for about 35 to 40 minutes. Remove; let cool and smash using a fork. Add to the garlic bread mixture. …… Hollie Schulze, wine director for Big Bottom Market, recommends pairing this with a bold wine that will stand up to the garlic and sage in this recipe. Her choice would be RadioCoteau’s 2009 Las Calinas Sonoma Coast Syrah.
by Joanne Will
Those of us who love to cook have had influences along the way. While this column is normally reserved for profiles of farmers, producers and chefs who possess a passion that inspires, this time I’ve looked even closer to home for a source of culinary inspiration. Many of us can recall sitting on an elder’s knee and stirring the muffin mix, being held over the stove and permitted to dip a wooden spoon into the bubbling soup pot, or encouraged to pour oil into the cake batter. As a child, I sat on my grandmother’s kitchen counter and watched her press chokecherries through a sieve to make jelly, use a hand grinder to prepare cucumbers or beets for relish, simmer crab apples with cloves and cinnamon, and carry out myriad other culinary tasks — all of which were amazing to me, and performed effortlessly by her. Grandma grew up during the Great Depression, in a large family, on a homestead in southern Saskatchewan. It was the era when extra food was reserved for the men and boys. The twelve children in the house knew they had to get to work as soon as possible because their parents couldn’t afford to keep them. Grandma and her sisters quickly became adept at preparing meals, cleaning, and sewing, and soon left home (in her case at age 16) and found employment using these skills. Grandma’s true love, though — and natural passion — has always been cake decorating. She moved to Toronto after marrying, and over the course of two winters took evening classes in decorating at Ryerson. Eventually the family, which now included three young children, moved west again, back to the prairies. There Grandma made a second career out of creating
14 // October 2011
elaborate cakes in her home kitchen. Weddings, births, engagements, and graduations — she decorated cakes for them all. Before one order was finished, five more were lined up. She had no marketing campaign. Word spread by mouth as the cakes advertised themselves. Over the course of my childhood alone, she made hundreds of birthday cakes and thousands of delicate flowers, roses, tiny birds, leaves and latticework for wedding cakes. Her Christmas fruitcakes, enveloped in almond icing and covered in festive decoration, are a family tradition that began with my great grandmother. In addition to her cakes, Grandma’s spareribs are a staple, and highlight, of any family gathering. No visit back to the prairies is complete without at least one overdose. My sisters and I have made ribs using her recipe, and while they’re certainly tasty, there is something she does which we can’t replicate — something in the extra dash or two of a seasoning, the personalization and love of good food that she puts into every dish. I’ve included her recipe for you to try; good luck.
Grandma’s Sweet and Sour Ribs 1. Brown 2 lbs spareribs in the oven at 350˚F, for about an
hour. Meanwhile, prepare and simmer the sauce in a frying pan.
2. For the sauce, brown one medium onion in 1 tbsp of butter.
Then add: 2 tbsp vinegar, 2 to 3 tbsp brown sugar, 4 tbsp lemon juice, 1 cup ketchup, 3 tbsp Worcestershire sauce, 1/2 cup water and a dash of salt. 3. Once the ribs are cooked, drain off any fat and add the sauce to the roast pan. Place back in oven and heat for at least 20 minutes, or for several hours at low heat.
CAMPOFIORIN T H E OR IGI N A L SU PE RV E N E T I A N
Masi on cd Beyond Ripasso. In 1964 Masi launched Campofiorin, the first Ripasso wine and original Supervenetian. Masiâ€™s expertise in Appassimento (drying of the grapes to make Amarone) inspired the winery to revolutionize the Ripasso technique by creating Double Fermentation. This enhanced two-step method involves passing fresh wine over gently crushed semi-dried grapes, creating a wine with superior style and character - beyond Ripasso.
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by sheila swerling-puritt
Autumn means more than falling leaves and crisp air. I hate to see my kind of summer come to an end, but just think: daylight ending sooner means more time to sip cocktails. Now is a time for savoury aromatic mixed drinks crafted from fall fruit, wonderful spices and delicious liquor. Your task as a bar chef is to leave behind your refreshing citrus-inflected hot weather cocktails and help your imbibing audience greet the cooler weather. Apple and pear flavours work beautifully in autumn cocktails. You can provide these characters as fresh fruit, fruit syrup, juice, or in fruit spirits like Calvados or Poire Williams. Well-aged brown spirits add richness and aromas reminiscent of fallen leaves. There’s still a place for citrus flavours, but as accents rather than in the central role they play in summer drinks. Your autumn mixed drinks will need more texture than their refreshing summer counterparts. The classic Bloody Mary does the trick with tomato juice. Other drinks do it with honey, which has the advantage of offering up its uniquely spicy sweetness. Another trick for preparing cool-weather cocktails is to warm them up by heating some of the liquid ingredients. You’d expect a hot mixed drink for the winter holidays, but I’ll guarantee you that your chilled friends will welcome thermal enhancement even in October. Here are a few recipes for mixed drinks that will please you and your guests as the leaves — and the temperatures — fall.
Bloody Mary 2 4
oz vodka oz tomato juice
+ Visit tidingsmag.com/drinks/ for more drink recipes
tbsp fresh lemon juice tsp bottled white horseradish tsp Tabasco sauce tsp Worcestershire sauce Fill cocktail shaker three-quarters full with ice. Add all ingredients (except garnish). Cover. Shake well. Strain into a highball glass. Add ice cubes and garnish with one peeled spear cucumber, lightly sprinkled with paprika.
1/4 1/4 1/4
Dolce Domani 1/2 a fresh lime 2 1/2 tsp sugar 3 oz Merlot Muddle lime with sugar until all lime juice is extracted. Add wine. Pour wine into a shaker filled with ice and shake vigorously. Pour into lowball glass and garnish with lime spiral.
The Autumn Orchard Serves 2
cup Cognac (VS) cup Calvados 2 tbsp Cointreau 2 tbsp pear liqueur 4 1/2 tsp fresh lime juice 1 dash Angostura bitters Add to cocktail shaker (except garnish). Fill up with ice. Cover and shake vigorously. Strain into two coupe glasses. Float one lime slice on top of each cocktail. Garnish with two lime slices. (Thanks to Ted Kilgore from St Louis.)
by peter rockwell
//freeze & decant me
Should I really put spirits in the freezer? A better question is: Why would you want to? Assuming you’re not going shot for shot with the Russians over the title to some Siberian oasis there aren’t too many good reasons I can think of for you to want your booze ice-cold. Most hard liquor is drunk mixed, and a well made cocktail (no matter how simple) is the liquid equivalent of a fine tuned recipe at your favourite resto. If the balance of ingredients and temperature go north or south, what should be an act of brilliance could become an epic fail. A straightforward shaken not stirred martini aside, too cold hooch will only disrupt the subtleties that make a classic cocktail, well, classic. Sure, any spirit worth its 40 per cent alcohol by volume can stand the strain of the icebox without fear of freezing. That said, while gin and rum gain nothing whatsoever from time in the deep freeze, whisky (no matter how you spell it) can earn a hazy hue when exposed to even the main body of a refrigerator. (Though still fine to drink, the latter two won’t look as pretty in the glass.) Chilling doesn’t harm pedestrian tequila, and some might argue it would even help the medicine go down when thrown back with a lick of salt and lime. Fine tequila must be treated with the respect it deserves and should never wind up next to your frozen dinners. Vodka is really the only spirit that can hold its own in the cold. By nature it’s a flavourless libation that, if anything, becomes easier to stomach when it’s über-chilled. Again, I’m talking shots here: too chilly and your cocktail will crap out. What has to come in from the cold is any spirit under 40 per cent. Flavoured anything (which typically runs around the high 20s) will turn to slush or, if left in hibernation too long, might even explode all over your peas and carrots. Back to vodka. If, like me, you’re a connoisseur of neutrality your tipple of choice will come with a cork stopper rather than a screw cap. Unless you live in the little house on the
18 // October 2011
prairie your fridge is self-defrosting. While cork is secure enough to keep the liquid from leaking out if you store it on its side, put your overpriced bottle in a modern freezer and the defrosting element will suck out the alcohol past the stopper like water through a straw. Which styles of wines need to be decanted? It depends what you want to happen and what wine you’re about to crack. Those in the know claim that at least 85 per cent of all the wine bottles bought are in the recycle bin within 24 hours. So, the majority of red wines on the market today have been designed for immediate drinking — right out of the bottle if you must. White wines are rarely decanted. That means if you’re a casual wine drinker who buys for the occasion at hand rather than one in the future, the days of needing a decanter, other than to show off in front of the in-laws, are pretty much over. (The only caveat would be if you decide to buy big and drink today. Transferring the wine into another container will soften it up for easier tippling.) Now, if you have a cellar full of those ageable red wines that are still being produced (and the willpower to leave them alone) you’re going to need to call your decanter into action at some point; primarily to separate the sediment — that’s created as red wines develop in the bottle — from the matured juice. That’s what most people think of when they hear the term decant: an easy process of holding the neck of a bottle over a candle (that’s why they call it candling folks) or alternative light source (i.e. a flashlight) and transferring the contents into another receptacle; stopping just as you see the sediment start to creep up the vino stream. Older French (Bordeaux, Burgundy etc.), Italian (Barolo, Chianti etc.), big-boned California Cabs, Aussie Shiraz, and, of course, vintage Ports are all decanter worthy at some point in their long lives.
+ Ask your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org
Illustration: Matt Daley/Shinypliers.com
Bulova watches on cd self made. Sir Richard Branson Founder of Virgin Group.
From the Gemini Collection
THERE IS A MOMENT WHEN IMAGINATION BECOMES INNOVATION. Perhaps no one captures this moment more often than Sir Richard Branson. Of course, this
doesn’t happen by chance. It happens because he pursues vision. Relentlessly. That is why he wears Bulova Accutron. The timepiece that reinvents accuracy time and again.
Bulova Accutron: Innovation never rests. Sir Richard Branson’s proceeds from the photo shoot were donated to Virgin Unite, Virgin’s non-profit foundation. www.virginunite.com
Vir tual by matthew sullivan
The best winemakers often talk about the importance of minimalism in creating authentic, terroir-driven wines. But this ethos can lead to some strange places. In fact, some of the most intrigu-
ing wineries in Ontario are so minimalistic that they barely exist at all. “Virtual wineries,” as they are known, lack all the physical trappings that one associates with the messy business of making wine: these wineries own no vines, vineyards, presses, vats or buildings. Their only possessions are intangible: a name, a graphic design, and the winemaker’s expertise. Virtual winemakers operate by purchasing fruit from independent farmers and renting the facilities necessary to vinify the grapes and bottle them for the market. As Lynn Ogryzlo wrote in the September 2010 Tidings, virtual wineries allow people to enter the winemaking business even lacking the small fortune necessary to purchase land and equipment. It’s a strange idea to think that these winemakers piggyback on more established wineries — it certainly doesn’t make them parasites. In fact, the sudden increase in the number of virtual wineries heralds a new stage in winemaking evolution for Ontario. “What we’re doing makes everything in Niagara run more efficiently: renting equipment, buying excess fruit,” says Andrew von Teichman of the Generations Wine Company. “This is great business for the existing assets, a lot of which could use that help.” In the complex ecosystem of the wine industry, virtual wineries allow for a new degree of specialization. “Just because you’re a good winemaker doesn’t mean that you’re a great vine grower,” says Ilya Senchuk of Leaning Post Winery. But not all virtual winemakers operate for the same reason. Some, like Ilya, are up-and-coming winemakers who are using their virtual winery as a stepping stone to purchasing their own real estate. Others, like Charles Baker, are established masters who want to keep their day-job while pursuing their own idiosyncratic obsessions. Finally, some virtual wineries are huge commercial operations that strive to achieve good value by aggregating grapes from all over Ontario. What makes them all similar? A sense of adventure.
20 // October 2011
Generations Wine Company Union Red 2009 ($13.95)
If Charles Baker Riesling is the academic extreme of virtual wines, Union Red is at the other end of the spectrum. It parlays the flexibility and low overhead of the virtual model into an inexpensive but good-value table wine. The Union label is so popular that Generations is already producing over 10,000 cases per year (compared with Charles Baker’s run of 300 cases). It’s an engaging blend with distinctive notes of raspberry and sour cherry. The body is ripe, silky and fun.
2027 Cellars Featherstone Vineyard Riesling 2009 ($24.95)
A vital advantage for virtual wineries is their flexibility in picking the best grapes that a region has to offer. “I can find a 30-year-old vineyard instead of waiting for my own to age,” Kevin Panagapka of 2027 Cellars told me. The Featherstone Vineyard was planted with Riesling in 1978 and is part of Featherstone Estate — these are among the oldest Riesling vines in Niagara. Kevin uses this fruit to make a tart, vibrant Riesling with a delicious ribbon of green apple and stony complexity. Charles Baker Picone Vineyard Riesling 2008 ($35) Charles Baker is a Director at Stratus, but he is also one of the pioneers of virtual winemaking — since 2005 he’s been releasing small quantities of Riesling under his own name. This handcrafted wine is less a commercial venture than a love letter to this enigmatic grape. His interpretation of Riesling is soft, off-dry and finely balanced. The peach and baked fruit apple flavours are mellow and chubby, but an energetic acidity keeps the whole package buoyant. Idiosyncratic and interesting.
Charles Baker Picone Vineyard Riesling 2009 ($35)
“The vineyard is so important,” Charles Baker told me at a recent tasting. “And the vineyard is the vineyard owner.” This is especially true in Charles’ case, because the vineyard owner is Mark
Picone, the award-winning chef and slow-food advocate. A gourmet’s attention to detail vibrates throughout this bottle. The wonderful minerality of Picone Vineyard’s limestone terroir runs throughout the wine, and it spikes the finish like a firecracker. This is a ripe, full Riesling with astounding pizzazz.
2027 Cellars Fox Croft Vineyard Riesling 2009 ($20.95)
The Fox Croft Vineyard is arguably the best of 2027 Cellar’s Riesling triumvirate; it is certainly the most fragrant and complex. It takes muscular fruit from the Twenty Mile Bench sub-appellation and translates it into a ripe and surprisingly agile bottle. The aromatics are amazing: stones, rain, lavender and the classic German note of petrol. As Kevin says, “You don’t need a great winery to make a great bottle of wine. You need a great vineyard.”
2027 Cellars Falls Vineyard Riesling 2008 ($20.95)
The 2027 Cellars creed is simple: “I think Riesling is the best expression of Ontario’s terroir because there is no malolactic fermentation and no oak,” says Kevin Panagapka. “I took out all the variables so you can only see the terroir.” The Falls Vineyard exhibits the best of the Vinemount Ridge sub-appellation: a zesty acidity braced by mineral notes from the soil’s rich clay and shale. This is a light but incisive Riesling, with a pungent complexity of petrol, flowers and citrus.
Mike Weir Chardonnay 2009 ($14.95)
Mike Weir Estate Winery is not only one of the first of Ontario’s virtual wineries, it is the most commercially successful: approximately 20,000 cases are distributed every year to every province in Canada. The golf pro uses this label to raise funds for his children’s charity; the
WineAcces-Final.pdf 1 11/05/2011 08:27:38 a.m.
Andrew von Teichman and Dr Allan Jackson from union
wine itself is produced at Château des Charmes. His 2009 Chardonnay is an easy-going bottle with crisp apple flavours framed by a spicy texture. It’s clean, well-balanced and versatile. C
Custom Wine Cellars Since 1995
100 Marks Wines Pinot Noir 2010 (unreleased)
This is the inaugural vintage of 100 Marks Wines, the side-project of Jeff Hundertmark, the winemaker at Marynissen Estates. Jeff set out to create a “deep, dark, rich Pinot Noir” and he has succeeded in spades. It’s made from fruit from the Murdza Vineyard in St. David’s Bench, a sub-appellation that generally creates the ripest red grapes in Ontario. The 100 Marks Pinot has a meaty texture stippled with notes of chocolate, pepper, plum and leather. It’s decadent and full of character.
Nyarai Cellars Sauvignon Blanc 2009 ($19.75)
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22 // October 2011
Steve Byfield, the principal of Nyarai, is the cellar master at Calamus Estates and uses their facilities to make wine under his own label. His passion for aromatic whites like Viognier and Sauvignon Blanc is especially apparent in this excellent bottle. It has a light, charming bouquet featuring notes of peapod and white blossoms. The palate is mild but persistent, with complex filigrees of tangerine and star fruit lingering into a long finish.
Leaning Post Winery Riesling 2009 ($25)
This stunning Riesling greets you with a
fragrant nose of orange blossoms and rosehip. The delicate bouquet plunges into a chewy palate of rich tangerine and mineral notes. A bracing seam of controlled acidity runs from the initial attack to the lingering finish. This wine already has a lot of personality, but 5 to 10 years will only add more complexity to its vibrant character.
Leaning Post Winery Pinot Noir 2009 ($38)
A virtual winery means that the winemaker isn’t tied to his or her estate’s vineyards, which means they can search an entire region for the fruit that suits them best. Ilya Senchuk of Leaning Post Winery told me that it took him a year to find the block of vines that he wanted to work with to create this lovely Pinot Noir. It has a classic Burgundian nose of sour cherry and old leather, following through to a gamey, thyme-infused palate with nuanced complexity and lots of capacity to age. Outstanding.
Five Suns Sauvignon Blanc 2010 (unreleased)
Peter Graham of Five Suns has transmuted the nearly ideal growing conditions of 2010 into a rich and brawny Sauvignon Blanc that plays with one’s expectations about what this varietal is supposed to be. This is not an elegant New Zealand S.B., but rather a spicy, fibrous and rich wine imbued with herbal notes of anise, peppermint and basil. It showcases a key trait of virtual wines: answerable to no one, the winemaker can be daring.
“Always buy second wines in poor vintages because you get most of the declassified grand vin at a bargain price.”
by Roger Torriero
One of my first forays into learning about wine was an introductory wine course. While covering the Bordeaux region, the subject of second wines came up. The instructor imparted this wisdom: “Always buy second wines in poor vintages because you get most of the declassified grand vin at a bargain price.” The question that inevitably followed was, “And in good vintages?” “Well, then,” said the instructor, “you should also buy second wines because then overall quality is better, including the second wine.” Clear. Yep. Okay, I get it; it’s probably a good idea to buy second wines. “What exactly is a second wine?” you might ask. “Isn’t that the bottle that follows the first one you just polished off?” While I admire your way of thinking, that isn’t what we are talking about here. Second wines (aka second labels) are declassified lots of wines bottled under a different name than their iconic siblings. A good comparison would be to look at these wines much like you would seconds in the apparel world. Clothing manufacturers will often divert certain batches of items or entire production runs into secondary labels, which are often referred to as “seconds.” This allows them to maintain their brand equity, but still get something back for these items — albeit a lesser amount. The important point here is that seconds are still made using the same expert designers and tailors and the same materials, but the quality might be only marginally less, if at all, than the exclusive brand. Similarly, second wines follow the same design (pun intended) as the clothing industry. These wines are made from slightly irregular but not necessarily inferior lots that don’t meet the uniform standards of the main label. This allows the producer to up the quality of their top bottling while diverting less than ideal batches. Though second wines obviously don’t exhibit the same cachet of the signature wine, they are made by the same winemaking team, with the same expertise, the same attention to detail and usually with fruit sourced from the vineyards controlled by the winery. For the consumer, this is often a great deal as they are given the opportunity to indulge in great wines at a significantly reduced cost. This practice is hardly new. The crafty Bordelaise began releasing a second wine as far back as the 18th century. Since we are talking Bordeaux, it is important to make the distinction between second wine (or label) and second growth or deuxième cru. A second growth refers to a group of certain châteaux outlined in the official Bordeaux classification of 1855; for example, Château Ducru-Beaucaillou and Château Léoville-Las Cases are both deuxième cru. A second wine refers to declassified lots of wine from respected wineries. For example, Château DucruBeaucaillou (a second growth) produces an unclassified second wine called Croix de Beaucaillou. Confused? Read on. The practice of establishing a second wine started as something the best châteaux in the Médoc (the left bank of Bordeaux) did to up the quality of their top wine or grand vin (great wine or first wine). It allowed the winemakers to be more selective with what went into their grand vin without wasting the remaining wine. The practice has continued in the modern era. In any given vintage, most top châteaux typically will only keep about 30 to 50 per cent of the production for the grand vin, leaving quite a bit of wine with no home. Bottling a second wine takes care of the excess, and also
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keeps the accountants happy by producing a higher return than selling the wine off in bulk. The grand vin’s recent stratospheric rise in value and collectability in the Asian market has had a halo effect on seconds. Carruades de Lafite, the second wine of Lafite Rothschild, was once looked down on by Bordeaux fanatics. It now retails for more than many prestigious second growths. While there are no set rules for making second wines, some producers have specific vineyard sites that are dedicated to making these wines. Usually they are comprised of younger vines that are not yet hitting their full potential. Or they can be sites that have historically produced lesser-quality grapes. However, sometimes the grapes from typically highly rated vineyard sites will be downgraded in certain instances, in which case the juice goes into making the second wine. In lesser vintages, for example, producers may opt to make no grand vin, so all wine will end up as a second (one of the reasons to buy second wines, as my wine instructor aptly pointed out). Besides the price/quality factor, another good thing about seconds is that you often don’t have to wait as long for them to
vendanges at château palmer
hit prime drinking condition. Some producers take this one step further. For example, Château Palmer’s winemaking team makes a conscious effort to shape its second wine, Alter Ego, into a more approachable style by working with the blend.
So it’s a win-win for producer and consumer, which is exactly why the custom of producing a second wine is still practiced to this day and has expanded well beyond the home base of the Médoc. Nowadays it seems that many quality-minded producers around the world are getting in on the game. Still in Bordeaux but beyond the old establishment, Chateau d’Aiguilhe is probably the brightest shining star of the now-emerging, once-a-backwater right-bank appellation of Côtes de Castillon. It produces a second label in most vintages, to great success. If we take a second (sorry) and move out of France and into Spain, we find that the legendary Vega Sicilia winery in Ribera del Duero has long produced a second wine — though formally, it doesn’t refer to it as such. The winery, which has been compared to Lafite, is famous for producing an equally coveted
and expensive wine called Unico. This rare gem is produced when the winery feels the wine quality is commensurate with the astronomical price, which means that in some vintages no Unico is made at all. The unofficial second wine, Valbuena 5°, is made every year and, like the Carruades mentioned above, is priced well above many other fine Spanish reds. Closer to home, Ontario’s Stratus winery produces an affordable second label, Wildass, whose red and white together sop up the odd lots of wine and slightly lesser batches that don’t make it into the winery’s flagship bottles. Worthy of note is the fact that at one time this wine was only available to restaurants for special order from the winery. This made it quite possibly harder to find than the main wine. Occasionally, these labels can become wildly popular, or even more successful than the main wine. For example, the popular Mouton Cadet began its life as a second wine for Château Mouton-Rothschild. Eventually the brand became so successful on its own merit that it ceased to be a second label and evolved into a brand offering affordable, generic Bordeaux
Today, virtually any serious wine producer will have a second wine. Many producers, especially those with a reputation at stake, put as much effort into forging a secondary label as they do their top wines. If we go full circle back to the origins of the second label in the Haut-Médoc, we find that some have taken it to the next logical (or illogical, depending on how you see it) level. Yes, it’s true. In an effort to maintain the quality of their second wines, Chateau Latour and now Chateau Margaux are both producing third wines! Not to be outdone, the two iconic Italian reds, Sassicaia and Ornellaia, both of which are modelled on the classic classified-growths of Bordeaux, are producing second, and recently third, labels. Heed the advice of my wise instructor and seek out seconds. Lest you be tempted to think that you’re getting second best — think again. Generally, if the first wine is good, the second will be as well. Smart consumers should capitalize on this fact and remember that many second wines will give them a taste of pedigreed wine for a fraction of the cost. So the next time a winery offers you seconds, be sure to take them up on their offer. You won’t be second-guessing. •
dominus dominusestate estate
wine. In order to meet demand, the label now sources and blends its fruit from across the Bordeaux appellation rather than the original Pauillac AC. It is also produced in a white and rosé version and includes a range of reserve bottlings. Today, in terms of volume, Mouton Cadet is one of (if not the) top selling wines to come out of Bordeaux. It is, in fact, considered by many to be the region’s most successful brand. Despite the popularity of these labels, it must be noted that the practice of making second wines is hardly universal. While they are fairly common in the top left-bank châteaux in the Haut-Médoc, the properties in the senior right-bank appellations of St Émilion and Pomerol are less likely to produce them. There is no second wine at the rare and expensive top Pomerol, Château Pétrus. Owner and winemaker Christian Moueix prefers to sell off those lots, which are rejected as generic Pomerol. But even in this case, his avoidance of second wines is not absolute. After all, at his Napa Valley property, Dominus, he also produces Napanook, a second wine that is one of the most sought-after wines in the region.
Some consistently favourite second wines worth seeking out. Second wine is listed first (In parenthesis the first wine is listed, followed by area of production)
Wildass Red or White (Stratus Red and White, Ontario) Les Hauts de Pontet-Canet (Pontet Canet, Bordeaux, France) Alter Ego (Château Palmer, Bordeaux) Château Bahans Haut-Brion (Château Haut-Brion, Pessac Leognan, France) La Réserve de Léoville Barton (Château Leoville Barton, St-Julien, France) Les Fiefs de Lagrange (Château Lagrange, St.-Julien, France) Napanook (Dominus, Napa Valley) Le Serre Nuove (Ornellaia, Bolgheri, Italy) Guidalberto (Sassicaia, Bolgheri, Italy)
The Bairrada, Dão and Beiras regions stretch from the Atlantic Ocean to Spain across the craggy mountains, verdant valleys and rolling hills of Portugal.
by brenda mcmillan
The countryside is criss-crossed with roads and rivers. Gardens are bordered by terraced stone walls. Goats graze. Granite dominates in scenery, vineyards and architecture. Buildings with red tile roofs are built into the sides of hills, and flow with village streets along the contours of the land. It is November, but jonquils and roses still bloom and pine and eucalyptus groves leave the air smelling fresh and minty, like toothpaste breath. Vineyards, skirted by laden olive trees, sport their most fiery hues. I am visiting to taste the wines that spring from this Garden of Eden — and to meet the passionate owners who live and work here. These are people with heart and pride. Granite soils, microclimates, strong sun, and gentle rains flavour their efforts to produce high quality, food-friendly wines. Most achieve this. Some far exceed. Choosing favourites is impossible, because most wineries left lasting impressions; but some shine. Architect and owner of Quinta do Perdigão, José Perdigão produces award-winning, delicious wines. His place is idyllic; a pregnant Lusitano posed so prettily in front of the winery that my photo was (embarrassingly) mostly horse and little building. I was charmed by the man, his wines and his steed. Casa de Mouraz, a family-owned and operated business, is fully biodynamic and organic with oranges, pears, figs, olives, and of course, grapes, growing within spitting distance of the cellar door. António Lopes Ribeiro, the present owner, was auspiciously born above the wine cellar built by his father in vineyards passed down to his mother from his great grandfather. Vines are gnarled. Wines are wonderful thanks to superlative grapes and winemaker César Augusto Fernandes.
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Quinta do Perdigão Reserva 2009
The label of this white wine, entitled Amor Perfeito, was painted by the owner’s wife, Vanessa Chrystie. Soft aromas of freesias, lychees and peaches lead into lip-smacking acidity and lots of flavour. Complex and complete. “As luminous as perfect love.” Share it with cheese, sushi and friends.
Quinta do Perdigão Colheita 2007 A blend of the four indigenous red grapes from their 7-hectare vineyard, this wine is as authentic as they come and well represents what the region is capable of. Rustic and traditional, it has a fantastic mouthfeel, solid fruitiness, and a strong finish. A perfect marriage of acidity, alcohol and tannins, I’d serve it with anything grilled or roasted. Amazing for 6 Euros (from the winery).
Casa de Mouraz Red 2007
Earth and flowers present on the nose followed by soft floral and mineral flavours with a touch of mint, thanks to surrounding forests. Medium body, balanced acidity, refined throughout. It all works wonderfully together. Organic.
FTP Vinhos Quinta do Serrado Colheita White 2009
Verdelho, Encruzado and Bical grapes afford this clean wine soft floral-tropical fruit aromas and citrus flavours with mineral notes, a very fresh acidity and a long finish. Yummy with fresh trout.
+ Check your local liquor board web site for pricing and availability
Quinta do Cerrado Reserva 2006 Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz and Jaen combine in this medium-bodied, food-friendly wine. Smooth and delicious, I quaffed it with duck rice, a regional specialty, and thought it a perfect accompaniment to an al fresco lunch at the winery.
Quinta de Cabriz Four C 2007
A blend of four grapes that are usually kept secret (likely Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz, Alfrocheiro and Tinto Cão), this is the top-of-the-line offering for Quinta de Cabriz. The extremely intense purple hue and red-fruit jam nose herald a huge, lush glassful that lasts and lasts. Big, brash, bold.
Caves São João Porta Dos Cavaleiros Touriga Nacional 1983
For decades the cellar of Caves São João has been growing, so it was a treat to taste some of their older wines. This one has soft red fruit and a touch of barnyard on the nose, like an old Bordeaux. Good acids and fresh lively fruit still prevail. Lunch at the winery paired this elegant wine with regional fare. A liquid asset.
Quinta dos Currais White 2008
A blend of 10 indigenous whites from a family estate with vineyards, forest and farm, this wine is stellar with food because of its acidity, but also lovely to sip because of the soft fruity aromas and flavours. Pair it with nibblies and romance.
Oscar Almeida Vinhos Versus Rosé 2009
I would buy white, rosé and red Versus wines, but describe only the pretty rosé. Dressed in pink with a mineral and grapefruit nose, its red fruits and lively acidity last and last. At 3 Euros from the winery, I wish I could drink it all summer. Great with salads and steamy weather.
Adega Cooperativa do Fundão Alpedrinha 2009
A wet steel nose is followed by minerals, biscuits and a citrus finish. Indigenous white varietals Fonte Cal, Arinto and Siria, and granite soils contribute to the flavours. Very elegant. Drink it with appetizers and the seafood/fish course.
Adega da Covilhã Terras De Belmonte Kosher 2005
Portugal did not produce kosher wine for 500 years (since the Inquisition), but in 2005 that changed. Cherry in colour, it has a soft fruit nose, good tannins and a persistent finish with a touch of herbs. Bring on a grilled strip loin rubbed with Dijon mustard, thyme and lots of black pepper.
Caves do Solar de São Domingos Grand Escolha 2004
With 60% Touriga Nacional, 20% Baga and 20% Tinta Roriz, this wine has the makings of a star. Purple-black ink in the glass with wafts of liquorice and red fruit, it is soft and fruity with a hint of minty herbs and a well-balanced acidity. 14% alcohol. Best suited to winter cooking, so pop those roasts and braises into the oven.
Quinta de Baixo Grand Escolha 2005 40- to 80-year-old vines that are “treated like babies” send grapes to the lagar for foot crushing for this lovely red wine. Juicy, smoky, peppery, velvety, it is perfectly balanced and very expressive. A wine described as “not a copy of anything” in my notes. 5500 cases produced, 12 Euros from the winery. Wish I was holding a glass now.
Quinta de Baixo Brut 2007
A lovely off-dry brut with a party of happy bubbles, a nice balance and a laissez-faire attitude. At 4 Euros per bottle from the winery, there is a lot of joy in a case.
Luis Pato Formal Brut 2008
This top-of-the-line brut has a plethora of fine bubbles, a balanced acidity and soft flavours thanks to the 50/50 contributions of Bical (white) and Touriga Nacional (red) grapes. Drink with every celebration, large and small.
Luis Pato Sparkling 2009
As gently pink as a baby’s cheek, this everyday quaffer has just enough sweetness to brighten your day. Summer fruits would pair well as long as they were not overripe. •
They soar by gracefully, one after the other, gliding, searching, hunting the critters and carrion in the vineyards below our perch at the newly opened Miradoro Restaurant at the Tinhorn Creek winery in the south Okanagan Valley. It’s early spring, and the majestic bald eagles that just cruised by our floor-to-ceiling windows are a sight to behold as they circle, with purpose, above the bare vineyards that offer no cover for the pesky marmots that scurry unsuspectingly below. It’s an “awe” moment taking us away, if only briefly, from the feast in front of us at Tinhorn’s spectacular 4,000-square foot winery restaurant, featuring a wrap-around deck with extraordinary views of the Okanagan Valley. We’re digging into a plate of pancetta pizza, made in a wood stone oven and cooked Neapolitan style with sourdough and stone ground wheat (it is to die for, by the way), haddock cheeks and marinated octopus all matched with Tinhorn’s delicious Pinot Gris and Syrah. The menu at Tinhorn’s new Miradoro is Mediterranean in style, using seasonal ingredients sourced from local fields, forests and the Pacific Ocean to the west. Miradoro is indicative of the transformation that’s taking place in the Okanagan. Only a few years ago, fine winery dining was limited to the Terrace Restaurant at Mission Hill in the central Okanagan, and the Sonora Room at Burrowing Owl Estate Winery in the south — both excellent restaurants, with a few others sprinkled
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throughout the valley. Today, wineries, as well as wine-themed restaurants not attached to a winery, are rushing to create a food and wine culture that will keep visitors busy exploring, drinking and eating for a week or more as the region ramps up development to attract even more committed wine and food travellers. Next door to Tinhorn, at the Hester Creek Estate Winery, the finishing touches were just being applied during a spring visit to the now-open Terrafina Restaurant — an intimate setting with old brick, wooden pillars and iron chandeliers. It’s an add-on at the winery to entice visitors to stay, as Jackson Browne once sang, just a little bit longer, and enjoy breathtaking views, much like you would find in a villa overlooking the hills in Tuscany, and revel in all that the Okanagan Valley can offer. And it’s happening throughout the Valley, as more hectares of land are planted to grape vines, wineries are expanding, building larger tasting rooms and adding winery restaurants, hotels and resorts are trying to keep up to the demand of an influx of wine-culinary tourists — and a new generation of restaurants is emerging, one that caters to those who want local, well-prepared food and are willing to pay the price for quality. It truly is fascinating to watch as the Okanagan Valley comes of age. It is no longer just a vacation destination with great beaches, beautiful weather and a diminishing number of local fruit stands. It has become, or is on the road to becoming, a serious wine and culinary destination.
photos: BC Wine Institute
by rick vansickle
Tinhorn Creek winemaker Sandra Oldfield says building a restaurant attached to the winery was a big financial decision, but one that’s necessary. “We at Tinhorn Creek feel our wines show best with food, and that is an obvious match,” she says. Oldfield adds that selling wines at the winery is crucial for survival in the Okanagan because of the low profits made when selling through retail. Adding a restaurant gives consumers a reason to keep coming back, she says. “Giving people a full experience at the cellar door is a really healthy thing for our industry.”
Exploring the Okanagan Valley efficiently, much like any wine region in the world, takes careful planning. The bulk of the visitors come from either Vancouver to the west, a five-hour drive, or Calgary to the east, a tough, six-hour drive. So it’s a good bet visitors are staying for the weekend or longer. The valley is long and narrow and runs north for 160 kilometres from the US border. It’s not like the Napa Valley or even Niagara, where you can hop in your car and find wineries along the side of the road. It takes careful planning for a trip to the Okanagan. There are 125 wineries to choose from, all with different visiting hours, several which are “by appointment only,” and others that don’t even have tasting bars. So arriving with a well-researched plan is crucial.
WHERE TO STAY
Knowing where to stay begins with where you want to go. The Okanagan is divided (loosely) into several geographic sub-regions (listed below from north to south).
Key wineries include Gray Monk, Mission Hill, Quails’ Gate, Tantalus, Summerhill, Cedar Creek and ExNihilo. Best grape varieties: Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Riesling, Chardonnay.
Key wineries include Sumac Ridge, Red Rooster, Laughing Stock, Poplar Grove, 8th Generation and Dirty Laundry. Best grape varieties: Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay, Merlot.
Key wineries include Blue Mountain, Blasted Church, Stags’ Hollow, Meyer Family, Wild Goose and See Ya Later Ranch. Best grape varieties: Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Noir.
Key wineries include Tinhorn Creek, Hester Creek, Inniskillin, Cassini, Road 13 Vineyards, Oliver Twist, Jackson-Triggs and Burrowing Owl. Best grape varieties: Merlot, Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer, others.
WHAT TO BRING
»» A camera to capture the vineyards, landscapes and wildlife. »» A notebook, if you are a wine enthusiast and want to
document your tastes and travels. »» A blanket (because many of the wineries have gorgeous settings and encourage guests to stay and enjoy the surroundings with a glass of wine in hand) »» A cooler. If you are driving, remember that the heat of the car could cook your wine if there too long. Keep a cooler in the trunk of the vehicle so your wine purchases can beat the heat!
Key wineries include LaStella, Moon Curser and Nk’Mip. Best grape varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Chardonnay, Syrah, Zinfandel. Each of these areas has its own unique appeal with a mix of resorts, bed and breakfasts and hotels, many of which are right on the lake. Figure out your destination, decide the style of accommodation you want, and book well in advance. Keep in mind that getting from one end of the valley to the other, if you are planning on tasting and eating along the way, just isn’t possible in one or two days. So, staying somewhere mid-way in the valley might be a good option for you. There’s a decent list of the accommodations at okanagan.com.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
The best time of year to visit the Okanagan Valley is between May and October, as many of the smaller wineries as well as a few of the winery restaurants close after the fall wine festival in October. Visitors looking for a large number of winery events might time their visit with one of the signature Okanagan Wine Festivals found at thewinefestivals.com. Visitors looking to beat the crowds might be more comfortable visiting late May to early June (this is also when the fresh spring whites have just been released) or mid-September.
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»» When tasting wine for hours and days at a time, it’s key to
taste and spit your wine into the spittoons that are provided at all wineries. You won’t last long if you keep drinking all those little samples. It may seem geeky, but it’s necessary (especially if you’re driving). »» Wineries always have wines to taste at the tasting bar (some charge, others don’t). But don’t be afraid to ask for something else if you don’t see it — tasting staff are only too willing to accommodate every request. »» Research before you go. Different wineries specialize in different wines. There’s no sense going to a winery that has a great white wine portfolio if you’re a red wine lover. »» Have a plan. You won’t get far if you visit every winery you come across. Research your route and stick to it (although there is something to say for pleasant surprises along the way!).
EATING IN THE OKANAGAN
The Okanagan is finally realizing that visitors want good, local food to be a part of their experience in wine country. More and more winery restaurants have opened up with talented chefs and amazing views to go with the wines made at the estates. Try the new Miradoro Restaurant at Tinhorn Creek or the new Terrafina Restaurant at Hester Creek. There are also the more established winery restaurants, including the Terrace Restaurant at Mission Hill, the Sonora Room at Burrowing Owl Estate Winery, and the recently renovated Grapeview Restaurant at Gray Monk. But don’t forget to include some of the restaurants not attached to wineries in your dining plans. Here are two I can highly recommend. RauDZ, a downtown Kelowna eatery, is indicative of the culinary revolution taking place in the Okanagan that has migrated beyond the wineries and, finally, caught on in the main towns in wine country. RauDZ is a contemporary bistro that serves up fresh local dishes in a comfortable, casual and relaxed space. From the moment you walk into this trendy spot you are welcomed by staff, seated and presented with an array of fun cocktails to try from the enthusiastic mixologist, and a list of the best local wines from the Okanagan Valley. The Local Lounge in Penticton is another fine eatery that uses only locally sourced ingredients to match with what is possibly the largest collection of VQA BC wines (175 wines on the
WHERE TO RESEARCH
»» To get the most out of your wine country experience, do some
research ahead of time. When you’re at the winery, ask lots of questions, talk to the locals about their favourites and do a lot of tasting (take a wine tour or have a designated driver). »» Two great resources to plan your wine tour in the Okanagan Valley are hellobc.com and winebc.com. »» Wine Country Ontario, the overarching industry organization for wines in Ontario: winecountryontario.ca »» Wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake: wineriesofniagaraonthelake.com »» Twenty Valley, for wineries in Beamsville, Vineland and Jordan: twentyvalley.ca
list) in the world, as well as a vast local craft beer list. The menu changes with the seasons, and includes delicious pastas, salads, soups, steak burgers, paninis and pulled pork sandwiches served either inside overlooking Okanagan Lake, or right on the water on the 120-seat patio. The key to dining in the Okanagan, especially in the busy summer months, is to reserve well ahead of time.
It’s just not possible to visit any of the regions without careful strategy going into it. The region can be divided into four areas:
TOURING IN NIAGARA
Most of the rules above for touring in wine country apply to all wine regions you may want to visit, including the Niagara Peninsula in Ontario. The biggest difference between the two regions is the proximity of Niagara to the country’s biggest city, Toronto, and the fact that Niagara wineries are all open year round, nearly every day of the year, with major events taking place all the time. The bulk of the visitors to Niagara are more apt to make it a day trip or short overnighter, rather than the extended stays in the Okanagan (although Niagara has gorgeous and numerous inns, hotels and bed and breakfasts, mostly in and around Niagara-on-the-Lake, visit niagaraonthelake.com or twentyvalley.ca for listings). But it still requires careful planning to get the most out of your visit. At last count, there were over 75 wineries in the Niagara Peninsula, generally divided by Niagara-on-the-Lake and the Niagara Escarpment, which includes Beamsville, Vineland, Jordan and St Catharines.
This “Bench” region starts at Peninsula Ridge Winery and continues with wineries such as Thirty Bench, Hidden Bench, Rosewood Estate, and Fielding Estate.
A big stretch of Niagara that includes Vineland Estates, Tawse, Malivoire, Megalomaniac, Cave Spring Cellars, Flat Rock Cellars, Stoney Ridge, Creekside and 13th Street, to name but a few.
niagara stone road, niagara-on-the-lake
Niagara’s largest and most established wineries dot the road leading to the quaint town of Niagara-on-the-Lake. Some of the big names include Southbrook, Stratus, Hillebrand, Jackson-Triggs and Pillitteri.
Technically part of Niagara-on-the-Lake but on the opposite side of Niagara Stone Road. Wineries include Château des Charmes, Coyote’s Run, Ravine and the new Colaneri Estate Winery. •
by rosemary mantini
I’m willing to bet that the last great meal you ate made you close your eyes in pure delight. No doubt it piqued your curiosity as well as your taste buds. You may have wondered what combination of ingredients the chef used to create such a dish. You might have even tried to replicate it at home despite knowing that it would never turn out exactly the same — not necessarily better or worse, just different. Cooking up such wonderful meals isn’t about graduating from culinary school. It’s about adding a pinch or two of one very special ingredient. Whether it’s celebrating a unique heritage or running a restaurant according to a family philosophy, the chefs within these pages never stray far from their roots. Their feet may be firmly grounded in tradition, but their imaginations know no bounds. These maverick chefs are taking Canadian cuisine to new heights and attracting the interest of the world. For each one of them, growing up on meals made from scratch using products sourced most often from their own backyards has left an indelible mark. Life experience is the extra ingredient that flavours everything these chefs make. Martin Gagné (La Traite Restaurant, Quebec), Jesse Vergen (Saint John Ale House and Smoking Pig BBQ, New Brunswick),
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Victor Bongo (Raven Hotel, Yukon) and Scott Geiring (Carambola Café et Traiteur, Quebec) are independent spirits. From sourcing ingredients from around the world via a cruise liner, to foraging through unmapped areas of the backwoods, to continually experimenting with any kind of food combination, these chefs are fearless. Worried that their drive to test the limits of their experience might result in a strange kind of mish-mash scooped onto your plate? Well, don’t be. We’re definitely the winners here. Everyday, they transform their individual talent and creativity into incredibly natural, flavourful food that goes far beyond sating your hunger. It nourishes your soul.
La Traite Restaurant, Executive Chef Hôtel-Musée Premières Nations Wendake, QC
When I lived on the University of Quebec’s TroisRivières campus, Marie-Antoinette, a restaurant chain across the province, was the only place within easy walking distance we students could frequent for amazing French toast when the university’s cafeteria was closed. Marie-Antoinette was also where Martin Gagné got his start as a chef on the breakfast shift. I knew there was a reason I liked him. Flipping pancakes couldn’t hold him for long, though. Martin is a chef who refuses to settle with the ordinary when the extraordinary is in sight. His family’s ancestral Algonquian roots were calling him, so off he went in pursuit. Martin says he has always appreciated the flavours of the natural environment. Growing up in Sherbrooke, in the Eastern Townships of Quebec, this was the kind of food his parents prepared every day. Dishes featuring game, fish and plenty of fresh herbs enticed his palate and his imagination. Who else could conceive of a mouthwatering entrée of dried deer with Chicoutai blackberry liqueur, or this trilogy; beaver ribs marinated in molasses; beaver sautéed with nuts and apricots; and grilled fillet mignon of beaver? As a child, farms dotted the countryside around his home; not so anymore. Restaurants featuring the region’s traditional fare are scarce at best. But Martin was not satisfied to let those roots whither. He set out on a mission. He was not going to simply replicate the dishes he remembered. He would strive instead to update First Nations cuisine with an eye to making it healthier and more accessible. By 2007, Martin was
creating elevated First Nations fare not seen anywhere else. He was single-handedly turning a lost cuisine into a modern and sought-after delicacy. I asked Martin how he had thought up such an interesting combination as roast seal with onion jam and dried tomatoes. He cited a chance meeting with two influential chefs — Susur Lee and Marc de Canck. Although neither of those chefs typically cook with the kind of ingredients that now fill Martin’s fridge and pantry, Susur’s interpretation of French and Asian fusion cuisine wowed Martin, and Marc inspired him with his technique and talent. With that kind of expertise at play, it was only a matter of time before Grand Chief Max Gros-Louis, who dedicated his time to promoting First Nations culture, would come calling. While Martin was running a workshop at a local Harvest Festival, Max’s wife handed him a pamphlet advertising Hôtel-Musée Premières Nations that, at the time, was still under construction. He took some time to think about leading the kitchen team before accepting. Four years later, Martin is comfortably installed at La Traite restaurant, at least for now. His future plans include teaching more workshops promoting the “products of the forest.” Meanwhile, the menu Martin has designed entices visitors from all around the world.
Saint John Ale House, Executive Chef Smoking Pig BBQ, Owner/Executive Chef Saint John, NB
Not content with one all-consuming career, Jesse Vergen has two. Rather than remain within the confines of the kitchen, he insists on pushing beyond the usual sourcing, cooking and plating that chefs do. Jesse is also an organic farmer. He and his wife, Kim, grow a lot of the food served in his restaurants on their farm in Quispamsis, on the outskirts of Saint John. But don’t be fooled into thinking that vegetables are his mainstay. Jesse has made good on his goal of taking an active part in every step of the food preparation cycle: he slaughters his own animals, too. Farming comes naturally to this Maritimer. As a child, he read Mother Earth News and organic gardening books when visiting his grandparents. Jesse’s stepfather, Tom, was raised on a dairy farm in Vermont, and farming was something they both had in common. Asked whether his customers appreciate his efforts, Jesse is philosophical. “Saint John is a very tough market where we have to do tightrope walking when attempting to push the limits of what’s going on people’s plates.” If his patrons have anything to say about it, they would agree he’s met the challenge successfully. Follow him on Twitter (@JesseVergen) to “see some food porn as it happens.”
How has your family influenced your decision to become a farmer? My biggest influence in organic cultivation was my wife Kim. She’s the real green thumb. I was having some beers with some friends and telling them my dream of someday having a little restaurant on a farm and growing my own produce and whatnot, and one of the girls with us said, “Holy crap, you need to meet my sister. That’s her dream too!” And years down the road here we stand, living our dream with three wonderful kids!
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What makes Saint John Ale House stand apart from the others? Fun. Hospitality should be fun, relaxed and tasty. Who has influenced your cooking the most? My kitchen team. They are the ones that affect me because I work with them on a daily basis. I learn constantly from them and have to constantly be learning to answer their questions. The team that’s with you day-to-day and your customers are the real influences on a chef.
What’s on offer at Smoking Pig BBQ? We do a real pit BBQ with New Brunswick pork and veggies from my farm. Why is yours one of the last standing farms in Quispamsis? It’s just modern development. It takes a hay field a long, long time to make the profit that selling one 1/4 acre lot can. My plan is to keep it as a working sustainable farm. I like to be challenged, and this is a big one. I’m not sure if I’m winning or losing, but I like the fight.
What made you decide you wanted to become a chef? My parents have said to me that even when I was just a kid, I was into cooking. They even made me cook things I hunted down in the back woods with my BB gun, like squirrels or frogs. They told me if I was going to shoot something, I was going to eat it, and I did. Do you have a “guilty” secret ingredient? Crystal hot sauce. What’s your favourite country or region to eat in? Quebec — great independent food culture. What was your favourite meal as a child? The potato pancakes my mother used to make. She would grind them in this old meat grinder with a fine purée attachment. Then she
would mix in stale bread and some eggs. She’d fry them in butter with some salt. Then you would melt butter on them afterwards. What’s your favourite kitchen tool or gadget? Vac seal machine … so versatile! What are you fanatical about? Duck hunting! Boom, boom, boom! What’s your favourite drink? Beer. It’s the “new” wine, especially when it’s malty, bottle-conditioned farmhouse ale. Name an underrated ingredient. I’m all about our local Bay of Fundy cold water shrimp. I don’t think they get the respect they deserve … maybe if they had a cooler name. Is there a food that you really don’t like? Green peppers … Fruit of the devil!
Where do you shop for ingredients? I grow, raise, or shoot ’em. What rule of conduct matters more than any other in your kitchen? Showing up on time. You only get one “get out of jail free” card. Which cookbook changed everything for you? Back to Basics by Readers Digest. It’s not a cookbook, but has all sorts of methods of butchery, preserving, and a pretty cool recipe selection. What’s your favourite meal to cook at home? Ramen noodles with random goodies from our kitchen garden! Do you have anything surprising in your home fridge? Wild Eiders and Mergansers in the freezer, also known as sea ducks.
1 large rabbit (farmed or wild) Pot of canola oil (support GMO-free canola!) Favourite vinegar-based hot sauce (Crystal, Valentina, Frank’s Red Hot) 250 ml cold butter, cubed 100 g Gai Bleu Cheese (NB raw milk blue cheese) What-a-rabbit-likes-to-eat garnishes (carrots, radish, little baby greens)
1. Break the rabbit into “wing” size pieces using
a sharp Chinese cleaver. A strong wrist will help with this. 2. Heat oil to 350°F. Heat hot sauce to a simmer, and emulsify butter into it. 3. Fry rabbit pieces for 6 1/2 minutes. Arrange on a plate, drizzle with sauce and top with crumbled blue cheese and garnishes. …… Eat it with your hands and pair with a hoppy IPA.
Raven Hotel Executive Chef, Haines Junction, Yukon
The one thing in particular that strikes me about Victor Bongo is that he personifies passion and drive. This chef with an unfailingly positive attitude pushed the boundaries of tradition even as a young child in his mom’s kitchen in the Congo. Though the cultural preference then was to exclusively relegate food prep to women, he insisted on learning all he could about traditional ingredients and techniques. By age 11, he had moved with his family to Vancouver, and what may not have been possible for him in the Congo was within reach on Canadian soil.
Victor credits Chef Peter Brine, his high school cooking class teacher, as his greatest influence. The chef was so impressed with Victor’s quick mastery of complex dishes that he couldn’t help but tell him, “You’re born to cook!” Never content to miss an opportunity to learn, Victor took a job as chef on a cruise line. Traveling around the world, he picked up ingredients and preparation tips from the many countries he visited. Most recently, Victor was
Where did you get your culinary education? Vancouver Community College
What’s your favourite country to eat in? India
How did you end up in the Yukon? I was working in a high-end hotel in Vancouver, and I got bored because every day I did the same thing. One day a friend told me to check out this job ad in the Yukon. It was the perfect opportunity for me. It was a kitchen in a five-star restaurant where the menu changes weekly and the focus is on wild game, such as elk, venison, bison and caribou.
What was your first job in a professional kitchen? Prep cook in a French kitchen in Vancouver. I wanted to work there so badly that I went knocking on the back alley door begging the chef for an opportunity. I saw grown men cry everyday at work. But, I gave it my best. I left after a year and was known to be the cook to have been there the longest.
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nominated to represent Yukon Territory at the 2010 Chef Congress. He has written a cookbook, The Excellence of Chef Victor Bongo, and is currently working on a second one. Victor has never forgotten his roots. He insists on changing his menu weekly, and showcasing fresh and local food. Go on, try the Muskox tartar piled onto garlic crostini, topped with sautéed spinach and quail eggs then drizzled with red beet syrup.
What music do you like to play in the kitchen? I love my hip hop and reggae, and once in a while some jazz. Favourite drink? Taylor Fladgate Port, and my favourite juice is Sunny Delight. Name an overrated ingredient? Cream. Every restaurant I go to, I find that most dishes are made with cream sauce. All soups are cream soups, and all desserts have cream. Whatever happened to having a nice vinaigrette on fish or a nice salsa?
What’s your favourite kitchen tool? My pasta machine. Have you done anything really embarrassing while cooking? It was at a hotel banquet. I had just gotten promoted to Banquet Sous Chef and was left in charge of cooking 325 portions of venison tenderloin. I walked away from it for about five minutes. By the time the meat came out and got served it was well done, and the chef had wanted it medium rare. Everyone looked at me, like, “Wow, really? You are the new Sous Chef?”
seared scallops with parsnip purée, bacon with lentils and demi truffle sauce Serves 4
demi truffle sauce
1 tbsp butter 1 medium shallot, minced 2 sprigs fresh thyme chopped ½ cup red wine 2 cups demi glace (available at fine food stores) 1 tsp truffle oil 1 tsp truffle shaved
cup celery, diced cup carrots, diced 2 cups green lentils 8 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1. Place the bacon in a sauté pan over
medium heat and sauté bacon till crispy.
2. Add the onions, celery, carrots, and
reduce to desired thickness. Add truffle oil and shaved truffle. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
cook until the vegetables are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the lentils and cook for 1 minute. 3. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to simmer; cover and cook for about 20 to 30 minutes, until the lentils are tender. 4. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Before serving, stir in 1/2 cup demi truffle sauce.
1. Melt butter in a sauce pan, add shallots and chopped thyme.
2. Sauté over medium heat briefly.
Deglaze with red wine. Add Demi glace.
3. Bring to a boil than simmer and
6 medium parsnips, peeled and cubed ¼ cup unsalted butter ¼ cup heavy whipping cream
1. Boil the parsnips until tender, about 25
minutes. Place parsnips in a blender with butter and cream purée till smooth, light consistency. Season with salt and pepper.
lentils with bacon cup bacon, small dice cup onion, diced
Is there a food that you really don’t like? I make poached fish on my menu because it’s healthy and lots of people like it, but I’m not a fan. What skill does someone most need to work in your kitchen? Good attitude, eager to learn, clean and able to work under pressure. What would you be doing if you weren’t a chef? I would want to be a famous rapper. But, there would have been a two per cent chance of that because I can’t rap. I would
16 sea scallops, patted dry Salt Pepper 1 tbsp butter 2 tbsp olive oil
1. Season the scallops with salt and
pepper. Melt butter and oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the scallops and cook until brown, about 2 minutes per side.
cups red beet juice
cup sugar tsp lemon juice
1. Simmer the beet juice in a saucepan
until it has reduced by three quarters, stir in the sugar and lemon juice. Continue to reduce until the desired consistency is achieved. Set aside.
With a spoon, sweep some parsnip purée across each of the plates. Spoon lentils in the middle of each plate. Arrange 4 scallops on each plate, and drizzle with demi truffle sauce and beet reduction. …… Enjoy this flavourful dish with a chilled glass of Sauvignon Blanc.
be a youth counsellor because I like helping kids.
McDonald’s and coconut ice cream from Mario Gelato.
Do you have anything surprising in your home fridge? Most people are surprised that a gourmet high-end chef has Kraft processed cheese in the fridge. I’m not going to lie. I like it.
What do you like to do in your spare time? I love spending it with family and friends. We are big into BBQ, with nice music.
You have 24 hours left to live. What’s your last meal? It would depend where I am. If I’m close to my mother’s house, I would have her African peanut goat stew. If not, then a nice double cheeseburger with no onions and small fries from
Name one challenge that you met on your way to becoming a chef. Being the only student of colour, and being treated differently by the others was definitely a challenge. I overcame it by proving that it’s not about your skin colour or where you come from,
but about your passion for food, and how hard you’re willing to work to become the best. Plans for the future? To do a cooking show with young kids, and also a cooking summer camp to teach kids the importance of healthy eating and the value of food and where it comes from. I’d like to write a few more cookbooks. I also want to get more involved with junior chefs and direct them to be the best they can be. Is there something you refuse to have in your kitchen? Oven mitts!
Carambola Café et Traiteur, Owner/Executive Chef Hudson, QC
Scott Geiring is nothing if not fearless. Here is a chef who relishes devising recipes for almost everything, including rattlesnake and scorpion fish. Witness, for instance, this imaginative combo: Chinese snowfungus with passion fruit and milk chocolate mousse. I asked him how he manages to dream up these diverse pairings. “Life experiences and the people surrounding me,” he says. “I love to learn new things!” I suspect that wielding his favourite Global 12-inch knife must also add to the fun. There is, however, one thing in particular that underlies his creativity — the pursuit of customer satisfaction. Pleasing his restaurant patrons is not just a by-product of his culinary talent. Though, if stellar customer reviews are anything to go by, he’s cornered the market on that. Rather, it’s a concept that informs every decision he makes. “I must respect the economy, the environment and my customers,” he tells me more than once. Scott has succeeded in putting the city of Hudson on the culinary world map because of it.
So, where does that drive come from? “As a teenager, I enjoyed entertaining at home. However, it became costly to entertain groups of young teens every weekend. So I found a more cost effective way of filling all the stomachs of my friends.” And his first restaurant, Le Cantaloup, was born. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite stand the test of time. No matter. One taste of restaurant ownership and Scott knew exactly what he needed to do next. From the remains of a cantaloupe grew another yummy fruit. “The names are kind of an inside joke. Since my first restaurant was called Le Cantaloup and went under, I figured I could give it another shot with another fruit.” Carambola is a starfruit. Scott envisions a future focused on discovering new ways of creating the best experiences possible for his customers. Given that he loves to sing, I couldn’t help wondering if serenading diners is included in that plan. “I enjoy singing everything,” he says, “especially Christmas songs, [though I don’t know] any of the true lyrics, much to the dismay of my customers, staff and my wife.” All right, maybe warbling tunes should just remain a hobby. Despite his questionable vocal talent, what really impresses me about him is his humility. Scott takes every opportunity to mention the valuable and ongoing support of his family, friends and customers. “One of my greatest accomplishments,” he admits, “was simply learning to appreciate what I already have.” •
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Choice by robert hausner
bewildering array! That is exactly what leaves many of us feeling confused, standing in front of the meat aisle in the supermarket. Row upon row of different cuts, seemingly with price as the only guide to which steak we should buy. It need not be so. A simple understanding of what characteristics are important, and just a modicum of common sense, makes the choice infinitely easier. In no particular order, consider a few factors. Firstly, if you’re going to buy for more than one person, then the steaks you choose should be of approximately uniform size and weight. Otherwise, in the cooking process, you have to allow more time for the larger pieces. Keep your life simple, and select packages of about the same weight. The choice you make is not always based simply on cost. Certainly there are premium cuts, and then inferior cuts. If the word “loin,” as in “sirloin,” appears in any of the sometimes-confusing descriptions given, you know you are buying steak that comes from the best part of the animal. It is neither too lean, nor too fat. And at the risk of being dogmatic, the sirloin itself may be the best all-round piece of steak. Many people assert that filet mignon represents the top of the line. Certainly it is the easiest to cut, is the most uniform in appearance, has some good marbling, and because of its round uniform thickness, is easier to control on the grill or in the pan. Yet if you were to buy both a piece of sirloin and a piece of fillet and serve them simultaneously, I think you’ll agree that the filet has the best “mouth feel” but lacks the intensity of taste of the sirloin. So it’s easy to remember that if loin is on the label or the butcher tells you that the steak has been cut from the loin, as in the case of strip steak porterhouse or Tbone and certainly rib or rib-eye, it can be cooked quickly on the grill, in the oven or in a pan. Faux-filet is also popular, but is definitely a step down (though delicious). With this cut, make sure it is of even
40 // October 2011
thickness and not a v-shaped piece that will produce an unevenly cooked result. Also look at the colour of what you’re buying. It should appear bright red in the package, showing that it is fresh, and hopefully that it has been aged for a couple of weeks. If it is dark red, it is undoubtedly closer to the sell-by date and less enticing. If it is grey, leave it for someone else. Often, meat is displayed with a quality designation. “A,” “AA,” “AAA,” or “Prime” indicates the quality of the beef that has been processed. The best cuts are always prime or choice. This is not to say that lower-priced beef is not good, or cannot be delicious. In order to get the best from cuts like bavette or rump, it is a good idea to take a little time and effort to find one of dozens of marinades. Some of these cuts benefit enormously from a few hours of soaking — allowing the liquid to permeate the meat and tenderize it. These are generally very lean cuts with lots of muscle fibre, and they need to be broken down with slow moist heat. They are definitely not for super-hot cooking on the grill. The bavette served with some red wine sauce and shallots is an easy-to-prepare meal, popular everywhere, particularly in France when served with copious quantities of French fried potatoes. Sometimes it appears that a higher grade is seen behind the service glass case and lesser grades are plastic wrapped packages on the self-service shelves. But this is definitely not always the case. The difference is one of marketing — people generally have more confidence if it comes from behind the glass case. But ask your local butcher. If you’re fortunate and he knows his business, he will tell you if there’s any difference. Often, there is money to be saved here. In Canadian supermarkets there are usually choices of only two qualities, choice and select, with the finest quality, prime, usually reserved for the specialty stores and high-end butcher counters in the big supermarkets.
Homeward-bound with your best choice in hand, the next focus is, of course, how to cook the perfect steak. The cooking surface should be very hot, because the objective is to sear the meat outside and have it cook gradually on the inside. With the meat at room temperature and salted on both sides, that indescribable sizzle when the steak hits the pan is your guarantee that the cooking process is underway properly. Often, the steak will stick to the surface for the first minute. This is not a problem, and you will see an almost-instant release once the searing process is complete. The moment you turn it over, it’s often best to reduce the heat from very hot to medium. This will give you a little more control in the finishing. As the meat is cooked — grilled, pan fried or barbecued — it is the many small streaks of white fat dissolving into the meat that give it a deeper flavour. When looking at steaks, look closely for these
Master Butcher from l’Entrecôte, David Cazaudumec says, “While excellent cuts are available at reasonable prices, ‘If you are seeking quality, you can’t afford to buy cheap.’” little white threads of fat that give the meat its incredible flavour. This is called marbling, and is perhaps the most important characteristic of good beef. Yes, there is a large fraternity that says that fat is bad, and that lean is good, but in this case evenly-spread marbling is going to result in good taste, and very lean meat is going to be both tough and hard to cut. Sometimes the butcher will tie either a sliver of fat or a piece of bacon around the outside of the meat. The reasoning is the same, and the melting fat will impart some of its intensity into the meat. You can cut away the fat after the cooking process, but do yourself a favour and leave it there while it is on the heat. Do you want control over the doneness? Mundane as that sounds, spend the money once and buy an instant-read thermometer. It takes all the guesswork out of the process. But whatever you do, heat your pan or oven to at least 425˚F.
At that temperature, a two-inch thick steak will be about four minutes for rare (125˚F), six for medium rare and eight or nine for medium. This, of course, varies with the thickness. There’s one last thing to remember, and this is it: once the meat has been cooked, remove it from the pan, tent it with aluminium foil and let it rest for about five minutes. This is when the cooking process is completed — the meat relaxes and the juices are redistributed inwards rather than running out onto the plate. Steak calls for red wine, and the joy here is that there are an almost infinite variety of choices. In summer outside at the barbecue, it’s often nice to serve the classic Beaujolais (old style), which is almost cool and enhances the outdoor picnic atmosphere. In the house, the classics are the powerful wines from Bordeaux, the choices almost unlimited. For marinated cuts like the bavette, the accompanying sauce is wonderful if made with the black wine Cahors, while an upscale evening with sirloin or filet mignon is matched perfectly with the finesse of something wonderful from Burgundy. As with any choice, budget and palate are the determining factors. If there is a cardinal rule, I agree with David Cazaudumec, the Master Butcher from l’Entrecôte, the bespoke purveyors of fine meat in Beaulieu-sur-mer, on the French Riviera. While excellent cuts are available at reasonable prices, “If you are seeking quality, you can’t afford to buy cheap.” It is unnecessary to try to match what chefs produce in the game of one-upmanship in the great villas and the mega-yachts (which are, by definition, over 250 feet in length, helicopter optional). Nonetheless, if cost is irrelevant and you are trying to impress, then Kobe beef from Japan’s hand-massaged beef tops at $1000 per kilo is what you’re after. But we’ll keep our feet on the ground and enjoy quality steak, from the grocery store. •
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This past year I managed to visit, learn more about and taste the wines of Germany, the Czech Republic, Austria and Hungary. All this without a rental car, train tickets or even getting lost. Almost a first with my lack of map-reading skills. I didn’t even have to pack and unpack constantly, the bane of many holidays. How did I accomplish this amazing feat? It was simple: I booked, and very much enjoyed a river cruise along the Danube. The ship, the Avalon Tapestry, was, as is typical, smallish. It offered buffet breakfasts and lunches, but featured served cuisine as well as dinner wines, not to mention the bar wines from some of the regions I cruised through — a must, in my opinion. One plus is that the package included three days in Prague, a beautiful city full of wonderful architecture, and of course sidewalk cafés offering interesting Traminers, Pinot Blancs, and even a variety of wonderful Czech beers. Aboard the ship, I explored (which admittedly didn’t take long), and found the bar. While the cabins, and alas, the dining room, are on the smallish side — read, crowded — the ability to watch vineyards glide by while tasting Sylvaners from the nearby Main Canal area helps make up for the crowding at dinner. Similar Franken wines were served that night, complimentary and generously. As I sailed through this part of the Danube, the evening wines naturally were predominantly German. The first night our dinner included a Müller Thürgau and a Dornfelder, a red typically on the lightish side. The next evening featured a halbtrocken Riesling from the Rheingau and an Austrian Merlot. The Merlot went well with the Muscovy duck, and my notes suggest it was a pleasant dinner wine with nice cherry and plum accents. Moving into Austria —without even consulting a map — I arrived at the charming and historic city of Passau. I skipped
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the optional Sound of Music tour, choosing instead to lunch in town, some wine sampling included, of course. Lunch featured a medium-bodied Pinot Noir; more Burgundian than Californian and later in the day, passing a sidewalk café before returning to the ship, I sampled some spicy and refreshing Grüner Veltliner. I also sampled some whites from the Moravia wine region, which seemed particularly interesting.
Two “must know” things about river cruising are the docking and wine policies. The river boats dock, when they can, and ours always did, in the centre of town. Easy steps to the sites you want to see, or for city walking tours. The policy about bringing wine aboard was simple. You bought it and walked on. None of the common restrictions found on big ship cruising. Our cabin had rolled back windows, while on some newer river boats, balconies make a nice place to watch the passing scenery while sipping something special. While the stop at the Benedictine Abbey in Melk was fascinating, I am sad to report that no B&B was offered, let alone wine. I later found out it was the wrong abbey — B&B originating, as it does, from the Normandy region of France. In any case, it was luckily a morning visit, so our large buffet lunch, typical of our ship and most others, was a chance to purchase a German Silvaner. It was quite apple-y and crisp, described as semi-dry, but closer to a Chablis style to our palates. That, along with a red Austrian wine I’d never heard of, came with dinner. The red, a Blaufränkisch, was medium-bodied with a milder cherry finish. Later study told me it was more commonly named Lemberger in Germany. Vienna, where I next spent a day and evening, is a beautiful city, full of great history, music, and lest I forget, sidewalk
avel, but I somesomething unique. by peter Gill
cafés offering Sachertorte with great coffees, as well as (naturally) Austrian wines. During our time there I sampled, among others, a lovely Zweigelt and a lightly oaked Chardonnay, the first Chard of our trip. I don’t know if you will ever see a Grassl Zweigelt on this side of the Atlantic, but if you do, I certainly recommend you try it. Both wines were from the Burgenland region, near Hungary, and went nicely with our on-shore lunch of lightly fried merluzzo (cod) in lobster sauce and, being in Austria after all, wienerschnitzel. That evening, before departing Vienna, I took in an optional Royal Waltz Concert in a lovely historic concert hall. Not only was the setting grand and the music lovely, but the Brut Sparkling Grüner/Chardonnay blend from Lenz Moser was tasty, with a spicy mouthfeel. Sailing on, I arrived at our final destination, Budapest. One overnight on the ship, and then two more on my own. This provided me with many chances to sample Hungarian wines in this fascinating city. Think Prague — with less money for repairing infrastructure. During our time there I tried everything from a Szekszardi, the old “Sex on Saturday” as it used to be called (in this case a fairly thin Pinot Noir), to some wines made from the unique Kadarka grape. In wine shops it seemed to be a popular variety, producing, at least in our samplings, full-bodied wines with dark fruit, some good spice, and a tannic finish suggesting real aging potential — although I was unable to find any older vintages to try. I did taste some whites, including a pleasant Budai Chardonnay; but during our time I much preferred the reds, the white exception being a very interesting caramelly 4 puttonyos Tokay I had one evening. Except in a high-end wine shop, I never saw any classic 6 puttonyos Tokay Aszu. What a shame. •
FINDING THE RIGHT RIVER CRUISE
destinations are important Unlike large ships, which tend to be destinations in themselves, river boats are ways to get places. Make sure you want to go there. size matters River boats are much the same size, but not their cabins. They vary from tiny, under 140 square feet, to 170 plus square feet. Look to see what size is available. Some newer ships offer French Balconies (extended railings) or real balconies. like your chablis chilled? Not all ships have mini-bars in the cabins, so look for that detail. lower decks are cheaper Often windows or portholes are very small and don’t open. The reason is that some ships occasionally drop below water level at window height. Spoils the whole glass-of-wine viewing moment. what wines are complimentary Dinner, or lunch and dinner? A good variety based on region, or just what they have on hand? Your travel agent might be able to get a typical list for you. excursions, optional or included? wine tours? Some ships charge extra for many of their tours, so find out before booking. Some ships offer wine-themed tours or wine matching dinners; watch for them.
Grüner on the Other Sid A few years back, it seemed that Grüner Veltliner would become the next big white, supplanting Pinot Grigio as the height of fashion. But, as quickly as the candle was lit, it was extinguished. Now, I am not sure if this was because of price, pronunciation, or some other reason, but it is a shame. Grüner’s profile of white pepper, apple, grapefruit and green notes, combined with its depth and undeniable food-friendliness, makes it a great alternative to other acid-driven varietals. Personally, I can think of no better partner for asparagus, fish with lemon, or herb-influenced white meats. “Groovy,” as it is sometimes called, accounts for 30 per cent of all Austrian plantings, and has been the driving force behind Austria’s “phoenix from the ashes” renaissance. The catalyst for this was the now-infamous diethlene glycol scandal of 1985. Prior to 1985, the industry was primarily industrial. To ameliorate the bulk wines that were being produced, a handful of larger producers/blenders doctored a small proportion with diethylene glycol, as a means to animate their body with sweetness. Even though diethylene is harmless to humans in small doses, the wineries’ reputation was tarnished. Today, Austria has some of the most stringent rules in the world. The industry is an authentic, artisanal one, controlled by families, which produce individual wines. Austrian producers are also quick to point out that there are no kangaroos in their country — a gentle ribbing of people who mistake their wines with those from the land down under, wines which are generally bulk, technical and uniform. Virtually all Grüner hails from Austria’s north eastern corner, known as the Niederösterrich, or if you will, Lower Austria. Here, the Danube runs through the famed regions of Wachau, Weinvertrel, Kamptal, Kremstal and Wagram. Traditionally, the wines would be classified using a modified Germanic system of ripeness, i.e. Kabinett Spätlese, Auslese, etc. But with the transition in the 1990s from a bulk/ sweeter style to a quality/dryer style, these terms seemed less fitting. Furthermore, the Wachau had created its own special internal classification. The result of much deliberation was the creation of the Districtus Austriae Controllatus, or DAC. The concept is a quasi-appellation system, where the classic, best grapes will only be authorized and labelled in conjunction with the region. If a non-approved grape is grown, it is then labelled under a larger geographic area.
44 // October 2011
The first DAC was issued in 2003 to the Weinvertral region, for the production of Grüner Veltliner. Today, seven of Austria’s 16 wine regions have transitioned to DAC, most working with one or two grapes. There are also two distinctions: Klassik, which are the standard wines; and, Reserve, which denotes wines that adhere to more stringent and different rules. Of course, no story about a Germanic wine culture would be complete without a reference to Riesling. With only four per cent of all plantings, it might be a minor player, but the quality is undeniable. Also, the grape should not be confused with Welschriesling, another prominent Austrian grape. Niederösterrich is once again the dominant region of production.
Saahs family from Nikolaihof Wachau
When looking at the vineyards, the majority of Riesling vines are planted north of the Danube, on slopes composed of primary rock-granite, gneist and schist. As for Grüner, it loves loess, a compact sand. Here, the plantings are primarily south of the Danube, where flat lands and rolling hills are situated. The Niederösterreich climate is defined as continental. Winters are much harsher than those in France, but summers tend to be drier and warmer. With this in mind, stylistically, Austrian Rieslings are closer to their Alsatian counterparts: dry, high in alcohol, and fuller bodied, a counterpoint to the lower alcohol, sweeter styles of Germany. This perception was confirmed while doing a side-by-side tasting in Austria this past summer.
by evan saviolidis
per cent. Federspiel (a falconry device) is the middle tier, and alcohol must be between 11.5 per cent and 12.5 per cent. The summit is Smaragd (emerald lizard), with a minimum of 12.5 per cent alcohol. Harvested at a Spätlese (late harvest) level of ripeness, these wines are full-bodied and intense, and are some of Austria’s best.
Martin Nigl and family
A word about the Austrians themselves. Even though there is a Germanic thread, Austrian’s are quick to distinguish themselves from their northern neighbours. In fact, they borrow the La Dolce Vita mentality from their southern neighbours, the Italians. In other words, they work hard, and play even harder, as well as being extremely friendly and hospitable.
Named for the Kamp river. Once again, the best vineyards are on slopes with high sun exposure. It is renowned for Austria’s most concentrated Groovies as well as fine Rieslings. The DAC here recognizes both grapes. As mandatory purchases go, anything sourced from Heiligenstein vineyard is the way to go. For those who prefer a more sensory adventure, the futuristic Loisium museum, dedicated to all things vinous, is a must visit.
kremstal Rudi Pichler
The Niederösterrich Regions wachau
This UNESCO world heritage site, laden with steep walled terraces, might be one of Lower Austria’s smallest districts, with only 1350 hectares; but to the wine cognoscenti, it is the pinnacle for rich Grüners from loess and elegant, refined Rieslings made from granite soils, which are sourced from the steep terraced banks above the Danube river. Here you will find a three-tiered quality classification system for dry wines called Vinea Wachau. Steinfeder, named after the feather grass in the vineyards, is used for the lightest and most quaffable wines. Alcohol can be no more than 11.5
Downstream from Wachau is the Kremstal district, centred on the twin towns of Stein and Kamptal. Stein also abuts the Wachau, sharing much of the same soil; hence, similar attributes apply to both Riesling and Grüner.
Austria’s largest and most northerly region touches the 48th parallel. Ten years ago it was all about bulk wine. Today it is one of the leaders in the quality revolution. Of the 13,500 hectares grown, over half are dedicated to Grüner, which is Austria’s spiciest. When tasted for DAC certification, five of the six tasters on the panel must achieve consensus. If not, the wine is declassified.
The motto for this region is “Grüner craves Loess,” and Wagram’s flat terrain is filled with compact sand, producing full bodied, aromatic examples.
92 Nikolaihof Wachau Grüner Veltliner Weingebirge Smaragd 2009, Wachau ($64.95) This biodynamic wine reveals spice, grapefruit, pineapple, green elements and honey. It is full-bodied, with wonderful refreshing acidity, and a long finish. I can see this wine aging for 15 years, easily.
91 Rudi Pichler Grüner Veltliner Hochrain Smaragd 2009, Wachau ($64) Light yellow colour, there is an intense nose of peaches,
nose of pineapples, honey, caramel, pepper and apples built on a full-bodied frame. The finish is very long, with mouth-watering acidity giving no sense of heaviness. Drink it over the next 10 years. (ES)
90 Loimer Riesling Reserve Steinmassel 2009, Kamptal DAC ($59)
Senftenberger Pellingen 1. Lage 2010, Kremstal DAC ($51.95)
of forms: mineral, lime and bergamot. Dry, the palate is imbued with minerals and very good length.
This 14.5% Grüner comes from a grand cru vineyard. It is chock full of herbs, white pepper, grapefruit and flowers. Medium-bodied, the palate is mineral- and citrus-driven, with excellent length.
87 Bründlmayer Grüner Veltliner Kamptaler Terrassen 2010, Kamptal DAC ($19.95)
Pale in colour, this dry Riesling is mineral-driven, with peach, citrus, honey and a long bergamot aftertaste. It has a medium body and should be drunk over the next 5 to 6 years.
88 Leth Grüner Veltliner Steinagrund Lagenreserve 2009, Wagram ($16.95)
90 Salomon Undhof Linberg Grüner Veltliner Reserve 2006, Kremstal ($35)
yellow with a green tinge, the bouquet of honey, white pepper, grapefruit, flowers and green pepper meet up with a spicy and somewhat oily palate. Nonetheless, there is still enough acidity to backstop the finale. (ES)
Here is a great introduction to the world of Grüner that will not break the bank. Light
2010 was a difficult vintage for Austria, but as the old adage goes, a good producer will always produce quality regardless of vintage. This light- to medium-bodied Grüner exhibits floral, citrus, spice, banana and green qualities. It has very good
flowers, prickly pears and green pepper. Full bodied, dry and ripe, there is a definitive pepperiness that meshes with the apple and pear on the long finale. Fresh acid bodes well for long aging.
91 Salomon Undhof Von Stein Reserve Grüner Veltliner 2006, Kremstal ($39)
This Groovy is just a smidge lighter than Von Stein, but with many of the same attributes: pineapple, honey, spice and apples. Crisp acidity and excellent length will allow it to age gracefully over the next decade. (ES)
Here is a superb Grüner that offers great depth and ripeness. Light yellow, with an aromatic
90 Nigl Grüner Veltliner Privat
46 // October 2011
88 Salomon Undhof Riesling Reserve Steiner Kögl 2009, Kremstal DAC ($28) Here is a Riesling that expresses itself in the purest
length and is ready to drink. Can be enjoyed with a Schnitzel in a light lemon/ butter sauce.
85 Salomon Undhof Salomon Groovey Grüner Veltliner 2010, Kremstal ($12.95) Here is an entry-level Groovy that serves up pleasant aromas of citrus, herbs and pepper. It is light-bodied and easy to drink. •
by Lisa Hoekstra
//making it tweet Connie DeSousa
Nate Box photo: Eric Duffy
Twitter is inane. At least, that’s what I thought. Then I discovered journalists, wine connoisseurs and chefs all tweeting away. Turns out, Twitter is not only about telling people what you’re doing; it’s about sharing news, discussing events and connecting with the people around you. More and more Canadian restaurants are discovering Twitter. By creating an online presence, they reach out to and beyond their community. For some, it’s all about marketing — promoting their menu and major accomplishments. For others, the focus is on initiating a dialogue with food lovers. Connie DeSousa of Calgary’s Charcut and Nathan (Nate) Box of Edmonton’s Elm Café are two tweeting chefs who each take a different online approach. Connie and her partner in crime, John Jackson, started tweeting about Charcut a year before it opened, creating a buzz for the Italian and French chef-inspired cuisine. With over 4,000 followers, they reach a larger customer base than would be possible with traditional word of mouth or local passersby. Charcut’s tweets announce their events and menu, and Connie’s progress while competing on the Food Network’s Top Chef Canada. “We wanted people to be a part of Charcut from the ground up.” Connie said, adding that this helped build a distinct community for the restaurant.
+ Follow Tidings @quenchbytidings
“Twitter has nurtured a core group of the city’s die-hard food lovers who show their excitement and loyalty to Charcut, its people and service. I can say that we’ve truly made friends this way.”
By forming and maintaining relationships with his followers, Nate has also built a distinct community for Elm Café. “For us it’s also about creating an authentic relationship with the online community — something that a lot of chefs and restaurateurs are unfamiliar with — and good relationships take time,” Nate tweeted. An avid tweeter prior to starting Elm Café in 2010, Nate approaches social media with a you-get-what-youput-in frame of mind. He’s on Twitter every day trying to reach his minimum daily goal — posting the breakfast and lunch menus. But Nate prefers to do more than that. When he’s not tweeting about his menu, he’s suggesting events in the community and giving advice, like where to find the best pasta maker. Luckily for Nate, Edmonton has a prominent community on Twitter (try searching the #yeg hashtag). Local businesses, such as Duchess Bakeshop — which supplies the muffins Nate has available for breakfast — are also active, working together to foster a feeling of community. Nate has had the benefit of drawing from their experience, and working with them while he built Elm Café.
Tweeting a menu may seem like a bit of a risk; but the benefits overpower the occasional grumblings that emerge when a tweeted dish isn’t available. Reading Elm Café’s lunch menu: “Hot: pulled pork, apple, carm onion, fontina. Cold 1) tomato, fresh mozza, basil aioli... 2) prosciutto, eggplant, asparagus, provolone. Soup: Borscht. Salad: potato, pepper, tom, cuke, greens...” or Charcut’s dinner dish: “Porchetta ‘Whole Loin and Belly of Spragg Pork with Fennel, Garlic, Rosemary and Olive Oil’” makes my mouth water, as I’m sure it does for their followers. So, the question is, having already tweeted the menu, what does a chef do when he or she runs out of ingredients for that dish? “Most really understand and enjoy the changes,” said Connie. Likewise with Elm Café: “People know we’re different and learn to work with us.” Which is a good thing, because it seems to happen often. Whether it’s with a marketing spin or just having a good time speaking with their community, Canadian chefs are starting to make their presence known online. Next time you head out for dinner, check Twitter for your restaurant du jour. It’ll give you a good idea what to expect that night. And when you’ve finished, you can tweet about your meal. Just don’t forget to give your compliments to the chef. •
By DUNCAN HOLMES
48 // October 2011
adroitness and finesse worthy of a For the last 20 or so years, I’ve magician.” Amazing when you concooked our Christmas turkey on the sider that the ingredients for so many barbecue. While the revellers are ingreat sauces are as simple as amalside knocking back nogs and roasting gams of flour, fat, stock, cream, eggs, virtual chestnuts before an enclosed the occasional tomato, and enough of gas fire, the bird, largely unattended, an assortment of seasonings to make slowly and surely becomes the goldeneach one unique. Pretty simple stuff? brown, moist and tender centrepiece The magic is putting things together of the season beneath the barbie lid, to make miracles of complex, delihissing away in the Vancouver rain. cious, complementary taste. Except for one small inconvenience — see below — this bird-onI don’t know why mint sauce compleIn the case of my holiday turkey, the-barbie thing works very well. I fire the “gravy” begins with a simple ments lamb so well, but it does. Mint is so up just one of the machine’s two gas roux — flour gently browned in a easy to grow — it will take over your yard elements, and the turkey sits above the pan, stirred with butter, whisked if you’re not careful — and the sauce is unlit other. This means that the bird and enhanced with the liquid resimple to make, and very forgiving. cooks in a heated ‘oven’, but not over duced from the turkey’s cooked a flame. The juices are deliciously congiblets, enriched more with soy, a 1 handful of mint leaves tained, and on cue a few hours later, touch of Worcestershire, salt, pep1 tbsp sugar we’re into Christmas dinner. per, and a splash of Burgundy pur1 tbsp boiling water loined from the revellers in front of 1 tbsp fresh-squeezed The inconvenience is that bethe fire. Like the turkey, it always lemon juice cause there’s no roasting dish, there seems to work. are none of the pan drippings needed to make gravy — the delicious, 1. Crush the leaves in a mortar While the great sauciers will alrib-sticking glue that really brings and pestle, or pulse a couple of ways cook up (or down) the bones Christmas together. The gravy, the times in a blender, and cover with and the bits; the shells, claws and sauce, the jus is the finishing touch the sugar to absorb the juice. bones of sea creatures; the onions, that has made magnificence of ordimushrooms, tomatoes, and various 2. Add the boiling water, which nary meals for hundreds and probcombos of bouquet garni, to build will dissolve the sugar. Add the ably thousands of years. stocks that get their sauces going — lemon juice. Cook your lamb to What’s a holiday dinner without most of us, for any number of good medium or less. gravy, a poached egg without Hollanreasons, cheat. Supermarkets and daise, a salad without a vinaigrette, specialty stores are well stocked with a chip without dip? A bland and boring world it would be inexpensive pouches of the tastes we want, and sometimes without sweet and sassy sauces: without béchamel, beurre need. The range these days is wide. Pick a culture, and blanc and béarnaise; crème fraîche, mornay, chocolate there’s a mix to make beef, poultry or pork taste better, or cream, sabayon. How about demi-glace, velouté, and those at very least, different. But as always, check the labels and sisters of good taste, chaud-froid blanc, brun et rouge? And make informed choices. dare we forget a dollop or three of the comforts of cuddly I will continue to do turkeys on the barbecue. But I will custard or mmm ... mayo? also accept the ongoing opportunity to make meals that reI have read that sauciers hold a place in the kitchen ally sing — enhanced with the treasures of tastes and texsecond only to the executive chef, that they work “with an tures of what we know and love as sauces.
Sure, it’s a bit tricky. Do it the wrong way and it can end up as scrambled eggs. Or it can “break,” and the only way to bring it back is with an ice cube, and even then it’s dicey. But hollandaise, no matter which recipe you choose to guide you, is worth a botch or two to count as experience in the crafting of one of the truly great ones in the sauce family. What makes it so great? Egg yolks help, and so does all of that butter. But I think it’s the emulsion of those two and the snap of lemon that puts it over the top. I’ve used Rosso and Lukins’ New Basics recipe for years. Others make it much too complicated. And yes, if the sauce separates or curdles, add an ice cube and whisk until it melts. The sauce should regain its composure.
8 tbsp unsalted butter (1 stick) 3 egg yolks 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice Pinch of cayenne Salt Pepper
1. Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
2. Fill the bottom of a double boiler with water and bring it almost to a boil. Then lower the heat so the water is hot, but not boiling.
3. Mix the egg yolks and lemon juice together in the top of the double boiler — I use a round-bottomed bowl, as it makes whisking easier — until smooth. 4. Very gradually whisk in the butter in a slow, steady stream. Add the cayenne, salt and pepper. 5. Continue whisking until the ingredients have come together in a thick and beautiful sauce. 6. Makes a cup that can be reheated in a double boiler. Bennies for breakfast?
chimmichurri sauce This recipe comes from chef friend David Hawksworth, who opened Hawksworth at the Rosewood Hotel Georgia in Vancouver this spring. The hotel, an icon on downtown Georgia Street since 1927, has been completely redone, and David’s restaurant is one of its star features. He says that this sauce is served with all lunch and dinner beef dishes at the restaurant, and “its vibrant fresh flavour is a refreshing change to a normal beef jus. The sauce has its roots in South America, in particular Argentina, where it is matched with grilled red meat.”
2 bunches parsley 1 bunch cilantro 1 shallot, chopped 2 cloves garlic Pinch chilli flakes 400 ml olive oil 50 ml sherry vinegar Pinch of salt Juice of half a lemon
1. Using a blender or a mortar and pestle, grind raw herbs, shallot, garlic and chilli flakes to form a paste. 2. Slowly add olive oil to achieve sauce consistency that holds on the back of a spoon. 3. Adjust seasoning and acidity levels with sherry vinegar, lemon and salt. Store covered in fridge for up to two
days. Please note that this sauce is best served day of as it will slowly lose its vibrant green colour and fresh flavour.
50 // October 2011
I often make up a batch of this delicious topper. There are any number of “authentic” recipes — one that uses buttermilk — and mine always remains simply the same. It lasts in the fridge for about a week, depending how many times you bake a pie in the interim!
1 1 1
cup whipping cream cup sour cream tsp vanilla
1. Combine the 3 ingredients, stir together, and ladle the mixture into a glass jar. Leave at room temperature for a day, then serve, or store in the fridge.
white sauce The gravy mentioned above begins this way. The only difference is that I hold the milk, substitute the liquid used to boil up the giblets, and add soy, Worcestershire sauce and a splash of red wine for additional colour and flavour.
2 2 2
tbsp butter tbsp flour cups milk
Salt Pepper Nutmeg, freshly grated
1. Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring over low heat for a couple of minutes. 2. Pour in the milk, whisking to keep it smooth. Slowly bring to a boil as you keep whisking. Reduce the heat and simmer for about an hour. Check it now and then to make sure it doesn’t stick to the pan. Add salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste.
black bean and garlic sauce The musty smell of black beans repulses many. Disturbing notes of a leftover from an old and disused cellar, or worse! But mash them up, add garlic, tumble them in a sauce with beef, and they’re marvellous.
¼ ½ ½ 1 1
cup black beans tsp salt tsp sugar tsp soy sauce tsp wine
Peanut oil 2 tbsp minced garlic 1 cup chicken broth 1 tsp cornstarch
1. Wash black beans, rinse under cold water, drain and dry. Place into
bowl, mash with wooden handle or large knife or cut finely with chopping knife. Sprinkle with salt, sugar, soy sauce and wine. Set aside. 2. Heat wok to high, add peanut oil, stir fry garlic for 5 seconds. Add bean mixture, stir fry 1 minute. Add broth, cook for 3 minutes, thicken with cornstarch, and serve hot with bite-sized wok-cooked beef pieces.
by gurvinder Bhatia
Virtual wineries and négociants are not new, but Cameron Hughes has taken these concepts and modernized them to offer great quality, regionally diverse wines for very reasonable prices. And he’s done it in a market where many traditional wineries are suffering financially. Hughes grew up in a California wine family, but decided quickly that winemaking wasn’t his thing. He preferred the sales and distribution side of the industry and learned he was pretty damn good at it. After working for a large player, he signed on with a French importer who asked him to take the négociant model, common in France, and implement it in California. Ultimately his ADD got the best of him (as is the case with most great entrepreneurs) and in 2001, he started his own business. Hughes says he sold his wine collection (including many cases of 1994 Taylor’s Vintage Port) and purchased 500 cases of Napa Cabernet, which he sold out of the trunk of his car. The idea behind the company was to purchase wine on the spot market, bottle it and resell it under his own label (in other words, become a négociant). After a couple of false starts (he owed hundreds of thousands of dollars) his Lot Series concept took off with a little luck and a lot of help from Costco. Hughes presented samples to Costco’s buyer, and those approved were bottled and sent to the store. The wines were oneoffs (each with a lot number — Lot 1 was a Napa Syrah), most in small quantities and at great prices so Costco was able to run them through quickly. The majority of the first Lots went to the
52 // October 2011
superstore before Hughes began branching out and selling to other retailers and distributors. It helped that Hughes knew, through his many contacts in the industry, that there were small lots of great quality, high-end wines available to purchase as excess. And, fortunately, the glut of wine in California was growing and highly leveraged wineries needed cash flow. Hughes went from bottling and selling around 2000 cases in 2004 to, he expects, more than 350,000 cases this year. Along the way, Hughes wanted more control over the quality of the wines being bottled under the Cameron Hughes label, so he hired winemaker Sam Spencer. They didn’t just purchase wine on the spot market; working with growers and winery partners they produced wines according to their specifications. Today, Hughes indicates that about half their wines are purchased on the spot market and half produced with winery partners. The bottles are coming from California, Washington, South America, Spain, and the list is growing. Is the model sustainable? The key, says Hughes, is to stay virtual, which he does through the use of custom crush facilities and winery partners. Low overhead means lower costs. It helps that Hughes and Spencer have great palates and insist on quality. In the end, the consumer benefits with well made, regionally distinct wines at great prices. Not a bad concept and one that many wineries seem to ignore. Which is why Hughes’s success makes even more sense. I recently sat down with Cameron Hughes to taste some of his new releases.
+ For a sampling of Canada’s virtual wineries see page 20
Cameron Hughes Riesling/Chenin Blanc ‘Lot 259’ 2010, Columbia Valley, Washington ($21.99)
Bright and lively, with a soft edge to the pretty tangerine, white peach and floral character with lovely acidity, a vibrant juiciness and hint of mineral and light sweetness on the refreshing finish. Great with salads and Asian-inspired dishes.
Cameron Hughes Sauvignon Blanc ‘Lot 217’ 2009, Russian River Valley, California ($22)
Fresh and lively with bright citrus and kiwi aromas and flavours with lots of grassiness, pleasant acidity and a crisp clean finish. Would work well with nacho chips and a big bowl of guacamole.
Cameron Hughes Chardonnay ‘Lot 212’ 2009, Carneros, California ($26)
Strikes a nice balance between rich, toasty, buttery, baked apple pie, spicy pear and hazelnut aromas, flavours and textures that are smooth and stylish, with a full finish showing lemon and spice.
Cameron Hughes Pinot Noir ‘Lot 265’ 2009, Russian River Valley, California ($26)
Medium bodied with juicy black cherry, plum and a hint of spice, a nice mineral edge and a touch of earth giving some nice
AGENCE DE VOYAGES W. H. HENRY INC.
depth to the drinkability of the wine. Give it a few months to settle and integrate. Will be a tasty, good value wine.
Cameron Hughes Syrah/Grenache/ Mourvedre ‘Lot 241’ 2009, Arroyo Seco, Monterey County, California ($26)
Floral and bright black fruit aromas with lovely, full flavours of blackberries, black cherries, dark plum, pepper, and a nice meaty quality, velvety tannins and good acidity that provides a juiciness. Finishes long and lingering with a hint of bittersweet chocolate.
Cameron Hughes Syrah ‘Lot 237’ La Herradurra Vineyard 2007, Napa, California ($26) Ripe, rich, and concentrated with structured plum, wild berry, and blackberry flavours that coat the palate, big, firm yet approachable tannins and lots of intensity and depth on the persistent, dark chocolate finish. Screams for rich meat dishes.
Cameron Hughes Cabernet Sauvignon ‘Lot 257’ 2009, Napa, California ($30)
Young and fresh with aromas and flavours of cassis, black plum and blueberry with hints of dark chocolate and vanilla, firm yet plush tannin with nice concentration and a full finish. A wine to enjoy over the next 3 to 4 years. •
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//the food notes
88 Haywire Gamay Noir Rosé 2010, Okanagan ($21) Attractive salmon pink colour. Delightful scents of all manner of red fruit. Bright cherry and cranberry flavours upfront set up lean, lingering mineral notes. A hint of tannin tugs at the finish, too. Superbly suited for Niçoise salad. (HH)
87 Pacific Breeze Killer Cab Cabernet Sauvignon 2008, California, ($23) Sourced from California grapes and cellared in Canada, this full-bodied, blockbuster red kicks butt. Full throttle from start to finish: concentrated cassis, intense chocolate, mouth-coating tannins and a warm vanilla and clove finish. Tame with a well-seasoned New York strip steak. (HH)
87 McWilliam’s Hanwood Estate Moscato, Australia ($13.95)
90 La Spinetta Vermentino IGT 2009, Tuscany, Italy ($29) Wonderful aromas of peach, papaya, citrus and rosemary, flavours of apricot and peach with a refreshing minerality and long, crisp finish. Delicious and invigorating. A great wine with sashimi and raw oysters. (GB)
The perfect summer sipper. The bouquet of orange blossom and honey suggests sweetness but the wine has a grapey, cidery flavour that finishes freshly in the mouth. Chill it well and serve it as an aperitif wine. (TA)
88 Perrin & Fils Cairanne Peyre Blanche 2007, Côtes-duRhône-Villages, France ($18.65)
Ruby colour. Red fruits dominate the rather simple nose. Nice in the mouth, it has a bright fruity taste and a nice balance. A pleasant wine that will drink easily with simple dishes. (GBQc)
90 Domaine Gerovassiliou White 2009, Epanomi, Greece ($19.95)
This 50/50 blend of indigenous Assyrtiko and Malagousia expresses itself in the form of flowers, peach, spice, apple and honey. Medium bodied, the finish carries long, with a streak of minerals working their way into the mix. Pair it with grilled swordfish and sautéed rapini or roast pork marinated in lemon, olive oil and oregano. (ES)
90 Wild Rock Cupid’s Arrow Pinot Noir 2008, Central Otago, New Zealand ($21.95)
This wine is red Burgundy on steroids. Light purple in colour with a nose of raspberries, tomato leaf and rust; the wine is medium-bodied, elegant and dry with dense flavours of raspberry and dark chocolate with a long, lingering finish. Match it with duck breast or grilled Portobello mushrooms. (TA)
54 // October 2011
Bouquet Garni by nancy johnson
//tricks or treats
When did Halloween become such a big deal? The minute the kids go back to school, store shelves are stacked to the ceiling with macabre merchandise. There are black and orange lights to string around your entire home, grotesque figures that jump to life when you walk by, welcome mats that groan underfoot and costumes of all varieties for all ages and sizes, including for dogs. When I was growing up in the 1950s and 60s Halloween was low-key — a night when we ran around in the dark with very little parental supervision, collecting candy that was forbidden to us the other 364 days of the year. Unlike today, when costumed children are followed by an entourage of adoring parents, beaming grandparents and the occasional paparazzo, our parents wouldn’t dream of trick-or-treating with us — in the 50s it was undignified (think Mad Men). Besides, the parents’ job was to keep the porch light on and pass out candy to everybody else’s kids. And wouldn’t the entire neighbourhood keep an eye on us anyway? Most mothers, mine included, created our costumes from old pyjamas, leftover fabric, dusty hats and wedding veils. If snow was in the forecast, my mother made our costumes large enough to fit over our winter coats. Just before we walked out the door, she burned the end of a cork on the kitchen stove and gave us
either kitten whiskers or a hobo’s beard, depending on our age and gender. Sometimes we had masks to wear. Sitting cockeyed on our faces with the eye-slits somewhere on our cheeks, storebought masks were hot, itchy and probably flammable. In fact, the threat of fire was a real Halloween hazard back then, since decorating the house meant carving a pumpkin the night before, setting it on the porch steps and lighting it with a candle. And there were other dangers lurking in the night. For instance, no one had ever heard of reflective clothing. Our mothers usually dyed our costumes flat black in a big laundry tub in the basement, effectively rendering us invisible to passing motorists. But all the kids watched out for each other. When my little brother Dennis tripped and fell, spilling his haul into the street, we scrambled to get the candy back into his pillowcase before a car ran it over. Neighbours oohed and ahhed our costumes, tossed full-sized chocolate bars into our bags and told us to be careful. We never cut through their yards; that would have been rude. We ran the entire length of their driveways as they watched us move on to the next home. On the rare occasion a family couldn’t be at home, they left the porch light on and set out bowls of candy or cider and donuts, the 1950s version of an honour system.
+ Search through a wide range of wine-friendly recipes on tidingsmag.com
make sure the pan and olive oil are very hot. you want to sear the salmon to contain its moisture.
Pan-Grilled Salmon with Sour Cream Dill Sauce Makes 4 servings
Even if you’re not taking the kids out, you need something fast and fabulous on Halloween night. After all, you should be fed and ready with the candy bowl when the little monsters arrive at your door. I use a hot cast iron ridged skillet to cook the salmon, sautéing at a high temperature. If you do the same, be sure to turn on the fan before the smoke alarms go off!
4 skinless salmon fillets, about 200 g each 1 tbsp olive oil 1/2 cup sour cream 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice 1 tbsp capers, drained 1 tbsp chopped fresh dill and more for garnish Salt, pepper & sweet Hungarian paprika to taste
1. Season salmon with salt, pepper and
paprika. Sauté in a hot ridged skillet in hot olive oil 5 to 6 minutes per side, over medium-high to high heat, depending on your preference. 2. In a small bowl, mix sour cream, lemon juice, capers, and dill. Serve over salmon. Garnish with additional dill. …… A Chardonnay Musqué from Ontario would be lovely with the salmon.
56 // October 2011
In the 1960s, my parents created what became widely known as the Talking Spider, an oversized homemade polyester arachnid with a frowning face made of iron-on patches. Every Halloween, the spider hung in a web in their picture window. While my mother did the dishes, my dad sat in the darkened living room, talking in a deep spider voice to trick-or-treaters through a walkie-talkie stuffed in the spider’s belly. But the Talking Spider was never very scary. The moment my smiling dad arrived at the door to drop candy into their plastic pumpkins, the kids knew he was the Great Oz behind the spider’s voice. As the years progressed, parents brought their kids to see the Talking Spider, saying they had loved the spider when they were kids. As Halloween became bigger and more commercial, The Talking Spider never changed, his iron-on face forever frozen in a homemade scowl. Now that my dad is gone, the spider appears every Halloween in my sister’s window, but he is silent. The fact is we didn’t need much to make Halloween special. Just parents who loved us, siblings who looked out for us and neighbours who made it their business to watch us cross the street. And when you think about it, that really is a big deal.
Baked Potato Soup Makes 6 servings
Who doesn’t love a hot baked potato? This soup is a comforting entrée to serve on a cold Halloween night. The recipe calls for puréeing all the potatoes. If you like a chunkier soup, bake a few extra potatoes, peel and chop. Add at the last minute the sour cream and Worcestershire sauce.
6 4 4 1 3
large baking potatoes, pierced with a fork several times slices bacon scallions, thinly sliced tsp dried thyme cups chicken broth cup sour cream and more for garnish tbsp Worcestershire sauce cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1. Preheat oven to 400˚F. 2. Place potatoes directly on oven rack and bake until tender, about 1
hour. Cool slightly. Cut potatoes in half lengthwise. Scoop out potato from skins. Discard skins or save for another use. Place potatoes in a medium bowl. Mash lightly. 3. Meanwhile, in large pot over medium high heat, cook bacon until crisp. Drain, reserving 2 tbsp bacon fat in pot. Set bacon aside on plate covered with clean paper towel. When cool enough to handle, chop or crumble and set aside for garnish. 4. Add scallions and thyme to the bacon fat in the pot. Cook until scallions are softened about 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove one scallion, chop and set aside for garnish. 5. Add broth, salt and potatoes. Bring to a boil. Lower heat, cover and simmer 10 minutes. Add more broth if needed. 6. Purée soup in batches in food processor or with an immersion blender. Return soup to pot, add 1/2 cup sour cream and Worcestershire sauce. Gently heat through, about 1 minute. Place in shallow bowls. Top with reserved scallion, bacon, cheddar cheese, and sour cream. …… Enjoy with a Rioja Blanca.
Tortellini with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce Makes 6 servings
For convenience, use jarred roasted red peppers. Or try roasting your own sweet red peppers under the broiler, turning often until the skin blackens on all sides. When cool enough to handle, peel and scrape away seeds. This dish can be served as a vegetarian entrée or as a side dish with breaded chicken or veal cutlet.
Halloween Sloppy Joes Serves 4 to 6
In addition to creating our costumes, my mother’s job was to get dinner on the table before the 6 o’clock witching hour. It had to be easy, uncomplicated and food we liked so there would be no dinnertime drama that would bring Halloween to a screeching halt. This is an updated version of her Sloppy Joes.
packages cheese-filled tortellini jars roasted red sweet peppers, drained medium onion, chopped cloves garlic, chopped tbsp butter tbsp olive oil tsp dried thyme, crushed 1/2 tsp dried oregano 2 tsp sugar Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated Fresh parsley, minced
1 lb ground beef 1 tbsp olive oil 1 small onion, minced 2 garlic cloves, minced 1 stalk celery, minced 1 tsp ground cumin 1 tsp smoked paprika 1 cup ketchup or old-fashioned chili sauce 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar 1 tbsp brown sugar 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce Hamburger or slider buns
1. Cook tortellini according to package directions. Drain and
1. In a large skillet, in hot oil over medium high
2 2 1 2 1 1 1
return to pot. 2. Purée peppers in food processor until smooth. Set aside. 3. In a medium saucepan, cook onion and garlic in melted butter and oil until onion is softened. Add peppers, thyme, oregano and sugar. 4. Cook uncovered for 10 minutes or until heated through. Pour over hot tortellini. Garnish with Parmigiano-Reggiano and parsley. …… For an interesting match, uncork a Côtes du Rhône Rosé or go with an Australian Riesling.
heat, brown beef. Add onion, garlic and celery. Cook until onion is soft and translucent. 2. Add cumin and paprika. Cook 1 minute. Stir in ketchup or chili sauce, vinegar, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce and 1/2 cup water. 3. Simmer, uncovered, 15 minutes or until thickened. Serve on buns with potato chips. …… Serve Hobgoblin Ale to the adults. •
//the notes 86 Fontanafredda Briccotondo Barbera 2009, Piedmont, Italy ($16)
From one of the Piedmont’s largest wineries, this is a 100% Barbera red with a spicy, bold nose of plums, cassis and nutmeg. Quite expressive on the palate with dark fruits, hints of cherries, a touch of mint and soft tannins. A bargain wine.
96 COS Nero d’Avola ‘Contrada Labirinto’ IGT 2007, Sicily, Italy ($125) Complex aromas of light plum, hints of Christmas spice and liquorice, full bodied with big, underlying velvety tannins, tons of fruit, multi-dimensional penetrating flavours and a long, long finish. Extremely well balanced and classy. Perhaps Sicily’s best red wine. (GB)
90 Magnotta Special Reserve Semillon 2009, Ontario ($10.95) Trust me, this wine is really worth searching out. You can only get it from Magnotta’s stores around Toronto. It won a regional trophy at the Decanter World Wine Awards in London in April. Golden straw in colour with a waxy, honey and peach bouquet, it’s medium bodied on the palate, offering spicy peach and Bartlett pear flavours riding on lively acidity. Great value. (TA)
86 Flor de Crasto 2009, Douro, Portugal ($9.95)
This blend of Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz and Touriga Franca is an opaque coloured red which is chock-full of spice, black raspberries, dark cherries and floral aromas and flavours. It is light to medium bodied with a smooth texture. In other words, a perfect BBQ wine. (ES)
88 The Charge Tempranillo & Garnacha DOC 2006, Rioja, Spain ($19.31) Interesting, rather complex nose shows developed fruit and a dusting of fine spice. Developed red fruit, softening tannins and a touch of mocha on the palate, with velvety texture and a lightly astringent finish. Not typical of Rioja, but characterful and good value. (SW)
90 Thornhaven Gewürztraminer 2009, Okanagan Valley ($18) The pungent nose bursts with lychee, rosewater and spicy tropical fruit aromas. Bold fruit cocktail flavours suit the medium dry style, supported by lively Okanagan acidity and varietal viscosity. The long peach and honey finish satisfies. A perennially irresistible sipper. (HH)
58 // October 2011
Tidings 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
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 (ON), Sean Wood (NS, NB), Gilles Bois (QC), Evan Saviolidis (ON), Harry Hertscheg (BC), Gurvinder Bhatia (AB), Rick VanSickle (ON) and Jonathan Smithe (MB). Argentina // p. 59; Australia // p. 59; brazil // p. 59;
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
Canada // p. 59-61; France // p. 61; Germany // p. 61-62; Greece // p. 62-63; Italy // p. 63-64; New Zealand // p. 64;
the notes\\ /ARGENTINA / 87 Catena Malbec 2008, Mendoza ($20)
Catena is a benchmark producer of Argentina’s greatest grape — Malbec. The 2008 vintage shows violets, cassis, nutmeg, dark fruits and spice on the nose. It’s savoury on the palate with a rich broth of dark fruits, tobacco, leather, pepper and soft tannins. Delicious stuff. (RV)
86 Tilia Malbec 2009, Mendoza ($13)
This is from a varietal series by Catena’s winemaker Alejandro Viggiani. The Malbec is lovely with
concentrated aromas of blackberry, vanilla, violets, plums and spice. It’s rich and savoury in the mouth with raspberry jam and dark fruits on a bed of soft tannins. Great sipping wine. (RV)
/Australia / 84 Banrock Station Unwooded Chardonnay 2010, Southeastern Australia ($12.99) Lively fresh citrus and tropical fruit flavours come packaged with refreshingly lively acidity and moderate alcohol. Reliable, unpretentious value. (SW)
+ A searchable listing of our tasting notes is at tidingsmag.com/notes/
Portugal // p. 64; Spain // p. 64-65; United States // p. 65
/Brazil / 88 Miolo Cuvée Tradition Brut Methode Traditionelle 2009, Brazil ($19.99)
A traditional, bottle-fermented blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, this attractive fizz shows rich, toasty biscuity notes with plenty of fruit, good weight, creamy texture, sufficient acidity and agreeably yeasty savour. (SW)
/Canada / 91 Tawse Misek Vineyared Riesling
2009, Twenty Mile Bench ($22)
The Misek Riesling from Tawse might just be the crown jewel of their prodigious 2009 Riesling portfolio. Its medium to full body offers great extract and persistency, as well as a peach, floral, bergamot, honey and lime character. (ES)
90 Hillebrand Ghost Creek Vineyard Showcase Riesling 2009, Four Mile Creek ($25) Harvested at a meagre 1 ton per acre, this is a concentrated, medium-bodied Riesling with a superb acid/sugar balance. Peach, honey,
//the notes 90 Domaine Pouderoux Maury 2008, Languedoc-Roussillon, France ($23.75) Very dark ruby. Sun-dried raisins and an intriguing note reminiscent of aged Parmigiano cheese. Very nice on the palate, tons of fruit and just enough sugar to give it a nice balance and a full body. For port-lovers in need of something new. (GBQc)
87 Durbanville Hills Shiraz 2008, Durbanville Hills, South Africa ($11.95) If you like the fruit-forward Australian Shirazstyle wines, you’ll find a good bargain from South Africa. It’s a deeply coloured wine with a smoky, savoury nose. The initial flavour of sweet blackberries mellows to an earthy, herbal dryness. A lot of flavour and complexity for the price. (TA)
88 Carpineto Dogajolo 2009, IGT Toscana, Italy ($16.90)
Bright ruby. Inviting spicy/fruity nose with good intensity, though not very complex. Pleasant on the palate, very fruity taste of raspberry and cherry with fruit stones in the finish. Ready to drink now. Perfect with pizza, hamburgers or pasta in tomato sauce. (GBQc)
minerals, lime and white flowers are layered on the long finish. (ES)
90 Ravine Vineyard Riesling 2009, St David’s Bench ($28)
Minerals, lime, powdered candies and stone fruit are all present in this beautiful Riesling. Its low alcohol content combined with fresh acid and a smidge of residual sugar make it all the more attractive. Sushi, anyone? (ES)
90 Laughing Stock Chardonnay 2009, British Columbia ($26)
This is a mouth-filling BC Chardonnay that has the fingerprints of Burgundy all over it. Straw coloured with a nutty, apple and barnyard nose; full bodied and fresh with toasty, apple flavours; a generous mouthfeel ending with a smoky note. Fine on its own or followed by appetizers. (TA)
60 // October 2011
89 Haywire Switchback Vineyard Pinot Gris 2010, Okanagan ($23)
This clone 52 Gris expresses itself very well in its Summerland locale. Fragrant orchard blossoms tease the nose, while ripe pear flavour rides lemony acidity along a crisp, lively palate. Generous lees contact gives a rounder mouthfeel. Flinty minerality lingers. Seafood savvy. (HH)
88 Angels Gate Sussreserve Riesling 2009, Niagara ($13.95)
At this price, this wine is a killer value! The nose offers up an intense bouquet of lime, minerals, citrus and white flowers. It is ripe and balanced with a long, acid-tinged finale, which is a fine match with the slight sweetness. A couple of bottles of this summerfriendly wine will not hurt at all during those cooling fall nights. (ES)
88 Château des Charmes Barrel Fermented Chardonnay 2008, Ontario ($13.95)
Straw-coloured with a bouquet of almonds and apples and a mineral note. Medium bodied, spicy apple flavour, richly extracted with good length and great value. (TA)
88 Southbrook Connect Rosé 2010, Ontario ($18.95)
I’ve always thought that Ontario could make worldclass rosé and in a couple of cases, we do. Southbrook Connect Rosé 2010 is not your run-of-the-mill pink wine at $18.95 a bottle. This one is deep pink with an orange tint. It has a nose of strawberry compote and flavours of strawberries and redcurrants. Full in the mouth with a touch of sweetness in mid palate, it has enough citrus acidity to finish dry and clean. (TA)
88 Cornerstone Riesling Reserve Barrel Aged 2009, Niagara ($20)
When I was first presented this wine, I wanted to write it off immediately since new barrels and Riesling are generally two concepts that don’t work together. Well, I was wrong. This edition is a wild ride consisting of toast, spice, flowers, honeyed peaches and cream. There is very good length with some noticeable residual. Indeed, this is an individual wine. (ES)
87 Fielding Estate Winery Riesling 2010, Niagara ($15.95)
You can always count on Fielding to make a solid Riesling, regardless of the vintage. Here you will find a ripe personality of peach, honey, flowers, tutti frutti and a touch of honey. Good weight, balance and acidity round out the mix. (ES)
90 Mission Hill Legacy Series Oculus 2006, Okanagan Valley, BC ($60.75)
Dark ruby. Oak is predominant but the fruit is also very present with a light medicinal touch. Concentrated and very full bodied, the tannic backbone is strong and a bit rough, giving an overall impression of austerity. It just needs time to soften up. You can search out a spicy lamb curry. (GBQc)
89 Mission Hill Legacy Series Oculus 2005, Okanagan Valley, BC ($60.75)
Ruby-garnet colour. Nice red fruits on the moderately oaky nose. Compact and a bit one-dimensional in the mouth, but well balanced. A bit unrewarding at this stage — it needs time to open up as the potential is clearly there. Big wines need big food. Don’t be afraid to bring out grandma’s roast beef recipe. (GBQc)
88 Pacific Breeze Big Red 2008, Lake County, California ($25) This full-bodied, plush Rhône blend of northern California grapes saw 19 months of French oak while vinified and cellared in BC. Big-time aromas and flavours of smoked meat, dark berry fruits and pencil shavings. Dark chocolate finish lingers warmly. Fire up the grill! (HH)
/France / 91 Trimbach Riesling Reserve 2008, Appellation Alsace Contrôlée ($34.29)
Expressive, aromatic varietal character shows lemon citrus, some floral lift, great mineral intensity and a faint whiff of petrol. Gorgeous citrus concentration with lovely mineral counterpoint, vibrant acidity, generous weight and an appetizingly dry finish. (SW)
89 Château du Seuil Bordeaux Rosé AC 2009, Bordeaux ($18.50) Subtle fruity and floral scents and a whiff of mineral, shifting on the palate towards red berry flavours contrasted with slightly bitter cherry notes, zesty acidity, good mineral grip and lingering, dry, fruity finish. (SW)
88 La Vieille Ferme Côtes du Luberon 2009, Rhône ($11.95)
This has always been a solid white wine vintage after vintage. It’s a blend of Grenache Blanc, Bourboulenc, Ugni Blanc and Roussanne. The grapes may be unfamiliar but they produce a wine that has a minerally, citrus nose. It’s dry and fruity with a floral lift in mid palate. A versatile food wine you can match it with a range of fish and white meat dishes. (TA)
88 Domaine Tour des Gendres Cuvée des Conti 2010, Bergerac Sec, Southwest ($16.30)
Pale yellow with grey reflections. Captivating nose of boxwood, dark honey and lychee. Fruity flavour and noticeable acidity, especially in the sharp finish. The middle palate shows a nice fatness, has good presence and body. Great with smoked salmon. (GBQc)
90 Dominique Piron Cuvée Les Pierres Morgon 2009, Beaujolais ($22.95)
A strapping Beaujolais that can age. Dense purple colour with a floral, spicy black cherry and cherry pit nose. Richly textured and firmly structured. Not the Beaujolais you’re used to. (TA)
89 Chateau Gaudin AC 2006, Pauillac ($42.39)
Reveals complex vinosity on the nose but is less developed on the palate. Concentrated dark fruit flavours and astringent tannins need time to integrate more fully. 2006 has been overshadowed by the brilliant 2005 vintage but should not be ignored, as there are good values to be found. Give this one another 2 to 5 years. (SW)
88 Château Mauléon 2008, Côtes du Roussillon Villages Caramany, LanguedocRoussillon ($10.75)
Medium ruby. The fresh nose
of red fruits and oak has complexity. Slightly firm, it shows a good body and the tannins remain tender. Built on balance and freshness. Delicious at this low price. (GBQc)
87 Mas Bécha Classique 2008, Côtes du Roussillon, Languedoc-Roussillon ($13.35)
Classic, indeed, as this is very reminiscent of the regional climate. Full ruby colour, you can feel the warmth of the sun in the nose of red fruits. Very ripe, even a bit heady, it feels round and warm in the mouth. Ready to drink and a nice price. (GBQc)
86 Clos des Fées Les Sorcières 2009, Côtes du Roussillon, LanguedocRoussillon ($18.75) Dark ruby. Berry fruits and spices with a fair amount of oak. In the mouth, the balance is slightly on the acidic side, the finish is very dry. Ready to drink. (GBQc)
/Germany / 89 Gunderloch Fritz’s Riesling 2009, Rheinhessen ($13.95)
Winemaker Fritz Hasselbach has fashioned a bargain-priced Riesling without sacrificing quality. Deeply coloured with a spicy peach bouquet, the wine is medium bodied and off-dry with flavours of honey, peach and lime. (TA)
//the notes 90 Chateau Ste. Michelle Gewürztraminer 2009, Columbia Valley ($16.99) Classic aromatic rose petal and light peppery spice, with off-dry flavours of peach, apricot, a touch of honey and gentle acidity on the smooth palate. A delightful example of Gewürztraminer charm. (SW)
89 Domdechant Werner’sches Hochheimer Domdechaney Riesling Spatlese 2008, Rheingau ($20)
Honeydew, lemon tart, peach and underlying chalky minerality on the nose of this affordable Spätlese. It has vibrancy on the palate to go with the sweet flavours of lime, peach and honey. Very intense with a whiff of petrol. Will age beautifully. Remember not to overwhelm this wine with a rich dessert. Balance is the key. (RV)
86 Gunderloch Fritz’s Riesling 2008, Rheinhessen ($14.45)
Pale yellow with golden reflections. Intense, fruity nose, light yet quite ripe. Equally light body, fine acidity, a tad of residual sugar and a fatty middle palate. Not sophisticated but satisfying for the price. Drink now. Enjoy with a poached salmon with a giner-butter sauce. (GBQc)
62 // October 2011
/Greece / 90 Domaine Sigalas Santorini 2010, Santorini ($24.95)
Paris Sigalas, the Santorini Maestro, has done it again. This full-bodied, acid-driven white wine is wall-to-wall minerals and citrus. Lengthy, with a hint of tannin, there is enough weight to pair it with richer meats. As a side note, I tasted this wine as part of a vertical going back to 2001. All have been standing the test of time quite nicely. (ES)
90 Biblia Chora Ovilos 2009, Pangeon ($28)
This singular Greek white is reminiscent of a White Bordeaux. Having spent 6 months in new oak, it offers up a pungent/complex nose of green fruit, tomato vine, vanilla, honey, ammonia, linden, spice and citrus flavours. It possesses a medium body with an excellent length. (ES)
87 Spanish Demon Tempranillo DOC 2009, Rioja, Spain ($13.99) Exhibits more red berry than the darker fruit characteristics shown by the previous vintage, but is similarly well balanced and harmonious. Rioja style at an exceptional price. (SW)
89 Muscat of Limnos 2010, Limnos ($13.35)
It is my belief that there is no better dessert wine value in the marketplace. This bottling always shows a seductive profile of marmalade, orange blossom, spice and honey. Medium to full bodied, the flavours stretch long over the palate. Oh, and yes, it is a 750 ml bottle. Don’t miss out on this stickie. (ES)
spicy orange blossom and peach bouquet, it’s medium weight on the palate with flavours of peach, Granny Smith apple, a thread of minerality and a fine spine of acidity. If you like Pinot Grigio, this could be your passport into enjoying Greek wines — even if you can’t pronounce their indigenous grapes. Great patio wine. (TA)
89 Ktima Pavlidis Thema White, Drama ($19.95)
88 Santo Wines Vinsanto 2004, Santorini ($34)
This medium weight blend of Assyrtiko and Sauvignon Blanc possesses a bouquet of flowers, melon, minerals and lime, as well as hints of honey and tropical fruit. There is very good length as well as a crisp personality. Pair it with chilled Alaskan king crab and lemon for a delectable experience. (ES)
88 Boutari Moschfilero 2010, Mantinia ($10.95) Pale straw in colour with a
Greek Vinsanto is the original incarnation. It is also much sweeter that its Italian counterparts. The grapes for this wine were sun-dried for 10 days, fermented and then aged in barrel for three years. This treatment has produced an amber colour and a beguiling perfume of almonds, raisins, prunes, Seville orange marmalade and liquorice. The finale is long. Serve it well chilled with strong cheeses and nuts. (ES)
85 Thalia White, Crete ($8.95)
This blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Vilana offers great value. It is crisp, with peach, flowers, grapefruit and citrus flavours. Light bodied with medium length, it will multitask as both an aperitif or with cheeses. (ES)
90 Alpha Estate Red 2007, Florina ($29.95)
I tried this wine last year at the winery and also this past summer, and each time it scored the same. 60% Syrah, 20% Xinomavro and 20% Merlot possesses a saturated colour as well as a bouquet of cassis, violets, dark cherries, spice, plum and herbs. Full bodied yet refined, the finish carries long. Pair it with roasted pork loin in a cinnamon-scented tomato sauce or pistachiocrusted rack of lamb. (ES)
/Italy / 91 COS Rami IGT 2010, Sicily ($44)
Fermented in concrete tanks, this intriguing white is a blend of Insolia and Grecanico, with great aromas of citrus, hints of minerality, outstanding depth of flavour, full and grippy texture with great balance, acidity and a long, pleasing finish. Full enough to pair with a steak. (GB)
89 Umani Ronchi Vellodoro IGT 2010, Pecorino, Terre di Chieti ($18) Intensely aromatic bouquet
shows floral and ripe yellow tree fruit. Fine fruit flavours suggest apple, pear and citrus, with plenty of depth, vibrant acidity and a nice touch of gravely mineral on the finish. (SW)
89 Banfi San Angelo Pinot Grigio IGT 2009, Montalcino ($25)
Ripe tropical aromas with melon and apple notes. Really fine Pinot Grigio in the mouth with lush tropical pineapple and guava flavours and a zesty citrus finish. (RV)
89 Borgo Magredo Pinot Grigio DOC 2010, Friuli ($26.99)
Lovely fresh aromas of apple, honey and peach with a mouth-filling texture, loads of fruit and hints of almond and white pepper character and a citrusy acidity. A wonderful Pinot Grigio and great match with poultry, pork and shellfish. (GB)
89 Terredora Loggia Della Serra DOCG 2009, Greco di Tufo ($28.79) The nose is suffused with ripe apricot, citrus and pear together with a hint of gritty mineral. Expansive ripe fruit flavours are accented with lightly honeyed notes, tingly mouthfeel and firm, gravelly mineral. (SW)
88 Donnafugata Lighea IGT 2009, Sicily ($26.99) Made from Zibibbo, which is the local name for Moscato
d’Alessandria, and grown on the island of Pantelleria. The wine is unmistakably Moscato on the nose, with perfumy peach and apricot. The palate is light, delicate and refreshing with citrus and lovely minerality on the finish. A great wine with salads and Asian-inspired cuisine. (GB)
87 Donnafugata Anthilia IGT 2009, Sicily ($21.99)
Fresh and aromatic with aromas and flavours of melon, citrus and zest with fresh, savoury herbs and a minerally, mouth-watering finish. A great seafood wine. Blend of Ansonica and Cattaratto. (GB)
97 Antinori Solaia 2007, IGT Toscana ($241.75)
The colour is so dark it’s almost black. The nose has great finesse and complexity. Hard to describe, it remains fresh and makes you want to keep breathing it in. Eventually you take a sip; it has a silky feel, very full, fresh and perfectly balanced. It literally caresses the palate. Oak seems already well integrated; the finish is very long and intense. Simply superb. (GBQc)
94 COS Nero d’Avola ‘Syre’ IGT 2005, Sicily ($75)
Alluring, complex aromas of wild berries, liquorice and earth with penetrating flavours of bright red and black fruit, liquorice and a focused intensity. Velvety tannins and a
polished and elegant yet intense, never-ending finish. A stellar wine. (GB)
91 Tenuta Di Ghizzano Veneroso 2007, Tuscany ($29.95)
Sangiovese with a slash of Cabernet Sauvignon. Dense purple-black in colour with a floral, cedar and ripe black cherry bouquet; mediumbodied and elegant. Firmly structured with blueberry and coffee bean flavours. (TA)
91 Tenuta Guado al Tasso 2007, Bolgheri Superiore, Tuscany ($86.75) Dark colour. Enticing nose, very fruity with a floral touch. Supple and full on the palate, oak is not yet fully integrated. Finish is a little tannic at this point. This one needs time, so it’s better to wait at least 5 to 6 years. (GBQc)
90 Umani Ronchi Cúmaro DOCG 2007, Conero Riserva ($37.29) This hearty wine offers a complex, evolving interplay between black cherry and plum fruit and interesting spiciness. Dry tannins and forward acidity need time to mellow, but there is plenty of fruit and structure for the long term. (SW)
90 Donnafugata Tancredi DOC 2006, Sicily ($40)
Rich and nicely balanced with aromas and flavours of
//the notes blackcurrant and spice, elegant yet firm tannins, and a touch of minerality and toastiness on the silky finish. Nero d’Avola and Cabernet Sauvignon. (GB)
90 Umani Ronchi Pelago IGT 2007, Marche Rosso ($45.99)
Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot from the southern region of Tuscany, this red shows blackberry, violets and spice on the nose. It’s lush and juicy on the palate with plum and currant fruits, some herbs and balancing spice notes. Smooth and delicious. (RV)
The nose is deep, brooding and powerful, with notes of cinnamon, clove and a low-key, oaky overtone. Big, forceful flavours reveal great depth of dark plum, cherry and currant fruit bound up in a dense tannic structure that needs time to soften and integrate. Cellar for 3 years plus. (SW)
88 Donnafugata Sedara IGT 2008, Sicily ($21.99)
89 Tenuta Guado al Tasso Il Bruciato 2008, Bolgheri, Tuscany ($27.75)
88 Borgo Magredo Pinot Nero DOC 2010, Friuli ($26.99)
Intense ruby. Red and blackberry fruits, rich and ripe. Supple and full, it lacks a bit of freshness compared to previous vintages. The tannins are thick and firm, giving it a very consistent mouthfeel. (GBQc)
88 Banfi Centine IGT 2008, Tuscany ($17) A blend of Sangiovese,
Fresh flavours of plum, blackberry and cherry with hints of mineral and savoury notes on the finish. A good bargain and nice match with roast pork. A blend of Nero d’Avola, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Merlot. (GB)
Pretty raspberry, wild strawberry and mineral on the nose with medium body and super-silky palate with a fresh and balanced minerally finish. Elegant and versatile. A great match with game birds and pork. (GB)
86 Rocca delle Macie Vernaiolo DOCG 2009, Chianti ($14.49) A solid, characteristic
Chianti with cherry and warm, spicy flavours backed by lightly firm tannins, a good acid balance and a dry, food-friendly finish. (SW)
/New / Zealand 88 Sacred Hill Sauvignon Blanc 2010, Marlborough ($19)
Pungent aromas and intense flavours of gooseberry, tropical fruit and herbaceous notes signal a classic Marlborough Sauv Blanc. Rather round on the palate, with good fruit density, and a lingering, refreshing finish. A fine match for moules frites. (HH)
89 Sacred Hill Prospector Pinot Noir 2006, Central Otago ($50)
Wild thyme and black cherry aromas include nuances of earthy mushroom and captivating truffle. Savouriness continues on both the palate and finish, accompanied by wild berry flavours and lithe tannins. The finish lingers with spicy dried herbs. An ideal find for duck. (HH)
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64 // October 2011
/Portugal / 89 J.P. Vinhos Tinto da Anfora 2008, Alentejo ($11.95)
Great value here. A blend of Aragonez, Touriga Nacional, Trincadeira, Alfrocheiro and Cabernet Sauvignon vinified in huge clay amphorae. Deep purple colour and a sweet nose of violets and mulberries. Medium bodied, elegant and perfumed with flavours of blackcurrant and spice. (TA)
/Spain / 89 Campo Viejo Reserva DOCa 2005, Rioja ($22.49)
Elegant bouquet reveals fine fruit and developed vinosity with house-style harmony and balance, good structure, a touch of chocolate, spice and a deft trace of oak on the finish. Will benefit from more aging. (SW)
89 Campo Viejo Gran Reserva DOCa 2002, Rioja ($31.99)
Blackberry fruit and a whiff of spice on the nose, with fleshy, elegant fruit in the mouth
together with a hint of cinnamon, lightly firm tannins and warm rounded mouth feel. A stylish effort from a difficult vintage. (SW)
87 Campo Viejo Crianza DOCa 2007, Rioja ($17.99)
Delicate red berry fruit on the nose shifts towards darker fruit character on the palate. Texture is refined and velvety with gentle, supple tannins and harmonious balance throughout. A pleasing wine from a less than stellar year in Rioja. (SW)
/United / States 92 Beringer Private Reserve Chardonnay 2008, Napa Valley ($44.99)
Complex aromas grab attention, led by crème brûlée and sweet vanilla from French oak fermentation. Bright acidity ensures elegance by lifting the ripe, rich fruit and balancing the malolactic fermentation-derived creaminess. Lees stirring brings out a toasty hazelnut character. Long, citrus peel finish. Will gain complexity over the next five years. (HH)
92 Far Niente Estate Chardonnay 2009, Napa Valley ($57.95) This is California Chardonnay at its most extravagant. The bouquet of sun-warmed hay, apple, clove and wood smoke gives way on the palate to flavours of tropical fruits, toast and orange. A long, long finish. (TA)
91 Davis Bynum Chardonnay 2007, Sonoma ($24.95)
Yellow straw colour with a concentrated bouquet of pineapple, vanilla oak and toast; full on the palate with sweet tropical fruit flavours tempered by lively acidity and a mineral note. Great length here. (TA)
90 Beringer Chardonnay 2008, Napa Valley ($24.99)
A one-two punch of lemon and butterscotch strikes the nose. The creamy texture from lees stirring wraps around a spine of firm acidity within a medium-bodied frame. Generous orchard fruit and spice flavours. Toasty finish lingers long. In its comfort zone out on a patio. (HH)
89 Beringer Sauvignon Blanc 2008, Napa Valley ($24.99)
Complex melon, fig and citrus strike both nose and palate. Zesty acidity balances a viscous core. Partial, judicious French oak aging adds a sweet spiciness. A splash of Semillon lends mouthfeel and floral notes. Satisfyingly lean, mineral-laden finish. Versatile with first course fare. (HH)
87 Rodney Strong Chardonnay 2008, Chalk Hill, Sonoma County ($25.20)
Pale yellow. Typical nose for a California Chardonnay: ripe, oaky (but not too much). Full with a round feel on the tongue, a bit of hollowness in the middle
palate followed by a fuller finish on acidity and oak. Try with a rich mustard-encrusted rabbit stew. (GBQc)
86 Rodney Strong Chardonnay 2009, Sonoma County ($18.95)
Pale yellow. Notes of tropical fruits fill the fine nose, yet it announces a wine with a fair amount of acidity. On the palate, its freshness strikes first, thanks to a hint of bitterness and only a little oak. In contrast to many New World Chardonnays that are overripe and over-oaked, this is a welcome change. (GBQc)
95 Beringer Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2007, Napa Valley ($159)
Bold aromas of fragrant floral and complex fruit lead the charge. Loads of cassis and blackberry flavour along with mint and liquorice nuances. Layers upon layers unfold, yet with unflinching balance and elegance. Mountain-sourced grapes add structure and aromatics, while valley fruit brings out richness and mediumbodied weight. A touch of Cabernet Franc lengthens the luscious finish. Should hit its stride 8 to 15 years from vintage. (HH)
90 Beringer Cabernet Sauvignon 2008, Knights Valley ($49.99) Complex red, black and blue fruit engage the nose, flecked by dried herbs. Rich black cherry flavour and ripe tannins are well balanced by fresh acidity characteristic of
the vineyard’s cool nights. Splashes of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot add roundness and aromatics. Approachable now, but will gain complexity over the next 7 years. (HH)
89 SeaGlass Pinot Noir 2009, Santa Barbara County, California ($14.99)
An enticingly perfumed yet well-structured wine showing aromatic cherry, raspberry and strawberry fruit, together with dried grass and hints of vanilla and chocolate. The taste is like biting into a cherry-filled chocolate, but contrasting acidity and a light tannic grip maintain a harmonious balance. Great value. (SW)
89 Beringer Pinot Noir 2009, Napa Valley ($29.99)
Delightful aromas of red fruits, fresh herbs and earthy bark notes. Notice the transition from fruit-forward red berries to sweet black cherry on the mid-palate to long, spice-laden finish. Ten per cent carbonic maceration lifts and softens the fruit. Ready to go for chicken or pork roasts. (HH)
88 Beringer Merlot 2008, Napa Valley ($36.99)
Floral and black fruit aromas on the nose. Fruit-forward style accentuates plums and berries. Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc add structure, complexity and interest to the finish. Grilled beef will tame the tannins, or hold for another year or two. (HH)
by tony aspler
//black is the new black
Golf has one for men and one for women; and so does tennis. So why not wine? I’m talking about a world ranking system for grape varieties, white (ladies) and black (men). You could see what wine style is trending and what is losing consumer favour. If such a league table were to exist there would be two red grapes that would be currently climbing out of obscurity. Both are indigenous Sicilian varieties and both sound like escapees from the Commedia dell’Arte: Nero d’Avola and Nerello Mascalese. Nero d’Avola translates as “black from Avola,” a town on the southeast coast of the island, not far from Syracuse. Although the grape, the most widely planted red variety in Sicily, was first propagated around Avola, ironically, you won’t find it in this area anymore. For years the dark, high-alcohol wines made from this grape were shipped off the island to provide backbone and colour for the bulk wines of Italy’s northern provinces and, truth be told, those of other European countries. Surprisingly, even today, only 15 per cent of island’s total wine production is actually bottled there; the lion’s share being tankered out for blending or bottling abroad. We are beginning to see Nero d’Avola wines trickling into our market but these are generally — shall we say — “introductory wines” that are purchased by liquor boards on price rather than quality. Many of these wines have been blended with a percentage of international grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot or Syrah to give them a recognition factor in the global marketplace. But as 100 per cent varietals, they exhibit some of the flavour characteristics of New World Shiraz with signature minerality and a ripeness of tannins. Producers of fine Nero d’Avola to look for are Donnafugata Mille e una Notte Contessa Entellina, Duca di Salaparuta Duca Enrico, Giuseppe Milazzo Maria Constanza Rosso, Planeta Santa
66 // October 2011
Cecilia, Regaleali Tasca d’Almerita Lauri and Valle d’Acate Il Moro. Nero d’Avola, incidentally, is also a constituent grape in rubino (ruby) Marsala. The grape’s reputation has grown to such a degree that some Australian producers have visited Sicily with the idea of planting the varietal Down Under. They certainly have the climate for it. While most Sicilian wines bear the denomination DOC Sicilia rather than lesser known regional names like Bivongi, Faro and Menfi, there is growing recognition for the Etna DOC. This is not surprising since most people have heard of Mount Etna, Europe’s tallest active volcano, whose summit reaches 3330 meters. This otherworldly growing region, which covers the volcano’s eastern slope, was the first DOC to be created in Sicily (in August 1968), a full nine months before the more famous region of Marsala on the opposite side of the island. Here you will find some of the highest
vineyards in the world where the harvest doesn’t even begin until mid-October. The region, with its black volcanic soil, is famous for its uniquely flavoured white wines made from Carricante (at Benanti I drank a wine called Pietramarina which is made from 100-year-old bush vines). It also produces some very elegant red wines from two clones of Nerello – Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio. Like the Carricante vines, these are generally untrellised, planted and trained ad alberello, like small trees. DNA testing in 2008 showed a distinct family relationship between Nerello and Sangiovese. The wine produced from these grapes is not unlike red Burgundy. Top producers of Nerello-based wines are Benanti, Cos, Cottanera, Murgo, Palari and Tenuta del Terre Nere (Marco de Grazia). So if you want a break from Shiraz and Malbec, to say nothing of Cabernet and Merlot, try M and N. •
illustration: FRancesco Gallé, www.francescogalle.com
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